Well, as I said in our previous installment, any feelings of satisfaction over finally defeating the Capra Demon were to be short-lived. As it turned out, they were to be incredibly short-lived. Having headed back to the Undead Parish to purchase weapon and armour smithboxes, I headed down to the Depths from Lower Undead Burg. The dispatch of the few hollows at the entrance to the Depths caused little problem: I’m confident enough and have the equipment to be able to deal with these types with a single hit. A first, transient issue around in fighting the first of the two Butchers on this floor: I could work out his attack patterns and had been far too reckless with a dog beforehand and taken more damage than I would have been comfortable. Due to my own completely and utter carelessness, I saw myself returned to the Undead Burg bonfire.
Now, paying a bit more attention paid dividends in dealing with the Butchers, dogs and Hollows on this floor, and I was able to descend into the depths proper. I worked my way through the Hollows and Slimes that filled the narrowing corridors and came across a key to a door that I’d passed on the way down that was locked: fortunately, backtracking and opening this door led me to a bonfire, saving me the long journey from Undead Burg if my attention was to wane again. All was going swimmingly.
That is, until I came across the giant rat miniboss in the Depths: though I was surprised by the amount of damage that he was able to do to me if I got caught in his maw, I had enough Estus and Fireballs remaining to get me through the fight – assuming that the arena in which I was fighting was a discrete area, as had been the case with all indoor battles thus far. Unfortunately for me on this occasion, this isn’t the case for the giant rat fight: in evading yet another bite attack from this oversized rodent, I managed to fall from a rudimentary sewage waterfall into a region I wasn’t familiar with and I was instantly lost and surrounded by an enemy type I wasn’t familiar with either. All of this uncertainty was made all the more fraught by the fact that I thought it would be a good idea to carry around 8,000 souls when I knew I would be facing an enemy that would present some sort of challenge. Not the best of ideas.
In admiring the grotesque design of the Basilisks, I’d neglected to notice a creeping status indicator as I got closer. Before I knew it, I was cursed (and thereby reduced to half of my maximum health), dead and down 8,000 souls. The wonderful thing about Dark Souls is that, even in spite of this rather tragic turn of events, I had no issue with the game: it is very much a game of its own rules in its consistency in their application. I’d not played in a manner within the confines of these rulesets that would be to my advantage. Just as if I had dropped a mug of coffee on a cream carpet, for example, this was my fault: the admittance of mea culpa is such a rewarding aspect of Dark Souls that I really do pity the sort of people who would find fault with the firm-but-fair nature of the game. Granted, there are incredibly tough elements of the game such as the Taurus Demon boss fight, but that is by nature of the arena it is set in and the presence of the dogs. It quickly becomes a game smarter in approach than merely “tank everything” that requires a great deal of thought on the part of the player. Truly, this is to be encouraged.
Going around with only half of my maximum health, however, wasn’t an option, which meant a trek out from the Depths to a merchant, the nearest being the one in the shortcut between Firelink Shrine and the Lower Undead Burg. Upon discussion with the (comparatively) chirpy shopkeeper, however, I was certain that I’d seen the required Purging Stone cheaper elsewhere: she was demanding 6,000 souls for the item, but it turns out that Oswald in the belfry was selling them for 3,000 souls. Take this is a lesson: the market forces of supply and demand are cruel beasts. As I was needing to collect some souls in order to be able to afford the items whoever I got them from, I thought it would be best to go and see Oswald: though it is a further distance away, there are abundant enemies around and would probably save me time in the long run if I could buy two there for the price of one nearer the Undead Burg.
Souls were exchanged and I was finally capable of standing up to a papercut again. All necessary descent was undertaken once again, and I was ready to take on the supersized cavy again. Fortunately, I managed to dispatch him with the smallest of efforts. I explored a little more and came across another fog entrance: being educated by the Capra Demon fight, I decided to cash in the souls I was carrying and level up and repair my equipment before going into what had the potential to be a boss fight. It was, and a fairly disappointing one at that: though a couple of attempts were required, I managed to dispatch with the Gaping Dragon merely by staying a fair distance away and waiting for it to bury its head in the ground before attacking. Easy enough, but I must say that I still found a great deal of satisfaction in wearing down a fairly sizable health bar.
Next up: Blighttown and poisoning, I’ve been informed. I’ve been fairly lucky with regard to poisoning thus far because of my build, but I’m interested in seeing how far I can push my luck.