After getting whooped so much I decided it was time to go through the "learning" part of combat again, intentionally fighting the local forest enemies to get a better handle on controls and timing. Didn't bother relearning parry though. I'm quite upset that they changed the timing for that. This time around I'm opting for blocking and backstabbing! The results seem to pay off since I soon find myself in the chamber of the forest boss: the last giant!
Which is incorrect, given how many other giants I'm going to run into later.
Fortunately he's a very straight forward boss. Just avoid his stamping feet with stamina management. While his soul is not one of the "great four", he does drop a key for me which lets me access other parts of the forest ruin, and during my suicide scouting runs (where I just go to pick stuff up) I find this neat bastard sword. It easily outclasses my broadsword in damage and reach so it becomes my new favorite weapon. I go back to Majula to upgrade it a little and notice that the hag merchant is here now. Licia (the evil cleric) too, who offers to "shift" a path using her miracle powers for the low price of 2000 souls.
I figure she might as well since I'd eventually need to go wherever that leads, and it leads to a dark forest full of poison using assassin hollows! Wonderful! As if that's not bad enough, I also get invaded by Forlorn who soundly thrashes me with his great sword. I did manage to defeat a giant frog at the base of a cave though. At least that's something. :P