Respectable Woman, Unrespectable Vampire
In Ancient Greece, respectable women were barely educated, hardly ever seen outside the home and rarely heard from. Instead, the most notable women in Greek society were those for whom respect was a double-edged sword: the hetaerae, or courtesans, beautiful, independent and intelligent women who were companions to the rulers of the ancient city states and required to provide them with pleasures of the mind, rather than just the body. However, although the vampire who takes her name from this class of women shares their many accomplishments, it is a long time since she has given any thought to providing pleasure for others.
Hetaera, Aspasia of Miletus
“I’ve never had a meeting with her in which I didn’t have the feeling that she wanted to rip my throat out. That may be down to my winning personality, but I suspect there are deeper reasons for her particular pathology.”
Emmett, Vampire Rebel
Companion of Gods, Kings, Men and Vampires
Though Hetaera’s identity when mortal is uncertain, most scholars of vampire history suggest that she may once have been Aspasia of Miletus, companion to the Athenian statesman Pericles for most of his life. Certainly the fact that such a noted figure’s death is not recorded raises questions about the manner of it. It is not impossible that after having seen the death of her lover and children and the defeat of Athens at the hands of Sparta that she might have succumbed to the lure of vampirism, if she had not done so already.
She was first noted in her vampire life for the part she played in the rise of Alexander the Great. Many vampires involved themselves in that conqueror’s career, but Hetaera’s role was one she would follow many times in the years to come: sponsor to a group led by a powerful woman, in this case Olympias, mother of the king. However, in the savage infighting that followed Alexander’s death, Hetaera lost out, and Alexander’s mother, wife and heir were all slain.
Appetite for Destruction
Hetaera herself escaped to the west, to the ancient city of Carthage, once an enemy of the Greeks but now more concerned with a rising power to the north: Rome. Once again, she found herself on the losing side of an epic struggle, and following the third war between Rome and Carthage, the latter city was utterly destroyed. However, by that stage, Hetaera had negotiated a peace with Rome’s ruling vampire council and joined their number.
Her time in Rome was neither to be long nor peaceful: the days of the Roman republic were numbered, and with the rise of the vampire emperor Augustus, all other vampires were required to either swear loyalty to him or flee. Hetaera chose the latter option and watched from afar as Rome first crushed all opposition, then collapsed under the weight of its own corruption and the insanity of its ruler. Once again, her hopes of building a home fitting to her ambitions had been dashed.
As Rome collapsed, she received a new call, one that suggested hope for a new beginning. Travelling to the British Isles, she joined a group of exiled vampire elders in creating the Shadow Council, through which they hoped to impose a new and lasting shape on vampire society. The struggle to establish their authority took several centuries, and in many ways it still continues, but the Shadow Council is now respected around the world.
However, success did not bring Hetaera peace. Proud, independent and disdainful of males in general, she had suffered too many losses over the years to ever find happiness. Most vampires suffer from a gnawing psychological hunger, as well as the physical thirst for blood: hers is for independence. She cannot suffer rivals who threaten her power, or even allies who question her too often.
A Vampire Scorned
Although she threw herself into the work of creating the Shadow Council, she never truly enjoyed its benefits, and as its grand schemes devolved into petty bickering, she slowly lost interest. Although she has not resigned her seat on the Shadow Council, she barely pays any attention to its day-to-day affairs. Her feud with Countess Báthory, whom some suspect she sired, has deepened to the point where the two women have not spoken in over sixty years, and the vampire spymaster Adan has voiced his belief that Hetaera has been in contact with factions dedicated to the overthrow of the Council.
If this is true, and Hetaera is planning another new beginning, then she will be one of the foremost players in the upcoming Blood War. Truly ancient, deeply intelligent and utterly ruthless, she has learned the lessons of history first-hand, and as a member of the Shadow Council for centuries, her knowledge of its workings could help to bring it down if she so chooses. Undoubtedly, she is aware of the power she wields. What she plans to do with that power is something she has not yet revealed.
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