Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
You've been plowing down spiders for ages, now, and they've hinted at a much darker menace to come. Indeed, the strangeness that was the Scorpioness was probably enough to suggest that there's something weird in this area. Now you're about to face the height of dark science and magic blended, and it's a more frightful sight than most you've encountered before...
The Duke's Dear Freja
That name hints at something far prettier than what you actually get. The Duke's Dear Freja is an enormous arachnid menace, and definitely one of the more difficult bosses to fight solo in Dark Souls II. Freja doesn't have a ton of attacks, but the ones she does boast hurt quite a bit:
- If you're nearby, she'll rear her legs up and try to trample you. Surprise surprise.
- If you're close, she may also rear back and then fling herself at you. It's best to roll through her legs to avoid this one.
- If you're at a bit of a distance, or if you're just unlucky, Freja will rear up on her legs and use a stinging beam attack that will sweep a significant distance in front of her. You can't dodge this attack nor generally deflect it; rush through her legs and past her head.
- She'll spew webs at you, similar to her smaller kin. This doesn't come out too often, and it's not very difficult to avoid.
- Last, she'll spew acid from her mouth for several dangerous seconds. This is a good opportunity for ranged fighters to attack; melee combatants should back off.
There are two tricks to Freja. The first is that most of her body is invulnerable to attack. The only parts that can be hurt are her two, yes, two heads, one on either side of her body. The second is that Freja is accompanied by a swarm of spiders which will replenish themselves over time, so at your worst you'll be facing a giant nightmare spider and six of her smaller, irritating brood. These spiders aren't that bad face-to-face, but they can backstab you while you're on the run and deal terrible damage. They're also highly effective at distracting you from Freja herself, which is also very dangerous.
This battle is a bit easier for melee fighters than ranged, but both use the same general strategy. Freja is strong, but her attacks only come from one head at a time. The only exception is the acid attack, and it's uncommon. Consequently, you need to rush through her legs when one head is attacking and go after the other. You'll have just enough time for a whack or two before the heads swap and the other attacks. Rush back through her legs when that happens and go after the other. Staying close to her body is key for three reasons:
- Several of her attacks are nigh useless at close range;
- You have more time to attack her other head when her attack animation begins; and
- Freja's body is pretty good at blocking her spider buddies from getting to you. Handy!
Melee fighters will nevertheless want to direct at least some attention to the other spiders, as they can easily kill you on their own if left unattended. Consider taking two or three swipes as you run to Freja's other head; if you're strong enough you should kill one or two of them in the process. Try not to let them get behind you. Ranged fighters are better recommended to stay on the run constantly, not bothering with the spiders, though area attacks given enough time to go off can help clear your path a little. It's a long, bitter fight either way.
Having trouble with this bizarre being? There's a summon just outside The Duke's Dear Freja's room. The warrior it summons is extremely hardy, and he will typically engage Freja so much that she'll ignore you, leaving one of her heads constantly open to attack. He's also great at distracting the smaller spiders, and won't take much damage in return. Summoning him is highly recommended if you can't beat the thing on your own.
One last tip: Don't stop fighting once Freja is dead. Her spiders will, at least for a short while, continue to mill around and attack you. Getting picked off by one right at the end of the fight would be rather embarrassing.
After defeating The Duke's Dear Freja and claiming the Soul of the Duke's Dear Freja, enter the now-unblocked doorway in the rock wall to the right of the huge pit in the rear of this room. You'll find the Lord's Private Chamber, and in it a rather frail hollow. Kill it off and check the body for a Brightstone Key, a Fragrant Branch of Yore, and a Dark Quartz Ring +1.
There's an adjacent hallway here, and it leads to another Primal Bonfire. Don't charge right in, though—there's one last occupant here, no less than the body of Vengarl, the decapitated man you may have met in the Shaded Woods. The body will charge and attack you. It's not nearly as tough as the boss you just fought, but don't take it lightly, either. Stopping it will earn you Vengarl's Armor, Boots, and Gloves.
After being shot to Majule, hop back to Brightstone Cove Tseldora's final Bonfire. Return to the temple where the Duke's Dear Freja was housed and check the door to the right in the entry hall. The Brightstone Key will open it up. The next room is an obvious trap, and when you open the next door six spiders will boil out of the holes at you. Kill them and check the last room for a Black Knight Ultra Greatsword, a Great Fireball, and a Fire Seed.
Return to Vengarl, in the bottom-left corner of the foggy section of the Shaded Woods. Talk to him and, grateful for the defeat of his body, he'll offer to support you as a summon. Fancy!