I was disrespecting the term 'quarantine' when I opened the barred door the darkbeast was lying by. I did not deign to call it's tenure there guarding, seeing as it was the very thing the barred door was intended to prevent. Regardless, in the past when a quarantine went up, I forced myself to respect it. Doing the same here was pointless.

There was no difference to the air on either side of the door. My bugs had much better senses of smell than I did, and all they could determine was a difference in dankness, which made sense since my side was open to the elements. Regardless, that wasn't why I was disrespecting something I normally abided by.

It was because the attempt to contain the plague of beasts had failed. It was a Nilbog situation, only with a Nilbog that aspired to more than having his own town. I was by definition a hunter, so I had every right to open the door and get access to more beasts to kill. I had a sneaking suspicion that if Gherman could look down upon me, he would be smiling. But he couldn't see the real world from a dream, so that was impossible.

The majority of beasts in the area I opened up were as far along in their transformation as it could go, at least as far as I could tell. Each was as strong, if not stronger than the first beast I encountered in Yharnam, but these encounters did not go the same way as the first. The beasts that weren't that far along still stood on two legs, but that was the most of the humanity that was left in them.

Traveling through this part of Yharnam, I found I was much more resilient to bodily harm. It wasn't like my body suddenly became a rock, completely deflecting all claws and fangs coming my way. That would've been stupid. I wasn't Weld, nor did I want to be. In fact, at first sneeze it didn't seem like I was more resilient at all. Every cut stung, and every slash opened flesh. Where the effects of Doll's powers showed was in what happened immediately after.

There was a time where a beast bit down on my left elbow, the hand of which was now relegated to holding the gun and throwing things. The daggers it called teeth snapped shut, completely tearing a chunk of me away, but when it dragged its fangs away I still had all the flesh, albeit torn to absolute ribbons. In a less extreme example, a slash on my torso going from waist to hip that went down to bone did exactly that, but immediate investigation saw no bone exposed to air.

My body now had an automatic healing response to trauma. Not to the extent that any wounds vanished, but enough to keep me kicking for longer. Something I was all too eager to do. I had the suspicion that this effect was why some of the things I fought tended not to die when I buried an axe a lethal distance into their chests. How Iosefka had the effect or something like it while I received mine through Doll's power was a question that had dangerous implications.

As for my new arm, it still… crackled every now and then. Not nearly enough to incapacitate anything, but enough to make a beast pause for about a tenth of a second if I got lucky. Considering my luck, it wasn't something I wanted to rely on. So I didn't. I had something much better that an unreliable static charge if I wanted to taze something.

Gehrman called it a Tonitris, and he had gone all nostalgic about it when he was helping me refine it with bloodstone shards. He got all glassy eyes as he talked about Archibald, a name I recognised after the fact, and how he dedicated himself to harnessing the powers of bolt. The memories I had allowed me to connect the dots.

The blue sparks were the bolt, and they weren't electricity, not really. Nor were they plasma. More likely the darkbeasts naturally shed some kind of gas that made transmitting electric charge incredibly easy, or emitted two kinds of gasses that combined to generate enough energy to make the resulting compound easily break down into plasma.

I stopped thinking about that there. I wasn't that knowledgeable on matters of powers generating electricity, I just knew I hated it because people used it to kill my bugs. The point was, I was much more partial to simply calling it a ball taser, but the name Gherman used did roll off the tongue.

The other point was that in the situation where my arm got bit and I again when my waist was opened, the responsible beast was subsequently smashed in the head with a heavy ball brimming with electric charge. The physical impact was great for putting some distance between them and me, and the electric charge made them slower to recover.

Putting the beasts off balance like that made it easier for me to kill them, and I took full advantage of that. It wasn't that I started disregarding the beasts or fighting recklessly, being ripped up still hurt, but I eventually started slipping into a fugue. Not actively bloodthirsty like I found myself when I was fighting Gascoigne, but clinical. There were enough beasts in this new place that I could look up any street and see one or two of the overgrown things, if not obvious evidence of their presence. I killed them all.

There were one or two that I saw curled up on an upper floor balcony, waiting for someone to walk underneath them. Not that there was anyone normal left living in this place. Regardless, the second of these fugues ended when I paused and looked up at something on a rooftop. All around me were dead beasts that I hadn't killed, so I was more wary than usual. That's why I noticed the shape up there. I traced a path up with my eyes and climbed to the top.

The view my elevation gave me was breathtaking. There were fires close to the horizon, casting an orange glow on the otherwise dark sky. It illuminated the buildings far off, revealing the state of disrepair that this portion of Yharnam had fallen to. It wasn't dark enough that the spots away from the fire weren't visible, but there was a marked difference.

I was not the only one watching the city, there was a man in an ashen grey hunter's garb sitting on the ledge looking away from me. Behind him was a blunderbuss and some kind of tinkertech box that had a stake sticking out of one end, both discarded almost carelessly. Beside him was a minigun, which was something I honestly wasn't expecting to find here, and is why I investigated.

After taking the scene in and using my bugs to get a more accurate impression on the older man, I took a step forward. I wasn't trying to be quiet, but I also wasn't trying to attract attention. The level of effort I put in was enough to fool most beasts, and was how I was used to moving about when I was travelling in these dangerous parts.

"How did you get up here?" The hunter asked suddenly. His voice rang out, reaching my ears with volume and intent. He was speaking at me without even looking at me. I considered how I wanted to respond as he slumped a fraction of an inch. "Ah, it's no matter. This place is finished."

So he was sane, I could work with that. I walked next to him, allowing myself to stand on the ledge. In my previous life I wouldn't have done that, seeing as he was in a prime position to throw me to my death, but now that I had the power to come back from the dead, I was using my positioning as more of a test.

Not that I was expecting to die in this scenario. This man sounded defeated.

"Look at it." He gestured forwards with one hand. "And to think I made this place to be a sanctuary."

He was gesturing at the beast that had brought the end to my first fugue in which I travelled through this place. The flayed beast. Long story short, it had killed me and was now on a rampage.

I had been dealing with it just fine until it sprayed poison everywhere and killed all my bugs at the same time. Then it had poisoned me, which started a mad scramble to get away and heal myself while the flayed beast did its best to unheal me. In the end it had won that contest. When I reawoke and went to find revenge it was gone, though there was a trail of half eaten beasts to follow.

The trail had lead me here.

"Sorry." I said.

The man looked at me. There were grey bandages over his eyes, but I didn't get the feeling that he couldn't see. "Are you the one that released it?"

I shook my head. There hadn't been anything restraining it in the first place. The church where I found it didn't even have any doors. Frankly, I was surprised it had stayed in there for as long as it did.

"Hm." He clasped his hands together and rested his chin on his knuckles. "Call me Djura. I don't think I'm to stay here for much longer, so we may meet again."

"Taylor." I told him.

"What was that?"

I sighed and pulled out a piece of paper I had used to communicate with little Taylor. I folded it so that the two words I intended for him were front and centre. I'm Taylor.

Djura inspected the parchment, then handed it back. "Trouble speaking, then? You're not the only one I've met like that. Though that's normally thanks to the plague warping the shapes of their jaws, or…" He let out a dry chuckle. "They're so broken that even blood can't fix them."

I arched an eyebrow.

"I'm still talking about the jaw." Djura clarified. "Landing a good blow there is useful because it sends them off balance, no matter the size. More than once I had to stop an uppity hunter striking things larger than him like that."

He went back to watching the city. Eventually he let out a sigh. "I miss hammers."

"Question." I said, taking a seat next to Djura. I was pulling out my ink and quill when he just started talking.

"This is Old Yharnam." He glanced at me, seeing the new question in my eyes. "You're an outsider. You won't know the history of this place, and even if you did, it would be the history from above. They would have lied. What I built of this place has fallen and I'm much older than I was. People my age wear down the ears of their youngers with long winded stories of old, and I haven't done that yet. If you hadn't shown up I don't think I'd have had the chance, so you're the one I'm talking at."

I still got my ink out, so I could voice any interruptions I deemed necessary.

Djura looked down forlornly. I followed his gaze and saw a human corpse, the first one I'd seen in a while, ripped apart on a nearby rooftop. A bloody hunter's weapon nearby.

"There was a different plague in Yharnam, many years ago." Djura spoke. "It was called Ashen Blood. I was around when it was most threatening and what I saw has stayed with me ever since. The plague was sneaky, which let it become widespread. It dried up the blood of the sick and made that which flows through the body white instead of red. Solid instead of like water. More often than not, a sick man would appear healthy, until he bled. After bleeding, the skin would never heal right, if it healed at all.

"I saw houses lit on fire in an attempt to halt the plague. Children would bath themselves in mud because it would recolour the white ash that marked them as sick. If they were known to be ill, they were killed. There was no other option in the squalor of this town. For you see, there was an antidote for the Ashen Blood, but it wasn't cheap."

Djura pointed up at what I recognised as Cathedral Ward. "That area has changed since that time, but the truth remains that up there is where the rich live, while here is where the poor remained. The antidote was in good supply up there, and was distributed well, but down here was another story. There ended up being twice as much medicine down here than up there because the plague was simply more widespread here, only it wasn't distributed when people couldn't afford it. It ended up not being enough. Especially when the price went up. The streets were hauntingly quiet for a time."

He paused. "And then came the blood. That sweet, cheap, and intoxicating ichor that fixed everything."

Djura paused again. I kind of expected what came next.

"It didn't, I think." He sighed. "The Ashen Blood was eradicated, but the next plague reared its head far too soon. Leaving enough time of bliss for some to accept that the troubles were over, for people to flock to Yharnam and fill the empty houses, to grant hope for a good future, then taking it away for all to despair." Djura gestured around old Yharnam. "This place fell to despair first. It's where the first beasts were found."

So this place used the blood heavily, and was the first place to produce beasts. I was too jaded to believe in coincidences, meaning that there was a connection between the two. A hand brushed involuntarily against my belt of blood vials. If the blood was really the cause of the transformation, then would I start changing like that? Djura was old, and while I didn't know how much he used blood, I was skeptical of him abstaining for the entire time he'd been here.

"The first hunts ended badly." Djura continued heavily. "No survivors, more often than not. Whole parts of the city would disappear overnight, and then there would be more beasts. Then eventually came the workshop."

I was put in the mind of the old building Teilgean had pointed me towards. I scribbled a question onto a mostly blank piece of parchment. Do you know Gherman?

Djura was about to keep talking, having taken a moment to get nostalgic for things I wasn't there for. But his train of thought was derailed when I pushed that question in front of him. His expression showed the briefest surprise before taking a darker turn.

"You dream." He said.

I nodded cautiously.

His head shifted as he took me in, no doubt looking at me with fresh eyes. Dangerous eyes. The tension on the rooftop tripled in an instant. And then it was gone.

"I dreamed as well, once." He admitted, turning his head back to where the sounds of commotion was. Where the flayed beast was. "You have my pity."

"I don't want your pity." I told him, knowing he'd only hear gibberish. I tapped the name again to get him to divulge what he knew of the old man.

Djura pulled out a small dusty vial that was messy enough for me to be incapable of seeing what was inside. My bugs smelled gunpowder, however. "The first hunter, they call him. He was aged when the first beasts appeared. He was the one who lead the hunts that had survivors at all. Two in ten men came back from those. He established the workshop the Powder Kegs found inspiration in."

He considered the vial, then handed it to me. "Take it. I have no more use for it."

I accepted the gift and gave it a closer look. It was, in fact, gunpowder.

"Now where was I?" Djura sat up a little straighter as he overlooked old Yharnam. "Ah yes, the workshop. And with the workshop came the hunters. With the hunters came the death of the masses." He gestured down. "You think this place is crowded now? When word of the Healing Church and its blood spread, all sorts came flocking to Yharnam. I've already told you that the outsiders were the first to fall to the plague. They changed here."

That would explain the quarantine from outside, then.

"I blooded myself alongside the first hunters. They shouldn't have taken me, I was young at the time. But my hands ran red with blood and I was one with the rest of them. For too long I hunted, losing my head amidst the haze. But one of my companions opened my eyes." He paused, his eyes haunted underneath his hat. "He went insane on the blood, and not the healing kind. He embraced his beastly side. That's when I realised something."

Djura pointed at the half dozen corpses in the courtyard below us. "All those creatures down there. They look like beasts, but they're not. They are people."

I arched an eyebrow.

"You're sceptical. You just haven't had enough experience to see. You will." He said, sure of it. Treating it as fact. "One day."

I wrote my rebuttal. My brother became a beast and tried to kill me. Not entirely accurate, but it got the point across.

"Hrmm…" Djura took his time reading the sentence. Or he read it right away and was thinking without moving. "Then you see it from my side already. I've pointlessly talked your ear off."

I shook my head and took the paper back to write another message. He did it because they killed me. Branded OUTSIDER on my body. He was mad with grief, and putting him down was a mercy. All the people that are still people have stayed inside, and I haven't seen anyone recover from the master effect.

There was more I wanted to put in there, but any more would've made it too wordy.

"You're brother was still in there, I'm sure." Djura told me. "You were the one to kill him, weren't you?" I inclined my head. "Then you have my empathy, little as it is worth, these days."

I didn't write more to continue the argument. Djura's position on the humanity of the beasts did little to impact what I wanted. I didn't agree with him, but there was no point in further debate.

Djura looked to where the flayed beast was howling. "You came up from the Goal, didn't you?"

I wasn't sure if that was where the bag men had deposited me, but I nodded anyway.

"That means you killed the Darkbeast." Djura muttered to himself. He stood and started gathering his weapons. He strapped the stake box onto his arm and experimentally pulled a trigger I hadn't seen, making the stake jump out a short distance, then retract. He picked up his blunderbuss and holstered it, then stepped over to the minigun.

"Hunter, I have one thing I want to ask of you before I leave this place."

I stood off to the side and waited.

"I've dedicated years to protecting the people here, and now most of them are dead. The beasts I protected kept to themselves, they were of no danger to those above. But that thing..." He pointed between two buildings, where a swollen beast was eating another. Purple mist drifted erratically from his fast moving head. The haze of its poison was just barely visible. Now that it had my approach to fighting, I guess it didn't see a point in holding the poison back. At this distance it looked to be about the size of Djura's pointing hand. "That thing would eat the world and still be hungry."

Djura pulled a lever and the minigun swiveled. He breathed out, then started pulling on the contraption, operating it using mechanisms that were difficult to figure out at first glance. A hail of bullets crossed the city and impacted the flayed beast, sending it flying off the beast it was in the process of eating.

Said beast tried to stand up and took a few bullets for its attacker, but Djura was already correcting his aim towards the flayed beast once more. A stray bullet hit something explosive, which set off a chain reaction in what was probably a warehouse for gunpowder. Djura kept firing into the burning building, even as the flames died against the mostly stone architecture. When the fire cleared and the bullets ceased, the beast was nowhere to be seen.

A howl that echoed across the city told us it was still alive.

Djura stepped away from the minigun and considered his blunderbuss, then dropped it next to the bigger gun. He crouched next to a different ledge and lifted a tile. Using one hand he pulled a goddamn cannon out from underneath and hefted it with ease, then he looked me in the eye. "Help me kill that thing."