byrgenwerth also began to study and collect the “phantasms” present (or were once present) in the labyrinth. the mysteries implied by the discovery of the augur of ebrietas, a slug that summons flailing tentacles of unknown origin, and the arcane properties of pearl slugs drove the school’s continued plunges into the depths in spite of the danger posed. part of this research involved discovering the parasitic qualities of these creatures, which could inhabit soft tissue, like eyes.
while continuing to investigate the ruins, byrgenwerth became aware of a fishing village where a washed up carcass of an oyster monster was teeming with otherworldly parasites and a stillborn fetus1. the parasites had caused the villagers to transform into fish-like monster people not dissimilar to the monster on the coast. the villagers seem alright with this change and actively cultivate millions of the parasites for daily use, such as especially potent lamp oil2. curiously, these fish people already seemed to have a concept of hunting and bloodletting. a hanging, headless pthumerian corpse greets you at the entrance.
upon arrival to the village, the school and its hunters helped themselves to a little bit of genocide just for fun. villager’s heads were treppaned open in the search for “eyes on the inside” (a literal transformation of the brain when exposed to eldritch wisdom) and the monstrous corpse was desecrated by the byrgenwerth researchers. the students took her child (as the villagers of the fishing hamlet chant) and the orphan’s “umbilical cord”, a string of flesh not unlike a human umbilical cord but lined with eyes. it is NOT a literal umbilical cord, the orphan still has that attached to his body, but a translation hiccup muddied the waters on the initial understanding of the nature of the “umbilical cords”.
the NA translation is “one third of umbilical cord” leading people to erroneously believe that its one umbilical cord split into three parts (made even more confusing by the existence of four umbilical cords in the game). the EUR release got it right: it should be “third umbilical cord”. the NA release calls it a “precursor to the umbilical cord” which makes no sense in or out of context. the re-translation project provided a much more comprehensible alternative: “Only infants have [third umbilical cords], even in Great Ones. Calling it an “umbilical cord” comes from that”. as in, they are not literal umbilical cords, but they are LIKE umbilical cords in that they are only found in infants. now you have an inkling of understanding why great ones keep losing their children; the children are host to something valuable.
consider the above just an example of one of the three different text descriptions. the cord they get from the village is used later.
but this wasn’t just some pile of fish goo they were fucking with, it was the corpse of the great one, kos (or as some say, kosm). kos’s wrath and retribution would come in due time; this event birthed a powerful curse, the creation of the hunter’s nightmare. after dying permanently (which became a more difficult feat later), the hunter’s nightmare was a sort of eternal, bloody hell for hunters who participated in the massacre and those who become “blood drunk” from overdosing on the hunt. they must relive the event for all eternity as they mutate into unrecognizable horrors. notable hunters trapped in the nightmare from the time of the old hunters include ludwig (not yet notable), laurence (looking awful but he had a busy couple of years before he wound up there), some named NPC hunters such as yamamura and gratia, and lady maria.
lady maria, gehrman’s apprentice, could not tolerate her role in the fishing hamlet massacre and threw her beloved weapon into the fishing village well. she, with others, joined laurence when he split from byrgenwerth to found the healing church. its not explicit that the fishing village massacre was the reason for the split, as there were ideological differences brewing that also came to a head, but a one sided genocide SEEMS like a matter that would cause a splinter between one faction that is ruthless in its methods and another that tries to be in the business of healing.
i’m going to add an editor’s note that from this point on the timeline is muddled, confusing, vague and occasionally contradictory. people have moved heaven and earth trying to make sense of the inconsistencies, but the truth of the matter is that bloodborne suffered the fromsoft late game curse and was chopped up beyond recognition at the 11th hour for whatever internal development reason. whats interesting to me is the stuff they chose to keep that’s complete and utter chaff. there are extremely rare items that do literally nothing but sit in your inventory, or quests that are completely pointless. enemies appear where they “shouldn’t” and it difficult to tell if they are trying to impart some kind of information or if we’re just getting dragon-assed in lost izalith again (if you know….you know). its very odd and i think thats what draws people back again and again. such as….me……
i can give you overviews of these events in the approximate order that they happened but there is no guarantee that they happened exactly in this order or in this fashion.
there is a distinct delineation between “old hunters” and “hunters”. old hunters are from the time of byrgenwerth and have survived into the modern day as a result of old blood injections and/or they can be summoned from the hunter’s nightmare using the old hunter bell. a distinctive characteristic of old hunters is that they no longer dream (the bell description reads: “The old hunters, who have long passed from the dream[…]”) due to either having themselves cut off from it or, uh, dying. notable old hunters include: gascoigne, alfred, djura, ludwig, gehrman, and maria.
regular ass hunters are new on the scene and usually belong to a recently established institution such as the healing church, school of mensis, or the choir. or they might just be common schlubs who joined the hunt as part of the neighborhood watch. [points at the camera] that’s you. eventually. not yet.
whether due to an ideological difference or the whole fishing hamlet genocide thing, laurence and several (?) of the hunters left byrgenwerth with the intent of researching “the old blood” from the labyrinth the miraculous healing powers were too enticing for laurence to ignore, but willem was steadfast in his belief that humanity was not yet ready to reckon with whatever it was that was happening here – at least, not without elevating themselves to the same level as those in the “cosmos”. his distaste for use of the blood is mentioned off-hand in the rune workshop tool description.
caryll runes side note for newbies: caryll runes are a gameplay mechanic that give you buffs you can switch in and out by using an iron brand on your consciousness. the runes themselves are transcriptions of “the inhuman utterings of the Great Ones”. all but a handful of the runes were discovered/transcribed by runesmith caryll and some were explicitly secret ones.
almost nothing is known about caryll except they were a student of byrgenwerth. the workshop tool named for them is found on a dead hunter tied to a chair as the reward for the witch of hemwick fight. people will try to tell you that the schmuck in the chair is caryll but that’s fucking stupid. caryll was not a hunter and there’s no reason why caryll would have the means or motive to pilfer their own tool from the hunter’s dream. i dont know why this guy has it. maybe hes just an asshole and stole it from the dream to be a dick. who knows. hes just griefing us lol. classic trolling
did he fall through the ceiling into the chair. what the fuck is this lmfao. its like the witches found a way to make an interrogation room lamp without electricity. do you think they went in the room above and jumped up and down until the floor broke.
all three translations agree that caryll runes “do not rely” on using blood, so its significant when they DO start using blood in the runes. one could read this as indication of caryll’s transition from byrgenwerth to the healing church after deciding to follow laurence. nearly all of the covenant related runes and the runes relating to a mysterious great one named oedon (whose existence is only made known through the descriptions of “his” items) are bleeding or “contain a nuance of Blood”, as it says in the corruption rune used by the vilebloods.
i suppose we should do a quick oedon sidebar before he becomes plot relevant. formless oedon is a great one who “lacks a form, existing only in voice”. we know very little about him except he has a chapel in his name in yharnam that we use as a central hub/safe zone and he likes blood and broads. hell, who doesn’t. according to the linked caryll rune, blood is the essence of oedon and oedon is always looking for new blood. the thing about oedon is that you might be a part of that process and not even know it; an inadvertent worshiper surreptitiously seeking precious blood (as they say).
“eyes on the inside” is a cutesy way of describing “insight”, but the byrgenwerth system for deriving said insight necessitated the gruesome acts at the fishing village to obtain an eye-ridden cord, or at the very least, the parasitic creatures and slugs aligned to the arcane found in the village and bodies of the locals. willem hoped the cord would elevate his mind, and by extension himself, into a great one. or at least their equal.
if we do some reading between the lines on the description for the “spark hunter badge“, the description of “a style of inquiry that […] closely followed the methodology of Byrgenwerth” is almost certainly “expose yourself to it” or “use living specimens” based on, well, everything they and their protegees do. its not clear if willem ever actually got the cord; it only says he “sought” it. but he did, at least take part in and shape the byrgenwerth focus of learning away from blood and toward developing eyes on the inside. by putting slugs in your fucking head.
what happens to byrgenwerth after this is hazy. we’ll hop back in occasionally, but it too suffered from the fromsoft editing hack and slash. so trying to make concrete sense of it is a fool’s errand. let’s focus on the foundation of the healing church for a while
1. this video provides a great look at the model of strange black mist emitting from kos’ corpse after the final boss fight of the DLC. this is probably what they took from the fishing village, not a huge old man baby who shoots lighting and jumps around like a frog on a skillet
2.https://www.reddit.com/r/bloodborne/comments/3uq6wq/interesting_lamp_in_the_hamlet_spoilers_maybe/ which leads to this image: https://i.imgur.com/zVJbcJ2.jpg