Did you go back and check that door in the fallen giants' castle that requires the King's Seal or whatever? Maybe what you need is in there (don't tell me what's in there, I can't wait to find out). Although you may only get the item to open that door after you kill the king.
The matchmaking sounds a lot more reasonable then. I got summoned by the Rat guys at the Doors of Pharros - they can apparently lay traps etc and then summon someone. I didn't really know what was happening (thought the swarm of rats was some kind of dog), dispatched the enemies, then stood there while my summoner cut me down. I've seen some boards where people have called them the Cowards' Covenant and the Troll Covenant. I like the idea.
Lorewise there is a lot of interesting stuff going on, for example that the Lost Sinner tried to use the soul of the Witch of Izalith to reignite the first flame. Uhm... isn't that the soul you collect as player in the first game? So she must have been around since the times of Lordran, like other heroes and villains of that era tried to reignite the flames or usher in the age of humans, the age of darkness. She failed to reignite the flames, perhaps due to inaction after facing Gwyn, and been locked away ever since.
Interesting, where did you hear this? You were the guy/girl who beat Gwynn and had those souls, so is the Lost Sinner you?
Yes, 100% shield! I was using the Leather Shield up to that point (still haven't beaten the Pursuer so I never collected the 100% shield at the start of the game) and the fight was a complete nightmare. Health coming off in chunks through the shield and no time to drink a flask. Then I used a Gyrm Shield for the Smelter. No point worrying about spoilers here I suppose as no one is reading it. I wonder what happened Abfackeln and the Dragonrider.
Speaking of whom, I got Ornstein's spear off Ornifex last night, but haven't tried it out yet. You can activate the lightning with a heavy attack, I guess the poor little guy just didn't have the strength
I have all the Great Souls now and have opened the Shrine. However I need to go down the ho-al (best Irish character in a videogame? I love his accent) first and also hunt down the Pursuer and a gentleman by the name of the Rat Authority.
Levels - I am 106 I think, despite spending souls on everything but levelling in a bid not to outlevel everything around me.