Nadja, Vermin Queen

Nadja grew up in a small hovel by a marsh, alone with her aging mother. She cared for her mother as she died from a slow wasting illness. The emotional stress of the situation led to her developing a fascination with the cycles of life and death, and she learned a great deal from her mother about the flora and fauna of the marsh. After her mother passed away, Nadja gave her body to the scavengers and kept her wisdom locked carefully away.

One day, Nadja was approached by a haggard youth of a similar age as she crouched studying a dying bird, overcome by marsh gas. He was touched by what he took to be her compassion, when in fact she was simply watching its demise. They loved each other for a time, but the relationship soured as their mutual outlooks grew apart. She felt betrayed by him, and resented his special link with nature when he left to become a hermit. Vowing to make him suffer, she went in search of the power she needed to achieve her vengeance.

She sought out a spider demon, and made a pact to marry it. On the wedding day, they exchanged marriage gifts to make the pact binding. She gave him a silver ring, then the demon laughed and insisted she wear a special wedding dress. They kissed, but at his bite a paralyzing venom flooded into her. At this point the demon summoned his arachnid minions to bind her with silk – a ‘special’ dress to fit the occasion – and the demon turned to carry her away to his lair where his other ‘wives’ were entombed. Nadja, succumbing to the venom, mumbled “what is yours is mine” and triggered the enchantment on the rings. Shrieking, the demon was consumed and bound within Nadja’s ring, his power flooding into her, but she knew she would remain a prisoner of the web forever. To free herself would in turn release the demon and the consequences that entailed.

With her new powers, she silently bid the beasts of the marsh to carry her silken coffin to a blasted oak, branches reminiscent of a crescent moon: a natural conduit of magical energies. Borne aloft, she was suspended at the centre of the crescent, and a protective shell of silk woven thick and strong to shelter her. She sent her mind out into the marsh, and the myriad eyes of the spiders, insects and vermin that dwelt there, and so began the reign of Nadja, Vermin Queen.