There are challenges in life that none can go around or under. One must conquer the challenge to progress in life and ready themselves for the next challenge. There are those who conquer the challenges and march forward, head high and ready to fight. But there are those, greater in number, that fail and do not progress. In Lordran, those who do not conquer, die and become Hollow. For one such Undead, their first challenge had presented itself.
A low ranking Astorian knight, broadsword and kite shield in hand, stared down at his opponent. A great, ugly beast, plump and stout, stared back up at him. The beast's name was the Asylum Demon, and it guarded the Northern Undead Asylum. Any who challenged it had failed.
The Astorian had run the first time it had seen the beast, as he had nothing but a jagged sword hilt for a weapon. He had no proper excuse this time. He took a deep breath, and gazed down at his foe. It gave a disgusting, wretched smile. The knight closed his eyes, and tightened his grip on his sword and shield. He opened his eyes, and he felt a wave of resolve flood through him. His legs tightened, and he leapt into the air. His sword was in a reverse grip, raised high over his head, and he went down towards his foe, a battle cry puncturing the silent asylum air. The beast did nothing, as if transfixed by what it beheld. It roared in pain as the knight landed, sword going up the the hilt in its flesh.
"Time to die beast!" The knight shouted as he removed his blade and hopped off the demon. It turned to face him, snarling savagely. It raised his hammer, and swung in a downward arc, trying to sweep the knight into the wall and crush him. He rolled forward, closer to the demon, and began to slash away at its stomach. The beast overshot and stumbled, giving the knight more time to hack away at its belly. The demon raised his hammer high in a reverse grip and it shot downwards. The knight rolled between its short, fat legs and began to swing away at its hindquarters. The beast's short, flabby wings began to flap, and it somehow flew into the air. The knight stepped back and watched as it ascended a few short feet, and then dropped like a rock. The knight leapt backwards as the demon came crashing down, narrowly avoiding being caught underneath its buttocks.
"Come now fat demon, face your death!" The knight shouted, rushing forward and slicing away. The demon replied lethargically, and swung its hammer weakly, it's strength sapped. It swung feebly once more, and tripped over its own feet. It fell heavily, knocking over two columns on its way down. It's hammer slipped from its grape and the massive thing clattered away from it. The knight approached in slowly, cautiously, as if expecting deceit. The demon offered no resistance to his approach only moans of pain. The knight felt no sympathy for it. It had grown fat on the lives of other Undead and it deserved no remorse. He gripped his sword tightly once more and stabbed forward, plunging his sword through the beast's eye up to the hilt. It roared and shrieked in pain, and its short, stubby arms flailed as it tried to grab the source of its pain, but to no avail. The knight twisted the blade and the roar intensified, but only for a brief second. It then lay still, dead.
The knight stood there for a moment, as if he expected to see the beast rise and squish him like s bug. And then the demon began to dissipate into a white mist that floated into the knight, giving him a feeling of great strength. He slid his sword back into its sheath, but paused as he heard a piece of metal hitting the ground. He looked to see s large key sitting where the demon's stomach had been. It was the key to the door of the Asylum. The knight slowly picked the key up, almost reverently, like a gift from the gods, and walked to the door. He inserted the key into the keyhole, and turned it. His heart leapt at the sound of the lock's crunch, and he placed his hands on the doors. And he pushed his way to freedom. He took a deep breath of air and walked forward, observing the land around him.
As he walked, he though of the prophecy given to him by the dying knight from earlier. He stopped when he reached the edge of the cliff, and frowned.
"How am I to complete this prophecy if I cannot even leave the Asylum?" The knight thought. He began to lean over the edge to look, just as a gust of wind blew into his face, and a massive crow flew up. It grabbed him in its talons, and the knight's feet left the ground in an instant. The knight grinned as he thought of the fight to come, the glory to earn.
There are those who rise to the challenge, and those who hide from it. It is those who rise to the challenge that become the stuff of legends, things children aspire to be. The Chosen Undead's legend began when he faced down what many others had fallen to, and rose far above it. In the end, he faced many more until he came to his last. He met many others along the way, but he was the only one to truly overcome his challenges.
Saulden, the Crestfallen Warrior of Majula, gave a pained smile as he watched the young man before him. He was garbed in the armor of Faraam, and his helmet rested by his side as he listened to the tale.
"What was the knight's name?" The night asked.
"It has been lost to time. As have some of the story's details. The clerics, sorcerers, and merchants who I've heard the tale from all have different versions of the tale, but beginning, and end are all the same." Saulden said." The knight nodded. He stood, picking up his helmet.
"Thank you for the tale and guidance in the Way of Blue, Saulden." He said, putting his helmet on.
"It was a pleasure, my friend. May you always be safe, and my prayers go with you." Saulden said. He watched the knight walk away, towards the Tower of Flame. When he was gone, Saulden stood and walked over to the Emerald Herald.
"Yes, Crestfallen?" She asked as he approached. That was her name for him, as that was what he was.
"There was your King, Herald." He said.
"He is like the rest, a pawn of-"
"No." Saulden interrupted. "I have told that tale to many an Undead. That was the first to find such resolve, such hope in it. He found a kindred spirit in that story, one that he aspires others have considered that a tale and nothing more."
"And you believe the tale, Crestfallen?"'the Herald asked in a mocking tone.
"There was one, not unlike me, in that tale. He guided the Chosen Undead for quite sometime." Saulden replied bitterly.
"And what became of him, Crestfallen?" The Hearld asked. It was a rhetorical question, one that had been asked before. That Crestfallen Warrior was sourer, and had allowed himself to go Hollow by going to New Londo.
"He will prove you wrong." Saulden said. He stalked back to his spot next to the obelisk, and sat down. Something occurred to him just then. The knight had given him something he had not intentionally given, something not felt by Saulden in quite sometime. Hope.
There are those who shrink away from their life's challenges. Then there are those like Saulden, who seek to make a new challenge for themselves, to go down a different path. They repurpose themselves and walk their own path, one unforced by fate of divine intervention.