Laurence, the First Vicar

Lore

Laurence was the first vicar of the Healing Church and played an instrumental role in its founding.

Before the Healing Church existed, Laurence was a student at Byrgenwerth, an institute of learning where scholars studied history and archaelogy under the guidance of Provost Willem. Willem was disillusioned by the limits of human intellect and looked to the Great Ones, beings that might be described as gods who existed on higher planes, for guidance, emulating them. Willem hoped to elevate his being and thoughts to those of a Great One, though how humankind was to do this was undetermined.

A group of young Byrgenwerth scholars discovered a holy medium deep within the tombs carved out below Yharnam (Chalice Dungeons) by the Pthumerians, a super-human race of beings that are said to have unlocked the wisdom of the eldritch Truth.

Medium in this case is a play on words, meaning a liquid with which pigments are mixed and an intervening substance through which sensory impressions are conveyed or physical forces are transmitted: blood.

The discovery of blood made their dream of evolution a reality. Metamorphosis, and the excesses and deviation that followed, were only the beginning.
- Clockwise Metamorphosis description

The blood discovered in the tombs was revolutionary to the scholars. Consuming the blood of the 'gods' (“communion”) is said to be invigorating, increasing strength, stamina and vitality. It gave all the appearances of evolving mankind, exactly what Willem sought. But consumption of blood will eventually transform mankind into beasts. This truth is evidenced throughout the tombs of Yharnam and the fate of Loran. This was not the evolution Willem sought. Those afflicted with beasthood would lose their minds, becoming violent and irrational. Willem developed an adage regarding the Old Blood, drilling it into his students:

"We are born of the blood, made men by the blood, undone by the blood. Our eyes are yet to open… Fear the old blood."

Willem feared the Old Blood, and he considered any who would pursue research with the blood to be traitors. Willem's views on the Old Blood caused a schism in the school. Prominent scholars like Laurence and Micolash sought to use the blood to further their research, but Willem would have nothing to do with it. He believed that the blood, while allowing humans to reach greater levels of strength, gave the illusion of evolution and would eventually send mankind in a direction that would lead to ruin.

"Master Willem was right. Evolution without courage will be the ruin of our race."
- Lecture Theatre lore note

Laurence did not take the warnings of Willem lightly, but he could not ignore the potential of using the blood. In his interview Miyazaki notes that the cutscene the player witnesses when touching the skull atop the Grand Cathedral's altar is a memory of Laurence's. It shows us a key turning point in Laurence's life, his departure from Byrgenwerth.

Laurence: "Master Willem, I've come to bid you farewell."
Provost Willem: "Oh, I know, I know… You think now, to betray me."
Laurence: "No, but you will never listen. I tell you, I will not forget our adage."
Provost Willem: "We are born of the blood, made men by the blood, undone by the blood. Our eyes are yet to open…"
Provost Willem & Laurence together: "Fear the old blood."
Laurence: "I must take my leave."
[after Laurence leaves, to himself]
Provost Willem: "By the gods, fear it, Laurence."

After leaving Byrgenwerth, Laurence continued his research into the old blood. This led to the founding of the Healing Church, and the establishment of blood healing. Whether the Healing Church was established while Laurence was alive, or whether it was established because of him is unclear. His title as First Vicar implies that he was alive, however Miyazaki's comment that "His skull served as the start of the Healing Church itself" seems to imply that he was given that title post-humously. Whether or not the Church was officially instated during Laurence's lifetime or afterwards, it is certain that his role in its establishment was important, and that his methods of research were continued beyond his demise.

Because the Church was made up of those scholars who left Byrgenwerth, they would have certainly known about the effects of blood. They believed that medicine; their special blood, is not a means of treatment but rather a method for research. To conduct their research they established the Church, and their white robed doctors, experts in experimentally backed blood ministration and the scourge of the beast, gave the Church's special blood to the unwitting populace of Yharnam and to any of those citizens, foreigners and outsiders who would come seeking help from these blood ministers.

"If it's blood you're interested in, you should try the Healing Church.
The church controls all knowledge on blood ministration, and all varieties of blood."
- Gilbert

The Healing Church also believes that some knowledge can only be obtained by exposing oneself to sickness, and so they ritually partook in communion, or the drinking of the old blood. When Laurence left Byrgenwerth he brought with him Willem's adage:

"We are born of the blood, made men by the blood, undone by the blood. Our eyes are yet to open… Fear the old blood."

This adage became the cornerstone of the Healing Church's inner circle and though Laurence and his associates most probably did fear the old blood, they were not about to stop using it as Willem had advised. Instead, they devised mantric verses, intonations and rituals to try and shackle their beastly desires:

"Seek the old blood.
Let us pray… to partake in communion.
Let us partake in communion… and feast upon the old blood.
Our thirst for blood satiates us, soothes our fears.
Seek the old blood… but beware the frailty of men.
Their wills are week, minds young.
The foul beasts will dangle nectar and lure the meek into the depths.
Remain wary of the frailty of men.
Their wills are weak, minds young.
Were it not for fear, death would go unlamented."
- Vicar Amelia

Laurence and his associates made repeated attempts to control the scourge of the beast. Perhaps this was prompted by the fact that they themselves were becoming beasts having taken the old blood, or perhaps because if they could find a cure then they could use the blood to ascend. But as each attempt failed, the problem of rampant beasthood grew out of hand. To deal with the growing beast threat Laurence and his associates created the Hunter's Dream.

"The nameless moon presence beckoned by Laurence and his associates. Paleblood."
- Lore Note in the Lecture Theater

A great relic, also known as the Cord of the Eye. Every
infant Great One has this precursor to the umbilical cord.
Every Great One loses its child, and then yearns for a
surrogate. The Third Umbilical Cord precipitated the
encounter with the pale moon, which beckoned the hunters
and conceived the hunter's dream
- One Third Umbilical Cord description [Found in the Abandoned Workshop]

Gehrman tells the player that the Hunter's Dream was once a safe haven for hunters; a workshop where hunters used blood to enhance their weapons and flesh. This is true for the player as well, blood and blood shards are used to increase the strength of their weaponry, while the Plain Doll explains:

"Hello, good hunter. I am a doll, here in this dream to look after you.
Honorable hunter, pursue the echoes of blood, and I will channel them into your strength. You will hunt beasts… and I will be here for you, to embolden your sickly spirit."
- Plain Doll

The Messengers of the Dream also serve as attendants to the Hunters, seeking out those who can become hunters, carrying their messages, providing them with supplies and acting as a conduit between the Waking World and the Dream. The Plain Doll tells us that they worship and serve those hunters of the dream.

The Healing Church and the Blood Ministers who belong to it were once guardians of the hunters. in the times of the hunter Ludwig. The Healing Church worked, and forged weapons, in their unique workshop to aid the Hunters in their plight. By the time the events the player experiences take place, most ministers don't recall the hunters. This information tells us that the Dream was created by Laurence and his associates at the Healing Church to sustain the hunters, or at least that was their understanding of the contract, perhaps by performing some sort of ritual using the One Third Umbilical Cord found atop the altar in the Workshop.

Laurence's associates are not directly named in the lore note found in the Lecture Theater, but from Gehrman's dialogue we can conclude that he played a significant role in the creation of the Dream and had a seemingly close friendship with Laurence. The Plain Doll tells the player, rather chillingly that Gehrman:

"…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… …such is his purpose…"
- Plain Doll

It would appear that when Laurence made the contract with the pale moon in order to create the Hunter's Dream, Gehrman's role was to stay within the dream and serve as an advisor and mentor to the hunters that made their way there. But this role was never supposed to be permanent:

"Oh, Laurence… what's taking you so long… I've grown too old for this, of little use now, I'm afraid…"

and:

"Oh, Laurence… Master Willem… Somebody help me… Unshackle me please, anybody… I've had enough of this dream… The night blocks all sight… Oh, somebody, please… "
- Gehrman, the First Hunter

From this dialogue it would seem that Gehrman expects Laurence to one day unshackle him from the Dream, to allow him to return. Perhaps this was a promise made by Laurence when the dream was conceived, to free him once a cure to scourge of the beasts had been discovered.

In the end, Laurence was overcome by the blood and became the first cleric beast, eventually being dragged into the Hunter's Nightmare. The skull atop the altar in the Grand Cathedral is split in two from the temple to the chin, across its left eye, showing a rather gruesome end to the Church's first vicar. The human version of Laurence's skull found in the Nightmare tells us that it is a symbol of Laurence's past, and what he failed to protect. The symbol is a human skull, perhaps implying that Laurence failed to protect the people in his life, his friend Gehrman who he left trapped within the Hunter's Dream, his master Provost Willem, who was left alone and helpless back at Byrgenwerth, the members and clergy of the Healing Church who were eventually overcome by the scourge of the beast, and especially the people of Yharnam who fell victim to a similar fate. Within the Hunter's Dream, Laurence is destined to seek out his skull, but in his beast like state, even its recovery would never bring back his memories.

Phase 1 and 2 - Cleric Beast
Attack Description
Grab This enemy has a grab that can be deadly, if you see its left arm swing forward in a grappling motion, get out of the way.
4-hit combo Wait away from the boss until the last hit slams the floor to safely counter.
Forward Leap Roll INTO the leap to avoid taking damage.
Forward Slam Stay away to avoid, or roll forward to avoid taking damage.
Phase 3 - Lower half removed
Attack Description
Crawling Stomp Rush Crawls towards you and stomps the ground with his hands in turns. Left, right and so on.
Right Hand Swipe (the skinny hand) Swipes with his skinny right hand and gives an enormous opening.
Left Hand Smash Punches the ground creating a small AoE blast.
Left Hand Swipe Swipes with left hand either normally or does a wide horizontal hook.
Lava Spit Spits lava at you that stays on the ground for a while.
Lava Charge Charges at you, leaving a trail of lava behind him.

Theories

Title of theory.

Dialogue

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