Two things stuck out to me about Countess Anise as odd:
- Nearly all NPC’s that talk about her refer to her beauty, and some view it as unnatural, i.e. the writers are making a point of her beauty and want us to notice it. Same thing goes for her past – NPC’s make a point of pointing out that we don’t know much about it.
- For someone who has been guarding Queen Jennah since she was a young princess, she looks remarkably young. The ages don’t add up.
I’m going to put my tinfoil hat on here and make an outrageous claim. It’s outrageous because there’s nothing solid to back it up, but it is able to explain the above to mysteries – albeit, by opening up a possibly larger one.
Countess Anise, the Master Exemplar of the Shining Blade with a ruthless “ends-justify-the-means” attitudes, seems to have an unnaturally long lifespan and magically-enhanced beauty. Where have we seen all of these attributes before? You guessed it. I am saying that some way, somehow, the true identity of Countess Anise is Livia.
Now, Livia is not, at least at the time of Guild Wars, trained as a mesmer. The two look nothing alike (although mesmer magic could be involved, but then we return to our first problem). There is no obvious reason that I can think of that Livia would want to disguise herself, given that by the time of Sea of Sorrows she had served as leader of the Shining Blade for 177 years, so people being suspicious of her apparent immortality was of no concern. And yet, there is no other straightforward explanation that I can think of that addresses the above questions. No straightforward explanation, that is, that isn’t incredibly mundane (which we can rule out because why go through the bother of intentionally setting up a mystery if your solution is an uninteresting one – this is narrative, not real life).
There is other, far more circumstantial evidence of Anise’s deception:
- “May Grenth keep you safe.” Seems like a strange blessing coming from a mesmer, doesn’kitten Dwayna would be the god you pray for protection from, surely, if not Lyssa, the patron god of mesmers.
- “There hasn’t been one in over fifty years…or at least, that’s what I’m told.” The punctuation here suggests that Anise correcting herself, that she found it necessary to clarify that she hadn’t been around fifty years ago. A writer somewhere sat and typed that afterthought into that line of dialogue, and I think the balance of probabilities would weigh in favour of that being a hint rather than an attempt at naturalistic dialogue.
- “Ruthless and efficient, eh? You remind me of …someone.” Whoever this someone is, they are known to Anise but for some reason she wants to keep that to herself. I can’t think of anyone who this might be, but if we assume Anise is actually Livia, then Gadd might fit the bill quite nicely. Again, why have the dialogue trail off if you’re not setting up a mystery to solve?
Now I’m not usually one for an “X is actually Y!” theory, but in this case I feel like the evidence is too compelling to ignore. And I can’t explain why or how Livia would do such a thing (although I’m sure the Scepter of Orr is involved somehow, as that’s one Livia-related plot thread that still needs tying up). But I just can’t think of any other explanation of the mystery of Countess Anise.
Beware all ye who enter, for what follows is baseless speculation.
Could this mean anything going forward? Well, we’re likely to be heading into Magus Falls soon with the Pact to confront Mordremoth, but Belinda Delaqua has told us that there’s bandit activity in the nearby area. Bandits have ties to the White Mantle and the Krytan Ministry, so as others in this forum have already pointed out, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising if along the way, we saw a continuation of both the White Mantle and Ministry corruption plot lines from the personal story (and if we’re lucky, maybe even the Lazarus the Dire story from Guild Wars). The arch-rivalry between the Shining Blade and the White Mantle will have been forgotten by most, but I can think of one person who’s been around long enough to hold a grudge…
What other related mysteries are still unsolved? How about the murder of Mendel, and the identity of “E”? What the hell happened to Evennia (although to me, the prime suspect is King Adelbern rather than the White Mantle)? There’s no way that at least some of these questions aren’t gonna be answered in the next 12 months folks, and I, for one, am excited!