Hunter of Hunters

With a name like Hunter of Hunters, it should be no surprise that the covenant is almost as old as the hunters themselves. The Blade of Mercy passed down to the current Hunter of Hunters, Eileen, is made from the same meteoric iron as Gehrman’s Burial Blade, and was decidedly crafted at the old workshop during that same foundational period for Yharnam’s hunters — even the names are complementary; Blade of Mercy (慈悲の刃) versus “Blade of Funeral”. (葬送の刃) Indeed, the description for the Crow Hunter Badge passed down to Eileen in the same manner relates how only hunters who avoid blood-drunkeness while respecting the blood-drunk “comrades” they hunt inherit the duty. The first Hunter of Hunters must have also been one of the very first hunters, perhaps only second after Gehrman.

Special “trick weapon” passed down to Hunter Hunters for generations. One of the oldest workshop weapons.

Rare meteoric iron originating from the stars is used for its warped blade, which splits in two via the trick, and exhibits its true value with high-speed attacks like stepping.

But as more and more joined in the hunt, this senior hunter would undoubtedly start seeing some of these juniors become drunk on the beast blood. Suddenly, the siderite blades sending off those who succumbed to the beast scourge needed to be pointed toward friends. He decided to be the one to take up this morbid task, alone. The choice was logical. His time as a hunter likely translated to strength over other hunters, and Gehrman needed to remain the central pillar for the old workshop. Moreover, this man was a foreigner, meaning that he was undoubtedly eyed with suspicion by the Yharnamites. This immigrant from the frontier may have loved his fellow hunters, but there is no guarantee that they all felt the same. If anyone was to perform this “cursed” duty slaying his fellow man, let it be someone peers already assumed the worst about. And there only needed to be one bearer of this deplorable fate.

As another show of his dignity in indignity, he dressed himself in imitation of a crow. A single crow is, of course, a symbol of ill omen, and the wooden bird mask with herb-stuffed beak to block out the smell of beast blood harkens back to medieval plague doctors. But for the first Hunter of Hunters, the choice seems to simply be because the crow is the primary scavenger of the region. According to the crowfeather set’s description, the appearance is intended to convey sky burial, the Japanese terminology more literally meaning “bird burial”. (鳥葬) The idea was to have a “bird” “bury” the blood-drunk hunters. This was rooted partly in culture, as the Yharnam ground burial was considered “profane” compared to his homeland’s “honor” of sky burial. Sky burials are popular in Asian regions like Tibet, and with Yharnam’s proximity to the East, it is likely that the first Hunter of Hunters originated from some equivalent nation. His hope was for their wills shed with their blood to arrive in heaven.

Wood-carved mask of Eileen, the crow-feathered Hunter Hunter. Fragrant herbs that erase the smell of blood and beasts are stuffed inside the strange beak .

It is said that a Hunter Hunter imitating the form of a crow has the meaning of sky burial.

The first Hunter Hunter was a foreigner, so chose not a profane Yharnam burial but the means which is an honor in his homeland. So that his comrades’ left wills at least arrive in heaven, or maybe in the Hunter’s Dream.

Of course, the set text also ponders the possibility that they are arriving in the Hunter’s Dream. Indeed, one wrinkle to hunting mad hunters is their immortality following the dream’s inception. However, this issues seems to have been resolved thanks to Gehrman. The doll makes note of the gravestones littering the dreamland, the last remnants of its former inhabitants. Our own grave will be erected should we choose to abandon the dream by submitting our life to Gehrman. At the same time, the first hunter says that he is responsible for cleaning up after those consumed by blood and the like, namely by hunting them and thus still severing their connection to the dream. This leaves no doubt then that Gehrman himself has served as a hunter of hunters, at least in an unofficial capacity. Again, the two’s siderite weapons complement each other, with Gehrman admitting to perform his own “mercy” kill with his Burial Blade — Eileen even uses the same term for honorable assisted suicide. One can easily think of him and the Hunter of Hunters as two sides of the same coin.

How unbecoming, a drunk. Don’t show a sorry state like a beast. I’ll quietly provide suicide assistance. Even you were a hunter. That isn’t your actual intention, is it? Oh enough… No one will blame you…

In short, the first hunter hunts mad hunters in the dream, while the first Hunter of Hunters hunts them in reality. This comes with the ghastly implication that the latter might hunt the comrade twice before bringing finality to their mission. To send them off to be killed by a grim reaper in purgatory only to send them off again is a bit twisted, further emphasizing the mental fortitude required to be a Hunter of Hunters — and explaining the cosplay with the hope that their souls will eventually end up in a better place. It is not a job that will earn any fanfare, much less for a foreigner. This is why when the crow hunter inevitably retires, due to age or injury, the duty is only passed down “quietly” from one generation to the next. Eileen simply hands over the badge after seeing us succeed where she fails, and even then she leaves taking up the actual duty to our discretion. The same had likely been true for her when she inherited the emblem, which begs the question of her history with the covenant and, more importantly, its founder.

Considering that Eileen describes herself as an old woman, she has probably been in the business of hunting for a while now. She references prior connection to the Hunter’s Dream, so her hunts targeted beasts before hunters as well. She is also presumably another foreigner, since the Crow Hunter Badge’s description indicates that the covenant has generally comprised of people from regions remote to Yharnam — even we are no exception. Indeed, given her age, there cannot have been many generations before her in the mere decades since the hunters were established, let alone the Hunter of Hunters. And with her Irish name meaning “beautiful bird”, it seems self-evident to be mentored by the withering old bird. In other words, the woman was probably taken in as the first crow hunter’s disciple due to their similar background; she could see a role model in him, and he could see his younger self in her. It was only fitting that she carry on his legacy when he retired.

Emblem of a Hunter Hunter, who hunts hunters drunk on beast hunt blood.

The proof of hunting comrades has been quietly passed down to only one for generations. It is said that most of them have been foreigners of frontiers.

First, be strong, don’t get drunk on blood, and remember the dignity of hunting a comrade. For only a hunter like that is entrusted with this cursed emblem.

When we first meet her on the south side of town, she welcomes us to the hunt with a collection of bold hunter’s marks. The crow hunters have adopted the Hunter rune as their symbol, specifically the variant running red with blood — as if to signify how the stuff has oversaturated their targets. Nonetheless, it seems odd for her to be carrying a bunch of good luck charms for returning to the Hunter’s Dream when she no longer sees the dream herself. More than likely, they are trophies looted from the bodies of her blood-drunk targets, many of whom are liable to be found in the sewers where she is hanging specifically. The number proves that Eileen has had much success in her work. Even so, she is still feeling her age, out-of-breath even with our help in defeating Henryk later on. Clearly, she struggles with hunters older and more experienced than her, yet she still asks that we don’t get involved, even after suffering serious injuries against her final prey. Of course, this may be because the Bloody Crow of Cainhurst she is targeting is her old master.

One of the Karel characters which phoneticize inhuman voices. The one running red has been given the meaning of “hunter” and used in the Hunter Hunters covenant.

The Hunter Hunters’ enemies are hunters who get drunk on blood and resonate with a sinister bell. Or if they are hostile to “hunter” covenantors. For, whoever they are, it is, in other words, proof that they are drunk on blood.

The “Cain Bloodshed Crow” (カインの流血鴉) dresses like one of Queen Annalise’s royal guards and wields the Chikage collected by Cainhurst, leaving no doubt that he is a blood hunter. At the same time, he also wears the crowfeather garb like Eileen, as well as the double-barrel gun developed by the Healing Church. This suggests prior association with the church workshop and intimates a connection to Eileen in particular. Moreover, the crow uses the Old Hunter Bone to employ Quickening. Not only does this implicate him in digging up Maria’s grave, it also defines him as one of the first hunters. In short, the bloody crow is a hunter present when Maria and her innate hunting art could still be witnessed, around long enough to procure a gun from the church workshop, but gone to forge a covenant with Annalise before the purge of Cainhurst. There is only one viable option: the first crow hunter.

Indeed, there is no mention of Eileen’s actual attire being hand-me-downs, so she could have crafted her own after her master. And since the Blade of Mercy was passed down, the previous Hunter of Hunters would need a new sword, which Cainhurst could readily supply. Being from the far East, he would naturally choose a weapon more familiar to him like the Chikage, with a similar curve to its blade. In the same vein, he would gravitate toward the art of Quickening to supplement for the different fighting style. The warped siderite blade was designed to be split into two, so as to overwhelm foes with a flurry of attacks after quickly stepping in. This already complements the stamina recovery speed boosted by the Hunter rune quite nicely, and would benefit just as well from Maria’s accelerated speed. Knowing the woman in life would give the crow hunter knowledge of both Quickening and Cainhurst. And once he goes to join the castle’s clan, he could come in at any time after the old workshop was abandoned and dig up Maria’s bones for personal use. It all checks out for the bloody crow.

The obvious question is why a hunter who evidently retired with a successor would return as a servant of Queen Annalise. Considering his garb, it may partially be old habits; he just couldn’t stay away from the “burial” work he had done for so long. Eileen already took his place in Yharnam, and he had just the skills Cainhurst was looking for. Even still, why them? For one, the Undead Queen’s blood promises vitality to its drinkers. The fact of the matter is that the crow was old and only getting older. If he was to come out of retirement, he needed the strength to keep going all these years since. And on that note, there is the very real possibility that this survivor of so many hunts was simply afraid to finally die. If Cainhurst’s corrupted blood promised to keep him on this earth, so be it. In the end, the bloody crow has learned Blood Rapture, proving that, in serving Annalise, he himself became enamored with bloodshed true to his name. Now he is the blood-drunk hunter.

This explains why Eileen is so insistent that this is her score to settle. Based on where we find her with all the blood splatters, she confronted her old mentor in front of the Grand Cathedral, only to be bested. He then continued on inside, his goal obviously to steal Laurence’s corrupted blood from the altar while the Healing Church is in disarray — we did just kill its one and only Vicar watching over the holy medium earlier that evening. This is when we come upon the apprentice and can take the opportunity to finish the job for her. She will be miffed about it, but ultimately realize that we are better suited to continuing the Hunter of Hunters’s duty than her at this point, handing over her badge and taking a short rest before apparently going on her way — hopefully to heal her injuries so she can enjoy a long retirement. That scenario is for the best, considering the alternative.

If we never help her with Henryk, then Eileen will be the one we find standing inside the Grand Cathedral after the red moon appears. Assuming that the bloody crow still attempted to raid the church, the crow hunter seems to have already dispatched her prey without mistake this time. Perhaps not having us to compare herself to let’s the woman’s focus and skills stay sharp during this critical encounter. In the end though, the mental strain of killing her old master is apparently too much when combined with the red moon. She is already hostile and stark-raving mad, ranting about how “all” hunters are drunk on the hunt and so need to be killed by her to “end the nightmare” of seemingly endless beasts. It is clear that her master’s betrayal rattles her to the core. In all fairness, it is perhaps inevitable in their line of work, as the Hunter rune alludes in its description. Even for a crow, you will either die a hunter or living long enough to become one of the hunted.

Keh heh heh heh heh. Hunters are all drunk on the hunt… You won’t change anything, either… Death to the hunters, far and wide… end to the nightmare… That is my job… Keheheheh. Keeh heh heh heh.

The beasts are ending no longer. The hunters are useless now. Your blood! A hunter’s blood! Your death! A hunter’s death! And so I’ll end the nightmare! Kehahahahahaha. Keeeh heh heh heh.