Mademoiselle Valentine Sans Merci is a vampire of the Lahmian bloodline, until recently living among the aristocracy in Bretonnia but now she has undertaken the compulsive quest to find the Throne of Bones. She is accompanied by a giant black dog that she occasionally refers to as la Bête – the Beast – or simply ‘dog’. A hugely ferocious creature, a mass of wet fur, frothing saliva and muscle and easily the size of a horse, yet the beast is fiercely protective of his mistress. Sightings of the great black dog have led the simple villagers to recall the legends of the mythical barghest or clutch silver wards against werewolves, but the truth is perhaps more tragic.
Mlle. Valentine’s beauty was renowned across Bordelaux, and salacious rumors of her appetites and apparent eternal youth only added to her allure among certain adventurous types. Suitors, such as the handsome young knight, Louis d’Epinay travelled from across the kingdom to try and win her hand, impressing her with feats of bravery, poetry or songs. Mlle. Valentine enjoyed surrounding herself with beautiful young men, but she quickly grew bored of them for in truth, despite her apparent youth, she was a bitter and jaded creature. Her callousness earned her the sobriquet of ‘Sans Merci’ meaning ‘without mercy’. In truth, she had no mercy, no compassion and little patience for her human admirers at all, save to satisfy her whims and appetites, and in the vain hope that someone or something might happen to alleviate her terrible sense of ennui. In time, d’Epinay was ignored and shunned like all the others, and as he fell from favour with his true love he turned instead to whores, his good looks and wealth making him very popular until, like so many young men, he contracted syphilis. As the ‘Bretonnian Pox’ began to ruin both his looks and his capacity for reason, he set out on a fool’s quest – to receive the Blood Kiss and become a vampire himself in the hopes of curing his disease, and (if rumors were true) of becoming worthy of the lovely Valentine.
The young knight was on his quest for many years before he finally found what he was looking for, and in exchange for all his worldly belongings he found a desperate and anemic young vampire that agreed to turn him. With the pox ravaging his mind, d’Epinay began the long walk (for he had sold his horse) back to Bordelaux and the court of Mlle. Valentine. But when he arrived he was surprised to find himself thrown into a dungeon. His face was so ravaged by the pox as to be unrecognisable, his clothes filthy and his ranting professions and poems of love were incomprehensible . Worst of all – to Mlle. Valentine at least – his blood stank of the hated Von Carstein bloodline.
Years passed and in a way the young knight found a certain kind of favour. For like all Von Carsteins he was able to change his form into a wolf-like hound, a trick that Mlle. Valentine found novel and quite endearing. The ruined young suitor spent his days imprisoned, but well fed and visited on occasion, so long as he wore his bestial form. Eventually he forgot how to change back to his original self, remaining forever as the great black hound, and following his mistress freely when, in time, she was ousted as a degenerate vampire and chased from her home. And though his brain was addled by pox and his years of imprisonment, tormented by an unending life in a body not wholly his own, the young knight eventually found happiness.
I still think this is quite an obvious conversion, after all a Dark Eldar Lhamaean is basically just a space vampire as far as I can tell. I can’t remember why I bought Isabella now, but she is a fantastic model. My finecast version was appalling and not really usable stock, due to not being able to balance on one wobbly ankle. I can understand why people hate finecast, but I love it for conversions and will be sad to see it go. In contrast the Thunderwolf kit is pretty typical of the new plastics – dynamic posing but crude details. I think they look more like He-Man toys than fine miniatures, and my attempts to add texture are probably not entirely successful. Nevertheless, I think they look pretty good together. The idea to pair them up came largely from wanted to do some sort of doomed vampire romance story, which later got warped into a doomed vampire STI story. The concept of the femme fatale is partially rooted in the syphilis and tuberculosis epidemics – the idea being that sex with a beautiful woman could then lead to a fate worse than death.
Difficult to photograph due to the silver patterns on the cloak, almost every part of her clothes is covered in silver filigree which reflects the light. She was a nightmare to paint, such an incredibly tiny model, it really makes me appreciate the Eavy Metal version of Isabella more, not to mention PDH’s Benadice