Cult of the Lady of the Lake
There are only sparse and vague details about its goals, internal organisation, inner workings, cultural significance and political influence.
As the spirit of Bretonnia, the Lady can bless both individuals and entire armies alike , the land's spirit flowing from the her sacred chalice in a shimmering mist or even a vision of the Lady herself. Before battle knights will kneel and pray to her, vowing to fight to the death in the name of justice and honour. [3a]
Those who make use of dishonourable weapons of mass destruction or are the enemies of chivalry suffer from her curse, often being overcome with dread or being befuddled. [3a]
Bretonnian Chivalry is inextricably linked with the Lady of the Lake, as it is she who rewards honour and virtue, and the supreme sign of a knight's favour is to received her blessings. Throughout Bretonnia there are many Grail Chapels built upon sites of holy significance, ranging from humble road-side shrines to great fortress cathedrals incorporated into a knight's castle. It is the sacred duty of the Grail Knights to protect these shrines and often such knights will devote the remainder of their lives to defending the Lady's holy places. These knights are known as hermit knights and spend their lives living in and defending the shrines and relics housed within.
The stone age ancestors of the Bretonnians worshipped the Lady. [3a]
She manifests in the countryside where the energy of the earth emerges from beneath the ground in a swirling mist, usually above lakes, pools and springs but also in the ancient stone circles. [3a]
Sacred groves and areas of mystical power are The Lady's dwellings, and the Grail Knights are her protectors devoting themselves to upholding her honour. No base creatures or evildoers can profane her sacred places, and this is a duty that every knight in Bretonnia, not just the Grail Knight's, take very seriously indeed.
Grail Chapels are built near a place where the Lady has manifested, sometimes in a castle, town or village. Many however are in remote locations and are ancient indeed, whose location has been lost. Some Grail Knights become hermit guardians of a remote chapel. Other chapels become large, fortifed structures with knights as well as Damoiselles du Grail who have devoted themselves to the Lady. [3a]
Some Bretonnian children are gifted with magic; one of the primary concerns of the cult is to collect all of them and to bring them to a undisclosed location for the security of Bretonnia and the children's own safety. Some of the girls eventually return later as priestesses of the Lady. No boys have ever return, becoming the Lady's personal retainers and servants instead.
Bretonnia is a patriarchal society which respects women but largely expects them to follow and obey their male family members. However the priestesses of the Lady are outside, above and beyond the rules of society. They usually act as advisers to the local Bretonnian nobles but if needed, have authority to issue orders and to be obeyed. They are even allowed to ride warhorses.
- The Fay Enchantress seems to be the overall and undisputed leader of the cult, holding tremendous political and spiritual authority over Bretonnia. She crowns the new King of Bretonnia and can even depose a ruling monarch[1a]. Assuredly an exceptional occurrence, it happened at least once; King Ballaume the Brave was deposed and exiled by the Grail Knights upon orders of the Fay Enchantress who also choose his successor.
- The Prophetesses, high ranking sorceresses.
- The Damsels are the lower-ranking sorceresses of the Cult. They have the authority to command Dukes.[1b].
- The Daimoiselles du Grail are the daughters or sisters of Knights who, being unable to become Knights themselves, choose to devote themselves to the Lady, becoming nuns. They usually heal wounded knights and live in larger grail chapels. They also tend to the religious needs of the peasantry. [3a].
- The Questing Knights are on personal spiritual quest. Abandoning their lands and titles and led by visions of the Lady, they will travel to whoever She wants. During their travels they will slay numerous monsters and foes. Most of them will die in battle, others will drink from the Grail and perish and only those whose loyalty, purity and honour is untarnished will succeed.
- The Sons of Bretonnia are a mysterious group of mystical Knights, made up from those boys taken by The Lady for showing magical abilities. They are equipped with strange enchanted weapons, archaic armour and mighty warbeasts.
- The Grail Knights are the chosen champions of the Lady. They have succeeded in their Quest and have proven their loyalty, purity and honour. Having drunk from the Grail, they have a very long life expectancy. Extremely skilled and powerful warriors, they often seek out and slay the enemies of the Lady and Bretonnia. During peace time most of them tend to the grail chapels. A Grail Knight may become the companion and lover of a Damsel. While respecting the nobles and the king of Bretonnia, the Grail Knights obey the order of the Fay Enchantress and will, if so commanded, confront any noble of Bretonnia.[1a]
- 1: Knight of the Realm (Novel)
- 2: Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (6th Edition), pg. 76
- 3: Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (5th Edition)
- 3a: The Lady of the Lake, pg. 50-51