Smouldering Lake is a Location in Dark Souls 3. This optional zone is the center of conflict between many ferocious creatures, with a deep labyrinth built beneath flooded with lava and fire monsters, but exploring it will reveal pyromancies and tomes from ages past.


General Information


Smouldering Lake Map

Smouldering Lake Map 1 DKS3

Smouldering Lake Map 2 DKS3

Smouldering Lake Video Playthrough





NPCs in the area




Weapons & Spells


Upgrade Materials

Keys & Other



  • Ballista shots fall from the sky in the main area. It can be turned off by following an underground path.  This path takes you past hound-rats, basilisks, and a great-sword wielding black knight.  At the end of this path is a ladder that brings you up underneath the ballista.
  • Behind the huge worm in the main area, there is a small incline in the ground.  If you stand behind this small hill, you can get the worm caught in the line of fire from the ballista as it tries to shoot you.
  • On the opposide side of the map from the worm, there is a mound of exposed stonework.  If a ballista shot hits this stonework, it will open a permanent one way shortcut to the Old King's Antechamber Bonfire
  • The ballista shot can also be used to break open a wall guarding a hidden item (Speckled Stoneplate Ring) towards the back of the level.
  • The Demon Ruins area is full of references to Dark Souls 1, including a number of statues and petrified Capra Demons and Taurus Demons, as well as live demonic statues and basilisks. It is presumed that this area is close to Lost Izalith because of these creatures and the fact that the Quelana pyromancy tome is found here by a large, petrified spider, which is quite likely to be Quelana herself.  The large tree-pillars that seem to support these caverns are reminiscent of the Arch-trees of Ash Lake from Dark Souls I.
  • There is an easier and safer way to clear out the lake of Giant Ember Crabs. Aggro the crabs with arrows and get them to chase you to the entrance of the cave where you fight Horace. The crabs are too big to get past the rocks and they will stay there, trying to smash you. Keep yourself at a safe distance and ping away at them with magic or arrows. 

Full Smouldering Lake Walkthrough

A full walkthrough including all the items, enemies and bosses follows.  

Click here to go to the Speedrun Walkthrough.

Click here to go the location's Lore and Speculation page.

Finding Smouldering Lake

Discovering Smouldering Lake takes a bit of work. If you have defeated High Lord Wolnir, you can start from this bonfire, or make your way from the Catacombs of Carthus bonfire to the large suspension bridge. Attack the anchor point at that end of the bridge and it will collapse; once it settles, you can climb down the bridge as if it were a ladder to access the area below. Proceed until you reach the room with the large Fire Demon and Mimic up the stairs near the end of the walkway. If you can get the Fire Demon to attack the mimic, it may kill it for you.  Alternatively, if you approach the Fire Demon, then retreat through the small entrance where you first enter this area, the Fire Demon will back up down the stairs and retreat to his original position. This should allow you to "bait and strike" him until you defeat him. On the same level where the Fire Demon attacks, you can loot a Large Titanite Shard 1x, but be aware of spawning skeletons. If you exit into the next room, straight ahead you will find a corpse with Old Sage's Blindfold and Witch's Ring. Turn around and head back and make a left into another room with a Bonfire. Advance through to reach Smouldering Lake proper.

Giant Ballista and Carthus Worm

As you enter Smouldering Lake, you will hear the loud mechanical sound of the Ballista winding up. It will target you as you explore the area until you optionally disable it by turning a wheel beneath it. The ballista can also be re-enabled via the same method.  Enter into the lake and follow along the left wall until you encounter the Carthus Sandworm. You can navigate past it on the right side, and there is a safe spot to the back left of the worm, behind a rock with a candled stone pillar next to it. This will place the worm between you and the ballista, resulting in the death of the worm. Any low stance helps to make the ballista aim lower, hitting the worm more frequently. The worm drops Lightning Stake and an Undead Bone Shard

worm boss cheese location

Up a hill to the right, you will find a Large Titanite Shard 1x on a corpse. In a doorway here you can take a staircase down to reach the Demon Ruins Bonfire. There is a summon sign here for Knight Slayer Tsorig, which will remain as long as you are in ember form and the Old Demon King is still alive. Go back the way you came and follow the left hand wall and eventually you will come to a man-made stone wall up against a natural boulder wall. Wait here until the ballista fires at you and breaks the wall to collect Speckled Stoneplate Ring. Retrace your steps with the wall at your right and head back to the bonfire.

Find an Estus Shard & Old King's Antechamber Bonfire

Head through the hallway opposite of the staircase and make a right to take the staircase down. Take the hallway into a next area and face a Demon Cleric to the left. These Demon Clerics can be tricky and, given time, will raise a glowing ball of fire which will fire at you. Use fire protection armor, spells, and shields for defense, and attempt to backstab any time they summon a ball of fire as they have a large "back". There will already be two fireballs spawned near the Cleric (one in front of the clearic, obscured by a pillar and another over the railings), so be aware of their location and use obstacles to block their flames while fighting. Nearby will be a corpse you can loot for an Ember 1x.

Head the other way down this hallway, to encounter four Ghru beasts, similar to the ones encountered in Farron Keep, except they have an "embered" appearance. Outside of this aesthetic change, there is no difference in attacks. One spear-wielding Ghru will patrol the nearby area while the other three (one sword, 1 toxic and 1 more spear) are around the corner. Continuing on this hallway at its end you will find a room with two Ghru beasts. Before entering and attempting to loot the corpse (Ember 1x) on the left of the room, players should note that there is a Smoldering Rotten Flesh from the ceiling as well as a Demon Statue around the corner. Make a left until you come to a hole in the floor. The corpse on the other side holds an Estus Shard, but the jump is rather difficult (you must wait for the last instant to jump). The jump itself is a shortcut to the upcoming bonfire, and that even if you fall though, the shard is still obtainable.

If you manage to make the jump and obtained the shard, take this hallway to the end being wary of the six Smoldering Rotten Fleshes which drop down from the ceiling. Make a right at the end of the hallway and attack the wall at the end to reveal an Illusory Wall. Enter into the next room to discover and light the Old King's Antechamber Bonfire.

However, if you fell through the hole in the floor to the lower level, you will encounter three Ghru beasts; one wielding a Spear, one wielding a sword and one Toxic. To the right of where the spear-wielding was sitting, there is a doorway and there is a lootable corpse (Ember 1x) in the first left turn of this tunnel. At the end of the tunnel, left should bring you along some stairs and at the top is the Old King's Antechamber Bonfire. From the stairs, there is an Illusory Wall on the left, which leads to a path where six Smoldering Rotten Fleshes are waiting on the ceiling and the Estus Shard is on a corpse behind.

Finding Izalith & Quelana Pyromancy Tomes

Exit the bonfire room through the door opposite of the Illusory Wall. Be cautious as there may be a Demon Cleric patrolling the corridor to the right. Continue straight ahead into a room, where a Ghru will be seated to your left and will be joined by others. A prostrate corpse here can be looted for the Izalith Pyromancy Tome.

Backtrack out of this room and make your next left down a hallway with the Demon Cleric. Follow it left and left again to find a Crystal Lizard. Make your way back to the bonfire and exit the doorway which leads to a staircase heading down. Make your right at the next hallway and make your next right to the dead end where a corpse lies with an Ember 1x. Turn around and head right to continue going down the hallway where you will encounter some Ghrus. Follow this hallway to left and into a room of Ghrus. Exit the doorway into the next room where you will encounter a fire statue to the left and some more Ghrus. Behind a pillar here will be another statue and yet another Ghru.

Exit this room and at the end of the hallway, make a left and attack the wall to reveal an Illusory Wall. Step into the revealed room to encounter a Black Knight wielding a great-axe. You can loot the Black Knight Sword from a corpse here. Go back down the hallway and into the larger room with pillars. There are 2 Fire demons here and will fire at you with their orbs. Dispatch them one by one, using the pillars for cover. In the far end of this room, you may defeat 3 Smoldering Rotten Flesh as well as a Ghru to obtain an Undead Bone Shard. From a doorway in the corner of this room, follow the hallway and take your first right which will bring you to a room with 3 small rats. Attack the wall in this room to reveal an Illusory Wall. Head down the short hallway and head left to find the Quelana Pyromancy Tome. Nearby take the staircase down to come to a lava pit.

Equip your best fire protection gear and armor (Flame Stoneplate Ring, Speckled Stoneplate Ring), use a Red Bug Pellet, and spells like Flash Sweat. Drinking estus will delay the fire damage from the lava as well as heal you. Dash in and grab Toxic Mist, continue drinking estus and loot the White Hair Talisman. These are the only 2 items here - return to the stairs if you are able. Otherwise retrace your steps from the bonfire if you died after looting the talisman. 

Alternatively, if spells are out of the question, wearing the full Havel's Set or Black Iron Set while under 70% load, having at least 25 Vigor and drinking 2 Estus every 2 rolls will also work (Be aware though that you will literally burn through your Estus, so having the full 15 Charges is advised!)

The Lower Portion

Returning to the large room where all the fire demons were,take the hallway that comes to a hole. Drop down and take out the rats. To the right, attack the wall to reveal an Illusory Wall. Open the chest to reveal a Large Titanite Shard 3x. Behind the chest, attack the wall to reveal another Illusory Wall. Drop down to the ledge to loot the Izalith Staff.

Drop down to the hallway and proceed forward and to the right. You will encounter basilisks along the way. Head right down the hallway and look for a path on the left before a staircase (the path is obscured and somewhat hidden, if you head up the stairs and see a black knight, you are at the correct stairs). Head left and forward down the hallway and make a right down the stairs to encounter Knight Slayer Tsorig. He is a difficult fight and his Fume Ultra Greatsword is fast and powerful. If you have Boulder Heave, you can just knock him into the lava, or use a weapon like the Astora Greatsword which has the Charge skill. While using his sword one handed, you can parry on reaction. You can also time his attacks and attack when he has missed and left himself open. You can loot him for the Fume Ultra Greatsword and the Black Iron Greatshield.

In this room is another lava pit where you can loot Sacred Flame and Ember 1x. Follow the same procedure as the prior lava pit to loot these items. Return to the large staircase and take it up and make a right to cross the bridge here and take on the Black Knight. To the right you can loot a Soul of a Crestfallen Knight 1x.

Turning off the Ballista & Defeating Horace

Take the ladder up the stone wall, and which leaves you on a ledge where you can ascend another ladder. Once at the top, drop down to the ledge on the right to loot the Dragonrider Bow. Drop down to the next ledge and take the ladder back up to the top.

Be aware that you are again in range of the ballista and it will start firing as you enter. Run into the large open room and head left, dropping down to the next level and taking the path up the left side. To the right will be three Skeleton Wheels. To the left are a group of skeletons. Proceeding past them and up the path you will encounter some red eyed skeletons with shotels.

Defeat the skeletons and approach the large gear-driven ballista. Operate the handle to rotate and disable the weapon (a Bloodbite Ring +1 can be found near the ballista in NG+). Continue ahead behind the ballista and drop down a series of ledges until you land in the water; make an immediate left to enter a cavern where you will find two Crystal Lizards. Follow this path into an open area where you will find Horace the Hushed waiting, wielding a halberd. Defeat him to loot the Llewellyn Shield. Loot the corpses in the area for a Large Titanite Shard 2x, and Yellow Bug Pellet 2x. After killing him you can tell Anri what has happened back at the catacombs if you wish, but this is unnecessary to further the questline.

Return to the main lake area to loot the remaining contents of Large Titanite Shard 4x, and in a far corner, a Chaos Gem. Finally loot the corpses around where the Carthus Sandworm was for a Large Titanite Shard 1x and the Shield of Want.

When ready to take on the boss, approach the fog at the top of the stairs past the worm. If in ember form you can find a summon sign at the bottom of the stairs for Great Swamp Cuculus; if you are interested in the Spotted Whip or the Cornyx armor set, you must summon her and have her survive the fight. Prepare with fire protection armor, spells, and shields. Enter the fog to fight the boss of this area, Old Demon King. After defeating him, light the Bonfire. Port out to the Catacombs of Carthus, make your way past the suspension bridge, and continue on to fight High Lord Wolnir. If he is already defeated, port to that bonfire and continue to the Irithyll of the Boreal Valley.

 Smouldering Lake Maps


Smouldering Lake Videos

Smouldering Lake Walkthrough Part 1 (Main lake area, Old Demon King Boss)

Part 2 (Demon Ruins Area, Ballista)


Speed Run Walkthrough

A quick walkthrough of how to get to the end of the level in the fastest manner, obtaining only essential items, should go here. 



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    • Anonymous

      Smoldering lake, more specifically, demon ruins is the chalice dungeons of dark souls. I wonder if elden ring will have chalice like dungeons

      • Anonymous

        i never understood it properly, but there is a shortcut in the smoldering lake that drops you straight in the corridor with a bonfire/izalith pyro tome/a crystal lizard with a chaos gem. In the upper part, you need to bait the ballista to fire in a area with a clearly man made ground. It will open a passage for you to drop into.

        • Anonymous

          You reckon that window near the ballista where you can see Irithyll is a nod to the Lost Izalith/Ash Lake windows in Tomb of the Giants from DS1?

          • Anonymous

            The ballista is definitely my favourite part of this area, hearing that mechanical sound is so intimidating and the size of it is terrifying.

            • Anonymous

              لا أقوم غالبًا بتمزيق شخصية NPC حقيقية ، لذلك قررت استخدام المصعد ، على أمل التراجع (أو السقوط من الشجرة أثناء الوقوف). ومع ذلك ، فقد فشلت. لكن من المدهش أنهم واجهوا مشاكل نتيجة لذلك. كنت دائمًا في المنزل لأنهم تساءلوا عن القدرة على حماية جدران المنزل. عليك أن تكون حذرا في هجماتهم ، لأن الطريق في خطر. بعد فترة ، نظر الفأس لأعلى وأنا أخرجه. السيد الثاني. كاتانا في الجزء الخلفي من سيارة الأجرة. في تلك اللحظة ، ضربني وركلني مرة أخرى ، لكن عندما دخلت ، ذهبت إلى السجن (يمكنني ارتداء قميص). كنت بجوار كريم هيلد ، أجلس بجانب باب الغرفة. بالطبع لا بد لي من الخروج من شيء ما. ومع ذلك ، كانت مشاكلي دائمًا هي نفسها ، لكن لم يتم حل المشكلات المتعلقة بالمشروع. لقد التقطتها أخيرًا باستخدام الموسيقى التصويرية القديمة.

              • Anonymous

                The whole area feels so much easier if you unlock the antechamber bonfire first by getting a bolt to break the floor.

                • The contrast between the Smouldering Lake and the Ash Lake from DS1 really shows how far the world has decayed. Just like the Darkroot Garden turned into a festering Farron Keep. The creatures either evolve (the sandworm is a giant rockworm, the hollows are far stronger now, etc), or are slaughtered and left as background cameos. Even the Demon Ruins below seem creepier.

                  • Anonymous

                    I just run through this area dodging all the enemies and collecting items at this point... except the lava... seriously, wtf

                    • Anonymous

                      second contender to my most hated zone at this moment, god im glad i can just beat the boss and skip the absolute labyrinth that is the underground floor. I can't imagine how someone is supposed to find everything on a first playthrough and even remember to pick up all the items on the lava or that are spread around. It's not even the enemies, they are actually somewhat manageable but the sheer layout of this place along with many fog walls is what drives me away

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