Chapter Five: Cainhurst Castle, The Executioners, and Queen Annalise
“Once, a scholar betrayed his fellows at Byrgenwerth and brought forbidden blood back with him to Cainhurst Castle. It was there that the first of the inhuman Vilebloods was born. The Vilebloods are fiendish creatures who threaten the purity of the Church’s blood healing. The Ruler of the Vilebloods is still alive today. And so, to honor my master’s wishes, I search. For the path to Cainhurst Castle.”
-Alfred the Executioner
If you’re like me, you were excited the very moment the Stagecoach pulled up to greet you at Hemwick. The journey to Cainhurst Castle and the exploration of the new area provides a nice breath of fresh air and a pleasant interruption in Bloodborne in which we are shown a whole new area with a whole new mystery. Cainhurst is an area unlike any other in Bloodborne. To be perfectly honest… it doesn’t really fit in, does it? A forsaken Castle ruled by an Undead Queen. The weeping ghosts of murdered women wandering haunted chambers. Man-eating gargoyles lying in wait to ambush unsuspecting prey… Really, the area would fit much more into Demon’s Souls than it does into Bloodborne. Cainhurst is so unlike any other area in Bloodborne, even from a gameplay perspective. After all, Cainhurst is the only area in the game that offers a Dark Souls-style Covenant for the player to join. So to get to the bottom of the mystery of Castle Cainhurst let’s start by taking a look at Cainhurst itself, what we know about it, what we can glean, and what monsters wander its halls.
For starters, I will use only information and evidence that can be found inside of the game. I will save my personal interpretations and beliefs for the end, so that you can make up your own mind about the evidence presented.
While in Yharnam blood is an object of worship, in Cainhurst blood is an object of desire. The Nobles of Cainhurst were elitist and aristocratic, enjoying form and elegance over strength or functionality, as described the Knight’s Set: “Attire of the knights of Cainhurst. A regal piece graced by intricate goldwork. The Cainhurst way is a mix of nostalgia and bombast. They take great pride in the blood-stained corpses of beasts that they leave behind, confident that they will stand as examples of decadent art.” In Cainhurst, your status at Court is everything. The closer you are to the Queen, the more important you are. The further away you are, the less you matter. The Blood Rapture Rune: “This rune resonates with servants of the Queen, carrier of the Child of Blood, who yearn for their Queen’s blood with little hope of requitement. For them, they find solace in “Blood Rapture,” that serves as a surrogate for their desires.”
The highest of honors in Cainhurst was to be named a Vileblood, one of the elite inner circle of Queen Annalise. As evidenced by the ritual Queen Annalise makes the PC Hunter perform should they choose to become a Vileblood, the Vilebloods imbibed in the Queen’s blood. While Yharnamites share blood through injection and transfusion, the nobles of Cainhurst seemed to drink it directly from the source, as Queen Annalise extends her wrist to the Hunter. The Vilebloods were the elite guard of the Queen, and would travel out to hunt for her, bringing tribute back to her in the form of Blood Dregs. We will explore the Vilebloods and Queen Annalise further in a later section, but for now let’s focus on the lesser important figures in Cainhurst and what information we can gather from them.
“The old nobles, long-time imbibers of blood, are no strangers to the sanguine plague, and the disposal of beasts was a discrete task left to their servants, or knights, as they were called for the sake of appearances.” –Reiterpallasch
While there are beasts in Cainhurst, they are much different from the beasts of Yharnam. There is no sign of lycanthropy, the main symptom of the condition we refer to as the Scourge of the Beast anywhere to be found in Cainhurst. Instead, the beasts of Cainhurst are twisted and malformed things that drain the blood from the ground. The official description of the Bloodlickers reads: “With no host left to defend Cainhurst Castle from the beastly siege, these deadly, vile creatures prowl the grounds, gorging themselves on the tainted fluid of the fallen.”Indeed, the Bloodlickers seem far more interested in draining blood from corpses than they are of the PC Hunter. Unlike Yharnam’s beasts which rip and tear flesh to shreds in pure rage, the Bloodlickers move quietly from corpse to corpse, drinking. Did you know you can actually encounter Bloodlickers in the Labyrinth? The exact conditions to trigger them are unknown, but it is believed that if the Player kills certain enemies with visceral attacks and leaves them, if they return later they will find a Bloodlicker feasting on the corpse.
We have here an example of a very different kind of Beast, one wholly unlike the Beasts of Yharnam. Yharnam Beasts, we know, are the result of individuals succumbing to the tainted blood of the Great Ones, infected thanks to the use of blood ministration. So where do Bloodsuckers come from? Let us recall what Alfred says about Cainhurst. “Once, a scholar betrayed his fellows at Byrgenwerth and brought forbidden blood back with him to Cainhurst Castle.” Whatever blood was brought to Cainhurst, it was most certainly not the blood of the Great Ones. It was something different, forbidden. The introduction of this forbidden blood led to a new mission by the then-burgeoning Healing Church, and the formation of the Executioners.
“In his time, Master Logarius led his executioners into Cainhurst Castle to cleanse it of the Vileblood. But all did not go well and Master Logarius became a blessed anchor, guarding us from evil. …Tragic, tragic time… … that Master Logarius should be abandoned in the accursed domain of the Vilebloods. I must free him, so that he may be properly honored in martyrdom.” -Alfred the Executioner
Little is known of the Executioners. They were a group of Hunters who, led by a man named Logarius, traveled to Cainhurst and battled the Vilebloods. It would seem the Executioners existed in the very early days of the Healing Church, back when the Church was still operating mostly in secrecy. The Executioner Attire reads: “Attire worn by the band of executioners commanded by the martyr Logarius. Later became the basis for all Church attire, with its heavy draping of Holy Shawl.” This would seem to suggest that the Executioners were the first case of an organized group of the Church operating in the open, as before then there was no section of the Church wearing their familiar uniform. What this means of Alfred is unknown. He claims to be a simple Hunter, perhaps he simply sought to emulate the teachings of Logarius. He certainly has a great deal of veneration for Logarius, his entire mission seeking to complete Logarius’ mission once and for all to elevate him to true martyrdom.
Whatever Alfred’s motivations behind following the path of the Executioner, we know that the Executioners of old did battle against the Cainhurst Vilebloods. From the accounts we have access to, it was not a close battle… Logarius’ Wheel describes itself as being: “Used to slaughter the Vilebloods in Cainhurst. Bathed in pools of their blood, and forever steeped in their ire.” Slaughter is the key word here. The nobles of Cainhurst were systematically executed, the Vilebloods were bludgeoned to death by the mighty Wheels of Logarius. For all their elegance and beauty, the Cainhurst Vilebloods were no match for the fury of the Executioners. But there was one Vileblood who could not be slain, and this brings us to the final topic of our current analysis.
“”I am Annalise, Queen of Castle Cainhurst. Ruler of the Vilebloods, and sworn enemy of the church.”
Annalise is a very strange figure in Bloodborne and, like I mentioned earlier, doesn’t really seem to fit. She is most assuredly something far more than simply human. In fact, the Queen is immortal. There is no way to kill her; even Alfred, who rips her limb from limb, smashes her into pulp, tears out her organs, smears her against the floor, and leaves her nothing more than a pile of blood and meat, fails to kill her. Indeed, she is left simply writhing eerily.”What good’s your immortality now! Try stirring up trouble in this sorry state! All mangled and twisted, with every inside on the outside, for all the world to see!”-Alfred. The Queenly Flesh, a chunk of meat the PC Hunter can retrieve from her remains, reads: “This pinkish lump of flesh remains warm, as if cursed. All hail the undying queen of blood!” Annalise is never dead. Her consciousness remains inside of the meat, and can be used to repair her. Indeed, Annalise can even be restored from her mangled state if the Hunter brings the Queenly Flesh to the spider corpse in the Altar of Despair. But Annalise is not unique in this. She is not the only immortal Queen in Bloodborne.
Upon defeating Yharnam, Queen of Pthumeru, the Hunter receives the Yharnam Stone. It appears to be meaty, organic remains, and even has the faint outline of a fetus within it. The Yharnam Stone reads: “The Queen lies dead, but her horrific consciousness is only asleep, and it stirs in unsettling motions.”
What follows is purely my own interpretation and belief based on the evidence I have gathered. Do not consider any of this as solid fact. Instead, use it as my interpretation, so that you can gather your own beliefs.
In the depths of ancient Pthumeru, the Byrgenwerth Scholars studied and researched the Old Blood of the Great Ones. However, the Scholars found much more than the Great Ones, they found those who had once worshipped them: the Pthumerians. It’s not exactly clear if they directly located Yharnam, or if they simply gathered blood samples from the Pthumerians themselves. However it’s most likely that some of Yharnam’s blood was recovered and researched. The Old Blood, while to be feared, was not forbidden. It seems strange that the Scholars, seekers of truth, would label anything as forbidden. Yharnam’s blood must have been so tainted, so vile, that it was not to be toyed with. Yharnam’s mastery over blood is unlike anything seen in Bloodborne. During the battle against her she seems to teleport, spray blood from her fingertips, and summons blades in the air of pure blood. Yharnam also appears to be able to project herself from her prison in Pthumeru, appearing in both the Nightmare of Mensis and the Moonside Lake. Neither human nor Great One, Yharnam is some twisted mix of the two, possibly as a result of her impregnation by Oedon, the Formless Great One of Blood.
One scholar, however, betrayed his fellows. This may have been Laurence. We already know that Laurence betrayed Willem. Perhaps when Laurence left Byrgenwerth with the Old Blood, he brought the Forbidden Blood of Yharnam along with him. It’s possible that before establishing the Healing Church he went to Cainhurst and sought shelter there in exchange for knowledge on Yharnam’s Forbidden Blood. It doesn’t really seem to fit though, as the Healing Church most assuredly fears the blood of Yharnam, and even labels her blood as forbidden as well. The Blood of Arianna’s description reads: “A member of the old Healing Church would know that her blood is similar indeed, to precisely what was once forbidden.” Arianna even wears a Cainhurst dress, furthering the connection between the two figures. Perhaps the scholar who brought the forbidden blood to Cainhurst was just an unnamed scholar, someone we haven’t met yet. Either way, Yharnam’s tainted blood made its way to Cainhurst Castle.
Queen Annalise imbibed in the tainted, forbidden blood of Yharnam, becoming first of the Vilebloods. But Annalise was not satisfied with the simple transformation that followed. She sought an Heir, a Child of Blood. Annalise believed that through the mass consumption of powerful blood she would be able to impregnate herself and give birth to the Child of Blood, and so she created the Vilebloods. The Cainhurst Attire says: “This paper-thin silver armor is said to deflect blood of ill-intent, and is what allows the royal guards to capture prey for their beloved Queen, so that one day, she may bear a Child of Blood.” The Vilebloods set out into the night, seeking powerful beings to capture and drag back in chains to their Queen. Gehrman’s Hunters would become the favored prey for the Vilebloods. The Blood Dreg, an item the PC Hunter can recover if they have the Corruption Rune equipped, tells us: “The Vilebloods of Cainhurst, blood-lusting hunters, see these frightful things in coldblood. They often appear in the blood of echo fiends, that is to say, the blood of hunters. Queen Annalise partakes in these blood dreg offerings, so that she may one day bear the Child of Blood, the next Vileblood heir.” Look at the image of the Blood Dreg item. Look at the small… things that seem to squirm inside of it. They rather look like sperm, don’t they?
Annalise believed that the consumption of the blood of powerful figures would allow her to eventually conceive a Child of Blood. Whatever a Child of Blood is, it would never come to pass. Laurence and the Church discovered of this new threat and formed a response in the form of the Executioners, led by Logarius. The Wheel Hunter Badge tells us: “Martyr Logarius led a band of Executioners, and this badge was crafted at their dedicated workshop. Their workshop was a secretive enclave of mystical beliefs and heady fanaticism which served as the backbone of the Executioners’ unique brand of justice.” Again we can see the reference to secrecy, describing the Church’s early style of operating in darkness.
The Executioners stormed Castle Cainhurst and slaughtered the Vilebloods. The Nobles of Cainhurst were shown no mercy as Cainhurst fell to the invaders. But when Logarius marched into the Queen’s throne room, he found that no matter what he did, she would not die. Perhaps simply imbibing Yharnam’s blood had granted Annalise power beyond death, or perhaps it was the accumulation of Blood Dregs that had given her immortality. Either way, Logarius ruled that Queen Annalise would never be allowed freedom. If she could not be killed, she must be made prisoner for all eternity to prevent the birth of her Child of Blood. A mask was forced onto her, covering her entire face. There are no references or information available to be found on what exactly this mask is, other than looking at it as she wears it. However, whatever power the mask holds has bound her in her throne room and left her unable to resist her captivity. This still would not prevent outside sources from meeting with her and bringing her further Blood Dregs, as the PC Hunter is capable of doing, and so Logarius took the Crown of Cainhurst, the Crown of Illusions, and placed it atop his head.
“One of the precious secrets of Cainhurst. The old king’s crown is said to reveal illusions, and expose a mirage that hides a secret. And so Logarius donned the crown of his own volition, determined to prevent a single soul from stumbling upon the vile secret. What visions did he see, sitting serenely upon his new throne?”
Only by wearing the Crown of Illusions would one be allowed access to Annalise’s throne room. To prevent any further interaction with Annalise, Logarius donned the crown and sat upon the throne of Cainhurst, acting as a living lock for the prisoner Queen. He would remain as such until the PC Hunter would end his watch, taking the Crown of Illusions and discovering Annalise. But what path will the Player take? Will they kneel to the Queen and join her, bringing her Blood? Will they help Alfred in smashing her to pieces? Which path is the correct one to choose?
“Acts of goodness are not always wise, and acts of evil are not always foolish. but regardless. we shall always strive to be good.” -Martyr Logarius