Think of it as fighting you to determine whether you are "worthy".
You're along the right lines with the other thing.
The best fight in the entire base game (IMO) being in an optional area is so Dark Souls
I hadn't played this for a few months, only to emerge from my house, bleary eyed and bed headed. After 5 minutes all my anxiety of the world outside just evaporated again. This game is some kind of witchcraft.