Since I'm getting whooped on the field now, I return to Firelink Shrine to level up and more importantly, upgrade a second, regular axe which actually scales with my character's strength - which is something the Deep Axe doesn't do which means it is slowly getting eclipsed by it's regular cousin. Also, two new ladies were here. The first, Sirris of the Sunless Realms offered her aid on my quest, and the second - Yuria of Londor - stood over Yoel's corpse like a vulture, stating that I was their "Lord of Hollows" thanks to the Dark Sign Yoel had been giving me. What?
Yep, for every "free" level I've been getting these, more of the very thing I wanted to cure. Turns out the firekeeper can cure them, thanks to a firekeeper soul I found earlier, except it costs an exorbitant amount of souls. Should have guessed the free levels were too good to be true! Anyway, I purchase a braile tome from Yuria for Irina to read. She's blind too since she was in training to become a firekeeper.
These crystal lizards have grown pretty big. And pretty gymnastic.
I then get Sirris to help me slay another massive crystal lizard, and then return to face the Abyss Watchers with the help of BlackHand Gotthard (who looks a lot like an Abyss Watcher) and Londor Paleshade (a servant of Yuria). Gotthard falls in battle, and during phase 2 (with an entirely new lifebar), the power of all the Abyss Watchers fills him and we have to take him down. It is a long slog but since the Paleshade is pretty tough we beat him and I claim the first Lord soul!
Turns out he's prone to stun lock.
And then I put their collective severed heads on their allotted throne back at the Shrine. Do you expect anything less from Dark Souls? :P