From her earliest memories, Nadjinia Petrovna led a quietly comfortable
life. After being removed to a family-owned estate in France in her
infancy (to protect her from the turbulence of her native Russia) she
was tutored and raised with all the trappings of lesser nobility that
was hers due to her lineage. She was an only child, adored by her
parents and the Russian staff that had been sent to maintain the
household. Nadjinia was treated to the finest that life could give her.
Although she led a rather privileged life, she was taught to be proud
yet humble, giving and yet aware of her status. She was infused with the
rich Russian history and folklore, and steeped in its culture and
refinement. She studied ballet and the arts, soon mastering the cello as
her own beloved instrument of choice. Even in her youth, her paintings
were often featured in galleries throughout Europe, but never sold. The
family did not need the money or the trappings of artistic recognition,
but they encouraged her gifts and presented them to society.
As she grew older, the family heritage began to run dry of the revenues
from her native country, and the family began to slowly suffer not only
from the social decay that was overtaking their beloved Russia, but from
the changing cultural stasis in France. They soon became exiled not only
from Russia, but from other countries as well, including the one in
which they increasingly found themselves dependent upon. Slowly the
staff left the house, and as her parents became older and more infirm,
just as slowly the estate began to fall into disrepair and showed more
signs of neglect. One after the other she lost her parents, and Nadjinia
found herself a young lady with no country or family to call her own.
Left in the care of her one faithful servant, Robert Halfthorn (whom she
fondly looked to as an uncle of sorts) she found that she had to sell
things in order to survive; first the finest of her silver and
furnishings, then the works of art that her father had proudly collected
or had acquired through inheritance.
Finally she was forced to market
and sell her own stored work until it too was depleted. Eventually she
found herself playing in orchestral troupes, making enough to keep her
situated, but not able to purchase back her belongings or family
heirlooms. She did well enough for herself, as she was a talented
cellist, and an equally talented artist. The decline of her family
fortune had been slow enough to allow her to adapt to and reconcile
herself to the changes adequately, but she forever remembered her youth
as a time of priceless and timeless peace and beauty. It was a feeling
that she rarely was able to achieve in her daily struggles to keep up
her demeanor and maintain her dignity amongst the villagers with whose
midst she dwelled. She had suitors, but could never bring herself to
reveal the truth of her existence, and ultimately turned them away from
her, claiming to be married to her music and to her art. This was not
far from the truth, but the reality was that she was too proud to be
dependent upon anyone, and too dignified to reveal how low her family
had fallen before their demise. In order to protect their memory, she
remained aloof from all others, yet aching for equal companionship. She
sought comfort in her gardens and developed a keen interest in botany
and alchemical art. Her gardens, tended by herself and by Robert, soon
became great works of beauty and she withdrew to them for solace
whenever she was able.
Through her music she began to hear rumors of a young artistic genius in
London named Trandifir. Intrigued by what she heard, she accepted an
engagement that would bring her close to his location. Soon she found
that he would be playing a recital on a date that she had open, and she
quickly purchased a ticket to the event. What she saw and heard that
night moved her to tears.
The musician she had come to see far exceeded her expectations. His
music was a sorrowful reflection of things lost, and things remembered
again from the soul. It was at once dark and stimulating, and she knew
that she had to meet this man. She was drawn to him in a way that she
could not explain, but it seemed that if she left tonight without seeing
him, without speaking to him, then she would have lost something within
After the performance, Trandifir stood, nodded briefly to the crowd, and
left the stage. No amount of thunderous applause would bring him back,
and Nadjinia found herself pushing her way through the exiting mob of
patrons until she was near the backstage entrance. A lone usher stood by
the mahogany railing next to the swinging gateway that she needed to
pass through in order to find the musician's rooms.
Her demeanor and her decidedly Russian inflection in her speech was
enough to convince the usher to let her pass, and after a moments
hesitation he opened the gateway and let her pass. Nadjinia found
herself in the back passages of the great hall, and she walked
purposefully in what she hoped was the right direction, hoping that if
she were discovered that her poise and manner would carry her through.
Reaching a series of doors, she paused at the first one, then changed
her mind and strode to the last one and knocked. She heard someone bid
her to enter. She turned the knob and pushed the door open.
A man was sitting in a rather comfortably stuffed chair in the corner of
a flower-filled room, and she recognized him as being the young pianist
whose music she had just enjoyed. He was looking up from a book he was
reading, assessing her presence, and then looking back down to finish
the passage he had started. Nadjinia stood for a moment in awkward
silence, slightly thrown by his manners. Finishing, he placed a marker
between the pages, closed the book, and stood to greet her. Determined
to match his attitude, she introduced herself, and then gave him a
critique of his performance. As she finished, she drew up her chin and
waited for his response. He gave her a slow smile. They spent time
in polite conversation, covering a wide range of subjects and offering
strong opinions in their discourse, and as she left, he took her hand, giving her a proper bow.
Upon returning home the following week, she found a huge bouquet of
Bishop roses, velvety and rare and of the sveltest purple she could
imagine. The card was signed simply "V ".
Shortly thereafter, she found herself in a courtship that was attentive
and fierce, and which she ultimately succumbed to.