In the Age of Ancients, the world was unformed, shrouded by fog. A land of gray crags, archtrees and everlasting dragons. But then there was Fire. And with Fire came Disparity. Heat and cold, life and death, and of course... Light and Dark. Then from the Dark, They came, and found the Souls of Lords within the flame. Nito, the first of the dead, the Witch of Izalith and her Daughters of Chaos, Gwyn, the Lord of Sunlight, and his faithful knights, and the furtive pygmy, so easily forgotten.
With the Strength of Lords, they challenged the dragons. Gwyn's mighty bolts peeled apart their stone scales. The witches weaved great firestorms. Nito unleashed a miasma of death and disease. And Seath the Scaleless betrayed his own, and the dragons were no more.
Thus began the Age of Fire. But soon the flames will fade and only Dark will remain. Even now there are only embers, and man sees not light, but only endless nights. And amongst the living are seen, carriers of the accursed Darksign.
NORTHERN UNDEAD ASYLUM
Yes, indeed. The Darksign brands the Undead. And in this land, the Undead are corralled and led to the north, where they are locked away, to await the end of the world... This is your fate.
The cell was spacious enough, all things considered: a tall square, with the walls far enough apart for even a giant to lie without twisting. That didn't stop the prisoner from doing exactly that, twisting like a pretzel and nuzzling even closer to the dank corner as he slept. A line of drool ran down his cheek like mold ran down the walls of the decaying asylum. He was a relatively young man with the stern looks and dull brown frock of a cleric of Thorolund. A mane of nearly-black hair picked up dirt and debris from the barren stone floor like a mop as he turned.
High above, much too high for anyone to reach, was a grate to let in light. It opened with a wretched creaking, and one of Astora's elite knights looked inside. Seeing the cleric there, he tiredly tossed the hollowed jailor's corpse in with him. The raisined zombie hit the cobblestone with a wet thud and a crunch.
The cleric snapped awake at the sound and instinctively kicked away. There was a sharp thud now as he bashed his head into the stone wall.
"Ow fu- Wahauah!"
He leapt again as he saw the hideous, half-naked corpse mere feet from him. He quickly rose to his feet and backed into the corner, raising both arms defensively. After a moment, he realized that it was truly dead and relaxed a little. He glanced about the cell nervously, gulping.
"What? Where am I? What?"
His eyes followed the light. The knight said nothing but rose from his perch and walked away from the hole. The cleric turned deathly pale. Swiftly, he knelt and grabbed at the keyring on the corpse's waist. He fit the single key into the lock of his cell door and opened it. Ahead was a long hallway with hollowed prisoners vacantly pounding on the walls, unaware that they had already been freed from their own cells.
"This is the Asylum. I'm...I'm in Dark Souls. Whoever sent me here obviously wasn't paying attention because all those birthday wishes years ago were clearly about becoming a Pokemon trainer."
The sarcasm helped him calm down a little. Knowing what needed to be done, he jogged down the hallway. This was one of the few locations where the hollows were so far gone as to be completely docile. Well, if you didn't hit them first. Through the room with the pool and up the ladder he went, into the barren courtyard. Ahead lay the very first bonfire, unlit, the strange red-hot sword sticking proudly from the cinders.
"No doubt about it," the cleric said. "Here's hoping that I'm actually undead, because my total lack of coordination will soon be the death of me."
He walked over and extended his hand to the sword's handle. The sheer heat prevented him from taking hold of it, but a spark flitted from his fingertips to the sword, causing the dying embers to roar back to life. As he gazed at the flame, it seemed to engulf him. His whole body felt warm, and the cold clutch of fear abated a little. The image of the burning brand fixed itself in his mind, and he was certain this place was home.
Almost cheerily, he held up his other hand, enjoying the warmth after his sleep on the cold stone. His eyes narrowed as he noticed he wore a ring over his traveler's gloves. It was a dull red-brown with strange symbols etched into it.
"Old Witch's Ring, huh? The Master Key would have resulted in less crying, but at least I can get the least awful ending now."
He rubbed his hands together and clapped, psyching himself up for what came next. He rolled his shoulders and walked up to the big double-doors, shoving them open without breaking his stride. The room was huge, with a tall ceiling supported by numerous columns. Numerous man-sized clay pots line the walls. He looked up to the balcony on the third (fourth?) floor opposite him. There was a grotesquely obese stone-skinned demon sporting a stone club the size of a pillar. He fixated on the club.
"Alas, Demon's Great Hammer, I shall not wield thee on this playthrough." He paused. "You know, I still have no idea what this room even is. Oh well."
With that, he ran to the left wall and down the length of the room. The hideous (and foul-smelling, he now realized) demon leapt down from its perch, causing the tile floor to explode with the force of its falling hammer. A shard nicked the cleric's exposed face as he made a swift turn into a darkened passage. A metal grate fell behind him, preventing him from returning the way he came. This was another room with a pool, but it also held a bonfire. He reached out to ignite it, and the strange internal perception of "home" he held shifted to mean this fire.
"Here. We. Go!"
The cleric dashed out of the room and ducked into a cell with a broken door to avoid an arrow. There was a dead, rotten hollow lying face-down in a pool of water. It clutched an item he instinctively knew was his – a cheap-looking wooden shield painted with an imperial eagle.
"Hm. I wonder," he said. "Since I'm real and can smell and such, how does item storage work? Is this a man-purse of holding?"
He opened the large satchel hung from his back and forcibly stuffed the shield into it. After some mild deformation, the bag returned to normal and didn't seem any heavier.
He slid around the corner and back into the long hallway. The hollow archer began to draw another arrow but realized the cleric was too close and shambled away into another passage. Another dead hollow lay shriveled on the ground – and this one with a flanged mace. He grabbed the weapon and whirled into around the corner, intuitively gripping the mace with two hands.
The hollow stood at the top of a staircase and fired another shot. The cleric rolled under and rose swinging, striking its head with enough force to snap its neck. Whitish-blue wisps erupted from its body and rushed to fill the cleric's lungs. He felt infinitesimally stronger with the addition of the zombie's soul energy.
"Well, this is convenient," the he mused. "I have no idea what I'm doing consciously, but this body's muscle memory matches the game. I would have totally tripped and faceplanted."
He rolled his shoulders again and looked ahead at the impenetrable white fog. He approached it slowly, letting his body do what it knew best. He reached out to it with one hand, and it swirled about, dispersing as he stepped through. He shivered.
"Oh, cold! It's like wading into a pool!"
He jogged across the half-collapsed second floor until he reached the stairs. He took a few steps up and promptly rolled to the right and down two half-storeys, landing in the middle of another staircase. An inexplicably-placed boulder rolled down the first staircase and crashed through the wall.
"Oh yeah!" the cleric said, sprinting back up to the second floor and into the hole.
There was the elite knight, lying on a bed of rubble, his steel armor and oiled leathers gleaming in the dim light of the collapsed room. It took him a moment to realize that the cleric had entered his chosen resting place.
"Oh, you... You're no Hollow, eh? Thank goodness. I'm done for, I'm afraid. I'll die soon, then lose my sanity. I wish to ask something-"
"We have immortality on a level that liches only dream of! Stop complaining and get up!"
"I'm afraid I-"
"No! Shut up and drink your Estus!"
The cleric ripped a green flask from the knight's belt and began to pour radiant golden liquid through the knight's visor. The knight choked a little as the Estus went everywhere but his mouth. Impending hollowing or not, his survival instincts kicked in, and he flailed to get away from the cleric, falling off of the pile of bricks and coughing the burning liquid out of his lungs.
"Who are you?" he wheezed.
"Let's go with...uh...Lex of Luthor."
Lex did his best to look wise as he spoke. Unfortunately, he was dressed like a city priest while the debris in his hair made him look more like a mountain hermit.
"The fates would have had you die here, Oscar of Astora. I was interested in whether they could be defied. It seems they can, assuming you don't wimp out and keel over right there."
"Believe me," he coughed. "I am more than annoyed enough to stay sane a little longer. You said that my fate was to die here; I have come in pursuit of a prophecy."
"The Fate of the Undead. I possess a gift of foresight. I know how it might be fulfilled."
"How strange that the gods would send me a prophet in my darkest hour."
"Oh, it's only going to get darker from here. But I'll go into further detail later. First we must escape this asylum. You have the key – let's head downstairs to the bonfire to refresh before we try and tackle the Asylum Demon."
Oscar nodded, rising and holding up the key to the eastern half of the Asylum. He took up his straight sword and elaborately-embellished shield and joined the cleric. They headed down the staircase, and Oscar opened the door leading back to the courtyard. Both extended one hand to the bonfire, feeling the strength of Flame fill their bodies and the Estus Flask. Reinvigorated, they headed back up two flights of stairs and beat down a hollow blocking the door to the outside balcony. Oscar unlocked this door as well, and they were greeted with a view of a distant valley beyond the crumbling walls.
Lex jogged forward to the third and final dead hollow in possession of one of his confiscated items – his canvas talisman. He stared at the bundle of cloth and twine. Sure, the sensation of casting miracles came unbidden to his mind as he had expected it to, but the talisman was almost indistinguishable from a low-quality handkerchief. He definitely approved of the change to elaborate chimes in the sequel. He had felt a little buzz when he had poured the Estus down Oscar's throat, which meant they could both make use of the Flask, but it didn't hurt to have additional healing.
"Three hollows around the corner. Two are just zombies with broken swords, but the one in back will shoot us while we're dealing with them," he said, turning back.
"Shall I lead with my shield?"
"Nah, I'll just aggro them, and we'll wail on them when they follow me."
Lex dashed around the corner. The zombies groaned menacingly, and the one with the bow nocked an arrow. Lex turned and rolled away, sliding back around the corner and readying his mace. Oscar understood immediately and stood beside him. When the zombies rounded the corner, both men swung their weapons, killing them and releasing their souls.
Lex rounded the corner a third time and rolled under an arrow to smash the zombie's sternum. He gave it a second strike as it stumbled backward, killing it. Oscar approached, and they turned to face another wall of white fog.
"This ought to be even easier with two people," Lex said. "So the plan is: we enter the fog and jump onto its fat head. Aim for the beady little eyes."
"Seems simple enough," Oscar replied, "but will such a ferocious creature be so easily defeated? It crushed most of my ribs in our last encounter."
"It's strong, but it has a glass jaw. If you'd been able to get a few hits in, you could have killed it easily. It's the one beneath this one that's difficult."
"A second one?!"
"Relax. We'll be fine as long as the floor doesn't give out immediately."
"If you say so."
Lex pushed through the fog, cringing at the sensation. He and Oscar were now standing on the balcony from which the demon had jumped.
"Now, before it flies back up!"
The cleric and the knight took flying leaps from the balcony. Lex showed off the pretzel twisting he had done in his sleep and spun in the air, striking off one of the demon's horns with a tremendous crack. Oscar plunged straight down, the great weight of his armor lending force to his straight sword as it tore into the demon's eye and through to the brain. It convulsed and exploded into souls as Lex and Oscar found their footing on the shattered tiles. With a clank, the key to the exit before them fell to the floor.
"Where could the demon have kept that?" Oscar asked, bewildered.
"I don't want to know," Lex said, picking it up and holding it away from his body as if it was contaminated.
He fitted it into the lock and opened the door. Oscar walked the path up the hill to get a better view of the valley beyond while Lex ran down some side paths to grab items. Soon, they both stood at the top of the hill. The hill was the top of a sheer cliff. The valley beyond was their destination.
Only, in the ancient legends it is stated, that one day an Undead shall be chosen…
Abruptly, a pair of giant ravens fell upon them. Before they could react, the massive talons had grasped their arms, and they were taken aloft.
...to leave the Undead asylum, in pilgrimage, to the land of the ancient Lords.