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 home, shallow waters to dock dingies in town, nets to haul in catches; everything revolves around eating the marine life. Naturally, this maritime culture has heavily shaped the village in other ways. Upon first entering the hamlet, we pass corpses in small dingies and rock cairns along the shallow water, 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.

This is fitting, since Yharnam and the Fishing Hamlet must be relatively close. One of the villagers is familiar with Byrgenwerth, requiring the school be within travel distance of the village. There is also plenty of coastline to Yharnam’s north for which the hamlet could be located along. At the same time, there are no signs of Pthumerians or their underground ruins anywhere in the area. Therefore, the Fishing Hamlet was likely founded by foreigners settling on the fringes of the developed West. This 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 huge chunks of flesh as well as rakes and awls for flensing blubber. Their hamlet is filled with flammable oil vessels and oil urns, some of which are carried by villagers or turned into hanging lamps. Typically, such oil would be the product of whaling, a major industry during the Victorian era. It thus seems that the village had survived on meat it fished for itself and fuel it whaled for 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. This would imply that such arcane animals were hauled in by the village. Indeed, their oil has a peculiar orange luminescence, green when used for lighting or the catalyst to the priests’ staves. What could cause such an effect except for the “whale” blubber being boiled containing arcane properties? In short, the villagers were making their living off whaling these cryptids. But if so, why were they finding these creatures in apparent abundance out at sea? The answer is, most likely, because marine life in the region had 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 lays on the seashore just outside the hamlet. In other words, Kos must have 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.

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 isn’t necessarily the state of the whole hamlet. The Accursed Brew is the skull of resident who looks much more human. Nonetheless, the head bears obvious protrusions or otherwise abnormal distortions, and many more of its kind are hanging around the village. At the very least, the enemies we face are the most grotesque and thereby physically strongest members of the Fishing Hamlet, with everyone else at some prior stage of this inhuman transformation. They are clearly becoming more kin like the cryptids, with kin coldblood among the items to loot from the hamlet. 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 is filled with glowing white mollusks not unlike the one we become as a Great One; they also look like phantasms. As to why there are so many gathered in one place, this seems to be a farm. Like the phantasms, the women of the village have turned into 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 around the empty ones. The piles of phantasms at the bottom are where most of the shelled women can be found, and many more can be found without shells in the adjoining caves, particularly facing Kos in mass prayer. The women seem to owe their form to the Great One, birthing phantasms for the village to harvest ever since. And this harvest wasn’t for sale. Tiny, phantasm-like mollusks crawl over countless corpses in the hamlet. These headless bodies correspond to the grotesque residents’ heads. Put simply, they were probably consuming the cultured phantasms for themselves.

This culturing and consumption of phantasms stemming from Kos for, presumably, generations has slowly 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 to said beach. The only other possible motive for building this elevator is to visit the 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.