- "He breathed in awe, dropping to his knees in respect. Never had he encountered one of the esteemed handmaidens of the Lady. They were priestesses and protectors, blessed by the Lady herself. Seers and augers of great power, many of them had been granted the gift of future sight, and were among the most respected of the king's advisers. Mistresses of fey, mystical powers, they commanded the forces of nature, and were the devout protectors of the sacred places of Bretonnia."
Sometimes, young children within Bretonnia are seen to have strange and mystical powers. They might be born with eyes of different colours, milk may sour in their presence or they may be able to predict events before they occur. Other children claim to see ghostly apparitions walking about, or are heard talking to beings that others cannot see. A superstitious people as a whole, whether noble or low-born, the Bretonnians will generally be fearful of such gifted children, and go out of their way to avoid them whenever possible, invoking the protection of the Lady of the Lake and Shallya. Often, especially within Quenelles, such children are perceived as having been touched by the fey inhabitants of Athel Loren. However, for every child who shows signs of such mystical powers, there are other "gifted" children that never display any outward sign of their strange, otherworldly talents.
Some of these children are sent to the Empire, if they come from particularly wealthy families, to learn the arts of magic, but this is a rare occurrence. Before they reach puberty, almost all children with these strange talents will be visited by the Fay Enchantress. She takes them with her to the Otherworld, and they are mourned by their parents as if they were no longer living. Nevertheless, it is a great honour to be taken by the Enchantress, and it is believed they go on to a better place, where their powers are used to serve the blessed Lady of the Lake herself. Those males that possess magic are said to have never been seen again. The females will often return to Bretonnia years later as holy Damsels. They wield supernatural power, generally over nature, and tell the Bretonnian nobles of the Lady's will.[1a]
Grail Damsels are completely outside the laws of Bretonnia and equally outside its social customs. No one would dare to criticise one, even behind her back. They are all beautiful, appearing young for many years before suddenly withdrawing to the Forest of Loren, where most assume that they die. Many go about with their hair uncovered, and not a few are notorious for their promiscuity, though no tales of a Grail Damsel giving birth are known. It is also common for Damsels to take on Grail Knights as both their protectors and lovers. Few claim to understand their behaviour, but the arcane support they give to Bretonnia's armies is much appreciated.[1a]
Damsels and their superiors, the Prophetesses, are powerful individuals, for in their years away from Bretonnia, their innate abilities have been honed and tempered. Their magic is orientated around nature moreso than most other human Wizards, for they are taught by the handmaidens of the Lady. Riding into battle, Damsels and Prophetesses use their powers to lend magical protection to Bretonnia's noble warriors, warding away the foul magic of their enemies as well as casting them down with powerful spells of their own. They are also able to mystically encourage the landscape to fight the Kingdom's enemies; persuading the trees themselves to lash out at the foe; calling flocks of birds to descend on the enemy at their call; even drawing lightning from the heavens to strike down in devastating arcs.
When not in battle, they fulfil such roles as advisers to the Dukes and King, where their magical abilities and visions may aid their lord. They use their powers to scry into the future, to protect the sacred glades favoured by the Lady, to detect the truth in the hearts of men and to lend the Lady's healing where needed. As priestesses of the Lady, they also maintain her shrines and lead devotions and prayers. In a similar way to the Enchantress herself, these powerful individuals exist outside the usual hierarchy of Bretonnia, and may come and go throughout the realms as they please, for none would dare to cross one so favoured by the Lady herself.
Damsels are perhaps the greatest human spellcasters, capable of mastering both the Lore of Beasts and the Lore of Life. This is highly unusual, for even the most powerful Wizards of the Empire can only master one lore of magic.
Furthermore, the Bretonnians consider sorcery to be a gift from the Lady of the Lake - the guardian spirit of their land. As a result, Grail Damsels can call upon the divine power of their goddess, allowing them to perform unique and unearthly feats of magic...
- Aura of the Lady - Grail Damsels and Prophetesses are blessed by the Lady's spirit, enabling them to resist magical attacks and extend that resistance to nearby allies.
- Aerial Shield - The enemy's missiles vanish magically in mid-air, causing no harm to their target.
- Lady's Favour - A vision of the Lady of the Lake appears to lead the Bretonnians into battle.
- Eerie Mist - An eerie mist rises about the enemy, stifling the sights and sounds of battle.
- Shield of Combat - The enemy's blows are magically deflected from causing harm.
- The Curse of the Lady - Casting aside spoiled tokens of virtue and nobility, the Damsel calls down the Lady's greatest punishment on all those champions who would oppose noble Bretonnia...
- Fey Paths - Calling upon the power of the Lady, a Damsel can summon a mystical, billowing mist. Upon stepping forward, they can travel to anywhere in Bretonnia, covering hundreds of miles in but the blink of an eye.
- Prayer of Fortitude - A Damsel's prayers empower everyone around with the will to ride forth in the name of quest and glory.
Much like the Knightly Vows taken by Bretonnia's male nobles, Grail Damsels often pledge "Troths" in the name of their goddess.
- Troth of Protection - "Should the knights of Bretonnia answer the call of battle, their preservation and empowerment shall be my duty, so they may ward away all that is foul and evil. To strike down the foes of this great land of Chivalry, my obligation to the Lady is realised..."
- Troth of Wisdom - "With the purest of pure hearts I shall burgeon my knowledge and spirit to face evil with the confidence, love and comfort of the Lady. To carry out her will, the banishment of tyranny is all. For I am her acolyte, now and forever..."
- Troth of Virtue - "With absolute commitment to all righteous merits, I conduct my affairs with straightforward goodness, ever-striving to free myself from moral captivity, with liberty from the shackles of worldly attachment, and only the utmost dedication to my duty to the Lady..."
Famous Grail Damsels
- Eleanor of Quenelles - Was the daughter of the Duke of Quenelles, who assisted Agravain in his famous quest for the Grail.
- Three Sisters of Ancelioux - A trio of powerful Damsels who fought at La Maistontaal Abbey during the End Times.
- Sirienne - A Damsel known for taking on many knightly lovers, gifting each with a potent, enchanted locket.
- Isoulde - A Damsel known for imbuing a tress with her fey power.
- Chantelle de la Nuit - Was the Damsel of the Chevaliers de Lyonesse. She was chosen to aid the army of Repanse over and above the arm of any male lord.
- 1: Knights of the Grail (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
- 1a: pg. 38 - 39
- 2: Total War: Warhammer
- 3: Knight of the Realm (Novel), Chapter 9
- 4: Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (6th Edition)
- 5: WFRP: Knights of the Grail
- 6: Games Workshop US - Bretonnian Miniatures
- 7: Knight Errant (Novel), Chapter 11
- 8: Warhammer: WarCry Card - A Noble Quest
- 9: Warhammer: Storm of Magic
- 10: Warmaster - Bretonnian Army Rules