K is Kseniya

This pic comes from the same magazine as the previous, although I think this was an article header rather than an ad. I remember laying these two pics side by side, wondering who the two would be interrelated. And it took a while for the relationship to ‘unfold’ for me, but eventually I figured out who this was (although she would be wearing a headscarf to cover her hair rather than a turban-y thing.)

Kseniya Ilyevna is the bastard daughter of Prince Ilya.* Kseniya’s had a pretty difficult life, partially because she’s a bastard raised in a prince’s household, but also because he had her trained to handle a sword like the boyars’ sons. Among the Orthodox Rus, this is -unnatural-. Women don’t do men’s jobs, and they certainly don’t wear men’s garments (so she had to learn to fight in a dress and wearing a headscarf). Therefore Kseniya was never accepted by the woman of the prince’s household, nor was she accepted by the men. Her father’s decision (provoked by a seer telling the prince that his infant daughter would need to have courage) made her even more of an outcast.

Kseniya’s also a Healer, but it’s a talent she hardly knows how to use. It’s considered a woman’s art, and since the women of the household would never talk to her…

When her sister (Princess Anushka) is captured by a wizard, Kseniya is sent with her to protect her royal sibling. But Anushka dies in childbirth, and Kseniya stays on the wizard’s mountain to protect the child. Which kinda sucks, since the wizard had tortured Kseniya to gain Anushksa’s cooperation…and when the child is old enough he does the same to coerce little Jia-li.

When we reach the beginning of The Dragon’s Child, she’s been prisoner on the wizard’s mountain for almost a decade, her face is scarred (not in this pic, clearly) and she’s beginning to consider taking Jia-li and making a run for it…in the middle of winter.

*The whole story cycle is predicated on the erasure of the Mongols and Tatars from history by the careful application of dragons (by the same above-mentioned wizard) about 80 years before. With the Golden Horde gone, the Manchu, the Han, and the Kievan Rus all flow toward the Gobi, trying to settle that space. Prince Ilya is one of the descendants of Prince Vladimir, who started that eastward land-run.

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