During your forays into the Hallownest, you’ll encounter a few NPCs on their own adventures. Some will be willing to sell you interesting items and information, while others will keep you company in brief moments of respite. Zote the “Mighty” is neither of these. He is a self-proclaimed knight of renown with delusions of grandeur, with his adventure amounting to little else than causing trouble for himself and those unfortunate enough to be nearby. Since he’s such a pain, and you have an early opportunity to leave him in the jaws of a Vengefly King, should you even bother to save Zote in Hollow Knight?
As tempting as it may be to abandon Zote, doing so will lock you out of his questline, barring you from a few different rewards and achievements. Allow me to guide you through Zote’s questline, and make your interactions with him as painless as possible.
Saving Zote from the Vengefly King
You can first meet Zote during the initial steps of your journey, snug in the jaws of a Vengefly King in Greenpath. He can be found close to Hornet’s arena, only a little to the northeast of that location. From there, you can simply exit the arena to the right, hop up to the next level, then proceed until you see the brave knight struggling against his restraints.
Once at Zote, you have a decision to make. You could leave him to his fate, continue on with your adventure, and get the Neglect achievement for doing so. Naturally, this will lock you out of the rest of Zote’s questline, but you will also be free of his irritating pettiness, which is a tempting tradeoff. Your second option is to save him. If you do so, you will initiate a miniboss fight with the Vengefly King, and no, you can’t count on Zote to help.
Thankfully, this miniboss is an easy one, and can be killed by jumping over its charges and hitting it as it passes. Once you defeat the miniboss, you will be rewarded by him chastising you for getting in between him and his prey, and earn a lecture about how great a knight he is. You can also look forward to seeing him again. You have until you obtain the Mantis Claw to decide. If you leave him to die, head back to where you find him and strike the mask for the achievement.
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Saving Zote (again) in the Deepnest
If you chose to save Zote, you can find him in various areas of the Hallownest. He can be found first at Dirtmouth, then down in the City of Tears, and finally, trapped once again in the Deepnest. To reach him, head to the bench closest to the border to Fungal Wastes. While climbing up, you’ll probably hear him struggling against the webbing he’s tangled in, though you can’t get to him from here. Instead, head up to the next area, then left. You’ll have to fight a fair few husks here, but once you’re done, cut through the webs blocking your way down. Head right, then give Zote a good smack to free him. Your reward is the same as last time – a dressing down about how you got in the way, and how Zote is a knight of unrivaled ability.
While Zote won’t die if you leave him this time, you might as well free him to access the rest of his questline. Once you’ve done so, you can head back out and explore the rest of Deepnest, or move on to the next stage of his quest.
A duel in the Colosseum of Fools
If you save Zote in both instances where he definitely did not need help, he will shatter your expectations by being captured a third time. His captors are a bit different this time, however. Rather than mindless creatures, he has been drafted into the Colosseum of Fools as a fighter, meaning you’ll have to do the same, too.
The Colosseum of Fools is located towards the rightmost end of the map. But, you’ll need to do a fair bit of exploring to find it. First, you’ll need to head into the Royal Waterways, which can be found at the bottom of the City of Tears, and requires a Simple Key to open. You’ll want to keep to the right of this area, steadily making your way down until you reach the watery area.
Once there, head to the right all the way up to Isma’s Grove, but don’t enter. Climb up until you reach a long corridor heading right, with a dropdown at the end. Head to the right until you reach a long climb upwards, then get climbing. The Colosseum of Fools awaits you at the top. Once you reach it, make sure you destroy the secret walls to the left, creating a shortcut from the Resting Grounds. You’ll save yourself a lot of time for when you want to come here again.
Fighting Zote in the Trial of the Warrior
Once at the Colosseum of Fools, head inside the main entrance and walk up to the tree shields. Interact with the first shield to initiate the Trial of the Warrior, the first of three trials in the Colosseum. This trial has a total of 12 increasingly difficult waves for you to do battle against, with the last being your dueling partner, Zote.
Unsurprisingly, this great knight of renown is all bark and literally no bite. His attacks do no damage whatsoever, making him more of a punching bag than a formidable opponent. Either way, beat him into submission to complete the trial and this part of his quest. You will be rewarded with 1,000 geo, a Charm Notch, and an achievement. After this battle, Zote will make his way back to Dirtmouth.
Challenging the Grey Prince
The final part of Zote’s quest in Hollow Knight takes place in Dirtmouth. Emboldened by his apparent success in the Colosseum of Fools, Zote takes to bragging about his skill to the townsfolk, impressing Bretta, if you’ve found her already. She will remove the decorations of the Hollow Knight that she previously put up, replacing them with Zote, her Grey Prince. Once you have obtained the Monarch Wings, which can be found in the Ancient Basin, a secret room in Bretta’s home will be unlocked.
Entering it will begin a boss fight against Grey Prince Zote, a reflection of Bretta’s feelings for him. Thanks to her infatuation, this Zote is much different from the real one, and is more than capable of going toe to toe with the Hollow Knight. In addition to a lethal nail, the Grey Prince can summon Zotelings for support, and use volatile Zotelings as an AOE attack. Upon his defeat, you will unlock the Dark Romance achievement and earn 300 Essence. While this essentially marks the end of Zote’s questline in Hollow Knight, there is one more location where you can encounter the failed knight.
If you have the Godhome DLC, you can challenge the Grey Prince again. After each defeat, he will become stronger, dealing more damage and having a higher HP pool in the next battles. This caps out at ten defeats, with your final victory earning you a golden statue of Grey Prince Zote. This marks the end of everything Zote related in Hollow Knight, placing you firmly above the delusional warrior.