Things are getting heated in Elden Ring now that you’re closer than ever to becoming Elden Lord. After burning the Erdtree, the next item on the docket is acquiring the Rune of Death so you can kill a god.
To claim the title, you’ll need to defeat one of the most challenging bosses in Elden Ring, if not the entirety of FromSoftware’s recent work. Maliketh, the Black Blade is a boss you may have already guessed their identity, and it’s one that’s definitely going to result in a few broken controllers.
When should you fight Maliketh, the Black Blade in Elden Ring?
Maliketh, the Black Blade is an endgame boss in Elden Ring. It is not optional, so you’re going to have beat it sooner or later if you intend to finish the main story – regardless of which Elden Ring ending you’re going for. Maliketh is found in one of the last areas in the game’s world you’re going to visit – Crumbling Farum Azula. You can only get there after defeating the Fire Giant and proceeding with the plan to burn down the Erdtree – whether by allowing Melina to do it, or doing it yourself.
Maliketh, the Black Blade is not a demigod or Shardbearer, but defeating it will earn you a bounty of Runes. This is a fight you should attempt at around character level 120-130, preferably with a fully upgraded weapon, so +22/+25.
Before you actually get to Maliketh, you’ll have to fight the Draconic Tree Sentinel guarding the entrance. This is a similar version to the Draconic Tree Sentinel you may have fought to access Lyndell, the Royal Capital earlier in the game. Except, it’s not a boss this time, just a normal enemy. That said, this version has the same exact attacks, so your knowledge of that fight will transfer. The only difference is that you can’t get on your horse here, which changes the fight.
If you have not fought the Draconic Tree Sentinel before, just read our guide linked above. You can technically run past it to get to the boss, but you should definitely beat it before entering, because then you’ll be able to safely summon help – should you need it – outside the arena.
How to make Maliketh, the Black Blade fight easier in Elden Ring
The Maliketh boss fight is one of those that will require you to learn its patterns the hard way. That said, you can tip things in your favour a bit by going into it prepared.
The first thing you’re going to need is to bring along a good Spirit Ash summon. The Mimic Tear is always a good choice, but you could also pick any other tanky, melee-based summon. Although the boss is extremely mobile, ranged summons often have little to no armour, and won’t last anywhere near long enough in the fight.
We have not found Maliketh to be sensitive to any particular element or status effect, so keep that in mind when picking a summon. Beyond that, don’t bother bringing in a shield, most of the boss’ attacks are best dodged. Consider two-handing your weapon instead for a boost in damage.
Where to find the Blasphemous Claw
There’s a bit of a secret item you can bring into the Maliketh fight that could come in handy against the boss, depending on your play style. Like Margit’s Shackle, there’s an item Maliketh is weak to – though not nearly in the same way.
It’s called the Blasphemous Claw, and you can find it fairly close to the boss arena. Before we get into how and where, note that the Blasphemous Claw is really only meant for players with good reflexes, because it’s essentially a parrying tool. It will not nullify Maliketh like Margit’s Shackle did to that boss. While you should definitely get it and try to use it, don’t spend too much energy there, and instead focus on beating the boss the normal way.
The Blasphemous Claw is earned after defeating Recusant Bernahl, an NPC who will invade you just as you arrive at this little gazebo nearby.
To get there, start at the Beside the Great Bridge Site of Grace, and head up the stairs leading to the bridge. When you emerge, go the opposite direction of the boss arena. Keep heading north-east, go through the doorway, take the stairs down, go through the other doorway, take a right and drop down the ladder: the corridor leading to the gazebo will be on your left. You’ll know you’re in the right place because the way will be laden with the corpses of the Beastmen enemies you’ve been fighting in Farum Azula.
Recusant Bernahl is not a tough enemy; you only really have to watch out for one attack, which he spams throughout the fight. Bernahl will raise his hammer before bringing it down to create a wide circle of red. If you’re caught in it, he’s going to sap your HP. Simply move backwards to avoid it and go in for a jump-heavy when he’s done. The place where you fight Bernahl is a long corridor, so don’t be tempted to get close – there won’t be enough space for you to roll and the camera is going to screw you as it clips through the plants and fences.
Bernahl has exceptional poise due to his heavy armour, so try not to attack him as he’s winding up for his own attacks; you will take a big hit. This also goes for his major hammer move, which you cannot interrupt if the animation has already begun. You’ll get the Blasphemous Claw, and his own armour set, once you defeat him.
How to use the Blasphemous Claw
The Blasphemous Claw works like most reusable items in Elden Ring, so if you’re going to use it, bind it to your toolbelt quickbar, or your pouch. Though it’s meant to parry attacks, you sadly can’t equip it in place of a shield.
With that in mind, the Claw can only be used to parry specific attacks. In the second phase of the fight, after Maliketh reveals its true form, the boss will begin using the Blade against you in all of its attacks. Most of them will glow red, including the waves it fires out of the sword.
Only certain moves will glow yellow/orange - those are the ones you can parry with the Claw. For instance, when Maliketh does the three-hit wave combo, it always ends with a swipe towards you. This is one of those moves you can parry, if you can time the button press just as the attack is about to hit you. Although the window is generous, don’t bother going for it if you’re going to fumble around your quickbar.
If you do pull it off, you’ll hear the big boom, and the boss will kneel briefly so you can land a few hits uninterrupted.
How to beat Maliketh, the Black Blade in Elden Ring
Maliketh, the Black Blade, in both its phases, is an elusive, hyper-aggressive boss. Melee players are going to struggle the most against it. You want to try to stay close enough that your weapon can reach it, but far enough away that you can anticipate and dodge its various moves – which is easier said than done.
Use your first few tries to explore Maliketh’s move set before you commit to any particular run. This is one of those boss fights that really benefits from learning the moves. Maliketh actually has fewer moves than you might think for an endgame boss, but most of them are enough to end you in a single hit, or two at most – leaving you practically no room for error.
The arena itself is wide, with a number of half-pillars you can use for cover – though take care that doing so will likely break lock-on, and could cause you to lose track of the boss. You should also be careful not to get so close to the edges of the arena, as you will fall to your death, particularly if you’re locked onto the boss and not paying attention to what’s behind you.
Maliketh, the Black Blade phase one (Beast Clergeyman)
Before you fight the real Maliketh, you’ll first need to throw down with your old pal the Beast Clergyman, whom you may have met before as part of D’s quest and the whole Deathroot eating business.
The Beast Clergyman retains all of its attacks from that form, and it’s going to be a pain to try and consistently land hits for melee players, because not the entirety of what you see will register as a hitbox.
Before we get into general tactics, keep this in mind at all times: ranged attacks come out of the Clergyman’s left hand, while melee attacks are exclusive to the blade in the right hand.
The boss typically starts the fight with a long thrust with the small blade. This move is easy to dodge, but dodging the wrong way will likely cause you to get hit by the follow-up move.
Instead of dodging into the boss, dodge to either right or left. Doing so will position you to better anticipate and dodge the Clergyman’s one-two swipes that usually come out after the opening thrust. If you dodge into the boss, jump to avoid the swipes instead.
The Beast Clergyman has a couple of ranged attacks. He’ll throw a rock at you, or fire off a few stone darts. They’re both easily avoided by dodging into any direction. The boss’ more dangerous ranged attacks are those waves of claws that it sends your way. The shape and pattern of each one is different, and the boss has the ability to switch the attack’s direction midway through. Just because it seems to be targeting your summon, doesn’t mean it can’t just flip the claws your way at the last second.
Those claw attacks are preceded by the boss stabbing the ground with its left hand. You’ll know one of them is coming because the animation has a claw-like mark that’s hard to miss. While the claws will come out as soon as the boss removes its hand, you’ll need to dodge just before they hit you. The timing of this varies depending on how close or far you are in relation to the boss. A certain variation of the same attack will send out claws in a star-like shape all around the boss, which will catch you if you try to get behind it.
No matter what, do not dodge too early; they can hit you from behind and knock you on your back. This will become even more crucial as the boss mixes in a quick claw attack after a melee thrust.
The boss’ super armour can be broken, and you can stab the glowing bit on his head for a critical attack.
The Beast Clergyman’s most dangerous attack starts with it putting the blade between its teeth and stabbing the ground with both hands, which covers the area around it with a black rash that causes rocky debris to come out of the ground, and fall back down a second or so later. Simply stay away from the black goo that spawns and you’ll be fine during both attacks. You can roll through both of these attacks if you get caught in the coverage area, but it’s risky. Occasionally, the Clergyman will use the resulting smoke to sneak in another ranged attack, which can be incredibly hard to see.
Maliketh, the Black Blade phase two (Maliketh)
Now begins the real nightmare. At 50% HP, the second phase of the fight starts. Maliketh will pull out a greatsword and twirl around like the cursed child of Artorias and the Dancer of the Boreal Valley. Your openings are incredibly limited here, particularly if you exclusively play melee. If you miss your window, don’t get greedy – the boss can kill you in a single hit.
There are two styles of moves you need to be aware of in order to navigate this fight. The normal swipes are slow, and fairly easy to dodge. Sometimes that’s one swipe, other times you’ll get two or three. All of them will glow red.
For its ranged attacks, the boss will jump up and twirl vertically, using the same blade to fire off spectral red waves at you. You can dodge to either side to avoid the waves, but only dodge after the wave has left the sword. If you dodge when Maliketh performs each swipe, the wave will hit you. Think of them as typical delayed attacks, like the ones you’ve been dealing with elsewhere in Elden Ring.
The boss can fire off one, or even two before landing back on the ground to get into melee range. The one you really need to watch out for is the three-wave combo. When it goes to three, the boss will always land and perform a wide-reaching swipe where the sword glows yellow/orange. This is the easiest attack you can parry using the Blasphemous Claw. If you miss the timing, dodge instead. The animation for this swipe starts as soon as the third wave has been fired at you, so be ready to dodge twice in quick succession to avoid both.
This move creates a big opening for you, whether or not you land the parry. Maliketh will remain still for a couple of seconds to catch its breath, letting you land two solid hits or so. When it starts fighting again, it will perform a slow strike or two, which you can dodge and continue attacking before the boss goes back to flipping and dipping.Do not be tempted to block any of that – you will take damage.
If you do get hit, your health bar will shrink, and you’ll start losing HP at a rapid pace. There's no status meter like the one that appears after being poisoned etc., so you’ll have to keep an eye on your own health bar. Your character will glow red when afflicted, too.
Maliketh also has a couple of other explosive moves that cause damage in a wide arc. These typically come out after it stabs the ground with the sword, which causes death-touched debris to rise from the ground. If Maliketh jumps up and lands with all of its limbs pushing the sword into the ground, it’s going to create an explosion when it’s removed, achieving a similar effect, though with more limited range. Back off as soon as you spot either of these.
Finally, and likely the most dangerous, is an attack that spawns anime-like waves when Maliketh stabs the ground. There are two versions of this move, both producing the same flowing swipes - but only one has a wide circular range. The other can simply be avoided by dodging through the boss to get behind it.
Maliketh will try to bait you by not deploying the move, and instead jumping up yet again to land and actually do it. It’s hard to ascertain which version you’re going to get, so try not to overcommit to your dodge. Generally speaking, however, the one preceded with the twirl can be avoided by dodging to get behind it. No matter what you do, do not dodge backwards.
Seeing as you’re getting pretty close to finishing Elden Ring, it’s probably time to start preparing for New Game Plus. This is also a good opportunity to wrap up any unfinished business you might have, especially since some of those quests can dictate which ending you get.
You’ll find all of that and more in our Elden Ring guide.