The Legend of Nak

Dark Souls is a brutal game. It’s said that it’s meant to be difficult to force you to strategize: charging headlong into many fights will get you killed. Of course, even being cautious, you’ll get killed. A lot. Online, much of the community keeps up a proud tradition of withholding help from newbies, other than a peculiar system that exists in-game whereby you can write cryptic messages (chosen from a short list of templates) on the ground in your game and that message will appear in others’ games, should they choose to look. They range from vague but useful (“beware of sniper”) to empty but reassuring (“praise the sun!”) to mean (“try: jumping off” written on a bridge over a chasm) to downright silly (“beware of gorgeous view”). Outside of this, players say, you really ought to try to figure out how to make it through the hardest sections of the game on your own. There’s more reward when you finally do.

Anyway, after sharing some of my experiences with Jeff, he suggested that I blog my exploits, that I may have a chronicle of all of my blunders, my victories, my multitudinous failings, and hopefully my ultimate triumph. He may not have expected me to take that suggestion seriously; I’m not totally sure. But here it is, told from the point of view of Nak the warrior.

The Undead Asylum

Nak was a warrior. That’s what he needed to do, so that’s what he grew up doing. He never left his humble home without the tough leathers and tarnished steel that kept him alive day-to-day.

And there he was, wearing those tough leathers, sitting in a damp, dark, and cold prison cell.

He wasn’t really sure how he’d gotten there. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been there. He was only sure of why: in this land, yes, the undead were led to the north where they would await the end of the world. Oh, right. He was undead.

Memory sure is a strange thing.

Clank, clank, clank went the cell down the hall. That guy was undead too; only, it seemed he was far dumber. Clank. He didn’t seem to understand that his withered frame couldn’t compete with wrought iron. Clank, clank. Worse, he didn’t seem to understand how irritating the noise was, made especially so by the promise that it would go on until the world ended.





A knight had kindly dropped Nak a cellmate through the ceiling of his cell. Undead, presumably. But still, and lifeless. Unlike Nak. Nak was beginning to wonder dully what exactly it meant to be undead. And why anyone would throw a dead/undead/redead/deathless/goddamn corpse into a prison.

Oh, because it had a key on it.

Nak grabbed his broken sword, suited up in those leathers, and marched on out of the asylum. He would suffer the clanking cage no longer.

The end.


Except it wasn’t the end, because prisons have guards. This one, it seems, mostly undead who have gone insane from lengthy cycles of death and rebirth (“Hollow”). Inmates running the asylum? Just the sort of cosmic joke that goes unappreciated by the inmates who aren’t running the asylum.

All told, the broken sword served to dispatch most of those guards.

Except for the one that stood fifteen feet tall, weighed four tons, and carried a club bigger than Nak was.

So he ran. And then found a real sword. And returned. And fought, and won. That’s just the kind of guy Nak is. Persistent.

Which is good, because the first time he encountered a crazed Hollow holding a shield, he flailed at the shield for a little bit before thinking to himself:

“Hmm. Maybe if I time a parry right, I can force him off ba—”

Stab. Stab.

So Nak died.

The end.

Mass Transit

Except then Nak woke up. Undead, right. So he stood up, marched over to the Hollow that had killed him, blocked its first stroke with his own shield, and then stabbed it to death.

After conversing with a dying knight who had a poetic purpose to which he had dedicated his unlife (to ring the Bell of Awakening, so that then, the undead may know their true fate), Nak decided that carrying on his torch was… well, it seemed like the only thing really worth doing. That meant that the next order of business was escaping the asylum.

Nak scaled the graveyard on the cliff overlooking the asylum. Written in orange runes on the ground was a message: “straight ahead!” So naturally, Nak took every step gingerly, expecting to fend off hordes of undeath, or crazed rats, or giant rolling stones, or at least a nasty mosquito swarm. He’d heard how cruel the world is. But, as it turns out, the world’s cruelest trick is suspense. No harm came to him as he climbed to the very edge of the cliff and struck a dramatic pose.

Before him rose, suddenly, a raven with a twenty foot wingspan. He held his pose. One foot slightly in front of and above the other. Proud, ready for anything. This megalithic raven would take him to Lordran, where he would meet all challengers and seek his fate.

In his mind, all he could think was: “WHERE THE FUCK DO THEY MAKE BIRDS THAT BIG”