Part 46: - Let the Feast Begin
Finally, we'll be heading into Filianore's chapel and awaken the princess. But what exactly does this entail? And what will happen once Gwyn's youngest daughter opens her eyes? She is, after all awaiting her father. Who, how we know so very well, is long dead.
Spears of the Church
We get access to the Covenant after killing Midir
"A green-rusted ornament of young grass, the crest of Princess Filianore. Equip to join the Spears of the Church covenant.
The Spears of the Church watch over the Princess' slumber, and when the church is compromised by a trespasser, the Judicator summons them as loyal spirits to eliminate the threat (Summoned automatically while this is equipped).
Loyal spirits summoned as Spears of the Church are granted a blessing of protection."
This is an interesting Covenant because it allows players to take the role of a boss. While a spear of the church does not get any Estus they get a automatically regenerating Homing Soulmass type spell Additionally invaders will get higher defenses depending on how many phantoms the challenging player has summoned. Whoever wins will get a Filianore's Spear Ornament as a reward. So you can level this covenant up both by defending and attacking.
Filianore's Spear Ornament
"The Spears of the Church watch over the Princess' slumber, and this serves as proof of their fulfillment of their duty. The embellished gold cloth is woven with a crest of young grass.
The Princess' knights proudly displayed these precious flavors, which were most often seen swaying from their identical ceremonial spears."
It is possible to reset this fight a the purging monument by reinstating the king's decree in exchange for some souls.
The fight will usually begin with Judicator Argo holding is speech. You can kill him while he does that but whether you kill him or not doesn't change a thing. First a Painting Guardian will be summoned, then, moments later, the Spear of the Church. Once the Spear is down to half health a "second phase" begins and another Painting Guardian is summoned. The Painting Guardians have the ability to cast a heal spell and are the only source of healing for the Spear player. If you're playing offline or there's no other player available you will instead fight Halflight, Spear of the Church, an NPC version of the fight. He can be handled like any other NPC opponent. You can collect the covenant items and acquire rewards whether you are online or not, though.
Ritual Spear Fragment (You get this one for free near the Covenant's monument)
"Online play item.
A fragment of the matching ritual spears once held by the knights of Princess Filianore.
They are the namesake of the Spears of the Church.
When Spears of the Chruch face unduly treacherous foes, this allows them to draw upon former majesty, and summon a row of upward-thrusting ritual spears"
Young Grass Dew: (For 10 Filianore's Spear Ornaments)
"A small, transparent stone that once graced the green young grass crest.
This semi-precious gem honors a Spear of Church after a battle well-fought, and is said to slightly enhance their blessing of protection. (while held, this effect is constant)"
Divine Spear Fragment: (For 30 Filianore's Spear Ornaments)
"Online play item.
A fragment of the matching ritual spears once held by the knights of Princess Filianore.
These Divine Spears of gold were placed in the trusted hands of exalted Spears.
When Spears of the Church face unduly treacherous foes, this allows them to draw upon former majesty, and summon a row of upward-thrusting ritual spears."
Filianore and the Embraced Shell
After ascending the staircase and entering her tower we find Filianore sitting there asleep, resting on what looks like an egg (some Loresters (tm) speculate that it's a Transposing Kiln for whatever reason). As mentioned in a previous post, Filia is latin for daughter while Anor is elvish for sun. Daughter of the Sun. Alternatively it could be viewed as philia, brotherly love in greek and noir, black in french. Friend to the Dark.
She is the lastborn daughter of Gwyn, former Lord of Sunlight and first Lord of Cinder, who left her behind in the Ringed City promising to return to her "when the day came". What that day is, is unknown and seeing as Gwyn chose to become fuel for the first flame he clearly valued the Age of Fire over that promise. When we find her Filianore has been asleep for possibly thousands of years. The only thing we can do, really, aside from leaving, is to touch the embraced shell.
It's awfully fragile and crumbles immediately, which awakes Filianore who looks at us rather confused. A light comes from the remnants of the shell and... umm. I don't know really. Filianore is now a rotten corpse and we find yourselves in a Wasteland, everything is in ruins except for Lothric and Anor Londo way in the distance. Most people assume that means we've traveled forward in time to world's end. Others assume that some kind of illusion has been shattered, like we shattered Gwyndolyn's illusion after attacking the fake Gwynevere. But I don't think that theory holds because you can actually travel back to the Ringed City and it will be as we left it. Going back through Filianore's Church into her room she will be gone completely.
Another theory is that the Ringed City is contained within a bubble. Mainly because the sky lacks the giant Darksign we've seen all throughout the Dreg Heap. But but that eclipse is also not visible from the Wasteland. The Pygmy we find just when entering the Ringed City tells us that "[Filianore's] slumber is a deceit. A lid covering an overgrown privy; a prop to keep thee from the dark soul of thine desire.". This implies that it is an illusion of some kind. For some reason I find myself leaning towards the "a lot of time passed" theory.
Venturing into that Wasteland we can see a Pygmy King crawling, once we're close enough we can see that his head is nearly separated from the rest of his body. He's crawling to Filianore for help, trying to warn her that the red hood has come to eat them. To eat their dark souls.
Slave Knight Gael
Here we have Gael. One regular human being that has slain and consumed the pygmy kings in order to reform something that resembles the Dark Soul. Only it's taken the form of blood. It's most likely that what he wanted to do was to create a world free of the curse. At least this is what we can only assume the purpose of painting a world with the Blood of the Dark Soul is. It's not outright stated, but I have no idea what else it could be.
After consuming many pygmies one could say that he's become an amalgamation of humans, similar to how the Soul of Cinder is an amalgamation of Lords. Gael must have known that he had no way to maintain control of his own self when acquiring the Dark Soul and going through what could have been many many years of slaughter, assuming that what happens when we touch the egg is time passing to the end of the world. (It could of course also be just a bubble that isolates the Ringed City from the outside). So he made sure to guide us through the Dreg Heap, to the Ringed City where he was certain we'd eventually catch up with him, although in a convoluted way. He wants us to kill him to take the Blood of the Dark Soul to the Painter Girl.
With the blood pouring out of him he seems to remember part of his identity, he stands upright and fights using more human motions. And in the final phase of the fight more small glimpses of his consciousness surface every time he begins crying immediately before a stream of dark essence erupts from him. In fact, for almost all my Gael kills, he did this specific attack that lets you get in several hits for free when he was near death. Presumably to let us land the killing blow. While it didn't happen in the main LP video it did happen in the bonus LP and all my other successful attempts. While it's not a guaranteed thing I'm fairly sure that it's scripted to happen more often when he's at very low health and that there's significance to it. But maybe someone else has had different experiences here.
The fight itself is separated into three phases. After the initial cutscene, the end of which mirrors Artorias' intro cutscene which in turn is a reference to the introduction of the Penetrator from Demon's Souls, Gael rushes towards you on all fours. His fighting style is very feral and he uses his sword exclusively. Easy opportunities to get hits in are when he performs a flying downward thrust at the end of a combo or after his grab, which is telegraphed by him glowing red and then dashing towards you. This phase lasts until a third of his health is gone. After that a cutscene will play. Gael collapses to the ground and starts bleeding. The cutscene makes it look like he's bleeding from his face somewhere but the description of the blood mentions that the blood we get after winning is from the hole in his chest. Though, it's kind of hard to see that hole actually bares his Darksign. It's the first time we ever actually see someone's brand as something other than an inventory item. In any case, seeing his own blood, which he calls the Blood of the Dark Soul, seems to give remind him of how he used to fight.
And so, in phase 2, we see Gael stand upright and he gets a completely new moveset. He's much less mobile and istead moves very slowly, using ranged attacks instead of distance closers, though he can run towards you if you are too far away and while it's never happened when I played he can also teleport towards you. In addition to his sword he now uses his repeating crossbow as well and a version of the Way of White Corona that shoots out multiple discs. Most importantly, though, his cape gets weaponized as well. In practice this means that the hitbox of his swings lingers for a bit because it usually follows his swings. The cape itself does much less damage. In fact, it's viable to trade hits as he doesn't do as much damage as in phase 1 overall. If you really want to avoid getting hit by the cape I suggest always dodging counterclockwise as all of his swings except the one where he swings clockwise, will have the cape be on his right-hand side, your left. Generally, don't dodge against his attacks unless you are certain you got the timing down. It's better to avoid his hitboxes completely than trying to minimize the time overlapping with it during a dodge roll due to it being active longer. But again, it doesn't do that much damage and trading hits might make things go by quicker.
Once is health is down to one third he'll begin phase 3 by weeping. Don't be fooled. While this is an opportunity to get hits in you should first get a feel for what's about to happen. Gael's crying is the tell for one of his new attacks in phase 3. Skulls will erupt from the hole in his chest. While those skulls damage you on their own the real attack is them landing on the ground making it glow white. These glowing spots will be struck by lighting that can damage you as well as Gael within a few seconds. Somehow a lot of people don't make the connection between the lightning and that. In this final phase gael's cape still makes dodging through attacks more difficult than usual. In addition to his weep he also has a specific combo that unleashes the Thunderskulls. Generally, when you see skulls just get away to be safe. Unless you're confident to not run into the spots they mark for the lighting. In contrast to phase 2 where he moved very slowly he now pretty much flies across the arena to get to you. I find this phase more imposing than anything. It's not too hard avoiding his attacks and as soon as you figure out which attacks end a combo you'll be able to output damage at a reasonable pace.
By the way, he shares no moves the first two phases. In fact, none of his phases share moves with one another. Esentially, Gael is three unique bosses with one long health bar. In contrast to Friede, which is a boss that builds on the respective previous phases but has three separate health bars, which irked some people. While it's functionally the same it feels different to a lot of players. FromSoft must have considered that when designing Gael. I find this difference in how a challenge is viewed interesting. Because I personally feel like I'm making more progress if I have separate health bars to take down but others feel cheated that them defeating a phase does not end the fight or at least give them permanent progress. On the other hand, I would not want Gael to have shorter health bars for each phase as his big one makes him feel much more powerful. Anyway, enough with this tangent about the psychology behind boss health bars
Once Gael is down we get the Blood of the Dark Soul in addition to his Soul. Which raises the question of what exactly the Dark Souls is. Was it really as we initially assumed split up and turned into what we knew as humanity? After all, the item called humanity only ever appeared in the first game, so maybe it changed over time. Then again, the sprite of the Ember in Dark Souls III is essentially the sprite of the humanity item. Only on fire. Which implies that the flame and the dark formed one. Or it could be another "Darksign" with the flame surrounding the dark of the humanity. I'd like to point out that all this is purely speculation. Whatever the case may be, the Dark Soul in Dark Souls III has taken the form of blood or specifically, as it's called the Blood of the Dark Soul, the Dark Soul bled or became one with the blood of the Pygmy kings Gael slaughtered. Ultimately it's up to us to decide what the hell any of this means. Much like with the rest of the lore, we get just enough information to fuel our imagination, but not enough to get real answers. I mentioned this in the lore dump accompanying the Ringed City Streets episode, but this is very much in line with the way Miyazaki wrote the lore and what inspired him to do it, being unable to fully understand english language fantasy novels. So he had to fill in the blanks.
Some people expected concrete answers to lingering questions regardless. I'm personally very happy with the DLC and how it didn't give us clear answers. Just a bit more info that helped us make some sense of things. And then some more info that raises more questions than it answers. I feel if it truly tried to tie it all together it would end up being forced and probably much less cool than whatever it is that people come up with. Even if goons collectively sneer as any theory mentions Lloyd and roll their eyes at Velka. Or how I personally always laughed at any theory that involves Solaire. Except the one that he's just crazy. Because he's nuts. Did you listen to that guy? Like... ever? That said, did you know that Siegmeyer is secretly and very clearly Old Man McLoyf? Wait, you don't know who Old Man McLoyf is? For shame. Don't even google it, you're not worthy.
Blood of the Dark Souls
Blood of the dark soul that seeped from the hole within Slave Knight Gael.
Used as pigment by his lady in Ariandel to depict a painted world.
When Gael came upon the pygmy lords, he discovered that their blood had long ago dried, and so consumed the dark soul.
Soul of Slave Knight Gael
Soul of Slave Knight Gael. One of the twisted souls, steeped in strength.
Use to acquire many souls, or transpose to extract its true strength.
The red-hooded, wandering slave knight Gael sought the blood of the dark soul as pigment for the Painted World. But Gael knew he was no Champion, that the dark soul would likely ruin him and that he had little hope of a safe return.
Ringed Knight Paired Greatswords
Paired black greatswords wielded by the Ringed Knights. The arms of early men were forged in the Abyss, and betray a smidgen of life. For this the gods cast a seal of fire upon such weapons, and those who possessed them.
Skill: Ember - Cross the twin timeworn greatswords to reignite a short-lived flame. A lightning-quick upward heave slices the very air, and transitions into normal or strong attacks.
Greatsword of Slave Knight Gael, the only weapon that he kept with him from beginning to end.
Originally an executioner's sword made for decapitation, this blade is heavily chipped and stained with the blood of countless battles.
Skill: Blade of Peril - A precarious technique unique to undead Gael. Leap in any direction, slamming the greatsword to the ground, then follow with normal attack for a large spinning slash, or strong attack to back-step and jump foward in an overhead slam.
This crossbow, customized for repeat-firing to face mobs alone, was wielded by Slave Knight Gael.
Used in the battles of an endless journey, this crossbow is covered with twists and dinks, rusted with blood, and made extremely brittle from overuse.
Skill: Repeat Fire - Assume stance to activate repeat firing mechanism, and repeat fire with normal and strong attacks.
This shield, as hard as a great boulder, is formed by the head of the descendant of an Archdragon.
The Ringed Knights, by command of the gods, stood amongst the ranks who set out to slay the dragons, but their contributions were never lauded.
Skill: Dragon Breath - Even the descendant of an Archdragon perishes not, and use of this skill restores its former strength, sweeping foes with a frontal exhalation of dragon breath.
Armor of Shira, knight in service to Filianore. A rare women's piece from ancient times.
With a spun gold shawl draped over the silver breastplate and a green woven skirt, this armor offers a subdued yet refined elegance, apropos to both a handmaiden of the Princess and one whose veins coarse with royal blood.
Crown of Shira, knight in service to Filianore. Finely crafted with silver and fashioned with a pearl from a Man Eater Shell.
Shira delivered the crucified mad king to the darkroom, where she stayed, in her formal wear, even though none would see her.
Crucifix of the Mad King
A cross spear hung with a malformed corpse.
Once, a mad king was born to the pygmy royalty and Shira, knight of Filianore, put him to rest. But Shira's cross spear, unable to kill the undying king, only pinned itself to him. Shira delivered them together to the darkroom, where she stayed and held them close.
Skill: Mad King's Folly - Slam malformed corpse into the ground to briefly awaken it, then fillet with strong attack to trigger a roar, a blessing, or vexation.
Steel armor of the amnesiac Lapp.
This plate-armor body, that covers the torso cleanly without even slight gaps, provides heavy defense.
Quite fit to conceal a hollowed body, and indeed one's very identity.
And now for the thing I always do at the end of my LPs: Boring numbers put into some kind of context. Ah yes, stats. Since I've LP'd all three Dark Souls games let's have a look at some of the facts I can still gather.
The numbers don't match up with the stats from the end of the Dark Souls or Dark Souls II LP. I don't quite know why, but I did go through my old folders again to make sure the numbers are right this time.
Dark Souls was my first proper LP. While I did make a couple really bad ones beforehand that was the first one I did seriously. At the time I considered it a very big project, which it was. It came out before Dark Souls II was even announced, so Dark Souls, while successful, was not quite the phenomenon it later became. It took me six months to complete the LP, but it pales in comparison with the other two. If I a new version gets released I just might do it again to have an excuse to wipe the horrible audio of the first 12 episodes of the LP off the earth. While some people seem to think this is the hardest game in the series it takes little more than playing it after the second or third game to see that it is, in fact, much easier than either of the other two.
At the end of Dark Souls I said I probably won't do another project of that magnitude, then Dark Souls II came out and not only did it take me longer (weekly updates, sometimes more), I decided it would be a great idea to record every area twice, once on a fresh file, another one in NG+ in an effort to show footage of the NG+ changes every time they came up. Also sometimes to hide flow-breaking deaths and other shenanigans. The two full comprehensive runs I only showed half of explain the higher amount of raw footage cimpared to the total runtime of the LP. I then went on to say that I probably won't do a project of that magnitude again.
And then Dark Souls III came out. And that's where we find ourselves now. The Main LP was about as long as Dark Souls II while the Bonus LP was much longer this time around. While Dark Souls III has less videos than II and took me longer to complete, all that really means that my update "schedule" for III was more consistent. I only missed one week, and that was Christmas, so I think I have an excuse. Dark Souls III turned out to have some of the best individual areas, best bosses and what I feel is the best DLC with the Ringed City. As a result Dark Souls III is my favorite of the three games, which is probably not that common, most people seem to prefer one of the first two games. That said, I have no plans to take on another LP project that big... yeah my next LP, whatever it may be, will probably take two years to finish but don't tell anybody.
Over the course of the Bonus LPs I had a total of six co-commentators in order of their appearance: Krimsh (I, II, III), JunpeiHyde (I, III), Interrupter Jones (II, III), BFC (III), shibbotech (III) and Skippy Granola (III). Thanks to all those kind folks for lending me their voices, their humor and their insights to make the Bonus LPs worthwhile. And yes, Krimsh was the only one to appear in all three bonus runs but every single one of those who participated appeared in the Dark Souls III bonus vids. Once my usual suspects weren't available for a variety of reasons I brought in shibbo and Skippy for the home stretch. Over the course of these bonus LPs I owed Krimsh three canadian dollars (haven't paid him yet), became a kayfabe brazilian, we managed to make time convoluted within the LP. Not a simple feat but I think I can blame Skippy for wanting to do the DLC before the Soul of Cinder and Nameless King videos.
With all that said I think the only thing left would be for me to thank you for following the LP. Seeya around!