Chapter 2: Solaire of Astora
"Ah! Hello, you don't look like a hollow. Far from it in fact!"
Who was this guy and why was he just staring off into the sky?
He turned to face me fully, his back now to the sky.
"My name is Solaire of Astora, and I am an adherent of the Lord of Sunlight."
Solaire was a man of average size, dressed in an armor of chainmail and pieces of unpolished iron plate. A torn, off-white tabard bearing a heraldry of a sun with a face in the middle and the tattered remains of a green cloak that hung off his shoulders and a red feather tucked in to the side of the great helm that obscured his face.
"Oh, I'm Issei. Hyoudou Issei. My family name is placed first."
"Ah! Issei of Hyoudou then! Hail and well met. I admit, I am unfamiliar with any land that requires one to place their family name or homeland before their own names."
"Uhh, yeah I came from… somewhere far away." Not that he would believe anything about a place that has carriages that run without horses.
"I see." I could tell that he did not entirely believe me, but was not going to press the issue.
"Well, what brings you to this land Lordran then? As I am an undead, I have come to this great land, the birthplace of Lord Gwyn to seek my very own Sun!"
Maybe it was just my imagination, maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part, but at that very moment the sun at his back seemed to shine even brighter than before.
It was beautiful.
"Hohohoho, yes it might seem a little bit strange I admit, but what about you? Why do you journey in this great land?"
"Well… I'm looking for a way home."
"Oh? Interesting, how did a search for a road home lead you to this land?"
"Well, I heard of this prophecy thing; 'Thou who art Undead are chosen, and in thine exodus from the Undead Asylum, maketh pilgrimage to the land of Ancient Lords, and when thou have ringeth the bells of awakening, the fate of the undead thou shalt know.' I did come from a faraway land, but I woke up in the Undead Asylum."
I did not know why I was opening up to him. Maybe I was just glad to have someone to talk to that wasn't a perpetual doomsayer, a dragon, or someone that had her tongue ripped out. Or maybe because it was just him, just something about Solaire that made me want to talk to him.
Regardless, I continued.
"And since I managed to leave the Asylum… maybe if I follow the prophecy I'll get some information. It did say that; 'the date of the undead thou shalt know' after all."
"Oh ho! Braving the perils of this great land so that you might one day find your way home to return victorious! What a glorious adventure you are on! Do you have a fair maiden that you wish to return to Issei of Hyoudou?"
I stiffened unconsciously at the mention of a 'maiden', Yuuma…
"Ahh, a broken heart then. My apologies, I did not mean to bring up something so painful." Solaire seemed truly regretful.
"It's fine… Sigh, she did betray me… hell she even killed me. And I hate her. I hate her for all that she has done to me, I really do."
I took deep breath to calm myself before I continued.
"But she is not the reason I want to go back home. I made a promise to someone once… and I haven't been able to fulfill it yet. So I have to keep going, I will find my way home, I will keep my promise to the old man, and I will keep marching forward through the peril and danger to do so!"
For Oppai… no danger is too great!
"Oh ho! Such bravery, such conviction! Perhaps it was fate that we meet. After all, in this land filled with Hollows, could this meeting really be mere chance?"
He stretched out his hand in a gesture of partnership.
"So what do you say? Why not help one another on this lonely journey?"
Sigh, well why not.
I took his hand and shook it firmly.
"Wonderful! This pleases me greatly, well then take this."
He handed me a white soapstone with a yellow thread around its base.
"The flow of time itself is convoluted; with heroes centuries old phasing in and out."
"The very fabric wavers, and relations shift and obscure. There is no telling how much longer you and I will be able to interact, but use this and no distance will be too far for us to summon one another. So that we can engage in jolly cooperation!"
So… it functions like a RPG summon item?
"I am a warrior of the Sun. You can spot my summon signature easily by its brilliant aura. If you miss it, well you must be blind! Hah hah hah hah hah!"
"So… look for your 'summon signature' then use the stone to summon you?"
"In a manner of speaking, yes."
"I don't know what a summon signature looks like, so can I just look for something bright and glowy scrawled on… somewhere."
"Well, yes. All summon signatures are just… bright and glowy things scrawled somewhere. But mine is the most brilliant of all!"
He broke out into jolly laughter at the end of that sentence, for most people that statement would seem like undue arrogance. But for Solaire, it was like a statement of fact. He did not just boast, he believed.
"Now then, I must get return to gaze at the sun. The sun is a wondrous body, like a magnificent father! Sigh, if only I could be so grossly incandescent…"
Gazing at the sun? It is a sight to behold, the mighty sun pushing its rays of light through the dark clouds.
"Hey, do you mind if I join you? I too would like to gaze at the sun."
Why gaze at the sun? Well why not?
He turned to me and I could feel the waves of happiness radiating of his form. He was probably smiling under that helmet.
"Oh ho ho ho ho, well by all means! Join me! The sun is after all, free for all to bask in its warm incandescence! Maybe I can even regale you with a few tales of the Lord of Sunlight!"
I felt myself smile as I stood next to him, gazing at the Sun's gentle rays and basking in its warmth. The same warmth that Solaire seemed to embody.
I opened bleary eyes and sat up from where I had been sleeping in front of a bonfire.
[Oh, finally up partner?]
Huh? Oh, Ddraig.
"Yeah, just wanted to get a nap in. Do we have enough?"
[Yeah, we've got enough titanite to reinforce everything, all that's left is to infuse it.]
"Right, no point dallying then, might as well get to it."
I took a piece of titanite in my clawed hand, and crushed it. The shard broke into white wisps of power that infused itself into the gauntlet. Leaving no trace of what once was behind.
I had discovered this by accident, with the first shWeard I had picked up being almost hungrily absorbed by the gauntlet.
According to Ddraig, while the power of the titanite did not affect him per se, it did change the Sacred Gear slightly.
While of a significantly higher quality than human hands could fashion, the Boosted Gear did limit how much of Ddraig's power could be utilized actively. What the power of the titanite did, was in essence to make the Boosted Gear stronger, to reinforce it in a way.
No matter how well made, every object has weaknesses and limitations. Tiny cracks and gaps down to its very molecular structure weakening it and limiting how much power could be brought to bear.
The titanite, when absorbed mends these cracks and fills these gaps ever so slightly, but even slightest bit of improvement would allow the Sacred Gear to handle more of Ddraig's power.
And since when would I stop at the 'slightest bit'?
I took another shard and absorbed. And another and another and another and another. Until the boosted Gear stopped absorbing the shard's power all together. When crushed, the white wisps of power would float around my palm for a while before reforming into a shard once again.
"Eh, why won't it-"
[It's not strong enough.]
"What do you mean Ddraig?"
[The shards reinforce the gear when absorbed yes, but at a certain point, where we are at now, the power required to strengthen the gear increases exponentially. In short, the shards don't have enough power to strengthen the sacred gear any further.]
"Huh, so there is a ceiling huh?"
[Well, unless you can find more of this titanite that has that level of power necessary, then yeah you are stuck.]
Greater titanite… Oh!
I reached into my pack and took out the slab I had taken from that demon in the asylum.
"Then what about this Ddra-"
"Ah!" I dropped the slab in shock, luckily it didn't break when it hit the floor.
"Ddraig, what the hell man?"
[Brat. If you do that, the Sacred Gear will explode.]
"Huh? The hell do you mean explode?"
[Right, that slab holds power. A lot of it. If you try to absorb it now, the material of the Sacred Gear won't be able to support it. It's like a progression, you have to use the smaller, weaker pieces first before you can move on to something bigger.]
Oh, well shit how was I supposed to know that?
[Hmmph, no problem brat.]
Sigh, now I have to move on to the rest of my equipment. I could just drag it down to that giant blacksmith guy a floor down. But something is bothering me, when shattered the power of the shard did not dissipate but rather was left hanging around my palm… What would happen if I pushed the power into something?
I dragged my armor to me, and crushing a shard in my hand, pushed the power into it. I watched as the wisps worked their way into the nook and crannies of the armor, bits of rust flaking off and the chainmail somehow looking even more solid than before.
I did the same to all of my equipment, then satisfied with my handiwork, started to put them on.
My armor consisted of a thick, long-sleeved, studded and padded garment that went down to my mid-thigh, a thick chainmail shirt dyed black with just the slightest tinge of red that stopped just before my elbow worn over the garment, a burgundy tabard with a heraldry enchanted to resist magic worn over the chainmail and secured with a pair of pauldrons made from overlapping plates of metal and a thick black, studded leather belt.
For my head, I wore a simple chainmail coif, and my arms were clad in metal gauntlets. My legs were left unarmored save a pair of burgundy trousers and thick leather boots. I needed to dodge after all.
I armed myself with a greatsword that I ripped off from some fat bastard that tried to bash my head in with his tower shield.
I had a rather unfortunate habit of breaking my weapons in combat, and I hoped, that this greatsword would hold up better than well… everything else.
[Oi, brat. You done admiring yourself?]
"Hey come on, how often is it that a teenage boy gets to wear real armor?"
[*Snort* Well whatever, you ready partner?]
Now or never.
"Yeah, let's go ring that damn bell."
"Oh ho! Summoning me so soon! Very well, let us engage in jolly co-operation!"
"Sigh, I guess I will have to pay my debts…"
"Yes, hello Lautrec."
Well, here goes nothing. I stepped through the fog gate… and had to immediately parry a strike from something flying.
It did an aerial twirl, then landed in a pose a few meters in front of me.
I looked up at the towers, and saw their guardians come to life. They were monstrosities of living rock, made in the image of gargoyles and breathing scorching flame. And on upon dark wings they swooped down.
I redirected a strike, and carved a furrow into its rock like flesh with a return strike.
Lautrec manipulated his curved blades, and in his hands they were instruments of death and domination. Capable of dealing blows, and trapping foes. A gargoyle was disarmed in this manner, its weapon ripped from its grasp as blades bit into its flesh.
Solaire shone like the magnificent sun as his spear of sunlight tore into stone like flesh as he mercilessly thrusted his glowing white shaft. I would have almost mistaken it for the lance that took my life, if not for the fact that deep down I could feel that it was… something more, something purer.
"STICK TOGETHER! THE ENEMY HAS THE AERIAL ADVANTAGE!"
Solaire threw his spear at a fleeing enemy, the spear sheared away a part of its wing leaving it barely flying.
"Solaire, aim for their wings! AIM FOR THEIR DAMN WINGS AND GROUND THE FUCKERS!"
Solaire, was no longer the jolly man, but a fierce, solemn and competent warrior nodded his assent, the spear already charging in his hands.
"Lautrec! Trap any who come close and give him a clear shot! I'll cover you!"
"Tch." He manipulated his blades, trapping the gargoyle and dragging its head down, allowing for Solaire to send a spear to completely incinerate its wings, while I chopped off its axe-tail to prevent a counter attack.
With a long 360 degree swing, I unleashed all of the stored power, bisecting the gargoyle completely.
I immediately switched to defending the two from, swooping enemies as Lautrec finished off the fallen Gargoyle and Solaire kept throwing spears to ward off the Gargoyles.
One down, five to go.
And the five swooped down, but this time, they sought to divide and conquer. Two split and engaged me and Solaire directly while the three took on Lautrec.
'Damn it! Just hold on man!" I shouted, ducking under a swing of its halberd, I rammed the pommel of the sword against its belly causing it to double over, then brought the sword down in an overhead swing on its outstretched arm. I prepared the sword to chop off its head.
Which allowed me to barely block the breath of fire that hit like a mack truck, sending me flying back and out of its range.
It pounced on me, its gaping maw open to rip at my throat, I rammed the flat of my blade into its mouth, leaving it to bite down on the blade, shattering it but before I had enough time to bring my claw up and tear out its throat.
It stood up as it pawed its throat in anguish, wasting no time I grabbed its leg, and pulled. Tripping it and sending it crashing to the tiles of the roof. I leapt on it, bashed the pommel against its head, and using whatever was left of the blade, beheaded it.
I looked up, and saw that I was too late.
Lautrec was torn apart but the Gargoyles, his armor rent by and his body broken. His spirit began to dissipate, leaving nothing behind. Of the three that attacked him one lay dead, the other two now attacking Solaire, and slowly but surely, he was losing ground.
God damn it. No NO!
I ran for Solaire, a maddened rush of desperation, come on come on COME ON!
I tackled the creature who was about to behead Solaire from a blind spot, but not before my hand brushed against hand in a bro fist.
Power flowed into Solaire as the pure glorious incandescence of his aura pushed back the remaining Gargoyle, before a truly massive spear incinerated its head. With a flick of his wrist, the spear destroyed the other gargoyle. Leaving me lying on the roof tiles, breathing and panting.
But more than my relief at being alive, they joy and exhilaration of victory filled me with laughter. Laughter that Solaire joined in as he offered me a hand.
I took it, and laughter was broken by a large shadow that now loomed over us both. The Hellkite Dragon had come to play.
I looked at Solaire and gave him a nod of assurance.
"Let's do this!"
"God damn it! Run man Run!"
"But Issei of Hyoudou, do you not wish to engage this enemy in combat?"
"I wish to engage an enemy. NOT A GIGANTIC, SCALY, WALKING VAGINA WITH ROWS UPON ROWS OF TEETH!"
"OH MY GOD IT ROARS! RUN SOLAIRE RUN!"
"Oh hello there, you've been rather quiet lately."
"Yeah well, having to go through Blighttown and the trapped mess that is Sen's Fortress can do that you. But I'm here now, and maybe I can finally find some answers. I mean, I don't really know if the whole prophecy thing is real anyway, I just want to find my way back!"
"Ahh, well this is the city of the Gods, I'm sure you'll find something here! But my do you seem rather fond of chatting with me aren't you? If I didn't know better, I would say that you have feelings for me. Oh hoho my, please, pretend you didn't hear that."
"Nonono sorry Solaire-san I can't be attracted to you. You don't have any Oppai so I can't be attracted to you!"
"Hah hah hah, oh my…"
"This here is the altar of sunlight! Awaiting those who are strong of arm, strong of faith, and most importantly, strong of heart."
"I have brought you here, because I believe you meet all these requirements and I wish to share the glory of the sun with you! Even with all the tragedies that have befallen us both."
"So what do you say Issei of Hyoudou, do you wish to join?"
I gave him a small shake of my head. I did not want to speak nor did I wish to join. I knew that he was just trying to cheer me up, but the Oppai at the end… the Oppai that I was supposed to protect… that I was supposed to love… that I was prepared to never see home again just to gaze upon…
It was all a lie.
Gwynevere was just an illusion, a lie that was exposed by my love and crafted by foul Gwyndolin.
And now he is dead, and Anor Londo lies in darkness forevermore.
"Ahh, I guess I was too hasty then. Regardless, the joy and warmth of the sun is always open to you regardless. Should you wish it, just return here and pray before the altar."
He turned to gaze at the sun.
"Sigh, you are not the only one experiencing melancholy Issei of Hyoudou, the sun of Anor Londo was a lie, and there was no sun to be found in foul Blighttown. Where else can I search? Lost Izalith, or the Tomb of the Gravelord… ?
Issei, regardless of the sorrow, regardless of the lies, you have your promise to keep, and I have my sun to seek! And I will not give up! Will you? Where was the man who declared his conviction to me? Where is he Issei of Hyoudou!?"
I glared at him.
"He is right here. And he has not given up!"
It was a tense few moments, before we both broke out into laughter.
"You know, when I peer at the Sun up above, it occurs to me…What if I am seen as a laughing stock, as a blind fool without reason? Well, I suppose they wouldn't be far off!
Hah hah hah!"
"Hahahahaha, if you are a fool Solaire, then let us be fools together!"
… Hrg, rg… Arrrgh…
… Finally, I have found it, I have!…
… My very own sun… I am the sun!…
…I've done it… I have…
… Yes, I did it… I did!…
Damn IT! Stop, don't!
I dodged his spear of light, and tore out his innards with my clawed hand, and I ripped out the maggot destroying him. I caught his body as it gave out all strength having left him.
"Ahh, it's over… My sun… it's setting… It's dark, so dark…"
"I'm sorry oh god I'm sorry…."
"Huh, y-yes Solaire? I'm here... I'm so sorry…"
"Don't be… despite everything… I'm glad to have met you… please… live well… "
Solaire breathed his last.
Solaire…Solaire…Solaire… no no no…
Issei wept. He carried, Solaire all the way back to the sunlight altar, and buried him in the sun's embrace. And all the while, he wept. And so he pledged himself to the covenant of the Warriors of Sunlight, in honor of the greatest of them all.
Solaire… I'm sorry… I should have been there… I should have helped you more… it was always you helping me… I'm sorry… I'm so so sorry…
A/N: All hail Brolaire, the greatest Sun Bro of all.