Hornet is one of the first bosses you’ll encounter playing Hollow Knight, and you will find that she isn’t an easy one to defeat that early in the game. After going through Greenpath the long way around to get to Hornet, you will be met with your first encounter with her. This Hornet Hollow Knight guide will explain how to get to Hornet and strategies for winning the fight.
Hornet’s story is important in Hollow Knight, and you will meet her several times throughout the game. You and Hornet share a connection as you are the product of the White Lady and the Pale King, while Hornet is a product of Herrah the Beast and Pale King.
Herrah the Beast and the Spider Tribe never accepted the Pale King’s rule, and when the Radiance’s infection started to spread, the Pale King asked Herrah to be one of the Dreamers. Herrah made a bargain and would agree upon the condition being met since she didn’t have an heir; the queen of the Spider Tribe requests that the Pale King leaves her with a child as her partner died, leaving Herrah without an heir until now. The Pale King accepted, and Hornet was born.
Hornet being a child of the Pale King meant that Hornet was a half-sibling to you and the other Siblings, and half higher being. Herrah the Beast was permitted little time with Hornet before she was put as a seal on the Temple of the Black Egg and into eternal sleep in the Beast’s Den.
While Lurien the Watcher wanted their seals to remain and Monomon the Teacher wished for them to break, Herrah was neutral about the faith of Hallownest. Upon reaching her physical body in the Beast’s Den, you can enter her mind using the Dream Nail and destroy her seal. Her Dream Nail dialogue shows her affection for Hornet, saying: “…Bound…For brood…For child…”, “…Fair bargain made…”, and “…Give all…For her…”.
If you fight Hornet in Kingdom’s Edge and find the King’s Brand before breaking Herrah the Beast’s seal, Hornet will appear at Herrah’s resting place. If you speak with Hornet here, she’s going to speak about her sentiments and upbringing, with one amongst the foremost significant lines being this one: “We do not choose our mothers or the circumstance into which we are born. Despite all the ills of this world, I’m thankful for the life she granted me.”
The first fight with Hornet
Reward: Mothwing Cloak – dash
Soon after you enter Greenpath, you will see Hornet in places where you can’t reach her. You will be pressed to investigate almost every inch of Greenpath to get to the arena where you will at last face her.
You will see a lot of places that are just slightly out of reach, and if you’re playing Hollow Knight for the first time, this may not make a lot of sense, or you might already be thinking that you’ll get an upgrade that will let you reach those places. That upgrade will be the dash ability you get after defeating Hornet in Greenpath.
Be sure to save on a bench where the Stag Station is before you enter the arena because Hornet is a worthy foe and, this is a bit subjective, but you may be met with the toughest boss you’ve encountered so far in the game.
In this first fight, Hornet has four base attacks and two defensive attacks (Lunge, Aerial Lunge, Gossamer Storm, Throw, Leap, Run) while you have your Nail, the Vengeful Spirit spell, and a simple jump to avoid those attacks and deal damage.
The Lunge & Aerial Lunge attacks
These two attacks are nearly identical, with her lunging towards your location either from the ground or after a jump. These are her dash attacks.
You can dodge the ground Lunge attack by jumping over her and then getting a few hits in with the Nail as she stops.
With the Areal Lunge attack, you can jump or move away as after a few lunges, you will get a feel for dodging them, and they will become quite predictable.
During this attack, she gives off a “Sha” and fans out her dress, signaling that she is about to lunge at you.
Gossamer Storm attack
Gossamer Storm is an area of effect attack, and it covers a relatively big area around her; she can get you easily with this one as it is really hard to tell when this attack is coming.
Standing a bit further away from her after she does an attack and you get your Nail hits in is probably the best defense strategy you can do to avoid taking damage from this attack.
She can do Gossamer Storm at any point, in the air, and on the ground, basically wherever she is at that point. She will stop in mid-air (or on the ground) for a fraction of a second before she does this attack.
The Throw attack is when Hornet throws her Needle towards you and pulls it back after covering almost the entirety of the arena. The Needle in the Throw attack can damage you on the way back as well, but the string that holds it doesn’t damage you at all. You can jump over it, get a few Nail hits in and jump over it and away from her to avoid taking damage after it’s done.
She gives off all kinds of sounds before throwing her Needle at you, but you can recognize that it’s coming when she winds her Needle backward before throwing it.
She sometimes stands right at the wall of the arena when she’s throwing the Needle at you, and you can hit her or bounce off her, but sometimes she isn’t right next to the wall, in which case you can jump behind her as she won’t stop this attack if you do so.
Leap & Run
Hornet does these two moves to position herself in the arena, and the only way you can take damage from them is if you walk or jump into her as she’s doing them.
Healing during the fight
You have plenty of opportunities to heal during the first fight with Hornet, as it is much slower and more forgiving than the second one.
The first and the obvious one, as you will find, is when you stagger her after hitting her eleven times or six times if you do a six-hit combo within less than twelve seconds (hitting her every less than two seconds). While she’s staggered, you can get all three masks of healing in if you have your Soul on full. You know that she is staggered when she stops in place, leans forward, and starts breathing heavily.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use spells during this battle, but if you do damage her while she is staggered, she will continue attacking the same as until then. If you have a full Soul and don’t need to heal, hitting her once and then using Vengeful Spirit is much faster, and you’ll deal more damage than just hitting her once.
The other safe opportunity you can use to heal is as she’s doing the Throw attack if she is right next to the wall as her Needle won’t reach you. Sometimes she runs away from you towards a wall and does her Throw attack, and if you’re hugging the other wall, there is no way the Needle will get you. Other than when she’s staggered, this is the second safest time to heal as there is a clear indication that she will use the Throw attack.
In between her other attack, you will recognize when she is far away enough for you to heal as, for example, her ground Lunge attack doesn’t go too far, and if she leaps back and starts doing the Gossamer Storm attack, you can sometimes get one heal in there as well.
The second fight with Hornet
Location: Kindom’s Edge
Reward: King’s Brand
After you defeat Hornet for the first time, you get your first ability – the Mothwing Cloak. You will play Hollow Knight a lot until you get to the second fight with her, obtaining other spells, abilities, and Nail upgrades.
In the first fight, you had only one spell and no abilities. As for charms, you didn’t have a lot to choose from at the beginning of the game, and most of them wouldn’t have helped much at all. Before you get to the second Hornet fight, you will have practically already finished the game, so I will go a bit more in-depth with what would make this second encounter easier.
The arena is the same size, but this time Hornet is faster and has more up her sleeve. The Gossamer Storm attack now covers about a third of the arena, and Lunge and Aerial Lunge attacks are so fast that you need to know the ques and dodge before she even lunges at you. She also has two more attacks, Parry and Spike.
Hornet’s new attacks
The two new attacks that she has are only there as a distraction (Spike) and a test of your abilities and patience (Parry). Hollow Knight has excellent game progression, and without these, the fight would be too easy for the new and more powerful you. Even with her increase in HP and new attacks that are countered by your upgrades, the fight won’t be dull; it’ll instead feel very rewarding.
This one is self-explanatory; Hornet holds her Needle in a defensive stance blocking your Nail attacks. If you do hit her, she will hit you back faster than you can dash away, because ironically, you have dash now. Just don’t attack her when she’s standing like this.
The Spike attack is a literal distraction hovering in the air held by strings. The spikes that she puts can easily be destroyed with both the Nail and spells, and I recommend destroying them as soon as she puts them.
She puts up three at first, and if you don’t get rid of them, she can put three more, putting you in a position where you can’t jump and dash to avoid her attacks. Destroying them takes one hit, and she only starts using the Spike attack after reaching 480HP.
Hornet is much faster this time, but you have dash, and you can avoid all of her attacks using it, making this fight kind of easier than the first one. You can play defensively, but since she is snappier this time around, you can be as well.
I recommend having your Nail upgraded as much as possible as she now has 700 HP. In the first fight where you couldn’t go to the City of Tears to get your Nail upgraded, you had to hit her forty-five times to defeat her. If you went into this fight without any Nail upgrades, you would have to hit her one hundred and forty times to defeat her, draining the life out of yourself in the process.
Each Nail upgrade gives you four additional damage to your Nail with every hit, and you can take a look at this guide to help you find the Nailsmith and all six Pale Ore in Hallownest.
With the Nail upgraded, charms like Longnail, Mark of Pride, and Unbreakable/Fragile Strength are much more beneficial. Quick Slash is fantastic in the fight against Hornet, where she’s always jumping around. Using Quick Slash might even be better than Longnail, Mark of Pride, and Unbreakable/Fragile Strength, especially if you’re going for spell damage or a defensive build.
Since you’ll still have nearly the same opportunities to heal, Quick Focus is a good charm to have, but if you’ve beaten her once without it, you can do it again! This time instead of her having to take eleven hits to get staggered, it’ll be thirteen hits, and it can be seven hits if you do a seven-hit combo in less than fourteen seconds (hitting her every less than two seconds just like the first time) which isn’t that big of a difference.
This time though, you have one more opportunity to heal, and that is while she’s casting the Spike attack, and this is where Quick Focus gives you that extra security and health.
If you’ve been trying to defeat her for a while and you’re leaning towards a fully defensive build, the Baldur Shell charm will go great with Quick Focus. I also recommend trying out the Sprintmaster charm; even though it doesn’t look like it does much, you’ll feel like a God evading her attacks.
With a defensive build in my eyes also comes distance; if you’re not interested in Longnail or Mark of Pride, the Shaman Stone charm will work better. If you have enough charm Notches, you can fit in Flukenest and Defender’s Crest for contact damage and area of effect damage. Just keep in mind that you might miss her with this charm combo even though the arena is so small. Of course, Soul Cather, Soul Eater, and Spell Twister are all great charms, but if you’re going for a defensive build, you can’t fit all of them into the charm Nothces. I would use these charms alongside Quick Slask and Longnail to get a bit of extra damage when I can.
Last but not least, the Grubsong charm gives you Soul when you take damage, so if you feel like you’re taking more damage than you’re dealing, try as a last attempt to get those hits in, heal when it’s safe to, and leave the rest of your Soul for damage. As mentioned, you did it once, and you can do it again!
Still, Hornet is a boss that I don’t recommend using spell damage builds on, but instead using Nail damage primarily or a combination of both. You can often miss her with spells, and the only real opportunities to deal damage to her are when she’s done with an attack.
Standing on the ground, dodging her attacks, and waiting for the right time to strike is the best and safest way to beat Hornet. Probably the fastest too, if you nail those Vengeful Spirits while she’s running or stopping in mid-air.
Question: Is Hornet bad in Hollow Knight?
Answer: Hornet is a protector of the seals on the Temple of the Black Egg in Hollow Knight. When you arrive, she won’t let you pass until you’ve proven your strength and motives are sufficient.
Question: How many times do you have to hit Hornet in Hollow Knight?
Answer: With her having 225HP, you have to hit her forty-five times to defeat her. You stagger her after hitting her eleven times or six times if you do a six-hit combo within less than twelve seconds (hitting her every less than two seconds) in the first fight. In the second fight, she has 700HP, and staggering her requires you to hit her thirteen times or do a seven-hit combo. With maximum Nail upgrades, you would need to hit her thirty-three times to defeat her.
Question: Is Hollow Knight related to Hornet?
Answer: Hornet being a child of the Pale King means that Hornet is a half-sibling to you and the other Siblings, and half higher being.
Question: What is the best way to beat Hornet Hollow Knight?
Answer: Standing on the ground, dodging her attacks, and waiting for the right time to strike is the best and safest way to beat Hornet. Probably the fastest too, if you nail those Vengeful Spirits while she’s running or stopping in mid-air.
Question: Is Hornet a spider?
Answer: Herrah made a bargain and would agree upon the condition being met since she didn’t have an heir; the queen of the Spider Tribe requests that the Pale King leaves her with a child as her partner died, leaving Herrah without an heir until now. The Pale King accepted, and Hornet was born.
Question: Does Hornet have a gender?
Answer: Unlike the Knight and the other Siblings, Hornet does have a gender. She is the daughter of Herrah the Beast and the Pale King, not made of Void, not a vessel, and has thoughts.
Question: Is Silksong a prequel?
Answer: Team Cherry didn’t officially state anything, but it looks like a sequel. We won’t know until Sliksong comes in February of 2022.
Defeating Hornet isn’t the most difficult thing to do in Hollow Knight; it is maybe a bit challenging, but all bosses are. Hornet, through your journey playing Hollow Knight, becomes your ally.
Watching that association grow throughout the game and learning more about Hornet makes you forget the frustration you experienced during these two fights. At the very end of the game, your recurring enemy comes and tries to help you save Hallownest.
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