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Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Sep 29, 2013
New Zealand
The second in a planned series about my old character, Annabella Castellan, in which the historian Joachim collects her notes on her life. Here, the young Annabella and her friend Bohemund return to the Old World and start their plans for revenge for the death of Blanche.

The Lady in White: An Annabella Castellan Story - One - Home

Joachim looked forward to the next entry in Lady Castellan's story. He had been, surprisingly, affected by the death of Blanche, and then Annabella's reassurance of her daughter Rachelle. That the Herald ahd taken the sphynx excited his interest on a different level - did she ever get it back? Was this why she ahd so many sphynxes now, as a memorial? He'd never imagined a vampire caring so much about a human. Then, he'd never imagined the relationship he saw between mother and daughter here, either.
He brought himself to the study to find his patrons waiting.
"Are you ready to continue?" Annabella asked.
"You're going to meet the second most important person in Mother's life now," Rachelle said. She mischievously glanced at her. "After myself, naturally."
"You're a lady - don't put on airs," Annabella playfully replied.
"I'm ready," Joachim said, picking up his quill.


I was in a foul mood returning from Nehekhara. I had witnessed the awful murder of my friend, in front of, deliberately so, her brother. Then my sphynx had been taken from me. Obviously the murder was the worst, but the taking of the sphynx felt almost as bad. I had felt so helpless.
Determiend not to feel so ever again, I found Bohemund in his cabin, staring glumly at the wall.
"I'm sorry," I said. "Truly. Blanche was a good friend to me, and I know you loved her very much."
Bohemund didn't respond.
"But I'm not going to just let it lie down. The Tomg Herald had my friend killed, and I will avenge her."
"I'm not going back to that place," Bohemund said. "Not if the Lady offered the Grail."
"She was your sister." I understand, but it was still hard to accept. "Aren't you angry? Don't you want revenge?"
"On some level, yes. But I wouldn't even know where to start looking for the Nehekharans. Besides, she was a the knight. I'm just a merchant. It's my fault."
"Oh, don't say that. They could have let her go."
"So are you going to charge back to the sands?"
"Yes, I believe I will," I asserted, iron in my voice like I had never felt it.
Bohemund finally turned to look at me.
"I can't fight, and I won't go back. But there is someone who might be able to help. I must warn you, she scares me almost as much as the Nehekharans do. But..." His eyes grew distant. "I love her. Blanche did, too, I think, even if she wouldn't admit it."
"Introduce me."

Sadly, our first port of call was not this mystery woman who scared but allured Bohemund and possibly Blanche, but home. I'd sneaked away without permission, and Bohemund was determiend to, at the least, prove I was still alive.
We found my father in the shop, and as soon as look at me, he cleared everyone else out, his face struggling to remain calm.
Then, with a tone as icy as the winds from my Kislevite mother's home, he greeted us.
"Bohemund. you ahve delivered my daughter safely."
"Annabella, are you hurt?"
"No, Father."
"Which is well, because we forbade you to go in the first place. WHat were you thinking?"
Lacking an answer that wouldn't anger my father further, I kept quiet.
"You could have been killed. That sphynx you always wear. WHere is it?"
"The Nehekharans took it."
"You met the - gods...wwait...where's Blanche?"
Bohemund opened his mouth, but no words came out.
"I'm sorry," my father said. "Annabella, how did it happen?"
"It was my fault," Bohemund said. "Don't blame your daughter. I stole things I shouldn't have."
I decided not to mention we now planned to avenge Blanche.
My father sighed.
"I can't work anymore today. Annabella, come home with me. Bohemund, will you stay?"
"I have...affairs to settle."
"Very good. Come on, Annabella."

A few days later, Bohemund collected me from home, on some plausible excuse I no longer remember. I hated lying to my parents, but they would never let em go to Nehekhara, not after sneaking there the first time. Later in life, lies and deceit became my stock. But then, I felt a little guilty about it.
Then it was time to go to Bretonnia. Land of shining knights and bright castles. At least, according to them. I'd been before, and seen the true state of the place. You could say the only difference between Bretonnian lords and Sylvanian aristocrats is that one takes blood tithes, the others raise the dead, too.
Nonetheless, the building Bohemund brought me to was a stately mansion, far grander than my parents', and with high walls and beautiful towers. The model of 'Bretonnia'. Bohemund bade me wait in the carriage whilst he went to the door, but soon enough he returned to fetch me.
We were invited in, and brought to the stateroom, bade to wait on comfortable chairs while Lady Philippa prepared to meet us. I waited nervously, wondering what she must be like if she were as scary as Nehekharans. And yet Bohemund (and maybe Blanche) loved her? How unusual.
It was atrick I have long learned, but then, young and naive - and human - as I was, I was quite unprepared.
The most beautiful woman I had ever seen stepped into the room. Tall, long legged, with short-cropped black ahhr, emerald eyes, and a white dress.
"Hello, Bohemund," she said perfectly. with a winning smile "And you must be Annabella Castellan." She extended a hand, tipped with painted nails, to me. Overwhelmed completely, I sat quivering.
Then her smile disappeared.
"Bohemund, where is Blanche?"
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Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Sep 29, 2013
New Zealand
The Lady in White: An Annabella Castellan Story - Lady Philippa

Bohemund looked as if he wasn't able to speak, which made me feel even more awkward than I already was under Lady Philippa's questioning gaze. That gaze - it drew me in. Made me more curious than I perhaps should have been. Made me want to say anything and everything to get a single word in response. Fortunately, perhaps, Bohemund found the courage to speak.
"Taken from me. Slain by a terror of the sands for my crimes."
"What crimes?" Lady Philippa asked.
"I took relics I should not have from the Nehekharans. They attacked us, sparing only myself, Annabella, and our guide, so we could live with our guilt."
"I am sorry. Blanche was a strong woman I cannot be thankful enough for having had the pleasure of knowing." Lady Philippa pursed her lips. "I will miss her."
"I will miss her, too," I said. "She was truly a good friend."
"You said terrors of the sands. Nehekharans? You were in Nehekhara?"
"Yes," Bohemund admitted. "Seeking great treasure to sell in Marienburg. Perhaps we should have been less....ambitious. But I cannot forget this." Bohemund's jaw set. "They killed my sister. I must have revenge."
"Revenge. What a strong motive. I assume you wish my assistance?" Lady Philippa tilted her head.
"Yes, please. You have many friendships and connections. I am not asking for a crusade. Nothing so grand. But I wish to return to the sands, find Blanche's killer, and bring his skull home on a pike."
I had never heard Bohemund so vicious. But the Herald had killed his sister. At this point, perhaps desperate to say something to this glorious woman, I broke my silence.
"Lady Philippa, I was there. I saw Blanche skewered by a scorpion-statue's tail. I want to go back, too. Bohemund has already agreed."
"How old are you?"
Lady Philippa laughed. A soft, kindly laugh that nonetheless made me feel very small.
"That is young for an expedition to Nehekara. A trading mission is one thing, but I cannot expect you to seek out a Tomb Herald and defeat him."
"I must go. Blanche was my friend," I insisted.
"Of course you must go." Lady Philippa held up a hand. "When you are ready. Nehekharans are immortal - they can wait."
Bohemund shook his head.
"I cannot wait. The pain bears down on me. Please, use your connections. Arrange an expedition."
"Bohemund, don't. You are sounding childish. It would only be a few years until Annabella is truly ready. And it will take some time to arrange matters." She stood up. "You may both spend the night here. Bohemund, leave us."

When he was gone, Lady Philippa stood up. She beckoned me to walk with her, and so I did. We walked in silence, at first, until she drew ahead of me and turned around. I stopped, and looked up into her eyes. There was concern there, but pride, too.
"You are a very brave girl," she said. "Most people I know would simply refuse to ever return to such places."
"I must avenge Blanche."
"So you are a knight of the Lady seeking to avenge a lady?"
"Blanche was hardly a lady, and I'm not even -"
"Do not worry the details. I can see your eyes, child." Lady Philippa straightened up. "You must promise me, if you are to pursue your vengeance, to do as I say, and to listen to all my advice."
"I promise." Sometimes I questioned myself. Not then.
"You must promise to break yourself upon my anvil, to eb reforged into something that can fight in Nehekhara."
"I promise."
"And you must promise to keep Bohemund safe. However much he is trained as a warrior, he is, and always will be, a merchant. You, however, are still to be molded."
"I promise. Will you teach me yourself?"
"No. I do not fight. I have never lifted a sword in my life. But I know someone who can teach you. A knight who likes me...very much. And there are other things I can teach you. If you wish to survive Nehekhara, you must learn things few people know. And I am one of those few people. Are you ready?"
"I am ready. To avenge Blanche."
"Yes. For Blanche." Lady Philippa took my hand and lifted it to almost higher than felt comfortable. "Then I shall send for the hammer."

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