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   Demon's Souls - The Fate of Boletaria  

The Fate of Boletaria
by Adriaan den Ouden

   The disturbing aesthetic of Demon's Souls is so impressive that simply turning a corner is a feat of bravery. The atmosphere is so thick that you can't help but get sucked in. As such, a typical impression simply won't do (and we already did some for Run to the Sun). Hopefully this walkthrough of the introductory stages of Demon's Souls will help convey just how creepy the game truly is. Enjoy!

   Am I mad, or just a fool? The deep fog surrounding Boletaria grows thicker and spreads farther with each passing day, and yet I willingly strayed into this accursed and forsaken land that God has forgotten. The ripe stench of demons hangs in the air, a foul and menacing odor that would best the greatest of men.

   The fog enveloped me as I walked, each step granting me a brief moment of clarity before the smoky wisps returned to blur my vision. Had it been days or hours? I had no way of knowing.

   There was a light up ahead, and a voice spoke to me. A child's voice, a young girl, yet there was something otherworldly about it. It echoed in the fog as if coming from everywhere and nowhere at once. It told me it would guide my way.

   There was a blinding flash, and the world seemed to dissolve around me. When my eyes cleared, I saw what had become of Boletaria clearly for the first time.

   I found myself in a ruined, waterlogged tunnel, possibly the remains of a sewer. The stone was crumbling, and thick, creeping vines had begun to reclaim their former territory. Cautiously, I stepped forward.

   Water splashed around my boots as I made my way around the broken remnants of the tunnel's ceiling. A temple loomed in the distance, and I found myself entering a dilapidated courtyard. Four stone pillars were all that remained of the gazebo that must have once occupied this space.

   There was a shuffling sound in the distance. Readying my sword, I prepared myself as something shambled around the corner. It stopped and stared at me for a moment as I set eyes for the first time upon the true depth of Boletaria's plight.

   The creature may have once been human, but certainly no longer. The wretch's skin was beginning to decay, and it moved as if possessed by an unworldly force. As it raised its sword, I lunged forward, stabbing it in the gut. It let out a grunt before collapsing to the ground. There was no blood.

   Continuing down another collapsing tunnel, I found myself at an entryway to the temple, though the towers I had seen before were still a ways off. As I stepped inside, another of the walking dead greeted me with a surprise assault. I raised my shield, easily deflecting its blow. The creature staggered, the weight of its sword too great for its feeble body to control. My sword struck and it fell to the ground.

   Despite no signs of human activity, the chamber I found myself in was lit by several torches. Even demons cannot see in the dark, it would seem. More undead greeted me, but their kind were no match. As they shambled towards me, their cold, dead eyes showing no sign of what they once were. I struck without remorse.

   I made my way up a poorly lit stairway and soon found myself on a rampart overlooking a large interior courtyard. Outside the walls, the wilderness was stark and barren. A handful of dying trees followed by an endless fog and some hazy ruins in the distance. The wind howled and the sky was as gray as the land beneath it. Whatever beauty had once resided in Boletaria, it had long been erased.

   A steel gate barred my path, leaving me at a dead end. There was nowhere else to go but down, and so I lowered myself down the wall and into the courtyard below. I could see more of those undead creatures deeper inside, and drew my sword in preparation. Four more soon fell to my blade.

   The courtyard was clear, but I remained wary. I walked further in, approaching a sword that had been displayed prominently in the center of a pavilion. The blade had been firmly embedded in a green rock, and it seemed to glow with an unearthly hue. I reached to grab it.

   I quickly drew my sword in surprise as the world dissolved around me yet again, and I found myself inside once more. I could hear water dripping from further inside.

   The building was crumbling; wooden beams jutted from the walls where the stone had broken free from the latticework. A man stood before me, dressed in Boletarian regalia. I greeted him, but the man had no interest in talk. He ran at me, sword drawn, and struck. I barely had time to raise my shield before the blow fell and another followed.

   I jumped back and lunged forward with my sword, striking him in the gut before he could launch another assault. I withdrew my blade and struck against at his shoulder, putting him down for good. I paused for a moment to compose myself.

   What would possess a living Boletarian to attack a fellow human in circumstances as dire as these? Had the man turned himself over to the demons, or was he a slave like the undead wretches I had come across before?

   As I continued down this hallway, another soldier came at me in a rage. I struck him down too, but I was not without remorse as before. What had happened here?

   Turning the corner, another foe awaited me. Clad in armor, he seemed much like the soldiers I had just fought. But he was different, and certainly not human. A glowing blue stone rested in his chest, and he moved slowly and purposefully towards me.

   As the creature struck my shield, I nearly fell backwards. It possessed strength far beyond that of a mortal man. It struck again, and desperately, I rolled backwards, trying to get away from its vicious assault. As I got to my feet, the demon soldier raised its sword once more. I took that opportunity and struck, slashing at it with all my strength.

   The demon did not fall. Its blade fell towards me like a guillotine, and once again I dodged out of the way, my armor clattering loudly against the stone floor. I backed away, sword drawn and shield raised as the creature approached me again.

   It struck, and deftly I sent the blade away with a stroke of my shield. My sword lunged forward and found its target, and the creature fell dead at my feet. I took a moment to catch my breath, and then continued forward.

   At the end of the hallway, a wooden staircase awaited me. It was newly constructed, as it had been built through a crumbling wall. It led to a tower with a spiraling staircase leading further up. I climbed.

   Another Boletarian soldier awaited me at the top, and a crossbow bolt narrowly missed me as I stepped off the staircase. I rushed the man, striking quickly as he tried to reload. A crude boardwalk lead through another wall, and so I followed it.

   I found myself in a still-working forge. The fire was stoked and the heat it produced filled the entire room. Knowing someone must be attending the fire, I drew my sword, and surely enough another soldier soon came down the stairs to greet me. I struck him down and continued up the stairs to the next floor.

   The doorway here was blocked by a fog. I pressed forwards regardless, passing through it without any trouble. Almost immediately another soldier came at me. I blocked his assault and returned it with my own.

   The building here seemed to be in better shape than other areas. The stonework was mostly intact, and only a small amount of moss had managed to take hold. As I moved down the hallway, I noticed a massive crater in the left wall, as if something enormous had struck it. I pressed on cautiously.

   Another fog stood in my path, and I could hear a heavy breathing coming from within the next chamber. Every instinct in my body told me to turn back, to return to my own lands, but I was determined. I had come here with a purpose, and I would be remiss to abandon it so easily. I pushed through the fog.

   The demon that stood before me was monstrous. Its hulking brown gut would have been comical were it not for the beastly head that rested atop it. Horns protruded from its head and three glowing eyes stared at me with all the hate of Hell itself, and the wings of a bat extended from its back, pummeling me with powerful gusts of wind each time they beat. Unnatural fangs flayed from its mouth in all directions as if competing for space. Its arms ended in clawed fingers, and each was larger than my body. Clenched in its enormous hands was an axe the likes of which I could not fathom. The source of the impact in the hallway outside was clear.

   Wasting no time, the monster rushed at me, raising its great axe to strike. As it whirled towards me, I dodged out of the way, immediately standing and running for the far end of the room, hoping for somewhere to escape to. But the room was sealed, and the monster had turned back towards me, approaching with frightening speed.

   Again I rolled across the floor as the axe blew past my head. The wind it made felt like death was breathing on my neck. Desperately, I struck with my sword, but it had no effect. The beast wasn't even phased. The axe came up one more time, and I raised my shield to no avail. It came down, and the world went dark. Boletaria had claimed yet another soul.

   A voice spoke, older than before. I could see and feel nothing, but I could hear this voice. An angel? A demon? Or something else? "Soul of the lost withdrawn from its vessel, let strength be granted so the world might be mended."

   "So the world might be mended..."

   My eyes opened.

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