Everything you need to know about Sly in Hollow Knight


Sly from Hollow KnightSly is an opportunistic merchant who normally lives a quiet life in Dirtmouth. However, when the Knight makes their way through The Fading Town for the first time, there’s a distinct lack of shops. That’s because Sly has gone and got himself trapped down in The Forgotten Crossroads and the Knight needs to rescue him before he will open his shop again. You can actually rescue Sly before you fight any bosses in-game, facing only a miniboss named Gruz Mother in order to free him.


a picture of Sly's shop in Dirtmouth before you rescue Sly
Sly’s shop starts off closed, but with this guide, you’ll get it opened in no time!

Why is it worth rescuing Sly?

There are a couple of main reasons you should rescue Sly in Hollow Knight:

  • He sells the key item, the Lumafly Lantern. There are some areas/bosses that are either very difficult or even impossible to access without the lantern to light the way.
  • He sells quite a few “nice to have” upgrades like mask shards and vessel fragments.
  • He sells the Elegant Key, which is needed to upgrade your Vengeful Spirit spell – not mandatory but extremely worth grabbing as the damage increase is substantial.
  • Plot reasons – if you don’t rescue him, you’ll never discover his true nature as a Nail Sage when you’ve learned all 3 nail arts from Oro, Mato, and Sheo.

While you can absolutely complete the game without rescuing Sly (Speedrunners do this and go through difficult dark rooms without the lantern!) it’s really worth your time to do so – even though I have played nearly 700 hours of Hollow Knight, I still need the lantern for dark rooms!

How to Rescue Sly

AKA How to get the shop in Hollow Knight to open

map of how to rescue Sly in Hollow Knight
Map of Forgotten Crossroads with directions to Sly

Go down the well in Dirtmouth to enter Forgotten Crossroads. Avoiding or dispatching the enemies in your way, leave this room to the left. You’ll find yourself in a very large, tall room with a lot of platforms spanning the whole height of the room. Get to the bottom of the room in whatever way is easiest for you (I like to drop down, relying on luck that enemies won’t get in my way, but you can equally hop from platform to platform in a more measured way) and exit via the hole in the floor.

A picture of Cornifer in the Forgotten Crossroads
Hi, Cornifer.

In this room you’ll meet Cornifer the Cartographer for the first time, humming his happy little tune. You can take this opportunity to buy a map of the Forgotten Crossroads for 30g, unless you’ve defeated the area boss, The False Knight (in which case he’s moved on and left a calling card, and you can buy the map later from the shop in Dirtmouth). Drop down on the right-hand side and heal up before you go right into the next room.

This is Hollow Knight’s first ‘arena’. When you get so far into the room, gates slam shut and enemies spawn in waves until you have defeated them all, triggering the gates to reopen. This first arena has two waves of enemies, made up of one aspid and then two aspids. If you’re looking a little worse for wear after this challenge, you can go into the room at the top right exit where you’ll find a bench (which saves your progress and replenishes your health) and a nice relaxing hot spring (which will fill your Soul vessel, allowing you to heal or cast spells – not that you have any spells at this point in the game! But you will!).

Leave the arena in the top right for the bench or the bottom right to continue forth!

Leave the aspid arena room at the bottom right-hand door and make your way through the goam room (goams are the big spikey dudes popping in and out of the ground – they are heavily armoured and can’t be killed, so your best bet is to avoid them!) and into the… second goam room (Forgotten Crossroads is where the goams live). Leaving this second goam room on the far right will bring you to a slightly more vertical room where you’ll have a choice to make. You’ll find yourself standing next to a signpost.

  • Safety choice – if you go up out of this room and then immediately left, you’ll find the next bench at the Forgotten Crossroads Stag Station. You can rest here to restore health and to set your respawn point in case you’re worried about the imminent miniboss. After benching, just head out of the Stag Station and through the door on your right and at the bottom of the screen back to the room we were in a moment ago.
  • Danger option – if you want to save a minute or two you can throw caution to the wind and don’t take the diversion to the Forgotten Crossroads Stag Station bench.
The Hollow Knight sign pointing to the Stag Station
This sign points the way to the Stag Station

From the signpost, go down through the room and out the door at the bottom right and head down the long room towards The Gruz Mother.

The Gruz Mother, first mini boss in Hollow Knight
Gruz Mother, the first mini boss in Hollow Knight

Gruz Mother is the first miniboss in the game, and although by the end of the game you’ll be laughing at her, right now she’s no joke. Use your nail to take her out and be prepared – when you down the boss, she’ll spawn a brood of smaller gruzzers that fly around and you’ll have to kill them before the doors to the boss arena will open.

From here just drop down the short way and walk left until you find an open door. Sly’s in there and you just need to talk to him to get him to head back up to Dirtmouth and open up his shop!
The quickest way to go and peruse his products is to backtrack the way you came and head into the Forgotten Crossroads Stag Station. Pay the 50g to unlock the station and The Stag will whisk you away, back up to Dirtmouth where you’ll see that Sly’s shop is now open and ready to serve you.

Sly is trapped in this building
Sly’s trapped in here by the infected bugs and needs rescuing!

Sly’s Stock (part 1)

Here’s what Sly can offer you initially after he’s been rescued.

  • Gathering Swarm300g – this charm generates little flying pals who collect geo for you, which can save time and energy.
  • Stalwart Shell200g – this charm increases the number of invincibility frames (sometimes referred to as i-frames) the Knight gets after taking damage.
  • Lumafly Lantern1800g – this may seem expensive but it’s a very important item that is required to access several dark areas in the game (unless you want to try moving through rooms with breaking floors, spike pits, and enemies that can come at you from any direction in the complete darkness!)
  • Simple Key950g – one of 4 simple keys in the game required to gain access to several locations. Not urgent to buy immediately but definitely important to get in the long run.
  • Rancid Egg60g – rancid eggs can be given to another NPC to recall your shade if you die in an awkward location and can’t recover it, but you’ll find plenty in the game so there’s no real need to buy one from Sly.
  • Mask Shard150g – collecting 4 of these will increase the number of health you have by 1 so it’s really handy to have!
  • Mask Shard 2500g – after you buy the first one, Sly finds a second but jacks the price up!
  • Vessel Fragment550g – collecting 3 of these will increase the amount of Soul you can have so they are also a great collectable to acquire.

Finding The Shopkeeper’s Key

This isn’t the limit of what Sly has to offer the Knight though. If you bring him the Shopkeeper’s Key, he will be able to open his storeroom and offer up some additional items for sale.

map of how to get the Shop Keeper's Key in Hollow Knight
A map of Forgotten Crossroads and Crystal Peak showing how to find the Shop Keeper’s Key.

In order to get the Shopkeeper’s Key, you’ll need to buy that Lumafly Lantern Sly’s selling for 1800g, and you will need to have found the Mantis Claw movement item that lets you cling to walls. (You will need to get Mothwing Cloak, which is the game’s dash ability, in order to get Mantis Claw, so you’ll have that too.)

Make your way to the Forgotten Crossroads Stag Station, and I’ll guide you from there.

When you leave the Forgotten Crossroads Stag Station, you’ll be in a fairly tall room that has two exits on the right-hand side. Go past the first one and into the second one. If you don’t have the Lumafly Lantern, this room will be dark and you won’t be able to see much or interact with the toll machine to open the gate. However, you were paying attention to the list of things needed so you’ve got it, right? The toll machine will charge you 50g and open up the gate that lets you into The Crystal Peak area, represented on the map in pink (and you’ll see why fairly quickly). Head through the room (don’t worry if you fall into the hole in the ground, just keep heading right and there’s a breakable wall you can pop out of and it will be as though you didn’t fall at all!) and exit on the right.

Conveyor Belts!

This room will require some minor platforming and will introduce you to conveyor belts. Just take it slow and don’t panic too much and you’ll get to the other side sooner or later. After you get off the conveyor belt section, you’ll have a choice to make, similar to the one when you rescued Sly initially.

  • Safe choice – keep heading right and you’ll soon find yourself in a fairly dark room with some platforms above you. Just stay on the floor and head right until you find a handy dandy bench you can sit on to recover your health and set your respawn point. Then head left back to the room you came from to continue on the hunt for the Shopkeeper’s Key.
  • Danger option – simply don’t go and sit on the bench!

From the end of the conveyor belt room, you need to leave through the ceiling. Crystal Peak is a tall area (a peak, you might say) so there’s a lot of verticality to the rooms. The room above the conveyor belt room shouldn’t give you too much trouble. I find that the left-hand side is easiest to traverse but get up through the room however works for you.

Left or right, you decide!

You’ll emerge into the right-hand side at the bottom of another tall room and face two options – you can head up the left-hand side of the room, which is just straight up and out, or you can test out your platforming prowess and go through the spike-gauntlet and free the Grub at the top, using the lever to leave the gauntlet at the same point the left-hand path reaches the top.

Crystal Crawlers! Very Dangerous!
Crystal Crawlers! Very Dangerous!

Go up through the hole and you’ll find yourself in… yep, another vertical room! The enemies in here (Crystal Crawlers) can be a bit of a pain to get around because they shoot long laser beams out of their backs, but if you take your time and don’t panic, you should be able to get around them. At the top of the first section, ignore the passage to the right and keep heading up.

The second part of this room has even more Crystal Crawlers and some narrow platforms to traverse and once again, our aim is to get to the top of the room. Take a bit of time to watch the enemy’s patterns and take it slow and steady. There’s a good safe spot at the top of this room to catch your breath and heal up if you need to. Ignore the path to the left and head up to the last room where you’ll finally get the Shopkeeper’s Key.

You will see right away that there are two ways to get up the room, but at this point, you won’t be able to use the right-hand side because that requires the Monarch Wings, the game’s double jump ability, which you probably won’t have yet, so make your way up through the opening on the left. Make your way around the Crystal Crawlers and you’ll come out into the right-hand tunnel, just as though you’d jumped up with the Monarch Wings.

The Shop Keeper’s Key!

Ignore the hallway directly opposite you and head up one more time. Dodge the wall-crawling enemy (a Shardmite) and stick to the right. After a short climb, you’ll find a little niche and lo-and-behold, a shiny item pickup. Finally, you have the Shopkeeper’s Key! Head back to Sly’s shop in Dirtmouth by retracing the path you took to get here and he’ll unlock his storeroom and reveal his new wares.

Side note on getting back to Dirtmouth

If you have already done some exploring in Crystal Peak and found the Crystal Heart, which gives you the super dash ability, you’ll be able to use a super handy shortcut to leave and get back to Dirtmouth. Leave the room where you got the Shopkeeper’s Key, but instead of going back down the room the way you came, leave via the door on the left. You’ll meet Cornifer here – head past him and Crystal Dash left out of the room. Keep using the super-dash, dash, and wall-cling to traverse the two very long rooms and you’ll emerge onto a platform with a level and an elevator. Hit the lever to unlock the elevator and ride it down into the outskirts of Dirtmouth. Crystal Dash to the left and you’ll find yourself back in the village.

Head into Sly’s shop and he’ll be grateful to receive his key back and offer up some extra stock for sale.

Sly’s Stock (part 2)

Here’s the additional stock Sly gets when you return the Shopkeeper’s Key to him:

  • Heavy Blow350g – this charm increases your knockback, so when you hit an enemy with your nail, it gets hit back further. It also decreases the number of hits required to stagger a boss by one.
  • Elegant Key800g – this key unlocks a large, elegant door in the City of Tears. Behind the door, you’ll find a mini-boss in the Soul Warrior. After you dispatch the enemy, you’ll be able to get the spell upgrade Shade Soul, which makes your Vengeful Spirit fireball spell larger and stronger. Well worth it.
  • Mask Shard 3800g – if you’ve bought the first two that are available, Sly will offer a third…
  • Mask Shard 41500g – …and a fourth. Four mask shards is enough to give you another point of health which can make all the difference!
  • Vessel Fragment 2900g – if you bought the first vessel fragment, Sly will put a second one up for sale. This isn’t quite enough to get another soul vessel but it gets you 2/3rds of the way there.
  • Sprintmaster400g – a nifty little charm that makes you walk a little faster without any movement upgrades. My favourite thing about this charm is how it makes the Knight lean forward slightly while walking, making them look like they have important business that they are power walking to get to!

Nailmaster’s Glory

In Hollow Knight, as in all things, not all is as it seems. Sly is not simply a humble shopkeeper but is also a great warrior and nail sage, tutor of the three great warrior brothers Sheo, Mato, and Oro. After you’ve spent time exploring the world of Hallownest and learned the three nail arts from the Nail Master brothers (which will be explained elsewhere), return to Sly. He won’t be manning the store, but you’ll find a ladder down into the basement of his home. Enter here and walk right until you find Sly. He’ll have a few words to say and will gift you a charm, Nailmaster’s Glory.

  • Nailmaster’s Glory – increases the speed at which you charge up and use the Nail Arts.

A final note about Sly – you can see him prove himself as a great warrior if you embark upon the challenging Pantheons in Godhome – he is the final boss in the third pantheon, Pantheon of the Sage.

Is there anything else you’d like to know about Sly the Shop Keeper? Let me know over at twitter.com/shanodin and I’ll see about adding it in.