Welcome back to my Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Diaries, a series that purely exists to give me a reason not to chicken out of completing Sekiro. Last time, I found an alternate route forward that looked too dangerous to attempt and died far too many times while fighting a mysterious ninja. Thankfully, I made it through that fight and moved back onto the main path.

Returning to the Bamboo Thicket Sculptor’s Idol, I grappled up to the side once more to avoid an approaching soldier with a torch. Once he came into view, I dropped down onto the man and killed him in a single strike. This alerted two other soldiers, one nearby and the other up on a ledge up the path. The man on the ledge began firing arrows at my position, so I made a hasty retreat back up to the cliff I’d jumped down from. After waiting a moment for the combat to die down, I returned and slew the other soldier before grappling up to the bowman’s ledge, slashing through the air as I ascended, killing the archer in seconds.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Part 5 Cool Walk

With a moment to breathe in hand, I looked around. I was in a wide-open clearing with a large bonfire burning in the centre. This fire illuminated my surroundings and, thereby, also me. Thankfully, however, it was also large enough to hide behind. The clearing had two obvious exits, slanting down on the left where I could see the river that had taken me to the Interior Ministry Ninja and spiralling up on the right with a path towards the large bridge above the water. I knew the river already, so I crept over down the slant to clear another route if I needed to retreat. Two more soldiers laid in wait, one by the water and the other around what appeared to be a bamboo logging operation with bundles of bamboo tied up together on the ground. The two men were far enough from each other that I could easily take them both out without being noticed, so I was soon alone once again.

The ground level seemed clear, so I moved back over to the large fire, making sure to look up at the cliffside’s spiralling path. I could see roughly two enemies peeking over and standing guard. Neither of them were particularly close to the branch to their left, so my previous attempt at slicing through the air on my way grappling up wasn’t going to work again. On the other hand, the path up was fairly narrow, so I would have little chance in successfully sneaking up on anyone in that immediate vicinity. Between my two choices, I opted to grapple up, assuming that the two soldiers wouldn’t be the only foes present. Perhaps there was someone else near the branch that I could stab on the way up?

Good news: I was absolutely right: there were more than just two soldiers.

Bad news: I was absolutely right. There were way more than two soldiers.

Thankfully, my sudden entrance caused a not-insignificant amount of confusion, allowing me to quickly defeat one of the enemies and wound two others before seeing much resistance. Sadly, that couldn’t last; I was soon bobbing and weaving to avoid arrow after arrow, making for the path downwards just to get away. Thankfully, no one pursued very far, so I was able to hang back and follow one hapless soldier as he walked back up the cliff. Maybe if he’d run instead he wouldn’t have tasted steel. Rushing back into the fray, I was able to once again take a life or two but was forced back once more. A few trips up and down the cliff later left the battlefield far quieter.

With a bit of safety earned, I looked forward to find another narrow path between two large rocks to the large bridge. I’d been looking at this large structure since I’d made my ill-fated decision to take the alternate path into the river in my last diary entry. There was a soldier patrolling from roughly the bridge’s centre to the edge of the rocks bordering it and my position. Behind him was a rather large man with an equally large club and what seemed to be a shielded soldier on his left. Hiding behind one of the rocks, I waited for the patrolman to close in on my position. He stood watch over the area that I had coated with soldier corpses and paused for an uncomfortably long time. Eventually, he made the right call of turning back around and acting like he saw nothing. Too bad for him I wasn’t planning on leaving behind any witnesses.

One more soldier corpse on the ground, I stalked around the near edge of the bridge, looking for a way to separate the shield-holding man from the larger enemy. I inched forward, hugging the right rail of the bridge until I could get a lock on him. Then, I switched to my Ceramic Shards and my Loaded Axe. Quickly, I threw a shard at the soldier to make him investigate my position, backing up to my end of the bridge to stay just out of sight. When I felt he was a comfortable distance away from the club-wielding giant, I rushed him with my axe, breaking his shield in one swift motion and using the momentary distraction to run him through.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Club Man at Cliff

I stalked back and forth across the near edge of the bridge, looking for a clean route across the bridge so that I could sneak up behind the large man. On the left side, I noted a conveniently placed branch sticking out into the chasm below, leading to a small cliff on the far side. With this, I would surely be able to make my way to the other side without being noticed. In moments, I was grappling to the branch, ready to jump up to the other side of the bridge and sneak up on my enemy. Also in moments, the large man with the club saw me and roared at me, running over to where the branch met the cliff. He wasn’t able to reach me, but he clearly was not going to budge. However, this wasn’t a complete bust. From my position, I could plainly see that the club man growling at me wasn’t the only one left; there was one more shielded soldier nearby, though he didn’t seem to notice me, even though his friend was screaming into my face. Maybe this was just normal behaviour for the club man?

With new information in hand, I decided that I would try to get back to the safer side and attempt to sneak up behind the unalerted soldier. However, it seemed that the branch was too low and I missed the cliffside by a mile, falling into the water, dealing me a double dose of embarrassment and falling damage. Earlier, I’d learned that there were mysterious underwater enemies that I could neither see nor attack and I did not want to risk their wrath, so I high-tailed it back over to the solid ground near the bonfire. Approaching the bridge once more, I crouched and slowly began walking across, only to find that both soldiers immediately turned to face me. I made a hasty retreat once more, but the shield-carrying soldier wasn’t too far behind me. Thankfully, the club man was much slower, giving me ample time to break the shield and then break the soldier. But what my remaining foe lacked in speed, he more than made up in persistence. He followed me all the way back to the previous area, though I managed to drop down to the bonfire before he could reach me. Watching him standing at the edge of the cliff, I did my best to still my beating heart as I waited, hoping that he would soon give up the chase and return to his position so that I could give the whole stealth thing another shot. Just when I managed to calm myself down, however, the man lumbered right over the edge, landing only a few steps away from me.

As that intimidating mass of flesh and muscle descended from the heavens, I ran away once more, dashing to the water’s edge. Sure, I could have tried to head back to the Idol, but he would have seen me for sure. I hid on a branch hanging just above the river and waited once more, begging the man with the club to just leave me alone already. And for once, my wishes were answered. The giant of a man lost interest and turned around, seemingly unwilling to move without anyone to pursue. I climbed back up and snuck around behind him, leaping up for a fatal stab in the neck, ending his dogged pursuit permanently.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Owl Through the Doors

One final time, I ran up the path and made it across the bridge. Picking up a Fistful of Ash nearby, I made my way forward, coming across a large building nearly consumed with flame. The doors were wide open, leading to a smaller area inside, equally coated in fire. But this was no boss arena. The only one inside was a large man leaning against a rock that seemed to be barely holding on to life. This was the Owl, Sekiro’s father, a great shinobi in his own right.

With his dying words, he gave me a Hidden Temple Key and warned me that I should stick to the “Iron Code” and to save the young lord. As he passed, my and Sekiro’s responsibility seemed to take on a greater weight than before. Not only was protecting the lord our job, it was also his father’s dying wish.

But I couldn’t stay in that moment forever. Once the Owl was dead, the doors I had crossed through burst into flames and collapsed, as though they could not hold out for any longer than the man in front of me. Unwilling to fall to these flames after everything I had been through, I grappled my way out of there up to a high building that looked over the large river. There were several more structures nearby that were the perfect distance to grapple to, so I made my way across the chasm, leaping from place to place until I was safe from the fire.

My path ended with a temple far below me, its back facing a cliffside far above the water. As I jumped down to the cliff, I remembered: I had been here once before. This was where the shortcut before the Shinobi Hunter’s arena had taken me. I’d thought before that it had led me to a position only partway through a path in the thicket, but it seemed that this — where the paths converged — was the intended direction I was to use. I’d had trouble here before, but even so, I breathed a small sigh of relief. Even if I fell here, I’d be able to take the easier and shorter path instead.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Hirata Alt Route Spy on Torch Enemy

Sneaking around the temple, I managed to quickly take out the nearby soldier. Further ahead, there was a cave with two more soldiers that seemed to be lounging around outside of it. Taking the opportunity to eavesdrop on the duo, I learned that they were actually lying in wait for any more survivors to come through, saying that the cave was the only way out of the interior sections. Waiting to ambush people just trying to run away from their vicious attacks seemed a little on the rude side, but at least the information was helpful. If the cave was the only way out, that meant it was also the only way in. Likely, it would act as a sort of bottleneck, cutting the next area of the map off from the one I had been exploring.

I carefully moved back and away from the two conspirators, knowing from my prior experience that they were not the only ones here. Taking a closer look around the clearing, I saw another small temple off to the left, with an archer off in a corner of the area. To the right, there was another path to the cave, with two more soldiers standing around between me and the duo that I had dropped eaves on. My mind made up, I rushed the archer in the corner, killing him before he could get a chance to alert anyone else. Next, I got up behind the closer pair of soldiers, executing one of the two. Sadly, this alerted the three other men, but with the wide open clearing, I was able to make short work of them all.

Exploring the now safe area, I found a trail down the hill. Curving left and then right around the bamboo, I came upon a short incline with a series of steps leading down… and a spearman in white robes walking up them.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice White Robe Walking

Quickly I ducked back to the last bend and kept my eye on the warrior. He came to a stop at the top of the stairs and as soon as he turned back around, I was upon him, staining his robes red with a single thrust of my blade. As his splayed body hit the ground, another robed spearman noticed me and advanced. This soldier was dressed in blue and swung his weapon wide. I took some knicks and bruises, but with a few careful thrusts and ample dodging, I was soon alone again. Thank goodness neither of them had noticed me dealing with the small fry nearby! Carefully, I looted the area, picking up a Pellet and a Mibu Balloon.

Making my way back to the mouth of the cave, I carefully stalked through the opening, hugging the right wall. Around a corner, a soldier was waiting for me with a torch. However, this wasn’t my first soulslike. The whole “there’s an enemy just around the corner meant to surprise you” deal may have gotten me once, but I was ready, using the magic of camera controls to look around the corner before moving out. Sadly, he was nestled right up against the wall, facing the bend I would have to pass through. Stealth was not an option. I dashed around the corner and the fight was on. We traded blows, and even though he dealt plenty of damage, I had more health to trade.

Safe once more, I reached the end of the cave, wall jumping up to a deeper part of the Hirata Estate that, much like the building where I’d seen the Owl, was covered in a raging inferno. But now the playing field was much larger, so the flames had even more to eat up. The fire was everywhere. I picked up some nearby Oil, because the Estate obviously needed to be more flammable.

I sat at the Main Hall Sculptor’s Idol, thereby learning what the chaos I was caught in the middle of used to be. Resting for a time, I carefully looked over the skills list, noting that I had enough points to get myself a little something. With five skill points, I unlocked the Shinobi Art known as Breath of Life: Luck, which would restore some of my own health whenever I dealt a Deathblow onto my enemy. I had been doing plenty of these one-shot techniques by sneaking up onto my foes unnoticed, so hopefully this ability would make fighting normal enemies a bit easier. Little did I know how much I would need it.


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