goodbye, tutorial level. now the REAL bloodborne begins. gehrman gives you what is considered a “big hint” in fromsoft games:
“The moon is close. It will be a long hunt tonight. If the beasts loom large, and threaten to crush your spirits, seek the Holy Chalice. As every hunter before you has. A Holy Chalice will reveal the tomb of the gods, …where hunters partake in communion.”
he says “the moon is close” so casually that you might think it’s some kind of local figure of speech. but no, he’s being literal; the moon is uncomfortably close. what he’s saying is that if you’re getting your ass kicked, then go find a chalice to open a chalice dungeon. sure. but…where?
“Most of the Holy Chalices lie deep within the tomb of the gods. And the few that found their way to the surface… Were lost again in the hands of men. But if the old hunter tales remain true… …one of the Holy Chalices is worshiped in the valley hamlet. Yet the town is in disarray… It was burned and abandoned, for fear of the scourge, home now only to beasts. The perfect place for a hunter, wouldn’t you say?”
oh ok that helped. not. bitch. the doll doesn’t have much to say either:
“Over time, countless hunters have visited this dream. The graves here stand in their memory. It all seems so long ago now…”
yeesh. fine. we will just be on our way then.
here’s the progression of recent events: after using a key that opens the gate in “the (underground jpn) tomb of oedon” where no tomb can be seen, you are now being sent on a quest to retrieve a chalice that will open a “tomb of the gods” underground. is it not reasonable then, to assume, that the entirety of pthumeru is the tomb of formless oedon?
on our short trek from the tomb of oedon to his chapel, we pass through a weird…sewer…drainage room thing with a ladder leading to a modest library. a note on the table reads:
“The Byrgenwerth spider hides all manner of rituals, and keeps our lost master from us. A terrible shame. It makes my head shudder uncontrollably.”
this note is REALLY weird. even cross-checking the re-translation guide doesn’t do much but reinforce the literal meaning of the note: there’s a spider at byrgenwerth (another rom, we don’t know this yet) hiding rituals, even the ritual involving the lost (or, in a better translation, unseeable/invisible) lord. bummer. ahhhh my head is rattling. but…who wrote this? about who? and why?
it’s time to be a Fromsoft Lore guy in the worst way: we’re going to dissect this note down to its atomic structure in order to wring any and all possible meaning from it in a futile attempt to try to come up with a tortured explanation for nonsense. skip all this italicized text to return to planet earth.
who wrote this note? if we knew that, a lot of things would be cleared up. the potential suspect list comprised of known individuals who have passed through that area recently is pretty tiny. can’t be fauxsefka, because she doesn’t use this route to reach the clinic. alfred doesn’t seem to have much interest in the church, knows little about byrgenwerth, and seems unaware of most things in general. an unnamed and unknown NPC of no consequence? well, maybe. probably, even.
but what about gascoigne? you find this note immediately after defeating him by using a key he drops. it clear he did not progress past the library, as the incense would have driven him off (and the chapel dweller’s reaction suggests you are the first hunter they’ve seen/sniffed). there’s a possible clue left in the library that points to a hunter having passed through recently: the blood gem workshop tool. its one of three “misplaced” workshop tools found in the waking world. a hunter took this with them when they left the dream and left it in a chest in oedon chapel. that narrows down the pool of candidates quite a bit. gascoigne obviously knows what blood gems are, he gifted one to his wife. and this is before we’ve even discussed gascoigne’s connections to a “lost master”.
who is this note about? the words used for titles in the english translation are all over the place and “master” could mean anything from “school principal” to “great ones”. this has made trying to pin the subject of this note down near impossible. the japanese is more specific: “lords” in this note is translated as “主” and is almost never in the script otherwise. the only relevant usage even remotely close is it’s use is in a different note later as a flowery way to refer to whoever has assumed the role of vicar of the healing church (essentially: “lord of blood ministration”). it is also used for micolash (“lord of the nightmare”), the japanese name of the bloodletting beast (“lord of the beast blood”), and for master willem of byrgenwerth ONLY in the graveguard set item description1. in the case of micolash and the bloodletting beast, “lord” can be read as “host” as well. but NOT like a parasite host!!! specifically like, a household host. “host of the beast blood” is intended to be literal.
now time to play “guess who?”: willem could be described as “lost” metaphorically, but he’s also like, right there. out in the open. he’s considerably less lost than our other two options, micolash or laurence/host of the beast blood. willem doesn’t use the 主 kanji usually; he’s “headmaster” willem or some other title that makes it clear he’s from a school. forget willem. it’s not him.
i’m pretty sure japanese players were supposed to intuit a connection between the “lord of the beast blood” and the “lord of blood ministration” and this nuance was lost in translation. and while there is a vacuous spider in lower pthumeru blocking access to a secret 4th labyrinth layer where a hunter can find a lost lord of the beast blood, it’s clearly not in byrgenwerth. it’s not the big doggie.
micolash, head of the rogue school of mensis, is literally lost in the nightmare acting as it’s host/lord. access to the corpse of micolash is blocked until rom, the byrgenwerth spider, is defeated. so. having eliminated any alternatives, the note is almost certainly about micolash. but. why? who in oedon chapel gives a shit about micolash?
there are a truly confusing number of connections between gascoigne and the school of mensis (and thus, micolash). the most specific and startling connection is that the music box that gascoigne has a good/bad (?) reaction to plays “mergo’s lullaby”. this exact song plays during a fight with the wet nurse of oedon’s presumed (but like, come on. it is) child, the titular mergo. if gascoigne’s daughter is sent to iosekfa’s clinic, you will obtain the level 1 formless oedon rune from her body which, as we discussed in the last part, depicts the blood moon descending during a (mensis) ritual; levels 3 and 4 of the rune are found in oedon chapel itself.
gascoigne’s garb reads:
The dingy scarf is a Holy Shawl and symbol of the Healing
Church, from which Gascoigne would eventually part ways.
“Father” is a title used for clerics in a foreign land, and there is no such rank in the Healing Church.
reads a bit differently now…perhaps father gascoigne did not bring a foreign form of worship to yharnam. gascoigne left the healing church in order to start his own, based on the foreign practices of pthumeru.
well, whatever. let’s forget about going straight out of oedon chapel for right now (dude, trust me) and head left. there’s some new enemies here, the church servants* and church giants. datamined names reveal that the giants are references to frankenstein; giant, lumbering, undead monstrosities whose flesh is rotting off the bone. the servants, however, have an interesting translation quirk: they are called “messengers of the church” (使者) using the same kanji as the messengers of the dream…or emissaries! 使者 in bloodborne are literally the middlemen who facilitate communication. the messengers of the dream help us talk to other hunters, the church servants have a more blunt message to deliver to the citizens of yharnam (“stay out of the way”, expressed by getting your shit kicked in), and the celestial emissaries were created as means to communicate with great ones. the church servants are the worst at their comms job, since they can only point, growl, and scowl at you2 if you cross their line of sight. you get what you pay for, i guess.
quick lore recap: the giants and servants are chalice dungeon pthumerians that have been made docile by use of blue elixir, which they both have a rare chance to drop (the giants were apparently once chained up and still carry the shackles on their ankles). the blue elixir appears to have had an impact on the appearance of the church servants as, unlike their chalice dungeon counterparts, their mouths are closed. this substance appears to be sourced from celestial emissaries (the only other enemy that drops the item) and used exclusively by the choir, as it is purchasable after the acquisition of the cosmic eye watcher badge. it would have first been discovered within the celestial emissaries of isz gravestone, which was made accessible by the discovery of the great isz chalice. the healing church and the choir began to experiment with making their own emissaries in the research hall. there’s tons of blue elixir lying around the research hall but ONLY the disembodied living head enemies drop the elixir. but the drop rates are teeny-tiny…therefore, they had to run a LOT of experiments before they successfully (?) began to manufacture it in the orphanage. stay tuned.
heading up the stairs on the right splits into two dead ends. to the right is an incense laden staircase3 leading upward that terminates at a closed gate that will only open if you purchase the hunter chief emblem. again, don’t do this. instead, head left. now you’re just above the great bridge where you fought the cleric beast. don’t fall down, you’re not going to land safely. you can pick up the monocular here and have your first encounter with the crystal lizard4 analogue for this game, the wandering nightmare. if you miss him and he poofs away to the nightmare, don’t fret, he’ll be back next time you reload the area. there’s some other beasties here to deal with: crows, hunter’s minions and another church giant with a unique ball and chain weapon with a healing church shawl design engraved on it. a funny note about the monocular is that the location and corpse you pick it off of suggests that its previous owner was using it to peek at the moon. before, you know, something got him. god it’s bright. is it supposed to do that.
there’s one spot in this general area hidden behind some gravestones that’s a bit strange. there’s a corpse with another hunter’s set with a slight variation on the classic look that adds a stupid looking top hat. but linger too long at your own peril! or you’ll find yourself being dragged into the air by an unseen force before being crushed and then your head exploding from frenzy damage. if you move out of the way in time, all you’ll be able to perceive is an eerie, noisy cosmic void bearing down on where you once stood.
alright, before we move on, there’s an elephant in the room to address. if you have absolutely no or limited experience with bloodborne, then you don’t know about the cathedral ward door. you see, past the church giant with the ball and chain is a small stairway leading down to a dead-end alcove. within this little space are a plethora of incense pots and a chest with a (terrible) blood gem in it5. there is also a usable door that says nothing but “closed” when used.
but the thing is: this door will never open. there is no way to open this door, ever. other doors that you cannot open do not do this and the unspoken game-play law is that if you can interact with a door, you can open it later. multiple patches have come and gone and not a single one has removed the prompt from this door. and the purpose of the door turned out to be completely mundane: it’s simply an unused shortcut that was removed because it was too demanding on map load times. the shortcut was removed. but it’s ghost whispers “closed” to any hunters who approach.
i can only presume that the devs kept this unopenable door “closed” because…they think it’s funny. well, they’re right. it is funny to yank our chain lol. you rascals! well, we deserve a little ribbing now and then to keep us humble.
just ignore the giant fucking cathedral in the middle of town for now entirely. you heard the old man: get thee ass to old yharnam. we’re going down some stairs to another strange little chapel where a handful of yharnamites are on patrol with their rabid dogs. there’s no incense here warding these huntsmen off, so they’re free to roam as they please, building small bonfires and shooting at anyone who approaches the upper levels of the chapel. that’s probably because there’s a switch in the middle of the top floor that will reveal a secret passage under a conspicuous sarcophagus. a corpse hanging on a ledge overlooking this secret passage holds a madman’s knowledge. what lies ahead of us? were these huntsmen keeping us from getting in…or keeping something from getting out…? both?
put that aside for a second and exit the chapel through the closed door. it dead-ends here, but there’s someone to meet. alfred, hunter of vilebloods!
he’s quite pleased to see you. fromsoft does something quite devious here in his introduction:
“You’re a beast hunter aren’t you? I knew it, that’s precisely how I started out… Oh, beg pardon. You may call me, Alfred. Protege of Master Logarius – Hunter of Vilebloods! So, what say you? Our prey might differ, but we are hunters, the both of us. Why not co-operate, and discuss the things we’ve learned?”
none of that means anything to a new player, but any dark souls fan likely jumped at the chance to “co-operate” with someone with an uncharacteristically sunny disposition. the similarities to solaire are certainly intentional, as they share the same voice actor. although, if the purpose was to trick the player into inherently trusting him by invoking solaire’s charm, then his plotline winds up falling flat. i think he’s the unfortunate result of the plot-chop.
well, there’s really no reason not to trust him. he really is a polite boy, all things considered. he’s much more informative than the rest of the riff-raff, but he’s also long-winded. which means some i’m also about to be long-winded. he gifts you some fire paper and teaches you how to pray (a gesture). the “papers” in bloodborne are sandpapers scraped on the blades to apply an effect. i have an interesting theory about fire paper: its fixed locations in the game are in old yharnam and the pthumerian labyrinths. the only enemies that drop it are chalice dungeon pthumerians wielding flaming weapons (implying they were using the paper themselves). i think the fire paper was a pthumerian invention relating to their own fire-based abilities, and it’s use on the surface came about as a result of ludwig’s tomb prospecting parties. after obtaining the radiant sword hunter badge (soon), which is described as a symbol of those who are “the heirs to the will of Ludwig“, the hunter will have access to the tools of a tomb prospector, fire paper included.
asking about the healing church reveals that hunters are kept out of the loop on how blood ministration works and the current situation as we know it is that the church is in control of the blood. the translation lost a little clarity here that the re-translation clears up: when he says “the holy medium of blood healing is venerated in the main cathedral” what he MEANS is “the literal body the blood came from is worshiped in the big cathedral”. the leaders of the church can be found in the upper strata of the church. good to know. that’s a good long term goal if we want to ask about “paleblood”.
you can also ask about byrgenwerth, now that you read that note on the table about their spider problem. byrgenwerth is a university and, as a hunter, you should be familiar with the “tomb of the gods” underneath yharnam (we aren’t, we’re getting the chalice to do that right now). the students of byrgenwerth once returned from the tombs with “a holy medium” (the word used in japanese is the one used for the catholic rite of the eucharist) and the rest is history. except now byrgenwerth is abandoned and forbidden ground by the healing church; the only way to open the date is by knowing the password.
he does drop one strange statement about byrgenwerth: he isn’t sure how many of the old students are left alive. one might think he means “currently at byrgenwerth”, but that wouldn’t make much sense if the college is abandoned. what he means is: it’s unknown how many scholars are out there in yharnam at all, who they were, and where they went. but one thing is for sure: only they would know the password that opens the gate that allows passage to the decrepit grounds.
alfred wears the executioner set, sans the gold ardeo (for now). currently he wields two tools of the church, the kirkhammer and ludwig’s rifle. curiously, he carries a vial of lead elixir. when you meet him, he is praying in front of a statue he believes to depict the martyr of the healing church, logarius. his statue is enshrined in this small, abandoned chapel where the healing church hides another secret.
1. to a less relevant extent, it’s used to describe the “lords” being kept and watched by the keeper and watchdog of the old lords, two chalice dungeon exclusive bosses.
2. a reference to the 1978 “invasion of the body snatchers”. no real meaning, it’s just a scary thing for something to do to you lol.
3. there are no beasts in this area of the cathedral ward. not yet anyway.
4. in the “souls” half of the “soulsborne” games, crystal lizards are unique enemies who run away from you and disappear if not killed quickly. they drop highly valuable weapon upgrade materials. bloodborne is no different, except the cute lizards are now grotesque abominations of god and man.
5. im not thinking too hard about “why is there a blood gem in a chest in a weird open space and not just on a corpse” because i assume the chest was added to try to discourage players from getting too interested in “closed”. it’s blocking the door conspicuously.
6. alfred is not blood-drunk. this is another gamer lie. alfred uses the same set of eyes the players do.
* the image of the watchman with a lantern, cane and a bell clad in a broad-brimmed hat and overcoat is taken straight from the georgian era of london’s history.