Hunter’s Journal Pt. 4 – Morningrise

Having completed my venture through the Nightmare Frontier, it was now time to return to the Lecture Building and vacate the premises via the second-floor doorway, taking me to what is essentially the penultimate area of the game – the Nightmare of Mensis. The area begins with a relatively short hike uphill to Mergo’s Loft, an ominous castle containing some powerful(and frustrating) enemies. There’s also two more boss battles – Micolash, Host of the Nightmare and Mergo’s Wet Nurse(I’m still impressed with only 50% of these).

I mentioned previously that this is where I feel like I fail to grasp, not completely anyway, where I am and what the hell is going on. My understanding is…<deep breath>both Nightmares – Frontier and Mensis are realms existing within another plane, one which cannot be accessed in any physical form? Micolash and the other students of Mensis(scholarly slugs in the Lecture Building) sacrificed their physical bodies, but inhabit the nightmare in mind and are typically identified by the Faraday-like, Mensis Cages on their head. Their offering was a way of gaining access to the Great Ones through Mergo, child of the formless Odeon and Queen Yharnam…or something like that. I don’t know. I feel like half of the fun(?) of replaying Bloodborne has been the accompanying homework assignment(NOT sarcasm, actually) of researching and attempting to keep track, both on paper and mentally, of the game’s bafflingly dense lore. Shoutout to r/bloodborne for the many bullet point explanations posted for individuals like myself who lack sufficient Insight to comprehend all of this!

The Nightmare of Mensis begins with a relatively short uphill hike to Mergo’s Loft, an ominous castle containing some powerful(and frustrating) enemies to contend with. I managed to avoid the few silverbeasts and rock-tossing yetis before reaching the entrance to Mergo’s Loft, which is divided into three parts – Base, Middle and Wet Nurse’s Lunarium. Once inside, I ran straight past the swarm of spiders and Mergo’s attendants. Going through the next doorway, I finally met up with Micolash, Host of the Nightmare. The fight itself is pretty simple, but you spend most of the time chasing this fuckin’ weirdo through a series of hallways avoiding endless skeleton enemies as he rambles on about “Kos…or some say, Kosm” or sometimes just begins howling like a wolf. Once you finally corner him at the end of a hallway it’s only a matter of avoiding his attacks, of which there’s only two, one of them being an annoyingly strong barrage of seeker projectiles. After Micolash had been awakened from his nightmare mind palace, it was time to continue my ascent to the top of Mergo’s Loft.

Mergo’s Loft also has one of the best blood echo farming spots in Bloodborne. Starting from the Mergo’s Loft: Middle lantern, you can take out seven different Shadows of Yharnam(much easier at this point in the game) and three gigantic pigs with a set of eyes like those of a spider <insert ‘Peter Porker’ joke here>. Making a short trip through the neighborhood, you can rack up an easy 40-70k blood echoes, so I spent a few minutes doing a little bit of farming. I believe I was around level 85-90 at this time.

Once I had leveled up a few times, I took the third and final cage lift to the Wet Nurse’s Lunarium atop Mergo’s Loft. Upon reaching the lunarium, you will see the area is completely vacated except for a black stroller in the center of the courtyard. You can hear the sound of a baby crying – Mergo, child of Odeon and Pthumerian Queen Yharnam, who can be seen just outside the boss arena. As you approach the stroller, a short cutscene plays showing the arrival of Mergo’s Wet Nurse, guardian of the infant Great One. The menacing boss is covered in a black cloak, resembling a ringwraith and brandishing not one, but six curved blades. Wet Nurse also has the ability to shroud the area in an arcane mist and will summon a duplicate of itself to teleport around the area and attack. This can be a tricky boss fight, fortunately I remembered its biggest weakness is to eletrical attacks…and I had a fistful of bolt papers and had become quite adept at timing charge attacks with my threaded cane. Nightmare slain.

Moving into endgame stuff now, so consider this the obligatory spoiler warning…

It was at this point, I returned back to the Hunter’s Dream, now ablaze after defeating Mergo’s Wet Nurse, indicating I had reached the endgame of Bloodborne…well, kinda. Despite how little it appeared I had left of the game, I still had a couple quick errands to complete before moving forward I looking through my weapons and blood gems, I realized that I had never found the tool to equip any of the Odeon runes I had been acquiring since the early areas of the game. I honestly didn’t remember where I picked this up during my previous playthrough. It turns out that I needed to return to Hemwick Charnel Lane as the very next room after the one I fought the Witch of Hemwick. Oh, right…got it.

In doing some preparations to get all three of Bloodborne’s endings, I realized I still hadn’t unlocked the back entrance to Iosefka’s Clinic. I had meant to do this probably a dozen gameplay hours ago, but had gotten distracted and forgot about it…story of my life. There’s a locked door immediately behind you when you first begin the game which leads to the upper areas of the clinic. This can only be accessed coming from the opposite direction, which is accessed through a lengthy detour in the Forbidden Woods. Once I found my way back to the Forbidden Woods and crawled through a poison cave(of course), I was able to take a series of ladders that eventually lead to the back of Iosefka’s Clinic. I took out the sole celestial emissary wandering the hallways before meeting up with Iosefka. This not the real Iosefka, but an imposter, and is found lying on an operating table seemingly delirious with pain and can be heard saying “God I’m nauseous… Have you ever felt this? It’s progressing. I can see things… I knew it, I’m different. I’m no beast… I… Oh… God, it feels awful… but, it proves that I’m chosen. Don’t you see? How they writhe, writhe inside my head… It’s… rather… rapturous…”. She then drops a One Third of Umbilical Cord, which would imply having been impregnated by a Great One. Uh….huh…

There was still one final area to visit before moving on to the final boss fight(s) and chalice dungeons – Castle Cainhurst. This frigid estate is home of Annalise, Queen of the Vilebloods whose bloodline have been at war with the Healing Church. This area can only be accessed after picking up the Cainhurst Summons, found in the upper rooms of Iosefka’s Clinic, and catching a ride on the spooky carriage crossing the lake on the edge of Hemwick Charnel Lane.

Similar to most other areas found in the second half of Bloodborne, Cainhurst isn’t particularly large. The main objective is to reach the roof of the castle and the next boss fight – Martyr Logarius. After making your way through the castle grounds, you find a throne at the far end of the roof sitting in darkness and snow. Logarius sits there, looking like a two hundred year old corpse, before standing up and unleashing swift hell upon you…as one would expect. Nine out of ten times squaring off against any matter of human(oid) enemies will feel much more difficult than facing a giant, Monster Hunter-like beast, for me anyways. Logarius is no exception to this as he casts a number of spells that can attack from a range as well as some vicious sword/scythe combos that can quickly end you. It was a tough battle, but I again emerged victorious…and after only two attempts. Back to the Hunter’s Dream…

My previous playthrough of Bloodborne had been on an alternate PSN account that I use primarily for streaming purposes, so this would be my first time playing through the game in its entirety. As such, I made the decision while playing that I would maybe….possibly go for the platinum trophy so I’d have that on my main account, which meant I would need to collect every weapon and defeat every optional boss in the game. This also meant I would need to go through the gauntlet of chalice dungeons…again. The chalice dungeons consist of 3-5 layers, each one requiring you to find the lever to unlock the door leading you to the boss fight before you can descend to the next level. I’ve decided to skim over my time with these for the sake of brevity

  • Pthumeru Chalice – “E.Z.”
  • Central Pthumeru Chalice – “Still pretty easy this late in the game”
  • Lower Pthumeru Chalice – “Starting to present a challenge”
  • Ailing Loran Chalice – “Just here to find the Bastard of Loran”
  • Defiled Chalice – “Fuck this place. Seriously”
  • Great Isz Chalice – “Everything’s covered in slime. Got any Red Jelly?”
  • Pthumeru Ihyll Chalice – “The Queen lives here, right?”

Well, the time has finally come. The final boss showdown awaits. As soon as you clear Mergo’s Loft, you return to the Hunter’s Dream and see the workshop has gone up in flames. You are then informed that Gehrman, the old wheelchair-bound hunter who has been there to provide vague information and guidance through your journey so far is waiting to speak with you. Making sure I had weapons durability checked and fully upgraded, Odeon runes set, blood gems equipped, and a plentiful stock of blood vials and Quicksilver Bullets, I ventured through the courtyard of the Hunter’s Dream to speak with him. He sits waiting for you in an open area that feels reminiscent of the flowery field where the final Boss fight takes place in Metal Gear Solid 3. The stage is set as Gehrman offers you a choice: submit your life or refuse, with each choice corresponds results in a different ending. Accepting the elder hunter’s offer shows hunter Dude waking up to the morning sky as if the entire ordeal was but a nightmare, this unlocks the “Yharnam Sunrise” ending. Refusing the offer causes Gehrman to basically shake his head and stand up, pulling out a sword and scythe as you now get the pleasure of fighting yet another hunter. The fight can be pretty challenging as the old man is deceptively agile and can dish out the pain(see above comment about fighting hunters vs. beasts), but I had spent roughly 10 hours scouring chalice dungeons so being under-leveled was definitely NOT a concern. After defeating him, hunter Dude looks into the sky as the blood moon is in full view, suddenly the Moon Presence appears. This elusive entity simply floats midair, tentacles flowing(of course, wouldn’t be Lovecraft-inspired without it) for a moment as it closes in and embraces the victorious hunter. The game then cuts to hunter Dude, who is now in a wheelchair, being pushed up to the Hunter’s Dream workshop, indicating the cycle has began anew. This unlocks the “Honoring Wishes” ending.

Time to call it a night then, right? Nope. There’s still one more ending in Bloodborne to unlock. As you make your way through the latter areas of the game you will come across items called “One Third of Umbilical Cord”. These consumable, yes…consumable items are needed to access the third(secret? true?) ending of the game. Three of these are to be…used before defeating Gehrman – lucky I’ve had plenty of practice, which allow you to fight the Moon Presence. The battle actually feels a little easier than the prior one against Gehrman, I’m guessing the fact that it’s fairly susceptible to fire, bolt and arcane damage is a big factor here and reminded me a bit of fighting Majora’s mask form on the N64. It only took me a single attempt to defeat the Moon Presence. Once the fight it over, a cutscene takes place showing no trace of the Moon Presence or hunter Dude, except for a small squid-like creature that is shown lying on the ground, unlocking the “Childhood’s Beginning” ending. My hazy understanding of this is: the Moon Presence attempts to embrace the hunter after defeating the current watcher of the Hunter’s Dream and was able to sense the “inside eyes” as a result of the One Third of Umbilical Cords used. This caused the Moon Presence to become enraged and fights the hunter. The little squid creature shown indicates the hunter has transcended everything and become an infant Great One. The trophy description kinda says that one outright…

And Bloodborne is complete once again, along with another platinum trophy for the collection! Coming off Elden Ring I was curious to see if my feelings about the game have changed at all. If anything, I’d say it’s made me appreciate the game even more. There’s so much to absorb in Bloodborne that I could spend nearly as much time reading and attempting piece together what everything means as playing the game itself. I have the Old Hunters DLC downloaded on my PS5 and will be playing through that next before finally moving on to something other than a From Software game.

“You have the whole night to dream. Make the best of it.”

Hunter’s Journal Pt. 3 – All Nightmare Long

“Well, once a group of young Byrgenwerth scholars discovered a holy medium deep within the tomb.”

“This led to the founding of the Healing Church, and the establishment of blood healing”.

“In this sense, everything sacred in Yharnam can be traced back to Byrgenwerth.”

Moving forward from the Forbidden Woods, I finally made it to Byrgenwerth; it’s an interesting location from a lore standpoint. This remote institute of higher learning is the place where blood healing began after its scholars discovered the Old Blood in the Pthumerian labyrinth below Yharnam, which in turn, led to the formation of the Healing Church. It’s also mentioned by Alfred in the Cathedral Ward that the church has since declared Byrgenwerth as forbidden ground. I find this bit of lore interesting as it seems unclear(per my mortal understanding) whether this was done to limit knowledge gained anywhere but from the church, or simply out of knowing the dangers that lie beyond the realms of mortal understanding…you know, Lovecraftian ‘curse of knowledge’ themes and all that. Also interesting is that Alfred, who shares this information is an Executioner – part of an extension of the Healing Church whose members seek out and eradicate the Cainhurst Vilebloods, as well as others in order to keep the “purity” of the church intact, which seems like an allusion to inquisitors of the church during the Middle Ages.

Despite the significance Byrgenwerth represents in Yharnam’s murky history, there isn’t all that much to accomplish here. Once I collected a few resources, including an Arcane Lake rune and Empty Phantasm Shell, I made my way outside through the Lunarium door. Outside, I had a (very)brief conversation with Master Willem, who sits quietly gazing at the stars in his rocking chair before having an “accident” and dropped the ‘Eye’ rune. The next thing to do was jump from the edge of the balcony into the dark waters below, which led directly to Rom The Vacuous Spider. The battle against Rom can be tricky, but not exceedingly difficult as long as you’re selective with your attacks and don’t try to run straight at it and begin hacking away recklessly. You also have near unlimited space to fight the idiotic arachnid which makes this much easier the first time…the second time you come across Rom in the Lower Pthumeru Chalice dungeon is much more challenging as it takes place in a smaller, walled-in area.

After defeating Rom, I was…teleported(?) to the small chapel just to the east of the Grand Cathedral. The building was “empty” the first time I visited, but this time around a Lesser Amygdala can be seen floating above the altar. Using the Tonsil Stone or simply letting Amygdala grab you will teleport you directly to the Lecture Building, but I decided to make a dash through the nearby doorway and take another stroll through Yahar’gul Unseen Village. Yahar’gul is still as nerve-racking as my previous playthrough of Bloodborne; there’s multiple enemies across nearly every inch of the area, many of which being summoned(frustratingly, so) by chime maidens. Fortunately, I didn’t have to spend too much time here as I was able to grab the Tiny Tonitrus and Upper Cathedral Key before moving on to the next boss fight: a reanimated pile of corpses known as the One Reborn. I usually see the One Reborn given the title of “worst Bloodborne boss” and…it definitely feels a little underwhelming compared to some of the other epic boss battles in the game. I did have repeat the fight a few times before remembering this heaping collection of cadavers is laughably weak to fire. Prey slaughtered, easy as pie.

From the Cathedral Ward lantern, I rode the elevator up to the Healing Church workshop, fighting through a few waves of enemies before I was able to access the Upper Cathedral Ward. Upon reaching this new area, I carefully made my way through the side entrance to the Orphanage. I’m still not entirely sure I understand how it connects to the Choir and Healing Church, but…either way, those celestial larvae, scourge beasts and Brainsuckers weren’t going to slay themselves. After shamelessly cheesing a pack of scourge beasts through a doorway and taking out a couple Brainsuckers – quite possibly the most annoying enemy in the game, I was able to get ahold of the Orphanage Key which unlocks the front door of the building. Having played through Bloodborne a little over a year ago, I remembered this as the location of two late-game boss fights: Celestial Emissary and Ebrietas, Daughter of the Cosmos. I remembered the Celestial Emissary fight as being ridiculously easy if you have a weapon that is at +7 or more, which I absolutely did. My cane-whip made for a brief boss battle as I could damage several of these Roger-from-American Dad-looking assholes at a time before eventually spawning the big boi Celestial Emissary. Despite how quickly I breezed past this encounter, I remembered the fight against Embrietas, whose chamber is right next door to the Celestial Emissary, as being substantially more difficult. It was at this time I decided to travel to the Nightmare Frontier.

After spending a few minutes wandering around trying to remember how to reach the Lecture Building, it occurred to me that I never went through the opposite doorway after defeating the One Reborn back in Yahar’gul….turns out all I had to do was inspect the mummy just past the lantern(would it still be a From Software game if anything was completely straightforward?). The Lecture Building feels similar to Byrgenwerth as there’s not a lot that you need to do here as it functions as more of a transit station to the Nightmare Frontier and Nightmare of Mensis. The building is essentially a dark library full of mortarboard-wearing, gelatinous blobs known as slime scholars. These enemies move along very slowly, making them relatively easy to avoid as you loot any spare resources scattered around the area, like the Augur of Ebrietas – one of the Hunter Tools needed for the ‘Hunter’s Craft’ trophy.

(I’ve now reached the part of Bloodborne where I’m mostly just trying to stay alive long enough to piece together whatever the literal hell is going on.)

Taking the doorway at the end of the first floor in the Lecture Building leads directly to the wondrous Nightmare Frontier, an otherworldly wasteland of jagged rocks and poisonous sludge. Immediately after reaching this wondrous new area, I hear the ringing of a bell and see a message indicating a sinister bell has been run, meaning I’m about to receive some company; a few moments later a pair of NPC hunters appear. Fortunately, I was able to fight off the hostile intruders before continuing on my merry way.

The Nightmare Frontier only contains two lanterns: one at the entry point and one in the boss arena available only *after* making it through the fight. The area itself isn’t particularly massive, but contains plenty of hazards between points A and B, including silverbeasts, crawlers, and boulder-throwing yetis. Also, to make sure this area is adequate levels of miserable, half of the area is covered in poison sludge you get to wade through – ‘Goddammit, Miyazaki!’ Counter No. ??

I finally made it past the rock-tossing sasquatches, squid-like Crawlers, frenzy-inducing Winter Lanterns and acres of toxic goo just in time to take the small rock bridge across the chasm to meet up with Amygdala, another Great One and the next boss blocking my path to…surviving the night of the hunt, I think? Amygdala is a giant arachnid-like entity that hits pretty damn hard if you get in the way of any of its arms(legs?). Adding to the difficulty of the fight is the fact that its hind legs(the easiest part of the creature to lock onto…of course) take next to no damage from physical attacks, which means you will need to target the head(or a shit ton of elemental attacks). This was significantly easier in my current playthrough as the whip form of the threaded cane has a nice almost-vertical angle of attack when using a charge attack while running towards an enemy. Another advantage was the fact I’d spent so long fighting Amygdala in the Defiled Chalice Dungeon(fuck that place, btw) last year that I still had the attack pattern down pretty well. My strategy for the fight was pretty simple: wait for Amygdala to telegraph its arm smash attack by raising all four limbs in the air and then quickstep to the side before charge-attacking its head. This rendered the fight relatively easy even as I reached the final phase of the fight and Amygdala literally ripped off two of its arms…with…the other two members before flailing about. After sufficient cranial trauma had been inflicted, the Great One Amygdala fell, leaving hunter Dude the victor once again…

Only a few things now remain before I can complete Bloodborne again. Next, I’ll be returning to the second floor of the Lecture Building to travel to the Nightmare of Mensis and ascend Mergo’s Loft, but this would have to wait until the next time as it was now the early hours of the morning and soon rays of light would soon be permeating the night sky, indicating another successful night of hunting.

Farewell, good hunter. May you find your worth in the waking world…