- "Behind every great man is a great woman. And behind those great women is me."
- —Neferata, Queen of the Lahmians.
The Lahmians may not have the brute strength of some of the other bloodlines, but they more than make up for this lack in cunning, deviousness, and their mastery of others. The Lahmians are secret string-pullers of the world, invisibly exerting untellable control over history. Their immortal plots are difficult for short-lived humans to see, and some that were set in motion in antiquity have yet to come to fruition.[1a]
In ancient Nehekhara, women were forbidden from entering the priesthood and, therefore, forbidden from learning magic. This changed in the city of Lahmia under the rule of Queen Neferata, who created a sisterhood that enabled women to learn what was previously forbidden to them. Many were attracted to this sisterhood, even coming from the other cities to learn at Neferata’s feet. By forbidding women from learning magic, the priests of Nehekhara ultimately drove many of them to learning the darkest magic, the necromancy of Nagash. From the most promising of these pupils, Neferata chose those who would become her progeny, Vampires of unearthly beauty and arcane learning.[1a]
When Lahmia fell, only a few of the sisterhood survived, fleeing at their mistress’s side. First they fled from the forces of Alcadizaar and then from Nagash when he tried to coerce them into being his soldiers and slaves. Rejecting Nagash and the other bloodlines, Neferata and her daughters-in-darkness travelled to the Old World. As strange hermit-women and the exotic consorts of chieftains, the sisterhood gave prophetic advice as they gathered power and influence amongst the primitive tribes they found there. They first exercised this power in an attack of the kingdom of Strigos, which had fallen under the rule of Neferata’s brother, Ushoran. After the fall of Mourkain, the Lahmians exercised their power a second time, raising an army to take Silver Pinnacle from the Dwarfs and make it their own.[1a]
From Silver Pinnacle, Neferata coordinated the Lahmians and their manipulations. As human civilisation changed, so too did they, growing from consorts and hermits to eccentric nobles and seductive spies. Remaining in her stronghold, Neferata too changed, growing cold and idle. As she fell into the malaise that claims many ancient Vampires, her control of her agents waned. Their loyalty was tested, and some, like Lady d'Acques of Bretonnia, defied her rules to make get of who they would. Others, like d'Acques’ granddaughter-in-darkness Kattarin, the Vampire Tzarina of Kislev, defied Neferata by seeking power, preferring to rule the humans now rather than at some ill-defined and distant time when their queen deemed it right. For a time, Lahmians squabbled and fought amongst themselves. Those loyal to Neferata schemed against those who went rogue in a conflict that took place in the shadows and was rarely seen by mortal men.[1a]
Eventually, the wisdom of Neferata was proven right. The Vampire Tzarina was cast down by a society of Kislevites, and she became a symbol for the danger of displaying the Vampires’ power before the world was ready to kneel before it. However, a fracture remained, and rogue Lahmians who are not of the sisterhood persist to this day. Knowing little of their heritage, they act independently, refuse to partake in the intrigues of Neferata, and bow to no one.[1a]
The sisterhood remains hidden, gathering power and invisibly twisting events to their own ends. They have been present at many of history’s most important junctures, but none can say how much influence they had over events. Lady Lenore, the Mistress of Mousillon, was present at that city’s downfall, but none can be sure whether she masterminded or merely observed the affair. Similarly, Countess Cheveaux is known to have walked the streets of Mordheim shortly after its cursing, and the Vampiress Serutat had the ear of many in Araby’s court at the time of the Crusades. Historians who pry into these matters find in them only their downfall, and many curious scholars have come to curious ends investigating things best left unknown.[1a]
Plots and Machinations
The ultimate aim of the Lahmian Sisterhood is the ultimate aim of Neferata herself: a triumphant return to the city of Lahmia, where she may rule as the queen of a new Cult of Blood that worships only her. This has not proven easy to achieve. Lahmia, indeed the entire Land of the Dead, is controlled by the Tomb Kings. Still, the sisterhood sponsors expeditions to the Land of the Dead to battle these dread-lords or to recover items belonging to them. The tomb robbers, crusaders, and explorers who make up these expeditions are unaware of the true motives of the mysterious women who act as their patrons.[1a]
It would not be enough to regain Lahmia through force of arms if it were still a city of ruins. Lahmia must be regained as it was at its height, complete with a population of willing and worshipful slaves. To this end, the sisterhood has devotees amongst the nobility, deluded pawns and lovers who will one day, when their dominion is complete, lead their people south.[1a]
Additionally, those people must be willing blood-cattle, unable to fight back. To this end, the Lahmians manipulate religious conflicts, stirring up the age-old enmity between the cults of Sigmar and Ulric, Ulric and Ranald, Ranald and Shallya, and so on. Simultaneously, they encourage humanistic ideas, helping agitators spread the word that the Gods are deceivers who have grown weak and old and should be disowned. Their hope is to create a world in which the Gods are abandoned, and without holy protection, their prey dare not resist.[1a]
The Lahmians have also protected mankind by strengthening them against other threats. It would achieve nothing to rule humanity only to watch them fall before the forces of Chaos. Nor would it do to have the Old World fall to the Von Carsteins, whose control of the nobility of Sylvania and periodic attempts to wage war on the Empire have been thorns in Neferata’s side.[1a]
Neferata has grown to hate all of the other bloodlines over the years for their failure to hold Lahmia, their betrayal when they allowed Vashanesh to lead them rather than her, and the sin of existing and daring to rival her. Amongst her goals is the downfall and enslavement of the other bloodlines. It was due to Neferata that the primitive tribes attacked Strigos, Nourgul found his passage into the temple of Myrmidia where his doom waited unguarded, and the Tsarevich Pavel Society strives against the infiltration of the Von Carsteins to this day.[1a]
Uniquely amongst the bloodlines, the Lahmians live alongside humanity, not in distant towers, castles, or crypts, but in the mansions and palaces of high society, as befits their station. They move invisibly amongst their victims, performing a dance that has many rules and complicated steps.[1a]
At the top of Lahmian society is Neferata. Though she rarely leaves the Silver Pinnacle, she remains in touch with her sisterhood through a network of mortal messengers and magical scrying. Her most favoured servants are given the title nuncio; they are her envoys, secret diplomats charged with shaping history. They usually maintain households of loyal servants, including lower-ranked sisters and mortals who help them maintain the illusion of noble normality. Immediately beneath them are the inter-nuncios who, rather than living in their own mansions and posing as eccentric ladies as the nuncios do, live in the households of others as loyal wives and daughters, gathering information and manipulating those around them through subtle means.[1a]
Hiding in plain sight amongst the nobility is an easier task than it may seem. Noblewomen are expected to behave in a highly codified way, and those who follow the laws of etiquette are allowed their eccentricities. Amongst the things proper ladies do not do is go out hunting, tour the estate, inspect the surrounding villages, or go to war. They remain at home, keeping house and maintaining their complexion. When they do leave the house, it is for social events like gala balls or opening evenings at the theatre. The majority of these events happen to take place at night.[1a]
As staying up late is a privilege of the ruling class who do not need to rise early for a hard day’s work, it is considered perfectly normal, even fashionable, for the wealthy to stay up until the early hours. Only peasants eat before dusk — high society dines as late as midnight. On occasions when they are required to go out by day, a lady-like parasol can prevent a Lahmian from visibly smoking in the sun should she be forced to step down from her covered litter or coach.[1a]
Sunlight is not the only thing a sister needs to avoid. Holy symbols and mirrors can both reveal a Vampire’s true self. Although some Lahmians are lucky enough to be immune to holiness, this is not true of the entire bloodline. Part of the training sisters undergo in the Silver Pinnacle is a partial desensitisation to holiness, so the instinct to flinch in its presence is overridden. They may never overcome their susceptibility completely, however, and must spend their time judiciously avoiding and minimizing exposure to the temples, shrines, and priests common in the Old World. No Lahmian wants to be accidentally exposed by a clumsy priest wearing a holy pendant who leans in a little too close.[1a]
The hand mirrors carried by some are discs of polished steel that distort any image that they are not held extremely close to and are an unreliable method of Vampire detection. Real mirrors are too expensive for common folk, but in the homes of the wealthy where the sisters dwell, wall mirrors are a status symbol. Another aspect of Neferata’s training is the subtle avoidance of such mirrors, ducking to smooth a wrinkle in one’s skirts at the right moment or distracting the attention of observers. Sometimes, a sister may resort to the clumsy method of “accidentally” breaking a mirror that threatens to expose her.[1a]
In addition to the sisterhood are Neferata’s handmaidens, the Deathless Court of the Silver Pinnacle. There they learn the ways of the Lahmians, practising their wiles on the foolish mortals who visit the Pinnacle hoping to trade with that community of isolated, rich strangers, discover the stores of knowledge they are reputed to hide, or gaze upon the most beautiful woman in the Old World. The handmaidens also vie for Neferata’s attention, practising their manipulations on each other in the Deathless Court’s society in miniature where they may betray whilst smiling sweetly.[1a]
There are also Lahmians in the wider world who are not loyal members of the sisterhood but rogue agents who do not bow to Neferata. Some use their abilities for their own ends, rejecting Neferata’s dream of Lahmia reborn. Others disobey their queen for gentler reasons; as the example of Neferata and Vashanesh and even Vlad and Isabella shows, the hearts of Vampires are vulnerable to more than merely sharpened stakes. Even the Undead may know something akin to love. More than once, a Lahmian has grown too fond of her mortal target and either refused to end his life when the order came or made him her get contrary to the wishes of Neferata. These rogues are shunned by their sisters, sometimes even hunted down and destroyed, though Neferata’s loyal daughters find little pleasure in disposing of their wayward kin.[1a]
Feeding and Breeding
To avoid attracting unwanted attention, Lahmians tend to feed on willing victims. Some are men who believe they are engaged in passionate affairs, not realising every torrid memory they have is a suggestion left behind by a sated Vampire. Others are knowing participants, only too willing to bare their necks in return for favours the powerful sisterhood is able to grant. These acolytes of the Lahmians may perform other services for their mistress; love-struck and loyal, they do everything from carrying her litter to guarding her whilst she sleeps. Each dreams of becoming her eternal paramour, but only the rarest of them ever do. The Lahmians can be fickle, and when they tire of their playthings most feel no regrets about ending them.[1a]
Lahmians try not to drain their victims dry too often, but when it happens, as it does on occasion, they are never so gauche as to leave a bloodless corpse lying in the street. Such things invite all manner of questions and investigations that can be difficult to cover up and may even involve having those dreadful, scruffy watchmen stomping around the parlour.[1a]
There is a distinction between members of the Lahmian bloodline and full members of the Lahmian Sisterhood. Young women with the desirable attributes — allure being one of them — are “invited” to join the bloodline and sent to the Silver Pinnacle where they act as handmaidens to Neferata. Here they train in various arts, magical and manipulative, at the feet of their queen. Those who excel are made members of the sisterhood and sent into the world to further Neferata’s aims, but there are those who do not join the sisterhood and remain at the Silver Pinnacle serving their queen, passing on their knowledge to the youngbloods, and if they are truly favoured by Neferata, tending to her many cats.[1a]
Some Lahmians bypass this period of training and make the leap directly from mortal life into the sisterhood. Usually, these are women in positions of power useful to the Lahmians already, such as widows with control over their late husband’s estates or young ladies about to enter into prestigious marriages. They are promoted directly into the sisterhood and trained by their mothers-in-darkness in the field so that they may keep their former identities and maintain the illusion of mortality.[1a]
Rarer still are those males who impress them enough to be invited into the bloodline. It has been known to happen that an exceptional man joins the Lahmians, but although they join the bloodline, they are never allowed full access to the inner circle of the Silver Pinnacle and, of course, are never considered members of the sisterhood.[1a]
- In ancient Greek mythology, Lamia (/ˈleɪmiə/; Greek: Λάμια) was a beautiful queen of Libya who became a child-eating daemon. Aristophanes claimed her name derived from the Greek word for gullet (λαιμός; laimos), referring to her habit of devouring children. Modern scholarship reconstructs a Proto-Indo European stem *lem-, "nocturnal spirit", whence also lemures.
- Later traditions referred to many lamiae; these were folkloric monsters similar to vampires and succubi that seduced young men and then fed on their blood.