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Asceline

Asceline, the Maiden of Mousillon

Many Questing Knights have sought their doom in Mousillon, but since the fall of the Chapel of Frenegrande, the impious duchy has been untroubled by Grail Damsels. Since they inhabit isolated Grail Chapels and normally live alone, Grail Damsels are prone to being eaten by marauding monsters, and with few knights in Mousillon noble enough to rescue them, Grail Damsels have been in short supply for a long time. Aurore, the head of the “priesthood” at the chapel in the Barony, might call herself a Grail Damsel, but she is most certainly not the real thing. Most peasants don’t even know Grail Damsels exist, and those that do are certain there are none in Mousillon. They were right, until Asceline came along.[1a][1b]

Asceline was a frail, pallid girl prone to sickness and fevers. Her parents, a knight and his lady in the Duchy of Lyonesse, were afraid she wouldn’t survive to marrying age. But she did survive, through a mixture of extreme stubbornness and a dedication to the Lady. Her regular prayers to the Lady were rewarded with a gradual easing of her symptoms, and she was soon able to venture out of bed and even out into the sun for a couple of hours a day. Gradually, Asceline felt her faith growing stronger even as her body regained its health, and this to her was a sure sign that the Lady’s blessing was upon her. But as a pious and humble girl, she wondered just how she should repay the Lady. After all, she should have perished as a little girl, but the Lady’s light kept her alive. That meant that Asceline owed her life to the Lady, and it was a debt she knew she should repay. But how?[1b]

Though grateful for the survival of their young daughter, Asceline’s parents were happy to hear she intended to leave the family keep and seek to be taken in by the Grail Damsels. After all, it saved them from having to pay out a hefty dowry when she reached marriageable age. They bade Asceline farewell as she left for the closest Grail Chapel, making sure to pack plenty of herbal remedies for her bouts of illness. It was at the Grail Chapel in Lyonesse that Asceline swept the nave and washed the sacred garments of the Grail Damsels who resided there, toiling in return for a few moments alone at the Lady’s altar at the end of each day. Gradually, as Asceline learned more about the Lady and Bretonnia’s history, her role in life became clearer. She learned that much of Lyonesse, included the keep in which she was born, had originally been a part of the neighbouring duchy of Mousillon, and that Mousillon was a dark and malodorous place where the Lady’s light did not shine. This greatly upset Asceline. What about all the children in Mousillon who did not have the chance to experience the Lady’s light as she had?[1b]

The elder Grail Damsels discouraged such thought in the young Asceline. But Asceline would not be swayed. In spite of the Grail Damsels’ counsel, Asceline (who was still in her teens) girded her loins and headed south for Mousillon, intent on bringing the Lady’s light to the people who needed it most.[1b]

Asceline never imagined that anywhere as grim as Mousillon could exist. She was shocked to her very core by the ignorance of its peasants and the malice of its lords, by the swampy foulness of the land and the hollow terror of the city. Where most would have succumbed to despair, new steel was born in Asceline’s heart. Here was a land under a curse, and that curse had to be lifted. Even if the rest of Bretonnia had forsaken Mousillon, if just one person strove to bring the Lady’s light to the lost duchy, then its people had a chance. That person was Asceline. She had been placed on this world to save Mousillon.[1b]

Asceline has survived bandits, monsters, zombies, vengeful nobles, and the Pox. Her career has taken her from the Orphan Hills to the city and everywhere in between. She wanders Mousillon seeking out the evil-hearted and the corrupt, searching for signs of impiety and mutation. She has a gift for whipping the peasants up into a religious fervour, so they follow her wherever she goes and protect her with their lives. Several times she has found evidence of a village offering their children to Beastmen or communing with evil spirits, and she has led a baying mob of peasants to burn it to the ground. When Asceline finds no confirmation of any wrongdoing in the ashes, she assumes it was because the wicked sinners had been able to cover their tracks by some sorcerous means. When she uncovers definite evidence that the victims had indeed been committing some abhorrent blasphemy, it steels her resolve to bring the Lady’s light shining into the darkest corners of Mousillon.[1b]

Incredibly, Asceline has survived her adventures almost completely intact. She ascribes this to a series of miracles bestowed upon her by the Lady in recognition of her efforts in purifying Mousillon. An unkind observer might point out how many peasants have thrown themselves onto a Beastman’s sword to save her or given her the last morsels of their village’s food when they themselves are starving. Asceline thinks nothing of such talk. She is sure that many are jealous of the favour the Lady has for her, and in her humility, she knows such cynics will be burned by the flame of the Lady’s light in time.[1b]

Asceline rarely stays in the same place for long, partly because there is always somewhere new that needs purifying, but also because the peasants who rally to her cause tend to die quite quickly, and she always needs to find more. Asceline is still only in her twenties, and though she wears a patchwork of battered armour and Grail Damsels’ vestments, it is clear to anyone who sees her she is a thin, pasty-skinned young lady who should be sewing tapestries or swooning over dashing Knights Errant instead of crusading against darkness. In spite of her physical weakness, Asceline never shies away from the heart of the action, whether storming a village of Chaos-worshipping peasants or putting a corrupt noble’s keep to the flame. She fights with anything that comes to hand, but her favoured weapon is a stake cut from the wood of a tree on the edge of the Forest of Arden. She makes up for her frailty with enthusiasm and devotion, certain that the grace of the Lady and the devotion of her peasant followers will keep her safe from unbelievers and wrongdoers. Many a servant of darkness has suffered one of Asceline’s wild, stabbing frenzies and fallen to her gore-encrusted stake.[1b]

Asceline knows that for Mousillon to be saved it must first be made free from wickedness, and wickedness is exactly what she seeks out and destroys. She has heard of a Black Knight rising somewhere in the duchy and is sure it is a villain who deserves to be staked, or burned, or both. She has also heard there is a hidden Grail Chapel somewhere in Mousillon, and though she has often sought it out, she has never found it. The strength of Asceline’s devotion means she could be an ally or an enemy for a band of adventurers, depending on whether they fulfil Asceline’s exacting standards of piety and humility. A mob of frenzied peasants led by Asceline is as potent a weapon as it is a threat, and a particularly cynical adventurer might direct her towards someone or somewhere he wants destroyed and simply let her loose. That said, Asceline reacts to being used in this way with such ferocity that the evildoer will surely wish he had never met the stake-wielding maiden of Mousillon.[1b][1c]

SourceEdit

  • 1 Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Barony of the Damned
    • 1a: pg. 41
    • 1b: pg. 42
    • 1c: pg. 43

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