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The Lady Rachelle

Discussion in 'Tales from the Crypt' started by Count Vashra, Apr 16, 2015.

  1. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

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    Some background stories for my new Lahmian, the Lady Rachelle introduced in the third Pale Web story.

    Drakenhof, Sylvania 1797

    It was the end of an era. Count von Drak had died. 13-year-old Rachelle took the news with a mixture of relief and anxiety. Von Drak had been mad, and a shadow seemed to have lifted over Sylvania, but with the Count dead, his heiress married to a mysterious, previously unknown stranger calling himself Vlad von Carstein, the fate of his household was unclear. The priests had already been chased out. Would the servants be next? Rachelle worried this would be the case and nervously sat on her bed. Her job as servant to the Count was precious to her, and she didn't know what she’d do if she lost it.

    “Rachelle?” The blonde servant girl turned at the sweet voice and smiled when she saw her friend and fellow handmaiden Annabella enter her room. The handmaiden was the epitome of beauty, tall, slim body and arms, and wearing sleeveless black matching her eye colour, whilst her blonde hair fell a long way down her back.

    “Hello, Annabella,” she responded, standing and embracing her, easily small enough to fit with room to spare inside Annabella’s arms.

    “I assume you heard the news?”

    Rachelle stepped back and nodded. “I don’t know whether to be thrilled or worried.”

    “Why would you be worried?” Annabella sat on her bed. Rachelle joined her.

    “The new Count might remove his predecessor’s staff.”

    “I doubt it. Why bother? I’m sure he is aware of our quality.”

    “I’m sure he is,” mused Rachelle.

    “Now, the Count will assume his title formally tomorrow. After that, I’ll share a secret with you, if you promise not to tell.”

    Rachelle’s green eyes shone in anticipation, wondering what secret a mere handmaiden could have. “I promise.”

    “Good.” Annabella grinned. “Or I’ll have to rip your throat out.”

    Rachelle laughed.

    “Now go to sleep. It’s dark, and I want you fresh for what could be the most important day of your life.”

    The next day seemed darker than usual. Rachelle somehow felt in her bones that things would be worse if possible than they had been under the von Draks. When barely after she had finished eating in the morning Count Vlad summoned her to the throne room, she was nervous as to the reason for the personal meeting.

    When Rachelle entered, she saw Vlad already dressed in fine clothes, with pale skin and black hair. He seemed to radiate authority, and not just figuratively. This image unnerved Rachelle. Isabella looked as beautiful as ever.

    Rachelle bowed. “Count, Countess.”

    “Rachelle,” Vlad said, his voice filled with authority, more than the previous Count had ever had. “You must be wondering as to the reason for this summons. You may answer.”

    “I am, Count.”

    “I can tell you are worried. Your eyes are slightly wider than normal, your skin is trembling.”

    Either because Vlad had somehow commanded it, or simply because she was now aware of it, Rachelle felt what Vlad had just described.

    “You have no need to be afraid. Your job is safe.”

    Rachelle breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you, Count.”

    “Has anyone made you an offer yet?” the Count asked.

    “What offer?”

    “You would know what I am talking about if someone had, so I must presume you have not received such an offer.”

    “What offer, Count?” Rachelle repeated, increasingly confused.

    “It is not a Gift which I feel you should receive from me. How close are you to Annabella?”

    “We’re friends.”

    “Good. Tell her she has my blessing, though it is not the blessing she truly requires, to present you with the offer,” Vlad instructed.

    “I will. But what is this Gift?” Rachelle insisted.

    “Something I would very much like, but Vlad will not give to me,” Isabella almost sounded irritated.

    “You shall not have it to my dying day.”

    Isabella raised her eyebrows.

    “Annabella will explain. Until then you should not hear of it, but it will make your life immeasurably better,” Vlad told Rachelle.

    Rachelle nodded, liking the sound of it.

    “You are 13, however. Perhaps you should ask Annabella to withhold the Gift until you are of suitable age. Do not take it without due consideration.”

    Rachelle did not need that advice, but nodded.

    “Visit me here tomorrow.”
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015
    Count michael likes this.
  2. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

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    Thanks for the like! here's the next chapter.

    After Vlad’s formal assumption of his title of Count, and with her duties for the day finished, Rachelle returned to her room, where she found Annabella waiting.

    “Rachelle, do you remember the gift I mentioned last night?”

    “Yes. Count Vlad told me that he gives you his blessing, though it is not the blessing you require.”

    “He approves, then,” Annabella said. “And yes, it is not the blessing I require.” She smiled. “Do you wish to live forever?”

    Rachelle was stunned. Recovering, she asked. “Is that the gift?”

    “In its simplest way yes,” Annabella confirmed.

    “I would like that,” Rachelle said, smiling.

    “It also gives extra strength, speed, magic ability, resilience and possibly shapeshifting. Some who have received it from Count Vlad can manipulate the weather.”

    “There is a gift that can give all that?” Rachelle was even more stunned. She liked her youth, and the other benefits might be useful. Shapeshifting could be fun.

    “There is. And I can give it.”

    “Please,” Rachelle said, eyes sparkling.

    “I must have permission from the one who gave the gift to me. And there are disadvantages. You will require blood to survive. You will have no reflection. The living will revile you. In the early stages the sun will destroy you. You will be Vampire.”

    This was a lot to take in, immortality and special powers, at the price of living by darkness and blood? Rachelle needed to think. She had hated the darkness and madness of von Drak rule, and Count Vlad seemed to have even more darkness in him.

    “I need to think.”

    Annabella nodded.

    Rachelle sat on her bed and thought. Did she want to live in darkness, hated by those she once lived with? And she hated darkness in general, preferring to wear yellow. Blood drinking to survive sounded disgusting as well. She supposed she would enjoy it at the time, but now…then again, she would be 13 forever, something she dearly wanted, partially so no one would legally be able to burden her with the responsibility of marriage, would possibly shapeshift, and would live with Annabella forever. Extra speed and strength would be welcome, too. Rachelle jumped to her feet, deciding.

    “Annabella, I want to be 13 forever. Present your gift.”

    “A good decision,” Annabella said.

    The next day, Rachelle returned to the throne room.

    “Count Vlad, Annabella offered the gift. I accepted.”

    “You will be 13 forever,” Vlad reminded her.

    “Which is why I want to do it,” Rachelle said.

    Vlad shook his head. “I will not prevent you, but I feel you are too young.”

    “Then why did you give Annabella your blessing?”

    “I thought she would be more responsible than this. Also I cannot afford to risk inflaming relations with her Queen.”

    “Her Queen?” Rachelle asked.

    “She will explain. You may even meet her. Queen Neferata will decide whether you are too young.”

    “Why did you wish to speak to me in person?”

    “I need to know which of my servants are Vampires,” Vlad explained.

    “Certainly not me,” Isabella said.

    Vlad sighed. “How many times do I have to tell you? No. And Rachelle, as long as you live here you are my subject. Report to me on Queen Neferata, if you see her.”

    “Yes, Count,” Rachelle said.

    “You may go.”
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2015
  3. Get of W'soran

    Get of W'soran CN's Lord of Masks True Blood TVC II GM

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    Good story addition!

    Although I feel it's a little strange that everyone comments on 16 being too young. Wasn't 16 considered an adult already two years or so (if not more) in marriageable age during the time period warhammer is loosely based on?
     
  4. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

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    I agree. Probably just focused on the legalities of 'our' adult age. And the fact that teenagers as an age group exist now, where they were probably rolled into the closest group in those days (i.e. 13-14 child, 16+ adult). I'll go through and edit all my mentions to her to saying she's 13.

    Thanks! And...presenting Chapter Three!

    Chapter Three

    When Annabella returned with permission – Rachelle had not gone with her – she swiftly gave the Blood Kiss.

    Rachelle woke in her room several hours later. She blinked, and her sight quickly returned, revealing she was on the floor and Annabella was standing in front of her. She leapt to her feet and hugged her. She felt herself squeezing harder than before, though she wasn’t consciously trying to. It must be a result of her new strength, she thought.

    ‘Welcome to your new life,” Annabella said, smiling. “My daughter.”

    “Thank you, Mother,” Rachelle said.

    “You can use my name if you like.”

    “I will. Can we go outside? I want to know what I can do.”

    “Go.”

    Excited, the young blood ran from her room to an area outside the castle, followed by Annabella.

    Rachelle wondered what to try first.

    “I’ll try shapeshifting first,” she decided. She tried to imagine being a cat, or a dog, or a bird, or anything really. No success.
    "Don't worry, Rachelle. Only a few Lahmians of your generation, that is, steps down from the original drinker of the elixir, in our case the Queen, can shapeshift. And it is complicated even if you can. I'm sill working on becoming a small black cat."
    "Show me, please," Rachelle said.
    With a hiss of effort, Annabella transformed slowly. The final result was a cat, but ti was more grey than black, and not really small. Still, Rachelle was impressed and envious. She stroked Annabella, laughing as she heard disjointed purring. The cat playfully swiped her.
    After a time Annabella returned to her normal form. "That was...tiring. I can't maintain the form for more than a few minutes at a time. Even that was stretching it."
    "I noticed your purring was...wrong," Rachelle pointed out.
    "I said I was still practicing," Annabella responded, smiling. "Here's some advice," she added. "When shifting, don't just imagine any animal. Imagine the one you feel most connected to. Your favourite animal. An animal that symbolises something in you. For example, I chose a cat, or maybe a cat chose me, because I am agile, playful, and not always too observant of rules." This brought a grin from Rachelle. Her mother laughed. "Don't let that be an excuse for you."
    "Of course not!"
    "You must be thirsty. I was very thirsty when I was originally sired. Some young bloods can't sheathe their fangs for weeks before they learn to control the thirst. That's not something I want to happen to you. I want you fully in control. You'll find the need decreases over time. The Master of one line, Abhorash of the Blood Dragons, conquered the thirst by drinking Dragon's blood. I wish you the same opportunity, though Dragons are so rare these days. Come inside. I'll show you how to feed."
    Excited, Rachelle bared her fangs and followed her mother back into Drakenhof.

    Rachelle entered the banquet hall, where a group of mortals sat nervously around the banquet table. They cringed when the Vampiresses entered.
    Annabella smiled. "Hunting is rarely so easy. Normally you must seek your own food. At Drakenhof, food is provided. Now, watch me and try to emulate me. This is how I want all my children to act. And remember, you're my first, so I will consider you as a test of my parental abilities."
    Not wishing to disappoint Annabella, but fighting the urge to feed before being allowed to, Rachelle watched as Annabella selected a victim, bared her fangs - which looked so pleasing to her eye, though she knew their deadly purpose - and bit into his neck. She looked so perfect whilst drinking, draining only the necessary amount, no more. When she was finished, she withdrew her fangs and smiled that wonderful smile. Rachelle wondered how much of this amazing image of Annabella was her mother's aura, and how much was natural. She was surprised to find herself entranced by watching someone feed.
    "Your turn," Annabella offered. "Do as I did. And don't bit too deep, or you might kill them when you finish. try to keep your mind clear. This is sustenance, not a treat."
    Finally able to, Rachelle chose a meal, and sank her fangs in, savouring the taste of warm flesh, her heart beating, mouth - if it could - watering. As she tasted the blood, her first taste of blood disregarding Annabella's during the Blood Kiss, which had tasted great but the experience cruelly ended by her unconsciousness, her mouth widened in a sick smile. She'd never imagined something to taste so good. Even birthday food and drink seemed stale by comparison.
    Then she heard a voice calling to her. "Rachelle? Rachelle?" She tried to ignore it, wanted to ignore it, but was then pulled out of her meal. She spun to lash out at the interloper before seeing Annabella shaking her head.
    "My dear Rachelle. I warned you not to lose your mind. I truly believe you would have killed that poor man if I had not intervened. Did you not hear me calling?" Annabella sounded more concerned than angry.
    "I...I think I did, Annabella," Rachelle responded, head bowed. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. it just tasted so good. The blood, the flesh. It was like I never wanted to stop."
    "It was your first meal. Do not be ashamed of yourself. It was a new sensation. Most new bloods lose, or almost lose, control when taking their first drink. Try to be more careful next time."
    "I will, Annabella," Rachelle promised, head still low, upset at having done obvious wrong in front of her mother.
    "Look at me." She did, reluctantly. "Don't be so upset. It's not your fault. As I said, a lot of new blood lose control. I'm not angry. In fact, how would you like a reward for keeping control?"
    This made Rachelle's eyes light up. "A reward?" It would certainly keep her focused when she next fed.
    "If you keep control 3 times in a row, I'll take you to see some friends of mine. They're nobles, and may already be Vampires. Hadros and his wife, Hadria. He's a bird lover, and can shapeshift into a bird. Control your blood thirst, and I'll ask if Hadros can help you shapeshift, if you can. I could help, but it may be more effective if you saw as many Vampires as possible do it, to try to encourage your body to unlock its potential."
    "I would like that," Rachelle said, feeling much better.

    "Now, we need to move your bed before the sun rises, and see if you can sleep in it. Some Vampires can't sleep in normal beds," Annabella explained.
    Rachelle's bedroom had a large window facing outwards, through which light could easily come through and incinerate her as she lay on the bed so she and Annabella moved it to a dark room where sunlight could not reach. As Annabella moved Rachelle's possessions, including books and childhood toys, Rachelle lay on the bed, and found herself quite comfortable. Springing to her feet, she smiled at Annabella. "I can sleep on it."
    "Good. And because you've stopped aging, you won't need to keep replacing it, though you could sleep in a coffin instead. Guaranteed sun protection."
    "I'll keep this, Annabella."
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2015
  5. Get of W'soran

    Get of W'soran CN's Lord of Masks True Blood TVC II GM

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    Very interesting although she dismissed the shapeshifting very quickly! I believe Nefereta mentioned in the Blood of Nagash series that it's a skill that takes a long time to learn (although it is rare with only half the 2nd generation of Lahmians able to do it and then even less of their children!).

    Rachelle did seem to try "All" vampire abilities in a very short period of time though rather than gradually finding if they can use them or not which might have provided some story opportunities.

    Anywhos I enjoyed the read! Especially due to the relationship between sire and get.
     
  6. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

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    Yes...I think it may be an idea for me to go back and expand her learning time. And as for the relationship...not to mention anything not yet in The Pale Web, but when she has a get of her own it'll be quite a different one.

    The whole idea with Annabella being a sire is that she's more a caring/loving mother than a demanding mistress as some sires can be.
     
  7. Get of W'soran

    Get of W'soran CN's Lord of Masks True Blood TVC II GM

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    It's a pleasant change of pace!

    In my own stories even the nice ones can be slave drivers. I'm enjoying the mother-daughter relationship this story provides.
     
  8. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

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    How does that change look?

    Chapter Four

    The next night, Rachelle approached her evening meal with trepidation, excited by the potential reward but nervous of he potential failure. Most of all she did not want to disappoint Annabella. That was the worst thing she could imagine doing right now. She loved her mother, and would do anything for her.
    After seeing Annabella's demonstration again, she bit into her victim's neck. Again, the taste of warm flesh and blood, in that order, was impossible to refuse, impossible to ignore, impossible to not enjoy. She had become a Vampire unsure of the darkness, and thought she shouldn't be enjoying drinking blood so much, but it was just so delicious. Despite this, she kept her reward in sight, a tether to keep her mind from plunging into the depths of blood lust. She enjoyed the taste, but kept her ears open, and sure enough heard Annabella's soft call. She withdrew from her victim, wiped the blood from her mouth, hid her fangs, and looked at Annabella.
    "You've improved a lot," her mother praised her, the delight obvious. "You'll be seeing Hadros and Hadria soon if you keep this up."
    Rachelle smiled. "Thank you, Annabella."
    "I'll only warn you to stop drinking a few more times, Rachelle. After that I expect you to finish before you kill your victim."
    "How will i know that?"
    "Hear their heartbeat," Annabella told her. "Listen for it next time, and learn how weak it is when I call. When it becomes that weak, stop drinking."
    Rachelle nodded. She didn't want to kill her victims.

    "How much experience do you have with swords?"
    "None."
    "Then I shall teach you to fight. Follow me to the armoury, then I'll take you to a quiet place you can practice."
    They soon found such a place, and Annabella began showing Rachelle how to hold a sword. It was the smallest sword in the armoury, and still too large for her child hands. Annabella promised to have the weaponsmiths make an ideally fitting sword for her. Until then, she would have to make do.
    Rachelle quickly learned the best way to hold a sword, and soon moved on to how to use it to make best advantage of her bloodline's gift of speed and dexterity. Though the sword was heavy and too large for her to get a proper grip, Rachelle enjoyed the lesson and knew swordplay would come naturally to her.
    "You're learning fast, my girl," Annabella observed proudly. "Are you sure this is your first experience with a sword?"
    "It is."
    "Then you're a very good learner. I took weeks to learn what you've just done."
    Rachelle grinned, pleased to have achieved such high ability so quickly. 'Thank you."
    "No! It's all your learning." Annabella smiled. "I'm just telling you what to do You're working out how."
    They went several more rounds, and again Rachelle tried and failed to shapeshift. She was not concerned. She had forever, and would learn.

    It was nearly dawn. "It's time to finish for the night, Rachelle," Annabella said.
    Rachele was disappointed, but Annabella was right. She didn't want to be burned by the sunlight.
    As she followed her mother back inside, a strong hand grabbed the back of her neck. Another hand covered her mouth before she could scream, and she was spun around to see the smiling face of Vampire Count Vlad von Casrtein.
    "I will release you if you promise not to scream." His Dark Majesty crashed into Rachelle like a wave in a storm swept sea, she a raft, he one of those monstrous waves rumoured to occasionally destroy entire coastlines. She squirmed under his power, and pointed at the dawn sun. The Count's eyes blazed and clouds covered the sun. "We have as long as I want. Now, will you promise?"
    Helpless, the Lahmian child nodded. Vlad released her.
    "I did not mean to scare you. I simply cannot risk this conversation being overheard, even by your mother. You and her are inseparable, I notice, and so I have had to resort to...extreme means to talk to you."
    "This...area...is...private," Rachelle gasped, every word an effort.
    "I am the Vampire Count. I have eyes everywhere. Nowhere is truly private from me. But I will not reveal this location to others. Now, did you travel to the Silver Pinnacle?"
    "I didn't," the child Vampiress said weakly.
    "Unfortunate, but not unexpected. When a suitable stretch of time has passed, I will come again and question you on your bloodline."
    "Why...do...you...not...trust...us?" Rachelle was confused.
    "You are born manipulators. Before you ask why I am not using Annabella, she is too loyal. I need you, the child, to find out things."
    "What...things?"
    "You do not need to know. Now go see your mother. I imagine she will want to know what is keeping you."
    Rachelle suddenly felt Vlad's aura recede like the outgoing tide as he walked away from her. Fully terrified by the thought of being used as a spy because of her apparent youth, but unsure whether to tell Annabella, she ran to her new bedroom, where Annabella was waiting.
    She smiled, but looked concerned. "What kept you?"
    "I decided...to do extra training," Rachelle quickly invented, hating lying to her mother/best friend.
    "You did see the sun coming up?"
    "It must have been a long night."
    "Don't frighten your mother like that again, understand?" Annabella said, laughing with relief and wrapping her arms around her daughter.
    Rachelle put her sword to the side and embraced her mother. "I promise I won't," she said sincerely.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2015
  9. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

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    Chapter Five

    Around midnight, Annabella came to Rachelle, who was reading in her bedroom.
    "What are you reading?"
    "Swordfighting theory," Rachelle explained, grinning. "I thought I would improve my skills by seeing how the masters do it."
    "A good idea. But I have a better one. You can practice swordfighting at any time, alone or with others. But it is not the real purpose to being a Lahmian. Each bloodline has a...style, shall we call it, based on its creator's, or Master's, personality." Annabella explained the specialty of each bloodline.
    "So if we're manipulators, why are you teaching me to use a sword?"
    "All Vampires must know how to fight. it's a dangerous unlife, and eternity is a long time to attract trouble. You need to be able to protect yourself. But I think you should be reading politics. It is where most of the Sisterhood spend at least some of their life, so if you're going to learn by books, it should be on your reading list," Annabella suggested.
    "I will, thank you."
    "Now, do you want to see your sword being made? I visited the smiths this evening."
    Rachelle smiled. "I would love to, Annabella."
    Annabella led Rachelle to the Drakenhof armoury, and escorted her through the banging of hammers on anvils and the heat of the furnaces to particular section of the armoury. Her Vampiric senses made the banging nearly unbearable, but at least she didn't feel the heat.
    "Are you okay in here?" Annabella asked.
    "I'm fine. I can bear the noise."
    Annabella nodded. "But I'll get you out of here as soon as I can." She walked up to one of the smiths.
    "Excuse me," she said. Her voice sounded no louder than normal, but the smith heard it clearly and jumped, his hammer dropping to the floor and narrowly missing his foot.
    He glared at Annabella, his eyes burning like furnaces. "How dare you interrupt a working smith?"
    "I'm so sorry." Rachelle wasn't sure Annabella was telling the truth. "But you do remember me from earlier, don't you?"
    "Do -Oh, yes I do. You wanted a sword to fit a child's hands. I'd definiately remember that, if only because its an odd order."
    "Here's the child I ordered it for."
    The smith looked down and saw Rachelle, who smiled up at him.
    "So it's for you, then?"
    "It is."
    "How old are you?"
    "13," Rachelle answered strongly.
    "Now 13-year-olds can handle swords?"
    Annabella laughed. "Just 13-year-old Vampires."
    That made the smith remember who he was talking to. "Sorry. It's just so unusual."
    "I know," Rachelle said, smiling wider. She pointed. "Is that my sword?"
    "Almost finished." The smith nodded and picked his hammer off the floor and set to work again.

    When the sword was finished, Rachelle held it, fangs bared in excitement. Her first sword! It was something worthy of celebration, she felt. It was furnace-hot, but being Vampiric Rachelle only felt a little warmth.
    "Thank you. I think it suits me perfectly," she told the smith, who was no doubt eager to return to making normal-sized swords for mortals.
    "I'm pleased it does." Annabella led her to the 'private' area, a little bush some distance from the castle. Rachelle knew Vlad could be watching at any moment, but knew looking around would reveal nothing and arouse Annabella's ssupicions, something she didn't need. Right now, she would concentrate on her sword training.
    After some experimenting and grip adjustment, Rachelle found her sword to be well, if not perfectly, balanced, ideally suited to her hand size. It felt like part of her. She didn't need to read books to learn swordfighting. She could do it.
    Rachelle dropped her sword and grinned at her mother. "Thank you, Annabella. This is a great sword." She hugged her, and, in that moment, exchanging a 'warm' embrace with her mother, she could forget a dangerous Vampire Count was using her.
     
  10. Get of W'soran

    Get of W'soran CN's Lord of Masks True Blood TVC II GM

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    Nice additions and changes (Y)
     
  11. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

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    Chapter Six

    Rachelle continued her nightly lessons with the sword, and her attempts to shapeshift. She settled into a comfortable routine: Reading about politics in the early evening, drinking, then dueling with Annabella, some solo practice, a small-hours drink, then political reading until exhaustion or boredom drove her to sleep. Though a keen learner, Rachelle found politics a dry subject, and often put her book down after not long reading it. it was something she noticed about her nature: some things excited her, some things bored her easily, and it was impossible to tell which until she tried.
    One early night whilst she was reading Rachelle saw Annabella approach. She put her book down.
    "Rachelle, I talked to Hadros and Hadria. They would be delighted to meet you now, if you wouldn't mind. And they are Vampires. Hadros is 3rd generation, by some master of magic called Mannfed, and Hadria is Vlad's own get."
    Rachelle jumped to her feet. "Thank you for arranging this. I'm so excited."
    Annabella smiled. "As long as you don't fall asleep."
    "i won't!" Rachelle laughed.

    Hadros and Hadria's castle, called Hawk's Tower, was small, but there was a very tall tower on one corner. Rachelle pointed and Annabella smiled. "That's where Hadros does his astral magic practice."
    With nods from the obviously forewarned mortal guards, the Lahmians entered Hawk's Tower. When they reached the throne room, they bowed.
    Hadros and Hadria looked the picture of nobility, sharp features, dark here, good quality dress.
    "Welcome, Annabella," Hadria said. 'I was quite looking forward to meeting you, Rachelle."
    "As was I, Lady Hadria."
    Hadria laughed. "Do not call me that. Hadria will do."
    "So, you are a shapeshifter?" Hadros asked.
    "I hope I am. I've tried for weeks and haven't turned," Rachelle answered, almost nervously. The lack of success was frustrating her, her child mind already growing tired of the seemingly pointless exercise.
    "You have forever. Do not give up," Hadros said.
    "I know. But..."
    "Then keep trying," Hadria encouraged her. "It is all you can do."
    "I can turn into a swarm of bats," Hadros said, proceeding to do so. The bats flew around the room before returning and Hadros reappeared on his throne. "I imagine the wind whistling past my wings, my nimble body darting through the sky. Imagine sensations you would associate with an animal, and then imagine being that animal. Feel it. Feel it running, or flying. Let it into your mind. Be the animal."
    With this advice, Rachelle imaginedd herself running through a forest. Running with long limbs. She was Lahmian, she was the fastest animal on the planet. She was fierce. She had sharp teeth, sharper than her own fangs. She was...suddenly Rachelle vanished and in her place stood a rather startled small wolf.
    The other Vampires in the room smiled. Rachelle walked around, getting used to quadropedal movement. She growled, and a distorted, strangled sound came from her throat. That was something else she needed to work on.
    Thrilled with her success, Rachelle changed back to her human form and sank to her knees. "Thank you for allowing me to unlock my inner power," she said.
    "I only told you how to change," hadros corrected her. "You chose your animal, or perhaps your nature chose it for you, and used your power. One rule about shapeshifting is that it is not magic, so magic dampeners will not inhibit your ability."
    "Good work, my little wolf," Annabella said, immeasurably proud of her daughter, brushing the grinning child's hair.
    Delighted by Annabella's aura-possessed touch, Rachelle said. "I loved it. It was so amazing, being a wolf. I can't believe how much my sense improved, and..." The excited child's mouth opened, letting a stream of words gush out, incoherent sentences about how incredible shapeshifting was.
    Annabella laughed. "You should collect your thoughts, my girl. You're becoming incoherent."
    Rachelle's mouth hung open. She quickly shut it. "Oh, sorry."
    "Thank you for showing my daughter the way, Hadros. We must be going now."
    "You are welcome to sleep here," he responded.
    "Thank you, but we are the Count's handmaidens and we are expected to sleep in Drakenhof," Annabella said. Rachelle felt her mother's arm across the back of her shoulders, her hand gently stroking her.

    Originally Rachelle wasn't intended to be able to shapeshift, but I decided it would be a great ability for her to have, and there's no real reason she can't.
     
  12. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

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    Chapter Seven

    Rachelle had received a summons to Vlad's audience chamber. She was nervous, not knowing for what reason she would be summoned, especially having be told not to bring Annabella with her. Her nerves suffered further when she noticed Isabella was not present with Vlad. Isabella had been with Vlad in all the times Rachelle had seen the Count in his audience chamber, and so she wondered what reason he would have for not bringing her.
    She bowed.
    "Rachelle, did I not ask you to investigate your bloodline?" He was angry, his features showed it, and his Aura was so strong it was all Rachelle could do not to lie prostrate before him.
    "You...did," she forced out of her mouth.
    "Then why did you not inform me they were planning to assassinate me?" the Vampire Count thundered.
    "Assassinate...you?" Rachelle gasped, surprised.
    "Yes! I killed the assassin and I suspect he is connected to your bloodline! And you did not warn me!"
    "You...must...understand...I...find...it...hard...to...betray...my...bloodline," Rachelle protested.
    "But I am your Count, and surely you must report treachery, no matter its source."
    "Please...Count...I...was...unaware," the terrified young blood begged.
    "I am not sure, but nothing will be gained by pressing you. If you do find something, tell me."
    Rachelle nodded.
    "I swore my household to silence. Go." The Lahmian fled, glad to be dismissed.

    "Rachelle! You look terrible!" Annabella exclaimed when she returned to her room.
    "I'm a rotting corpse sustained by dark magic. How else would I look?" Rachelle joked, trying and failing to smile.
    Annabella didn't even try. "Now is not the time for jokes. Do you know what the thrall bond is?"
    "No?"
    "A mental link between sire and get, strongest in the first few decades of the get's unlife. Sire and get feel each other through it, what they are touching, their emotional condition, if hey are in pain, and the sire's word is law."
    Did that mean Annabella would force her to reveal her secret meetings? Rachelle barely kept herself from blinking.
    "Now, tell me why you are not your usual cheerful self."
    Rachelle desperately looked for a half-truth which would tell Annabella what she wanted to know without revealing her subterfuge. "I found out that someone tried to assassinate Count Vlad, someone who may have been linked to our bloodline." Maybe she should have kept it secret, but she couldn't hide something like this from her mother.
    A look of horror came over Annabella's perfect face, mouth open, eyes wide. It lasted only a moment, however, before she looked her perfect self again.
    "Rachelle my girl, this is terrible! where did you hear this?" she asked, sounding horrified.
    "It was a theory." That was true.
    Annabella lowered herself to her daughter's level, holding the child Vampiress' hands in hers and using her aura to reassure her. "My daughter, I can assure you our bloodline had nothing to do with this. We would gain nothing by murdering Count Vlad."
    "I understand, Annabella."
    Annabella smiled as an idea came to her. "Let's pretend there has been no suggestion that our bloodline is involved. We'll investigate ourselves." Her smiled widened. "This can be our first mission together."
    Rachelle smiled. Her first mission! Admittedly not in circumstances she would have liked, but still, it would be an opportunity to prove to Annabella she was worthy of the Gift, despite her young age. It would also let her follow Vlad's instructions, perhaps very loosely.
    She hugged Annabella. "I would be delighted for this to be our first mission together!"
    "Thank you, Rachelle. It will be my second mission - my first being to infiltrate this court."
    "How do we start?" Rachelle asked, detaching herself from her mother.
    "We look around and see who would have motive for killing the Count, who would have something to gain. i suspect the assassin was only a hired hand. Then we force the conspirator's hand, make them reveal their intentions. And stop any other schemes they have planned."
    "This sounds like it will be exciting." Rachelle's eyes glowed in anticipation.
    "It will be, Rachelle, it will." Annabella bared her fangs.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015
  13. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

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    Chapter Eight

    "Rachelle, there's someone I'd like you to meet," Annabella said. They were walking down a corridor in Drakenhof.
    "Who?" Rachelle asked, curious.
    "Andresse, my favourite sister. She'll be delighted that I've made my first get. She revealed the existence of Vampires to me, and offered me the Gift. I didn't take much persuading, and when we arrived at the Silver Pinnacle, the Queen decided to sire me herself."
    "Why couldn't I come to the Pinnacle?" Rachelle asked.
    "Are you jealous?" Annabella asked, smiling.
    "A little," Rachelle said, eyes twinkling.
    "The Queen's personal Gift is not for everyone. And if you went she might have had...reservations about you once she saw your age."
    Rachelle stopped, eyes blazing. "That's unfair."
    Annabella nodded. "I know, my girl. But that's how the Queen is. You never know what decision she'll make. Now, we've reached Andresse's room."
    Rachelle immediately cheered up, excited to meet her aunt, and Annabella's benefactor. Her eyes lost their fire, and she bared her fangs.
    "Andresse?" Annabella called as her child ran inside. She saw that Andresse was a little shorter than Annabella and had curly black hair. She looked strong, for a Lahmian.
    "Annabella?" Andresse asked. She took Rachelle's hands. "Who is this?"
    "Rachelle. My first child. She's 13."
    Andresse shook her head. "You should know better than that." Despite this, she smiled and hugged Rachelle.
    "I should have. But it's too late now. What do you think of her?"
    "Within her...limitation, she looks great. Rachelle, forget what I just said. Any daughter of Annabella's is a daughter of mine."
    Rachelle nodded. "Yes, Andresse."
    "What can you do?"
    "I can turn into a wolf, and create a beguiling aura. Can you?"
    Andresse laughed. "Neither. But will you change for me?"
    Rachelle leaped backward, grinned, and imagine herself as a wolf. After some time, she found herself changed.
    "So cute," Andresse said, smiling. "A white wolf."
    Rachelle looked at her forelegs and shook her head. She growled.
    "What's wrong?"
    "She;s meant to be gray," Annabella explained, unable to keep from laughing. "But she's inexperienced. Last time she couldn't 'talk' properly!"
    "You can change back," Andresse said.
    Rachelle did so and glared at Andresse. "Don't laugh at my inexperience." But she was smiling, and Andresse laughed.
    "Can you use magic?"
    "I haven't tried yet."
    Annabella touched Andresse's shoulder. "My favourite sister, something awful is happening. You mustn't tell anyone but -"
    "Mother!!" Rachelle screamed. "I told you not to tell anyone!"
    Annabella blinked at her daughter's outburst, then smiled and held her. Rachelle felt her mother's aura soothing her.
    "Rachelle, I can trust Andresse not to speak. She's my closest sister, and was my best friend before. She's like an actual sister."
    "As long as she doesn't tell anyone," Rachelle conceded.
    "What is it?" Andresse asked.
    "Someone tried to assassinate the Count, someone who may be linked to us," Annabella said.
    Andresse was shocked. "Us? Assassinating the Count? But why?"
    "That's what we want to know. Help us investigate, please, and trust no one."
    "Trust no one? But...I trust you. You're my best friend. I'll agree to do it."
    "Thank you, Andresse. Tell no one."
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2015
  14. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

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    Chapter Nine

    After swearing Andresse to silence, Rachelle and Annabella went outside. There were still a few hours to daylight, enough time for an outside lesson. Drakenhof looked even more chilling at night than it ever had during the day. That Rachelle was not an enemy of the residents did not ease her discomfort.
    "Rachelle," Annabella said as they walked. "You know by now that I have an aura that beguiles those around me."
    "I do," she confirmed.
    "You might have that power too. Try it on me."
    "Won't you resist it?"
    "I'll still feel it, and I'll know you have it," Annabella said.
    Rachelle nodded, and reached for her powers, attempting to bend her will into a comforting aura. Nothing. She tried again and had the same result. After the third try she shook her head. "I can't do it."
    "Try again another time. Practice may be the necessary element. Now, I feel it is time to teach you something important to being a Vampire. Necromancy."
    Rachelle swallowed. "You mean, raising the dead."
    Annabella smiled. "Exactly, my girl."
    "It sounds wrong," Rachelle said.
    "We ourselves are sustained by Necromancy. What's the difference?" Annabella asked.
    "A good point," Rachelle conceded. "But pulling the dead from their rest is..."
    Annabella smiled. "You don't have to be proficient. Just learn how to do it, and it may save your life at some point. Follow me."

    Annabella led Rachelle to the graveyard outside Drakenhof. "My girl, I won't bore you with the details and theories of Necromancy. Even I never bothered to learn the specifics. The sorcerers go on about different soul types and parts of souls and the like. I won't make you suffer through a lecture, though you are most welcome to add it to your reading list." She smiled. "I'll just teach you how to raise the dead. I'll give you some words shortly that you can use to channel your power, but it's mostly instinctive, so after a while you won't need to say the words, at least out loud."
    Rachelle nodded. She was uncomfortable with ripping the dead from their graves, but if she was only going to learn basic Necromancy it couldn't be too bad.
    Speaking the words of power, Rachelle drew upon her power, feeling the Winds of Magic. Annabella was right. It did seem to be largely instinctive. She focused her will on the closest corpse, and it staggered to its feet. It was covered in maggots, with skin hanging off, and had empty eye sockets. Though she knew it was under her control and couldn't hurt her, Rachelle swallowed as a chill went down her spine and quickly released the corpse. It fell to the ground with a sickly noise.
    Annabella laughed, which served to ease Rachelle's mind. 'It's just a corpse. It can't hurt you. And you don't have to be proficient by any means."
    "Still...it's disgusting."
    Annabella touched her hair. "You get used to it. Practice regularly, or your magic will weaken. But you'll be pleased to know our bloodline doesn't usually raise armies. We mainly just hide in human society and manipulate it."
    "Good. I don't want to be a Necromancer."
    Annabella laughed, her voice honey-sweet. "You don't have to do anything you don't want to, at least when there is a choice. You certainly don't have to be a Necromancer." Annabella bared her fangs. "How would you like a duel to take your mind off it?"
    "I would love it."
    "Good. Wait here while I fetch our swords."

    As Rachelle waited, she felt the storm of Vlad's Dark Majesty behind her, and turned around.
    "You do not wish to be a Necromancer?" His tone was curious.
    "I do not. Raising the dead feels wrong, against nature. I mean, more than our existence."
    "Surely you knew about Necromancy when you accepted the Gift?"
    "I did. But I don't want to do...this."
    "As Annabella said, your bloodline does not specialise in Necromancy. You are lucky. Now, what have you discovered since last we spoke?" She felt the Aura crash into her, demanding an honest answer.
    "N-nothing...Count," she stammered.
    "Nothing? Then keep looking. I do not take kindly to failure." With that he turned on his heel and walked away.

    Annabela returned, eyes glowing with excitement, holding her sword and Rachelle's own much shorter sword. Rachelle grinned and altered her own face.
    Annabella threw Rachelle her sword.
    Rachelle laughed and caught the blade by the point, and in a display of Lahmian dexterity tossed in the air and caught it by the handle. "Shall we begin?"
    As they fought, swords moving faster than the mortal eye could follow, Annabella asked, "I sense magic has washed over you. In fact, I might go so far as to say it was the Count's magic."
    Rachelle panicked. Would she have to admit the clandestine meetings? "You...are correct," she said carefully.
    "Why?" There was no accusation in the voice. Annabella simply wanted to know. Even so, Rachelle felt she couldn't tell. "I...can't tell you."
    "Are you sure? I'm your mother."
    "I really can't," Rachelle insisted.
    Annabella lowered her sword and sheathed her fangs. She spoke softly. "I didn't want to have to do this, Rachelle my daughter." She locked her eyes with Rachelle. The child's mind went blank.
    When she recovered, she asked. "What did you do?"
    "Hypnotised you to find out the truth."
    Rachelle gasped in horror
    "I shouldn't have had to do that." Annabella sounded almost angry. "We're family, and you don't keep secrets from family. Or your best friend. It's a betrayal of trust. I don't ever want to have to hypnotise you again, do you understand?" There was a note of pleading in her voice.
    "I understand, Mother. And I apologise."
    "I accept the apology. And what you are doing is odd, but not something entirely wrong. If you don't tell him I found out, I won't spread the word."
    "I won't," Rachelle promised.
    "Good. Now, inside. Dawn is coming."
     
  15. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

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    Chapter Ten

    Several days had passed. Rachelle had practiced her shapeshifting, usually resulting in a hilarious mistake, and continued her reading and dueling. In their free time, she and Annabella had attempted to investigate their bloodline's involvement in the attempt on Vlad's life.
    It was something neither could ask directly, on Vlad's orders, so in the course of Rachelle's introduction to the other Lahmians assigned to Drakenhof - many surprised by her youth - she tried to listen, sneak around, look for any hints as to who might have sent the assassin.
    After a week, however, she had grown frustrated, and Anabella saw her lying on her bed, reading.
    "Rachelle?"
    "Annabella?"
    "Are you ready for more investigating tonight?" she asked.
    Rachelle surprised her by just shoving her book towards her.
    "You can't stay in bed reading all night! We have a mission!" she exclaimed.
    "It's been a week. We have nothing," Rachelle said.
    Annabella smiled, plucked the book out of her daughter's hands, and placed it on the desk. Then she sat on the bed. Rachelle conceded feat and sat up next to her. She'd been hoping not to have to do anything tonight.
    "We are immortal, my daughter. We have forever to find something. In fact, I would have thought a child would be more eager to sneak around."
    "It's boring," Rachelle admitted. "I've been listening to relations talk to each other, observed places I shouldn't have, and still found nothing. What's the point?" She felt her mother's aura sooth her, and allowed herself to relax. Perhaps it wasn't so bad.
    "Rachelle, investigations usually take a long time. Nothing happens quickly. Normally you have to ask the Queen for permission to put one foot in front of the other, but I decided that we should investigate without asking. I felt it necessary."
    Rachelle gasped. "You're acting without permission?"
    Annabella laughed. "We can always say it was an incidental discovery. After all, my mission is to observe the court, which I am doing."
    "Annabella..."
    "Don't worry. Without permission we still wouldn't have been able to begin our investigation, and the exchange of messages would take weeks."
    "I understand that."
    "Good. So, nothing in this life happens quickly. We watch and wait, ready for the right moment. A week is nothing."
    Rachelle nodded. "I will persevere."
    Annabella placed her arm around her. "That is all I ask. Now, do you often get bored?"
    "I...must admit if I am doing the same thing over and over, I do lost interest."
    Annabella blinked slowly. "Probably because you have the attention span of a child. It's not your fault. Again I apologise for such an early siring."
    Rachelle shook her head. "Don't apologise, Mother. You already have far too many times."
    "Yes, Rachelle." Annabella brightened. "What were you reading?"
    "Something on bladework. It was quite interesting."
    "Then I'll let you contineeu reading, and do some investigating of my own."
    "Thank you. And thank you for accepting the flaws of my youth." Rachelle smiled and held Annabella for a moment.
    Annabella stroked her hair and said, "You're welcome. And don't call them flaws," before leaving.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2015
  16. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

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    Chapter Eleven

    Feeling ready for more investigating, having recovered from her previous boredom, Rachelle slipped through the corridors. She had learned from Andresse that there would be a meeting of some of the Lahmians, and now she was searching for it. Hearing voices, some of which she recognised from brief introductions, she stopped by the door, and listened, excitedly hoping for good information.

    "The assassin failed," a voice said. "The Count is still alive."
    "There is still time. Geheimisnacht is next month."
    Time for what? Rachelle wondered.
    "I know," said the first voice. "And the Liche can only be awakened then."
    Rachelle had no idea what a Liche was, and so listened intently, hoping for clues.
    "Should we warn the others?" a third Lahmian asked.
    "There is no need," said the second voice. "We can deal with this ourselves."
    "indeed, but we must hurry," said the first. "Four weeks is not forever. This meeting is over."
    Fearful of discovery and confused by what she had overheard, Rachelle fled the corridor and searched for Annabella.

    She found her mother performing in the dance hall. She discreetly joined the back of the audience.
    Rachelle was impressed by her friend's extreme acrobatic ability. She would have to ask for lessons. She couldn't help clapping at the finish.
    Once the crowd dispersed, the child went up to the stage.
    "Annabella?"
    "Ah, Rachelle," she said, with that entrancing smile. "Did you like my show?"
    "Will you teach me?"
    Rachelle felt Annabella's aura wash over her. "Yes, Rachelle, I will. We'll start now, shall we?"
    Almost forgetting what she had found out, so excited was she by the thought of learning to perform, Rachelle nodded.
    The set was filled with adult-sized props, so the child Lahmian could not make best use of her natural dexterity, but still found herself enjoying what she did, and Annabella promised to find some correctly sized stage equipment.
    "Thank you. That was a good lesson," Rachelle said, sitting beside her mother on the edge of the stage.
    "I'm glad you enjoyed it. Would you like more?"
    "I would."
    "I'll organise a schedule. And you had better not get bored!" Annabella added with a grin.
    "I won't!" Rachelle promised, laughing.
    Annabella's face straightened. "You came near the end of my show, which suggests you didn't come for the show, enjoy it though you did."
    Rachelle shook her head. "I didn't. I found information." She relayed what she had heard.
    "So you don't know which side their on?"
    "No," Rachelle admitted.
    "We'll need to look for more evidence, then."
    "Annabella, what's a Liche?"
    Annabella blinked, and Rachelle felt warmed by her aura. She placed her arm around her daughter, and pulled her close. She spoke in a whisper."Rachelle, are you comfortable?"
    Her daughter smiled. "i can feel your aura. It feels good."
    "Good. What I am about to tell you I had hoped to put off for later. Unless a Necromancer receives the Gift or is killed, one of two things will happen to him. usually, he will become a wraith, a spirit that wanders the world seeking places of death and slaying those it finds. Their touch is death. Vampires can bind them to their will."
    Rachelle swallowed. This was sounding scary.
    "If a Necromancer is strong enough, however, he will become a Liche. He will wither and lose his flesh - I heard a southern Liche lost all his skin - but survive, and be extremely powerful, to rival Vampires."
    Rachelle was not comforted by seeing Annabella looked nervous as they spoke. If wraiths and Liches made Annabella nervous, they must be terrible.
    "And what is Geim- Gehem-?"
    "Geheimisnacht? An evil night when dark creatures are strongest. A good time for dark rituals."
    "And it's a month away...so we have a month to stop an old, powerful Necromancer from rising, without knowing which side the Sisterhood is on, or where he is."
    'Trust me. We will stop him."
    "I do trust you," Rachelle said.
    Annabella held her tight. "I know, my daughter."
     
  17. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

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    Chapter Twelve

    Rachelle was practicing her Necromancy. She didn't like it, because it seemed dark and evil, but thought that she should maintain her skill in it for if it became necessary. Every tool at her disposal was to be used, even if she didn't like them.
    "Good work, Rachelle," said Vlad behind her.
    Rachelle spun, releasing the corpses she had been animated. Vlad's Aura was not as strong as it usually was, perhaps because he no longer felt he needed to use it as much. She was under his control, and they both knew it.
    "Thank you, Count."
    "You are welcome. Now, to business. What have you discovered?"
    "A Liche will be raised on Geheimisnacht, but I don't know whom by. My bloodline says you will be able to stop him, but Annabella and I don't know which side they are on."
    "Why would your bloodline not tell you?"
    "Maybe they do not trust us - we are both very young Vampiresses," Rachelle guessed.
    "That is a possibility. A Liche? Do you know what that is?"
    Rachelle shivered. "Annabella told me. They sound terrible."
    "They are. Do not take the threat lightly. Find out which side the Sisterhood is on. I will not have a Liche rise in Sylvania, and if I find out the Sisterhood is responsible, I will talk to Neferata. Continue your practice. You will need all the skills you have, and only have a month in which to refine them."
    "Yes, Count Vlad."

    After practicing her Necromancy, Rachelle found Annabella feeding the banquet hall. Her mother retained her impossible beauty whilst feeding, perhaps enhanced it, and Rachelle was frozen to the spot, forgetting what she was about to say.
    Annabella sensed her and turned, the skin around her mouth somehow clean of the blood drenching her fangs. She smiled. "Hello, Rachelle."
    "Hello, Annabella," Rachelle made herself stay.
    "How is your Necromancy progressing?"
    "Well, Annabella."
    "Good, my daughter." Annabella laughed. "Am I entrancing you?"
    "Yes," Rachelle admitted.
    "I can reduce my aura, if you like."
    Rachelle walked closer and shook her head. "I like it this way. And...The Count visited me again," she said, remembering. "He told me to keep practicing and find out which side the Sisterhood is on. And he will talk with the Queen if her daughters are raising the Liche."
    Annabella blinked. "I would love to see that conversation. No one talks down to Queen Neferata."
    Rachelle laughed. "If she's anything like you, she'll be impossible.
    Annabella playfully slapped her cheek. "Careful. I might just drop a spark of fire on your bookshelf."
    "Annabella!" Rachelle exclaimed, pretending to look horrified.
    Annabella touched her hair. "I know you're a good girl, Rachelle. Just don't let other Lahmians hear what you said."
    Rachelle nodded, a finger to her lips.
    "Now, do you want to show me your Necromancy/"
     

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