Reign of Winter
Master of the Pale Tower and one time mentor of Katarina, Nazhena exemplifies the cold but beautiful reputation of the Winter Witches
Nazhena Vasilliovna is a tall and attractive woman with striking blue eyes, a flawless complexion, and lustrous platinum blonde hair, which she usually wears pulled back from her proud face. Her beauty is almost purely physical, however, deriving from her mixed Jadwiga-Ulfen heritage, not from her personality.
A great-granddaughter of Queen Elvanna, Nazhena grew up in Elvanna’s court in Whitethrone, sent by her mother from the Pale Tower to the Royal Palace to learn her true place in Irrisen’s society as one of the Jadwiga Elvanna.
Nazhena was not born the cruel woman she is today, but she has learned well the lessons of the Royal Palace. At the age of seven, Nazhena suffered a broken arm at the hands of one of her female cousins, in thanks for a moment of kindness that her playmates interpreted as weakness. When Nazhena wept, she was told her pain was her own fault. When she demanded justice, she was told to take her own revenge (which she did a few years later, with hideous consequences for her tormentor). While this one unfortunate childhood incident was not the sole defining moment of her life, it was representative of the lessons taught at Queen Elvanna’s court.
In time, Nazhena grew into an ambitious woman, sacrificing much of her personal happiness to dedicate herself to the mastery of cold magic and domination over the lives of all those around her. Her growth culminated in her seizure of the Pale Tower from her own mother, an act that only raised Nazhena’s esteem in the eyes of her great-grandmother. Likewise, Nazhena shaped her apprentice, Radosek Pavril, into a finely honed tool, though he was also a rare concession to her own personal needs.
As a foreigner and a male, Radosek could never truly be Nazhena’s equal, but neither master nor apprentice held any illusions about their relationship, and though both were ambitious, Nazhena did not believe them to be condemned to mutual betrayal. She believes Radosek truly loved her, and for all that she publicly blamed her “flawed Taldan apprentice” for her own failures, in the secret depths of her heart she loved him as much as she was capable of loving anyone.
Because of her lack of faith in her apprentice, Nazhena took an elf slave she had stolen years before on a whim, and started to teach her magic. Ignoring her birth name, she named her second apprentice Katarina, and hoped by tutoring a second would force Radosek to try harder and improve. What she got instead was an apprentice that far outstripped her lover, for the elf grasped the magic quickly and proved more than his match in a battle of wills. Wary that maybe the elf would be a more dangerous apprentice than ever loyal Radosek, she begun to slow her teachings and use the beautiful elf as more of a trophy piece for when she visited Whitethrone.
Katarina’s eventual betrayal stung but did not shock Nazhena but in trying to take her valuable slave, Delithan, that was the last straw, she went crazed and tried to slay both but only succeeded in killing her druid and allow her apprentice to escape. With sound mind, she regretted the dual loss. If she could somehow make the elf loyal again, she knew that she could someday make use of Katarina’s natural talents in her own play for power.
The fall of the Pale Tower at the hands of meddlesome adventurers and her former apprentice fills Nazhena not only with indignation, but also with shame, and her unwillingness to accept or deal with the grief of Radosek’s loss only makes her more dangerous toward his murderers. She shows them no mercy, and does not rest until they are dead and all that they love lies in ruins.