Here we are at last with the tenth and final part of the Dark Souls Rundown. This final piece will outline nearly all the main events the Chosen Undead will go through from the beginning of the game to the end. Although I would love to talk about every little bit of lore and all the secrets that can be found along the way, I am going to try to keep this to a minimum as there will be far too many to cover them completely. Let’s look at what the Fate of the Undead truly means for the Chosen Undead.
“I'll tear you to shreds! You bloody Hollow!”
In a land full of Undead, it’s not surprising that there are whole groups of people who dislike them. In truth, they don’t have a problem with the Undead themselves, but the fact that they will one day go Hollow. Hollows are mindless and directionless, attacking anything that crosses their path. Between this and the foretelling of an Age brought about by the Undead that would end the Age of Fire, corralling the Undead into an Asylum seemed like a good idea. It’s this hate and fear of Hollows that led Lordran to become what it has today.
“You'd have done better to rot in the Undead Asylum…”
The Chosen Undead begins their destiny locked in a cell with no hope of release when suddenly a body hits the floor. This body was dropped by a knight known as Oscar who will provide more information soon. Now able to escape due to the key on the body, our unliving warrior begins exploring the Asylum. After coming across a bonfire and opening a large set of doors (look up, by the way), the player is ambushed by the Asylum Demon, gatekeeper to freedom.
Sprinting away from the danger and picking up some equipment, the Chosen Undead will encounter a trap that reveals a secret room in which Oscar is laying on the ground. Clearly about to perish, the Knight from Astora asks if he may recite his mission to the newly freed Undead. Oscar then tells his family’s story of an Undead who will ring a Bell of Awakening and learn the Fate of the Undead, before gifting the player with an Estus Flask and a key that opens a gate up ahead.
Once the Chosen Undead leaves Oscar, he succumbs to his wounds and lets out a sharp gasp before fading away. Forging forward, our character makes it to a fog gate near the top of the Asylum. Seconds after passing through, the Asylum Demon is seen beneath, watching and waiting. The Chosen Undead plunges on the monster then swiftly defeats it with their new equipment, receiving a key to the other set of big doors they haven’t opened.
Walking outside, the player makes their way up a walkway to nowhere before a giant crow swoops in and snatches them up.
“We are amidst strange beings, in a strange land.”
Turns out this black bird is actually helping the Chosen Undead by taking them to Firelink Shrine, in Lordran. Upon hitting the ground, there are many options to explore but only one that helps move the story forward. Speaking to the Crestfallen Warrior gives us more information about the Fate of the Undead as he explains that there are, in fact, two Bells of Awakening and it’s unclear what they do but they are guarded by fearsome foes.
With this fresh knowledge, our character makes their way to both the Undead Parish and Blighttown to defeat the Bell Gargoyles and Chaos Witch Quelaag, respectively. While there is plenty more to do when going after these enemies, it does not matter to the plot. As a note, once one bell has been rung, snoring can be heard from within Firelink Shrine. Once both bells have been rung, a hatch opens and Kingseeker Frampt can be found waiting to find who was able to ring them.
“So that you may link the Fire, cast away the Dark, and undo the curse of the Undead.”
The primordial serpent explains that the Chosen Undead is meant to repeat the process Gwyn went through in order to extend the Age of Fire. Not giving any more information on what will happen if we don’t, the mustached snake points the player in the direction of Sen’s Fortress. This trap filled maze of death stands as a sort of trial for anyone attempting to reach Anor Londo and the Lordvessel within.
Deftly evading arrows and swinging axes while balancing on thinner and thinner walkways, the Chosen Undead carefully makes their way to the top of Sen’s Fortress where they are confronted with the Iron Golem. This giant metal being is the final bastion for Sen’s Fortress and has stopped many adventurers before. Ultimately posing little to no threat to our character, the Iron Golem is defeated only to leave behind a small glowing circle of light.
Upon inspection, a pair of pale, putrid demons descend on the player before whisking them away into the sky.
“Welcome to the lost city of Anor Londo, Chosen Undead.”
Proving to only be interested in delivering the Chosen Undead to the city of the Gods, the demons place the player at the top of a set of stairs that lead down to Anor Londo. A short walk later leaves us face to face with a Firekeeper in full brass armor. This woman is a Blade of the Darkmoon and is in service to the true last remaining deity in Anor Londo, Dark Sun Gwyndolin.
This is not immediately obvious, but the Sun Princess Gwynevere the Chosen Undead speaks to later in this area is actually an illusion created by Gwyndolin to retain the image of a sunny and prosperous Anor Londo. In reality, by the time the player reaches the city, nearly everyone has abandoned it. The only reason anyone has to come to this desolate place is to try to acquire the Lordvessel.
Either after speaking to the illusion of Gwynevere or destroying it, the Chosen Undead acquires the Lordvessel and promptly heads back to Firelink Shrine. It is at this time that Firelink Altar is revealed to have been below Firelink Shrine this whole time and is actually housing Gwyn, the Lord of Cinder himself. This is where the player must make a choice, because there is not one, but two primordial serpents vying for the Chosen Undead’s attention. Besides the friend of Lord Gwyn, Kingseeker Frampt, there is also the abyss delving lover of darkness Darkstalker Kaathe.
“...Gwyn has blurred your past, to prevent the birth of the Dark Lord.”
Assuming the player has traveled to Darkroot Garden, defeated Great Grey Wolf Sif and acquired the Covenant of Artorias, then they must next work downward into the New Londo Ruins. At the end of this dilapidated area is a stairway that leads down, down and down some more until it abruptly ends. After dropping down into the endless abyss, a figure forms from the darkness. One of the Four Kings of New Londo, challenges the Chosen Undead. Soon after, more Kings appear and the fight really kicks off. As long as the Four Kings are defeated before the Lordvessel has been placed at Firelink Altar, Darkstalker Kaathe will emerge from the Abyss.
At this point, he explains that Gwyn was actually a coward that wouldn’t let nature take its course. By extending the Age of Fire, he pushed back the impending Age of Dark that would be ushered in by a Dark Lord of the Undead. Kaathe says that the Chosen Undead must kill Gwyn and let the fire finally fade. Choosing to place the Lordvessel for either serpent is not enough to decide anything as the only choice that matters is after fighting Gwyn. But getting to the former Great Lord isn’t quite that simple.
“To achieve your fate, fill the vessel with powerful souls, commensurate to the great soul of Gwyn.”
The Chosen Undead must delve into the Tomb of the Giants beyond the Catacombs to defeat Gravelord Nito for his soul. Or they might first explore the Duke’s Archives in search of Seath the Scaleless and his portion of Gwyn’s soul. Although there’s always the choice to risk trekking into the Demon Ruins and eventually Lost Izalith, the home of the Witch of Izalith. The only issue with this is the Witch is long gone and has been replaced with a being called the Bed of Chaos, a mass of gnarled branches and chaotic intent. Finally, the previously mentioned Four Kings of New Londo and their portion of Gwyn’s soul is also an option for players who haven’t taken them out.
With the souls (and portions of souls) of all these beings, the Chosen Undead can satiate the Lordvessel and open the gate that leads to the Kiln of the First Flame.
“The Lordvessel is satiated…”
Finally walking towards the end of their story, the Chosen Undead is surrounded in ash. Nothing but ash and the occasional Black Knight between the Lordvessel and the First Flame. After dispatching the few Black Knights in the way, the player reaches the final fog gate of the game. Upon entering, Lord Gwyn himself, hollowed and decrepit, immediately attacks the Chosen Undead. The fight is epic yet tragic, grandiose yet intimate, but most of all the battle between these two is hard fought.
After achieving victory over the Lord of Cinder, the Chosen Undead must make the ultimate choice. Stay and link the fire, prolonging the Age of Fire or leave and let the fire, and the Age named after it, die like it was meant to.
If the player chooses to link the fire, the Chosen Undead kneels by the First Flame and offers up their very soul, now very powerful from having fought so many enemies along the way.
If the player chooses to walk away, the Chosen Undead exits the Kiln and is greeted by a plethora of primordial serpents all swearing allegiance to the new Dark Lord.
Of course, it is completely unclear what the canonical ending is meant to be within this game alone, but that is the nature of the story. Either decision ends the current playthrough and picks back up on New Game + in the Undead Asylum with the character you had completed the previous run with, destined to complete the same series of events again.
That’s the end of the Dark Souls Rundown! Although this series has a rather small target audience, I’ll be happy if anyone enjoyed reading it at all. I love this game to bits and wrote this entire series as a way to show what it means to me. I have put many, many hours into the original game and plan on putting many more into the remaster.
Before I sign off, I would like to mention one final Dark Souls YouTuber. For our final article, I’d like to talk about SunlightBlade, a creator who has been making fan-driven top tens for all the SoulsBorne games for quite a while now. There is a list for nearly any type of player and there are more on the way. With our last shoutout done, the next time you’re likely to see me is playing Dark Souls Remastered.
Until then, Praise the Sun and Vereor Nox.