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FromSoftware has done a fantastic job of constructing each boss in Elden Ring to have elaborate designs, ferocious combos, and spectacular phase-two transformations.
They’ve also suffused each foe with a fascinating backstory – with motives that only serve to heighten the stakes of the battle and add justification to the immense difficulty of overcoming them.
There are so many fascinating bosses to discuss, but one of, if not the most mystifying and enigmatic, is Maliketh: the noble servant of Queen Marika herself and one of the most formidable adversaries you’ll face in the game.
He’s often mentioned among the top three most difficult bosses in Elden Ring, so you’ll need to pull out all the stops to tackle his unmatched speed, the Black Blade of death he wields, and his command of the arena atop the Crumbling Farum Azula.
If you’ve fallen multiple times over to this boss, buckle up; I’m going to teach you all you need to know about how to defeat the infamous Shadowbound Beast and explain his densely detailed past.
Bottom Line Up Front
If you’re in a rush, here’s the key information you need to know about Maliketh.
- Maliketh is a non-optional boss and one of the last required to beat the game.
- He is Queen Marika’s Shadowbound Beast, a protector of the Rune of Death that Marika plucked from the Elden Ring to forever alter the laws of the Lands Between in her favor.
- Strength builds are preferred for an easier fight, while players using mage and archery builds can call on strength-based spirits such as Mimic Tear, Lhutel the Headless, or Ancient Dragon Knight Kristoff.
- The most important aspect to consider for beating Maliketh is using his speed against him. You should dodge through most of his attacks instead of backing away from them, getting behind him to deal damage while he recovers.
- You should also make use of a special tool called the Blasphemous Claw to parry his strongest attack.
You’re likely here to learn how to beat Maliketh, but if you’re interested in the lore, don’t forget to check out the summary of Maliketh’s significance in the Who is Maliketh? section at the bottom of the article.
Note: There will be spoilers ahead for both lore and gameplay, so be warned!
Preparing for the Fight
Given that this is a late-game boss, you’re likely well-equipped with enough buffed stats, strong weapons, and over a dozen flasks by now.
You’ve faced many tough fights so far, but Maliketh is a truly upper-echelon boss and likely the most intense challenge you’ll have come across yet (unless you’ve stumbled into the depths of Miquella’s Halig Tree beforehand…).
The proverb “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.“ has never rung as true a sentiment as with the rage-inducing enemies of Elden Ring, so let’s take a quick look at what to consider before you tackle Maliketh.
Get the Blastpemous Claw
The Blasphemous Claw is a tool with the express purpose of parrying Maliketh’s main weapon, the Black Blade.
While the item isn’t essential, the ability to parry Maliketh’s most damaging attack naturally helps a ton.
Detailing everything that goes into getting the Blastphemous Claw is beyond the scope of this guide, but essentially, it entails completing the entirety of the Volcano Manor quest line to fully exhaust the dialogue of NPC Recusant Bernhal (who you may have already met under his other name, Knight Bernarl, at the Warmaster’s Shack in Stormveil).
He’ll then appear as an invader in Crumbling Farum Azula. Once you’ve defeated him, Bernhal will drop several items as rewards, and one of these is the Blasphemous Claw.
It’s easy to miss this encounter but it’s nice and easy to get to once you know: you simply need to go in the opposite direction once on the bridge leading to Maliketh, of which there is only one main route. This two-minute video from Gamer Guides details the path.
I’m going to say right off the bat that you’re going to struggle more than usual if you’ve focused on ranged combat during your run. Maliketh is not only incredibly fast; he frequently gets up close and personal with his attacks before you have the chance to deal damage.
Moreover, ranged builds don’t lend themselves to the keep-close tactics best suited for succeeding. Strength and dexterity builds are favored. Having said this, utilizing the diversion tactic with a spirit will help offset your disadvantages as an archer or mage.
Below is my go-to build for taking on Maliketh. You can tweak this as you say fit, but I’d recommend you aim to fit the basic template if you can.
Weapon: +23 Two-handed Weapon
Personally, I always go with the trusty Claymore for strength builds, and I find this two-handed sword to be a great choice for taking on Maliketh. You’re going to want something that you can methodically execute one or two strong hits with within a brief window of opportunity.
I think that for this purpose, one-handed weapons offer too much temptation to keep slashing away, whereas with something heavier you get a more consistent feel for when to back off. They offer less of a propensity for button-mashy fighting that tends to occur when you get stressed.
I wouldn’t attempt Maliketh with a weapon lower than level 23. You’ve likely got a weapon that is at least level 21 after beating the Fire Giant before this, so seek out some level 8 Smithing Stones and get smithing!
Having defeated the infamous Godskin Duo as a prerequisite for reaching the Maliketh fight, you’ll have acquired the needed Bell Baring for buying Smithing Stone 8 from the Twin Maiden Husks. If you’d rather not buy them, you will quite easily come across several at The Crumbling Farum Azula anyway.
If you still don’t have enough, I recommend heading back to Yelough Anix Tunnel in the Consecrated Snowfield region, where you can find eight more. You can also get hold of an Ancient Dragon Smithing Stone in these tunnels. These are required to max out your weapon, so this area is a great place to visit.
Armor: Scaled Set with Beast Champion Chest Plate
During my first Elden Ring run, I used the Scaled Set for near enough the entire game, finding that nearly all other armor I discovered was a good bit weaker in comparison.
This is a great strength set, but when I beat the aforementioned Recusant Bernhal, I decided to make some adjustments for the Maliketh fight.
Alongside the Blasphemous Claw, you’ll also receive the Beast Champion armor set when you beat Bernhal, and this is excellent armor for going toe-to-toe with Maliketh.
Given Maliketh’s speed, however, I didn’t like the fact that wearing the full set shifted me into the heavy-weight category and made my previously athletic dodge now a more labored stumble.
The Beast Champion set did offer some better protection, though, so I decided to use only the chest plate and keep the rest of my Scaled armor to keep my dodges fast. This fight is very much a speed vs. speed situation, so while you should offer yourself the most protection, it has to be balanced with your agility.
I didn’t bother with a helmet and never do. It only offers a very slight defensive advantage, and I’d rather have the reduced weight. Most importantly, I look cooler without one.
You should aim to fight Maleketh at around levels 125 to 130. I found that this is about where I was naturally, having previously defeated the Fire Giant—a boss many will attest to grinding for Runes to acquire a high enough level to beat!
It helps to be a little higher than that, of course; if you haven’t already, be sure to fully explore the Crumbling Farum Azula area, as there are plenty of Golden Runes to find tough enemies to grind.
The best spirits to use with Maliketh are the ones that prioritize strength. If you’re using a strength build, a fantastic choice is to clone yourself with the Mimic Tear spirit (found in Nokron behind one of the Imp Statue doors: check out our Ranni Quest Guide for more on this area).
Second to that, Lhutel the Headless and Ancient Dragon Knight Kristoff are both excellent choices. I didn’t bother using a spirit as I found I didn’t have much time to spare for summoning one, but the option is there.
Lastly, both Bleed and Scarlett Rot damage do considerable damage to Maliketh; both effects have the potential to reduce his health by about 40%.
This may sound like it would make the fight far easier, but the trick is actually inflicting the effect in the first place. You’ll need to mount several direct hits on Maliketh at once to trigger either, meaning you’ve only got a couple of narrow windows, such as directly after his AoE attacks, to do so.
If you can pull this off, though, you’ll have a huge advantage. If the weapon you’re using doesn’t inflict Scarlet Rot or Bleed damage, you can add the effect by using blood or rot Grease.
How to Beat Maliketh
So, onto the battle itself! I’ve split the following strategy into two phases, and within each, you’ll find modular tactics to deal with the main attacks. Firstly, here are Maliketh’s base stats are his base stats and the rewards you’ll receive for having defeated him:
- Health: 10,620 HP
- Runes: 220,000
Special Items: Remembrance of the Black Blade [consumable]
While most of the aesthetic transformations of each boss are impressive, Maliketh’s is definitely my favorite. Before he turns into Maliketh, The Black Blade, he’s known as Beast Clergyman for the first phase of the battle.
Entirely shrouded in a brown cowl, you’ll already be familiar with this version of Maleketh if you’ve already completed Gurranq’s Deathroot Quest, and having done so, he’ll speak slightly different dialogue at the start of the fight to reflect that (more on this in the Frequently Asked Questions section).
Naturally, you’re going to want to save as much of your health as possible for the second stage of the fight, so the following will focus on more conservative tactics.
You’ll also need to make sure you equip your Blasphemous Claw in one of your quick slots. You won’t use it until phase two, but you don’t want to be messing around in the menus when you start the fight.
The Beast Claw Attack
The first attack you’ll likely come across is the Beast Claw attack. You’ll know when it’s coming because he’ll violently pound his fist into the ground. As he pulls gravel from the floor, a quake will erupt outward in a circular fashion. It ripples along the ground in all directions, meaning you can’t dodge it if you’re too close.
At a middle distance to Maliketh, you have a great opportunity to dodge toward him in between the fins of the eruption and mount a quick attack before retreating.
There’s also another variation of this attack: rather than spreading across a huge area, the wave will be narrower and directed specifically toward you. In this case, you can’t dodge in between it, and your best bet is a well-timed jump over.
The Bladed Attacks
Once you venture closer to Maliketh, you’ll be met with bladed attacks. During phase one, there is a quick stab, which is easy enough to dodge laterally, and there’s also another slower, deadlier swipe, which begins with a drag of his sword along with the ground in a semi-circular arc.
This latter attack offers the best opportunity to mount your own attack. As he swipes, you’ll want to dodge forward past him and follow up with two successive attacks at his abdomen.
You need to execute the forward dodge just as he starts scraping (indicated by the orange sparks). There’s a small margin for error here, but with great risk comes great reward.
Having said this, I wouldn’t risk attacking after the initial quick attack I mentioned: it’s better to just dodge it and wait for a better opportunity with the slower one. There’s also a less frequent double swipe that sometimes follows the single stab, which is another reason to stay away during this time.
You’ll be rewarded for taking a conservative approach and not getting too greedy during this phase. It’s inevitable to get hit at some point during Phase 2, but it’s possible to dodge everything in Phase 1 with practice.
There are also two types of projectile attacks to be aware of.
With the first, the Clergyman will throw an assortment of spikes that soar through the air at high speed. Devisively, the attack can commence both quickly and more slowly, and the former is very difficult to watch out for. The best course of action is to keep your block up as consistently as you can.
The second consists of him flinging a large boulder at you. This does more damage, but it’s easier to anticipate and dodge laterally away from.
The Area of Effect Attack
The Beast Clergyman will routinely smash both fists into the ground for a devastating AoE attack. This will throw rocks into the air that can cause tremendous damage both as they ascend and descend.
All you need to do is keep away from the area, so as soon as you see him put his blade in his mouth and ready both fists, run away!
Phase 2 of the fight begins with a cutscene in which the Beast Clergyman sheds his clothing, reveals a new deadly jet-black blade, and transforms into Maliketh.
Maliketh’s attacks rely more on the use of his sword than anything else, so the following will primarily focus on how you can avoid this diverse weapon and where your openings are.
Dodging the Bladed Combos
It’s difficult to categorize Maliketh’s bladed attacks individually because there are so many combo variations. When you’re up close, his attempts will seem like one huge flurry, and it’s actually best to think of them like that.
First off, even if you know how to attack, you’ll be dead before you have the chance if you don’t dodge in the right way.
It’s crucial to dodge through these attacks rather than away from them: if you dodge backward or to the side, you’ll find that he follows through forward and still hits you anyway, as most swipes have an atrial quality with a large area of effect.
Dodging forward when he attacks should place you at his feet where you can execute a quick attack and get away.
You can also often orientate yourself behind him with this method which is even better, as you’re then usually at liberty to strike with a strong attack or use your Ashes of War.
As we’ve established, Maliketh will employ several combos, but when you see one of them end with his blade turning gold, you can use the Blasphemous Claw to parry him.
When this gold blade goes in for a swipe, hit the quick slot prescribed for the Blasphemous Claw to counter him. Because of my build, I hadn’t really utilized the parry mechanic up until this fight, so I know from experience that this takes some getting used to.
You’ll most certainly get hit a few times before you get it down, but once you do, this is an invaluable skill.
Parrying staggers Maliketh for roughly 6 seconds, so this is the best opportunity to do some serious damage. Get in close and go to town!
If you fail the parry, the damage that follows is almost unavoidable, as Maliketh will then stab his blade into the ground for his AoE attack. This consists of a 360-degree blaze of lighting that erupts from the blade, and given that you had to get close to try and parry him, you’re now in the middle of it.
The Phase 2 Projectile
The last thing you should consider is a different type of projectile attack than you witnessed in phase 1. Similar to the bladed attacks, it’s difficult to categorize the multiple types as there are several and many combinations.
There are some key defining characteristics you can use to form a consistent strategy, though. All of these projectiles come in the form of red-lighting arcs, and they’ll always be used when you’re at a considerable distance from him.
While I’ve been suggesting making heavy use of the forward dodges thus far, you’ll want a standard lateral dodge here, as dodging backward or forward is far too risky to judge accurately. You should apply the dodge when the lightning arc is about midway between you and him.
Finally, be aware of him occasionally launching two or three blasts in quick succession. He’ll most often do this while hanging from one of the pillars above you, so your best bet here is to run continuously to one side until he stops.
There’s a lot to learn here, but you’re more than capable at this point in the game. As you can see, you’ll be applying pretty much every technique you’ve learned at this point, and the fight will certainly illuminate any weaknesses you have to prepare you for the few even more challenging duels ahead.
To finish off, let’s now take a look at Maliketh’s reason for being such a badass.
Who is Maliketh?
Most bosses relate somewhat to Queen Marika the Eternal and her ruling of the Lands Between, but Maliketh is more intrinsically linked to her than nearly any other. He is her Shadowbound Beast, a type of half-beast destined to serve and protect their Emperian leaders (those who possess the capability of becoming gods).
It was Queen Marika who broke the cycle of life and death bestowed upon the Lands Between through the Greater Will and the Golden Order—a cycle mediated by the Elden Ring as a whole but acutely by one piece of it: the Rune of Death.
The removal of this particular rune caused the world to undergo a significant change: from now on, immortality was granted to the population, and when they died, they would return to the Erd Tree and be reborn.
To secure the Rune of Death, Marika infused it within the Black Blade wielded by Maleketh. From then on, he was sworn to protect it forever more, and given that the rune was now actualized within a weapon, Marika and Maliketh could wield death at will.
When a fragment of the Rune of Death was stolen by a group of assassins and used to kill the Demi-god Godwin (an act that sparked the shattering of the Elden Ring and caused the war), Maliketh decided to embed the rune within his own flesh to further protect it so that no one may ever steal it again.
His guardianship would meet its true test when you arrived.
As I briefly touched on earlier, you have the opportunity to meet the Beast Clergyman during Gurrang’s Deathroot Quest.
He is thought to exist in this state of craving Deathroot (a plant that spread throughout the Lands Between after the Rune of Death fragment was stolen) due to the aforementioned infusion of destined death within him.
Now in disgrace, and with his queen still imprisoned for destroying the Elden Ring, his hungry soul embodies the very concept of death itself.
If some elements of the above confused you, I highly recommend you check out this excellent rundown by VaatiVidya first to get up to speed on the basics.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Maleketh is having no Problem Protecting the Rune of Death from me… What other Enemies Operate Similarly to Maliketh that I could Fight to Practice?
Answer: While each boss in Elden Ring is pretty distinct from anything you’ll fight in the field, there are some similarities between Maliketh’s appearance and battle tactics and the Lion Guardians.
You’ll most certainly have encountered these silver-maned beasts in key areas such as Stormveil Castle or Wandering Layndell, and their quick, animalistic movements offer some semblance of what you’ll experience with Maliketh.
Question: Are there any Quests I should Complete before Fighting Maliketh?
Answer: If you’re wanting to complete all or most of the quests in the game, be sure to return Leyndell before attempting this boss. After beating him, the entirety of the capital city is engulfed in flame as the Erd Tree burns, so you won’t be able to enter it afterward, and the quests within the area will be lost to you.
Question: If Gurranq Beast Clergyman and Maliketh are the same Person, how can I Fight Maliketh if I Killed Gurranq Earlier in the Game?
Answer: Because you also fight the Beast Clergyman during the Maliketh fight, and given that you can choose to kill him earlier in the game, it is most commonly thought that there’s some sort of time travel going on.
The idea is that Gurranq is most likely a past or future version of Maliketh, as it would seem natural that the only character to wield death as a weapon would also have the ability to negate its effects. This Reddit thread provides some interesting discussion on the topic.
So, there’s everything you should know to take down Maliketh. Don’t forget: we have a ton of other Elden Ring articles here on the site – check out our Malenia Guide or Blasphemous Blade Guide and stay tuned for more.