Monday, March 8, 2010

The Loneliest Game You'll Ever Play Together - Demon's Souls

Looking warily down the dark passageway, my barbarian throws down a Blue Eye Stone, bathing the cobbled floor in a flowing, iridescent blue light. He knows what lays ahead in that darkness; he’s been down that road before, paying dearly for it with his life. His hands shuffle through a pouch, falling on one of the few remaining Stones of Ephemeral Eyes, short cuts to regaining body form; death has been his teacher, teaching him that above all else, he fights alone.

The Blue Eye Stone glows azure, and he senses a change in the world. The stone flashes and rising from the glow a shape emerges. A soul, connected to my barbarian by little more than a shared misery, and sacrifice. How many times must we die, alone, together, to save this desolate world, the barbarian mutters, staring at the soul, now fully formed. A woman, a magic user by the looks of her ragged cloak and grizzled staff. She's young, naive; with a bow she introduces herself. 

The faint bluish glow surrounding her being reminds the barbarian she is not of his world, and never will be.He wants to speak--oh if only they could speak. The barbarian has not been with a woman for... but that was before, so long before. The worldly boundaries prevent her from hearing his words, and he from hearing hers. There is nothing to do here but move forward, working together to defeat the demons that have plagued his world, just he knows they have plagued hers. 

A blast of electric light surges from the young mage's fingers, and the barbargian remembers why he is here. Screaming in rage and fear, the barbarian feels his purpose consume him. Broadsword raised high, he charges forward with his silent companion into the darkness. 

They battle bravely, side by side, her magical powers, though limited, complement his tired strength against the enemy. Then, he feels it again, the world shifting. A dark force is breaking through. The barbarian's eyes lock on to his wizard companion's, a sense of recognition passes between them. A soul, ravaged by madness and lust, has come for him. He has faced many such lunatics, but the fear is his wizard companion's eyes tell him that she has not. With a grimace he lifts his sword out of the crumpled demon at his feet and turns to start the long journey back to the Arch Stone, the entry point to this world. That is where the lunatic will be coming from, and there is nowhere to run. 

The wizard follows him closely, hesitant and meek where once she was brash and bold. Death, even in soul form, casts of heavy weight on the consciousness. The barbarian remembers his first death at the hands of the lunatic, and knows he must protect her.

The soul, sheathed in red flame, runs at them quickly from a dark shadow, almost catching them off guard. The wizard strikes first, catching him with a magic arrow in the chest. He's only briefly stunned, and immediately charges her. The barbarian's blood surges to his head, and time seems to freeze. The lunatic's head, attached to a body. The broadsword sweeps down in a brutal arc, shattering the lunatic's shield. The wizard recovers from her fear and launches another magic arrow, smashing the crazy soul's nose. Blood explodes over his beard and eyes, blinding him. The barbarian switches to his sabre, slashing across the man's exposed face. The soul shudders, the red flame disappears. The barbarian shouts silently, mouthing the words WHY. The dying soul sees nothing, hears nothing, speaks nothing. A flame erupts, consuming the dead soul, and the world is back to as it was. The wizard is breathing heavily, tears streaking down her cheeks. The barbarian wishes he could touch them, brush away the sadness.

She will be stronger now, and more cautious. The barbarian smiles. She will be okay, for now. And for he, well, it's a lonely quest, but at least he is not alone.

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