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I'm a 20 year old lazybones who lives at the beach. I like history, cats, learning how to do internet stuff, and games. I can go on and on, and I like to talk about whatever, so don't hesitate to instigate a conversation. Because I probably won't. I'm lazy, remember?



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Old Lion
4:20 PM on 02.25.2014

The Kinect monitored the motionless form of the man strapped to the chair. Gaunt. Bruised. Broken. He had endured countless beatings and the starvation imposed on him, but he had not been here in this room before. His stillness was an attempt to conserve energy, and a weak attempt to fool his captors. But the Kinect could sense his heartbeat, it could see the faint shaking of his hands, and it could tell he was not asleep. 



The door to room XB-1 opened slowly, and a man stepped in.
His footsteps echoed across the concrete walls painted black. 

"Open your eyes."

The seated man did nothing.

"You are not asleep. Now please, open your eyes."

He did so with a groan and looked at his interrogator.
He was dressed in a drab suit. His eyes were the same dull brown as his clothes, and his face was like a blank slate, emotionless. 

"I need to test you to see if you are mentally capable of further interrogation."

He cleared his throat.

"Former North America, South America, and the British Isles, which markets are these?"

The seated man attempted to answer, but his throat was too dry. The drably dressed man produced a cup of water and held it to his lips for him to drink. It was the first clean water he'd had in two days. It felt good in his throat.

"Market 1, Market 2, and Market 3."

"Who controls Former Europe and Russia? Former East Asia?"

"Sony. Nintendo."

"This has always been, hasn't it?"

He paused for a long moment before answering, "Yes."

The drab man nodded slowly, before focusing his attention on his hands.

"Why are your hands shaking?"

"Some people believe that comes from playing too many videogames."

The drab man snorted. "Ridiculous. There is no downside to videogames. None at all. Improved hand-eye coordination, lowering of the crime rate.... No downside whatsoever."

"Is that right?"

"Yes." He walked behind the restrained man and dragged another chair in front of him. Then he loosened his tie and took off his suit jacket, placing it neatly over the back of the chair.

"Do you know why you are here?"

"No."

"Do you honestly believe that?"

"No."

"That's what I thought."

He adjusted his tie again. "You have been found guilty of ratingcrime and improper belief concerning our product, rating it a 7.5 out of 10 on your website. As you know, as all publications concerning the product in question know, anything less than an 8 out of 10 is illegal." 

"It was not very good..."

"It was a AAA product created by the company-state of Microsoft. It cannot be anything other than 'great' or 'fantastic'. How can you fail to see this?"

"It was a rehash of the previous game, nothing new was added to the formula but improved graphics and it was riddled with game-breaking bugs..."

The drab man sighed and put his elbows up on the arms of the chair. He steepled his hands and rested his chin on them.

"100,000 people worked on this single game. 10 billion dollars and countless resources were expended in production. To say it is anything less than perfect or near perfect... It is a traitorous action. You knew this, and yet you did so anyway. Why?"

"Compared to the previous installment, it was lacking."

"That is simply impossible."

"It's the truth..."

"No. It isn't. The latest installment has surpassed the previous one in every way imaginable."

The drab man brought his face close to the gaunt one of the ratingcriminal. 
"You've seen too much, haven't you? You've probably heard of the Nintendo products, right? Mario, Zelda, Miis. You know those are shallow copies of our Larry O., Hilda, and Avatars, yes? You've probably heard about the company-state Sega?"

The ratingcriminal said nothing.

"You do realize that such a thing has never existed. It was just a rumor. It has always been Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo." He paused. "Do you love Gates, sir? Everyone loves Gates. He founded our great nation! He provides for us!"

The drab man's face lit up at the mere mention of Gates, a smile even crossing his lips, but he quickly regained his neutral composure. 

"We saw you, you know. At the weekly Hate. You did not seem to vent on Ken Levine, a noteworthy and hateable figure. You had done so before. Why not recently?"

"We didn't hate Levine a month ago."

"Yes, we did."

"It was another-"

"It was Ken Levine. It was always so. He has always deserved your hate, and no other."

The drab man sighed and did not speak for awhile. He simply stared at his prisoner.

"You do not love Gates."

He was quiet.

"You do not love and respect Microsoft."

He remained quiet.

"I bet you believe that on-disc DLC hasn't existed since the beginning as well? That there was such a thing as 'single player'?"

He laughed.

"You are right of course. About those things. Not that it matters to Microsoft."

He stood up and began to pace.

"We control the markets. We decide what is released, at what level of quality they are made. We are the norm. Would you rather live under Nintendo's thumb? Or that of Sony? Nintendo would grant you a number to be shared with all who pass you by, monitoring your every step. Sony would keep you under the watch of jet-black monoliths."

He kicked the chair away and stared into the criminal's eyes.

"There is no hope for this industry. Indie developers? Bah!" He spat to the side. "They cannot dislodge us. New companies? They are absorbed by us. We harbor the obsessive need to collect with our achievements before raking the consumer over the coals with downloadable content required to attain them. Fuck the consumer. They are masses of shrimp gathered in a net to be devoured as slowly as possible."

He backed away from the gaunt figure in the chair and composed himself.

"But you don't need to know this. You don't need to let them know either, not that they would listen in the first place. Do you want a vision of the future of videogames?" he said, bringing their faces close to touching once again. "Imagine that fat Mario fellow jumping on a human head and crushing it before stealing their wallet... Forever." 

The drab man walked behind the ratingcriminal, and for a moment, the criminal could hear the sound of a draw being opened. Then he felt a cold wet spot on
his neck, followed by the sharp prick of a needle.

"Soon enough we'll piece out our games into fully priced but separate components. You and others like you will accept this as having always been. You will not remember the days of physical cartridges and discs. It will be entirely digital... Just like it has always been, correct?"

The criminal could not answer, could not move.

"You will love Gates, as all men and women of Microsoft do. And you know what? After all this is over, we may even let you have your old job reviewing games in Market 3 back. Sometimes, taking a break to gain a little perspective is important."

The clinking of metal could be heard.

"Oh, you know what? I don't believe I even know your name. Let's see..."

Papers rustled as the drab man leafed through them.

"Mr... Mr... Hmm... Well, it's not really important. Regardless of our names," he said, ripping some paper in half, "we're all the same to Gates."

The criminal could not answer, could not move... But he could feel.
And he felt everything...








In the midst of the beginning of the journey of life, I found myself in a dark wood, where the direct path was lost. I cannot rightly say how I entered it, for my mind was filled with the particular numbness which occurs after an extended period of complacent activity. However, as a man who has escaped the crashing sea crawls upon the shore and turns to stare at the waters, so do I turn to stare upon the events that led me to that most fascinating place.
Within the dark wood I was assailed by beasts and, fleeing for my life, came upon a xanthous man standing atop the crest of a hill. I pleaded for assistance from the figure, who raised his hand and commanded the creatures to depart. Thus they did, slinking away beneath the boughs of the trees, but for one being, an enormous snarling she-wolf.
The man made a tremendous and mighty list of obscenities to which the she-wolf growled, and slunk away, muttering (much to my surprise) about sexism.
"That beast, amongst the others, was it the worst of it's kind?" I asked the man, whom I could see by the light of the moon, was possessed of a singular eye, the emptiness of the opposite socket occluded by a patch wound about his head.
"Yea." he proclaimed, staring at the spot where the virulent beast had retreated.
"It's name is Kotaku, and it is amongst the foulest of it's ilk." Then he turned to me, and spoke these words. "One day she will grow starved, and she will devour herself, or be devoured in turn by her own kind. Come now, follow me and I will escort you to the demesne." As I hesitated he said, "Do not behave as does a whimpering bitch, you bitch."
Then he departed and I followed behind.


As we journeyed he told me of himself, that his name was Phil, and that he would gladly be my guide through this place, and that which lay beyond. When I questioned the purpose of such a journey, he told me to, "Shut the fuck up so we can proceed with the narrative."
Thus I did, and remained silent until we came upon a great maw in the earth. I proclaimed, frightened, "Must we journey into such depths?" and Phil replied, "we have not yet reached the beginning of our descent. Make haste." He paused, then muttered,
"Damn sissy-boy." We delved deep into the caverns, before we came to a great gate.
It resembled a face, but for it's rectangular features and verdant hue. Upon that visage two great eyes came alight with brilliant crimson, and a mechanical voice boomed,

THROUGH ME THE WAY TO THE AWESOME CITY,
THROUGH ME THE WAY TO ETERNAL LOLS,
THROUGH ME THE WAY TO THE COOL PEOPLE.

PASSION MOVED MY SUPREME MAKER:
I WAS SHAPED BY ELECTRONIC POWER,
BY COMPUTER WISDOM, AND BY LOVE OF GAMES.
BEFORE ME, NOTHING WAS CREATED
THAT IS NOT LAME, AND ETERNALLY MY GREATNESS SHALL ENDURE.
ABANDON ALL PRETENSION, YOU THAT ENTER HERE.

The ground shook such that I am filled with terror to recall it. The red light flashed, overcoming my senses, and I fell to the ground and fainted, as a man overcome by sleep, as the voice boomed, "ALSO DICKS."

Through a long darkness I awoke suddenly into light. An enormous field was laid before me, filled with men and women meandering about in groups, and alone. Upon every shoulder was draped a snake with many mouths and ears, rising from the multitudes into the clouds that rested far above, beyond my sight. These creatures disturbed me, and sensing my apprehension, my guide explained, "That being is the Disqus, it connects all who dwell here with one another. It speaks wisdom and truth, insanity and inanity, in equal measure." Here, a tendril lay itself across the nape of my neck, to rest over my heart, and I was paralyzed. My guide slapped the wriggling thing away. "You do not yet reside here, nor do we have the time to be wasted in gaining acceptance from the creature. Let us depart."

We walked for some time, across grass, and over flowing water, which was as solid as the ground. As we traversed the waters, I could see the disc-like form of a great sunfish basking just below the surface. We passed many of the denizens of that place. I saw a man, enrobed in pink, sifting through manuscripts and commanding great legions of resident shades in various activities. My guide stated, "He is Dixon, who organizes the masses here, sending them to their appropriate destinations, and selecting the finest of writings for our pleasure." We passed many more before we came upon a particular pair; a woman, sword in hand, and a man, felines clinging to his face, in such a fashion that their coats appeared to form a beard. The woman spoke with wisdom and passion and the man spoke both reason and madness in a gentle manner. They were delightful companions, but soon we departed, much to my dismay.
"They are compatriots of mine, of most excellent caliber," my guide claimed.
Once again, some time passed before we came to a sheer cliff, with but the barest of winding paths to indicate the possibility of descent. My guide's face paled. He said, "Prepare for the storm to come, for it is strong and foul. Hold to my shoulder." I did, with my other hand pressed against the cliff to steady myself further.
At a point, he said, "We have descended halfway, brace yourself, as the vapors may overcome you." Soon after, a most horrible stench blew into my nostrils on a sudden gale. It reeked of carnal passion, rot, and beans. I tried to persevere, but was overwhelmed and succumbed, falling as a dead man falls.

I woke amidst the roar of passing wind and a stench akin to sulfur. Phil had seated himself upon a protruding rock, looming over me. The air here was so vile that it burned my lungs, but with the help of the benevolent spirit, I managed to come to my feet and issue forth. "You have acclimated to this potent miasma, but let us observe those who are here and leave, elsewise you shall surely perish." Having said such, he brought me to  a ledge, overlooking a yawning chasm and had I not been supported by my companion, I would have been blown away by the winds. All throughout the air, bodies were tossed about like dead leaves in the strong gusts of Autumn. Moaning, they drifted along the powerful currents, spiraling into one another and the cliffs below and afar. Flying demons, heads encased in the visage borne upon that dread gate, beat and savaged all within reach of their weapons, great purple phalli, longer than they were tall. I gazed at this display of brutality in terror and awe for a long while, before my companion said, "Let us now be gone from here." When I made no motion to move, he then exclaimed, "Lest thou art a total fag, and wish to spend the rest of eternity beaten senseless by enormous cocks, you had best get to steppin' with me, NOW." I snapped out of my doldrums, and nodded assent. Thus did we depart from that place.

We descended further, where the air was not so foul with malodor, before I had thought to ask, "From whence does such a flurry come, which tosses those souls with such violence?" "A region where nothing shines," I received in reply.
Leading us ever downward, I was further answered, " If you were to descend those barren cliffs amidst the tumult, you will find deep with that gaping blackness an immeasurable sphincter, belonging to the being known as Holmes, who is imprisoned within the stone. It is from there that the squall issues forth, as well as the fetor accompanying it."
I then said, "Such as storm... I do not truly believe I can imagine something so large that it may produce a force so great."
"It is said that amongst all creations, the sphincter of Holmes is amongst the largest, and most terrible." 

Hereupon we came to the entrance of the third circle. I was warned to stay close, and heed all commands given, lest I be devoured by the guardian beast, Sterling. I agreed, and we moved silently along the roughly hewn path, until we came to an open expanse.
Within the third circle, we were subject to eternal, accursed heavy rain. Tainted water poured down from the shadows, and was swallowed by the putrid earth. Sterling, the fierce and strange monster, triple-chinned, barked horribly over the people submerged in it. His eyes were blazing red, his hair foul and black, his belly vast, and his limbs clawed.
The miserable wretches who caught his attention were flayed and quartered.
Soon, Sterling, the great worm, spotted us, and he opened his jaws and showed his fangs. My guide, stretching out his arms, scooped up mud, and making a motion as if to throw it, tricked Sterling into chasing after a non-existent toss. "CHUNGUS!" he bellowed, chasing after nothing, so loudly that were I any closer to him I would have been driven deaf. We proceeded quickly through the mire.
We passed over the shades, subdued by the downpour, so densely laid that all empty ground seemed a chill corpse. All were lying upon the ground except one, who sat up as we passed near. He said to me: "O you who are led through this cold realm, dost though recognize me? I believe we are acquainted." And I to him: "The anguish that you suffer conceals you from my memory, so I cannot claim to recognize you. Please tell me who you are, enduring such unpleasant lodging." And he to me: "I was called Kris, but I was known by a moniker- useless now, but ingrained into my being. Consisting of both the chimp who swings from branch to branch and the humble spud, was my person known." His name was brought to my mind, and I grew wide-eyed in acknowledgment. "My good fellow," I proclaimed, "My friend! Why do you languish here, in such misery?"
"My consumption of spirits was to an excess, such as may have killed another man. I lay here thus, face upward, unto the deluge, until such a time as I do not know." He sighed wearily. "But my head falls heavy, and my body grows weak, and I needs supplant my place among the prone." He bent his head then, and lowered himself, and it, amongst the blind multitude. 

My guide said to me then, "He will not stir again until his time is done; then he may seek another world, above or below, and find his true place, as all of us do, or have done, or yearn to do." We passed onto a deeper plain with slow steps, where the suffering were drowned beneath the seething flood. We spoke at length of the future, and I made mention of my fellow, "In the other world, will he know peace?" I was answered, "None that dwell within these lands, above us, or below, may know true peace, but when he has found his place, he may be closer to it than before." Trudging through that shallow sea we came to our next descent near a great waterfall. Continuing through the misty dark, speaking of more than I can recount, we came unto the realm below, and Hamza, who controls wealth. 

"Pape Niero, pape Niero aleppe," that creature began to croak, gesturing all around him toward the merchandise on the floor, and walls, all emblazoned with strange symbols and letters, and the emerald device borne upon the entrance to this pit. "Leave us be, beast!" my guide shouted. "We have no intent of purchase, nor money with which to procure your wares!" With a groan full of contempt and disappointment, the gilded being withdrew into the ground, and thus did his goods retreat with him as well. We proceeded unhindered until we came to the shores of a river, which seemed to boil.
It was awash with voices and cries of anger. He who led me explained that the bubbles rising from the river contained the words of those who would wish to incite rage, and have been punished below the river with all of their kith, ever fighting, ever cursing one another. Below the surface I could barely see, but I strained my eyes and beheld figures ravaging one another with fist and foot and hand and tooth. Then my attention was diverted by a flashing signal far away, along the horizon. "What is that light, and what it's purpose?" I asked. He said, "Patience, for it comes for us even now."
The light solidified, and there was revealed a small boat, traveling more quickly than any projectile produced in the waking world, careening over the waves of the river of wrath.
The violent ones attempted to escape from its path, but instead were thrust aside by the prow, and blasted away by the wake. I asked as it neared, out of worry, "Should we step aside?" In response, I was given a head-shake: no. The craft was upon us, and jolted suddenly to a stop where the waves lapped the shore, as I stepped backward, startled.
The steersman, face enshrouded with stubble, and possessed of the features of a Scot, brusquely gestured for us to climb aboard. I turned toward Phil, hesitant. He said, "He is one of two, the counterpart of a German. In the everyday world, he was a Legend, but his belligerence brought him here, where he interrogates-" The steersman grunted angrily, and made the gesture again, more forcefully. My guide stated, "Don't be an ass, we're coming." He motioned with his head for me to board. I did, then so did he, and we departed much more slowly than he had come toward us. My knowledgeable companion whispered, "Be wary of your answers, and do not venture upon insult, as he is prone to harangues in his wroth."
I did as was suggested, and was treated to a pleasant and intelligent conversation with the dour-faced boatman, until we reached our destination. 

We arrived in the steep ditch which forms the moat to the deep city; the walls seemed alive with flowing text and phantom images. We made a wide circuit, until we reached a stretch of beach beneath a towering bridge. "Disembark, I'm done with you." the ferryman barked, all gentility now gone. We climbed a winding stair that led to the top of the bridge, whereupon I witnessed the gates of that city. Engraved upon those obsidian monoliths were great flaming letters. They were: C, B, L, O, G, and an S. Their meaning was lost upon me. My leader came toward that gate, upon which was a throng; roaring long speeches, crying gibberish, and gratifying themselves.
He called for entreaty, and was denied.
He demanded entrance, and was denied.
He professed carnal knowledge of their mothers, yet, he was still denied.
Sighing wearily, he walked toward the side of the bridge opposite the barrier, and sat cross-legged on the ground. "Was our journey all for naught?" I questioned.
"No, child. It will be completed, for one comes to our aid who cannot be denied. We need only wait." He patted the ground beside him, and I lowered myself. We sat in silence, listening to the pandemonium of the city, until my guide turned his head and, seeing something which pleased him greatly, stood up with a smile. I looked back, and beheld what appeared to be a comet. Nearer it came, and I saw then that it was a woman, armored; a she-bear emblazoned upon her surcoat. She glowed radiantly white, like a star, and pale wings brought her before the gate. The reverie atop took no notice. She raised her hand high, and conjured from the air a massive blade of shifting colors, alike unto a rainbow. With this, she smote the gate, which burst inward, sending those atop it tumbling to the ground and ravine below. That heavenly being left without a word; only a small smile as she past us by, and she was gone, as the stars at the dusk. We entered the city. 

Within, a thousand thousand tombs formed the streets, all of them aglow with fire of many unnatural colors, and the sounds of pain. Bodies leaned out of their sarcophagi, spouting their thoughts and feelings at any who would hear. We did not listen to the bleating, and hurried down the alleyways, as we dared not halt there. "Who are they who reside within these walls?" I asked, being escorted lower and lower into the bowels of the vibrant city of tombs. "Many and more, so that I could never tell you, but they all believe they need be heard, and shout at one another. Some have great talent, others are mindless. Above, you saw Dixon, who peruses the writings, searching for the best. He is one of the few who come here, for the way is difficult, and not clear." We traversed a long and winding tunnel, lit brightly by the fires of the resident coffins which composed it, it seemed a veritable festival so brilliantly was our path lit. "The path here was difficult, yes. But then, what of the path beyond here?" I asked my rushing docent.
"For us alone, it would be impossible. We will needs take advantage of the denizens of the lower tiers." We came then to a street lined with solid stones, not burning tombs. Heading ever deeper, there opened up to us: a river of boiling blood, a forest of tormented screams, and a burning desert, far beyond the others.
"Must we traverse all these lands?" I said to him who is my shepherd.
"No." he answered, for I know of quicker path.
He led me down amongst the crags below us as if he were a goat, and his dexterity was granted to me by his presence.
Upon reaching the river, within which were many souls, gazing dumbstruck at the sky, wherein were innumerable moving images, we walked along the blistering shore. Among ruins of some primordial structure, we were approached by a shade of light, with eyes of phantom azure. This ghost led us to a high point amongst the remnants, and stood still atop the crumbling architecture. "Be unafraid, you. Cling to him as I do." Then Phil grasped the shade, arm across his shoulder and beneath his underarm to lock hands on the chest of the spirit. I proceeded to do the same with the opposite side. Then we drifted upward in the sky. From there, I could see the twisting red river, and the dense forest. Those within who were not hung from trees or impaled upon bushes, forced to watch the images across the sky all around us, were chased through the briars by packs of wild corgis, sped on by a creature with an implacable look to his eye and, seemingly lusting after his own hounds, he came bounding after them. Soon, we came across the desert, all blazing. The light was so bright that to not squint was to be blind, and all those wandering the sands had all their heads tilted ever upward, so that their eyes were not but sun-charred pits. My compatriot explained, "All who reside in these lands are ever watching that which is not present, even those ones down there, whose eyes are burned away, believe they see, and are entertained. Those who break the illusion are hunted by the Dale, and his rabid packs." However, the shade had begun to descend near an opening in the sands, which was lined with long streaks of color. He let us down gently, then departed. 

"Behold the beast with the pointed tail, who pollutes with color." Thus crawling along the walls of the pit a creature revealed itself. It's upper body was that of a man, but at the waist, it narrowed, and formed a long writhing tail, ending in a point, like a scorpion's. It dragged this point along the walls of the chasm, and from it sprung a thick ink of varying hues. None had ever been witness to such a variety of colors, as that which lined the home of that beast. "That is Turvey, the one who spreads his ink as far as the city of tombs, drawing all which he sees. He will be our vessel to the lowest of places." Saying this he approached Turvey and began climbing onto his flank. Trusting my leader implicitly, I did the same. "Move now, Turvey!" he who supported me at all other times cried out. "Go in wide circles! Let your descent be gentle!"
We flew through the air then, downward, into the blackest of any abyss.
As he felt himself free, the monster roared with delight, and swaying his tail like a cat, left a wavey stream of pigment behind him.
Never was any more afraid than I, when I saw nothing but the air around me, and the beast beneath me. Soon however, the giant thing had clambered his way to a gap in the wall, and my guide ushered me down. Turvey, the staining chimera, ascended the sheerness with alacrity, and was gone from sight. 

The final passage was traversed quickly; through it were pitiable ones immersed in great pools of excrement, snakes, and many other such torments, and demons waylaid us, led by Conrad, a great mustachioed one, who tried to divert us from the proper path, so that we would suffer there amongst the others. I was led truly through that place, and we arrived where it is bitter cold, where it is farthest from the sun. 

"Do you see those there?" my guide said to me, pointing toward a mountain. I nodded affirmation. "Wait a moment and watch." Doing so, I saw the mountain move. Stunned, my guide elaborated, "That is a giant, one of those who moderates this place. His name is Mxy, and he, along with the Great Mother, devour the worthless here, while the worst among the worst are brought before... well, you shall see soon enough." A great time passed as we trudged through the snow, witnessing all those who dwelt here in, "The Basement of the World," as my exemplar decreed it. "See here, buried up to the neck, once a knight, now none other than the head of a legend. See there," he said pointing to a figure encased in ice, " a terrible brown-eyed one lies there. There," he said, pointing toward a glacial cliff, "is a king, who in life was so fond of raw fish. Below him is another monarch, whose hair, now so encrusted with ice it seems white, was once a vibrant hue of rose." He pointed them all out to me; a renowned fencer, a great nihilist, a man possessed of primordial scales who had lived in the land of the gods, a revolutionary, one used up and thrown away as a broken table is, one who had once bathed in the blood spraying from his enemies, one who was named Marche and had lived to one hundred, they were beyond count. Finally, after much time had passed, and many condemned ones were seen, we passed through an arch carved from the ice of that darkest of places, into the deepest point. "Here is needed courage, above all else, art thou prepared?" I answered yes, and my guide shook his head and muttered, "Pissing himself every other step, yeah right." 

"Here broods Niero, he who created this place, and is bound to it by pride and blood and passion." The Emperor of that terrible realm was encased in the ice at his waste, a demon of unimaginable size, great wings stuck painfully to the borders of his dwelling, coated with ice. Within his mouth was a body, legs flailing as bloody fume spewed from between his lips. His eyes were a great and piercing red, and his face and body black as onyx. Do not ask how chill and hoarse I became, for words cannot suffice to tell it.
"Whom does he chew, as if his mouth were a meat-grinder?" I asked. "One who is infamous." I was answered. Thereupon my leader, who so valiantly guided me, led me down to the Dark Master's waist, so covered in coarse hair. "Here you may descend to ascend, and I will show you the way one final time." Thus gripping that coarseness we climbed down, and once we passed below the ice, reoriented ourselves, as we were facing downward, where we had been facing upward. Past the Demon King's Leviathan, which was stuck to the ice below us, and that appeared so painful I could not help but feel sympathy, we climbed ever upward along the hirsute legs of Niero. Finally, we came to his foot, which rested along a ledge where we could get off. A narrow passage, which we traversed for a short while, led us to the outside world, where once more, after the suffocating darkness of the underworld, I was greeted by the beautiful things the sky holds, and we issued out from there to see again the stars. 

"Here my guide left me, walking out amongst the trees surrounding us, and said, "You have borne witness to all which lies beneath, when it is your time to come, you will be prepared." He turned to leave, but paused and turning back to face me included, "Try not to be such a cunt when you return." Then he left with a wave, and I was all alone beneath the vault of the sky. Much later, I have found my place amongst those who called that gloomy kingdom home. I dwell among them, and though the stars in heaven are not lost to me, as I was afraid, I am still there, to this very day.








121 Hours 19 Minutes
Soul Level 92
Lightning Longsword +5
Bloodshield+15
Hard Leather Armor set +9



Late-game Dark Souls stuff ahead!

Last Saturday, July 27th, I stayed up untill 3 A.M. playing Dark Souls.
I was on a roll.


Not exactly this kind of roll.

I had planned to stop playing after I cut the tail from Seath the Scaleless. I had just recently upgraded my Lightning Longsword as far as I could, and I wanted to cut something with it.
Unfortunately, Seath is annoying as shit, and I was unable to do so, so I just killed him instead.
I took his Lord Soul Fragment to the Lordvessel and dropped it in.
Thinking to myself, "Hey, why not?", I took a little trip into New Londo, to give Four Kings a shot.
After a fairly tense battle which involved much dodging, I emerged victorious, claiming the Four Kings' Lord Soul fragment as my own.
I was rather shocked.


Me, being shocked.

I tossed that junk into the Lordvessel and made my way into the Tomb of the Giants.


Pictured here.

First of all, screw the Tomb of the Giants. Why can't I use my Skull Lantern in my right hand with my shield up? It's crap that it only works in your shield hand.
Hate is a strong word and I hate you, Tomb of the Giants. So much.

Thankfully, the Tomb is a relatively short area, and I made my way through after only a small degree of infuriating trouble. Skeleton beasts, seriously, what the hell?


I just... I don't even know.

I made my way in as far as I could, to a fog barrier completely obscured by lifeless (thankfully) skeletons seated all about in prayer. I smashed them apart, and made my way through the fog, wherein I jumped down into the dank pit which Nito, the first of the Dead, calls home.



Nito is METAL AS FUCK.
He is so radical, easily the best Grim Reaper I've ever seen. Look at him.


I guess you could say that he is...neato? (That was bad and I feel bad)

He's made up of like a thousand skeletons and his right arm is a scythe made out of EVEN MORE SKELETONS. He also wears a bitchin' cloak of shadow and whenever he does a powerful attack there is a horrible piercing death-scream.

Anyway, I did manage to kill Nito (despite being so amazingly cool, he isn't that tough, that's why he has minions in his boss fight) and then I plopped his soul into the Lordvessel.

It was getting late but I was pumped up, I had just killed three Lord Soul possesors and I was going to get the last one. I made the journey into Lost Izalith.




These two images are all you really need to know about Izalith.

I had cleared the area (painstakingly) of the bounding demons earlier, and had also cleared Izalith proper of treasure. I had actually wound up leaving because I had failed to save Siegmeyer-


R.I.P.

and then I was almost immediately forced to slay Solaire.



He's cooperating jollily in heaven now.

At that point I had just had too much, and I had to leave.

But that had been earlier. I only had one goal now.
Slay the Bed of Chaos, and claim it's Lord Soul.



I actually died at the Bed of Chaos more times than any other end-game boss.
Instant-death pits, you see.
Despite that, I remained in relatively good spirits as I came back, time after time (I think it was about 3 or 4 times), until I had managed to end it. It was not a satisfying victory.
If you've beaten it, you know why.

*Ahem*

I had done it. I had collected all the Lord Souls.
I could open the Kiln of the First Flame.
Before I did that however...
There was something I needed to do. Something that had been bugging me throughout the entire game.
I needed to kill the Hellkite Wyrm.
This asshole.


What is it with dragons and bridges and also being such assholes?

I headed towards the infamous bridge, and, once upon it, I began dodging flames.
Dodging flames for quite awhile.
Still dodging flames after about ten minutes.



I was wondering why he wasn't coming down onto the bridge.
Annoyed, I shot an arrow at him.
That did it.



He swooped down with a roar, and I charged forward- tightly gripping my blade with both hands.
I hacked and swiped as he stomped at me. He flew along the length of the bridge, spouting torrents of fire. I caught aflame, but only slightly. The wyrm touched down again and I sprinted at him, swinging.
Then he let out a screech, his death-knell, and collapsed.

Holy hell, it felt good to kill him with a blade.

At that point I went over my mental checklist of what I had done.

I shot Gwynevere in the breast to see what would happen.


It was not a difficult shot.


Kill Gwyndolin.

Kill Seath.

Kill the Four Kings.

Kill Nito.

Kill the Bed of Chaos.

Kill that flying, flame-spewing, jerkface asshole.

I warped down to the Daughter of Chaos bonfire and slew the Fair Lady; the bitch wouldn't talk to me because I didn't have the proper bling (Old Witches ring). There was no point in her living so I ended it. Eingyi's distraught reaction was hilarious.

I hadn't killed Crossbreed Priscilla, so I also did that, which was surprisingly easy.
For someone with the name "Lifehunter" I was very disappointed.


Pretty, but disappointing.

I talked to Patches, and then I killed that priest guy who hangs out near Firelink. I never liked him.
Then I killed Patches too, that dick.

There was nothing left for me to do at that point.
Except...


Head here.

The Kiln of the First Flame is now my favorite area.
A desert of ashes filled with once great architecture, now melted and twisted by the intense heat of the flames, and filled with knights, bodies burnt away, leaving nothing but their spirits to animate their arms and armor, all charred black. It's fantastic.

Within the Kiln, you find Gwyn, Lord of Cinder, and some great music plays as
he charges at you. Moreso than any other boss I had experienced, Gwyn is unrelenting.
He beat me, and it was very late, and I was tired.

I turned everything off and slept until 2 P.M.
I did some stuff, and then at around 4:00, I started Dark Souls up again.
I refilled my Estus flask, and headed once more into the Kiln. I fought Gwyn.
On the suggestion of a friend, I also abstained from parrying and riposting.
I don't regret it. The fight was amazingly intense.

Eventually, Gwyn fell, as all others had.



I linked the Fire.



It was over.


VICTORY!

I stood up, turned my PS3 Slim off, and headed outside.
I started up the grill, and made some cheeseburgers on King's Hawaiian hamburger buns.
They were delicious.



I followed this up with Mint Chip and Rocky Road ice cream.




I had done it.

But now...
 
What else was there for me to do?



I have to wait for the sequel. Which is coming out in...
2014?
Really?!
Damn...

I guess I'll have to occupy my time with something...
else.





I think I'll be fine.

I also don't think I've seen the end of Dark Souls...

At least, not quite yet.









At first my relationship with Demon's Souls was all passion, late night rendezvous and whiling away the hours till morning together. It was new and exciting, somewhat difficult, yes, but wonderful for all that. We went far together, but eventually we had a falling out.


I think we should see other people.

In truth I had not been faithful. I had played other games. I had even begun to spend time with Demon's Soul's younger, more mysterious cousin, Dark Souls. I am not the only one to have felt that allure.


Temptation.

Dark Souls proved even more difficult in truth, and eventually, after a great deal of stress, we took a break. Dark Souls had stolen my heart, as it had done to so many others. It still has it in truth, but at the time I was tired, and Demon's Souls had looked so lonely... We would have to start over from the beginning, I knew, but I felt it was worth it. So we began again, and what a ride it was. We went as far as we could go.


All the way... to the credits.

We both knew though, that when we were done, it was unlikely we would see each other anymore. Dark Souls and I had made up, and we were going further and further, and my cheating heart has been keeping an eye on Dark Soul's younger sibling.

Oh man, does Dark Souls II look so very, very good.


Temptation with anticipation.


No matter what game I play however, no matter how far I move on, Demon's Souls will always have a special place in my heart. 
I wanted to do something for it, or rather, about it.
I thought for awhile, and decided it would be best to highlight the titular demons and the worlds they inhabit... so here we are.

This is for you Demon's Souls.


I remember when we first met... I was so nervous. Ah, good times.

I discussed the end of my love affair with Demon's Souls here.
I also made mention of poetry.
Yes. There is poetry in this blog.
I thought it only fitting, because I am so romantic. 
By the way,
Here there be spoilers.
Prepare thyself.





The Nexus

A great demon stirs below the Nexus,
Oh, black-robed maiden, how you vex us,
Those who've kept their souls are sane,
But bound to here, their souls remain.





The Nexus isn't, technically speaking, one of the worlds. Barring a few exceptions, there are no enemies to fight, and there are no demons in need of slaying.
However, it is an important place within the game, so I'm going to speak about it a bit.
I love the feeling that the Nexus gives off, when you really think about it. It's so eerily symmetrical. So...off. Strange symbols glow along the ground and walls at odd angles. A massive statue hangs impossibly from the ceiling. Despite all that, it is magnificently calm, and (barring those earlier exceptions) the only truly safe place in the game. Music plays here, calming music (until you slay three arch-demons, then it abruptly changes), when music plays no where else (pardoning boss battles that is). People rest here.
YOU can rest here. A smith will repair your weapons and armor, you can store your excess items, there are things to buy, magic and miracles to learn.
Most critically of all, the Maiden in Black will take your souls in exchange for leveling up.
Amidst all the difficulty, danger, and stress the various worlds represent, the Nexus is a place of respite, of reprieve.




Boletarian Palace

Madmen man the battlements,
Slave soldiers of him on high,
Fat officials laugh and kill,
All those who would deeper pry.
Dragons prowl the ramparts too,
Hunting for prey to fry.





The Boletarian Palace is the best castle I've ever seen in a game.
The developers put in so many little things to give off a sense of verisimilitude.
The main path, initially blocked, is very wide, perfect for wagons and large crowds of people traveling to the castle, and there are even dead horses and abandoned carriages left all along the road. If you look below the Lord's Path (i.e. "the red dragon will burn you alive, so you need to run like hell" path) you can see an entire little city nestled in a valley in the shadow of the palace. The outer ramparts are covered in catapults, and you can find storerooms stacked full of explosive barrels and rocks ready to be loaded up and tossed.
There are training grounds with straw practice dummies, and rooms with tables and beds for the soldiers. Further on, in the castle town where the knights lived, you can find even nicer accommodations. Long outdoor tables laden with food, and shelves stacked full with supplies. At the end, you find the King's throne room.
Directly below a great cleft in the mountain looming ominously over the castle, the king oversees the entirety of the palace, from the outer ramparts to the castle town.
His seat of power simply oozes authority.
All throughout however, are seen signs of conflict. Dead bodies lay strewn about, barricades are erected at odd intervals, shot full of arrows, and when you arrive, all the castle's gates have been shut tight. It's delightfully atmospheric.



The Demons


A blob beneath a legion cowers,
A giant knight bears a towering shield,
A silver knight swings a piercing sword,
And an Arch-Demon wears the face of a lord.


I'd just like to say that I love that most of the boss demons have a sort of origin story to them, which may not be obvious, but by gathering bits of lore from items and talking with various characters, you can piece it together. In the Boletarian Palace, all the bosses are demonic forms of former palace residents. Longbow Oolan, who commanded fearsome legions, Alfred, the knight of the Tower, whose shield was impenetrable, Metas, the knight of the Lance, who was famed for his piercing sword, and finally, a demon made in the form of King Allant himself.
Also, I talk about the bosses from the perspective of a melee focused character (What's more romantic than a knight slaying demons with strength, speed, and wit, with nothing but bright steel in hand?), and one who is going through the game for a first time. Strategy by necessity changes as the demon's become stronger in subsequent playthroughs. Just so you know.


Phalanx




Phalanx is a giant blob that covers itself with little blobs that are wearing shields and throw spears.




...




Okay, there is more to Phalanx than that.

Not much more though.

I actually think the design for Phalanx is pretty cool (most of the boss designs are pretty cool), and just before you actually fight Phalanx, you meet a few of the "hoplites". The little enemy blobs who will assist the actual boss.
It's a nice sort of mini preview, and even though Phalanx is the first boss-


Vanguard doesn't count because he appears as a non-boss enemy later...
Okay, if you want to beat Vanguard get behind him and stay there, when he floats in the air, back away, and after he lands wait a moment so you don't get hit with a shockwave, then jump in swinging.


That's all you're getting Vanguard. Deal with it.

-it can, to those unprepared, be dangerous. The simplest method of extermination, is,
of course, fire. Hoarding firebombs and turpentine throughout the castle will make Phalanx a cinch. You can take down the hoplites individually too, to make the fight easier, so long as you keep track of Phalanx and keep away from it's massed spear attacks.
Phalanx also holds the distinction of being the only boss to actively flee from you. If you slay all of the hoplites, Phalanx, who had been inexorably (albeit slowly) chasing you, will turn tail and run away.
I find this nothing if not hilarious.


Tower Knight




It seems many people experience trouble with the Tower Knight, and at first I couldn't see why. It's fairly obvious that you need to take out the crossbowmen first, and his atttacks are... well, fairly slow. It wasn't until later I learned that many people don't return to the Nexus after defeating the boss prior to him. They just charge on straight ahead. So, they haven't leveled up, or upgraded their equipment. So, of course, he's difficult. You'd think a glowing sword that appears out of nowhere would be examined more intently, but I guess not.

Moving on, Tower Knight is fairly simple. Clear out the surrounding area, avoid his shield smash attack, get in close, then nip at his heels (piercing attacks are best I believe) until he falls over like a giant metal Achilles. The you just need to stab him in the head until he dies.


Not very much like Achilles at all actually.


Penetrator


He's going to stick his long, long, sword into you.


Oh, man.
Penetrator.
Just hearing his name, you know you don't want to mess with this guy. He's fairly quick, he's got sweeping, shield piercing attacks, and he'll impale you without a second thought. He may actually be one of the tougher fights in the game, if it wasn't for...
Biorr, of the Royal Twin Fangs.


Slaying demons then taking naps...
Aww... Yeah...

Biorr will attract the attention of the Penetrator if you rescue him from his prison cell earlier. There is no reason not to do this. Then the fight becomes much more manageable. As Biorr draws his attention, attack Penetrator's back. Be careful if he impales and throws Biorr, because his attention can shift back to you. Just keep slicing at him, and be mindful of Biorr, because, radical and tough as all get out as he is, the Penetrator can still kill him.


His sword is glowing. Glowing is bad.


False King



I didn't know what to expect from False King.
I had heard rumors that he's fast, unrelenting, and powerful.
I didn't know how much of what I'd heard was heresay, or truth.
That is, until I had beaten him.
First off, thinking that he was supposed to be the demonic doppleganger of a human king, I expected him to be about my size.

He is not.

King Allant must have been one big guy, because False King looks to be about 7 feet tall.
He's also intimidating as hell. Huge plumes of energy radiate out from him. He carries a massive sword with one hand. He can grab you by the head with his off hand, lift you up, and jam his sword into your gut. That attack? It also drains one soul level from you, so if you're unfortunate enough to have just leveled up enough to equip your current weapon, you'll get hit with, "You don't have enough skill to use this weapon. It's effectiveness in battle will be lessened." Which would suck. Hard.

As far as fighting him goes, he is more than comparable to Flamelurker, in that both bosses are unrelenting in their assault upon your person. His attacks can pierce through your shield, so even when your guard is up, you take damage. He has long combos that can kill you very easily, and he can dash towards you if you try to put some distance between you two. He's also smaller than many of the other demons. You would think this wouldn't be a problem, but after fighting so many enormous monstrosities, a smaller target is somewhat harder to hit.

My advice? Keep your shield up. Don't get greedy in your attacks. Run when he charges his Soul Blast move (if you can hit him hard enough, you can interrupt this, but it's a better opportunity to heal than any other). Come prepared with strong healing items, and the weapon you are best with. I can offer nothing else, and in a way, that's what makes him such a brilliant fight.




All things considered, he's also quite dapper.


Stonefang Tunnel


The Tunnel City, so musingly deep,
Miners work mindlessly, without any sleep,
Bearbugs hatch in lava flow,
Burrowing where no men dare go,
A graveyard that is fit to hold,
Massive bones of Dragons' Mold.




I love the gradual shift that occurs in Stonefang. First, you start outside, in the warm red glow of the afternoon. You make your way through a "modern" mine, with elevators, railcarts, and wooden structures and supports. Deeper in, you travel through a natural cavern, rivers of molten rock flowing, filled with weird volcanic "plants", lava spitting worms, and self-destructing bearbugs. Inching through some bearbug dug tunnels, you arrive in the final area, a dragon graveyard, and an ancient, crumbling, stone temple built to house (and restrain, if the magical ballistas and Dragon Bone Crusher are any evidence) a god.



The Demons

A terrible spider snares it's prey,
A monstrous demon of fire wakes,
Waist deep in magma, the Deific Drake,
With mighty fists, the Earth it shakes.



I don't know why the hell there's a giant spider that shoots fireballs in a mine, so let's move past that. Flamelurker could be, according to one theory, the demonic form of the Legendary Big M, a strongman who slew dragons with his bare hands. If he is, that only makes a wicked boss all the more wicked. I think this is a likely theory too, since you can find the only mention of Big M -The Fists of God- very near Flamelurker.
Dragon God was born from intense flames and the bones of the Dragon Graveyard, and was evidently worshipped by the ancient burrowers long ago.


Armor Spider


Why are you even here?

Armor Spider is my least favorite boss. It seems shoehorned in with the world, and I can imagine some developers sitting around talking, saying how they have to have a giant spider because Demon's Souls is a videogame and all videogames needs giant spiders.
It's not even very fun to fight. It doesn't move. All it does is shoot fireballs and occasionally lash out with it's little T-Rex style arms.
Anyway...
Make sure you have a decent shield, run up through Armor Spider's fireballs, and then find a good place (like next to it's largest legs, on either side of the tunnel you just ran through) to hold up. It will tire itself out after it's charged fireball volley attack, (make sure you've been upgrading your stamina so you can block longer) and then you run up and smack it around like a bitch. Repeat until finished.



The internet likes it about as much as I do. There are no good pictures of it.



Flamelurker




Here's a good one to wash the taste of the last one out of our mouths.
Flamelurker is an infamous boss. He's tough, fast, runs around like a gorilla on fire, and causes explosions to shoot out of his hands. Which is radical.
You'll want to equip something with decent fire resistance, and also having high endurance (and thus more stamina) will help. This battle will likely take a while. Get in one or two strikes while you can, staying away from his double-hand charged explosions. Don't let him corner you, you should always be moving. As his health gets lower, he'll become more fiery and redder. This means he's angry. Which also means he gets faster and more relentless. 
Keep up the same strategy, healing when you can, and avoiding his leaping strike, which will likely break your guard. There isn't much more to say; I guess don't step in the lava around his arena. This is one of the better fights in my opinion, it requires both skill and patience, akin to False King.
Intense, and trying.
A prime example of what a Souls series boss fight should be.


I think he's smiling... Maybe he just wants to be friends?


Dragon God


Seen here preparing for the greatest fist bump of all-time.

I feel like Dragon God is something of a missed opportunity. The fight basically revolves around you breaking through rubble, then pinning him to the ground with ancient, magical ballistas, and finally sauntering over to finish him off as he lays pinned.
It's kind of pathetic. You almost feel bad for him.
I don't see why they couldn't have partially pinned him, so that maybe he can move a little bit, and at least weakly attack you. Maybe try to smash you with his hand? That would've made it more like a fight. Maybe he could've cast magic or breathed fire at you or something and you'd have to run and hide from it. Dashing up to hit him as soon as the attack is over. He does, sort of, breathe fire at you after he's been pinned, but it's kind of lame and asthmatic. If you get hit with that you should be ashamed. You'd think something with an incredible title like Dragon God,
-Sultan of Chaos-
would be more... well, you'd expect more.
As it is, he's a simple puzzle boss with an awesome look to him.


Also? Double mouth.


Tower of Latria

Inmates beg mercy, a meaningless plea,
In the Prison of Hope, nothing human guards thee,
Tall towers rise from the bloody bog,
While ersatz demons stalk the fog.



There is a pervasive wrongness in Latria. It is almost unnaturally dark here. In the Prison of Hope, the darkness is accompanied by the soft, ringing bells and green glow of the octopus guards, and the mournful aria of one of the last sane prisoners. Atop the narrow, shattered walkways of the towers proper, red eyes glow in the blackness, 
zooming towards you from out of the night, where any misstep will send you plummeting to your demise.
The ground is so far below that you cannot see it, nor would you want to, 
what with the horrible mismatched creatures, and the massive, writhing tentacles crawling like ivy up the towers out of a lake made of blood. Oh, let us not forget the enormous scaly heart, suspended in the center of the largest tower by chains, shall we?

The Demons

An idol for fools, in a church is reborn,
A pair of menacing demons have been cunningly formed,
In a ballroom, atop a throne made of chairs,
The Yellow Garb demon, it's power, it shares.


All the demons in Latria, and not just bosses either, are creations of the Old Monk.
The Fool's Idol was made to suppress the prisoners with the image of their queen.
Maneater is the most powerful demon to be cobbled together, and an interesting version of a chimera as well.
The Old Monk is a withered husk, who usurped the land with the power given by the Yellow Robe he found during his exile, and subsequently he has been drained of life by it.


Fool's Idol


I couldn't find any other picture.

A fairly simple boss, with a gimmick. That being, until you kill the prisoner reviving her, you cannot progress any further, no matter how many times you defeat her. Slay him, however, and you need only kill the idol once.
If you need to, kill the prisoners in the church as soon as you can, as they'll only get in the way.
Otherwise, just keep track of where the idols are, attacking the one which casts Soul Ray, which is the real one, while the illusions cast Soul Arrow (Soul Ray is larger than Soul Arrow). Be mindful of where the paralysis traps are, if you can.
And if you're close to an illusion, go ahead and attack it, it will just disappear and you'll have one less projectile to worry about.



Maneater


I hate you with all of my hate.

Everybody hates Maneater. Not because he's difficult. In truth he wouldn't be if not for the conditions in which you fight him. Well, them. You see, there are two of them. Which you fight at once, along a narrow bridge. Which they will knock you off of.
Not.
Fun.
This is difficult for all the wrong reasons, but there's no changing it. So let's push on ahead. The only area where you can be at least marginally safe is the center of the bridge next to the brazier. You can be knocked back at least once, and not fall off. Sometimes the brazier will block certain attacks from hitting you. Stay here. This place will grant you the only slight solace you will know in this fight. Try to take on one Maneater at a time, perhaps starting with the original that should be somewhat damaged when the second comes flying in. If you can, cut off the snake tail. No good comes of snake tails. Maybe two-hand your weapon when you go in to attack, because unless you have a very strong shield, one won't be much use against either Maneater's counterattack. All you can do is take whatever opportunity you can to strike, and do your best not to fall to your death.


What's he crying about? He can fly.


Old Monk



The concept for this fight is very clever. The Old Monk, him being the one who turned Latria into what it is, is actually not fought. He summons another player to serve as the boss, and when that happens, the actual demon, the Yellow Robe he was wearing, leaves him to die, wrapping itself around it's new host. I like the idea behind this demon; it's basically a parasite, attaching itself to people, giving them power, but in exchange, it drains their life away. Something as innocuous as an (admittedly giant) cloth garment being so sinister just hits all the right horror notes for me.

Good stuff.


You could also wear it around your head.

Anyway, I couldn't really give help for this, since the boss is different for everyone, except it's not anymore because the Demons' Souls servers are all offline (which also means no more getting the Monk's Head Collar A.K.A. The Custard Tornado... which is sad).
Instead everyone gets some bozo with metal claws who shoots Homing Soul Arrows at you. He isn't much tougher than any other AI black phantom, and should be treated as such.


How did he get up on that throne without tripping all over the robe?



Shrine of Storms


Purified in holy storms,
The Shadowmen would mourn their dead,
Within their ruins, shadows form,
And strange phantoms can be found,
Storm beasts to the air are wed,
Whilst dead men walk the haunted ground.




The Shrine of Storms has a very surreal quality to it. Manta rays fly through the sky, shooting crystallized lightning bolts. Skeletons that don't appear to have been quite human swing giant, strange swords. What are essentially grim reapers summon cyclopic spirits. The water in the Shrine glows.
It actually makes sense. When the demons came to the Shrine, the Shadowmen culture had been dead for some time. Nothing remained but bones.
Somehow, the demons tapped into their residual memory- their ghosts, if you will.
The demons took on the shape of what the Shadowmen believed awaited them in the afterlife, all the more prevalent here because the entirety of the island seems to be one giant funeral site. Thus you have the storm beasts, the skeletons, and the shadowlurkers. The demons haven't corrupted the physical world here so much as they have elsewhere, because apart from Shadowmen bones, there was nothing to corrupt. Instead they took the notion of an afterlife, and managed to corporealize it. When you step into the Shrine of Storms, you're stepping into the dying dream of the Shadowmen.


The Demons


Golden Crow, atop the glutton, judges all those who are dead,
Hero of Old, forced to witness, worthier men pass, with sightless eyes,
Worshipped Ray, of enormous size,
Blocks out the sky, wheresoever he flies.


The Adjudicator is a demon formed from the image the Shadowmen had for their judge of the dead, who devoured the unworthy. 
The Old Hero is fought in spirit form, as he died long ago. Deemed unworthy, he was bound where others once were purified in the storm.
Storm King was the great pagan god of the Shadowmen. His physical body was created from the concept the Shadowmen held of him: a collosal, flying manta ray.


Adjudicator


"Give us a kiss."

The Adjudicator's design is just... GREAT. A massive yellow, slimy, fatty, thing; with what can barely be described as a head, an absolutely ridiculously long tongue, and a mouth made of what appears to be torn skin. It's also covered in tattoos and medallions, and is controlled by the shining golden crow nested on it's head.
I think it's funny that in a piece of lore, you learn that people who eat birds are not worthy of being considered heroes after death, and are eaten by the Adjudicator.
I can't help but feel this is entirely prejudicial on the golden crow's part, and I love that.
Unfortunately, as a boss, Adjudicator is fairly easy. It only has one real attack, which is to swipe at you with it's cleaver (unless you stay above it, in which case it'll whip it's tongue out at you... but why would you stay up there?). It's got a glaringly obvious weak spot (hint! hint! it's the spot pouring blood out all over the place) which you attack until it falls over, and then you lay the smack down on the golden crow, who squawks hilariously.
He's not particularly challenging, but I don't consider him nearly as low as say... a certain spider. Mainly because if you strike him anywhere that isn't his weakspot, your attack bounces off with a rubbery boi-oi-oing sound... and that's just... it's just great.


First date, no tongue!


Old Hero



If the Old Hero wasn't blind you wouldn't stand a city's chance against Godzilla. His attacks are crushingly powerful. He can leap the entire distance of the room you fight him in. I heard that there isn't anything beneath his loincloth... except for another fist.
Point is, if you try to take him on without taking advantage of the one disadvantage he posesses? You'll be dead. Take it slow, try to sneak up behind him to swipe a few blows, and then back off while he rampages around. Run if you have to, but after you've gotten some distance away, walk again. Slowly whittle his health away. 
You've got all the time in the world.

Don't rush.


Really. Don't.


Storm King


If I saw this thing flying around I'd probably worship it. Just to be safe.

The Storm King.
One of my favorites.
I'm a sucker for giant flying things.
If you want, take a bow or crossbow and try to thin the cloud of storm beasts that hover above the area. You don't have to, but it may help you get to Stormruler.
Pluck Stormruler out of the ground, and swing away. 
Twirling tornado blasts of razor wind erupt forth from the blade here, and only here, so take advantage of it. You should be able to take out any storm beasts with one blow, and when the Storm King passes by, take a few swings at him too.
Dodge the storm beasts' crystal lightning, and the Storm King's rapid fire scales, and you should be all right.






Valley of Defilement

Ramshackle constructs made out of sticks,
Wretched unclean ones, giant blood-swollen ticks,
All foulness flows through the valley floor,
Poisonous filth, and nothing more.





What is there to be said of the Valley? It is infamous. At first, filled with rickety paths, narrow bridges, and enemies who'll shove you over the edge into the wretched abyss... and don't forget the plague rats, or the ticks which burst into a geyser of poisonous blood. The swamp? Which will poison you, and in which you cannot run- but your foes can. Even the giant ones. What of the aesthetic? Dilapidated seems to suggest that at one time the structures in the Valley were not about to collapse. They've always been a hairsbreadth away from disintegrating into the mirk. Walls writhe with bugs. Swarms of flies cover rotting corpses. It is so dark that, even if it were not raining (which it is), you'd barely be able to make out the few torches which light the one somewhat viable path through the muck. When you have managed to make it into the deepest part? You find the worst thing yet.
A river of plague infected blood, inhabited by monstrous, infantile abominations.
The Valley is the worst, largest cesspool you can imagine...
And there is no choice but to wade through it.





...





It must smell HORRIBLE.


The Demons


A creature of leeches, all thrashing about,
A demon made of flies, rubble, and grout,
The Sixth Saint, and her righteous knight,
Strive to ease the valley's plight.


The demons here may all once have been holy people.
Leechmonger is a giant conglomeration of leeches which have fused together with malicious intent. There is the possibility that it was formed from the fallen body of Lizaia of Istarel, who perished and fell into the polluted, leech-filled water.
Dirty Collosus is a demonic golem of scrap and filth and flies, possibly created from the deceased Vito, the Moonlight knight.
Maiden Astraea was a living saint who became a demon, in order to obtain the power to lessen the suffering she found. Her loyal bodyguard, Garl Vinland, remains ever by her side.


Leechmonger



Leechmonger appears intimidating. You can see from a distance as it thrashes it's arms about most violently, throwing globs of leeches at you.
It can also heal itself, and that's never good.
In truth, it is remarkably weak. The most straightforward method to it's destruction is to light your weapon afire. Simple as that. Land blow after flaming blow (preferably with some black turpentine), heal when necessary, maybe back away if your health gets a bit low. If the flame goes out, light it again. It will go down more quickly than you ever would have thought.


If you think about it, a leech is a small organism that fills itself up with blood, like a penis. Ergo, this is a picture of penises.

Dirty Colossus


Once again, this is literally the only good picture I could find.

I hate flies. I REALLY, REALLY, hate flies. They walk all over crap then try to fly in your face. I once had a dream where an enormous fly lodged itself in my mouth and I choked. Some flies can lay eggs in your skin. They are abhorrent to me. If I could kill every fly in the entire world, even if it would irrevocably change the biosphere or whatever, I would.

The Dirty Collossus is a demon made out of flies.
Given that, I actually think it's got an interesting design. It appears to be partially collapsing, and has reinforced itself with scrap from the environment. It appears to have a giant scarecrow head. I think that it would have made the fight much more interesting if, instead of only breaking apart a bit at the beginning, the Collossus slowly fell apart over the course of the entire fight, culminating with the final blow, upon which it just collapsed in on itself.
Fighting the Collossus is not difficult. Avoid it's flies, which come in both straight forward blast form, and swirling trap form. Keep away from it's swingin' arm. Back off when it's charging up a fly explosion (I may have just thrown up in my mouth a bit), and charge in whaling away on it whenever the opportunity presents itself.


Maiden Astraea



This one can be a bit of a bummer.

Maiden Astraea sits at the end of a river of blood, next to a mound of corpses.



She sends her bodyguard, Garl Vinland, to keep you away.



They both ask you to leave them alone. If you persist in fighting, they insist that you leave even as either one's health drops.
They bring on the guilt trip, saying they do nothing but ease the suffering of the Valley's denizens. That they live humble lives. What right have you to judge them?

If you kill Garl, all you have to do is walk up and talk to Maiden Astraea, who will kill herself.
If you can slay Astraea before Garl, he will simply stand there, stunned at his failure.
Garl can easily kill you, and should be approached cautiously, slowly chipping away at his health, and avoiding his hammer.
Maiden Astraea will heal herself, but not very quickly.
A constant attack will negate any health restored.
She will also cast God's Wrath if you're close enough.
Besides that, take care not to fall into the river, as the plague babies will make your life difficult.
Aside from that... there's nothing more to say.


Except perhaps, that the Dark Silver armor looks very judgemental.


Below the Nexus


The Beast calls, and the sword drops,
Shattering the clear sigil floor,
Far below there is a beach,
Of scattered ruins, from foggy shore,
The Maiden calls forth the thing of yore,
Thus the Old One comes to the fore.


Who else was expecting a beach of all things, when they journeyed below the Nexus?
I wasn't.
It's a fascinating area though. A vast desert behind you, filled with ruins and other fallen swords (which implies that this whole ordeal has happened several times before) and a long sloping beach which leads straight into the Old One, who has bowed down to the Maiden in Black.

The Old One.



A mountainous mass of ancient growth, with faint light within.

Eldritch is the only appropriate word.

Within, you fight Allant, or what's left of him. He's become nothing more than a slug-like mass, clutching to his sword.
Honestly? I kind of hoped for a giant blob with an upper body sticking out that tried to swing it's sword at you. I knew that he had transformed into a blob monster beforehand, but it wasn't what I had pictured. I was a mite disappointed.


Okay, maybe more than a mite.

Then you kill the thing that was once a king (you shouldn't need help with this if you've come so far, because if you let him kill you... SHAME. SHAME ON YOU.), and move forward. There is one last choice to make, and then everything is over.



It was quite the experience. A challenge that arrived, near unprecedented, on the videogame scene. I'm happy that I'm through with it... but I'm also somewhat sad.
Demon's Souls brought forth something of a revolution; it sold well almost entirely on word of mouth, because people wanted real challenge, and they enjoyed helping each other overcome said challenge. It does somewhat defy genre, and it's unique mechanics have begun to spread to other games, not the least of which is it's own spiritual successor Dark Souls, and Dark Soul's upcoming sequel. Demons' Souls has started a trend. A growing one.
No matter what the future holds...

This, the future holds THIS.



...for the Souls series, or for me, or for you- if you like these games, Demons' Souls was at the root of it (actually King's Field was but let's not split hairs).
I'm finished with it for the most part,
and in writing this, I'd like to think I sent it off properly.

Here's to you Demon's Souls!


Rest now...
Slayer of Demons...
The World has been mended.








I beat Demons' Souls this past 4th of July.
Soul Level 86
32 Hours 36 Minutes.
Quality Longsword +5
Kite Shield +10


Huzzah!

This was my first time doing so. After it was over, I heated a take-and-bake 5 meat pizza my grandfather had bought at Costco (pizza = 4th of July?). I cut it up, served a slice to each member of my family, then took one for myself. It tasted like salty, meaty, victory.


Pretty much this, but from Costco.

It had been a long time coming, especially considering I pre-ordered Demons' Souls, and got it on release day. So.... what? Almost 4 years?
There's a few reasons for that. Here's a list:

1. OCD

I might have obsessive compulsive disorder. I'm not really sure, but I do know that I like things in nice, EVEN. NUMBERS.

 
Unrelated Picture.

Also, I hate Achievements/Trophies.
Reason?
You can't delete them.
They just sit there forever. Festering. Unless you format your hardrive. Which I did when I realized that I didn't like my Demons' Souls character. I restarted, played through until I beat Phalanx, and noticed that no trophy notification popped up. I checked it out, upset, to discover that all the trophies I had recieved were still there. That day I formatted my PS3 for the first of many times.

2. I couldn't decide what to name my character

I finally decided after many attempts to just use my whole real name. Eff it.

3.Ugliness

Your character in Demons' Souls will inevitably be ugly. This is a fact. Like water is wet, rocks are hard, or the sun is a massive swirling fireball of nuclear chaos that will one day consume the Earth. (That last one made me kind of sad)
Point being, the character creator in Demons' Souls sucks.
So, I restarted time and time again, trying to make my character look like his family tree doesn't double back on itself like the Habsburgs.


Charles II's Father is his uncle, and his Grandmother is his aunt. How quaint.

I eventually came to a look I liked. A decent face with a shaved head. Whenever I can't think of a good look, or I don't like hair options in a game, I go shaved bald. I don't know why. In the end, I suppose it didn't really matter, because I chose the knight class. Face concealing armor and all that. But I knew, even if I couldn't see his face, he was at least prettier than most of the NPCs.


The common reaction to most NPC faces.

4. Distractions



Valkyria Chronicles, No More Heroes, No More Heroes 2, DARK SOULS, Tactics Ogre LUCT, other stuff....
They all came out, or had already come out, but I didn't have them yet. Then I did. Demons' Souls sort of fell to the wayside. I still played it on occasion, but I hadn't done it in a while... and then, I guess, I managed to work my past the obstacle that kept me from beating it when I got near the end.



5. The Blue Dragon
I once, ONCE, nearly completed Demons' Souls. I beat every demon but one.
False King.
But, as anyone who has gotten this far knows, to get to False King, you have to work your way past this asshole.


He's such an asshole I couldn't even find a good picture of him.

The first time through, I did not have many points in Dexterity (I couldn't use good bows basically), so whenever I ran into a problem I couldn't reach with my +5 Quality Longsword, I brought out my trusty Heavy Crossbow with Black bolts.
Now, you can't aim a crossbow. You can auto lock with it, but you can't aim like a regular bow. Blue Dragon, jerkface that he is, clings to a wall vertically, high above a doorway, where you can't properly lock onto him.

You can lock onto him, or, rather his head, which is constantly swaying back and forth, shooting flames, and almost always moves out of the way of crossbow bolts. So, unable to defeat this giant lizard, racked with despair, I stopped playing.
I was tired, I had a soul level over 100 I think, and had near or over 100 hours in the game. To have come so far, and to be bested because I couldn't do damage with a bow... Was just too disheartening. I formatted my system, started a new character: identical name, class, same face and everything, I beat the tutorial... and started playing something else.

Dark Souls I think.




Life went on.


"Life"

That was two years ago, or thereabouts.
Anyway, playing near through Dark Souls made me realize, maybe I should beat Demons' Souls before I beat Dark Souls. This was just at the beginning of this year.
So, I started playing again, with special attention paid to my dexterity.
I faced the blue bastard, and...


I see you shiver with antici...
"SAY IT!"

...pation.



... I shot him in the wing with the White bow and Holy arrows until he died.
I slew the False King.
I lulled the Old One back to slumber.
The credits rolled.
So now that I've conquered Demons' Souls I feel that I should do something Demons' Souls related.
This doesn't count though.
Maybe I'll write some Demons' Souls poetry.


....


....


....Or something.









Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is an isometric turn based tactical RPG that was originally released on the Super Famicom in 1995, re-released on the Sega Saturn a year later, and re-re-released on the Playstation a year after that. In 2011 it was re-re-re-released on the PSP, and that's the version I got, and loved. However, when I delved deeper, looking for more information on any related games, I realized that the Ogre Battle franchise (of which Tactics Ogre is a part of) has been somewhat neglected of late, in favor of its more widely known spiritual successor, Final Fantasy Tactics, which has also been light on recent releases. I feel that this is a waste of a wonderful setting and so I'm going to list several of the things that I believe make Tactics Ogre great, in the vain hope that someone important will notice this and revive the series. *Sarcasm*(?) 

Also, I've only ever played the PSP remake, not March of the Black queen, or Ogre Battle 64, or the Neo Geo or Gameboy games, so I *might* mention those in passing but I'm going to focus on Let Us Cling Together.



I have little hope, but I must make the attempt.
I have put the words on the page, how long till they lie on my heart?



1.Combat
Fighting in Tactics Ogre consists of moving within range of the enemy and smacking them with swords, maces, staves, metal claws, folding fans, metal folding fans, knives, or shooting them with arrows, crossbow bolts, blowgun darts, or bullets. You can also whip people, punch people, throw rocks, javelins, bolos, ninja stars or all sorts of random things. You can even lob things with a slingshot, including healing items for allies. Also, magic, many different types of magic. Needless to say, there is a TREMENDOUS AMOUNT of variety in ways to bring the pain to your enemies. All topped off with special abilities related to class, which you can purchase with points earned in combat, and which remain with your character through class change.
Think your archer might make a better beastmaster? Your warrior a necromancer? Your swordmaster a rogue? If you have the (oftentimes purchasable) mark, that's no problem at all! And what's more, classes in the PSP remake level up together. For example; You have a strong warrior, and want to make your archer into one, so you change his/her class. Instead of starting at level 1, he/she will be at an equal level with your other warrior. This makes for a very good incentive too diversify your party member's classes, made all the easier by hireable units who you can name whatever you want.




2. Canopus
Canopus is one bad mofo. He's one of the Winged Folk, one of the first characters you meet in game, and very likely the guy who will be killing all the enemy leaders for you. Since killing enemy leaders is how you typically win a battle, you will very likely rely on him, heavily. Especially if you go for a low chaos frame, which is pretty much unexplained in-game, but depends on not killing enemies. (Along with dead enemy loot disappearing if another enemy stands on the space it occupied, and the horrendously slow crafting system, it's one of the few bad things about Let Us Cling Together.) But back to Canopus. Just look at his picture up there. He's a red headed guy with giant wings. Give him a crossbow and let him fly!
Fly my Hawkman! Fly!




Vyce is such a prick.

3.Themes
There are some big things going on in Let Us Cling Together.
A race of people are being oppressed.
A foreign country is dictating politics.
Folk are tired of nobles ruling over them, all snooty and entitled and sending them off to die in bloody wars and whatnot.
Everything simmers until it boils over into war.
It's all stuff with real world analogues. It ain't pretty, and no side is shown as being completely in the right, but it stays focused on those things; there isn't an ultimate evil god emperor who wants to destroy the world. It makes the story more grounded I think, and better.





4. Character profiles
Many characters that you meet will have personal profiles showing their portrait and a bit of their back-story. This is usually seen after you have killed them. So you get to see that the wizard you cut down was a teacher and professional artist, who personally presented the late great King Dorgalua with a painting, and his twin brother (whom you had Canopus riddle with arrows) was a progressive politician. While it could be seen as just a bit of world building, or something of a cheap shot in some cases, I think it really helps hammer home the feeling of, "All the people I've killed in combat had their own lives and histories."









5. Character Art
I think the character art is really nice.
Portrait art too.
Akihiko Yoshida does nice work.








6. Two Lanselots
There are two Lanselots in this game:
Lanselot Tartaros,

and Lanselot Hamilton.


The Arthurian mythos only has Lancelot Du Lac.

 
Just look at him. So smug.

2 > 1
Therefore Tactics Ogre is better than the Arthurian Mythos.
Math.










7. Queen
Queen is one of the, if not, The, Greatest Rock Band Ever
and have no doubt inspired many since they first performed.
They also inspired a great deal of Tactics Ogre.
The overall title of the series? Ogre Battle?
Queen Song.
Subtitle of the first game? March of the Black Queen?
Queen Song.
Let Us Cling Together?
Queen Song.





...








OK, it was actually called Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)
with Let Us Cling Together all in the parenthesis, but still!
Queen!

Also dick(s). It's Freddie after all.


The class name "Vartan" is probably derived from Vultan, BRIAN BLESSED'S character from the 1980 movie Flash Gordon.

The character Xapan looks like Vultan too, but maybe it's just the beard.


Flash Gordon featured a track by...
you guessed it, QUEEN!






...



Hawkmen are basically Winged Folk anyway.
So...


HAWKMEN... DIVE!
(Yeah I said it.)





I also like how they use Ogre in describing a dread person, not a literal monster.


I can maybe make a few more points about interesting characters in a drama filled storyline that twists and turns in unexpected ways based on your choices. But I won't. To do so would spoil the story, in any of it's several incarnations. I will finish by saying Tactics Ogre : Let Us Cling Together is a brilliant game. It's not perfect, and lacks some of the convenience of it's spiritual successor Final Fantasy Tactics, but it has a rich, fascinating world filled with political intrigue, warring factions, and social upheaval. I believe that now is as good a time as any to return to the Valerian Isles, Xenobia, Lodis, or any other part of the Ogre Battle world.
Here's hoping.