Feeling brave with a closer bonfire I decided to head back to that church and beat up the hollows guarding it. The mage on the second floor was a bit scary, but by fighting everything else out of his field of view he had no backup when I got to him. Near the back I found and freed another knight in cool gold armor: Ser Lautrec of Carim, but the main event was on the roof where a pair of gargoyles blocked my path. Good thing Solaire was there to back me up! :D
With him tanking the gargs this fight was pretty easy. Upon their defeat Solaire went on his merry way while I finally reached the bell tower and rang the first bell. Woo! This summoned a creepy guy called Oswald but he didn't do much else apart from "offer to pardon my sins" and laugh like an insane person... something he shares with almost everyone else I've talked to actually.
He mentions that Cleric Petrus is also drenched in sin...?
Before moving on I notice that Andre the smith is selling something for 20,000 souls. Figuring I would need that item eventually, I camp the church and purchase the strange medallion. Good thing too because I use it to open a door in the next area I go into: Darkroot Forest, home of spriggans, living statues and... a giant moth that shoots magic missiles!? It takes some evading, patience and a few throwing knives but I eventually slay the overgrown bug. Thanks to player left messages (because this game has a cool quasi-online thing happening) I also find a hidden bonfire behind an illusionary wall giving me another save point before venturing deeper into the woods.