The true Dark Souls starts here. Again.
Dark Souls 3: Central Irithyll to Church of Yorshka
Take a deep breath. It isn’t as bad as it seems. You only have to do this once.
Take the only path leading away from the Central Irithyll bonfire – up some stairs and along a street. Don’t be frightened by the tall phantom that walks towards you. Be very frightened of the figures beyond it.
Pontiff Knights are tremendously dangerous. They move with deceptive grace, dashing towards you alarmingly fast. Their attacks usually involve a slow first blow that’s easy to dodge, then a second, much more difficult strike after you fall for it and try to smack them. They have tremendous poise and are difficult to interrupt. If they break through your shield to stagger you, they press home the advantage with a quick, devastating combo. If you attack them at a distance, they release homing dark projectiles (this is the least bothersome thing about them).
Treat every Pontiff Knight like a unique NPC, and duel them accordingly. Unless you have very good stamina and poise, you need to focus on rolling to evade until you get a good opening. Press the attack, and retreat in good order. If you can’t bring them down in a few flurries of hits, go grind up a better sword. The good news for cheesy types is that they take decent damage from bows and have a short detection range.
When the first Pontiff Knight on the stairs is dead, you can safely collect the Soul of a Weary Warrior from the railing of the platform to the left of the stairs. Take out a second Pontiff Knight. Ignore the noisy side path; the gate is locked. We’ll shut that up shortly.
A third Pontiff Knight attacks from the short stairs to the right as you advance. You can collect a Large Titanite Shard at the end of the stairs when it’s down.
Move on up the path and stop on the landing halfway up the next set of stairs. From here you should be able to spot two Irithyllian slaves. These are the grunts of this area and nowhere near as scary as our three dead pals on the path behind; you can easily evade their clumsy attacks. That said, their weapons do a lot of damage if they manage to hit you, and they often inflict frostbite, so be a little wary of them in general.
Here specifically you must be very wary indeed; if you venture right into this upper area without care, three more slaves and a – let’s call it a bishop? – arrive to make life very difficult, so lure the slaves one by one. There’s another group of three slaves on the same (very long) patrol who will arrive later, too.
The bishop is pretty nasty, with a long line of sight detection range and a fire attack; it plants its cross on the ground, and fire springs up under your feet – or where you feet were, because you hopefully rolled away. It can also shoot a line of fire in a line which tracks towards you as you dodge, and this has significant range and passes through intervening cover. Best engaged at close range of possible.
When the enemies are down (or absent on patrol), you can grab the Budding Green Blossom and Soul of a Nameless Traveller from around the fountain. The only path out of this area goes along the patrol route. Watch for a second bishop on a platform above you and on the right as you advance; it aggros before you reach the item glow on the left, which turns out to be a pair of Rime-Blue Moss Clumps.
As you approach the next plaza where the road flattens out again, pause just at the top of the ramp. Two Pontiff Knights patrol towards you. Their route takes them back almost to the last fountain and they’re difficult to lure without a full aggro, so be careful. You can sneak past them if you’re confident of taking down a lone Pontiff Knight without having to retreat to this patrol route in a moment.
When the Pontiff Knights are down (or absent) return to the area where you spotted them. Just past where the ramp levels out you can climb some steps onto the porch on your right. Follow the path around to a Large Titanite Shard.
The steps on the other side of the street here lead up to a Crystal Lizard who’ll drop some Twinkling Titanite for you. Trace the half-circle of railings in this area in a clockwise direction and attack the final segment where it meets the wall to reveal some stairs leading down, where a Pontiff Knight waits. If you are careful not to aggro it (back off after hitting the illusory wall) you can get a back attack in to start the engagement – or cheese it with headshots from a few steps up. There’s a Large Titanite Shard near a grid at the bottom of the stairs.
Down the next stairs you’ll see the Evangelist who has been making all that awful noise. Kill her to receive the Dorhys’s Gnawing miracle. There’s a Witchtree Branch here, and you can open the gate to put you back on the main path.
Go back to where we turned off on this path (sneaking past the two Pontiff Knights if necessary) and move onwards. Two phantoms move towards you. There’s an arch at the top of the next ramp with two Pontiff Knights and a bishop visible but immobile. There’s a crossroads here; the street you arrived by and the arch ahead, intersected by a short path to the right and a more meaningful one to the left. Remember this location: the arch crossroads.
Rather than go through the arch, turn right and follow the path around to a Large Titanite Shard. The left path in front of the arch also leads to a Large Titanite Shard, at the base of a tree against the left wall – but also a curving staircase. Take these stairs and run straight ahead at the top to activate the Church of Yorshka bonfire.
Anri of Astora is in this room, if you made specific choices back in the Catacombs of Carthus. Speak with them. You have to make a choice in this room whether to continue on the path to the third ending or send Anri in another direction. The choice has nothing to do with dialogue but must be made before you leave this room. See the NPC guide for details – and spoilers, obviously. They’ll give you the Quiet Resolve emote if you exhaust their dialogue.
Collect the Proof of a Concord Kept from the corpse near the altar here before you move on. We’ll just do a little bit of treasure snaffling near the arch before we make the run to the next bonfire.
Head out the church the way you entered, and look for a path on the left behind the stair railings, heading around a building. Go very quietly and you can grab a Soul of a Weary Warrior without aggroing the bishop immediately below. He’s guarding another Soul of a Weary Warrior, but mind how you go heading down to him; the next room is full of horrors, and you don’t want to bring them down on you by making too much noise.
Ignore the gate near the bishop, as it’s locked from this side. If you sneak down the stairs to where the bishop was or is (or if you plunge attack and beat him up quickly), a bishop and two Pontiff Knights will patrol out of the next room, through the arch and down the street. If you are careful and don’t aggro them, that leaves you with just one Pontiff Knight to kill in order to clear the next room.
In this next area (the other side of the arch mentioned in the last section), there’s a Lightning Gem in front of the altar. The central wall opposite the side you entered from is an illusion; attack it to grab a Magic Clutch Ring. The lower area beyond it just loops back to the same room, but this provides a handy bolthole if the bishop and two Pontiff Knights return unexpectedly.
There’s nothing else to do here just now, so head back to the church and we’ll head for the next bonfire.