The Black Dagger Brotherhood - An Insider's GuideLast updated: 5/12/2016 — new information in italics

These cheat sheets summarise what we know so far about the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Click here for a round-up of BDB-related posts on Book Thingo.

This section contains information on:

  • Vampire physiology
    • Transition
    • Reproduction and the needing
    • Medical quirks
  • Class structure
    • Civil unrest
  • Points of interest
    • Safe place
    • The In Between
    • The coffins
    • Wolfen
  • Symphath culture
  • The s’Hisbe of Shadows
  • The Other Side
    • The Scribe Virgin
    • The Primale
    • The Chosen

Note that the cheat sheets have not been updated to include information from The King to avoid accidentally spoiling readers who have not yet had a chance to read the book.

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Vampire physiology

When males fall in love, they bond with their female, making them feel possessive and extremely protective of her. They love watching her eat and well… *ahem* climax. Their eyes glow in her presence and their bodies also emit a dark, spicy, sensual fragrance used to mark the female during mating as a warning to other males that she is off limits. Mating ceremonies for bonded males include the female’s name being carved into the male’s back and sealed with salty water to show her ownership of him. She becomes the primary focus of his existence.

Vampires can breed with humans and half-breed offspring will inherit any or all of the above characteristics, depending on the strength of the lineage of the vampire parent. Humans cannot be made into vampires, you either have vampire blood or you don’t.

The biggest issue facing the vampires in JR Ward’s world is extinction. The vampire population is under threat from the Lessening Society, created with the express purpose of wiping out the race, and also faces difficulties with procreation due to infrequent fertility cycles and high mortality rates.


Instead of going through puberty over a span of years like humans do, vampires get it all in one go, and this happy little process is referred to as the transition. It usually happens around the age of 25. Prior to transition, vampires are typically small, weak, sexually unresponsive and can go out into the sunlight, but cannot dematerialise. Signs of impending transition include:

  • Fatigue
  • Constant hunger with no weight gain
  • Indigestion
  • Headaches
  • Eyes become sensitive to light
  • Aggression

The transition is extremely painful because internal organs are changing. A vampire needs the blood of a member of the opposite sex to complete the transition, and some vampires actually die during the transition.

Then comes the change and this affects males more than females because they grow so much in such a short time. It’s even more painful than the transition. Bones snap and lengthen, muscle grows—just a walk in the park, really.

When that’s finally over, every newly transitioned vampire seems to want the same thing: chocolate and bacon. Not even Ward knows why.

Males in particular tend to want something else right away, too. Their sex drive comes with a vengeance and they can almost set their clocks by the regularity of their erections.

The skin becomes hypersensitive for about a week afterwards, and males tend to have to relearn even basic motor skills like walking until they become more familiar with their new bodies.

For the first year after their transition, vampires are still legally considered minors.

Reproduction and the needing

The vampire population has a high infant mortality rate, and females face a high risk of death during pregnancy and delivery. Furthermore, females are only fertile every ten years.

The needing is a female’s fertile time. It happens five years after her transition and then every ten years after that. Her body becomes wracked with painful cravings that can only be relieved by full, penetrative sex with ejaculation (her orgasm alone just won’t cut it). The needing can also cause fights to break out among nearby males as they are programmed to respond to a female in her need. A female’s needing can also bring on the needing in other females within proximity.

For up to two days, the female needs constant sex and feeding. As Wrath points out in Dark Lover, the needing can wear a male down to complete exhaustion, but damn if any male has ever complained. How selfless of them.

For some reason, conception only works via the traditional method; IVF just isn’t successful.

But even after all that, conception still isn’t a certainty. But if it does happen, the pregnancy lasts for 18 months and delivery can be problematic for both the mother and young due to high incidences of blood loss, pre-eclampsia and stillbirth.

Medical quirks

Havers has been trying to create a vampire blood bank, but is unable to keep samples fresh (I have a pet theory on this, BTW). The vampire blood dies off quickly in all of his experiments so far, so it isn’t a viable option for those who, like Havers, don’t want to feed off a vampire of the opposite sex, or for operating on patients without an immediate donor on hand.

In case anyone is interested, vampires have six-chambered hearts, but I’m not sure why. Strangely, as Beth and Butch are half-breeds, their hearts still have only 4 chambers, even though their bodies went through the transition and Butch went through the change. They also have two livers, which Butch could certainly do with. Vampires don’t get cancer or diabetes.

They are easier to operate on than humans because, instead of needing someone on hand to give more general anaesthetic when required, vampires become somehow dormant when put under.

Just as Wrath’s blindness is a result of too close breeding within the aristocracy, the Chosen also have an illness known as the Arrest. It seems to only affect a small number of them, however there is no cure and no records kept by Havers, the symphaths or the Shadows. It is similar to a rare human illness, however Doc Jane was unable to work out how Selena recovered after an episode. She suspects that they occur as a result of immune system failure.

Without warning, a female’s joints and muscles freeze and seem to calcify for a time before she regains the ability to move, which often causes pain at the beginning. Joints and muscles appear normal in an x-ray after an episode.

She can tell that her condition worsens when she has more frequent episodes and it takes longer to recover from them. The end stage has episodes separated only by a few days at the most.

The statues in the cemetery are actually Chosen who have picked a final position that their bodies will retain for eternity before they are covered in plaster. It is unknown for certain that the Chosen is in fact truly dead in this state.

The Arrest appears to affect only the Chosen as there was no information on this disease in either the symphath colony or the Shadow Territory. Nor could Havers shed any light on it.

Class structure

In the vampire world, the king is on top (answerable only to the Scribe Virgin) and the First Family (the king’s family) is ranked directly below that. Wrath’s bloodline is in charge because their lineage is pure and should anything happen to Wrath before he can beget an heir, the kingdom is transferred to the male with the next strongest bloodline as females cannot rule in their own right.

The Brotherhood is also way up there, along with the Chosen (female offspring of the union between a Brother and a Chosen – basically their bloodline makes them the female equivalent of the Brotherhood), however they spend most of their lives on the Other Side worshipping the Scribe Virgin.

Above the average Joe or civilian vampire, there is also an aristocratic class, referred to as the glymera, which has a lot in common with the ton of Regency England in terms of wealth and snobbishness and is largely a patriarchy. The usual double standards concerning female behaviour definitely apply, especially relating to sexual behaviour and political power.

Homosexuality is OK, but only if a vampire is mated to a member of the opposite sex and keeps their lifestyle hidden. If a gay vampire is caught out, he (or she, assuming the same rule applies to females, which it may not) and their family is ostracised.

The upper echelons of the glymera are the Princeps. The Princeps Council (chaired by an elected leahdyre, which I think is pronounced ‘leader’ but don’t quote me on that because Ward’s letter groupings can make pronunciation confusing and misleading – ‘Primale’, anyone?) was set up to advise the king, but their decisions or rulings were more like recommendations than actual law. Although the doors have opened to more aristos, only the six founding bloodlines can vote.

Civil unrest

Not everyone is eager to embrace their king after he spent so long shirking his royal duty and letting vampire civilisation deteriorate. (For example, there are no longer any soldiers to act as vampire police and the race’s traditions and festivals aren’t really being observed anymore.) The glymera in particular have tried to be helpful by making recommendations to suit only themselves and Wrath has put their noses further out of joint by (quite rightly) filing them in the circular cabinet.

There was an attempt to either force Wrath’s hand into complying with the Council or undermine public confidence in him by passing a motion to protect and shelter (read: oppress) unmated females from the lesser threat. Given that Wrath outlawed the keeping of blood slaves, he would be highly unlikely to uphold a ruling to strip away females’ civil liberties, despite the argument presented by recent lesser activity. In the end, the motion was blackballed by Marissa (who had control of her family’s vote by being older than her brother Havers) before it reached Wrath’s desk.

The war against the lessers has reached a turning point where most of the ruling class was wiped out and Rehvenge was made the new leahdyre. Although Rehv has his own problems, Wrath has found him to be an asset.

A member of the glymera, Montrag, son of Rehm, approaches Princeps Council leahdyre Rehvenge about assassinating Wrath on the grounds that he has done nothing in response to the raids on glymera houses. He did not prevent them, is not investigating the property losses and has not assured the glymera that the raids will never happen again. His plan is to install a state of democracy, limited to the glymera, with all other classes being ruled by them and his ultimate goal is to rule the race himself, arguing that as the Brotherhood’s prime duty is to protect the race, they will be forced to follow where the race leads (do you really see that happening?). Best of all, he gets to keep his role in the conspiracy hidden, leaving Rehvenge to take the fall.

Rehvenge instead has Montrag killed and tells Wrath of the attempted assassination, but not before Montrag has a sworn statement from Rehvenge’s father denouncing him as his killer and a symphath.

At the next Council meeting (which the glymera refused to attend on the grounds that Montrag’s assassination is reason enough for them to remain safe at home), the statement is delivered by a glymera lawyer.

Then the symphath princess emails the Brotherhood with the old news that Rehv is a symphath and unless he is delivered to the colony, she will email the glymera telling them about Rehvenge and that the king did nothing about it.

Rehvenge defanged the princess by faking his death in the human and vampire worlds and going to the colony.

As Montrag committed treason, upon his death, his estate legally goes to the king, unless Wrath chooses not to exercise that right, which in this case, he has not.

Wrath also rules the symphaths, claiming he has the power to take away the symphath colony and that the king rules only because Wrath lets him.

Xcor and his band of bastards resurface and travel to Caldwell with the intent of overthrowing Wrath. His second in command, Throe is related to five out of the six founding families and would have been a member of his glymera until he was denounced for training under Xcor. Still, he has the contacts to stir up discontent and show the glymera how many lessers have been dispatched since their arrival.

His letters to the six founding bloodlines and Rehvenge (as leahdyre) have the stuffed shirts secretly talking about revolution after Rehv denies the Band of Bastards a reaction or the chance to speak to the Council. All but Assail align themselves with Xcor. Assail claims to be a neutral businessman but not standing with Xcor has earned him a powerful enemy.

Xcor ordered an assassination attempt on Wrath that almost succeeded, but Wrath ordered the weapons be found and tested to nail Xcor’s balls to the wall as a traitor, all nice and legal so he can’t be made a martyr.

Elan, son of Larex is currently the highest ranking Council member below the leahdyre, and decided to call a meeting, keeping it informal so there is no need to inform Rehvenge and acts as Xcor’s informant. He told Xcor that Assail declined the invitation, suggesting he may have a meeting with Wrath.

Xcor took the opportunity to have Wrath killed, but only succeeded in wounding the king, but when Wrath gets the legal evidence he needs, Xcor is going to be in some very deep shit and the glymera won’t be able to hold him up as a martyr.

Vishous proved that the bullet recovered from Wrath was fired from the rifle found under Xcor’s bed.

At the next Council meeting, attended by the entire glymera barring Assail, Wrath lay down a warning against traitors before leaving and delegating question time to Tohr. Everyone left after shaking hands with Elan, who stayed behind to blame Assail for Wrath’s shooting.

Assail killed Elan for trying to put a price on his head with false accusations, but his associate was only too ready to contact Xcor and demonstrate a legal loophole regarding Beth’s human lineage and that of their future heir not being of full blood, coupled with the social prejudice against humans that will oust Wrath without bloodshed.

The glymera lawyer Tyhm, father of Wrath’s lawyer Saxton, is behind the legal coup against Wrath and along with another aristocrat Ichan (Wrath’s distant cousin and royal candidate), and Xcor, he is putting the squeeze on the rest of the Council to agree that Wrath must be overthrown, using purity of the royal bloodline and Beth’s halfbreed status as their cover for treason.

The meeting includes every last aristocrat, barring Rehvenge and Marissa, who are known to be loyal to Wrath, as the vote of no confidence must be unanimous. Whether through self-interest or fear, they all sign and attach the colours of their bloodlines, all thoughtfully provided for them.

During the coronation the following night, Wrath has Rehvenge present them with proof of his divorce, dated three weeks earlier. Of course they are fully aware that it is bogus, but have no legal proof, so the divorce stands and there are no legal grounds for them to overthrow the rightful, blooded king.

Wrath appointed as his chief cleric a useful and loyal aristocrat, Abalone, son of the male with the same name who proved his loyalty to his father, to reach out to the civilian population and found that without the Council standing in his way, and when he gets to know his subjects and their lives, he actually enjoys being king. He abolished the monarchy so that no future generations would be trapped by tradition and his family would no longer be targeted. The people can then democratically elect a ruler. He returned the favour to the glymera by dismantling the Princeps Council and promptly tore up the divorce papers.

A month later he was elected king for life by the civilians he helped.

Points of interest

Safe Place

Having Havers evict her from his home shortly before dawn and the threat of the mandatory sehclusion order (which would make unmated females unrecognised as an individual by society—all contact must be made via a male relative who has the right to grant and deny as he sees fit) made Marissa realise that unmated females have nowhere to go in an emergency, and given their sensitivity to the sun, this could easily mean the death of these females.

She sold a necklace and used the proceeds to buy a house in which she was planning to live, but inspired by a young patient at Havers’ clinic and her mother, she instead turned it into a shelter for females and their young who have no place to go. Many of these females are victims of abuse who had no other options.

Marissa sought Mary’s advice on setting up the shelter, given her work at the suicide hotline and Mary also acts as a counsellor. Jane regularly makes rounds there as well, as many of the females are more comfortable with a female doctor. Havers also refers cases of abuse to the shelter, but they have no other contact. Marissa’s discussions with Butch (who has seen his share of abuse as a homicide detective) about the shelter has brought them even closer.

Marissa loves that Butch is always a gentlemale towards her, never complaining about her long hours or stress caused by running Safe Place, where she is the head of her own little family and controls every aspect of its running.

Wellsie’s jewellery donated by Tohr will build a new wing that Marissa plans to name Wellesandra.

Safe Place is a three-storey house with lots of bedrooms and bathrooms, with a kitchen and, most importantly, privacy. The Wellesandra Annex offers a community room, second kitchen and another 4 living suites.

Marissa prefers handwritten files over computers. But since she is about 400 years old, it’s not such a surprise that using computers does not come naturally to her.

Endelview estate

The estate of a rich family was one of many targeted in Lash’s raids. That night, as well as their usual staff, they had contractors and tradies renovating the place. When the lessers came, the family ran to their safe room and locked the doors behind them, ensuring that none of the servants or contractors could get into the room. Countless civilians died that night, with all but one buried on the grounds. The corpses that were left in the sun before the massacre had been discovered burned to nothing.

Although the family claimed that they were away from home and returned to carnage, bloody footprints leading from the safe room tell a different story.

The In Between

A temporary place in the afterlife, sort of like purgatory, neither Fade nor Dhundh. Instead of being ruled by the Scribe Virgin or Omega, it’s actually ruled by the Maker, who created the Scribe Virgin and Omega.

Most people never hear of the In Between because those who leave it lose their memories of it and those who are stuck fade away to eternal nothingness. Everyone’s In Between is different.

For Tohr it was his single-minded vengeance on the Lessening Society, for No’One, it was self-imposed servitude on the Other Side and in the Brotherhood’s mansion, while Lassiter had to learn to care about others enough to put someone else first.

The coffins

Marissa saw them in Lover Revealed while getting the tour from Fritz. I have no idea of their significance and neither does Ward, and when the question was asked in a chat, Vishous blatantly evaded answering. All we know is that they will mean something at some point because Ward saw them and knew she had to include them in the book.

John wanted to leave the mansion via the back. He went to the garage, turned left to go to the back door and saw 16 coffins, but wasn’t interested in thinking any further on them, so we don’t know how much he knows about them.


A shameless tease from Ward where she wrote on p. 2 of Lover Unleashed, “It mattered not whether the prey was slayer or human or animal or wolfen. Blood would flow.” The scene was written from Xcor’s viewpoint in 1761 while he and the band of bastards were still in the Old Country. She has not made any further mention of them again.

Symphath culture

The origins of the symphath (ignore the extra ‘H’, it’s pronounced sympath—they’re also called sin-eaters, but it’s a derogatory term) haven’t been revealed yet, but it has been suggested that they were bred to be weapons because they have a huge advantage in a fight, namely their ability to enter people’s minds. Rehvenge disabled a lesser by going through its ugly memories of cruelty and bringing them to its conscious mind—Ward’s simile was opening bottles one after the other and letting the contents fizz over the top, scrambling the brain. Lash confirmed that the symphaths were once related to vampires but is unsure if they still need to feed like vampires.

Symphaths have fangs, even though Ward has never actually seen them feed, and although they have a compulsion to fuck with people’s heads, they don’t feed from the emotion. On the other hand, Lash noticed that the symphath princess didn’t have fangs, which led him to believe they may not feed very often, if at all. They have no sense of morality and are highly dangerous. For this reason, symphaths live in colonies separate from vampires and humans. If you know about a symphath, legally you must report them or face prosecution.

While vampire blood is red, symphath blood is blue, and half-breed blood is purple. They cry blood tears.

I’m unsure how true this really is (can you believe a symphath?), but while posing as the king, the symphath princess told Lash that the symphaths chose to be exiled from the vampires because they have evolved so far beyond them that the difference between symphaths and vampires could be compared to that between humans and chimps. As they chose and engineered the separation, they have no interest in acting out against the vampires, but are willing to help the lessers in return for the assassination of an unfaithful royal mate.

Symphaths had a tendency to take vampire females from the vampire population, which was a factor in them being sent to the colony.

There is a symphath colony near the Canadian border in the middle of some cornfields. The door can be found open but the only type of apparent security in place is a sign reading TAOIST MONASTICAL ORDER, EST. 1982 and a sense that something is not quite right, which is obviously meant to keep the humans away. The security keeping the inmates inside is the strength of the ruler.

There are only two symphath classes: The royalty and aristocracy, then the working class, who perform any manual labour required and breed to keep the race populated. The king acts as the hub for the symphaths and the kingdom seems to be passed on by a mix of bloodline and democratic choice. The more ruthless the leader, the more suited they are to rule in the general population’s opinion.

Rehvenge’s uncle was the symphath king and while he had Rehvenge imprisoned, he was able to prevent Rehvenge from reaching out to any of the symphaths in the colony, showing that a symphath’s greatest strength is his mind rather than his body.

Symphaths follow group behaviour so individuals are unlikely to go out on a limb to cause trouble. When Rehv and Xhex were reunited at the Brotherhood’s mansion, their symphath sides held onto each other.

Physically they’re not that much to look at as they have a certain reptilian appearance with forked tongues and their hands have an extra knuckle in each finger. Both the males and females have long hair piled up on their heads and both sexes appear largely androgynous. Although Rehvenge has a barb at the base of his penis, we don’t know for sure that full symphath males do. I assume they do because Rehv is also half vampire and we haven’t read about barbs on vampires. The barb emerges at the point of male orgasm to ensure he gets to stay inside for the duration. Based on Ehlena’s experience, the barb doesn’t have to hurt. I’ll just take her word on that. *legs staying firmly crossed*

I think that, like vampires, symphaths are also plagued with low fertility as Rehv has had unprotected sex with the princess every month for 25 years. But then even if she had the heir she clearly wants, she might still demand the sex because she enjoys it more than the clinical game of strategy ending in ejaculation that makes up a typical symphath mating. Xhex says that there are very few symphaths left (I don’t know what happened to them) so inbreeding happens a lot.

If a symphath falls pregnant, her inner walls are no longer smooth.

Also like vampires, symphaths can dematerialise. I don’t know how it works, but Ward has said that both Rehvenge and Xhex are ‘of no age’.

They see in 2D and in shades of red and have the ability to sense humans and vampires by their emotional grid, even with walls blocking conventional sight. Wrath once said that there’s no such thing as a half-breed symphath, because if you have symphath blood in you, then you have the symphath abilities and that makes you a symphath. It dominates the rest of you.

Murders are tattooed on the killer’s chest. Stars mean patricide and circles are for matricide. Red ink is used on the royal family. So Rehvenge’s red stars mean that he is a royal who has committed two counts of patricide (his symphath father and his vampire stepfather). The preferred murder method is getting into your victim’s mind and forcing them to commit suicide.

The symphath princess posed as the king in order to get Lash to kill her mate, the real king. She demanded rubies from Rehvenge in order to barter with humans, to the king’s contempt. He believes that fear provides more power than money.

Symphaths are motivated by self-interest and enforcing their wills onto others. Although the king likes Rehvenge, he preferred to keep him imprisoned as long as the princess lives before Rehvenge, too, would die, simply as another punishment for the princess who wants what she can’t have, especially the closer she seems to be to obtaining it.

For her act of treason, the king sacrificed the princess to Lash, but she escaped a month later and killed the king before trying to rescue Rehvenge. Xhex and Lash disabled her, leaving Rehvenge next in line for the throne, despite his injuries. Because Rehv is also a vampire, the symphaths chose him as their ruler in the hope that he will keep the vampires away from the colony.

Rehvenge killed the princess and took over as symphath king. When he threatened his subjects with a worse fate than the princess suffered, it confirmed in their minds that they made the right choice for their ruler.

Wrath claims that he could take away the symphaths’ colony and that the king rules only because Wrath lets him.

Symphaths burn their dead in a pyre consisting of a platform on nine 6′ planks, held up by nine 9′ posts forming a triangle. The top is made from ninety 9′ logs and six 6′ logs, set around nine zemuhs (a unit of measurement roughly equivalent to an inch) apart to ensure airflow. In the case of Selena, an accelerant was used, so I’m assuming that is also part of the tradition.

The s’Hisbe of Shadows

The Shadows put a lot of stock in astrology, fate and spirituality. They believe that the body is a reflection of the soul and must not be wasted on casual sex or masturbation. Sex is sacred. It is planned in advance in writing, with scrolls being hand delivered between both parties. It takes places after a cleansing bath ritual and is only permitted at night, but a single session can last for several nights. The room have a sign on the door so everyone knows what’s happening.

They also perceive pale skin as a sign of illness and don’t like to associate with those outside their race. Most of them stay in the Territory near the symphath colony, but the two races don’t have anything to do with each other, despite both having evolved from vampires.

The Shadow Territory is located north of Caldwell, between the Adirondack Mountains and the Plattsburg Flats, about 20 miles north and on the other side of the mountains from the symphath colony. It is disguised as an artists’ colony to keep the humans away. (Rehvenge’s cabin is on a mountain between the symphath colony and the Shadow Territory.)

On the Shadow side of the retaining wall bordering the colony is a study in forced perfection, with perfect, evenly spaced trees with fastidiously clipped branches.

Peasant housing is made from wood painted black roofed in tin.

The wall surrounding the palace is white marble.

The sacred s’Hisbe space is wall to wall black marble, relieved only by lamps burning an oil combination giving off white-green flames.

The Shadows seem to be matriarchal, with a queen and a female heir, to whom a male is promised. Fathers are considered less than mothers and sometimes even their children. They don’t believe in the human tradition of the heir and the spare. There can only be one heir, and a royal newborn will be murdered should her birth chart indicate that she is not the one. Their religious figure is a high priest, currently Ans’Lai and the queen’s executioner, s’Ex appears to have some sway as well.

Departed royals are mourned in the Enclosure Ceremony, a mandatory period lasting around a week. I have no idea how Joe Blow is sent off, but only royal are mourned in this way.

The queen spends this time in the sacred s’Hisbe space, clad in glossy black robes to match all that marble, sits to the north, meditating. At midnight of the final night, the high priest AnsLai and the Chief Astrologer enter to perform rituals with crushed meteorite pieces made into sacred tea, followed by bloodletting and ritual sex. Who gets to participate in that last is not specified, but I’m guessing that it’s a royal three-way with both the high priest and the Chief Astrologer. Maybe the queen gets to pick someone she’s had her eye on? Who knows?

Since the queen so glibly threatened to replace her daughter, it may be possible that Shadows don’t have the same issues as vampires do with reproduction. I’m also unaware of them going into the needing, so maybe the females can fall pregnant at any time during their fertile years, like humans.

The Anointed One, the male intended to mate with the heir to the throne is destined for the role by his birth chart. He is to spend his life in luxurious captivity, with very little contact with others, much like the heir herself, whose face is forbidden to be seen on pain of death to the one who sees it. They are intended to be pure for the throne.

Any Shadow deemed impure must be cleansed by way of an acid solution injected into the vein, causing agony and vomiting for several nights. Everything is purged from their system and the Shadow does not always survive.

There is also a lower class. maichens (always lower case) or maids are covered from head to toe and are considered worthless.

Shadows eat their enemies and need limits and terms to be fully negotiated.

The Shadows were once known as healers and have a receptacle of knowledge in the form of a library that seems to be located near the palace.

A female known as maichen discovered that several charts had been altered on the orders of the queen. An elder twin who should have been the Anointed One was passed off as he younger, as he was a sickly child not fit for the heir to the throne. A princess’s chart was also changed so that she would not be the heir, as her father was the executioner, a commoner whose blood would have contaminated the throne. Aside from destroying lives, this shows that whatever your views on astrology may be, Shadow society is based on bullshit.

Queen Rashth was succeeded upon her death by her daughter, Catra vin SuLaneh etl MuLanen deh FonLerahn, aka maichen.

Her first act was to abolish the Anointed One, freeing its encumbent. She turned the late queen’s suite into a daycare for servants’ children, and elevated the executioner to a kinglike role, one that does not require them to be mated.

The Other Side

Scribe Virgin

We’re not sure exactly who the Scribe Virgin is, other than the mother of the vampire race. Her father (don’t know who he is either) gifted her with a single act of creation, which she used to create a race of beings who:

  • cannot walk in the sun
  • must drink the blood of a member of the opposite sex within the race (to supplement a standard human food and drink diet)
  • live for almost 1000 years
  • dematerialise to different locations (but are trapped by heavy metals like steel or lead and cannot carry large or heavy objects)
  • are stronger and faster than humans and are often quite beautiful and may have unusually coloured eyes and hair. They have no body hair below the neck (how many of us wish we could be vampires?)

The Scribe Virgin likes to play a meaningful role in the race’s traditions and there is a very definite code of conduct when in the Scribe Virgin’s presence. First and foremost, no questions. Be extremely polite and respectful. If you want something, make sure you include the phrase, ‘If it would not offend…’ She has been known to melt vampires who offend her. She also believes in balance, so a request granted often requires a sacrifice, so far the only exception was the gift of creation given to her.

Wrath’s father had a good relationship with her and was even allowed to call her by her name, Analisse.

She is small and beautiful in appearance and usually wears black robes with a white glow spread out on the floor around her. But lately, the glow is dimmer and the force of her personality has diminished. The Scribe Virgin is at a loss and feels as though she has no purpose while her race is in trouble, partly due to her traditions. In a last ditch attempt at survival, some of those traditions have changed, leaving her feeling more superfluous to her race.

In addition to creating the vampire race, the Scribe Virgin wanted children of her own bloodline. She took vampire form and made a deal with the strongest, most cunning male she could find. She would bear him a son who would be given to his father at the age of 3 for the next 300 years. Her son would be hers again at 303. She also had a daughter who would be raised as a Chosen.

Because she had broken the rules by creating life outside of the initial gift she had been given, her children would suffer and so would she in watching their pain.

Her son Vishous grew up in the harsh environment of a warrior camp, where he fought for and stole everything he ever ate. When his father deemed him a threat after his transition, he had V tattooed and partially castrated before banishing him from the camp with nothing. V eventually became a member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

Out of honour for the deal she’d made with the Bloodletter, or maybe because she didn’t want to risk inflicting more pain on her son, the Scribe Virgin had no direct contact with Vishous as his mother until his 303rd birthday approached. She had decided he would live a life of comfort as the Chosen’s Primale. He reluctantly agreed, but then fell in love with a human doctor who was later murdered.

The Scribe Virgin sacrificed the birds who made her happy to restore the life of her son’s mate.

Her daughter Payne was too wild and aggressive to truly embrace the Chosen’s traditions. In 1761, she left the Other Side and killed her father, whom she believed killed her twin brother.

Afterwards, she placed Payne in stasis for centuries until she restored Jane’s life for Vishous, but Payne is not allowed to leave the Other Side. Could it be because she believes more pain will result from her children being reunited, or does she fear losing her son as a result of having withheld all knowledge of his sister?

She held fast to her decision not to release her daughter Payne, despite the damage it does to their relationship until Payne is injured while sparring with Wrath. Her daughter refuses to allow her to repair the injury, so Wrath demands she release her daughter to be cared for on his side. It is a sign of her emotional state that she doesn’t even bat an eye at Wrath’s demand when before she was offended by the slightest question.

She was also absent from JM and Xhex’s mating, when tradition states that couples from within the Brotherhood or the Chosen intending to mate must be presented to her for approval.

The Primale

The Primale (Pruh-MAH-lee) is second in power only to the Scribe Virgin. He is the Chosen’s lover and protector and the father of their young. The Primale must be a Brother, to ensure the survival of the race’s strongest bloodlines and, of course, to produce more warriors. He is asked by the Scribe Virgin if he will accept the role and when he answers yes, is presented with a medallion that also acts as a key to all the doors on the Other Side. The First Mate is suggested by the Directrix and the Scribe Virgin approves the choice. The First Mate is advised of the decision and not asked if she wants to do it or not because the role of each Chosen as individuals is to uphold the traditions of the whole.

There is a mini ceremony in which the First Mate is bound to a platform and presented to the Primale for his approval and that of his witness (a Brother who sort of acts as a best man at a wedding). The ceremony is completed when the Primale has sex with his First Mate to bind himself to the Chosen as a whole. He is then free to visit the others as he chooses.

75 years ago the Other Side came under attack and the Primale at the time died protecting his females. We don’t know who he was.

Phury saw that the Chosen were imprisoned by tradition and the laws pertaining to the Primale’s rights were abusive and denied the Chosen rights over their own bodies. The Chosen had no choices. Phury told the Scribe Virgin that the Chosen must be allowed to make their own decisions and live in the world if the race is to survive. While Wrath gets to decide who can and can’t be allowed into the Brotherhood, Phury believes that courage rather than bloodlines determine a male’s strength, so maintaining the standards of bloodlines isn’t really that important (and doesn’t maintaining bloodlines equal inbreeding?).

The Scribe Virgin was saddened by the prospect of letting them go, but realising that it’s the best thing for the females and the race, she released the Chosen and gave colour to the Other Side.

Phury borrows Rehvenge’s great camp for any of the Chosen who want to live in the world. He retains part of the Primale tradition—the females are all his—but Cormia is his shellan and den mother to her sisters. He plans to help the others find mates, with character as a higher consideration than bloodline.

Once he learns that the king is fighting lessers again, Phury also rejoins the Brotherhood, making it the first time in history that the Primale actively protects the race.

For more information on Phury and Cormia, see Phury.

The Chosen

The Chosen are the female equivalent of the Brotherhood, except that they aren’t allowed to do anything fun. They are the product of a Chosen and a Brother and live on the Other Side (sometimes referred to as the non-temporal realm), a white-on-white study in sensory deprivation. They aren’t encouraged to be individuals, yet each individual action carries the weight of the entire Chosen and their traditions.

A branch of the Chosen known as the Ehros has been trained in the erotic arts, as the Chosen were traditionally mated to the Brotherhood. Others watch and record vampire events. Another function traditionally performed by the Chosen is to feed the Brotherhood and this has only recently been resumed.

As they are perfectly preserved in an environment that never changes, the Chosen themselves do not age and are pretty much immortal. This raises the questions for me of whether any of the current Chosen are mother to the characters we know (I believe Ward once said that some of them may be sisters to characters we know, but never got specific), and how old is the oldest Chosen?

The Chosen do not wear jewellery, however each Chosen is assigned a pearl and she is aware that it is not really hers.

There is a Directrix who runs the show in the absence of the Scribe Virgin, but her power is greatly diminished by the Primale and his First Mate. Amalya is the current Directrix (the last one was executed for firing the shot that almost killed Vishous because she didn’t want to give up being in charge of the Chosen).

For more information on specific Chosen, see Supporting Characters.

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