Let me talk to you about Knight Solaire in Dark Souls.
Knight Solaire is your BEST FRIEND. You meet Knight Solaire, this big jolly chap with a curious sense of humour whose hobby is STARING DIRECTLY AT THE SUN, right after you finish your brawl with the Taurus demon.
(To first-time players, the Taurus demon is a turbo-douche; it is a massive roadblock in the way of the rest of the game. It kills you, stone dead, over and over. I’ve written about it in the past.)
Anyway you’re battered and broken and bruised and bloody and you limp up the battlements to find this guy – staring directly at the sun, as you do – and if you bother him enough he clues you in on the fact that it’s possible to summon players from other worlds to help you out in boss fights.
He goes on to say how great the sun is, and say that he wishes he could be so “grossly incandescent.” He uses the phrase “jolly co-operation.” He acts pretty much like a bloke nervously asking you over for a beer at some point in the future.
And I’m like, immediately, WHAT A GUY. We are NOW CHUMS. Everyone else in the game, bar a cheeky pyromancer, is either a) secretly or openly evil b) needlessly evasive and weird or c) recklessly incompetent.* But Knight Solaire? I have never wanted to be chums more with any NPC ever in my whole life.
And CHUMS, mind. Not friends. I get the feeling that Knight Solaire enjoys ginger beer, and the amount of ginger beer that he prefers is LASHINGS. I get the feeling that if you ever levered off his helmet you would find BUN CRUMBS around his BIG JOLLY CHOPS.
GLOWING BRAIN PARASITE
The good thing about Knight Solaire (big jolly chops notwithstanding) is that he helps you out during boss battles; you summon him, as you would a human player, and then he valiantly gets stomped on over and over while you stab whatever abortive monstrosity du jour you’re fighting in the closest thing it has to a bum. I’ll be honest; I got by without him. I didn’t summon much at all, really.
But I loved seeing him. He seemed to be going on a similar quest to me, bumbling around the ruins of Anor Londo and whatnot, and occasionally I’d find him chilling out near a bonfire or sitting in a cave, neither of them activities which involved staring directly at the sun, so I figure he was getting either a) bored of the practice or b) blind.
Then Dark Souls does a thing. Dark Souls tries to kill him.
Dark Souls tries to kill him, and it makes stopping it as easy as Finding The Lady in a back alley gambling den. Also, it doesn’t kill him. You kill him.
If you just plod through the game as normal – and by “as normal” I mean “trying really hard all the time to not die and probably still failing” – then he contracts a glowing brain parasite, goes utterly mad, and tries to kill you – so you have to put him down. The one nice, competent person in the whole game gets corrupted and makes an attempt on your life.
FUCK YOU, Dark Souls.
Here is what you have to do, to save him, in thirty-eight easy steps:
STEP ONE. Marry my wife. (Please do not follow this guide to the letter; any wife of sufficient power level will do.)
STEP TWO. Play Dark Souls with her as your Spotter, Loremaster, and Watcher. She will let you know that the Knight Solaire that you love so much and do bad impressions of whenever you open the bedroom curtains in the morning is going to DIE and you HAVE TO STOP THIS.
STEP THREE. Kill a giant spider-lady in the mouldy ruins of Blight-town. Go under her house and find that her basement is covered in unhatched spider eggs, and a terrifying infected monster is blocking the pathway.
STEP FOUR. Set the monster on fire.
STEP FIVE. Realise the monster was a crucial NPC and run away. Go to the Belfry. Spend ten grand on a spell of forgiveness from a guy in a mask posing like a scarecrow.
STEP SIX. Go back to the egg basement. Do not set the monster on fire. Talk to the monster. Meet his boss – another giant spider lady. She will not say anything. Intuit, somehow, that you can join her covenant. Do so.
STEPS SEVEN TO THIRTY-SIX. Give her 30 humanity. Receive zero fucking feedback during this whole process. Repeatedly ask your wife to confirm that this is the correct thing to do, because, you know, thirty humanity love, are you sure you read it right?
STEP THIRTY-SEVEN. Use the shortcut that has now been unlocked (apparently) to sneak round the back of Lost Izalith. Kill all the little insignificant bugs en route that don’t attack you. (This is vital. If you fail to do this, you cannot save him.) Wear one as a hat, if you’d like.
STEP THIRTY-EIGHT. Marvel as Knight Solaire doesn’t try to kill you, and instead just seems a bit mopey. Get confused when he doesn’t hug you. Really hope you did it right and it wasn’t just a waste of thirty bloody humanity.
It WORKED, thankfully, and Knight Solaire and I were ULTIMATE CHUMS right at the very end of the game. As I kicked in the fog on Gwyn’s lair, Solaire was by my side – glowing brightly, grossly incandescent, sunlight streaming from his core.
He tied up Lord Gwyn in a brawl, and I mashed that jerk up something good and rotten with my Black Knight Sword +5. Boom. Game over, GOOD END. Relit the fire. Woke up in a prison. Tea and crumpets all round. Couldn’t have done it without him.
This blog post was a response to the Critical Distance Blogs of the Round Table June prompt, which asks: which NPCs have left their mark on you?
* Loved me some Onion Knight, though, obviously. Onion Knight 4 lyfe.