Forward, step, step, thrust! Shield up, back, backstep-forward-lunge! Take it easy. Back… way back, stop… up, up, lunge! Such was the rhythm in Nak’s head. It was like an old fencing bout: forward and backward, staying out of reach until it was time to strike.
The patience, the rhythm, and the careful method paid all paid off when the Taurus Demon disintegrated into the light at the end of Nak’s sword.
But now, tired and completely out of Est, Nak had to find his way to the next bonfire. He lowered his sword and shield and stepped through the turret and down, onward, into the unknown.
That’s where he met Solaire of Astora. Solaire, the jovial. Solaire, the helpful. Solaire, the encouraging. Solaire, the man with a purpose. And so on. Solaire asked Nak if he would care to extend the hand of friendship or carry on his way alone (a third option, scrawled in orange on the floor: “try attacking”). Nak accepted his overture and received a White Sign Soapstone, which he learned would allow him to reach out to other undead in order to offer or give aid. He was hesitant to make use of that power, however, as he feared it would lead him to undead even unfriendlier than the Hollow. Or perhaps he was afraid that they’d be as friendly as Solaire?
He stepped up from the balcony and looked upon the path forward: a wide bridge held by no less than a half dozen Hollow soldiers. But Nak, currently hyperaware lest he be caught off guard and find himself back at the cellar bonfire (he wasn’t sure if the Taurus Demon would return, and he didn’t care to find out), saw the real danger: the huge, blackened scorch mark across the entire width of the bridge, extending down about ten yards of its length. But he saw no other way. He raised his shield. His eyes flicked back and forth, from the nearest Hollow soldier, to the sides of the bridge, to the sky, and back to the soldier. Finally, a few paces onto the blasted stone, he knew he needed to focus his attention on the advancing swordsman.
Nak was on fire.
His hyperawareness had mostly paid off, as his feet had left the ground at the very first moment his ears had heard more than the passing wind, and he found himself rolling backward even as his vision filled with blinding red flames. He ran into the nearest turret and held his shield to the entrance, five, ten, fifteen seconds—he hadn’t died yet, but the menace could return at any moment. It did not. He peered out the door and down the bridge… at the enormous red dragon that now perched upon the building on the opposite end of the bridge. The dragon, it seemed, did not want him crossing that bridge, and was prepared to enforce that desire. Nak, momentarily, dismayed: how should he hope to accomplish something that a dragon was determined to make sure he could not?
But then he remembered: he was undead. What was the worst that could happen? Death? Pah.
He looked up and down the bridge and saw his opportunity: right in the middle of the bridge’s length were short causeways running along its side with stone guards he could hide behind. He took a moment to plan: he could go slowly to minimize the chance that the dragon found him to be interesting, or quickly to minimize exposure to danger. The decided upon the latter. He took a breath. And then he ran, and ran, and ran, until he heard the dragon sucking in its breath and made it to the causeway and found that, even better than the stone guard, there were stairs downward.
And then he was safely at a bonfire beneath the bridge’s surface while the dragon’s fire rushed over the stone roof above him.
After taking a moment to acquaint himself with this room, making note of the doorway out, he looked back at the stairs. He had thwarted this dragon so far, perhaps he could reach his destination in complete defiance of the beast? What a victory that would be!
Nak took one, two, three bounds up the stairs and out onto the bridge, where he was caught full in the face with the searing flames of dragonfire.
Well, it was probably time to check out that door in the bridge room.
Previous | Next