Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What's Really Going On In Bloodborne - Byrgenwerth & The Healing Church

Rich Stanton of Kotaku wrote a very extensive interpretation of the narrative of Bloodborne that you can find here. The following is an excerpt from the article in which Rich presents his interpretation of Byrgenwerth College and The Healing Church, and I highly recommend reading the original article in it's entirety. All content presented is the work of Rich Stanton and Kotaku, with only minor formatting changes made.

Byrgenwerth & the Healing Church

Byrgenwerth is where the Great Ones were studied, though in practice this seems mainly to have been a study of how to make contact with them. Among the scholars were Provost (later Master) Willem and Laurence, and given that the first hunter Gehrman knows both it's likely he, too, began here.

A schism was caused when what Alfred calls the “holy medium” was found. This could be referring to Queen Yharnam, or her dead child's blood, but it is much more likely to be the abandoned Ebrietas – a Great One that can be found in-game. The temptation of a living, breathing Great One's blood was too much for some.

Willem's motto was simple: “Fear the old blood.” He wished to probe the secrets of the cosmos, but intuited the dangers of transfusing oneself with the blood of gods. Laurence disagreed and, in what Willem termed a betrayal, left Byrgenwerth to found the Healing Church.

Blood ministration was the foundation of the Healing Church. “Blood ministration is, of course, the pursuit of communion.” Laurence believed that through infusing oneself with the blood of the Great Ones some sort of communication could be had.

Everything began well for the Healing Church, because of the miraculous properties of blood ministration. It seemed to cure all ills and grant exceptional longevity to the citizens of Yharnam, who in turn worshipped the church.

But the Church itself was a front. In the Upper Cathedral Ward, locked away from prying eyes, was the Orphanage, where the Great One Ebrietas was kept and abandoned children were experimented upon. The Choir, the highest-ranking echelon of the Church, would come from the Orphanage.

The Choir paid tribute to Master Willem by covering their eyes, and eventually stumbled across their most important discovery. Many believed the Great Ones were from the sky, gods in the traditional sense. The Choir realised that these beings existed in a dimension that overlapped our own. “The sky and the cosmos are one” reads a note found just outside the Upper Cathedral Ward, and this was the Church's great epiphany: the Great Ones did not need to be found in a physical sense. They were already here.

The School of Mensis was another part of the Church, operating an Unseen Village within Yharnam, and it kidnapped people to use in bloody rituals. What were these various factions trying to do? Even though the methods are bizarre and various the answer is simple: the Church and its various members wanted to create a surrogate for the Great One's child. The more ambitious wanted to be this surrogate.

Laurence, the founder of the Church, clearly partook of blood ministration himself. To this end, he and his associates were the first to beckon the nameless moon presence close to Earth, which in turn blurred the line between man and beast. This is probably when the problem of beasthood first reared its head, as people infused with the Great Ones' blood began to metamorphose into feral monsters.

As for Laurence? This is speculation rather than fact, but in the grand cathedral of Yharnam the player finds a giant beast's skull – which, when touched, plays a flashback of Laurence's last meeting with Willem.

Laurence pioneered much in the world of Bloodborne, and he may also have been Yharnam’s first beast. The skull has a huge fissure through it, interesting because a boss monster fought in the Chalice Dungeons is the Blood-Letting Beast – which has two forms. One with head intact, and one with the head split open right where the Cathedral skull has a wound.

There is also video evidence that this split-head form of the Bloodletting Beast has dialogue for when you die to it - which I haven’t been able to verify myself because I never die.

The dialogue is:
The time has come again I fear. But if the fates smile upon us, we’ll soon meet again. Farewell, dear friend.
If you had a fanciful mind, you might read this as someone pressed unwillingly into an uncontrollable danger - like turning into a beast while the moon is low - saying what he hopes won’t be a last goodbye. The addressee can only be guessed. This time, the speaker never made it back.

Speculation, of course. But perhaps a fitting end for a man who reached for the skies - and damned his civilization in the process.

1 comment:

  1. Well, it turns out it was Patches, the Spider, all along.