Laurence and Gehrman
Laurence and Gehrman. Together, they would change the world. Who were they originally, and how did they fall from grace? What happened to Laurence, and how was Gehrman bound to the Hunter’s Dream? When we see now, what their organization has become, we can only wonder what these two individuals dreamed of. Did they want a better world? Did they want personal power? Perhaps they were simply madmen, chasing after scientific curiosity and slaughtering the innocent in their path. In this penultimate chapter we will examine the fates of these two individuals, and the consequences of their actions.
The PC Hunter awakens into a world of horror, just as the player does. They have no answers, they have no real questions to even ask. The world is confusing, frightening, and punishing. Indeed if the Hunter had been alone, they likely never would have gotten much of anywhere. But the Hunter isn't alone.
"Ah-hah, you must be the new hunter. Welcome to the Hunter's Dream. This will be your home, for now. I am… Gehrman, friend to you hunters. You're sure to be in a fine haze about now, but don't think too hard about all of this. Just go out and kill a few beasts. It's for your own good. You know, it's just what hunters do! You'll get used to it…" -Gehrman, the First Hunter
Gehrman provides the Hunter with a home and a workshop. From within the Hunter's Dream, Gehrman will provide the Hunter with a bit of comfort and a small amount of guidance. But who is Gehrman? Where does he come from and why is he here? According to the Plain Doll: "He was a hunter long, long ago, but now serves only to advise them. He is obscure, unseen in the dreaming world. Still, he stays here, in this dream."
Gehrman was the First Hunter, and from him all modern hunting techniques were developed. A central theme of Gehrman is mercy, what he grants to those he kills in the Hunter’s Dream, as implied by his Burial Blade:
"Trick weapon wielded by Gehrman, the First Hunter. A masterpiece that defined the entire array of weapons crafted at the workshop. Its blade is forged with siderite, said to have fallen from the heavens. Gehrman surely saw the hunt as a dirge of farewell, wishing only that his prey might rest in peace, never again to awaken to another harrowing nightmare."
He also created the Plain Doll, basing its appearance upon his dead student Maria. From within the Hunter’s Dream, Gehrman and the Doll guide the Paleblood Hunters in their work. Gehrman was also, as we know, an acquaintance of Laurence.
"Oh, Laurence… what's taking you so long… I've grown too old for this, of little use now, I'm afraid…"
Our first encounter with Laurence comes from discovering his skull in the Grand Cathedral, after defeating Vicar Amelia. here we witness a memory in which Laurence announced to Master Willem that he was leaving the college. We learn from Laurence’s Skull, found in the Nightmare, that it is the: "Skull of Laurence, first vicar of the Healing Church. In reality he became the first cleric beast, and his human skull only exists within the Nightmare. The skull is a symbol of Laurence's past, and what he failed to protect. He is destined to seek his skull, but even if he found it, it could never restore his memories." The human skull appears to be a purely symbolic object, created in the Nightmare, as Laurence’s skull in the Waking World is found in the Grand Cathedral. In Miyazaki’s interview with FuturePress he remarks that “[Laurence’s] skull served as the start of the Healing Church itself, but it’s taken the form of a twisted beast.”
Laurence was therefore the founder of the Healing Church, having left Byrgenwerth after a disagreement in philosophy with Master Willem. Laurence and Gehrman represent two halves of a mystery.