To enter Smouldering Lake, make your way to the rope bridge from High Lord Wolnir. If you had rested at the bonfire, the bridge will be up again, so destroy it to create a ladder heading down. In the area below you will find a Demon (go back to the previous section of the walkthrough if you haven’t entered this area yet). After taking down the Demon, go through the corridor beyond to find a bonfire. From here, if you continue down the path, you’ll enter Smouldering Lake.
First thing you may notice is the sound of a creaking machine in the distance. As soon as you step onto the lake, you’ll know the source of the sound – it’s a large ballista that will always target you and shoot 3 huge bolts in a row. So, to get through the lake, you should wait for the ballista to fire its 3 bolts then sprint behind a tree stump or rock for cover. The ballista is positioned to the right high above as you enter the lake.
Start by sprint to your right as soon as you enter the lake. You will find a small passage as you make your way along the wall to your right. Head inside to find two Crystal Lizards holding a Twinkling Titanite and Titanite Chunk. Up ahead waiting at the center of this pool you will find Horace, who will attack you. Watch out for his swings and thrusts, and his spinning skill. You can lock on to him and strafe or roll around to dodge his attacks and take him down. After you kill him, you’ll get Llewellyn Shield. Next time you meet Anri and enquires about Horace, you could tell her what happened to him. Before going back to the lake, loot the corpses in the area to find 2 Yellow Bug Pellet and 2 Large Titanite Shard.
You will notice some Giant Crabs on the right side of the lake as you exit the passageway, so be careful. Look around, and you’ll find multiple loots scattered around the lake, holding Large Titanite Shards. If you’re feeling brave, you could dash and grab them while avoiding the ballista. Or you could wait until you disable the ballista to loot them safely. Either way, you’ll find one item in front of you as you enter the lake from the bonfire. Another item is close to the right. Heading left from the main door you will find another. And the last is behind a huge tree stump to the right from the main entrance.
The ballista isn’t entirely your enemy, however. You can make use of it for a few things. First, you could have it target the cobbled stone floor at the center of the lake (between two torches) to reveal a path leading below the lake. It’s risky, but you have to dodge all the bolts and make sure the bolt hits the floor (don’t go down there now).
Second, if you look at the other side of the look from the main entrance, you’ll see a low rock wall. Stand in front of it to have the ballista aim at you. Dodge the bolts and let them destroy the wall to reveal a corpse holding Speckled Stoneplate Ring.
And third, you could use the ballista to destroy a huge sand worm blocking your path ahead across the lake as you approach along the left. You could take your time to deal with this worm, or you could run across it and hide behind a large stone on the left to have the ballista aim at you. Since the worm is pretty big in size, it will absorb most of the ballista bolts and eventually die. When the worm is dead, you will receive an Undead Bone Shard and a Lightning Stake.
There are also two corpses near where the Sand Worm was. You could sprint to get these loots now or wait until later when the ballista has been disabled. One corpse holds a Shield of Want and the other a Large Titanite Shard.
Up ahead you’ll see an entrance covered by a fog. This is the lair of the optional boss, Old Demon King. If you want to fight it right now, scroll down the walkthrough to the boss fight guide. Otherwise, take the right path to enter the ruins that will eventually lead to the ballista. On your way, pillage the Large Titanite Shard on the ledge and enter the ruins to find a bonfire.
As you enter the ruins you will encounter Ghru Pyromancers. You may want to wear fire resistant armor or rings and buff yourself with fire resistance. These pyromancers will attack with their machete or shoot flames at you. They will also summon orbs that hover in the air and target you with fireballs. The orbs remain until you take them out with ranged weapons or spells or their summoning pyromancer is killed.
You will encounter one pyromancer as you enter the area. Two more await below. Head along the hall on the top level and you will find a Ghru Warrior. Just around the corner a Shaman and another Ghru are lurking so be prepared to deal with them too. You may want to stack poison resistance while fighting the Ghrus. After clearing these enemies, loot the Ember and head downstairs. You’ll find a corpse holding an Undead Bone Shard in the corner. But watch out for the Flaming Slime on the ceiling and the floor. Take out the slimes before you loot the item. Multiple paths to go from here, but let’s head back to the upper floor to clear that area first.
The corridor beyond the Ghrus lead to a small room. You will notice a lone Ghru at the end of the corridor, which you should pull with a ranged weapon or spell, because there is another Ghru waiting around the corner which would join the fight if you approach this one head on. Pull them into the open if you don’t want to fight them in the narrow confines.
After killing these Ghrus make your way to the corpse that has an Ember in the other corner, but watch out for the flaming slime and the very slow but powerful fire-breathing demon to the right. Have your shield up and stack on fire resistance before you tackle this. Avoid the path on the left for now as it leads to a drop below.
Now go back to the main floor with the two pyromancers. If you head to the right side of the hall, you will find two corridors. One to the right that has a rat inside, and another to the left. Take the path on the left side and watch out for the Ghru waiting to ambush you around the curve. Kill the Ghru and before heading forward, strike the wall near the curve to reveal an Illusory Wall.
Going through this hidden path you will find a Black Knight that does a lot of damage. His great axe has significant reach so be wary. Don’t stand in his way when he drags his weapon on the ground to follow up with an uppercut. Try to lock on to him and strafe around to roll past his attacks and land some hits from behind. Check the area after you kill him to find a Black Knight Sword.
Move along the left path now to find another sitting Ghru. This room also contains two more of those fire stone demons so be careful and dodge the flames as you take them out. Next room contains more Ghru, and a lone Shaman. Don’t charge at it yet. Instead, take the corridor on the right side of the room that leads to some stairs. This corridor loops around to where the shaman was sitting, and you’ll find another Ghru at the end who was waiting to ambush you. Take out this Ghru and the shaman and go back to the narrow corridor that leads to a corpse holding an Ember.
Go up the stairs now and you’ll enter a room with a bonfire. As you approach the bonfire you may be attacked by a ghru pyromancer from the other room, so take it out if that is the case before resting.
The bonfire room has another secret Illusory Wall. Look for the part of the wall in the room that looks odd. Strike it to reveal a hidden path that leads back to the main hall. Don’t jump down to the main hall. Head into the small path on the right that has many fire slimes on the ceiling. Snipe them to bring them down. Clear the corridor and make your way to the corpse to find an Estus Shard.
Head back to the bonfire room to proceed forward. The next room has branching paths – one straight and the other heading right. Head straight to find a Shaman, but be prepared to fight two Ghrus on either side of your first. Lure these Ghrus back to kill them before taking out the Shaman. Pillage the corpse he was guarding to find the Izalith Pyromancy Tome.
There’s a hallway to the right that leads to a crystal lizard holding a Chaos Gem. If you notice above as you go along this path, you’ll find a crumbling ceiling. This is the same crumbling part in the lake you could have the ballista destroy to lead down.
With this area explored it’s time to go back to the main floor room and take the path on the right side where you had seen the rats. At the end of the corridor is a lava pit, so watch for the first path heading right. Take this path to find a room with more rats. Before you leave this room, strike the wall in the right corner to reveal another Illusory Wall. Enter the corridor to find even more rats (you may have noticed this pit from above earlier). At the end of the corridor is a corpse holding a Quelana Pyromancy Tome.
To the left you will see a path heading into a lave pit that has some lava slimes and tempting loot. If you’re feeling brave, stack up on fire resist and sprint into the lava to find a Toxic Mist spell and a White Hair Talisman, all the while drinking Estus to keep your HP up. Should you die on your way back, you can always return to find your souls at the edge of the lava, so the risk is worth it.
Return to the rat room with the Illusory Wall and proceed through the door leading down. Be prepared to fight a Giant Rat and some smaller rats. After you kill the rats continue down the stairs to enter a room with Basilisks. Be careful engaging these Basilisks as they are hiding around the corners. If you take on too many at once, you may be surrounded by curse mists that will instantly kill you if the meter fills up.
Slowly engage the Basilisks and clear the room before looting the Titanite Scale. You may also notice an alcove with an item up on a ledge. To get to that ledge return to the corridor with the Giant Rat and strike the wall on the left until you reveal another Illusory Wall.
Inside you will find a chest with 3 Large Titanite Shards and another Illusory Wall behind the chest. Strike it to reveal the path leading to the ledge with the previously unreachable item. Loot it to find an Izalith Staff.
Proceed through the path leading out from the room with the Basilisks. You’ll find some stairs going up and a path to the left before it. Take this path and you’ll find yourself facing Knight Slayer Tsorig once more. Carefully move around him while avoiding his long attacks and stabs. Watch for an opening and land a hit or two. Rinse and repeat until he is down. Your reward will be a Fume Ultra Greatsword and Black Iron Greatshield (which is amazing for fire resistance). You will also get the My Thanks! Emote if you hadn’t received it before.
You’ll notice two glowing orbs on the lava in this room. Stack up on fire resist and sprint towards them to find an Ember and the Sacred Flame spell.
Now go back up to the stairs and you’ll find yourself on a bridge with a Black Knight on the other side. Try not to engage him on the bridge itself as you may accidentally fall off. Roll around his attacks until you find an opening to strike him. Defeat the Knight and loot the Soul of a Crestfallen Knight nearby.
Climb the ladder in the room beyond until you reach the top. You’ll find a ledge you can jump off to on the right with a corpse holding a Dragonrider Bow. Go back up again and exit the cave to enter the Smouldering Lake once more, only this time, you are now close to the ballista.
Enter the canyon to the left for cover, but be wary of 3 Bonewheel Skeletons waiting on the right. Heading left you will find some more skeletons. By now you are within the minimum range of the ballista so you don’t have to worry about the bolts anymore. But as you approach the ballista you will find 2 Skeleton Assassins. Snipe them from a distance to lure them one by one. Once the Skeletons are dead, it’s time to disable the ballista.
You can pull the lever under the ballista to disable it. Look at the side for a shortcut heading below as you jump down onto lower platforms. Now you are free to loot the items in the lake. In case you hadn’t used the ballista to create the bonfire shortcut in the middle of the lake or take down the crumbling wall to get the ring, you could always go back up to activate the ballista again.
Now that you’re done clearing this area, you may want to fight the optional boss, Old Demon King. Just outside the stairs leading to his lair you will find a summon sign for the NPC Great Swamp Cuculus. Or if you would rather seek the assistance of Knight Slayer Tsorig, head into the Demon Ruins bonfire for his summon sign.
BOSS FIGHT – OLD DEMON KING
The Old Demon King is a huge demon who moves relatively slow and attacks with fire based damage. If you have strong fire resistance through your armor, rings and shield (such as Dragon Crest Shield), this fight will be fairly easy. Red Bug Pellets can also be useful to mitigate damage, as well as the spell Flash Sweat for Pyromancers.
This boss may appear to be slow on the move, and his initial attacks may have a long wind up, but he usually follows up his swings with a smash on the ground depending on which direction you are trying to roll. If you’re trying to stick to his back to avoid his attacks, he’ll swipe his tail to attack you. Don’t get caught in his quick combo in front of him either. Generally, try not to stay in front of him or too close, as he will use his AOE attack.
He will also use a Fire Ring attack that sends out flames going outward or inward. Use a good fire shield to block this. If you’re standing at medium range, he will breathe fire at you from left to right. This usually creates a good opening as you can roll to the left and sprint at him to land a few strikes before moving back to safety.
At 50% HP, Phase 2 starts and he will ignite himself. Be careful when he is smashing his hammer on the ground. This sends flame rings around him. If you are too far away, the flame rings will travel inwards. When he raises his mace, he is summoning a meteor shower. You should be mobile when he does this to avoid getting hit. This also creates an opening to attack him a few times as you run to safety.
When he’s almost dead, he’ll hunch over on the ground and release huge flame outbursts. Make sure to take him out before he can do so.
As a melee, your general strategy should be to bait his mace swings, which you should dodge by rolling forward, but don’t stop to attack him until you are farther back and near his tail. Because he will smash his weapon on the ground if you’re under him. With a good ranged weapon this fight becomes rather easy but tedious. The boss is slow, so you can outrange him and attack him from a distance, while using the shield to block his longer ranged flame attacks. As a Pyromancer it could potentially be a difficult fight since he has high fire resistance, but Black Fire Orb can make the fight rather easy.
After you defeat the Old Demon King, you will receive the Soul of the Old Demon King and access to his bonfire. Now it’s time to head to Irithyll of Boreal Valley.