Nak stood up from the bonfire and did something he had been waiting weeks to do.
CRUNCH-CRUNCH… CRUNCH-CRUNCH… CRUNCH-CRUNCH.
Nak charged down the path down Firelink Shrine, bounding through the skeleton duos and leaving behind nothing but fine dust and bits of bone as he went. This was a vengeance was long in coming.
It was pretty alright.
Nak held up his shield to the flying, exploding skulls, whose terrible mystique was gone since Nak got a good look at them in New Londo, and moved deeper into the Catacombs.
Nak first noticed that something wasn’t quite right when he burst through the first skeleton within the Catacombs proper. He didn’t feel the weak influx of souls he normally would. He thought little of it, until a few seconds later, while dueling another skeleton, this one reassembled itself behind him.
Nak had heard of this one before. But he figured: eh, he’d be fine.
Nak put his trust in his armor, his Elite Knight Armor worn by the Knight of Astora that had freed him from the Asylum, and sprinted through the Catacombs.
Nak stumbled through piles of bones, chased by a mad contingent of skeletons, shouldering through their haphazard attacks. He bore left into a little alcove, crawling with beetles (harmless, but unnerving). In that alcove: an unlit bonfire, and a wretched little man with a skull lantern and a mean look about him.
Nak figured that this was the guy he had to stab to make the skeletons stay dead. Nak was right. Nak was further pleased to learn that the Necromancer would not return when he took his rest at the bonfire.
Nak was frustrated.
It wasn’t the first time Nak had felt rage bubbling close to the surface. He’d long learned to quell those fires, since all they ever seemed to do was spur him headlong into sloppy mistakes. But this time, he needed an outlet, and this deep in the lonely catacombs, the only outlet was Pinwheel, a hunched-over, black-robed form wearing three mismatched masks. Pinwheel drifted languidly from corner to corner of his chamber, a confoundedly outsized sarcophagus, while Nak chased after him, waving the Greatsword of Artorias to and fro.
“Wheel skeletons? WHEEL SKELETONS?”
Pinwheel careened about and weaved two illusions of itself into being.
“WHO THE FUCK’S IDEA WERE THE WHEEL SKELETONS? YOURS?”
Pinwheel directed a fireball at Nak, who sidestepped.
“DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT YOU’VE DONE? DO YOU?”
Nak stepped, slashed, and stepped again as a few more fireballs wandered in from behind him.
“Look, at least have the courtesy to EXPLAIN HOW THEY FUCKING WORK.”
Slash, sidestep, slash-slash.
“How in the HELL do they KEEP ROLLING and GRINDING and KILLING AFTER THEY RUN INTO MY GODDAMN SHIELD?”
Slash-slash-slash. Pinwheel listed and then faded, silently.
Nak climbed out of Pinwheel’s workshop and into perfect darkness. He wondered, in between strings of profanities, why the catacombs should be so well-lit, but not the Tomb? Maybe Nito, being the First of the Dead, enjoyed fostering hope in his visitors, that he might better kill it.
One step at a time, Nak followed the rocky path down. He had aid in the form of little, multicolored sprites—path markers—that had been dropped on the ground by some party before him. But those weren’t the only lights in the darkness. Ahead, two red eyes glinted, about 11 feet (of course) above where the ground should have been.
Nak raised his shield and closed the distance. The massive skeleton swung its massive curved blade at him, and he deflected it. He began to circle, that he might evade its attacks instead of bearing them on his shield, but the skeleton lifted its leg and thrusted—leading Nak just enough to make solid contact. Nak caught the bony foot directly on his shield and held strong to keep it steady, and keep it steady he did… unfortunately, at the cost of keeping his feet on the ground. Nak hurtled backward and then downward, and downward, and downward.
It was a long trek back to the Tomb, filled with anger and dread.
With the first two skeletons cast aside, Nak faced crisis. Something, somewhere in the darkness, was launching giant-sized arrows from a giant-sized bow, and the only way forward was a slide down into the unknown.
Well, Nak thought, why come out here in the first place if he was just going to settle for the devil he knew?
Nak slid, and at the bottom, he was greeted by not one, but two skeletal monstrosities. And whatever archer had been lobbing veritable spears at him was now doing so from very close by.
Nak died. It sounded a bit like: FWANG—-CRUNCH-PIERCE-CRUNCH-BANG-uuughhhhh.
The next time Nak died, it sounded much the same.
As with the next time, and the next time.
Nak was getting exceedingly tired of making the journey from the bonfire in the catacombs, dodging the (fucking goddamn) wheel skeletons, and tiptoeing into the tomb. So after he disassembled the first two overlarge skeletons, he sat, and he grasped after ideas in the crushing shadows.
When he finally grasped one, he was sure he must have gone Hollow. He tried it anyway.
He took off his armor.
Wearing only a shield and the scabbard for his greatsword, he slid down into the unknown.
Nak stood on a ledge, peering down into another large sarcophagus. Three of the giant skeletons clamored and clanged with their swords at him, fortunately unable to reach.
Curiosity took Nak, and he dove into the chamber:
At the bonfire, he rummaged through his sack and located his prize: a brightly glowing ember, one of the tools of Andrei’s trade. It pulsed with divinity.
Nak got up and carried on, utterly contented with the fact that we would never return to that horrible clusterfuck.
“You know what I mean? Don’t you? Please forgive me. You and me, we’re jolly Undead outcasts, aren’t we?”
No, Patches, we aren’t, replied Nak.
“Oh for heaven’s sake, let’s not mope about, eh? You’re still alive, I’ve said I’m sorry! Wait, I know! Here, take this. It proves something, doesn’t it?”
A pair of humanities? Yeah, that sure does prove something, Patches. Something about the two dead guys in the pit you kicked me into. How kind of you to spell it out.
Nak kicked Patches into the pit and plunged afterward with the mighty Greatsword of Artorias.
Just ahead, two red eyes watched Nak from the darkness. This pair was just three feet off the ground, not eleven. Nak lifted his lantern (maybe he did owe Patches that—Patches did “show” him where it was, in his own way) and gazed upon a freakish, quadrupedal skeleton… dog? Skeleton… boar? Skeleton… whatever. Nak swapped the lantern out for his shield and inched forward and…
He wondered. First of the Dead, as in the first being to die? Or First, as in some kind of Lordly title, whose realm was the Dead? He leaned toward the latter; if Nito was already dead, how was Nak to kill him?
And if Nito was some sort of King of the Dead, should Nak owe him fealty, or undying enmity?
Even more philosophically: Nito had claimed Death as his own by inheriting the Soul of Death from the First Flame. Nito was, so far as Nak could tell, a tangled mass of skeletons, skulls, and putrescence. So, did he look like that before he found it? Was Death made in his image, or he in Death’s image?
For once, Frampt’s words had some sort of meaning: let there be no guilt, no vacillation. Nak conceded that he was probably overthinking this a bit.
Nak jumped down into Nito’s cold, stony lair and charged forward, his greatsword singing.
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