Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
The daughter of the Tzimisce Bodor Toth, this gentle lady long ago chose love over station. She is the nearest thing that Toth has to a healer and wise woman.
An aging woman with fine, noble features, a prominent nose and white hair. Her light brown eyes are still very sharp, and though she is frail in physique, she moves with a natural grace.
(modified from Bitter Crusade, pp. 98-99)
Angyalka expected her father to marry her off to another boyar’s son before her 16th birthday. The sudden revelation of his condition and his subsequent disinterest with mortal matters relaxed her fear, allowing her to carry on her clandestine romance with Oszlár, the blacksmith’s son. She had plenty of pretext to be in the village, having convinced Anda the wise-woman to teach her herb lore and the healing arts, and her father seemed to be genuinely interested only in exploring the mysterious aspects of his condition. Eventually, she gained the courage to inform Bodor that she intended to marry Oszlár, and she was surprised to receive his blessing. Angyalka happily eschewed a life of noble privilege for one with her true love, continuing her existence as a blacksmith’s wife rather than a boyar’s daughter.
The villagers were wary of her intentions at first- one does not flout the three pillars of society merely for love- but eventually she won them over through her kind works with Anda and her wise counsel to Bodor and later Dévald, which always carried their best interests to his ears. When they had a minor grievance or concern but did not wish to disturb the boyar, they spoke with her first, and she worked to see the matter resolved.
This arrangement worked to the benefit of both family and village. To ensure that he was aware of everything that occurred within his demesne, Dévald met with Angyalka every week to discuss matters both grave and blithe. The two always had a robust bond that was only strengthened through the years, and although Dévald was the boyar, he still made time to visit his nieces and nephews. As the years drifted into decades, Angyalka saw less and less of her father, but her love for and loyalty to him never lapsed. She never regretted her decision, for she knew that she had managed to do the unthinkable and keep her family despite her choice. However, she sometimes worried that Dévald would ask one of them to be his heir, for such a choice would put them.under the notice of her father.
Late in AD 1202, the Concord arrived in the winter-lorn valley of Toth. They had captured her sister, Erzebet, who had been sent by Bodor to take his vengeance on the 4th Crusade. Her twin brother, Farkas, had resided at the Obertus moastery in Zara, and.had perished at the hands of witch-hunters along with the rest of the Cainites there. The stubborn boyar was in little mood to forgive the crusade for the destruction of his beloved son, and negotiations were stalling.
As soon as Maude became aware of Angyalka, she sought her out in hopes of finding a more reasonable ear to their request for peace. Maude was pleasantly surprised to find such a graceful creature among the brutal Toth’s, and was equally surprised at Angyalka’s strong defence of the seemingly callous nature of Dévald. Ultimately, the negotiations were interrupted by the foiled attack of Dominik, who intended to butcher the mortal boyar in order to make formal a declaration of Trial by War on the part of his own sire, Voivode Koban of the Vrance. Seeing their chance, the Concord struck a deal with Bodor. If they assisted in the defence of Toth, he would make truce with the crusade and he would be in their debt.
Throughout the ensuing war with Voivode Koban, Angyalka was frequently a voice for calm and compassion. She took control of the field hospital that Maude established in the castle, and did her best to save the lives of those who brought in cleaved and bloody. Many could not be helped, and she was horrified to discover that her son, Pál, and her son-in-law, Ábel, were among them. Her husband Oszlár and one of daughters, Barbara, were also badly wounded, although they would recover in time with the new skills that Maude had taught her.
Ultimately, the defenders were successful and with the threat abated angyalka | Angyalka, like most of the villagers of Toth, was left to pick up the pieces and grieve for the dead. Maude respected the privacy of the Pecely family, and Angyalka soon sought her out to improve her knowledge of the healing arts so that she might better help her people. Such was the assistance given that despite her unnerving appearance, Maude became a beloved, or even holy, figure to the villagers, and she made a fast friend in Angyalka. Privately, she shared her fears for her children, should Dévald die without an heir of his own.
Soon enough, the Concord would take their leave, but before they left Dévald (at Angyalka’s urging) asked Veceslav Basarab if he could use his connections in the west to find the boyar a bride. The urbane Tzimisce agreed, and not 6 months after their departure in January of 1203, a Serbian noblewoman by the name of Mirjana Krevcheski Zemunić arrived at Toth.
Far more beautiful than the boyar had expected, Dévald was pleased to discover that she was also eager for marriage, even to a man more than 30 years her senior. He was smitten with her instantly. The small circle of kin she brought with her were skilled engineers; their savvy in the use of intricate, state-of-the-art weapons-crafting bordered on the heretical, but both Dévald and Bodor recognised that it would come in very handy should Koban return.
Curiously, his new wife proved to be strangely lacking in social graces, however, and other than performing her wifely duties in the bed chamber Mirjana preferred her own company to that of her husband. The arrogance of she and her family towards the villagers was also troubling, a matter that neither Dévald nor Angyalka were able to remedy. As Bodor found their insights into the esoteric sciences pleasing, there was little they could do about it anyway. In any case, Mirjana was with child almost immediately, and she gave birth to a son, Farkas, in August of 1204. A second child, Mihne, arrived in March of 1206. Angyalka delivered them both, giving her something of a bond with her sister-in-law, however briefly.
Unfortunately, Dévald would not live to see his children grow up. Early in the difficult winter of 1207, he succumbed to pneumonia. Bodor looked on, barely registering a reaction other than curiosity as his son and heir’s death rattle echoed around the chamber. Mirjana put on a show of grief, at least, and appears to enjoy playing the celibate widow and watching over her children. Oszkar too passed away in 1210, lost to a sudden heart attack while chopping wood for the home and Barbara to childbed fever in 1211.
Stricken with sadness over their loss, Angyalka takes comfort in her remaining 2 children (Ilona and Loránd) and her 8 surviving grandchildren, and she also does her best to impart some common kindness and love to the children of Dévald and Mirjana whenever their haughty mother permits. Ilona, and her own daughter, Katalin, have long since taken over most of the duties of caring for the village’s needs, as the venerable Angyalka’s dim eyes are no longer up to the task of a healer and midwife. She is also troubled by rheumatic joints and she spends much of the time telling stories by the fire, both to ward off the painful cold and to ward off the boredom of uselessness. The simple hearth wisdom, herb lore, healing expertise, and tales of the monsters that stalk the night are all she has left to offer, and she is gratified to know that the people of Toth come readily to listen.
Angyalka waits for the end. She knows that her days and nights are numbered, maybe as far as the next winter, or perhaps the one beyond that, but it will not be long. Sometimes, among the howls of the wolves at night she fancies that one of them sounds like Erzebet, returned to watch over the village of Toth from afar. It is Angyalka’s hope that she will see her lost sister one last time, and that when she does, she can convince the vampyr to act as the village’s protector, not its predator. For in her heart of hearts, the wise woman knows that the Devil Koban will return for his revenge one night, and Toth will need monsters of its own to stand a chance of survival once more.