Bloodborne is property of Fromsoftware. RWBY is property of Rooster Teeth
"Dear oh dear, what was it? The Hunt? The Blood? Or the horrible Dream?" But even as he asked, Gehrman knew that the Hunter before him wasn't entirely sure themselves. Their eyes, hardened by the horrors they'd endured and slain, softened into a sort of confusion. "Oh, it doesn't matter," Gehrman answered for them, bracing his hands against his wheelchair as he rose to his feet. That got a separate reaction; they didn't move—no, they were too stoic for that—but the Hunter's eyes did widen in surprise (which was actually quite comical. They'd been faced by the worst the Cosmos had to offer, but an old man rising from his chair. Truly, that's out of this world).
The First Hunter rose to his full height, standing steady, even on his barely used peg leg. He could feel the Dream shift and churn, feel the Moon's harsh rays beat down upon him. "It always," he said, reaching for the ancient blade strapped to his hip, "comes down to the hunters' helper to clean up after these sorts of messes."
In one fluid, practiced motion, he swung his blade in a diagonal arc, bringing it around to latch onto the staff folded on his back. What followed was a familiar series of CLICKS and CREAKS emitted by his Burial Blade that both soothed his soul and made his blood boil.
"Tonight," he sighed, an age-old tingle running down his spine, "Gehrman joins the Hunt."
The Hunter gained their bearings by that point, jumping backwards and pulling out…a Whirligig Saw. Gehrman couldn't help but smile thinly at the weapon; where oh where did they get their hands on that old thing?
The Hunter ran forward, connecting the saw blade with the handle, raising it over head, its blades whirring and sparking. But Gehrman, for all his many, many faults, was experienced, and spry. He stepped forward with his good leg, swinging his blade horizontally, then harshly pulling it forward, sinking it into the Hunter's back, halting their assault. Crimson essence flowed out from the Hunter's wound, that damned, addictive, coppery scent wafting into Gherman's nostrils, setting his mind aflame.
But Gehrman was never one to get lost in lust—well, bloodlust, at least. So, he pushed such thoughts aside, stepping forward and striking the Hunter with his palm, forcing a rough cry out of them as they sank deeper into his blade.
The Hunter, though, was not some docile lay about. Within seconds of their cry, they raised their gun—an Evelyn, of all things—and fired at Gherman's bad leg. He was quick to dodge the projectile, but distraction served its purpose, allowing the Hunter to scurry away, sinking a Blood Vial into their thigh.
Their reprieve did not last long. Gehrman leapt forward, swinging his blade upwards. They dodged, predictably, but were unable to keep Gehrman's downward slash from sinking into their shoulder. They were, however, much quicker to the draw, firing off two bullets into Gehrman's chest. He stepped back with a grunt, wounds already closing. This, however, allowed the Hunter to begin a more aggressive assault. They switched out their Whirligig Saw for a Saw Spear, keeping it in its shortened form for a fast flurry of slashes.
Gehrman gave it his best, but his scythe was not suitable for such a close assault. So, he leapt back, snapping his blade off of its staff and pulling out his firearm. The Hunter realizes their mistake, but alas, was already committed to their swing, and unable to defend against the spread of bullets sinking into their flesh, forcing them to their knees.
In a flash, Gehrman is before the downed Hunter, sinking his free hand into their flesh. He can hear their ragged gasp and see them feebly raise their gun. Thus, Gehrman clenched his fist in their bowels—not really caring what he was grabbing—and pulled his arm back, blood and viscera spraying outwards, drenching him in crimson.
The Hunter's eyes, already weak, grew dull, and they fell to the ground with a soft THUD. Gehrman stared at the corpse as it vanished into mist, shaking his head over their pointless struggle. It always ended like this; no matter who they were, what their desires. They always ended up dead at his feet.
And then the Dream shifted.
Gehrman gasped as he found himself back at the base of the tree, his transformed scythe in his hands, his wounds fully healed as if they'd never existed. Gehrman stilled, disbelieving of what had occurred. It was only when the Moon's rays seared his flesh that he realized that he was not dreaming within the Dream. The Hunter had changed it themselves. Indeed, not moments after, they entered the field once more, homing in on Gehrman, Evelyn and Saw Spear in hand. Their eyes hard and focused.
Gehrman readied himself for another duel, stamping down the small voice that begged him to lay down his arms and beg for death. Even if he were allowed to do so, he wouldn't. This Hunter before him did not deserve to suffer so for the sins of him and his peers.
This next clash, and most of the subsequent ones, went on longer than the first, both combatants proving to be extra cautious, only striking when they were sure they would able to retreat just as quickly. The Hunter still died; due to either arrogance, desperation, bad luck, or the still present gap in their skills. But the Dream would always churn in their favor.
Gehrman, despite his inner turmoil, actually found himself having a bit of fun. Briefly, if he concentrated, he could pretend that he wasn't trapped in a Nightmare of his own making. He could pretend he was still in the Waking World, testing the mettle of new Hunters, to ensure they could properly slay the Beasts that plagued the land.
But then, the Moon's rays burned his eyes, and he was reminded of his duty. He did his best, but Its sheer presence burrowed into his skull, until he could scarcely think of anything else but It. He unclipped his blade, using his new free hand to fire wildly at the Hunter, forcing them back. Then, Gehrman turned to the Moon. His vision swam, and he could see Its silhouette, Its inky black tendrils swaying violently as It stared into his very being.
Gehrman hunched over, growling and snarling as foreign energy was forced into his body. Swirling and churning his Blood. Idly, he felt bullets strike against his body, and the Hunter even snuck in one solid slash across his back. That galvanized Gehrman; for as strong as the grip It had over him, his body was still his own.
He arched his back, glaring and howling at the Moon, at It. For once, it acquiesced his request, leaving Gehrman to shape the forcibly given energy as he wished. And he knew just how to use it.
He turned to the Hunter, who held their spear horizontally, defensively. With a wicked grin, Gehrman disappeared in a burst of mist, reappearing before the Hunter, slashing his blade downward. To their credit, the Hunter was able to avoid the attack, but their counterattack—a shot fired from their Evelyn—missed the mark as Gehrman vanished once more.
Thus began a much deadlier dance. Gehrman, by virtue of having mobile superiority, was able to flit in and out, drawing blood and retreating before the Hunter could properly retaliate. But the Hunter was no fool. The good ones never were.
It took some doing, but the Hunter was able to adapt. As often as Gehrman struck, they were able to dodge, and better still, strike before Gehrman could mount a retreat.
But neither could keep this up forever. Gehrman especially—for he knew, should the Hunter die, they would just come back. His only hope was delaying the inevitable long enough that the Hunter before him well and truly gave up their rebellion. An admittedly unlikely event, but it was all Gehrman had to work towards.
With that in mind, Gehrman developed a plan. A heinous plan (which was saying something), but one that would break the Hunter, nonetheless.
He bent over once more, calling upon the well of energy within him. The Hunter, as he predicted, rushed forward, slashing and stabbing with abandon. But alas, this was not a means to strengthen his body; no, instead of internalizing the energy, he released it, a large wave of energy emanating from his body, blasting the Hunter away.
His gamble worked; the Hunter yet lived. Transforming his blade back into a scythe, Gehrman dashed forward, scythe aimed to scoop of the Hunter by their chest, with the ultimate goal of crucifying them, healing them periodically enough so that they didn't die, but were still in constant, delirious pain. Steeling his heart, Gehrman reached the Hunter, swinging his blade upwards.
Gehrman gasped as a bullet lodged itself into his collarbone, forcing him back. Still, he couldn't help but smirk at the Hunter's effective counterattack.
In the blink of an eye, the Hunter was before Gehrman, and in one smooth motion, sunk their hand through one of his not yet healed wounds. Then, they hesitated. Gehrman could see it in their eyes; they softened, losing a bit of their resolve.
Gehrman chuckled—more of a bloody gurgle, really—and raised his right arm, poised to strike.
That did the trick. The Hunter growled, their determination returning, and reared their arm back with a loud SQUELCH, blood and viscera pouring out of Gehrman's wound.
The First Hunter fell back, barely registering his body impacting the ground. "The night, and the dream, were long," he whispered, as his body started to vanish into mist. As he finally left the Dream.
The only thing that spoiled it was the Moon turning dark red; no doubt due to Its rage. Gehrman had a great deal of regrets—entering a contract with It at Master Wilhem's request, making the Doll, so much to do with Maria—but it was the knowledge that he'd leave the Hunter to Its mercy that left him with the most shame.
But he did not dwell on it, for he was truly, finally, free.
Gehrman awoke with a sneeze. Followed by another, more violent one. By the third, he sat up, furiously rubbing his nose. He then paused, because he couldn't recall the last time he'd ever felt the urge to sneeze. Following that, he registered a cool breeze tickling his skin—equally strange, because he had not felt the wind since he'd become trapped within the Dream.
Finally, he opened his eyes, and his heart sank. Before him was a dark, expansive forest. Much like the woods surrounding Byrgenwerth, they gave him an indescribable feeling of dread; as though the secrets hiding within were just waiting for the chance to swallow him into their mad depths as they had so many others.
And, of course, where would he be, without the Moon's cool light bearing down upon him.
Rage welled up within him, and he shot to his feet, shouting, "Have I not performed my duties you Monster?! What more…must I…do?" he trailed off into short gasps. For above him, high in the sky, was the Moon. But not as he remembered it.
This Moon was white as snow—no hint of Its slimy presence, no eyeless gaze glaring down at him—and shattered, half of it whole, the other half floating close by, as if held together by invisible strings.
Gehrman gasped loudly, stumbling back, only to fall due to an unfamiliar weight on his right leg. Slowly, his eyes trailed down his body (which was nude, but that wasn't really important at the moment) landing just above his right knee. And then going further, down his shin, and ending at his right foot.
His mouth ran dry as he hesitantly snaked his arms down his leg. Once past the knee, he softly tapped his shin, shivering as he felt the impact. He pinched the flesh, releasing it to see that his pale skin had turned red. Reaching further, just above the ankle, he dug his fingernails into his flesh, ignoring the pain, dragging them back up his leg, only letting go when he drew blood.
He brought his hands up to his face, staring at the blood dripping down them. But he was still unconvinced; this could all be a cruel prank, after all. A way for It to remind him who was in charge. Thus, he brought his fingers to his lips, darting his tongue out to taste the crimson liquid. Only to immediately draw back upon tasting it, for it was his blood. Just to make sure, his dragged his nails across his chest, and tasted the same. That convinced him, because for all their tricks, Great Ones could not truly simulate the taste, the smell, the feel of human blood.
Then, he did something he had not truly done in years. He smiled. He smiled, and laughed; a mad, barking mockery of laughter, but laughter all the same. How else could a man such as him express joy?
He laughed so hard and so long, that he was forced to lie down on the ground, taking deep, wheezing breaths. He sighed, "Is this Heaven?" He sincerely hoped so; but then, if it was, then why was he alone? Surely, if this truly was Paradise, his old comrades would be there to welcome him?
"OoOooh," a sibilant voice moaned from his left.
The First Hunter turned, scowling as the ground—covered in tall, dark-green grass—bubbled away, tiny pale, emaciated golems rising from the void. "Ugh," he spat, "are you so obsessed with us that you'd follow us beyond the grave?" He mused that the Helpers appearance meant that, even in death, Great Ones held a grip over Mankind. But given the apparent nonexistence of his jailer, he couldn't really find it in him to care.
The golems bowed their heads, moaning apologetically. They then sank back into the ground, and Gehrman held the foolish hope that they were gone. But then the returned, a bundle of clothes in their tiny, misshapen hands. They held the bundle out, staring at him expectantly.
Gehrman frowned back at them, until his recognized his old top hat—collapsed—atop the pile. He further recognized the bundle as being his clothes—his original Hunter's garb. He looked down at his naked body, grunting as his self-inflicted wounds had already healed, leaving nary a mark. Thus, he accepted the clothes, muttering a quick, bemused 'Thank you' (which sent the Helpers into a tizzy).
Once dressed, only stumbling a couple times on his regained limb, he turned back to the Helpers, to dismiss them. Only to falter as they held out more items for him; his Burial Blade and firearm.
He stared at his blade as it gleamed in the moonlight. He shook his head tiredly, "A Hunter must hunt, even in death, is that it?"
The Helpers (those with eyes, at least) stared up at him with something akin to pity. He growled, quickly swiping the weapons from their bony fingers. He strapped his firearm and bandolier on first, creating bullets with the generously provided Quicksilver casings.
Then, he moved onto his Burial Blade, only to pause upon catching his reflection. He looked…younger. Not drastically so, but younger than he should have been. Perhaps about as old as he'd been when he first entered Yharnam. Curious, but another point towards this being Paradise—although, what did it say about him that Paradise involved more death?
"ARRWOOOOH!" a wolf—be it an actual animal, or a Beast—howled into the night. It howled again, followed by a few more similar, different howls. A pack, and they were getting closer.
Gehrman sighed as the Helpers vanished from sight. "What luck," he snidely muttered, turning to face the increasingly louder wolves. He decided to start off with just the blade and his firearm, get a feel for his healed and younger body.
Then, finally, the wolves arrived—four of them. And what he saw made him pause.
These wolves were not like he was expecting; other than the black fur, they looked like nothing he recognized. These wolves, though bounding in on all fours, stood up on their hindlegs upon approaching him. Further unlike the Beasts he was used to, these wolves had a great deal more muscle-mass than the nigh-skeletal monsters of Yharnam. The differences were only further compounded by the bone-white spikes (which Gehrman suspected to actually be bones) sticking out from their limbs and back, and a white, almost sculpted mask with red marking covering their snouts.
One of the wolves, the one in the lead, roared, charging forward.
Gehrman tensed, but made no move to dodge. Only when the wolf was just feet away, claws raised up to slash him to ribbons, did Gehrman react. He aimed his firearm at the wolf's chest, firing a buckshot into its chest in order to set-up a visceral attack.
Only that didn't happen.
Instead of staggering to the floor, allowing Gehrman the opportunity to rip out its entrails, the bullets tore a massive hole in the wolf's body. And instead of blood pouring out from the wounds, black smoke floated upward, dissipating into the air. The First Hunter stared quizzically at his firearm.
Two of the other Wolfs roared, rushing forward to avenge their fallen kin. Gehrman blew a hole into one of them, thus leading to the possibility that it was not a fluke, and bisected the other—again, a much easier feat than he believed possible; he just meant to shove it away to test his gun once more.
The final wolf proved more cautions than its kin; circling Gehrman, who stood at the ready. However, before it could strike, another loud howl echoed through the woods. The wolf's ears twitched, but it eventually snarled, bolting towards the other howl.
Gehrman grunted, keeping an eye out in case the beast decided to double-back for a rudimentary sneak-attack. When no such attack came, he turned his attention to the three corpses around him, nonplussed to discover that the bodies were dissolving into black mist. He poked one of the wolves' limbs with his blade, and once more sunk it deeper in than he intended, the tip of his sword embedding into the dirt.
He huffed, leaning forward to wrench it free. This, however, led to some of that black smoke filtering up his nose and into his lungs. He immediately abandoned his task, taking another whiff.
It wasn't a particularly unpleasant smell. At least, compared to how bad Yharnam;s sewers (and streets and homes and woods and…well, everything) could get. But what struck him as odd was how inhuman it smelt. All Beast blood still smelled human. Even Ashen Blood—the noxious, viscous muck that flowed through the unfortunate victims of Old Yharnam's particular Scourge—had a hint of that addictive, coppery scent.
This fog…it lacked that. It didn't even smell like 'normal'—those that lacked Yharnam's 'special' blood—people or animals. Rather, it did, but it still lacked a fundamental aspect of those creatures. Some indescribable essence that…that denoted them as living.
A distant howl broke him from his thoughts. He stepped away from the corpse, which were more than half-way dissolved, staring in the direction of the howl. If he focused, well and truly focused, his hearing, he could just barely register gunfire.
With a mirthless smirk, the First Hunter strode forward, beginning the Hunt anew.
A/N: So, this is a thing…Be sure to leave a review. Later.