By MikeLemmer 0 Comments
(Spoilers through first boss of Forest of Giants)
"That light wasn't there before," the Cartographer said, pointing at a small, flickering flame above the map etched into the stone floor. I glanced over at it from my spot leaning against the pillar, then at him. I tried to remember his name, but couldn't; he told me it when we met in that dark tunnel, but I had more immediate concerns like the half-dozen archers waiting just outside. And the fortress walls I had to traverse past that.
It didn't matter much anyway; there were so few people about I didn't need names to tell them apart. The Blacksmith, the Armorer, the Cartographer, the Herald... all that really mattered was their role and what snippets of our original selves we could recall. The Blacksmith has a vagabond daughter (Did I have a daughter too? I vaguely recalled a child...), the Armorer can barely remember why he's trying to make money in such a gods-forsaken land, and the Cartographer loves maps. He loves them so much he's willing to risk his life traveling just to prove the ancient stone map he found on the floor of the manor he's squatting in is an accurate map of Drangleic. He can't remember why he originally came here, but the map gives him focus, staves off his Hollowing.
I nodded in understanding when he first explained his quest to me. We are kindred spirits: explorers driven to check out every nook & cranny. I still remember my original quest to break the curse, but seeing what's around the next corner keeps me going day after day, when breaking the curse seems impossibly far away. The fortress in the forest had its share of mysteries: trees that looked more humanoid than plant; a sword large enough for three dozen men to stand on embedded into the wall facing the sea; fire-breathing lizards guarding dark corridors; numerous secret passages pointed out in messages left by other wanderers.
The other wanderers... dozens, maybe hundreds, of Cursed exploring the same ruins as me. I only caught fleeting glimpses of them, but their messages were a godsend. They encouraged me to take another look at how I approached things: hit that boulder, hit that door, watch out for the ambush around the corner, is there something strange about the placement of those powder kegs? The only secret passage I found that wasn't marked by them involved fiddling with a strange Contraption and discovering an illusory wall; I left my own message upon finding it to repay the favor to the anonymous wanderers. But all the messages were short, concise, unable to answer questions about the greater mysteries I found. I could only wonder about them myself and gleam clues from the other inhabitants...
I suspect the flame appeared when I killed a dessicated, shackled giant deep below the fortress, a lost prisoner of an ancient war. Was he one of the giants who invaded Drangleic? No, he couldn't be... unless he shrank. He couldn't have wielded the giant sword I saw. Perhaps I would find answers deeper in the fort; the giant had carried a soldier's key on him, presumably from a captor who got too close to him, which opened deeper passages into the fort for me. I had grown weary of fighting so many Turtle Guards exploring them, hence my return to the Town and conversation with the Cartographer. Unfortunately, he didn't have any answers for me, just statements that prompted new questions.
I finished talking with him and took my leave. My enemies were getting nastier, and I needed to make sure my gear, and my skills, were up to the challenge. I was getting better at dual-wielding a sword & dagger, but I could still improve it...