(OPTIONAL) GRINDING FOR SOULS & FINDING GOODIES IN DARKROOT GARDEN
The following advice leads to one of the best methods for soul farming in the game, but you’ll need 20,000 souls (consider it an investment) and moderate fighting skills. If you aren’t ready at this point in the game, know that you can return at any time. However, having access to lots of souls this early will give you the freedom to level up whenever you like. Visit Andrei the Blacksmith in the Undead Parish and purchase from him the Crest of Artorias. Defeat the nearby Titanite Demon (see strategy on the previous page) and enter Darkroot Garden.
Proceed through the garden until you come upon a door with a glowing circle at its center (seen above). Before you use the Crest of Artorias to open it, look for a wall to the left. This is a breakable wall; simply hit it with your weapon. A bonfire will be revealed. Rest here before proceeding through the locked door.
There are several NPC enemies in woods beyond the door - including some semi-invisible ones. They are difficult foes early on, but they drop 1000-5000 souls each, and respawn whenever you rest at a bonfire. Try to engage them one at a time and only go for backstabs or ripostes (or kick them off the edge of the nearby cliff). Repeat these battles as long as you wish to grind for souls. If you have the Covetous Silver Serpent Ring (found in the Tomb of Giants), you'll gain even more souls. We recommend you farm while offline or as a hollow so as to avoid Blue Phantom invasions in this area.
If you reach the small tower at the other end of the woods, you’ll find Alvina sitting in the window. This creepy cat is the leader of the Forest Hunter covenant. If you join this covenant, Shiva of the East will appear outside the tower and all of the NPCs in the forest will become friendly. But first, let's grab some special armor.
From inside Alvina's tower, cross the short bridge to the next tower. Descend the stairs to ground level, turn left, and walk around the outside of the tower. Near the cliff you’ll find a chest containing the extremely strong Stone Armor Set.
Now return to Alvina's tower and find Shiva outside. He has an invisible bodyguard who stands directly behind him. Kill the bodyguard to obtain the Dark Wood Grain Ring, which allows you to do a snazzy flip instead of a roll when you tap B. Note that attacking the bodyguard immediately removes you from the covenant and turns all of the forest NPCs hostile again (including Shiva). However, this course of action is the only way to get this ring, so you have to make a choice.
If you decide to go for the ring, make sure not to kill Shiva (any other NPC is ok). Instead, run away and be sure to absolve your sins next time you visit Oswald of Carim in the game’s first bell tower (in the Undead Parish). Then it will be like nothing happened. The forest NPCs will be hostile when you return to the woods, and you can rejoin the Forest Hunter covenant by speaking to Alvina, at which point Shiva will return and be completely friendly (only he won't have a bodyguard).
Note that you cannot farm the forest NPCs for souls and be in the Forest Hunter covenant at the same time.