Vampire Bride Encyclopaedia
The Heretic Victoria, formerly Guardian Victoria (sister of the North House
Though the anti-blood runs strong in the children of the garden, even a Guardian may be turned. When a child of the garden falls to the darkness it is the duty of her sisters to "prune the wicked branch
". The witch's garden
must be maintained.
The four houses of the Templar Guardianship. Guardians enjoy a state of semi-autonomy -- though they serve the interests of The City and answer officially to the High Priestesses, it's understood by all that they are, ultimately, answerable only to the White Witch herself.
The fruit of The White Witch's garden. Though some 400 generations have passed since the garden took root in this realm, the Templar still consider themselves visitors, not natives. One day the heralds of The Dark
will be defeated, the strength of The White Witch will be restored, and The City will grow again.
Structure and Origin of The Guardianship
The Templar Guardianship is the hierarchical command, care, and production structure of The City. Although the witch now slumbers, her dream-whispers are heard by the Witch-Talkers and disseminated to the high priestesses and, when necessary, the Guardians.
When the White Witch is silent and the Witch-Talkers sleep in peace, the majority of The City
's activities are regulated by the Inner Guardianship. Their official mission remains the capture and subjugation of other witches, but since the appearance of the vampires
, most of their actual efforts have been focused on defending the three satellite cities
, securing a fourth, and carrying out extermination campaigns
The Logs of the 44444th captain
suggest that many of the modern seats and offices of the Guardianship's command structure were already present during the pre-landing era. The role of the high priestesses and Witch-Talkers -- the core of the modern structure -- seems to have moved from the periphery to a central position of power as the nature of the melon festival transitioned from a ritual show of appreciation to the White Witch to a necessary exchange of offerings for life-sustaining boons.
After the landing and the slumbering of The White, the captainship (already by then a mere ceremonial position) was formally dissolved and the powers were split between a new council (later to become The Inner Guardianship) and a favored child of the garden, blessed by the White Witch herself (later to become The Guardian).
After the establishment of satellite cities and the appearance of the vampires, the increased need for improved food, troops, specialists, and knowledge production drove the establishment of the modern structures we know today.
A high priestess in ceremonial robes.
Her scarf is strictly an indication of status -- it possesses no special powers.
Life Within the Guardianship
A sister lives a strict, regimented, and rather stoic life. She is born in the Allsisters House and raised until she is six or seven years old. Once she can write, recite her prayers, and wield a practice blade, she is sorted into one of the three houses for further training: North House, the strongest of the houses -- East House, the home of the regular troops, non-combat specialists, and officers -- or West House, home of eccentrics and scholarly sorts. For the next eight to ten years every part of her is monitored, grown, and molded: training is rigorous, prayers are regular, and all manner of deviant behaviors are culled and suppressed. When a fruit of the garden prepares to leave for the field, she makes an offering and receives a boon -- a new cape and suit of armor that shields against cold, exhaustion, and provides an additional measure of spiritual protection from the vampire. Additionally, the boon usually contains some small personal effects or luxury items tailored to the sister making the offering. Some of these luxury items are so obscure, filthy, or useless that they could easily be considered something of an embarrassment, but gifts from The White Witch cannot legitimately be considered the objects of scorn. So long as the boons are not used in a way that directly conflict with the White Witch's edicts, the elder sisters turn a blind eye to the use of these luxury items.
Should a sister return from the field, she may be promoted, groomed for another mission, be chosen as a vessel by the witch (surely the highest honor of all) or (if she is crippled beyond healing) choose to return herself to the depths of the garden.
Of course, all this is idealized. In reality, all the mundane problems of daily life persist: petty rivalries, personal ambitions, reputation, status, dreams of the future, regrets, friendships, and so on.
The Four Houses
There are four houses in The City dedicated to the raising of children -- North, East, West, and the Allsisters Home.
North House is the strongest, but full of bad eggs and problem cases. Thankfully the elder sisters there are very strict and know how to turn a naughty girl into a fine servant of the cross and white witch. When another house can't handle a rowdy or mean-spirited sister, she gets sent to North House to be straightened out. Usually these new transfer students are a shade softer than "native" north housers and are bullied mercilessly until they fall in line. The elder sisters usually turn a blind eye to this bullying unless it gets out of hand. They think it builds character. North House produces excellent small teams, independent operators, and has the best track record for producing powerful Guardians.
East House can actually be considered in two parts: the part of the house dedicated to training serious, quiet, reliable soldiers/workers and the part dedicated to cultivating inner guardianship candidates (that is, priestesses, witch-talkers, officers, and other specialized jobs). The vast majority will receive standard training. A few elites will enter apprenticeships with elder sisters where they will inherit the skills and wisdom necessary to protect The City. East house and North house are engaged in an eternal rivalry.
"West House" is actually a misnomer. The West House isn't a house at all ... and it's not even on the west side of The City. The West House is actually the west wing of the southernmost house -- that is, the Great Hall, which contains an infinite number books on all subjects within an extra-dimensional space. As you might expect, it's nothing but bookworms, oddballs, and eccentrics here. The west house is the smallest house -- not more than a five to ten dozen sisters actually live there. At least that's what the census says -- counting heads in an extra-dimensional space can get pretty confusing.
The Allsisters House is where sisters spend their first 6-7 years of life. It's basically a big nursery and kindergarten. Some sisters are so suited for this environment that they never leave... they become the caretakers of the next generation. This is considered a supreme honor. Even members of inner guardianship speak with deference to caretakers and go so far as to call them "elder sister" regardless of actual rank. They are considered the mothers of the city. If a sick or dying Templar calls out for her mother, that's who she's calling out for.
Love and Romance in The Guardianship
Such feelings between sisters are known, but taboo.
That said, special bonds do form within units -- it's an open secret that a newly formed unit immediately organizes itself an untouchable captain, a "best sister" to that captain, and a ring of jealous onlookers. To prevent jealousy from destroying the unit, there are extremely strict guidelines on the how a captain interacts with her unit. Within The City, everything from the sitting arrangements in the mess hall to private one on one meetings are controlled. Generally speaking, the captain must maintain an egalitarian attitude towards her subordinates and mete out honors and rewards only in accordance with the guardianship's strict guidelines.
That's the life of a captain in The City. Out in the field, things can become a little hairy if the captain starts to slip up and break guidelines. If preferential treatment is openly given to the known "best sister" things can get very bad indeed. Every sister knows that bad blood can form very quickly, and a stray bullet could easily find its way into the head of a sister who had the audacity to sleep under the captain's cape two nights in a row. It's a captain's duty to spread her love as equally as possible and maintain group cohesion.
So much for affection and bonds between sisters. Now, outright indulgences of the flesh... that is simply not allowed. Joining flesh with another body or falling into a private delusion betrays a deformity of the soul that must be corrected from without. There are many tales of what goes on in "that" clinic. Some sisters disappear in the night, and then return after many weeks... changed. In the baths, they hide their bodies, in the day they are quiet and muted, in their bunks they are frustrated and irritable. Every sister has her suspicions about the nature of the change, but they dare not speak a word. Some of the changed simply kill themselves. Their souls will be tortured by the white witch forever.
Every little sister knows: Only those who dedicate their mind, body, and soul to the white witch will receive her protection. Without her protection they would be powerless against the vampire. Those who break their word to the witch must be punished severely. Melons
won't be enough -- only the offering of the sister's awakened flesh will set things right.
Children, Reproduction, and the White Witch
Children are produced when The White Witch bestows a blessing upon one of her favored followers. The trigger might be anything, but often the recipient of her blessing will be a strong sister who returns with from the field with both valor and good health. A Witch-Talker will perceive the White Witch's command and summon the honored sister to the innermost chambers of The City, where the manifestation of the White Witch still resides. There, the honored sister shall be cleansed and prepared and enter the Old Garden unadorned, and on her hands and knees crawl to the foot of the scared hill. There she will prostrate herself before the tree of Algis. A day may pass -- sometimes more. But the honored sister shall not rise until she perceives it: a terrible pain, then warmth -- the tilling of earth and the planting of a seed within her.
Why does the White Witch control their reproduction so strictly? Why must their vessels be tilled like the earth? Though they would never speak of it, many Templar long for a second half they have never seen, and those who who are so lucky as to have a spirit planted within their vessels are said to be visited by strange, passionate dreams for days after -- dreams that are neither of witch nor sister.
The Templar have long considered the nature of the White Witch and their relationship to her. Of course, to serve the The White Witch is a blessing, and they feel joy beyond joy in increasing her followers, but they know their manner of fruiting is an unnatural one -- unlike all other beings they have encountered. And the pleasures of their own flesh... why do they feel such things? Why must they endure such pain and torment? Theories abound, some stranger than others, but the standard is this: that the White Witch's power, although vast, is not infinitely flexible. She may actually be a gardening witch of sorts, and they are like potted plants in a garden. So long as they remain "domesticated" by her, they may receive her protection... but if they spread their seed and fruit on their own, she may be forced to leave them or prune the offending branches. Such a state of affairs would also explain Her love for all things melon, fruit, and of the flesh.
Still, the White Witch herself has never made things clear, and the Templar dare not ask her directly. At least it is clear that Algis loves her followers: she tends to them, observes their growth, and takes great pleasure in their fruiting... and when they yield great offerings, she is doubly pleased, and sews The City afresh with new seed.
She loves her little garden. It is a shame that this age requires such strict pruning, weeding, etc. to keep the garden healthy...