Smouldering Lake is a Location in Dark Souls 3. This optional zone is the center of conflict between many ferocious creatures, with a deep laberynth 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 this cavernous 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 chase you to the entrance of the cave where you fight Horace. The crabs are too big to get past the rocks and the 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 followes.  

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 spawing skeletons that will come out here. 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). 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 Ruines Bonfire. In ember form and as long as the Old Demon King survives, there is a summon for Knight Slayer Tsorig. 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 they 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 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 Spear, one sword and one Toxic. To the right of where the spear wielding was sitting, there is a doorway and that 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 a 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 are here and will fire at you with their orbs. Dispatch them one by one, using the pillars for cover. In the corner of this there is an item, but beware of the Smoldering Rotten Flesh above as well as the Ghru and 2 more Smoldering Rotten Fleshes accompanying it. You can then loot 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, Dragon Crest Shield), 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. There is a small bug where if you enter the lava while blocking with your shield, the damage from the lava will be reduced until you stop blocking. 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

Return to the room where all the fire demons where an exit through an openening to a 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+1). 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 boss 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 fast walkthrough of how to get to the end of the level the fastest, picking up only essential items goes here. 



    • Anonymous

      26 Jan 2020 09:35  

      Not only is this one of the least fun areas in single player, but the spawn points make multiplayer suck too. Whether you're a red invader or a blue darkmoon, either way you have a high chance of spawning balls deep in the maze while the host is up in the lake. My favorite is spawning by the Tsorig lava bridge while the host is at the fog gate for the demon king - nice 5 minute jog while the host just dies.

      • Anonymous

        14 Jan 2020 04:11  

        I completely missed this place on my first two characters, had no idea you could climb down the broken bridge!

        • Anonymous

          14 Dec 2019 04:12  

          i always play this map backwards, kill the worm, kill the boss, light up bonfire, go for my stus shards, kill tsorig, turn of gigant havelyn, kill horace, and return to shrine. i guess because is faster that way

          • Anonymous

            11 Dec 2019 09:09  

            I don't really get the hate for this area. I went through it my first time ever without a walk through or anything, and found it okay. If you go through it carefully, and just slightly watch for illusory walls(which you should generally do in a first playthrough to find secrets) it's rather fine. Going at the enemies one by one and dodging their attacks they are fine. Also the bonfires are rather close to each other, which is nice incase you die. It might not be the most enjoyable area of the game but with enough patience you can go through it well.

            • Anonymous

              01 Dec 2019 21:00  

              tfw everyone is complaining about this area and i just went to it after killing SoC so i just rushed to the boss and killed him before he even started to hit me.

              • Anonymous

                26 Jun 2019 03:16  

                F*** this place. So much. For so many reasons. Been a while since a game actually managed to make me ragequit.

                • Anonymous

                  17 May 2019 02:07  

                  TFW you just wanted the shield of want, so you follow this guide as you go thinking it’s deep in the chamber, only to find out that to get the shield you could have easily rolled in, grabbed it, covered by a tree to homeward bone back to a bonfire, and get back to soul farming So much time wasted lmao

                  • Anonymous

                    11 May 2019 06:26  

                    ***** this place sideways. The crabs are lazy and the worm is meh but the ruins? Jesus christ. ***** those one-hitting pyros with the pre-spawned stunlocking turrets, ***** the swarming ghrus and ***** Tsorig in the ear. There's something to be said about an area when the least aggravating thing on it is a room chock full of basilisks. And sure, it is an optional area, if not because it's where half of the pyromancies and chaos gems are tucked away into. Truly a compendium of the most annoying, broken and spammy enemies in the game placed in an level specifically built to really bring out their horse*****Far and away the worst area in the game.

                    • Anonymous

                      11 Mar 2019 19:38  

                      Smoldering lake!!?! More like... Err... I didn't know where I was going from there... I'll see myself out...

                      • Anonymous

                        12 Jan 2019 10:31  

                        F*ck this place so much, it has some of the most annoying enemies in the game (not including the bonewheel a-holes and the curse spewing sh*t frogs, these guys are on a whole other level of annoyance), at least it's optional.

                        • Anonymous

                          08 Nov 2018 15:32  

                          As much as I wish I could ignore this place, it's essential to go to purely for the two bone shards and flask shard. luckily those 3 items are very close to the entrance of demon ruins so I guess that's nice.

                          • Anonymous

                            05 Nov 2018 14:35  

                            The Demon Ruins area is literally a copypasted Catacomb of Carthus with vines and embers slashed on the walls and enemies. By far the worst area of the game. It has good shortcuts after exploring for a bit but while exploring it I just got lost, half of the shortcuts are behind illusory walls and the bonfire placements are so dumb. The enemies drop such an insignificant amount of souls for their difficulty level. It's such a shame, because entering Smouldering Lake is closely akin to discovering Ashen Lake in DS1 for the first time.

                            • Anonymous

                              23 Sep 2018 01:59  

                              Two rings not mentioned: Flame Stoneplate +2 is located in the room with the Black Knight fighting a Gru on NG+2 and Bloodbite Ring +1 is located near the giant ballista on NG+.

                              • Anonymous

                                12 Sep 2018 22:24  

                                The blocking thing with a shield in the lava is really nice. I used red bug pellets and flash sweat, put up my dragon crest shield and ran in. I'd suggest going for the farther item first because picking up the item will drop the shield and you'll take a lot more damage after. While the shield was up, I was only taking slightly more damage than I did in DS1 with Orange Charred Ring.

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