Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Paleblood Isn't Blood At All

Seek paleblood to transcend the hunt.

Paleblood Isn't Blood At All

Paleblood is referred to throughout the game. The opening cinematic begins media res with the Blood Minister saying, "Oh yes, paleblood...heh", seemingly in response to something the protagonist said. After the transfusion, a note in the clinic offers up your first goal: 
"Seek paleblood to transcend the hunt." 
Seemingly unrelated to paleblood, a note found in the Hunter's Dream shortly after offers you advice: 
"To escape this dreadful Hunter's Dream, halt the source of the spreading scourge of beasts, lest the night carry on forever." 
While these two notes may seem to be presenting different goals, I believe they are one in the same, but I will get to that later.

Once you are in Yharnam, talk of paleblood seems to fade away. Gilbert, although helpful, as an outsider he is not incredibly knowledgeable, and has never heard of paleblood. As you continue to progress, paleblood is not mentioned again for a long time, and appears to fall to the wayside. That is, until Rom, where it comes at you in a big, bad way.

The paleblood referred to at the start of the game is referring to the paleblood moon and the Moon Presence. It was thematically connected, but ultimately a misdirection, and a brilliant one at that. As soon as you defeat Rom the moon becomes and orange-red, or paleblood, and is shown front and center at the turning point of the game. This is supported immediately after in Yahar'gul, where a not on the ground states: 
"Behold! A Paleblood sky!". 
The moon is the source of light in this sky, looming large in front of you as you read this note. Now, you could have seen this note earlier if you were imprisoned by a Death Dealer before the paleblood appeared. The Deep sea rune states that "great volumes of water serve as a bulwark guarding sleep, and an augur of the eldritch Truth", and I believe that Rom is guarding the truth of the paleblood moon, and defeating him makes that apparent to the protagonist, who now sees the moon for what it truly is. The connection between paleblood and the moon is further supported in the Lecture Hall, where another note states: 
"The nameless moon presence beckoned by Laurence and his associates. Paleblood." 
The Moon Presence and Paleblood are directly linked in this statement, and I don't think it can be reasonably denied that paleblood is not more fully supported as a reference to the moon and Moon Presence than a type of blood. What is the ultimate significance of this though?

Seek paleblood to transcend the hunt. We thought that collecting blood and slaying beasts was our goal, but they prove to only be tools to reach our ultimate goal: to seek out and defeat the Moon Presence signified by the paleblood moon. In Bergynwerth a note states: 
"When the red moon hangs low, the line between man and beast is blurred. And when the Great Ones descend, a womb will be blessed with child". 
In Old Yharnam, another note states: 
"The red moon hangs low, and beasts rule the streets. Are we left no other choice, than to burn it all to cinders?". 
There seems to be a connection between the red moon, or paleblood moon, and when beasts are out and the hunt is on. I think it is arguable that the paleblood moon is then also the source of the scourge, causing the ritual blood that is administered in Yharnam to turn men to beasts. Therefore, seeking out the Moon Presence is the key "to escape this dreadful Hunter's Dream" and "halt the source of the spreading scourge of beasts". 

This is borne out by the endings. In the ending where you submit, Gehrman is sparing you from the Moon Presence by killing you and removing you from the Dream. You will join the ranks of Eileen and Djura, who comment about no longer dreaming. If you refuse, but lack umbilical cords to grant true audience with the Moon Presence, you release Gehrman by killing him, only to be shackled by the Moon Presence and take his place. However, if you have eaten the 3 Third of Umbilical Cords, you get audience with the Moon Presence, and your chance to truly transcend the hunt. You slay the Great One, and transcend the hunt by becoming a Great One yourself, completing the goal outlined by the first note you found in the game. 

I think this is an example of brilliant misdirection in the story. Blood is such an integral part of the game, that it seems apparent that paleblood is a very special form of blood. Before seeing these connections, I thought that paleblood was the blood of Great Ones, as some of the Great One's have blood of lighter hues than human blood. While this idea is a possibility, I feel the pieces fall together more neatly and are better supported looking at paleblood as a reference to the paleblood moon and the Moon Presence.

Afternote: This wouldn't be a From Software title if it all made perfect sense however, and I have a niggling question related to this theory that mystify me. Primarily, why are you asking the Blood Minister about paleblood just before the story begins? I have not come up with a satisfying answer for this, beyond the possibility that you were given the note (by someone) and asked the Blood Minister about it. This has its own issues though, so I don't put too much stock into that idea.


  1. Hi! I agree completely with this and your belief about the Arrival of the Moon Presence and the Beastly Scourge occuring. Answering your question in the Afternote. I watched Vaadividya 50 insights and in the video it is revealed you have written that note. Now my theory is that you being a foreigner were told in a dream (but by who I have no idea) to seek the paleblood in Yharnam. So you traveled there. Who could have drawn the character there though? I think it may be Formless Oedon. The Moon Presence sets us up in a way to kill the other Great Ones, a clearing of the house if you will... and yet we never seem to find Oedon what if he contacts you to act as a double agent under Paleblood.

    1. This actually makes sense to a degree. Oedon's intention seems to be the spreading of ritualistic blood to find a suitable vessel to bear his child. The Moon Presence, on the other hand, seems adamant on preventing this, as is shown by the Hunt leading us to kill Mergo.

      It is also my belief that the Beast Scourge is the Moon Presence's doing, as the line between men and beasts is blurred only when the red moon descends. Considering this, it would seem as if the Moon Presence is indirectly cleansing people of Oedon's ritualistic blood by turning those people into beasts and have us hunt them, thus preventing humans from bearing Oedon's child.

      With that, it can be said that in the third ending where we "transcend the Hunt" by killing the Moon Presence, we are actually helping Oedon. Unless, of course, we end up doing what the Moon Presence had been doing as a Great One ourselves.

  2. Interesting to note as well that the Doll bleeds white blood when attacked, and in the 'True' ending she cradles the Hunter in his/her new ascended form (much like Mergo and his Wetnurse). Coincidence?

  3. I was reading about what a wet nurse is and I can't stop thinking that paleblood is either milk from a lactating breast or some equivalent thereof. Seeing yharham yearning for her child after receiving what seems to be an involuntary c-section made me feel uncomfortable, especially knowing she will never nurse her child.

    The crying ghosts in castle cainhurst coupled with the many nude women sculptures and the many breast feeding ones really jumps out at me. All the birth, blood, pregnancy, motherhood themes resonated with me.

    Idk how to connect this with the rest of the lore, but I know how subjective the lore can be. And I know that whether this is objectively probable or not, it made me feel something powerful.

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