The bridge leading to the massive gate was quite small, really only wide enough for two people to walk side by side. The Pilgrim made his way across, gazing down the side of the bridge. He'd cleared the endless chasms that had been the backdrop for any view over the wall in most of the burg, and was now greeted by an equally endless canopy of trees. The trees were quite tall, the tops of them reaching the bridge itself at tallest, with the bottom nowhere in sight. Unsurprising in a land as ancient as this.
The Pilgrim reached the other side and hailed the seated knight, but received no response. His armor indeed made him look like an onion, it was round and fluted. The armor made the man look quite heavyset, although there was no way to know his true body shape underneath. Coming closer to the knight revealed the he was loudly humming at intervals, as if pondering something.
"Excuse me, Sir Knight?" He said as he drew nearby, not wishing to startle the man, who had a large blade strapped to his back. Nearly as large as the black knight's sword, but nowhere near as ornate.
"Um, Sir Onion?"
"Mm? Oh-hoh!" He gasped, leaning back in an almost comical fashion.
"Oh, forgive me. I hadn't intended to startle you." The Pilgrim apologized halfheartedly. This knight certainly lacked perception.
"Oh no, please forgive me! I was absorbed in thought." He said jovially, extending his hand. "I am Siegmeyer of Catarina."
"I am but a Pilgrim, I'm afraid I've no name to give you. Might I ask what you were so focused on? Perhaps I may be of some assistance?"
"Quite honestly I have run flat up against a wall. Or, a gate, I should say. The thing just won't budge. No matter how long I wait. And oh, have I waited!"
"You're just waiting for the gate to open?" The Pilgrim asked.
"Of course, how else will I enter the fortress?" The knight responded, obviously quite confused.
"You could try to open the gate yourself." The Pilgrim suggested, examining the door more closely.
"Oh, I have tried. You see it is simply too heavy for a man to move, even one as large as myself. Hah hah hah!" He said, thumping a hand on his armored stomach.
The Pilgrim saw that the bottom of the gate was nearly melded with the ground, years upon years of weather taking their toll upon the frame. As old as it was though, the gate itself was in remarkable condition. The metal that bound it together was unmarred, and didn't show a hint of warping.
"This gate hasn't opened in years, possibly centuries even. Would you sit here and wait for years?"
"But of course! You see it is my duty to do so. I know the gate will open soon, and when it does I shall be here to gallantly storm the fortress." Siegmeyer responded proudly.
"You... Know? How do you know?" The Pilgrim asked.
"You see as a knight of Catarina, I've an intuition as sharp as a razor's edge. My intuition tells me that my destiny lies within this gate, so I cannot let it out of my sight." He answered quite seriously. "You see, if the gate opens and I'm not here, then what?" He asked, turning to the Pilgrim.
"Yes, what then?" The Pilgrim responded with mock enthusiasm.
"An opportunity missed! So you see, I must wait. And so, here I sit, in quite a pickle. Weighing my options so to speak. Hah hah hah!" He said dramatically.
"Of course... If you'll excuse me, I believe Andre may have finished with my weapons by now." The Pilgrim said, bowing slightly and backing away.
"Indeed. Good luck on your journey, and should you need the services of a knight of Catarina, you know where I'll be. Unless of course this gate opens." The knight responded, turning to view the gate. "Still closed, still closed. Mmmm..." He sighed, folding his arms and staring off into the distance.
The Pilgrim shook his head as he walked away. The knight seemed nice, a bit scattered, but nice enough. He headed back down to the forge to find Andre finishing with the blades.
"That was fast." The Pilgrim said with surprise.
"Aye, the same could be said for you. Sir Onion chase you away so quickly?" Andre replied, dipping the black knight's sword in water and cooling the heated blade,
"He is certainly an interesting man, if a bit delusional."
"A damn fool, more likely to get himself killed doing his 'knightly duty' than help anyone. He'll die in this land, and not a soul who loves him will be around I'd wager." Andre said without emotion, handing the Pilgrim his weapons.
"That's a bit harsh, wouldn't you say?" The Pilgrim replied, glaring at the smith.
"No, just the truth. This is a cruel land, filled with hatred and despair. Most stories that begin here do not have happy endings."
The Pilgrim broke his gaze, unable to argue the truth of the smith's words. He himself had survived mostly through blind luck so far, and he'd already died once himself. He retrieved his gear from Andre, storing the knight's sword and belting the longsword to himself. Andre had adjusted the sheathe, and it fit snugly within now. The blade itself was much the same, though sharpened. Chips and dings had been removed, and it even had the faintest glimmer to its metal now.
Impressed, the Pilgrim sheathed the weapon to find Andre holding a shield out to him.
"Here, take this as well. I can tell your left arm favors a shield, could see it in the way you moved in that fight. Half price, it isn't the prettiest, though if you buy some Titanite from me or bring your own I could improve it for you."
The Pilgrim gladly accepted the gift. The shield was scarred and worn, with a hand painted symbol resembling snakes weaving around a staff, but it was sturdy and had a good weight. "My thanks, Andre. It is greatly appreciated."
"Bah, I do it for my own benefit as much as yours. If you don't live to return and buy more goods, what use is that to me?" The smith said dismissively, extending his hand to the Pilgrim.
The Pilgrim grasped his hand and felt a large amount of souls leave him. "As you say." He said, shaking his hand.
"Well, I'll be seeing you then. Be careful out there." Andre said, returning to work on the pile of unfinished weapons next to him.
The Pilgrim nodded, heading back up the stairs. He stopped at the bonfire and attempted to strengthen his soul once more, but found he could not. The strength of the souls he had left simply wasn't enough to fortify his own. He had figured as much, and so he ascended the stairs and before long the parish was in sight once more.
The hollows had cleared the area, he could no longer see the knights. The large doorway leading into the parish was quite a sight. It stood nearly three times the Pilgrim's height. The doorway had once contained words or symbols of some sort, but time had long since destroyed most of it. If it had been writing, it was now illegible. If it was symbols their meaning was lost.
Entering the parish brought two sensations. One of haunting beauty, the inside having survived the elements much better than the outside. Pews, though sagging and their cloth seats slightly rotten, stood in neat rows. An ornate altar housed a statue of a woman holding a child and was lined with candelabra, mysteriously lit and faintly flickering as if constantly about to go out. The building in its prime would have been a sight to see, filled with villagers from the burg in song and prayer to the gods of Anor Londo.
The second was combat readiness. Three of the knights he'd encountered earlier were facing down a single massive one. The large knight wore heavy steel armor and carried a large mace and tower shield. It was quite plain, sporting no design or notable features besides the massive size of it and presumably the man within. Slight rusting made the Pilgrim wonder if it was a statue until he spoke. "Begone, Balder hollows. You'll not lay hand upon my ward."
"Need... Soul... Humanity... Berenike has failed... Balder shall succeed... ring bell..." The leader of the three knights said, standing forward.
The larger knight slammed his shield down, silencing the knight. "No! My superiors venture toward the city of the gods even now. The Chosen Undead walks amongst the ranks of Berenike, not Balder."
The Balder knights attacked without warning, but the Berenike knight was ready. Pulling his shield in front of him, the three knights' attacks were harmlessly deflected. His mace however was much more deadly when it struck the knights. With one horizontal sweep, two of the knights tumbled lifelessly away. The last managed to dodge the blow, but was immediately felled by a followup with the tower shield.
The knight turned toward the Pilgrim next. For all his intelligence, the unmistakable eyes of a hollow blazed behind his helmet. "You, begone! You shall not lay hand upon my ward."
"I've no interest in your ward. I only seek to reach the bell above." The Pilgrim said, drawing his sword.
"You lie! My lord has already rung the bells and even now journeys through the fortress. You seek the soul of the woman I guard, the firekeeper. Now leave at once!" The knight demanded, taking his mace up in a battle stance.
The Pilgrim glanced where the knight had been standing, near the altar. Sure enough a corpse lay upon the ground, a woman long dead. "Your ward has passed on. You have no purpose here anymore."
"She attempted to escape, I had no choice. I was ordered to stay here and guard her until my master returned. I will uphold the task handed to me by my lord master. Final warning, leave now stranger or face me."
"Your sanity is no longer intact, but your honor and devotion are. I'd commend you if I believed you were still capable of understanding it. If you won't let me pass, I'm afraid we have only one option left."
The knight advanced, swinging his mace. The Pilgrim was much
more agile than the hollow, and retreated to the small courtyard outside. He'd have to get behind the knight, that shield prevented any frontal attacks and the courtyard would give him space to maneuver.
For a moment, the Pilgrim wondered if the knight would give chase, but the knight charged out the door claiming the Pilgrim couldn't flee. Fleeing was not his intention of course, and he stood his ground waiting for the massive knight to reach him.
The knight swung his mace overhead, crashing it into the masonry where the Pilgrim had just been standing. The Pilgrim protected his eyes with his shield as debris sprayed from the mace's point of impact. He rushed forward past the recovering knight and attempted to stab the hollow in the back, but his blade stabbed only the tower shield, which the knight was quick to position defensively. Quick as he was with the shield however, the mace was always slow to follow and the Pilgrim had little trouble dodging it.
The Pilgrim decided to wait for an opportunity to attack, rather than actively try to get around the knight. The moment didn't take long to arrive. The knight swung his mace once more, extending his arm just slightly too far. The Pilgrim avoided the blow and closed the distance to the knight, slashing at his fingers. The knight was slow to retract his hand and the Pilgrim successfully landed a blow.
The knight swept his shield forward, nearly bowling the Pilgrim over, and hopped back. He was much less reckless in his attack after this, circling with the Pilgrim for a while. The Pilgrim determined he'd need to move first. He feinted and the knight took the bait, sweeping his mace at the Pilgrim. The Pilgrim ducked underneath the weapon and lurched forward, positioning himself between the knight and his shield.
The knight was caught momentarily unaware, and the Pilgrim hacked at the heavy armor he wore. Three blows, the third drawing blood and a shout from the knight, were landed before the knight regained himself. The Pilgrim attempted to fall back, but the knight dropped his mace and cuffed the Pilgrim square across the head with his fist. Stars exploded in his vision, and he felt rather than saw the knight's shield crash into him and send him sprawling.
He stood as quickly as he could, shaking his head to clear his vision, and saw the knight had abandoned his mace and was uncorking an estus flask. Acting quickly, he rushed forward and leapt at the knight, driving his blade between his helm and breastplate. The knight writhed momentarily before falling heavily to the ground, the Pilgrim clinging grimly to his blade all the while. The knight whispered something as he breathed his last, but the Pilgrim couldn't make it out. It sounded like an apology to someone, he thought he heard a name. Marcus, Barthas? His body dispersed in a cloud of light and all that remained of him was a small satchel he'd been carrying. The Pilgrim opened it to find several pieces of Titanite, which he gladly stored within the Darksign.
His deed finished, the Pilgrim walked back into the cathedral. He headed back to the area that the knight had been guarding. The woman whom the knight had been tasked to defend, met with an unfortunate end. The knight had said something about her soul. Moving closer, the Pilgrim could certainly feel a strong presence from her. He walked over to the body, and passed his hand over it.
Though she must have been long dead, she gave off a surprising amount of warmth. As he moved his hand, a white light began to coalesce around it, intensifying the warmth. A moment later, the light began to pool toward the palm of his hand. He flipped his hand to make a cup with his palm and the light formed into a ball before becoming semi solid. The candles flickered out as it did so, and a feeling of relief washed over the Pilgrim. Suddenly, a tendril of the light began moving away from the core of the soul. The Pilgrim watched in awe as the tendril reached out a ways, before slowly being drawn back in. It was followed shortly by another tendril, and another and another until numerous tendrils appeared at once.
The Pilgrim moved his other hand toward the tendrils, only to have them quickly retreat to the core as it drew near. Perplexed, he stored the soul within the Darksign. Something that sounded like chanting behind him made him turn around, just in time to receive a blast of energy to the chest. He raised his shield with a grunt of pain, moving quickly behind a pillar for cover.
Laughter, hideously empty and devoid of emotion, came from the direction of the ceiling. "You remained conscious? Pity... Much easier to transport when they're unconscious." A voice followed, a sound like metal scraping against ice.
The Pilgrim took a healing breath of estus, chancing a glance around the pillar. A man in glittering robes and holding a golden trident in one hand like a staff stood on a balcony overlooking the room, spotting the Pilgrim and beginning his incantation once more. The Pilgrim ducked behind the pillar just before the energy missile collided with it, sending a spray of debris from the point of impact. Peeking out again, he saw a hallway to the right of the mage. There must be a staircase below it.
Taking a deep breath, the Pilgrim broke cover and sprinted in the direction of the hallway. Sure enough, next to a strange couple of doorways with platforms and chains on the inside, a stairway led up. He hurried up the stairs as another missile struck the wall just in front of him. Continuing on, he saw a Balder knight standing at the top of the stairs.
"You... Humanity..." It growled, drawing a blade and advancing.
The Pilgrim bent low and set his shoulder into the knight's legs as they met on the staircase. The knight yelped with surprise and the Pilgrim felt an impact on his back as the sword grazed his armor right where the hole from the black knight's sword had been. Silently thanking Andre, the Pilgrim heaved with all his might and sent the knight into open air over the stairs. The knight didn't fall far, but he landed on his head with a popping noise. Souls flooding into the Pilgrim confirmed the knight's fate, and he carried on toward the mage.
Looking through a window in the upper hallway, he saw the mage dancing with the trident held over his head. Odd... The Pilgrim continued into the balcony room and the mage stopped dancing, pointing his trident at the Pilgrim. "You're not... hmm. I've miscalculated... Attack!" He shouted.
The Pilgrim readied himself to charge the mage when he saw a flood of ragged hollows come from several side rooms, all of them glowing an ominous blue color. The Pilgrim flicked his gaze back to the mage, hesitating a moment before falling back to the hallway. The hall would offer him a point to funnel the hollows, and though he'd been able to outrun the last group of hollows, this time they stood directly in his way.
He stood in the hallway, shield held high and blade at ready. The first few hollows reached the doorway, leaping at him with monstrous growls. He succeeded in blocking their broken weapons, but the strength behind their blows was incredible, almost sending him to the ground. It had to be the mage's magic. He held fast however, managing to stop them. They flailed haphazardly with their weapons, seeking to down the Pilgrim with their blind fury, but he waited patiently for an opening and slew them quickly and efficiently. As they died, the blue glow faded. The main body of hollows flowed into the hallway, a cacophonous blend of shouting and growling.
The Pilgrim held his ground, blocking as many of the hollows as he could and striking when an opportunity presented itself. He was forced back in the hallway several times, until his back was literally to the wall. He took several wounds, and with no time to heal they quickly became life threatening. Just as he thought he would succumb to the hollow's numbers however, he struck down the final one. He pulled the estus flask out as quickly as possible, but just before he could uncork it he heard the mage chanting once more. He raised his shield just in time to block the magic, although much of the force behind it seemed to pass straight through into his arm and chest.
He doubled back, heading down the stairs once more. As he descended, he took a draught of estus and instantly felt much better, but still had a few lesser wounds. Taking a deep breath, he went back up the stairs to find the mage waiting for him. A missile flew toward him, but he was ready. He moved to the side, but the missile curved slightly in the air nearly hitting his arm. Now aware of the missiles' homing capabilities, he pressed onward. The mage had time to fire one more missile before the Pilgrim was upon him. The Pilgrim rolled underneath the magical bolt, causing it to arc into the floor behind him. He came out of the roll with an upward swing of his blade, which the mage barely managed to block with his trident, putting a large nick in the side of the shaft.
The Pilgrim lashed out with his foot, knocking the mage off balance. His body was surprisingly sturdy, as if made of stone or iron. Pressing his advantage, the Pilgrim swung his blade into the mage's side. The blade dug deep, but not deep enough. The Pilgrim could see the source of the mage's sturdiness, his skin seemed to be made of some king of crystal. Blood spilled from the wound, but the mage didn't flinch. He swung the trident at the Pilgrim and the shaft of the weapon collided with his helmet, sending him sprawling. He got to his feet just in time to dodge another bolt. The mage stared the Pilgrim down for a moment, knowing that if he tried to sling another bolt of magic the Pilgrim would close in and finish him.
"My death will mean nothing. You cannot stop my lord's plans. He will be most displeased and you shall find no escape from his wrath!" The mage hissed as he stabbed at the Pilgrim.
"I don't even know who your lord is, but if he uses people like you to achieve his goals I'm sure this outcome was inevitable." The Pilgrim retorted, dodging the trident and finishing the mage with another swing of his sword.
Taking a moment to catch his breath, the Pilgrim took a seat upon the floor. He picked up the mage's trident, swinging it around a bit. It was ungainly, and the Pilgrim vastly preferred his own sword. He stored it within the Darksign just in case he had need of it. He stood back up and proceeded into the next room.
Several ladders in this room led up toward the roof of the building. The Pilgrim climbed them swiftly, eager to reach the first bell. He stopped at the top of the last ladder. A doorway of fog stood between him and the roof, but what caught his eye was the strange golden writing upon the floor. He walked over to it and knelt down to inspect it. The writing wasn't physical at all, actually seeming to be some form of light in the shape of writing. Putting his hand in the light produced a spectral image of a familiar suit of armor.
He pulled out the stone that Solaire had given him, seeing that it was glowing gently. He thought for a moment. "He never told me how to use this..." He remembered absently. On a whim he pressed the stone to the writing, and it flared with golden light for a moment, which pooled into a circle on the ground. Dropping it and shielding his eyes, the Pilgrim opened them again he saw Solaire, bathed in an orange glow, rising from the pool of light with the white stone in hand.
The knight rose fully, extending his arms into a V shape pointing toward the ceiling. "Praise the sun!" He exclaimed triumphantly, before looking down to see the Pilgrim. "Well, hello again my friend! I am pleased to see you safe after all this time." He said when he saw the Pilgrim, extending his hand. The orange light did not fade.
"Indeed, it hasn't been that long though. I only just spoke to you this morning." The Pilgrim responded warmly, shaking the knight's hand and retrieving his stone.
"For you perhaps, for me it has been weeks since our initial meeting. I have placed my sign here to lend my aid to those who would cross the roof and attempt to ring the bell."
"The roof didn't seem all that treacherous to my eyes. There was not a hollow in sight upon it."
Solaire shook his head, clapping the Pilgrim on the shoulder. "Hollows are certainly not the worst of our foes here in Lordran, as I'm sure you've seen. Come, let us venture forth. Jolly cooperation awaits!"
The Pilgrim chuckled as Solaire pointed toward the door, and he walked through the fog. The roof of the building was quite wide, and the bell tower was only a stone's throw away. Solaire followed through the gate a moment after the Pilgrim. The fog did not fade, and the Pilgrim hoped this wasn't like the bull demon. The Pilgrim peered off the side of the building. It was quite a long way to the ground, almost certainly fatal. Fortunately nothing on the roof appeared threatening, save perhaps a few loose tiles.
"You see? Nothing to fear, the mage was almost certainly guarding the bell from any intruders. Or perhaps the giant knight?" The Pilgrim said, turning to Solaire.
"I don't really understand what you mean, friend. I met no giant knights or mages, but something feels wrong. I was rather hoping for a rousing battle to test our mettle!" Solaire replied glumly.
"I think I've had my mettle tested enough since I've arrived..." The Pilgrim responded, turning toward the bell tower once more. As he did, he swore he saw one of the gargoyles shift. That couldn't be, but then it shifted again. Stone crumbled as the gargoyle slowly turned its head. It flapped its wings and roared aloud before breaking away from the wall entirely. It flew down to the roof landing heavily and brandishing its giant halberd.
"Haha! A foe appears! Let us join together in battle, my friend!" Solaire exclaimed, drawing his sword and shield and rushing toward the gargoyle.
The Pilgrim couldn't help smiling at Solaire's enthusiasm, despite the situation. Following Solaire's lead, the Pilgrim darted toward the gargoyle's right side as Solaire went left. The gargoyle swung the halberd in a mighty arc, but the Pilgrim dodged underneath the cumbersome weapon. Solaire was not as agile. The shaft of the halberd struck him full in the side, and he fell heavily to the ground.
"Solaire!" The Pilgrim cried out, lashing out at the gargoyle with his sword. Though the gargoyle moved as if made of flesh, its skin was still definitely made of stone. The blade clashed against it and sparked, laving only a small nick in its skin. It roared in outrage and flapped its wings, lifting off the roof and landing a few yards away. It bent down and unleashed a gout of flame from its mouth.
The Pilgrim backpedalled just out of range of the flames, quickly looking to where Solaire had fallen. There was no sign of the knight. The gargoyle stalked toward the Pilgrim, whipping its tail angrily. The Pilgrim crouched down, ready to dodge. The gargoyle stumbled strangely, screeching and turning as quickly as it could. It swung the halberd behind it as well.
The Pilgrim noticed a large gash on the beast's back, and spied Solaire raising his shield and blocking the full brunt of the gargoyle's halberd. The spectacle was truly a sight to behold. The much larger weapon collided with Solaire's shield and bounced off without leaving so much as a dent. Solaire, seemingly unperturbed, swung again at the gargoyle, but it leapt out of range. This put it directly in range of the Pilgrim again, and he took advantage of it. He dodged past the lashing tail, and drove his blade into the soft flesh underneath the gargoyle's stone skin.
The beast lurched forward, clawing at the Pilgrim and knocking him down. The gargoyle flew overhead, spewing flame directly on top of the Pilgrim as it did. The heat was instense, and the Pilgrim nearly passed out instantly. Searing pain exploded from every part of his body, but he felt something grab onto him and drag him out of the flames. Something was taken from his belt, and put into his mouth. A breath later he regained focus, seeing the gargoyle bearing toward them.
"On your feet, we need to move." Solaire commanded, hauling the Pilgrim to his feet. The halberd smashed into the roof between them as they scrambled out of its path. "Keep it busy!" Solaire shouted, tossing the flask back to the Pilgrim and running around behind the gargoyle.
The gargoyle turned to attack Solaire as he ran past, but the Pilgrim drew its attention by banging his sword against his shield. "Over here!" He shouted, retreating and drawing it away from Solaire. The gargoyle attacked with the halberd, which the Pilgrim dodged. Then the gargoyle stabbed forward with its tail, and hit the Pilgrim in the side. The blade on the end of the gargoyle's tail sliced through armor and flesh with equal ease, and the Pilgrim fell to his knees. Looking up, he saw Solaire holding a literal lightning bolt.
The gargoyle raised the halberd to finish him when suddenly it jerked and dropped the weapon. Electricity ran through its body and it fell forward stunned, barely missing the Pilgrim.
"The light of the Sun provides warmth and life to its allies, but its enemies shall know its blinding fury!" Solaire shouted triumphantly. The Pilgrim healed his injuries with the flask as the gargoyle began to rise, grabbing its weapon and standing between the two warriors.
"You're outmatched beast! You stand against two peerless warriors, and you are but one demon." Solaire proclaimed, shortly before another smaller gargoyle, having broken away from the building and flown down while the two were distracted with its ally, slammed the flat of its halberd into his back.
Solaire flew several feet, before landing into a roll. The first gargoyle only barely missed impaling him to the roof, and Solaire stood up and ran over to the Pilgrim. "That simply wasn't sporting..." He said as he arrived, turning to face the advancing gargoyles with the Pilgrim.
A smile touched at the Pilgrim's lips, but he remained focused on the task at hand. "Does nothing give you pause? Those things landed two direct hits on you. You are truly a fearsome warrior."
"I am simply a Warrior of Sunlight. I do what I must to help those in need. Nothing less, nothing more." He replied.
"Got anymore lightning bolts to throw?" The Pilgrim asked, edging back toward the door they'd come out of.
"I could, but it takes some time to recite the incantation. You'll have to distract them again, and the last time you almost died. I couldn't do that to you again." Solaire replied solemnly.
"I can handle myself, that was simply carelessness. Just make sure you make your shot count." The Pilgrim said dismissively, sprinting toward the ever advancing beasts.
Two gargoyles was a mixed blessing. As big as they were it was difficult for both of them to maneuver on the roof, much less swing their large weapons. However, they would probably use their tails and fire more often than not in that case. While he was still ahead of them, they both swung their halberds in downward strikes. The Pilgrim had expected this, and slowed his pace so as to avoid them before returning to a run and moving past them.
The larger gargoyle swiped at the Pilgrim with its tail as he ran past, missing and instead hitting the smaller one. It shrieked in pain, hissing at its ally before they both turned toward the man behind them. The Pilgrim noted that the smaller gargoyle had only a stump where its tail once was. Finally a break! The Pilgrim took a deep breath, gathering himself before the onslaught. The smaller gargoyle let loose a stream of fire as the larger one fanned the flames with its wings. The Pilgrim was ready this time, rushing back toward the bell tower and avoiding the inferno. The gargoyles continued their assault, extending the trail of flame. The fires burned out rather quickly, but they still presented a problem. The Pilgrim had no way to fight back and the wall was fast approaching.
Rather than let them drive him to the wall, the Pilgrim rolled into the flames. He felt the heat all around him, but focused solely on standing and getting through the fire as quickly as possible. He suffered only a few minor burns before clearing the flames and meeting the waiting gargoyles.
The larger gargoyle whipped its tail at him, but the Pilgrim managed to avoid it. Getting in close to the two of them, the Pilgrim began stabbing and slashing at the two of them. His blade barely scratched the larger gargoyle, but the smaller one's skin crumbled with every blow, blood trickling from every wound. He surmised it must have been older, hence the damage to its tail and brittle skin. The gargoyles were hesitant at first, but they quickly began stomping and clawing at the Pilgrim. With foes on both sides, the Pilgrim knew he couldn't hold out long. He glanced over to see what was taking Solaire and saw him standing with bolt in hand, just waiting.
"What are you waiting for?' The Pilgrim shouted, just before one of the gargoyles swiped him with its claws. The blow knocked him flat, rending his armor once more. The smaller gargoyle stepped back to allow the larger one to land the final blow.
"That!" Solaire replied, tossing the bolt with deadly accuracy.
The gargoyle reeled as the bolt struck it in the throat, spinning and allowing the Pilgrim to see the wound the first bolt had left. All the stone that had covered the area had been blasted away, leaving the soft flesh underneath exposed. The smaller gargoyle was slow to react, but the Pilgrim was not. He sprung to his feet and used the last of his estus. He jumped up and plunged his blade into the larger gargoyle's back. It wrenched and shrieked, lashing wildly at the Pilgrim with its tail and hitting itself more often than not.
Suddenly it reached back and grabbed him, pulling him off. The Pilgrim's arms were still free however, and he managed to keep hold of his sword. The gargoyle drew him before its face, flames sparking in its mouth. The Pilgrim's eyes widened and before the gargoyle could let loose the flame, the Pilgrim plunged his sword into the wound in its neck. Flames spilled onto its chest and it dropped him, coughing several times before collapsing onto the roof.
The smaller gargoyle bellowed with rage, swinging wildly with its halberd. The Pilgrim had no chance to dodge, he landed on the ground as the halberd hit him. The weapon sliced deeply into his stomach, the armor did absorb a great deal of the blow however. He fell to the ground, holding his stomach and watching the halberd rise for another blow. It descended and stopped just above him as Solaire blocked the weapon, and fought the gargoyle off.
The weaker gargoyle was no match for the battle hardened warrior and soon fell before him. As it died, both gargoyles crumbled into dust and a green glow came out of them. Souls flooded into the Pilgrim and he sat up to find Solaire extending a hand to him. "Fine work, friend! A rousing battle!" He said happily.
The Pilgrim took his hand and was hauled to his feet. He grimaced and swayed. "That was some fantastic work you did, inspiring really. The Lord of Sunlight himself couldn't have done better."
"I'm sure Lord Gwyn wouldn't have ended this battle with such a grievous wound..." The Pilgrim said weakly.
"Yes, about that. I've some things to give you. First, this." Solaire replied, digging a medallion out of his pack and tossing it to the Pilgrim.
"Thanks, but how does this help?" The Pilgrim asked with some annoyance.
"That is a symbol of my faith, a Sunlight Medallion. Only those truly worthy of being a warrior of sunlight are given them. It will not help you at all with your wound, but have pride in earning one."
"But you said..." The Pilgrim began to protest.
"So I did, and that's what this is for." Solaire interrupted, pulling one of the small black sprites from his pack and handing it to him.
"Humanity? How will this help? I'm not hollow yet."
"Humanity has far more uses than just restoring human form. It is one of the sources of the essence of life, estus. To the living, estus burns. To the undead, estus is a miraculous gift, that makes this curse into a boon for those with the willpower to use it. Getting estus from a source is a much stronger effect than a flask."
The Pilgrim burst the sprite, and the pain instantly subsided. He could feel the humanity within himself now, warmth emanating from the core of his body. He'd usually used it as soon as he'd found it, but he had to admit he liked the feeling. He stored the medallion within the Darksign, and Solaire visibly jumped.
"You just... I haven't seen anything like that since he disappeared..." Solaire mumbled.
"Who?" The Pilgrim asked.
"I've honestly never known his name, he was a furtive man. Never giving the same name twice, and always leaving you with more questions than answers. I learned some very interesting secrets from him, however. Such as the one you've just demonstrated." Solaire answered after some thought. "Do you trust me?" He asked suddenly.
The Pilgrim was caught off guard by the question. "I suppose so, why?"
"Store your blade within the Darksign for a moment."
The Pilgrim did as Solaire asked. "Now recall it and hand it to me please." Again, the Pilgrim acquiesced. "My thanks. Now, watch this!" Solaire said, turning and hurling the sword off the top of the cathedral toward the drop into the forest.
"Why?!" The Pilgrim shouted as the sword spiraled into the chasm.
"To enlighten you. Return the sword to the Darksign." Solaire said simply.
"But it's not in my hand. How am I to do that?" The Pilgrim said with a sigh. Solaire had unorthodox teaching methods, but his knowledge always proved useful.
"The same way you always have, envision it merging with your soul once more. Once you've done that, recall the blade to your hand."
The Pilgrim hadn't ever actually done that, but he played along anyway. He brought an image of the sword into his head, enveloped in flames. Feeling no different, he willed the blade to his hand. It appeared in the usual flash of flame, much to his surprise.
Solaire beamed with happiness. "Well done, I wasn't certain you'd get it on your first try."
"And so you threw my only weapon off a cliff?"
"Er... Yes, well. We entail great risk every moment we are in this land, so..." Solaire stammered.
"Oh come off it, you hadn't thought it through." The Pilgrim said with a laugh. "What is this skill anyway? Is it common? The blacksmith hadn't ever seen its like."
"Certainly not, it is incredibly uncommon. It is called soul imprinting. Legends say the gods are capable of such feats, and they gave the ability to favored subjects and those few passed it on to descendants. It was assumed lost when the curse of the undead came to rise. Clerics see it as a sign of divine favor, although I imagine they would proclaim it heresy or deceit if a simple adventurer were seen making use of it. I'd refrain from using it as freely as you do. Feel free to use it on your own though, no hollow will care enough to condemn you. Ha ha ha!" Solaire explained.
Suddenly Solaire began to shimmer, the orange glow around him beginning to slowly dissipate. "Oh, it appears my time is up. I'll be seeing you."
"What's happening to you?" The Pilgrim asked, slightly concerned.
"The energy used to bind me to your time is dissipating. Fighting demons such as those will certainly drain it quickly, under normal circumstances I could stay almost indefinitely. Until next time friend, may the Sun shine brightly upon you always!" He answered, fading slowly until he'd disappeared entirely.
The Pilgrim sheathed his sword, eager to continue onto the bell. He ran toward the tower, wary of the remaining gargoyles. They seemed to be mere statues however, and gave him no trouble. Entering the bell tower, he turned and ascended the ladder up to the next floor. A platform led outside to another ladder, which he climbed as well. As he climbed he could see the top of the fortress that Siegmeyer had been sitting outside of. A large statue stood on a platform, surrounded by nothing but open air and a path that connected to the fortress. The walls of Anor Londo were close enough to the platform that one could easily fire an arrow over them, although no entrance to the fabled city presented itself.
The ladder ended just beneath the bell. A small, simple platform held a lever and the ancient bell hung only a few meters above it. The Pilgrim hesitated, this close to the bell, he'd be almost deafened by the clashing metal. His hesitation was momentary however, he'd waited too long for this. Walking up to the lever, he grabbed the handle and hauled back.
A mechanical click followed by the sounds of machinery preceded the clear ring of the first bell. Ancient though it was, its tone was loud and crystal clear. From his vantage atop the tower, the Pilgrim had a fantastic view of the cathedral and the burg. All his trials and setbacks laid out before him like a map, but he'd conquered it all. Pride welled up inside of him, and the ringing of the bell was joined by his own triumphant cry.