Fishing Hamlet

With not even a known name to add nuance, the Fishing Hamlet seems to have been exactly that: your typical “fishing village”. (漁村) Shipwrecks at sea, a lighthouse on the tallest peak to lead those ships back to dock, shallow waters for dingies in town, nets to haul in catches; everything revolves around a marine diet. Naturally, this maritime culture has heavily shaped the village in other aspects. Upon first entering the hamlet, we pass corpses in candlelit dingies and rock cairns along the shallows, burial practices associated with seafaring societies. Based on the robed priest hobbling through with a skull to share, this was their “graveyard”, returning the dead to the waters they worked and leaving a marker to their memory. Much like Yharnam, this was a small but close-knit community subsisting on their own labor and insular in their ways, far enough removed from the wider world to preserve those traditions.

Such provincialism is fitting, since Yharnam and the Fishing Hamlet are relatively close. Although we cannot see the hamlet within horizon of the old capital, one of the hamlet’s priests is familiar with Byrgenwerth, requiring the school be within travel distance. There is also plenty of coastline to Yharnam’s north, with the village settled on a small peninsula jutting from the mountains which characterize the region. Therefore, the Fishing Hamlet must have been likewise founded on the fringes of the developed West, though in this case by foreigners instead of Pthumerians. That nonnative connection to the land would explain their trade in not just fishing, but also whaling.

Aside from anchors and fishing spears, the villagers are armed with large cleavers for chopping flesh as well as rakes and awls for flensing blubber. The actual village is filled with oil urns, some carried on persons or lit in glass orbs for hanging lamps. Typically, such oil would be the product of whaling, a major industry during the Victorian era. The villagers would thus have survived on the meat and fuel collected for themselves and the big cities. And yet, there are no whale bones to be found in the hamlet. Instead, we find the same bones of strange marine creatures seen in the Chalice Dungeons. Indeed, the oil around the hamlet has an odd orange luminescence to it, green when used for lighting or the catalyst to the priests’ staves. What could cause such an effect except for arcane properties in the “whale” blubber being boiled? But if so, why were they finding these cryptids in apparent abundance to haul in? The answer is because marine life in the region was having contact with Kos.

The hamlet worships the Great One, priests invoking her name whilst casting arcane arts and other residents praying toward her. Her body likewise lies on the shore just outside the hamlet. Because of this and the Kos Parasite’s description of the carcass having “washed up on the coast”, many infer that the Great One became like a beached whale who the yokels then began to worship. True, it may be that the village’s faith was inspired by Japan’s historical whale worship. But the Japanese description for the parasite actually claims Kos’ corpse to have been “abandoned” on the seashore, meaning that she had already come onto land when she was seemingly killed and left to rot; the villagers’ dialogue likewise indicate that she was already being venerated when slain. In other words, Kos must have just been residing in the local waters where she crossed paths with the villagers in the course of their work. This makes her physically influencing the local wildlife they whaled more than feasible.

Very small parasitic insect that is nesting in large quantities within the corpse of the Higher One Ghos, which was abandoned on the seashore. They don’t dwell in humans.

Simply grasped and swung, it is an animal that cannot be called a weapon, but it is said that this insect stimulates the phantasms of “Seedbed”.

We do see that the village values metamorphosis as conveyed by statues of a man transforming into something inhuman ornamenting the streets. The residents themselves look more like fish, even the dogs. This is less obvious with the average villager, whose face still retain clear-cut traits of humanity. However, the protrusions and warped physiognomy for the priests and larger members of the community slant distinctly piscine. And whatever their individual stage in this inhuman transformation, they are all clearly becoming more kin like the cryptids, with kin coldblood among the items to loot from the hamlet — and the villagers we slay bleeding the same ooze as various kin. They don’t yet suffer the same vulnerabilities as kin, with the non-priest males even having less resistance to arcane than fire damage. Even so, we can trace this ongoing metamorphosis to Kos.

The largest building in the village seems to farm phantasms, overflowing with the glowing white mollusks and their pearly eggs — to the point that some are even lit as candles. The women of the village have turned into their own mollusks with shells to match. These shells, with and without their snail woman, are scattered all around the building, with the men commonly searching for something among the empty ones. The women do clearly pump something into us from their shell end should their jaws dig into our necks. And where do most of these shelled women hide except at the bottom where the phantasms have piled up, with many more shell-less in the adjoining caverns to Kos. They appear to owe the Great One their form, birthing phantasms for the village to harvest — and ingest. The mollusks have been distributed throughout the village in barrels. Meanwhile, tiny insect-like phantasms crawl all over headless corpses in the hamlet, which correspond to the grotesque residents’ severed heads identified in the Accursed Brew’s description. Put simply, the harvested phantasms were probably part of their diet.

This culturing and consumption of phantasms stemming from Kos for, presumably, generations has gradually morphed the residents into their current state. The women who supply this sustenance likely acquired their form in a similar manner, perhaps additionally stimulated by the parasites replete within Kos. Either way, this requires the Great One’s cooperation. She had come ashore, and her choice of beach is visible from the cliffside of the lighthouse, which has a lift down to the caves leading out to it. The only other possible motive for building this elevator is to visit the — naturally, phantasm-ridden — aquifer for the village well, which is part of the same complex of caverns. However, the well itself already has a ladder to inspect this area, so the lift is more likely to be for meeting with Kos. The aquifer nevertheless implies that a rising tide would fill the caves to replenish the well water, thereby granting the deep sea Great One options while coming ashore. Whatever her preferences, this is the ideal meeting place for the two parties, and that means having established relations.

In all likelihood, Kos approached the hamlet to work out a deal. The village may have been self-sufficient, but their way of life was inherently risky. If there wasn’t a good catch that season for whatever reason, that meant famine. The Great One brought them a consistent food supply so they could focus on their whaling, something which she could also guarantee would always be viable. This would certainly be enticing to simple villagers and warrant their veneration of her for generations to come. But what would Kos get in return? To answer, we need only look at her later pregnancy. Like most Great Ones, Kos was interested in having a child, which she couldn’t do on her own. And given her only known association is the Fishing Hamlet, she must have found her mate from amongst the villagers. But just as the Pthumerians prove difficulty bearing a Great One’s child, the hamlet shows difficulty impregnating a Great One. Rather than any time earlier, it is only after generations of metamorphosis that some man gave Kos child. Therefore, that gradual transformation is likely what made that possible.

The hamlet would never go hungry, and Kos would eventually cultivate a mate; that was the underpinnings to their implicit deal. It also became the source for the hamlet’s cultic faith. The priests to this faith seem to be selected based on their sensitivity to electricity. All the residents possess notably high resistance to bolt damage, the village women far more immune than the men. And while they still can’t compete, the priests are the only ones with similarly superior resistance among the males. This is what evidently allows them to wield long staves with which they can conjure lightning bolts. Electroreception is common to fish, so it isn’t surprising for the fish-like residents to manifest the same sensitivity, and thereby resilience, to electric currents. In that case, those who study the arcane to manipulate such power are best suited to the people with the greatest sensitivity. But since the snail women are busy producing the food, this duty is left to village men along with other spiritual practices.

As to why they attune themselves to bolts, it may tie into more than just their inhuman form. A priest’s duty is, among other things, mediating between man and the divine. If Kos is their god, then conveying her will to the village and vice-versa should fall to them. Electricity may thus be a means to communicate with the goddess even outside their beachside meetings. Indeed, the snail women’s own immunity caused by heightened sensitivity to electricity must be a byproduct of them sharing the closet connection with the Great Ones. And aside from producing oil to form their shells, their bodies also retain quicksilver, which the priests seem to extract for their arcane arts; we even see them drawing out bolts from the empty shells. It all ties back to Kos. This explains why the hamlet has survived the generations without first going insane, limiting their arcane exposure to electric signals handled by specific individuals. Their minds were safely linked to heightened consciousness, allowing their bodies to incrementally change until they finally met the elder god’s needs.