Welcome to our discrete guide for the discerning. Many of you will have turned to us because you are simply exhausted by the stream of bland heroes, autocratic and tortured dark lords, and tediously misogynistic villains who one cannot, it seems, avoid in these Gothic times. You have thought to yourself, ‘There must be another way.’ And there is. The most efficacious and enjoyable manner of surviving and thriving in your Gothic world is to find yourself one of those rare and sought-after gems of the dark firmament: the murder lady.
Our legal team has noted that a small disclaimer must be made: it is likely that at some point on your journey finding, wooing or befriending a murder-lady, you will figure as the potential victim of one of her nefarious schemes. We advise all our readers to watch out for the signs (including the unasked for provision of beverages and foods, her silent appearance in close proximity at pivotal moments, waking in the night to find her by your bed holding a sharp object, and, of course, muttered imprecations) in order to redirect her schemes of vengeance or rage to a more suitable target. However, it should be noted, that the owners of this publication accept no liability for your inability to win over the murder lady of your choice. If you cannot win the love or respect of your chosen murder lady, that is your own failing, not ours. Therefore, we accept no responsibility in the case of sudden or protracted death or for the loss of inheritance, fortune or limbs.
A further disclaimer must be made as to this publication’s official condemnation of any or all crimes committed by both readers and the murder ladies with whom they associate.
- There are two principle methods that one may adopt to place oneself in the way of a murder lady. The first of these is, perhaps, the most distasteful and will involve some sacrifice. The most efficient way of catching the eye of a murder lady is to place yourself as an object of envy, jealousy or rage by inspiring affection in a rich, personable, broodingly handsome or devastatingly beautiful person who is clearly ignorant of the romantic or covetous desires of those around them due, perhaps, to some lingering regard for a deceased spouse or the lasting effects of a suspicious family tragedy. Although it will, inevitably, involve significant amounts of dissembling, attracting the attention of this walking blandness or self-indulgent blob of tortured inanity, will inevitably draw the ire and attention of a murder lady
- The second method for placing yourself in the way of a suitable murder lady is to enter the employ of a rich or aristocratic family clearly troubled by family secrets, rivalries and troubled familial and marital relationships. You may have to move between jobs several times before finding a murder lady as there is an unfortunate proliferation of weeping and passive enthusiasts of the swoon within these households due to the degenerate nature of the times.
- If neither of this options are available to you, do not despair, murder ladies are to be found in a variety of situations including, but not limited to: the environs of temples dedicated to snake gods, haunted villages, pie shops, dorm rooms and, of course, palaces dedicated to their ravenous quest for powers.
- Having placed yourself in a situation to find a murder lady, swift identification is vital. A failure to successfully identify a murder lady may result in a premature demise, especially if you have followed the first route in your quest to locate one. Some identifications are, of course, easier than others. If she is brandishing a sword, outlining her plan for world domination to the backing track of her own maniacal laughter, and mocking the fruitless attempts of soporifically virtuous heroes to disarm her, there is little skill required to recognise in such a figure a murder lady of the first order. However, there are a number of signs which may help you to identify a murder lady in more average circumstances. See below.
- A murder lady may often most easily be identified by her backstory. The following are all strong indications. If your lady can attest to two or more in her past, then you are almost guaranteed to have been successful in your quest. Look for: sudden unexplained deaths among her relatives and friends; lucky inheritances after the accidental demise of several individuals between her and the title or property; the disappearance of those known to have wronged her; the inexplicable departure of Tortured McBlandington’s first spouse; a sudden rise in power or privilege; a string of tragically deceased husbands; an unexplained departure from her previous town, village or place of residence still muttered about by the other inhabitants; the existence of a twin (living or dead) who was charged with the most horrible crimes or vanished many years ago; and, of course, a total lack of backstory.
- Some murder ladies are significantly more proficient in obfuscating their pasts and you may need to rely on more visual clues. The murder lady will almost always give herself away through her impeccably coordinated wardrobe, seemingly purposefully designed to make her, at all times, aesthetically irresistible to anyone with anything even remotely resembling taste. She will often favour black but do not be fooled into dismissing her potential based on the evidence of a vivid colour palette. Close attention to outfits and accoutrements will reveal that they act as a reflection of the grandeur and horror of her soul. They may also reflect the crimes and secrets which she attempts to hide. It should be noted that a rarer option exists: that of a rigorous attempt to conceal their murderous nature with a reserved and overly undistinguished style of dress, which serves only to underline their banked internal energies. Both options are demonstrated below.
- If visual clues are leaving you uncertain, murder ladies will usually demonstrate a selection of the following skills: mastery of an instrument (harps and pianos are particularly popular; lutes are the instrument of the passive heroine of your nightmares; and a ukulele is a clear indicator that your quest has no chance of success in relation to your current target); fencing or other fighting skills; creative cooking with excessively vehement knife work; impeccable dancing (the words ‘slinky’, ‘divine’, ‘transcendent’ and ‘goddess’ may cross your mind at the sight, ‘ethereal’ will not);a subtle knowledge of poisons and herbal lore; knife sharpening and gun maintenance; sustained meaningful wandering of her half-abandoned home; a swift pace when striding across the moors; the ability to unerringly pick a dramatically ironic novel in terms of your current predicament; witchcraft; proficiency in multiple languages; and a knowledge of and interest in the curation and translation of restricted or forbidden texts.
- You will experience a number of symptoms when around the murder lady. Her eyes will inevitably bore into your soul. You will, also, find her gaze curiously compelling as it strips through your defences and penetrates your facade of banal respectability. Similarly, her slightly feral smile will call to the inner beast caged behind the restrictive bars with which society has encircled your soul.
- The murder lady, whatever the apparent object of her current obsession, will not be able to resist slightly creepy and delicately erotic contact. Classic moves include: lingering hand on sleeve, sisterly kiss with uncomfortable pause; slightly awkward hug; teasing ear whisper; the press of palms in passing; and, of course, rubbing your face with a dead butterfly.
- Due to her very nature, a murder lady will often be involved in nefarious deeds. The following are all examples of tell-tale signs that point to her identity as an active murder lady: sudden appearances in isolated parts of the house; the hurried closing of drawers or cupboards upon your entrance; the traces of burned letters in the grate; blood stained sleeves; mysterious cries in the night; unexplained absences or disappearances; the sudden appearance of superfluous cash; constant attention to her stash of weapons; muttered conversations behind closed doors; mysterious visitors in the night; and the remnants of what are quite clearly ritual sacrifices or rites.
- Perhaps the most dangerous signs, and those for which you must be most vigilant, are indications of her interest in precipitating your own demise as a rival, enemy or inconvenience. Beware fixed stares; glares; muttered curses which are quickly transfigured into coughs or pleasantries; attempts to detach you from the company of others to accompany her to isolated locations; or a constant feeling of being watched accompanied by her regular, sudden, and almost inexplicable appearances. A note to the wise here, be careful not to err on the side of too great a suspicion, remember that all the signals above may equally indicate the murder ladies more pleasing interest in your person. Murder ladies are notoriously inept at expressing their impassioned affections for a beloved object and may rely on familiar techniques such as skulking, glaring, and muttering to give clues as to their growing adoration. Communication is key to avoid misunderstanding.
You have now all the tools necessary to recognise a murder lady. What you do with this knowledge is up to your own discretion. Advice on how to proceed after the point of identification is outside the province of this publication’s remit. If you desire to pursue your acquaintance with the murder lady of your choice, you may wish to consult our guide: ‘How to win the love of the woman trying to kill you’.