Nak was in uncharted territory for the first time in several days (now that he could navigate Blighttown in his nightmares). He inched forward, shield first.


He recognized the sound instantly as a trap mechanism and stepped aside as the bolts went whizzing past his ear. But even after the firing of bolts had ceased, he heard another rhythmic sound emerging from the darkness: footsteps.

An eight-foot lizardman charged at him on its beefy hind legs and lofted a rusty cleaver. If there’s one thing Nak had learned during his time in Lordran, it’s that combatants bigger than him (that is to say, almost everyone) had the right of way when attacking, so he braced his shield arm and stepped aside. He prepared a counter-slash, but thought better of it when he saw that the beast was relatively nimble, and he was carrying a hefty blade. So he blocked, slipped, and backed up, buying time and analyzing its habits, preparing for his own assault… And then another one charged out of the darkness.

Nak died.

It would be a long day in Sen’s fortress, Nak thought, as he left the bonfire. Minutes later, he charged past a second set of axe-pendulums and into a crackling bolt of energy that hurled him back into the last axe-pendulum, which in turn tossed him into the pit. Nak died.

That was a folly that he was not likely to repeat, Nak thought as he walked back to the fortress. But he did, and he died.

Maybe, he thought, this would be all the punishment he need endure? He would later slay the lightning caster—maybe this was it!—and advance to the first rolling boulder trap, which would kill him as he scrambled straight into another boulder after he missed the side passage that would have saved him.

Nak returned to the trap and dove into the side passage. He dodged the cleverly hidden bolt trap, slew the lizardman, and found another rolling boulder trap. Figuring that “up” was the order of the day, Nak waited for a boulder to pass, and then charged up the passage toward the source… into another boulder. Nak died.

And died.

And died.

Nak made it up the passage before getting flattened by the second boulder once in nine attempts. When he did make it to the top, he squandered the opportunity on a poorly-considered fight against two lizardmen at once. Nak died.

Finally, he decided to run downhill. It was a long passage, and each step heightened Nak’s fear that the boulder would barrel over him from behind until, at last, he reached the bottom, where a wooden chest sat askew in a little room beside the boulder’s path.

Nak, relieved stumbled over to the chest, opened it, and discovered that it had teeth. And arms, with which to grasp him. And a tongue, with which to taste him. Nak died.

It was a small comfort to lure the gangly mimic out into the boulder hallway and watch it get smashed by the unstoppable mass of rock. With that, Nak could return to his business: taking the crude elevator up until it smashed him against a spike ceiling and dying.

Nak died, and he died, and he died.

Finally, after hours and hours on trial in the dingy dungeon, he made it out to the sunlight atop Sens’ Fortress. He took a few tentative steps out into the fresh, foreign air and up to a nearby staircase. At the base of the staircase was the most apt message Nak had read in his life: “Be wary of amazing trap.”

Nap stepped up the staircase and beheld a flat stone platform that had been blackened and scorched by fire. He stepped forward… and stepped… and stepped… until finally, he heard in the distance an unfamiliar “HAROOMPH!” That was his cue to tumble back down the stairs and take cover while a deafening crash and explosion blasted the rock platform clean above him.

Nak looked around and found the source: atop the highest tower of the fortress stood not a beautiful princess awaiting rescue, but a dusty, meaty giant hefting another epically oversized firebomb to toss down at Nak.

Nak ran.

Atop Sen’s fortress, Nak would dodge those firebombs, slay the hollow Prince Ricard, dodge more firebombs, overcome a Tower Knight, dodge still more firebombs, and stare at the fog wall. He was certain that there was something terrible beyond that fog wall. He turned back to find a bonfire, and finally, was unable to dodge one of those mighty firebombs.

Nak made one last journey through Sen’s fortress. This time, he did not hesitate at the fog wall (and this time, he found another helpful message: “Here!” at a cliff just above a well-hidden bonfire).

The terrible foe waiting for Nak at the top of the terrible fortress was the Iron Golem. The huge construct hurled its axe at Nak, but only made contact with the rubble at his feet.

Nak would reflect later, standing upon the empty battleground, that the very first moments of the battle were emblematic of the whole affair: an intimidating gesture, mostly for show. The Iron Golem did kill Nak twice, of course, but a mere two deaths was nothing to the (what felt like, at least) scores of deaths Nak suffered in the fortress proper.

But it was over now. Nak’s long nightmare was finally over. The Lordvessel could not be far now! The damnable fortress was behind him for good! Now what was this bright circle on the grou—what the fuck? Albino imp-gargoyle-things? And not here to stab Nak? Just to take him to Anor Londo?

Whatever. Good enough.

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