|Age in 1556||61|
Doctor Nikita Tromolov, the old inventor, has cared nothing for humanity since he was a young man, when he lost his heart to his own half-sister, Elena. But she would have nothing to do with the pale, obsessive apprentice who stalked her every move. At length, she married a sea captain and moved away from the family holdings in mountains of Dalkhrova. She died of a fever soon afterwards. Tromolov inherited their father's house and made a name for himself with his marvelous mechanical toys, but after Elena's death he closeted himself away from society. It has taken over 30 years for Tromolov to complete his greatest work. Iraena is a mechanical doll who bears a startling resemblance to Elena, and is so lifelike that she can pass for human. The old man adores his creation and shows her off by letting her parade on a balcony, but he also harbors unhealthy jealousies of anyone who takes too close an interest. He wears the sorts of clothes that Elena would have admired, and speaks to the doll as if he were courting her.
The doctor is consumed by the desire to bring Iraena to life. This obsession has led him to collect a large arcane library, and to participate irregularly in a group of occultists who meet in Glaumstalberg. The inventor has had some minor successes with his new schemes, sacrificing animals and using their spirits to animate his smaller toys. But it is very clear that if he wishes to animate Iraena, no mere animal will suffice.