When Dark Souls makes adults weep into their hands, it's usually because of the game's brutal difficulty. But reddit user TartarusRex0707_ recently lost his best friend, and shared a touching story of their bonding over Dark Souls. "My best friend and I were Dark Souls fans," said TartarusRex0707_. "He had never given it a chance a year ago and I introduced it to him."
The friends were separated by distance, and used games as a way to keep in touch. Drunk Souls, in which people drink themselves silly while trying to survive a Souls game, became one of their favourite pastimes.
Though they dabbled in the original Dark Souls, it was Dark Souls 2 where things really clicked. The two would play together, with TartarusRex0707_ taking the lead and his friend watching, learning and helping out.
"When you hit a wall and couldn't beat Vendrick [a Dark Souls 2 boss] in NG+ [New Game Plus] I was persistent and nagged you to keep trying," he said. "To keep banging your head against that wall until it broke. Then it finally did and you thanked me for pushing you to do it. You finally felt what every SoulsBorne player had felt before you. Hard Won triumph. I was so proud."
When Dark Souls became backwards compatible on Xbox One, they were determined to play as much as possible before Dark Souls 3 came out.
Playing with friends is an underrated part of Dark Souls.
"Finally after a year of build up, I got to share my favourite game with you," said TartarusRex0707_.
Making progress in Dark Souls became tough, as his friend would stop playing early in the night, claiming he was tired. This wasn't a surprise; his chronic health issues were well-known. When he was younger, it was routine for him to be in the hospital, but the result was always positive. He always beat the odds.
"I didn't think much of it," said TartarusRex0707_.
But when the friend revealed he was fighting a blood clot in his lung, he got concerned. It sounded serious, but like usual, his friend played it off. Though he'd be in bed earlier and earlier, the two survived Anor Londo. They even beat O&S, one of the game's most difficult but memorable fights.
There were plans to see each other soon, but his friend asked if he could push up that date. "Of course," he said.
Though the two were best friends, they weren't always close. Life took them in different directions at times, and TartarusRex0707_ always felt guilty for not staying in touch. His friend never held it against him, and they always picked up where they left off, as though no time had passed.
His friend eventually claimed to be done with Dark Souls. In his friend's words, he'd done something "irreversible" and couldn't move forward. (It's impossible to get truly stuck in Dark Souls, but you can kill crucial NPCs on purpose or by accident, and make your journey much harder.)
"What I didn't know was your were so tired you just couldn't anymore, so you watched me beat Dark Souls the rest of the day," he said. "I kept myself under-leveled in case you ever wanted to come back and didn't spoil the ending by being 'bad' at Gwyn. You kept apologizing about how sick you were, which was ridiculous. You joked about how if Dark Souls 3 stressed you out too much that you'd see 'YOU DIED' in your last moments. You even stayed up with me, long after your new bedtime to see me off at 1 in the morning for my long drive back up to the ferry. 'See you in a week.'"
TartarusRex0707_'s regrets not hugging his friend when he said goodbye.
The two had a date to stay up late for the launch of Dark Souls 3, so they could experience the latest game together. His friend was tired, but he managed to stay up long enough for the game to download and get patched.
"You were exhausted," he said. "I could hear it over the mic. I kept playing once you went to bed, disappointed in your condition as you had looked forward to this for so long. I, again kept myself under-leveled so I could, we could, Coop jollily together as we always did."
His friend was in pain, and though he'd seen a doctor, it apparently didn't matter. He encouraged him to keep playing, but TartarusRex0707_ refused, wanting his friend to feel better, so they could do it as a pair.
When TartarusRex0707_ texted him the next day, hoping for good news, there was no response. As it turns out, he'd passed away in the hospital overnight. He was 26-years-old.
"I'll miss your sign," he said. "I'll miss ranting and venting about the stupid summon system with you. I'll miss guiding you thru our favourite game."
(Summoning signs are what people use to jump into each other's game.)
"You saved me from myself and my loneliness twice and you'll never know it," he said. "You were the tiny flickering flame, truly and grossly Incandescent in my Abyss. You were a warrior in your own life and a brother in arms in mine. I'll love and miss you always, and I hope to see in the next life and every life after."
One player suggested he should make his friend as a character in the game.
"As he rises from the ashes of his grave," wrote breakeren1, "he will be your unkindled, your chosen undead, ready to fight once more."
As it turns out, that's already his plan.
"We will beat the game together, whether this existence wills it or not," he said.
(You can read the whole post here, if you'd like.)