The deepest, darkest secret of Elden Ring is rotting underneath the Capitol. The Lake of Rot is a secret, optional location in the Ainsel River region — but you’ll only get a small glimpse of the true evil of this place from the Uhl Palace Ruins, which can be accessed much earlier in the game. The Lake of Rot is a late-game location that can only be accessed by following Ranni’s Black Knife / Cursemark quest — and we’ll try to explain as quickly as possible how to get into this terrifying underground hellscape.
This area inevitably leads to one of the biggest secret bosses of the game, but we’ll keep the spoilers to a minimum. You can explore the Lake Of Rot yourself, we’ll just help you find your way there. Bring plenty of Scarlet Rot protection, because you won’t be able to summon your mount to get through this seemingly infinite lake of disgusting poison sludge. Prepare yourself for one of the cruelest locations in the entire Souls series.
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How To Reach The Lake Of Rot | Black Knife / Cursemark Quest Guide
The Lake of Rot is an enormous section of the Ainsel River underground that can only be accessed through a special portal in Renna’s Rise — one of the towers in the Three Sisters area, found in the back of Caria Manor, a massive location north of the Academy in the Liurna of the Lakes region.
To unlock Renna’s Rise tower and gain access to both Nokstella, Eternal City and Lake Of Rot secret areas, you need to complete Ranni’s Quest. Here’s a quick breakdown of her quest and how to complete each step. For more details, check the “Black Knife Secret Quest” guide in the links above.
- Step #1: Black Knife Quest
- Find the strange monster face in the Stormveil Castle chamber. Check the bloodstain.
- Talk to Sorcerer Rogier in Stormveil Castle, and he’ll reappear in Roundtable Hold. Talk to him again.
- Also talk to the Deathbed Companion in Roundtable Hold until you get a map called the Knifeprint Clue.
- Enter the dungeon marked on the map — called Blackknife Catacombs. It is north of Carian Study Hall. Reach the upper ledge in the guillotine trap room and find the illusory wall. Defeat the hidden Black Knife Assassin inside.
- Gain the Blackknife Print key item. Talk to Rogier in Roundtable Hold. Return to talk again — he’ll send you to find Ranni, Rennala’s daughter, at Caria Manor.
- Go to Caria Manor north of the Academy in Liurna of the Lakes. Defeat Royal Knight Loretta to gain access to the Three Sisters.
Once you have access to the Three Sisters area, you can now join Ranni’s Quest. Talk to her in Ranni’s Rise. Talk to Ranni in the tower, then talk to Rogier, then talk to Ranni again. Follow the quest until she agrees to let you serve her. This begins the Cursemark quest.
- Step #2: Cursemark Quest
- Once you join Ranni, you’ll go on a quest to find Nokron, Eternal City. To begin, travel to Siofre River (accessed through the well in Mistwood) and find Blaidd on the ledge left of Hallowhorn Grounds temple.
- Next, you must kill Starscourged Radahn to unlock entrance to Nokron. The Shardbearer is located at Redmane Castle in Caelid. This is an optional (and very difficult) Shardbearer.
- Defeat Radahn and a comet will crash into the field south of Mistwood. Go there and drop down into the crater to find a path to Nokron, Eternal City.
- Navigate Nokron until you reach the giant corpse throne. Collect the Fingerslayer Blade and return to Ranni.
Step #3: Carian Study Hall & Nokstella
Return the Fingerslayer Blade to Ranni to gain the Carian Inverted Statue. Go to the Carian Study Hall on the east ledge of Liurna of the Lakes and use the key item to flip the entire structure. Now you can fall “up” to reach the top.
Reach the top of the Divine Tower of Liurna to acquire Cursemark of Death on Ranni’s corpse. Return to Ranni’s Rise and you’ll now find that Renna’s Rise tower is open. Go inside and use the portal at the top floor.
- Reaching Lake Of Rot: Using the portal at the top of Renna’s Rise tower teleports the player to Ainsel River Main. Collect the Miniature Ranni Doll where you appear, and progress along the water to find Nokstella, Eternal City.
Nokstella, Eternal City is a massive, creepy city with multiple stages and checkpoints. You’ll have to fight your way through — on the far side, you’ll encounter the Baleful Shadow red invader. Defeat him to progress Ranni’s quest and gain the Discarded Palace Key, which is used to unlock the chest in Rennala’s boss arena. The chest contains the Dark Moon Ring key item. Keep that in mind for later.
- Entering The Lake Of Rot: Finally, once you defeat the Baleful Shadow in Nokstella, Eternal City, you’ll enter the Lake of Rot.
The Lake of Rot is a giant fetid pool of Scarlet Rot sludge, found at the base of the Great Erdtree. The roots are rotted from the core, and the only way to survive in this place is to use the switches on the stone pillar spots. Stepping on the buttons will raise stone platforms up out of the poison, giving you a save passage through. Still, you’ll need to bring plenty of Scarlet Rot protection before going in.
This path leads to the secret Shardbearer Astel, Naturalborn of the Void. If you’re hunting for all the Great Runes, this is how you find one more.
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