| Darkness |
|Appearance(s):|| Into the Darkness|
Out of the Darkness
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
Having been orphaned at a young age, she was raised by her grandfather Brivibas - a brilliant scholar, but authoritarian, egocentric and narrow-minded - effectively reciprocating the prejudice to which Kaunians were subjected by the surrounding society, and regarding all non-Kaunians as barbarians and present-day society as degenerate compared to the Golden Age of the Kaunian Empire, which was his field of academic study.
Like her fellow-Kaunians, Vanai already suffered from discrimination and prejudice in pre-war independent Forthweg, but it became much worse with the Algarvian occupation launching systemic; official anti-Kaunian persecution. Still, precisely at this perilous time Vanai met the Fothwegian boy Ealstan while picking up mushrooms in the forest, and they fell in love with each other. Actually, meeting while picking mushrooms was the most cliché way of starting love relations in Forthweg, but usually it did not produce mixed Kaunian-Forthwegian couples.
At the same time, Vanai was increasingly threatened by the very unwelcome attentions of the Alagarvian military officer Spinello, who before enlistment had studied Kaunian culture in the University of Trepani, the Algarvian capital. At first, Spinello affected to admire Brivibas' scholarship and constantly flattered him, though Vanai disliked him from the first and tried in vain to warn her grandfather. Vanai's apprehensions were confirmed when Brivibas refused to sign a declaration supporting the Algarvian occupation - whereupon Spinello turned extremely hostile, forcing Brivibas into harsh forced labor, which would have soon caused the old man's death.
The stubborn Brfivibas would have died rather than sign Spinello's statement - but the desperate Vanai offered Spinello her sexual favors in order to save her grandfathet's life. This made her shunned by most other Kaunians, who considered her a collaborator. Only a few Kaunians, such as the village apothecary, appreciated Vanai's courage. Worst of all, Brivibas himself, rather than be grateful for her sacrifice and for saving his life, treated her narrow-mindedly as "a whore".
In this desperate plight, Ealstan offered Vanai a way out with his warm love and empathy, and she eloped with him without looking back - feeling that she had done more than enough for Brivibas.
Ealstan and Vanai were initially very happy to start a new life together in Forthwegian capital Eoforic, with its more cosmopolitan atmosphere and where there were other mixed couples. That; however, proved illusory. Algarvian persecution of the Kaunians escalated into systematic hunting, with Kaunians being sent to Algarvian "Victory Camps" and killed en masse in order to make use of their life-force in the Algarvians' war.
Vanai became a virtual prisoner in their apartment, any venturing putting her in great life danger. At one time when she had to go out, in order to get medicine for the seriously ill Ealstan, she was nearly caught by Algarvian constables but saved by the capital's more pro-Kanunian lower-class crowd.
Finally, Vanai - not a professional mage but a rather gifted amateur - figured out a spell which allowed herself (and afterwards, other Kaunians as well) to masquerade as Forthwegians - a great service to her people and a major blow against Algarve. Vanai was thus once again able to go abroad in relative safety. She did not, however, realize the spell's limitations - it was ineffective for pregnant women, when it had to "cover" two persons and grew thin as a result. When she became pregnant, Vanai disguise was worn off and she was caught and sent to the guarded Kaunian Quarter.
Several times, Algarvian constables raided the Quarter to fill up quotas of prisoners to be sent to be killed in the "Victory Camps". Vanai managed to elude them again and again, but realized it was only a matter of time before she was caught and sent to her death. The extremely worried Ealstan came seeking her, and during an Unkerlanter bombing she managed to escape and reunite with him. Back in their apartment, she safely gave birth to a baby daughter.
Meanwhile, Spinello was posted to Eoforic, and boasted to other soldiers of his sexual prowess with Vanai, depicting her as promiscuous. The furious Vanai - taking a great risk in coming disguised into the Algarvian camp, pretending to be a collaborator - managed to get her revenge on Spinello by presenting him with a dish of tasty but highly lethal mushrooms.
Soon afterwards, as the Unkerlanter Army approached the city, the Forthwegians embarked on an all-out uprising. Ealstan, a patriotic Forthwegian, joined the rebels - to Vanai's great displeasure and worry. The uprising was doomed to failure due to the Unkerlanters' cynical decision to halt their advance, letting the Algarvians suppress the rebellion with great bloodshed and destruction. Vanai managed to survive with her baby, against all odds, and was extremely happy when Ealstan came back still alive.
Soon afterwards, the Unkerlamters entered the city and proclaimed their own puppet King of Forthweg. Vanai and Ealstan made the major mistake of coming to hear the new King speaking in the central square - whereupon Ealstan, like other young men present, was impressed into the Unkelranter Army.
Left alone in Eoforic, Vanai made contact with Ealstan's family - who invited her to come and stay with them, and made her most warmly welcome. There, she was at last reuinted with Ealstan, wounded during the battle in his own hometown, after which his father managed to obtain his discharge
Thus, Vanai's many troubles and hair-raising adventures ended happily. She found a safe haven, warmly received by Ealstan's broad-minded family, starting a second pregnancy and in general having as happy a prospect as anyone could in the Unkerlanter-dominated post-war Forthweg - a situation which she, as a Kaunian who did not fare so well even in the pre-war independent Forthweg, minded less than her Forthwegian patriotic husband.
Still, she could not feel entirely confident of her future - when Kaunians had been so thoroughly persecuted and massacred, it would take very long for any of them to feel really secure. Vanai was one of the few Kaunians going openly abroad; other surviving Kaunians, marveling at her courage, continued to use their disguise magic.