Dark Souls 3: Bonfire Journals #1.

As a writer and gamer, the idea of writing the personal journey of my character through a game is something that I find interesting. Dark Souls is the perfect kind of game for this as your character is a blank slate, the paths are branching and the narrative is non-intrusive. So I am finally giving it a shot. This is the first part of my adventure through DS3. It goes up to the first boss battle of the game. I would have liked to have gone further but in 30 minutes of play I crashed to desktop eight times. Yeah. Enjoy.

Entry 1:

Life. It takes death to understand it. Disjointed memories form together into a vague semblance of the past and create shadowy shapes that is my personal history. But none of it makes sense. I awoke in a craggy graveyard with only fleeting impressions of who I even was. The only thing that I was sure of was that I was clad in leather armour and had a shield and scimitar at my side. They feel natural in my grasp like extensions of my arms. I can only assume that they are mine.

Alone without identity. This is true loneliness, without even your own memories or personality to keep your ragged thoughts company. Who am I? Where am I? Where should I go? These questions settled upon me like crows. Without any clear direction though I could only sit with my shallow mind or move forward and hope. Hope…

Figures moved among the tombstones. They were men who were not men, corpses without the capacity to rest. As I approached the first it was clear that they would not suffer my intrusion lightly. It lunged at me with a wide stab, its dirty cloak billowing wildly as the knife darted for my heart. Instinct played me like a puppet. I raised the shield and the weapon skimmed across its hard surface. Then my own sword had sliced into the creature’s throat and it lay dead on the ground.

The sudden violence had left me shocked for a moment. My body tingled as what seemed like the body’s very soul fled the dead flesh and sank into my chest. It felt good. What was more though, the taking of life, the blood and the combat, it all felt so natural.

This was strangely comforting. From the blood of those who threatened me I could forge a new future to replace my missing past.

I walked through the markers of lost life cautiously, my eyes constantly scanning the surroundings. It was a surreal place. Above the forest of graves rose towering walls of a great castle. The graveyard sat on a barren middle land, below this mighty structure yet above mountains that sat in the mists beyond the sheer cliffs where I walked. I can’t even begin to fathom how I got there.

There were more of the undead creatures. One by one they attacked me only to die with a contemptuous ease. I can almost forgive myself for the growing sense of pride and power that I felt with each slash of my blade. Almost.

A pile of ashes with a twisted poker sticking up from them marked a small clearing where it was safe. Fires burst into life at my touch, filling my whole body with warmth. I sat for a while as I contemplated my fate but I felt restless and soon left the glow of the fire to continue on.

Ruins nestled at the bottom of the rocky graveyard which I directed my steps towards. It was the only way open to me anyway. There was an arch that was guarded by a single corpse who met the same fate as those before. As his body fell it revealed an enclosed area that appeared half flooded. Walls surrounded it yet there was no ceiling.

The thing that caught my eye though was a knelt figure at the centre of the water. It was bigger than a man and made no signs of movement. At first I thought that it was some kind of grotesque statue. It was a dark colour and as I drew nearer I could make out that it was a large man in black armour with what appeared to be a sword skewering its chest.

Something about the place set me on edge. It looked pleasant compared to the bleakness of the graveyard yet foreboding hung in the air like fog. A giant door stood at the other end opposite me but I could not take my eyes from the injured warrior. Like a moth drawn to the light of a fire I found myself approaching it.

Now I could see the details more clearly. It was not a sword that had impaled the man but one of the warped firepokers that had been apart of the bonfire I had found. I was stood beside the statue now, only it looked too alive despite its stillness. He seemed to radiate an icy chill.

Slowly I reached for the poker. It bore the rough features of a sword but without any of the fine details. My fingers closed around its handle and I felt the same warmth pulse through it as back at the bonfire. It felt loose. Almost subconsciously I pulled and it slid free.

Instantly static rippled across the clearing like sudden lightning when heavy skies finally unleash their storm. I leapt back as the warrior jerked to life and took up its sword that equalled my own height.

I braced myself, unsure what to expect. I didn’t have to wait long. With unnatural speed for something that size, the warrior charged at me and swung. Not trusting my shield to block the blow I dove under the swing then had to hastily roll again as the warrior swept into a second attack. I was behind him then and hacked at his armoured back until I was forced to jump back from another wide swing of that colossal sword.

I would say that we danced back and forth like this for several minutes but to call my flustered dodging a dance would be to take the battle too lightly. If I mistimed my movements I was punished by being thrown across the courtyard, sprawling across the floor and frantically crawling from the inevitable follow-up attack.

This is when I learned my first valuable lesson in this new world. Never grow complacent. I thought that I finally had the measure of my opponent. I knew his speed, knew how he preferred to attack and knew where best to press my own attack. What I could not know though was that the warrior was more than he seemed.

Just as I struck a blow that I hoped would cripple him, a strange shadow began to gush from him, growing and changing in a terrifying display. I backed away, not knowing what was happening. A giant bonelike hand tore out from one side of the warrior while a mass of black tar formed a beastly head that dwarfed even the man it had grown from.

The creature ran at me with renewed vigour. I tried to dodge but he was a completely different opponent now. I scored another hit only to be smashed into the dirt with a force that shattered my bones and ruptured my organs. I laid there unable to breath. My vision darkened. I expected that to be the end.

But it wasn’t. Just as I slipped into death’s embrace I felt a burning pain and saw an intense light. I reopened my eyes only to find myself back in the small clearing beside the bonfire. The pain was gone. I checked myself as best as I could but everything felt as it should.

Curiosity drew me as much as anything else at that point. Had it been a dream or was my life truly linked to this tiny source of flame?

The path to the ruins was the exact same as I remembered, including the undead who once again guarded the narrow pathways. I moved past them all without any trouble until I was once again at the arch that lead into the flooded courtyard. Now a thick white mist blocked up the space.

I reached out a hand and it passed through the fog wall without resistance. Taking a deep breath I willed myself to fully step through. This time I had no chance to look around. The warrior was already waiting for me. It was back in its regular human shape but its true nature never left my mind.

He fought with the same fury as before but this time I was able to chip away at him quickly until once again the darkness began to spill from his body. I wasted no time in retreating this time, instead charging straight at him as he stood in place.

As soon as he began to retaliate I refused to stop moving, circling and rolling with only the occasional moment spent attacking. I could not keep that pace up for long though and was eventually clipped by the shadowy head. I tried to fall back and recover but he hit me again.

I could see that he too was weak now. Pain flared through me. Another glancing blow and I would be out of action. I had one chance left. We both dived at each other. I skidded under his attack and slashed manically at his gut until I couldn’t breath. The last of my energy went into dodging another lunge as the beast jumped away.

I could barely stand from the pain and my breath came in ragged gasps. My shield was no good at this point. It only added unnecessary weight. I dropped it and clutched my scimitar with both hands.

We both slashed. Blood sprayed. I sagged to my knees. The warped warrior screamed then burst into white light, leaving me alone in the centre of the water. It took me a few moments to look up but when I did I saw that another bonfire now sat where the warrior had stood. I touched it and felt my wounds be washed away by the light.

So here I sit now beside this bonfire, contemplating the world and my own existence. I found I small journal and a quill and find a small pleasure in transferring my thoughts to paper. The quill feels as natural in my hand as the sword and the words flow through me like water. Maybe this offers some clue about my past.

All that I know for certain though is that the only way that I can go resides behind the great door that looms over me. I do not know my past but my future seems certain to be filled with blood and death.

I only hope that I am up to the challenge.

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