If you’re flailing around in the snows of Dark Souls 3’s Ashes of Ariandel, then maybe you could do with a few pointers. This guide covers the locations of all the bonfires, directions to notable items, and suggestions for making the boss encounters a little less painful.
When I played through the DLC it was a with a level 80 Dex character using a shield and estoc combo. That means some of this stuff won’t be universal if you’re, say, a heavy magic user or something. But object locations and general tips should obviously remain relevant. You can consider basically everything below this line to be some degree of spoiler.
Beginning Your Art Appreciation Course: AKA, How to Access Ashes of Ariandel
This information is pretty well circulated at this point, but to begin your journey into the Ashes of Ariandel head to the Cleansing Chapel bonfire in the Cathedral of the Deep area. There’ll be a guy there by the altar mumbling on about “Fire for Ariandel”. He’s obviously deranged, but when has that ever stopped you talking to somebody in a Souls game, eh? Touch his filthy scrap of painting to enter Ariandel’s realm.
I assume he’s here as soon as you reach the Cleansing Chapel (I don’t know, because I used an end game character), but Ashes of Ariendal is very much intended for the late game (or even post game). My chap was level 80 and that didn’t seem too high.
You’ll appear inside a cave. Look behind you for a Soul item, and an adorable Bloodborne monster to have a chat with. He’ll encourage you to find a bed in which to rot. Instead of doing that, go outside the cave to find the DLC’s first bonfire. Not too difficult, that one.
The nearby ridge from the first bonfire has a squad of armoured guys called Followers who will be appearing throughout this add-on. If you’ve made it this far in Dark Souls 3 you can definitely handle these guys. To make things a bit easier, it’s straightforward enough to lure them down one at a time (either by proximity or with a bow). The torch guy will breathe fire at you, leaving himself open for a lovely backstab. Spear and shield chap is pretty basic (knock his shield aside with a kick, or wait for the openings). The other variant lobs spears at you.
If you continue over the ridge, you’ll see an ice field with a tempting body and object combo in the near distance. Guess what, it’s a trap. You need to go that way eventually, but if you want to explore the other direction first you’ll find a horrible insectoid thing guarding a fairly mundane object (I think this is more Souls – it’s definitely nothing fancy).
Head back to the trap, and allow yourself to tumble through the snowy floor. Welcome to the world’s worst arboretum; it’s full of wolves, and the trees all want to kill you. Chances are you’ll be attacked by a wolf or three almost immediately. They howl to attract others, and there’s not much you can do to prevent it in most cases.
The main trick the wolves try to pull is stalking around to your rear, so try to keep an eye on where they all are if you’re being attacked by several at once. Otherwise, they’re not much different from other Souls dogs. You can explore the flat area here for more wolf encounters if you wish, but here’s how to quickly unlock the next bonfire.
Over the ridge to your left (assuming you faced forwards when tumbling through the snow), there are a bunch of fire-and-frost-spitting tree ladies. They can hit you with their branches, and grab you for a nasty Frost attack if you hang around too much. Each one is fairly tough and only rewards 260 Souls, so murdering them all is fairly discouraged.
Continue over the ridge, hugging the left side. You can take a detour to the right, into the red-tinged insect nest, to pick up the ice magic Frozen Weapon if you wish, or come back and do that later. Assuming you’re continuing on down what’s now a narrow, sloped path, keep dodging the trees until you reach an area with a rope bridge. There’s a small cave right here with a bonfire inside (you can also fall through the roof to find it).
From here, you may as well go ahead and find …
Head out across the bridge, wave at the friendly Bloodborne monsters outside the chapel and have a word with Sir Vilheim outside. He’ll say Lady Friede wants a chat. She’s inside the chapel, and will give you the Chillbite Ring if you speak with her a couple of times. Then she’ll tell you to go home because you have a job to do elsewhere. Not bad advice, really. Up the ladder in here is a little attic with an unfinished painting. A young girl you meet later on will ultimately move to the attic, so bear that in mind if you want to come back and chat.
The chapel actually serves as a kind of crossroads hub, so you have a few options of travel now. You can return to the Snowfield to finish up there. If you want to get on with unlocking the PvP arena stuff, you can chop down the rope bridge to form a ladder towards the Depths of the Painting. Or, you can head back across the bridge and take a ladder down towards the Corvian Settlement. We’ll be doing them all, so for now let’s wrap up the Snowfield.
Make your way back to the flat snowy area that’s full of wolves (either from the cave bonfire or the very first one). Stick to the ‘valley’ floor this time until you run out of ground. You might get attacked by a giant wolf at this point (the one you may have seen stood on the skyline). He’ll bugger off once you get him to half health. At the end of the valley you can either take a right to grab an item, or go left for a horrible time in general.
To the right, you’ll find a slope with a couple of tree ladies on it and four or five Followers lurking at the top. If you beat up the trees, you can lure these guys down one at a time fairly easily. Head up there to pick up the Follower Javelin. That’s it for this route.
If you go the other direction, you’ll come around the edge of the cliffs/ridge and emerge in an area with some ruined buildings and burly Viking Knight guys (Millwood Knights, I believe, so let’s go with that name). These lads can take a lot of punishment and dish out pretty substantial damage if they hit you. Some of them are roaming about with wolf buddies.
Right across the other side you’ll see a tower sticking out. Make it there, and up to the top (not easy, there’s another Millwood Knight guy half-way up, and you’ll be assailed by wolves), and you’ll be rewarded with the Captain’s Ashes. Hand these in at Firelink for access to the Millwood Set and Millwood Greatarrows. You can pick up the Millwood Axe and Ethereal Oak Shield in here as well.
If you leave the tower and follow the slope upwards on the right-hand side, you’ll be looping around to above the ridge where you originally fell down in the crumbling snow. This area has a bunch of wolves, two Millwood bowmen, and the Millwood Greatbow if you can snatch it in time.
Outside the tower there’s a way back (a kind of narrow ravine) to the cave bonfire. Going this way will trigger the large wolf again, however, and he’ll summon lots of friends. Beyond him is an upward slope where (at the end) you’ll drop down and get a Soul item on the way back to the bonfire.
Assuming you’re all done dancing with Millwood’s finest, return to the rope bridge and head down the ladder on the opposite bank to the chapel (nearest the cave bonfire). You’ll meet a couple of fire-breath Followers on the way before going down a slip-n-slide to a large pool of pathetic, half-comatose/dying Corvians. Some are larger than others and plop out a token effort of poison sometimes, but both types are really as useless as one another.
Kill a few or run past them as you please, through the only archway available (watch out for another Corvian just inside the entrance here). The item on the ‘island’ you have to get later.
Once you hit the closed gateway and take a right, you’re about to meet Edward Scissorbird. He is a prick. He’ll attack at absurd, Bloodborne-esque speeds and inflicts bleed. If you want to cheese him, get around him and leg it to the ladder in the area just behind where he dropped down. Climb up there, and then shoot him full of arrows.
Atop the ladder there’s a room with a friendly Corvian inside who’ll urge you to burn the world. After what you’ve seen, that probably sounds just dandy. Just outside, and a bit to the left, inside another building, is the Settlement bonfire.
A lot of the Corvians here are just milling about like sad-sacks and won’t really hurt you unless you get very near (then they might vaguely peck at you). There are some larger ones, though, who belch poison in a more effective manner than the ones in the pool outside. A few that you’ll encounter on the rooftops have a bit of magic about them, and will cast magic orbs/spears at you. Then, there are more Corvian Knights; some of the Scissorbird varity, some with cloak and rapier.
Out from the bonfire, across the bridge, and hanging left (past a poison Corvian) you’ll find a second bridge. You can drop down here to kill a Ringu monster, get a gem, and open up that gate from before if you like. It’s not much of a shortcut though.
If you don’t drop down and continue up, there’s a gap to leap across that will allow you to get higher and, ultimately, make a jump to the item that was on the island in the middle of the depressed lake of Corvians. It’s the Crow Quills. An estoc-like Dex sword with knife-tossing combo.
That’s about it for going left, so instead stay central this time until you meet the Corvian Knight. He’s the jerk slaying all the other hapless birdos. Kill him, then try the iron gates up ahead. Locked, right? We’ll sort that out.
Look for a way around behind the backs of the buildings on the right-hand side (left, if you’re facing back towards the village from the gates). Here, you can climb around and explore some of the higher areas, get inside some of the buildings, and so on. If you head towards the outer walls (basically where you came in originally), you’ll be able to make your way up around the back of a pair of magic Corvians, and grab the item they guard – the Crow Talons. Enact all your Freddy Krueger fantasies, just in time for Halloween.
The way to open the gates at the top of the hill, though, is the opposite direction. Across the rooftops, and up a ladder inside a prominent tower (if you drop down inside this tower, you can get the Slave Knight set – but watch out for three poison-voming Corvos). Going up leads you to a couple more bridges. Avoid heading right after the crystal lizard, unless you want to trigger another Edward Scissorbird bastard. That route doesn’t lead you to much other than rusted coins in any case.
Instead, carry straight on until you’re on the rooftop of a small church, where you can look in through the skylight windows. Walk around until you find a ladder down, then open up the iron gates from the back. You can open the door to the chapel too if you want (or drop down from the roof), inside there’s a very, very tough fight with a Corvian Knight and Edward Scissorbird. If you opt to fight, that is; you could just run in and suicide as you grab the Corona of the White miracle in here.
When you’re ready, head into what turns out to be an Archive building to find Sir Vilheim waiting for you (I guess he had a shortcut). He’s not happy, and lectures you about sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong. He’ll imbue his sword with black flame, use the dark hand every now and then, and heal himself with a miracle if you aren’t careful. Tackling him is quite hard, mostly because he (like a lot in this DLC) dishes out a lot of damage in each hit. Plus, you know, the healing.
Beat him, and you’ll get his sword (Onyx) and a Contraption to unlock the way to the attic. There, you’ll find a mysterious young girl who talks about her Uncle Gael. Once you’ve exhausted dialogue with her and progressed a bit further, she’ll appear in Friede’s chapel attic with the unfinished canvas.
Leave the Archive building attic, loop around the right (across the roof), and you’ll find the way to drop down to the next bonfire. From here, you can open a door back into the attic (it doesn’t open from the other side, in classic style).
The woods here are infested with Followers, so it’s probably wise to carry a bow or equivalent to you can snipe some at a distance. Watch out for ambushes from the sides of the mini-valleys, and for ones that are just casually sat down blending in with the foliage.
You can find the Follower Shield and Follower Torch in this area, on winding paths away from the main trail. The partially sunken bell acts as your kind of ‘central’ point. If you take a right at the bell (relative to your probable approach) and aim back for the Archive building, you’ll come across a tree you can knock down for a bit of a shortcut back to the bell.
Once you feel you’ve explored around the bell as much as you’re able, you’ll want to head up and left from it on a path that runs into a few wolves. Ultimately, you’ll run into a couple more of those Millwood Knight guys; one with an axe, one with a bow. The path will also lead off to the side where there’s a lone Millwood bowman guarding the Quakestone Hammer. If you peek around the corner you can cheese-snipe him to death.
Back on the main route, if you want to just leg it for the nearest bonfire then rush/dodge past them. Drop down to where there’s a kind of mine entrance, then enter the building full of insects. If you’re being pursued you won’t have much time to check this out – just run to the end of the building, find the wooden ledge-way on the right and follow this across to wide open gap. You’ll see a lone entrance which leads to a staircase. Follow this up, open the door, and you’ll be back inside Friede’s chapel next to her bonfire.
With that very helpful shortcut now open, you can head back outside the mine entrance to find a tree you can push down to create another bridge. It’ll link you back to the area where you pushed down the first tree and extend that shortcut (although at this point there’s not a huge amount of use for it).
From Friede’s bonfire, go down your newly opened shortcut and back to the delightful basement full of insects. You have to do this, by the way, it’s not just a sight-seeing tour. Where you actually need to be is one step further down – in the gap your crossed on the wooden walkway earlier. It’s possible to just fall down there and survive, but stairs are preferable.
These are hidden behind an illusory wall on the other side of the gap from where you came out of the staircase. Hug the right wall, follow the wooden ledge across, and the illusory wall will be straight ahead (behind one of the insects). Alternately, looking from the mine-shaft type entrance it’s in the furthest left-hand corner of the room. If you really can’t find it, falling into the deeper part of the nest and then working backwards up the stairs and hitting the wall from the back works too. But it’s not desirable.
In the lowest part of the insect nest, you’re looking for a handle/level to turn that will turn the statue in Friede’s room and open up a new path. You can either be methodical about clearing out the insects, or try to rush in and get it done on a suicide run. Either way, blood red moss will be useful to have on hand – it’ll prevent the dramatic build up of bleed the insects can do to you. They’re easy enough to kill, but can finish you off pretty sharpish if they splurge horrible bleed-worms all over you, as they are want to do.
While you’re in this room, there’s another illusory wall to open up. This one is about halfway along the right-hand wall (as you come out of the entrance to the lower part) and it leads out to a room with a couple of crystal lizards. Head further out, and you can drop down on some thick branches until you’re above the colosseum type structure. Drop down again to a corpse which has the Pyromancer’s Parting Flame on it. If you’re Embered, enter the room ahead to be invaded by Livid Pyromancer Dunnel. Beating him will get you the Floating Chaos pyromancy he’s been using against you. After that you may as well Homeward Bone out, because there’s nothing else here.
In the furthest right-hand corner of the Filthy Insect Nest (assuming you come in from the staircase down), you can get Vilheim’s Set.
Back up at Friede’s bonfire, there’s a new path to travel. Surprise, it leads to a boss fight! You don’t have to do this right now. There’s still another area and boss to explore. Skip to Depths of the Painting if you’d rather do that, or get tired of dying here.
If you want some NPC help, I can recommend Slave Knight Gael (the young girl’s uncle). His sign is to the left ahead of the steps down. Should be fairly visible. He won’t show up until Phase Two, but that’s still a lot of help.
Hmm, a lady with a scythe who can turn invisible and who lives inside a painting. How about that. She’ll do double and triple slashes (the last of which is sometimes a bit delayed to screw with your rhythm). She will also break out a double spin on occasion. If she’s leaping into the air (and is visible), she’s going to zip towards you with a bit Frost AoE landing. It’s tempting to stab her on the landing, but she’ll be surrounded by Frost so it’s not a great idea. Beware the move with the big drag-the-scythe-along-the-ground wind up ending in an upward sweep, it’s a killer.
Her trickiest move, though, is turning temporarily invisible. If you’re close enough to her when she tries this, she actually can’t do it (or you’ll see roughly where she’s leaping away to). Your task when she vanishes, is basically to locate her as quickly as possible because she’s winding up a vicious attack. Catch her before she’s ready to pull it off, and you can get in some easy hits or a backstab. Visual clues (like furniture breaking when she lands) can help you get an idea where she is; as can getting used to roughly how far she’s able to jump.
If you don’t uncover her in time, you’ll need to be very aware of when she’s going to reappear and try to gut your neck. An audio cue signifies when she’s about to strike, for which you need to get the timing down. You really don’t want to get shanked by her coming-out-of-invisibility strike. With practice and (particularly) getting used to tackling the invisibility trick, you’ll take her down; but (shocking!) this is just phase one.
A lot of her moves in all of the phases do Frost damage, so you can equip for that if you want to mitigate the effects. The Chillbite Ring she gave you earlier will help too.
Ariandel joins the party, and is a big whiney baby who bashes his basin everywhere and sometimes breathes fire. The long fire breath move is a good time to hit him if you’re positioned close-ish by and Friede will allow the opening. If you notice Friede turning invisible in this phase it means she’s going off to heal somewhere so you should be finding her and hitting her, for obvious reasons.
This pair share a health bar, so it technically doesn’t matter who you opt to target. Ariandel is relatively slow (he’ll make his way across the room in straight-ish lines, banging his bowl as he goes), but can swing that thing in a pretty wide arc if you stay close to him for too long. The fire breath has a long range as well. Overall, he’s probably the easier of the two to get hits on if you can work your way behind him – just don’t get greedy with more than a couple of attacks at a time. Friede’s move-set is greatly reduced in this Phase, so taking her on is also an option. She mostly has a couple of scythe slashes, and a corridor of Frost that she’ll regularly send across the room to dissuade you from battering Ariandel.
If you’re doing this solo, then the hardest aspect is spatial awareness. Friede will be merrily casting frostbite-inducing corridors around the place, and trying to hit you with the scythe (albeit with less eagerness than Phase One). Dig deep into your memories of doing Ornstein and Smough (assuming you played Dark Souls) for this section. Summoning aid, as always, will be a great help.
Haha, you thought it was over. Nope. We’re going into extra time, and the lesser spotted third phase. Friede is really pissed now, shrouded in black flame, and has produced an extra scythe from somewhere. This gives her a lot of additional moves.
This is actually the Phase I can be least help with, since I saw much more of the other two. Having Gael still alive as an added distraction proved key for me, even at the expense of giving her more health. Many of the (Frost) scythe attacks you’re used to from the other Phases make an appearance here, but they’re accompanied by (I presume) Dark attacks from the new weapon. Such as an overhead leap-smash AoE attack.
She can also send tongues of dark flame shooting out at you in straight lines. If you see her scythe shine and a bit of a wind-up starting, she’s about to do a double-spin attack ending with both scythes at your throat. That’s not pleasant, obviously. This isn’t the full extent of her move-set, because I’m not actually sure I’ve seen every single one of them. Hate to say it; but if you’re going to try this solo, then there isn’t going to be a ‘trick’ beyond committing a large amount of moves and tells to memory. The fact that this Phase comes after two others will make it incredibly challenging to do alone.
Friede will still turn invisible in this Phase too, and the same sort of tactics as in Phase One apply again. The best openings are (as is often the case) at the end of her combos, or (again) if you can uncover her from invisibility. You don’t get many windows.
Defeat her this time and she’ll finally stay dead, rewarding you with the Soul of Friede. You’ve earned it.
Bonfire Six – Depths of the Painting
To get to the optional boss and open up the PvP arena, cut the rope bridge outside Friede’s chapel (from the chapel end) and climb down, just like in the catacombs. There then follows a bit of Great Hollow style tree-branch platforming (not made easier by the lads shooting massive arrows at you). Once you get a rough idea where to go, you can rush this part without really engaging anybody.
From the final branch above the ice (with the Millwood bow guy stood on it), take a left off the edge and go underneath where you just walked down to find the bonfire.
Hugging the right wall from the bonfire alcove will lead you to a place where you can drop down into a field of flowers. This is the boss arena.
From the bonfire, you can also go left and past a pair of crabs, beyond more of those tree-ladies to eventually pick up Frost Snap spell. Kill the oddly mobile tree guarding Frost Snap and then head back out. You’ll probably see a ladder that wasn’t there before. If you head up, and then up another ladder (one you could see from the chapel rope bridge), you’ll emerge near said bridge and get a Titanite Slab.
Sort out his three wolf buddies first since they’re just annoying, then focus on him. Opening with an arrow at one of the wolves tends to get them coming out first, which helps.
Once alone, the Gravetender is not too troubling. A fairly reliable tactic for the Gravetender (one on one at least) is to bait him into a leaping thrust by staying about this far away.
Hold your shield up and move (don’t dodge) around to his left as he does it. It should leave you in a great position for a backstab (or some cheap hits if you miss that sweet spot).
About halfway through his health, a massive wolf will join the party. If at all possible, try to get in a good backstab on the Gravetender to take him under half health. You can hit him a bit more as he stands up, and have him pretty low on health before the wolf even arrives. I’ve found it’s helpful to be using the columns of the building to slightly confuse the wolf’s pathfinding too.
In this Phase, the Gravetender starts casting spells. This is the prime time to finish him off. It’s not easy trying to find an opportunity when you have a giant wolf doing dash attacks at you all day long, but that’s still probably the best tactic.
Once you’re one on one with wolfy, I found it easier to dodge into/towards his charging attacks. Most of his attacks ARE charges, so that covers a lot. At half health he goes red-eyed and crazy, and starts breathing frost at you. He also seems to speed up a bit, just for kicks. His health pool isn’t massive, but he’s quick, hits like … well … a gigantic wolf, and can end you if you miss the timing on his charges. As with all Dark Souls wolf creatures, getting vaguely underneath him is a solid goal. He’ll jump and charge and back away constantly to prevent you trying to do this, mind you.
Defeating the Gravetender (and chums) will get you the Champion’s Bones. Return to Firelink Shrine, burn it in the bonfire, and you’ll open up the PvP lobby. You’ll also receive Valorheart, the Gravetender’s weapon and shield set.
Back in the field of flowers where you battled this guy, there will now be a seventh and final bonfire to ignite. Your time in Ashes of Ariandel is complete.