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Victoria Litvanoff

Page history last edited by Tom 13 years, 8 months ago

Victoria Litvanoff



 A dark-haired woman who appears to be in her early sixties, Mrs

Victoria Litvanoff is in fact only in her forties. She was born

somewhere in Russia in 1893. She claims to be half French but is

actually entirely Russian. Her face is long and heavy-set, with

prominent eyebrows. Her pseudonyms include Madam Ganette, Victoria

Seou, Madam Dafin Desmond and Dauphine Desmonde. She has lived in

Manchuria as well as Japan, and has visited most of the major cities

of China.




Victoria Litvanoff has married four times so far. Her first husband, a

Russian army officer, died on the Eastern Front in the Great War. Her

second, one Baron Toll, was killed during the Russian Revolution. The

third, Captain Koishi Senoo of the Japanese Army, died in the Japanese

earthquake of 1923. she married her fourth husband in Shanghai, in

1924. Nikolas Nikolayevitch Litvanoff is some ten years younger than

his wife. As a boy he attended the Khabarovsk Cadet Corps School in

Russia. He joined the White Army aged sixteen and fought against the

Bolsheviks. He became an assistant tutor to the Russian Cadet Corps in

Vladivostok, before moving to Canton as a member of the Portuguese

River Police. He later set up as an electrical contractor in Shanghai,

which was where he met his wife.




Mrs Litvanoff operates as a clairvoyant in a subdivided office on

Nanking Road, which she shares with a Chinese doctor called Liu Ding.

In order to preserve an aura of mystery, the doctor invites clients to

wait in his surgery when Mrs Litvanoff changes from her ordinary

street wear.



Once inside Litvanoff's cubicle, the client finds her dressed in a

long black gown and hood. Only her hands and eyes are visible. The

room is lit by candles in a brass sconce, while a human skull rests on

a table in the corner with two crossed thigh bones in front. She is

evasive about just where and how she obtained these human remains.


Clairvoyance is illegal in the International Settlement. However, as a

White Russian, Litvanoff lacks a nationality and so falls under

Chinese law. As a result, the International Police are unable to

arrest her, at least for the crime of clairvoyance. She often uses the

information she gathers during these fortune-telling sessions to

blackmail her clients. She also kidnaps white women and sells them to

brothels, as well as running a few brothels of her own.


Mrs Litvanoff also enjoys performing as a stage magician and

escapologist, though her opinion of her own skills is vastly inflated.

Her act, which includes card tricks and 'escaping' from some obviously

loose handcuffs, is lacklustre at best.




The Shanghai Special Branch is very keen to arrest Mrs Litvanoff.

Unfortunately for them, she knows her Shanghai law very well and

always manages to keep one step ahead.




Mrs Litvanoff's life is currently rather troubled. Last she ran a

successful house of ill repute in the French Concession. It's

reputation was so ill that it prompted the French police, who in the

normal run of things just couldn't be bothered, to make a raid on the

place. In escaping arrest, Mrs Litvanoff fell down a flight of stairs

and broke her hip. This left her with a limp and the unwelcome

prospect of having to start again from scratch. Starting again wasn't

all that hard. It just took another change of name and a new location.

She was able to evade the law by switching back and forth between the

International Settlement and the French Concession. When she is wanted

in both places (a common occurrence), she goes to her house in the

Outer Roads' Area.




The Outer Roads' Area is a suburb full of large foreign-owned houses

on the outskirts of the foreign-run districts. No one knows who has

jurisdiction over the Outer Roads' Area. The International Settlement

claims the highways, since they built them. Houses on the highways,

known as the Municipal Roads, pay taxes to the Municipal Authority of

the Settlement and are subject to its laws and police protection.

Houses off the roads full under Chinese jurisdiction. But what exactly

counts as being 'on' or 'off' the road is still undefined. Sometimes

the Chinese refuse even to recognise the International Settlement's

claim to the highways.




Mrs Litvanoff rents a house in an alleyway under Chinese jurisdiction

with one side facing a Municipal Road. As a location for a hideout, it

is in a perfect state of legal limbo. To get the house, Mr and Mrs

Litvanoff paid two months' tax in advance to the International

Settlement, and haven't bothered paying since. The authorities can do

nothing to evict them.




Having fled the French Concession, the Litvanoffs found a new place

for business, hired some girls and opened up shop. Then something

unexpected happened. Mr Litvanoff fell in love with Veronica, one of

his wife's White Russian employees. The two of them ran away together

and now live in two small rooms on Weihaiwei Road. As if that wasn't

bad enough, he set up a house of ill repute specialising in the same

kind of unpleasant things his wife's businesses had offered.



Mrs Litvanoff first attempted to commit suicide, then went to the

police. She reported his activities, but they simply showed her the

door. The police records note that the complaint was made by Mrs

Litvanoff the 'notorious ... procurer for all forms of debauchery'.

In return, Nikolas and Veronica sent an anonymous letter to the

Special Branch claiming that she was a Bolshevik spy (one of the few

things she isn't guilty of). Their feud continues, as does the police

force's effort to capture Mrs Litvanoff.

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