From the very start, Maria was the odd one out. Her close relation to the Queen compared to most in Cainhurst may have made her enhanced physical abilities possible, but this wunderkind never fully embraced her blood’s potential. Her choice of weapon was Rakuyo, an Eastern sword like the Chikage but not wholly reliant on the use of blood blades for an edge in battle. Instead, it was a “crammed” katana (仕込み刀) in the same vein that the threaded cane is a “crammed” cane, (仕込み杖) the individual short and long swords jammed together at the hilt to form a kind of twin blade; its trick was thus separating the two to dual wield. The sheer variety in sword techniques demanded incredible skill from the wielder, but that suited Maria just fine. She scorned her clan’s blood blade art, presumably because it used that same blood which turned her kin into beasts — her embrace of the sword shows that the noblewoman followed the path of a knight, so her determination to rid their castle of such vermin is undeniable. This also explains her not adopting a quicksilver gun. No matter the quality, Maria would not revel in evil.

Hunting weapon of Maria, lady hunter of the Clocktower. It is a crammed katana from the same country as Cainhurst’s “Chikage”, but it is a katana famed for only requiring high technique, not the power of blood.

It is said that Maria also liked such a property of “Rakuyo”, loathing blood blades despite being the Queen’s collateral relation.

But at one point, she threw away her beloved “Rakuyo”. Into a dark well, simply because she was weak of heart.

This put the young woman in direct opposition to her clan’s culture; growing up at the castle must have felt suffocating. How many lives did she have to witness snuffed out for their depraved banquets? How much blood of innocents did she need to drink in order to survive? How many friends and family was she required to lose to the scourge? It is easy to imagine Maria thinking that she was the one sane person in an insane world. It wouldn’t be surprising if she latched onto the first person to alleviate that loneliness. So when an older gentleman came as a true guest, replete with stories of his life’s vocation hunting beasts as but an ordinary man, the girl was understandably smitten. The Japanese description for Rakuyo relates that Maria “adored” Gehrman, the verb shitau (慕う) carrying multiple connotations: to idolize a person for their traits, to yearn for the opposite sex romantically, and to follow someone you find too hard to leave. All these different meanings prove applicable to Maria. She saw in Gehrman a kindred spirit, inspiring admiration and loyalty she never held for her queen.

Hunting hat of the lady hunter Maria, one of the first hunters who studied under Gehrman. A Cainhurst design can be seen.

She who is a collateral relation to the undead queen instead adored Gehrman. Without knowing about his curious mad passion.

Her feelings don’t look to have gone unanswered. Abandoned with his workshop is the doll, dressed in clothes made with love and care according to their description — the maker even sewed a spare in case they ever needed changing. The location and skill to the craft implicate Gehrman as this maker. It is no accident then that this silver-haired puppet resembles Maria, even sharing her voice in the Hunter’s Dream. The spare clothes are likewise stored in a chest beneath the ledge next to the lady’s grave, as if the corpse was used for reference. Then there is the grave itself, the only one of its kind there. Did no other hunters under Gehrman fall in their line of work? Unlikely. In that case, having only Maria buried at his home highlights her unique importance to him, which he projects onto the doll — based on the text, it was an obsession. The doll in the Hunter’s Dream at least surmises that it was created to love its creator. Altogether, it indicates that Gehrman held just as much affection for Maria if not more so, and he certainly didn’t hide it.

Hat for the discarded doll. It looks like a spare for dress-up.

That which was probably very carefully made and cared for is where you can feel the former owner’s affection for the doll.

It resembles mania, and thus this is slightly warm.

We can loot the Small Hair Ornament from a cabinet in the abandoned workshop. Like the doll’s clothes, this accessory too had received loving care which has lasted the test of time. And although its design best complements grey hair, it cannot be one of Maria’s belongings originally, as the description notes it to be rather modest; a contrast to the lady hunter’s workshop attire which very much maintains that garish flourish of Cainhurst. In other words, this must have been obtained or created by Gehrman. At the same time, however, it couldn’t have been for his doll. When gifted the ornament, the doll in the Hunter’s Dream is overcome with emotion. The localization has it describe feeling nostalgic yearning, reflecting an earlier draft of the game’s script. However, the Japanese dialogue in the final game instead posits this as kindness, reframing its tearful reaction to be because the gift was the first show of affection it ever received. It is obvious that this accessory is foreign to the doll, meaning that it was probably never part of its waking world counterpart’s dress-up.

Very modest, small hair ornament.

A quality item that has long been away from human hands but where one can feel the previous care. It would no doubt look quietly pretty in a grayish hair color.

What… is this? I-I have nothing, I don’t understand, don’t understand, but… I feel the kindness… this is a first for me… Am I strange? Ah… But, hunter. Is this joy like I think…? Ah…

What… is this? I-I have nothing in my memory, I don’t understand, don’t understand, but… I feel the nostalgia… this is a first for me… Am I strange? Ah… But, diseased one. Thank you so much. I was happy.

With that in mind, the hair ornament was probably a present Gehrman gave or intended to give Maria, which hints that their relationship was much closer than simple master and apprentice. She was willing to leave her cloistered home behind and become, based on the wording of the Old Hunter Bone’s description, one of the very first hunters in Yharnam. Given her fashion sense, she couldn’t completely cut ties with her heritage. But the aristocrat still chose to live as a commoner in a foreign city, and it was all for Gehrman. Since he and his cohorts came to forge an alliance, her leaving with them wouldn’t look like a betrayal to her queen; just more proof that Cainhurst was doing its part. Yet for Maria, it might as well have been an elope. Their romance didn’t hinder their work either. The lady hunter took to Gehrman’s teachings, as seen with her implementation of flame into her swordplay during her boss battle. So long as it didn’t involve blood, the apprentice would implement any of the first hunter’s tactics, and to great effect. The old man was her idol, so she hung onto his every word.

But while she was passionate about him, he was passionate about the hunt to the point of madness. And that zealous enthusiasm became apparent to her at the Fishing Hamlet. Maria threw her beloved weapon down the village well, all because she was “weak of heart”. (心弱き) Indeed, the lady hunter proves to nonetheless be a gentle soul. Unlike other hunters’ visceral attacks, Maria draws us into a soft embrace before serenely ripping out our heart, giving it the aura of almost a mercy kill. The boss’ dialogue likewise admits that her violence is only necessary to dissuade our current trajectory. She is not so absorbed into the hunt as to neglect the humanity of her targets. She hunted beasts because their affliction was incurable, their threat to the unafflicted undeniable. She adopted the sword to reduce excess harm in the world. And yet, the hunter’s presence in the village betrays how she used that sword to slaughter the villagers. The girl who hated vile blood more than anything now had the blood of innocents on her Rakuyo, the worst blood blade of all. How could she not be rid of it?

I don’t care much for corpse rummaging. But I know. The secret is a sweet thing. That is precisely why you require a horrifying death… So that you forget your foolish curiosity.

And who was responsible for Maria’s trauma? It was Gehrman who led her and others to the hamlet. Perhaps she was told that the inhabitants were nothing but monsters now, the Healing Church needing to study the specimens to finally end the beast scourge. But once they arrived and began the hunt, the apprentice saw that she was killing people, no less sane or emotive than herself. In fact, to her, they were the ones committing insanity. But her master was certainly committed to that insanity. Even as she faced the creeping horror of what she had done, he continued reaping without a care in the world. Maria couldn’t have been hit with a harder realization about the gap between their perspectives. The man she followed with all her heart was the monster. And not just him, everyone there was apparently willing to overlook the evil done for the greater good. The aristocrat found herself, again, an island in a sea of iniquity. She could no longer be part of it, but neither could she escape it.

After this incident, Maria became overseer of the Research Hall. The patients constantly look to her for comfort or approval in their transformation. She was also able to dole out the key to the building’s balcony and make the Astral Clocktower her residence, seemingly so that she could use the dial to manipulate and monitor communication with the stars. The reasons for taking up this new vocation are easy to imagine. In throwing away her weapon, Maria was also forsaking her life as a hunter. Living with Gehrman must have similarly been increasingly difficult as time wore on. And undergirding all of this is the fact that she couldn’t abandon the man she so adored, even if her image of him was shattered. Therefore, accepting this new role at the Healing Church was most likely a compromise so that she might continue to be of use to Gehrman and Laurence’s plans. Like her Biblical namesake, she would act as a holy mother, soothing test subjects with a warm and loving hand. If the doll’s clothes were hers at the end of her life, they presented the perfect image for that final role.

Key to the Clocktower in the uppermost part of the Cathedral.

It is said that the room behind the giant star-viewing clock has been the dwelling of the woman the patients call Maria since some time ago.

Key to the gate of the balcony on the Experiment Building first floor.

Maria of the Clocktower handed it over to the patient Adeline. So that at least the outside air and scent of flowers would be her comfort. But she couldn’t comprehend that.

The job was certainly more conducive to Maria’s nature than being a hunter. But if she was ignorant of the Healing Church’s true nature before, she now had a front-row seat to all its dark secrets. In giving Adeline the key to the balcony for some fresh air, Maria implicitly considered the Research Hall a stifling environment. Blood experiments were hardly to be Maria’s cup of tea, but she had presumably believed that Gehrman working with Laurence was the only way to solve the beast scourge for everyone; losses from trial and error in pursuit of honest goals couldn’t be helped. However, what she now witnessed the church do to its patients was simply inhumane. She hated Adeline’s choice to become a Blood Saint and doubtless loathed the more radical modifications of other patients even more. They weren’t being treated with dignity, respect, or every precaution required to avoid needless suffering. These people were lab rats, and she happened to be stuck in the cage with them.

Even so, Maria continued with her duties. Because it was what her beloved wanted, and maybe, just maybe, she could reduce the excess suffering even a little. But there was little more she could do than let patients smell the flowers, hold their hands twisting in agony on their beds. Unsurprisingly, this brought her no shortage of stress. We can spy a broken framed photo on her side table. Close inspection of the photo reveals two male figures, one holding what looks vaguely like a swaddled babe. If so, then it is likely a photo of Laurence, Gehrman, and the Orphan of Kos taken for the research record, a copy handed to Maria as perhaps a reminder of what she was contributing to. In that case, it is understandable why she might glance at it while resting quietly within her own thoughts after another long day dealing with the patients, only to smash it in a fit of frustration. She was coming to hate her idol, yearning for bygone days they couldn’t go back to. And her inability to leave Gehrman pointed that hatred inward.

Why did Maria die? Even if no longer equipped with the extra protections of a hunter, she was still a woman with superhuman abilities. This all but rules out some accident with the patients, and her bones and burial similarly void succumbing to the beast disease as a possibility. Her residence at the uppermost part of the Cathedral Ward likewise insulates her most from outside threats. If she perished in Hunter HQ, then something truly unexpected must have happened. And in light of these circumstances, the most likely cause of death for Maria was Maria herself. At some point, her tortured soul couldn’t continue on without final reprieve. If she couldn’t leave Gehrman so long as she lived, then the solution was obvious. The heartbroken girl would take her own life, just as she had done to so many before. As added evidence, the description for the HP-recovering blood gem derived from the doll’s tears notes how its creator wished for the puppet to manifest that power to live continuously, an ability the original Maria evidently lacked. At her lowest point, she could not resist the allure of death.

Blood crystal stone enhances weapons and gives it various properties. The drop shape is a special one that adapts to every weapon and shape.

That which was born from the tears of a doll, radiating whitish silver, is akin to a quiet encouragement, and has an effect to continually recover HP, the power to live continuously.

Is that what the creator wanted for the doll, but didn’t take root?

But fate denied her total repose. Per the hunter’s curse, Maria’s soul was captured in the Hunter’s Nightmare. Perhaps the ghost of Kos sensed her regret and offered her mercy, for she wouldn’t be damned to eternal torment hunting hunters until she herself became the hunted. Rather, her punishment would by far be the most unique. A second Grand Cathedral was created, this one simulating her time at the Research Hall. But while we find Maria back in her residence within the Astral Clocktower, she isn’t outfitted as the motherly caretaker but the hunter she left behind. Her boss battle also has her using the blood blades she so despised when placed on the back foot, even integrating them into the fiery techniques she learned with Gehrman. This suggests that Maria is being compelled to relive the aspects of herself she most desperately wanted to cut off. In this case, her forced violence seems to be in service of her acting as the guardian to the heart of the dream, hiding the site of her greatest regret.

Her retribution doesn’t end there. The patients indicate that she hasn’t gone to comfort them, their desperate pleas suddenly left unanswered to their confusion. It isn’t as if Maria cannot leave her chamber. The Fishing Hamlet in the nightmare has a simple grave erected on the cliff overlooking the corpse of Kos, a single star flower laid in front. Clearly, someone tried to honor the Great One’s passing, perhaps trying to bring peace to her wrathful spirit. And the only person who could have done this is gentle Maria, who has access to star flowers just outside her tower and retains the dial needed to reach this place; more are laid before the entrance to the village behind her. The lady hunter therefore either must refuse to visit her reconstituted patients or is constrained from doing so. Indeed, she makes no obvious attempt to end the curse herself despite the opportunity. If she cannot bring harm to the Orphan of Kos, then she is no less a slave than the blood-drunk hunters down below; her unique lucidity merely lets her hear the patients suffer while she can only stand by, without giving them even the small modicum of comfort she did in life. Maria went from one hell to another.

Back in the real world, Gehrman wasn’t taking Maria’s suicide well. After burying her at his workshop, he eventually crafted the doll as a sort of replacement. Perhaps he realized his part in her demise and finally felt guilt. But no matter how much maintenance he gave to the body and clothes, it was still no more than a puppet. One can only imagine how much this unhealthy obsession ate into his other one, especially with how dire the situation in Yharnam was becoming. The hunters needed their leader, and Laurence had just the solution to drag his friend’s attention away from his faux darling. In forging their contract with Flora, Gehrman was granted not only immortality for him and his hunters, but also the doll, brought to life with arcane essence which it might shed as crystallizing tears of blood. This doll of the Hunter’s Dream sounds and acts just like the genuine article. Moreover, it occasionally prays at Maria’s grave, and killing Maria in the nightmare does cause the doll to feel similarly freed. This leaves no doubt that its being is tied to Maria’s soul.

Tear stone radiating whitish silver.

Can use to become tear blood crystal and enhance any weapon.

In practice, a doll should have neither blood nor tears. Thus, its nature is unfathomable.

Hunter. Might I ask you something strange?… Have I changed in any way? I felt it a little earlier. Heavy shackles somewhere on me, somewhere in me, coming off. It is curious. Even though I didn’t have any shackles anywhere on me from the start.

The promise of resurrecting his dearest apprentice clearly worked. Although the localization describes the dolls in both the Hunter’s Dream and the old workshop as simply abandoned, the Japanese text slightly differs between the two. Juxtaposed, the added nuance implicates the former as simply left in place whereas the latter is additionally away from its owner. The doll set reaffirms this notion in its description, the original puppet “discarded” along with the spare clothes. Gehrman no longer cares for the doll he created, because he now has the one in the dream — or at least, that was his thinking at the time. In all likelihood, the first hunter wished to be reunited with his apprentice in the dream, so that they might resolve past mistakes and rekindle their romance. That was probably the deciding factor in him acquiescing to Laurence’s request. If he could have his beloved, who cares if he had to give up the hunt for his current role?

The doll is abandoned

The doll is left abandoned

But so rarely do dreams live up to reality. The doll doubts that it is loved by the humans who created it prior to our gift, implying that she never received any show of affection from the hunters of the dream; least of all Gehrman. The only thing the decrepit old man has to say of his caretaker is that we are free to use it like any other tool in the workshop, a rather cavalier attitude to take concerning the object of his affection. But that’s just it. “She” is an object, not Maria. Gehrman presumably wanted the lady in flesh and blood, not porcelain imitating her mannerisms. But not even Flora can supersede Kos’ curse. With one Great One already hoarding her soul in its totality at the end of her life, the other could, at best, take pieces of her arcane record and coalesce those small aspects into the closest facsimile. Such shared elements might connect the doll to Maria, but they are ultimately different entities. His prayer to god turned out to be the wish to a genie. The old man could find no solace in a familiar stranger, leaving both his obsessions now out of reach. All Gehrman has left is Laurence’s promise.

I have heard the story of the church from several hunters. The story of God and God’s love. But… does the Creator love the Creation? I am a doll made by you, humans. But you don’t love me, do you? Conversely, I know. I love you. The Creator probably makes the Creation that way.

Only, some of the tools have now been lost. Feel free to use whatever we have left… even that doll, if you’re so inclined…

Meanwhile, Maria has been forced to relive her nightmare of being trapped in villainy and knowing that she is helpless to do anything about it. This might be why she is so cold toward our investigation into this dream. Of course, even if jaded, Maria’s kindness shines through. Her dialogue indicates that she is aware of the Hunter’s Dream, cut dialogue revealing how she is even informed about Gehrman’s part in it. We are thereby unlikely to be the first hunter of Flora she has faced, learning by now that the best solution is to brutally kill us the first time around so that we will be too terrified to continue our pursuit of the truth. If she must be compelled to hide the terrible secret, she would prefer to minimize the suffering. But in between these diversions, she has no real respite; her isolation serves only to slowly eat away at her. And after a certain point, someone has to minimize her suffering.

After we acquire the key from the Living Failures, we open the Astral Clocktower and find Maria already seemingly dead in her chair, blood still dripping from one limp arm. It is a classic locked room murder mystery — except, there isn’t much of a mystery. Cut content reveals that we would have initially encountered Maria alive, at which point either we or Simon would kill her to progress the narrative to this point. But there is no way either of us could accomplish this without the key to the tower. That leaves only one candidate: the one person already in the room. In other words, Maria is the culprit; it wouldn’t be the first time. Perhaps through sheer force of will, the lady managed to break free of Kos’ control long enough to try the only method of escape she knows. But the curse cannot be circumvented so easily, as her later — violent — stabs through the chest to produce blood blades well demonstrate. She returns to the living soon enough, right when there is another curious hunter to hunt. From one hell to another again, she is just simply out of luck. Well, she always was the odd one out.