In the first part of this discussion about the Souls Games, we made the case for Dark Souls being a direct sequel to Demon’s Souls. Today, we’ll cover examples of how Bloodborne is actually tied to the previous From Software titles by cut content, a mysterious stranger, and pyromancy. Feel free to get critical, because the fudging of tiny details can cause any theory to come tumbling down, allowing better theories to come about.
As before, there will be major spoilers for Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne.
May you rest in peace…Umbasa
This is cut content, so I won’t dwell on it long. In the alpha build of Bloodborne, Father Gascoigne would say “Sick creature…may you rest in peace…Umbasa…” upon killing the player. Fans of Demon’s Souls would recognize the word Umbasa as the equivalent of “amen” for that game’s church.
Father Gascoigne is not originally from the Healing Church of Yharnam, nor does he remain a member of it. His garb’s description shows that the title “Father” is used by clerics from a foreign land. Depending on how you want to measure the canonical impact of cut content, this would imply that, in some form, knowledge of Boletaria’s church has survived into the age of Bloodborne.
This information by itself provides knowledge of a Boletarian practice, but it doesn’t tell us anything in regards to Bloodborne‘s position within the Souls games timeline. We could assume it would be after Demon’s Souls chronologically, if only because of the advances in architecture and technology in general. However, if you subscribe to the belief that Dark Souls is actually a direct sequel to Demon’s Souls, my next point will put Bloodborne squarely at the end of said timeline.
Marvelous Chester is a mysterious man found in ancient Oolacile, accessible in the Dark Souls Artorias DLC content. Like the Chosen Undead, he has been pulled to the past at the hands of Manus, but he seems to be from an age even further along the flow of time. Chester comes from the future, wears the garb of hunters, uses hunter combat techniques, and has a penchant for making his victims bleed. These traits could all be seen as a really vague Easter egg for the then-upcoming Bloodborne, but leaving it at that is boring. His presence in the game gives us a fairly solid connection.
Many will say he’s from Carim, as he uses a weapon from that region. That’s not only faulty logic, but meaningless to us for the purpose of this discussion. We don’t even know when Carim existed, if Carim was around in his time, or if he even brought said crossbow with him. Furthermore, his crossbow is never outright named in the story, so it could simply be a case of two weapons that look similar.
What’s infinitely more interesting than where Chester’s from is the fact that he’s the only human that has no humanity in the entirety of Dark Souls. He’s clearly not a hollow, so what keeps him in the form of man? The real theory craft starts here.
Blood as a medium throughout the Souls games
My theory is that Chester comes from a time when man has overcome the need for Souls, possibly through a substitute medium. If we accept Chester as a hunter and a link between Dark Souls and Bloodborne, then this fits and explains why Chester has no need of for humanity.
Blood acts as a medium for residents of the Bloodborne era in much the same way souls are for those in Boletaria, Anor Londo, or Drangleic. Souls games have already shown that blood can hold memories and grant knowledge. Simply touch a bloodstain and you can gain knowledge you shouldn’t possess via its owner’s memories and what the game calls a Blood Echo. Souls have been completely replaced, when Bloodborne comes around, by blood as the medium that allows human kind to exist. Master Willem’s word are:
“We are born by the blood, made men by the blood, undone by the blood…Our eyes are yet to open. Fear the Old Blood!“
Insert souls for blood and you see this same line applies to the Souls series just as well. Souls grant great power, but all who peer into them descend into madness without fail. Sage Freke, Big Hat Logan, Seathe the Scaleless, Duke Aldia, and King Vendrick would all peer into the soul, and some form of madness awaited them all for their efforts. Souls brought life to shambling undead in Dark Souls, and locked the world of men in an unending cycle of alternating light and decay. Man would have to find some other life-giving medium to break free of this accursed cycle.
The Pthumerian Übermensch
By Dark Souls 2, it is established that the Souls cycle has carried on ceaselessly for countless eras, not that the time particularly matters in the contorted realm of Lordran. The gods are gone and the last great ruler was a man, as Gwyn had feared. King Vendrick and Duke Aldia would peer into the soul in an effort to end the undead curse and by extension the cycle it entails. Vendrick gives in to his despair, much like King Allant of Demon’s Souls before him, and seems to await the coming of dark where men revert back to their original forms. Aldia, Scholar of the First Sin, becomes enraged at what he learns and continues to fight the cycle, trying to find a way for man to overcome the curse.
While Aldia would not live to see it, the Old Blood would provide man an escape from the cycle of life and death. In Bloodborne, which we’ve established would be after Dark Souls in chronology, the Pthumerians were an ancient race of humanoids that gained superhuman abilities through their exchanges with the Great Ones, including blood rituals. I would argue that these supermen are descended from humans in the Dark Souls world. Like the gods of Dark Souls, they discovered an external source of power that elevated them above their base nature. They rose from their humble state to supermen that created their own civilizations.
There are some similarities between the Pthumerian civilization and the civilizations of Anor Londo and Drangleic, but the one I want to focus on is pyromancy. The great civilizations of Dark Souls all had a fascination with flame and the rituals associated with it. That’s what makes the Pthumerians the likely transitional society between the worlds of Dark Souls and Bloodborne: their connection to fire.
A Link to Fire
The Pthumerians had knowledge of pyromancy: we’re certain of this through our encounters with incredibly powerful pyromancers within the Pthumerian ruins. We also know they performed rituals of fire along with their blood rituals. The Bone Ash Set of armor is worn by the Keepers of the Old Lords and reads:
“The keepers, who mind the slumbering Great Ones, gained eternal life, preserved in ashen form in a ceremony of flame that cremated body and soul”
It’s also worth noting that all of the Keepers you encounter in Bloodborne are seemingly female. This should immediately bring to mind the Fire Keepers and the Rite of Kindling for the Dark Souls faithful. The Fire Keepers in Dark Souls were all women, replete with humanity, that were seemingly immortal and tied to the Flame for as long as it would burn. Kindling was a ritual in which souls or humanity were offered to the First Flame to increase its fading power. The two most notable acts of kindling are Gwyn casting himself into the First Flame to extend the reign of fire, immolating himself and becoming the hollowed Lord of Cinder, and the Chosen Undead that choose to link the fire.
Essentially, Keepers of the Old Lords were maidens that would immolate themselves and become hollows like Gwyn before them. No soul, no blood, just an eternal being that would play the role of guardian until snuffed out by a special hunter. A story similar to this ceremony would be something everyone from the realm of Souls games would be familiar with.
That’s all for now. There’s more to go over, but it’s mostly over the similarities instead of direct links. For example, Demon’s Souls Latria and Bloodborne’s School of Mensis, how the Old One is actually a Great One, and why peering into the soul results in some form of madness for all who do so. All that and more is coming soon!