Lady Maria was one of Gehrman's first students. She is a distant descendant of Annalise, Queen of the Vilebloods, and wields the Rakuyo. She has a unique visceral attack animation.
Among the first hunters, all students of Gehrman, was the lady hunter Maria. Maria came from Cainhurst and was a distant relative to the the Cainhurst Undead Queen. Maria was a skilled warrior. Wielding her beloved Rakuyo ('Lucky' in Japanese) a trick sword forged in her home of Cainhurst, Maria fought with great dexterity, relying on skill rather than the blood blades of the Cainhurst nobles. Maria frowned upon blood blades and their use, standing in contrast to those around her. Perhaps this was because the blood blades eat away at the wielder's very essence, or perhaps for other reasons unknown, Maria honed her skill over the blood arts of the Cainhurst nobles. This pursuit of skill may have been what drew her to Gehrman in the first place. The Rakuyo description tells us that Maria had great admiration for Gehrman, a man who worked alongside Willem and his associates at Byrgenwerth. Gehrman's combat style emphasizes speed and must have struck a chord with Maria. Despite her noble heritage, Maria became a student of Gehrman, and one of the first hunters. Her gear was crafted in Cainhurst, but her battle prowess grew alongside Gehrman's. While Maria admired Gehrman, she remained oblivious to his feelings for her. Indeed, Gehrman's feelings for Maria are described as a "curious mania", and some might say obsessive love:
A deep love for the doll can be surmised by the fine
craftsmanship of this article, and the care with which it was kept.
It borderlines on mania, and exudes a slight warmth.
Working under Provost Willem, Gehrman, Maria and the other hunters received an assignment. In a small Fishing Hamlet near the coast, it was rumored the body of a Great One the villagers called Kos had washed up on shore. The villagers themselves worshiped this Great One calling it "mother" and "dear", and indeed the villagers themselves had grown grotesque and powerful in their worship. This was of course a valuable and unprecedented find for the Byrgenwerth scholars, the body of a real life Great One was within their grasp, but not only this - there were rumors that the Great One was with child, and a Great One's child means a Great One's Umbilical Cord. Provost Willem sought the Cord in order to elevate his being and thoughts to those of a Great One, by lining his brain with eyes. The only choice, he knew, if man were to ever match the greatness of the Great Ones. An enfeebled old man, Willem sent his hunters and scholars to the Fishing Hamlet to retrieve the Cord for him. The village was raided and ransacked, its occupants murdered and ruthlessly examined, their skulls drilled into in search of eyes.
Skull of a local from the violated fishing village.
The inside of the skull was forcibly searched for eyes,
as evidenced by innumerable scratches and indentations.
- Accursed Brew description
What happened next can only be speculated upon. Something happened in the Fishing Hamlet that caused Maria to abandon her beloved Rakuyo, a sword that may have symbolized the choices she had made up to that point in her life, setting her apart from her Cainhurst relatives and contemporaries and galvanizing her to Gehrman. When she could stomach the Rakuyo's presence no longer, she tossed it into a dark well. We know where this well is, because we find the Rakuyo at the bottom of a well in the Fishing Hamlet after defeating the fishmen that have swallowed it. The Befuddled Villager gives us a clue as to what took place in the village.
"Byrgenwerth, Byrgenwerth… Blasphemous murderers, blood crazed fiends.
Atonement for the wretches… by the wrath of mother Kos.
Mercy for the poor wizened child, mercy. Oh please, atonement for the wretches.
Lay the curse of blood upon them, and their children, and their children's children for evermore.
Each wretched birth will plunge each child into a lifetime of misery…
Mercy… For the poor wizened child…
Let the pungence of Kos, cling like a mother's devotion"
- Befuddled Villager
From this we can gather that the scholars committed a blasphemous murder and that this murder involved Kos, and her poor wizened child, who received no mercy. We know that Willem did eventually lay his hands on the umbilical cord of a Great One. The Defiled Chalice description tells us that to be cursed, one must incite the wrath of the Great Ones. It may be that Gehrman and Maria committed a great sin and took the umbilical cord of Kos' Orphan. It is strongly implied that the Orphan was murdered most blasphemously in the process, as the player finds its ghostly apparition still clinging to its mother's body within the Hunter's Nightmare. Whatever the case, Maria evidently came to regret her part in what happened at the Fishing Hamlet and with Kos' corpse.
"A corpse should be left well alone.
Oh I know very well, how the secrets beckon so sweetly."
- Lady Maria
After the events of the Fishing Hamlet, Maria became a caretaker of the numerous patients in the Healing Church's Research Hall, taking up residence behind the giant star-interpreting Astral Clocktower at the top of the Grand Cathedral. To her patients she was only known as 'Lady Maria', and it would seem that to them she became a mother figure (like 'Mother Mary'). Within the Research Hall, Lady Maria oversaw the cerebral patients as they imbibed water. These patients would imbibe water and listen for the howl of the sea, their heads expanding until that is all that they were. The goal behind these experiments was to make contact with the Great Ones. Though these early experiments were not the same as those involving the Emissaries, the emissaries were created to reach out to the Great Ones, but these Research Patients only had the purpose of listening, of absorbing and assimilating the utterings of the Great Ones. In the early days of the Healing Church, the Great Ones were linked to the ocean. This notion is clearly related to the episode at the Fishing Hamlet and the founding of Kos' corpse washed up on the shore. We do not know Maria's motivation in being the caretaker of the patients. Perhaps because she knew the callous atrocities the Healing Church, made up of those Byrgenwerth scholars who had been at the Fishing Hamlet, were willing to commit, it is that she hoped to ease the suffering of the patients the Church experimented on.
Key to the balcony on the first floor of the Research Hall.
Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower gave this to the patient, Adeline.
Maria had hoped Adeline would find comfort in the faint breeze that carried the scent of flowers from the outside.
- Balcony Key description
But the experiments were largely unsuccessful. Many of the patients died under examination, their body's being cast into the corrosive acid that lined the base of the Research Hall's spiral staircase to dissolve into oblivion. Outside her home in the Astral Clocktower, Maria was reminded of the all too real failures in her pursuits. The patients give the player a view into Maria's mounting frustration:
"Ah Lady Maria, Lady Maria, please take my hand. Please… help me. Don't let me drown."
"Oh, Lady Maria, save me please. I don't hear anything."
"I have failed… Please, Lady Maria [crying]"
"Lady Maria, I'm a robin, will I ever curl up and become an egg? What say you? Lady Maria, Lady Maria, say something! anything…"
Lady Maria retreated into her tower, acting as the Healing Church's last defense against its darkest secret.
"Climb the Astral Clocktower, and kill Maria.
She hides the real secret…"
- Simon, the Harrowed
Maria's eventual fate is never stated directly, however it is strongly implied that Maria committed suicide. Within the Astral Clocktower we find the slumped form of Lady Maria in her chair. When we meet her, she is noticeably dead, at least as dead as a consciousness can be. The evidence seems to point towards a slit throat, as the blood on her blouse has traveled down from her neck. In addition, during her boss fight she visibly stabs herself in the throat in order to initiate the second phase of the battle. This seems to point towards Maria’s death as an act of suicide by slitting her own throat.
"Only an honest death will cure you now. From your wild curiosity."
The death of Maria did not halt the research of the Healing Church, but it did have a dramatic impact on Gehrman. Gehrman's mania for Maria truly began to take hold. Maria's small hair ornament found in the Abandoned Workshop tells us that it was kept with great care, clearly a keepsake for one who had departed. Within the Workshop Gehrman set to work on crafting the plain doll, a creation that would capture the resemblance of Lady Maria almost exactly. A deep love for the doll can be surmised by the fine craftsmanship of its clothing and the care with which it was kept, borderlining on mania. Eventually Gehrman would complete his creation of the Doll, but his creation was lifeless.
This blood gem is a quiet but unfaltering friend that continually restores HP, the
life essence of a hunter. Perhaps the doll's creator had wished for just such a friend, albeit in vain.
- Tear Blood Gem description
In the Abandoned Workshop within Yharnam it lies propped up against a wall, abandoned and forgotten. Within the Abandoned Workshop we also find a One Third Umbilical Cord on the altar, almost as if it had been used in some ritual:
The Third Umbilical Cord precipitated the
encounter with the pale moon, which beckoned the hunters
and conceived the hunter's dream
- Third Umbilical Cord description
What do we find within the Hunter's Dream? The Doll. But with a noticeable difference, the Doll has been brought to life by some force with the power to create life.
A doll sheds neither blood nor tears and thus its nature remains unknown. Whoever thinks this is precious must be troubled by severe naivete
- Tear Stone description
The Doll in the dream is not the resurrected Maria, though we can guess that, that was the goal of Gehrman when he bargained with the Pale Moon to create the Hunter's Dream (if that is in fact, what happened), but it does retain some connections to the real Lady Maria that manifest in strange ways.
Giving the Doll the small hair ornament will illicit this powerful emotional reaction, almost as if the real Maria is somehow breaking to the surface:
"What… what is this? I-I can't remember, not a thing, only… I feel… A yearning… something I've never felt before… What's happening to me? Ahh… Tell me hunter, could this be joy? Ahh…"
The Doll will shed a tear that becomes the Tear Stone, almost as if it remembers the significance of this ornament and treasures the care with which it was kept. When the player defeats Lady Maria in the Hunter's Nightmare the Doll will say:
"Good hunter. This may sound strange, but… Have I somehow changed? Moments ago, from some place, perhaps deep within, I sensed a liberation from heavy shackles. Not that I would know… How passing strange… "
Almost as if there was a connection between Lady Maria in the Nightmare and the Doll in the Dream. What this connection means we cannot say, but perhaps it implies that Gehrman was wrong to give up so soon. Though the Doll does not share Lady Maria's personality, there is certainly a connection.
"Hunters have told me about the church. About the gods, and their love. But… do the gods love their creations? I am a doll, created by you humans. Would you ever think to love me? Of course… I do love you. Isn't that how you've made me?"