A foreign occult relics collector
Rajani Ravindra was born Chane Nakhasi in Punjab, in 1830. Her family were clothiers, dressmakers for generations stretching back into antiquity — to this day, Rajani knows rather more about clothing than may be expected — but they had higher hopes for their daughter. Chane was pretty, she was quiet, and she was attentive, so it was determined that she could enter the service of the local border-prince, and thus secure both the prince’s favor and, one hoped, a favorable marriage. Chane, being a quiet and practical girl and not given to causing a fuss, agreed, and so it was done.
Her family’s hopes were justified. Chane was married in 1848 to an old soldier who was part of the border-princes personal bodyguard, and she had three children over the following decade, only one of whom would survive to maturity. In many ways, Chane’s life seemed set. She was well-to-do by the standards of her caste, well-married and respectable, and her position in the border-prince’s retinue allowed her to indulge her own hobbies. She listened to local folk-stories, and managed by dint of connections to learn to read a little. She had some hopes, in the very back of her mind, of writing a collection of tales of Kashmir.
Two matters interrupted Chane’s modest, domestic idyll. First was that not all of the border-prince’s ancestors had been duly sent on to their next life. On the contrary, the border-prince’s great-grandfather remained in the castle, and this was, at least among the servants, something of an open secret. One did not walk the corridors beyond a certain hour on certain nights, nor did one question of the Raja’s Ghost fed upon your veins. The other matter was that the border-prince made the thoroughly unfortunate decision to join the Great Rebellion. Sometimes called the Sepoy Mutiny or the Indian Revolt of 1857, the Great Rebellion was a subcontinent-spanning conflagration of startling violence. Entire British garrisons were slaughtered by the rebellious Sepoys (Indian soldiers serving the then-dominant British East India Company) man, woman, and child, and when the British responded, their retaliation was so vicious that they were called the ‘Devil Wind’ that swept through India, executing tens, possibly hundreds of thousands.
It was thus, in early 1858, that the border prince and other rebels met the British regiments in open battle, and they were slaughtered. Chane’s quiet, orderly life was torn asunder, her lord dead, her husband likely as well. More than that, the British were coming, and there was little reason to expect their mercy. Others might have broken in these circumstances, but Chane had ever prided herself on a practical outlook, and so armed with a torch, her husband’s sword, and a collection of folk-tales, she sought out the Raja’s Ghost in his crypt. She made her offer, and the Raja’s Ghost — threatened, or amused, or impressed, it is impossible to say — Embraced her that night
Chane made her plans then. She took her young son, quite a few artifacts and such money as she could steal, and fled Punjab. Over the following years, the deathless mother and her young boy were refugees across much of the subcontinent. The Indian Kindred were torn apart in those years, and so it is was some time before Chane settled in Gujarat, and saw her son firmly ensconced with a local family. Over the following decades, she would see him mature, and flourish, and marry, and watch her blood live once more.
This was not to say that Chane was accepted. Kindred society in India, even after the Great Rebellion, was organized along caste lines, and try as she might, Chane was neither Brahmin nor Kshatriya, could never pass for a scholar or warrior. To find acceptance and support, the young Kindred, ever practical, turned to the Dalit, who were delighted to have her. It was in those years of the late 19th century that Chane took on the name Rajani — Wife of the Raja — as an ironic tribute to her Embrace. Chane stayed in Gujarat until the turn of the century, until came the time to bury her one son. She stayed a little longer, to make certain that his family was well cared for, and then she departed, to travel the world and indulge her curiosity. She has done it ever since.
Her sire’s subordinates are still looking for her and perhaps will chase her across the world.