Ariandel asks me to fetch Friede but there's no need, as she is already approaching with the exact same ice magicked scythe of the previous white-haired painting lady. It's pretty clear now that she killed her somehow and with Ariandel is now corrupting this world. I would not let that stand!
Or ... maybe I'll just back away now.
It turns out Friede is a nunja though (dual class nun/ninja) who can turn invisible and pretty easily kills me with said scythe. A few goes of this and I am so beaten up mentally I opt to withdraw first, following the suggestion of a player message to cut the long bridge outside.
This then serves as a ladder down to a root maze (guarded by two annoying great Nord archers) which reaches the frozen lake below. The area leads to a flowery valley with the bottom part of that tower where a lady with an affinity for wolves guards a curiously familiar grave.
Though not stated, I'm sure this is Knight Ciaran, especially given how tough she is (and she can somehow parry while attacking, the cheater). Worse when she summons a great wolf for aid. She's not as tough as Friede though, as it only takes me three attempts to defeat her.