The following is a work of fiction. This story follows an interpretation of the playable character from From Software's Dark Souls. This piece of fan-created fiction will expressly follow the main storyline and will spoil several aspects of the game Dark Souls. The author asks that those who have yet to play or complete Dark Souls please do so first before indulging in this piece of fiction and cease to be casual. All characters, locations, story points and some dialogue is taken from Dark Souls and is used under the intent of fair use and non-profit. BACKSTABBU, and enjoy!
It was dark.
He finally realized that after such a long time. There was no sleep here, but there was also no waking. The man had long since stopped keeping track of time, and had been in a state of waking slumber. Even now he struggled to think through the haze that clouded his mind, his vision and his conscious self. This darkness that suffocated his mind, this delirium that stole moments of his thoughts. He struggled against it.
But what was the point in struggling? What was the purpose in defying it? There was nothing for him in this brief glimmer of waking thought.
He closed his eyes and let his head slump backwards. He did not sleep, but he dreamed.
The Cleric frowned as the Knight rolled up his sleeve. His modest home had been a hard-earned plot of land, won in the service of his Lord. Here, he and his Susan had lived for several years, tending the land and living a simple, peaceful life. They were happy.
Until it appeared.
He had awoken one morning in the spring with a numbness throughout his fingertips. He'd not told Susan at first, convinced he'd merely laid poorly over his arms while he slept. But then his skin had changed as the numbness spread, as if he'd fallen asleep in the bath water. It had not taken her long to notice how he tried to hide his fingers, and his beloved had finally confronted him about it, forcing him to show her. The Knight, reluctantly, had offered his hands to her.
The Cleric arrived within a fortnight, and now the aged fingers of an experienced healer gently probed at wilting skin, carefully running along brown patches that had not been there a few days prior. The older man looked up into the Knight's eyes, trying to mask his gaze of concern with a smile of fellowship.
The Knight, the soldier, knew better.
Susan and the Cleric retired to the kitchen, and he listened quietly from their meager living space. He caught only a few words, Susan's bright intonation crumbling as the conversation went on. She asked about treatment, a miracle, perhaps. He told her there was none, that time would eventually take its toll. She asked if there was anything they could do for him.
He told her there was. A place where, 'his kind,' were taken, locked away so the dark sign could not spread to healthy people. So that they wouldn't become like him.
She refused, she screamed in disgust and admonition until the poor man had no choice but to leave. Susan refused to accept the truth, refused to believe her love would be anything but himself. But he did not believe that.
He would never be himself again.
He knew it was time when they were bringing in the harvest. His skin had never returned to what it was, despite Susan's best efforts. Herbs, medicine, prayer, nothing had stopped the slow march of death across his hands. The numbness evolved into nothingness, and it too followed the twisting flesh up along his arms. He often worked their field in a thick shirt, and continued so throughout the summer and into the fall. Every step was a struggle, every breath required all of his focus. Falling happened often, but he always got up before Susan could see.
It was when he didn't get up that they knew it was bad.
She called for the Cleric again, and he arrived in the next fortnight. The diagnosis was grim, he was turning.
She asked if there was anything they could do for him.
The Cleric told her there was.
The wagon came two weeks later, thick iron bars leering out at the Knight from the carriage. He had refused to go in anything but his old armour; a final ceremonial thing he'd always desired. It was right for a serving soldier to be buried in proper dress. The attending knights took his sword and shield from him, stowing them in the front.
Susan threw her arms around his neck, and he had hugged her as tight as he could. There was enough money on the table to hire help and run the farm. She would be well off until her old age.
She told him that she loved him. He returned her love.
He then got into the back of the carriage, and they took him away.
The journey was long, they stopped infrequently. Much of it was all a haze for him, he kept slipping in and out of focus, as if he was being pulled underwater. He remembered the clicking of the carriage wheels, the clopping of the hooves, the brief splashing of a trickling river.
And then he remembered the hallways. The attendants carrying him down into the darkness, the moaning of what had once been men, women, children. All called out, reaching past the bars of their cells, grasping at the feet of the jailors and their newest prisoner.
They took him into a cell and carefully laid him down. They asked if he needed anything, any final requests. The Knight only asked that they see his wife was taken care of, that she had enough to get by. They promised that they would.
One knelt beside him for several moments, frowning past a tangled beard and weathered eyes. Drawing his sword, he laid it down at the Knight's feet, turning to leave his new home. The door shut roughly, a key turned the tumblers in the lock. He was alone, the sound of birds through a broken ceiling his only comfort. He waited for death to come.
But it never came.
He waited for it.
He waited for this numbness to end.
He waited for the drowning to stop.
He waited for the darkness to claim him.
He opened his eyes again, wishing he could simply stay in the darkness. As time had stretched out and he'd lost track of it all, the Knight had long since begged for the lucidity to end. A final rest was all he desired now as he sat in this desiccated, useless husk that had once been a body. He felt the delirium taking hold again, that drowning that consumed him. He began closing his eyes, letting the dark envelope him once again.
Until the body collided with the floor five feet before him.
Forcing his eyes open, the Knight would have jumped if he had the strength to do so. Instead, all he could do was stare for several odd moments, struggling to grasp what had occurred.
The body was unrecognizable as to what it had once been, though its armour denoted it having been some sort of bandit, perhaps a mercenary. As the blood slowly pooled outwards, the bandit's hand relaxed, revealing a small slip of paper curled within.
Forcing his eyes to focus, the Knight peered out towards the paper, desperately trying to make out the words on it as he fought through the mistiness of his mind. Finally, after several passes, he managed to decipher the scrawled script.
"Fight out there or die in here."