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Soul of Cinder appears to be a tall charred knight, wielding the Coiled Sword. When the player first enters the arena, he will be found sitting at the bonfire before pulling the coiled sword and engaging the player. He changes attack moves very smoothly, making it hard for players to counterattack him. The different fighting tactics make for a very memorable boss fight.
Soul of Cinder is an amalgamation of previous Lords of Cinder, including the Chosen Undead and the Bearer of the Curse (had they linked the flame), Lord Gwyn and other characters who have linked the First Flame.
The above can be further inferred by his quite different Japanese name, Incarnation of Kings (王たちの化身, lit. Outachi no Keshin), pointing out that he is many, not just one.
The Soul of Cinder boss fight contains two main phases to it:
Soul of Cinder starts out with a standard sword, one-handed moveset, swinging it about quick with slices and slams that are relatively easy to avoid. Once he has taken some damage, he will then cycle through three extra movesets along with the starting moveset. His movesets are based on magic types in the game, excluding hexes. In the "sorcery" phase, Soul of Cinder will change his sword into a stave or catalyst and will use spells to attack the player, like Soul Greatsword and Homing Soulmass. His "pyromancy" moveset consists of his weapon being a curved sword and use of spells such as Fire Orb and a possible form of Power Within. His third and final "miracle" moveset entails the use of a lance- or spear-type weapon and uses Wrath of the Gods and a Heal spell.
Throughout the fight, the Soul of Cinder will transition into different weapon stances, each utilizing different skills and attacks:
- Standard (straight sword): Combination of quick slashes and thrust attacks at range. Utilizes two unique weapon skills, one being an enhanced version of "stance", a "guard breaking" slash with increased range, and another which is two slow, but powerful, spin attacks.
- Scimitar/Pyromancy: Quick, horizontal slashes and wound-up vertical slashes, and a quick, evasive slash or backflip to avoid attacks. Uses a combination of many offensive pyromancies, including Power Within, Great Combustion, Great Chaos Fire Orb and Poison Mist.
- Pike/Miracles: Attacks with quick thrust attacks, or slow and powerful lunges forward. Uses a combination of the typical "charge" skill of pikes, as well as one reminiscent of Champion Gundyr's unique charge ability. Can cast a variety of restorative or utilitarian miracles, such as Sacred Oath, Heal and Bountiful Light. When Sacred Oath is cast, it can persist into other stances for the duration (60 seconds, if not refreshed).
- Staff/Sorceries: Casts a variety of powerful spells, varying from Crystal Soul Spear, Farron Hail, Homing Crystal Soulmass, Soul Stream, Soul Greatsword and Great Farron Dart. Uses a unique variant Homing Crystal Soulmass that acts as a persistent "buff", creating more soulmasses as the others diminish or launch outward. This effect can carry over into other stances while it lasts (60 seconds, if not refreshed). Has unused melee attacks.
His second phase begins once the first phase's health bar has been depleted. He will abandon his previous moveset from phase 1 and restore his health to full, beginning to use a moveset very similar to Lord Gwyn's moveset from Dark Souls, with the exception of a few new attacks. The Soul of Cinder will increase in speed and damage at this point. One of his new attacks involves three unique uses of the Sunlight Spear miracle; the first being a standard Sunlight Spear hurled forward, and the second being a Sunlight Spear that is thrown upward into the air. After a brief period, a cloud will form in the sky, an audible thunderclap is heard and shower of homing Sunlight Spears will rain down upon the player from the cloud, dealing massive damage, similar to Splintering Lightning Spear from Dark Souls II. You can see the cloud if you run away from Soul of Cinder and look upward above him. The final attack is where the Soul of Cinder throws a Sunlight Spear into the ground, causing a small, ground-based area-of-effect of heavy lightning damage on impact, similarly to the Lightning Stake miracle.
His sword attacks are identical to Gwyn's and can be dodged in a similar manner. However, the Soul of Cinder will have a new, fast combo that, if caught up in, will juggle the player in the air. The last attack of this combo is a stab into the ground that causes a large, fiery explosion that encompasses a very large area around him. The combo attacks have a fire projectile that will damage the player at range, so it is advised to roll through each attack carefully and keep away as the chain progresses further. It's the ultimate attack from the entire series which a boss can posses almost completely depleting player's health if caught and unblocked.
It is advised to finish the first phase quickly to conserve estus for the second phase, this can be done by aiming to stagger the boss; by pressuring him and attacking constantly while avoiding his attacks, when he staggers there will be a brief window for a fully-charged strong attack. The boss won't stagger if the player gives him a breathing room where his poise meter will fill up. However, beware that this strategy is difficult to pull off during his Dexterity transformation where his sword is transformed into a curved sword; because he will start attacking in quick succession.
During the second phase, it is best to maintain distance from the boss and try to bait out his jump attack, which is easily avoidable and leaves him open for a hit or two. It is dangerous to keep close to the boss as it might lead to depleting stamina and/or getting caught in his grab or five-hit combo. If caught by the grab, the boss will receive an attack and defense boost for a short duration.
The Soul of Cinder is weak to sorceries, lightning damage and susceptible to Dark damage. However, he is slightly-resistant to fire attacks, so pyromancies or fire damage will be less effective, especially in the second phase.
Soul of the Lords
- Unlike other bosses in the game, the player will not be able to perform a critical attack on the Soul of Cinder, should they manage to stagger him.
- The Firelink Set can be purchased from the Shrine Handmaid once the Soul of Cinder has been defeated.
- During the "pyromancy/scimitar" phase of the fight, the Soul of Cinder is capable of parrying the player and any nearby summons who are close to his front or at his side, and will perform a critical attack on his initial target.
- The Soul of Cinder's five-hit combo is reminiscent of Manus's berserker/frenzy combo, both of them juggle the player in the air for the duration of the attack.
- His leggings and shoulder pauldrons look similar to the ones on the Elite Knight Set and the chest piece looks similar to Yhorm's armor. The gauntlets appear identical to Alva's gauntlets, with some noticeable differences.
- Seeing as how the Soul of Cinder bears no part of the Faraam Set on its person, it is possible (given the convoluted timelines of the Dark Souls universe) that the Bearer of the Curse did not link the First Flame, potentially becoming an ashen one.
- During the cutscene in Firelink Shrine that takes the player to the kiln, the Fire Keeper will say "Let him/her grant death to the old gods of Lordran, deliverers of the First Flame." This could reference the bosses defeated in the first game, who possessed souls that may have eventually found their way into the fire (if you did not create boss weapons or feed them to Frampt). If that is true, it means that this boss is not only the previous Lords of Cinder, but also every soul that was part of them.
- In the opening cutscene, someone wearing the Firelink Set drags a corpse into the shrine before partaking in the ash ritual that takes the player to the kiln. This could be the most recent person to successfully burn in the fire.
- The Soul of Cinder has a burnt and misshapen crown on top of his helm in the boss fight, but his armor set only has the back of the crown on his helm, along with some sort of "chest banner".
- The backflip used by him during the "pyromancy/scimitar" phase closely resembles the one used with the Dark Wood Grain Ring in Dark Souls.
- During the second phase, he can roll and dodge ranged attacks.
- The Soul of Cinder has a fifth weapon style that goes unused, involving a greatsword. It covers both the body of the Soul of Cinder and the weapon in flames much like his final phase (for a video see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruKjgqhUr4A&t=14m50s). Whether it was part of his first phase, second phase, or something in-between is unknown.