Surprisingly the giant bird didn't kill me, it just brought me to a cliffside camp called Firelink Shrine which is home to an imprisoned mute woman, a chubby cleric named Petrus, and some random guy I'm going to call Ser Dick - thanks to his "winning" personality. Dick informs me I'm not the only one to escape from the prison, and suggests our quest involves the ringing of two bells for some reason. Petrus has no insights in the matter, instead offering to sell miracles (spells, but my faith was too low) and covenant membership to "The Way of the White" (PvE flag) while awaiting the rest of his party.
That's one way to make a quest hook I suppose...
Left to my own devices I decide to explore and find a few ways to go: a graveyard with skeletons that kick my butt, a flooded ruin with ghosts that I literally can't hit, a valley with drakes, a big dragon (whom I stole some treasure from) and scary ogres, or up towards what looks like a city guarded by low level hollow soldiers. To the city it is! The town is appropriately named Undead Berg since there are tons of hollows here, all hostile except for one psycho merchant who happily trades wares for souls.
Yep, souls are the main currency for everything here, and they are very easy to lose (through dying). I spend a lot of time in this area working out another key mechanic in the game: parrying, which requires specific key press timing to execute but if it works leaves your enemy wide open. My favorite training partner comes in the form of a towering knight, who killed me a quintillion times while I honed this skill. I was both relieved and sad when I finally passed this self imposed test, because unlike the other hollows - he didn't respawn.
Right in the crotch.