"I am Von Pinn. I am in charge here. You are Agatha Clay. I have not heard good things about you. I take the safety of these children very seriously."
Von Pinn presents herself as a tall blonde woman dressed in a very restrictive black leather ensemble. She is extremely fast and strong and sports both a mouth full of fangs and sharp claws, making her a very competent fighter, though she notes at one point that she "lives with pain". Unlike her human-ish right eye, her left eye is red/black and normally covered with a lens; the effects and/or benefits of this arrangement are never discussed. She can be physically injured, and bleeds red when it happens. (Though in the novel Agatha H. and the Airship City, it's noted that she seems more annoyed about the accompanying damage to her clothing.)
On the mental side of things, she is short-tempered but extremely protective of those placed under her care. She carries (and religiously consults) a pocketwatch which has a defaced Mongfish familyon its back.
Aboard Castle Wulfenbach
Von Pinn's job aboard Castle Wulfenbach, at the time of Agatha's arrival, is to protect the hostage-students from harm and to keep them in line. Her aforementioned attributes greatly help with both responsibilities. Unfortunately for her, these qualities also make her an irresistible attraction for the Castle's resident Jägermonsters, and she's had to lightly maim at least one of them on more than one occasion for getting too familiar. Among the students, rumors about her origin have ranged from the plausible to the ridiculous, with most believing her to be a revived Lucrezia Mongfish. (To whom she bears a physical resemblance.)
In her assigned official capacity, she watched over both Gilgamesh "Holzfäller" and Tarvek Sturmvoraus when they were children aboard the Castle, and both have spoken fondly of her as being the closest thing either of them had to a nurturing mother-figure.
It's a long while before we learn her true origins, but when events carry the narrative to Mechanicsburg, Carson von Mekkhan informs us that she began her existence as "a construct of the Lady Lucrezia's," to be the nursemaid to her son, Klaus Barry. (That's only part of the story, and Von Mekkhan knowing more than he says is always a possibility.) According to Carson at least, when Von Pinn's charge was killed in the attack on Castle Heterodyne, she went violently insane and had to be restrained by the surviving Castle staff. She was finally taken away and somehow rehabilitated by the Baron when his sphere of influence overtook Mechanicsburg, around the same time as he finalized his agreement with the Jägers.
Further along, we get the rest of the story, or at least the broad strokes: Von Pinn's mind Otilia, the 200-year-old winged Muse of Protection constructed by Van Rijn for the original Storm King. Lucrezia somehow got her mitts on the Muse, and swapped her captive's mind into the Von Pinn body, encoding loyalty to her commands in the process. Complicating Von Pinn's/Otilla existence is the fact that she is also still laboring under commands issued by both Van Rijn and Andronicus...the inhabitant of the body of
History to Present
She appears to have faithfully served Klaus for years, and as noted earned the loyalty and terrified love of her young charges. Then the story actually begins, and Agatha is brought on board the Castle as the supposed lower-class lover of Moloch von Zinzer. The two women's first meeting does not go well, coming as it does immediately after Agatha and Gil manage to crash his experimental flyer into the side of the Castle. Von Pinn engages in a little disciplinarian throttling, causing Agatha in turn to demand "Put me down, you wretched construct!" Because Agatha is who she is, a consternated Von Pinn is compelled to instantly obey that order.
Mercifully, Von Pinn's strict schedule preempts further hostilities, and events conspire to keep the two apart until the eventful day when (among many other things) Punch and Judy sneak on board the airship and attempt to extract Agatha. The trio are confronted by Klaus and his coterie, which at the moment includes Von Pinn. The beans are promptly spilled as to Agatha's real identity, which causes Von Pinn to beg Klaus to have Agatha given to her. ("MINE!") Punch ends this intriguing line of discussion by flicking rivets at all and sundry, incapacitating everyone except Von Pinn, who repels the attack and proceeds to literally rip Agatha's foster parents to shreds. Still, Agatha manages to escape, with Von Pinn in pursuit. Zulenna Luzhakna stages a rear-guard action whereupon it is revealed that Von Pinn cannot lift a hand against her charge. Unfortunately, Bangladesh DuPree can, and casually stabs Zulenna. A coldly enraged Von Pinn prepares to inflict a "final lesson" on the pirate queen, starting with crushing Bang's hand by sliding her own impaled hand down Bang's sword, but Klaus blasts them both unconscious using D-gas. 
That's the last we see of Von Pinn until torchmen; despite the Castle's rather casual greeting, the event foreshadows a pivotal role in the next chapter of the story. And sure enough, just as Agatha thinks she's finally dealt with all her immediate problems, , firmly grappling our heroine. Ignoring the Castle's attempted interjections, Von Pinn then discusses her dilemma: she is as noted having to follow conflicting, possibly rather vague, orders from at least three different people about "the Heterodyne girl". (Which back in the day of course was referring to Euphrosynia rather than Agatha.) She says that she is to keep Agatha "safe", and "also teach her manners", but then makes the mistake of noting that she is still compelled to protect Agatha's life with her own. This prompts Agatha to cut loose with a blast from her current death ray, , the floor beneath them and several floors below that. Von Pinn has no choice but to fling Agatha away as she goes .of Volume 8, when she makes a dramatic reappearance dropping on a balcony at Castle Heterodyne by way of two
But she's not quite done yet. When Agatha eventually makes a more controlled descent into the same pit, she ends up losing control of her body to the installed Lucrezia-implant, who is confronted by a mortally-wounded but still quite dangerous Von Pinn, who reveals she's managed to break the controls that Lucrezia installed, and thus forces that worthy to mentally flee, putting Agatha back in charge. Gil and Tarvek are also in the vicinity, and so cobble together a life-support setup for Von Pinn. Von Pinn's discomfort with the whole situation is only increased when she sees the battering that her Airman Higgs.(currently mentally occupied by an equally-unwilling chunk of Castle Heterodyne) has taken at the hands of
Fortunately, a bunch of the resident Sparks and Theo are able to fix up and improve one of the Castle's Fun-Sized Mobile Agony and Death Dispensers, and transfer Von Pinn's/Otilia's mind into it even as her biological body finally expires.
Von Pinn is dead, but Otilia, the Muse of Protection, finds this new state of affairs....
Von Pinn in The Works
Von Pinn appears on just one card within the card game The Works, looking unusually calm while flexing a riding crop in her leather attire. She has the labels Villain and Construct.
Questions and Theories
- Is Von Pinn/Otilia actually Violetta? There is a time machine involved somewhere in the tale, Tarvek has vowed to repair the Muses and the last thing which Tarvek says to Violetta, before releasing her to Agatha's service is very like that which is said to von Pinn by her 'beloved king' and her creator, who could, conceivably, be the same person. Hypothesis: Violetta travels back in time with Tarvek, whom she seems to defend out of habit. Tarvek becomes the original Storm King, creates/has created the Muses; he knows a great deal about them and has learned a great deal about intellect transfer from Lucrezia. For some reason he transfers Violetta's mind to the Otilia clank, perhaps because she has been injured, perhaps because she has been killed; he has, after all, experience of doing this with his sister and death could explain why Von Pinn does not remember Agatha on meeting: we have often seen references to memory loss being a problem with resurrection.
- Was it just Klaus Barry's death that sent Von Pinn round the bend, or were there other contributing factors? What could she tell us about that night?
- What's with the monocle? Did she always have it?
- Who was it 200 years ago who had knowledge of Agatha's fate and how did they acquire such knowledge?
- Alternatively, has Otilia misinterpreted her orders in regards to "the Heterodyne Girl", and everything she says about that individual was meant by the order-giver(s) to refer to Euphrosynia Heterodyne, who Mysteriously Disappeared rather than dying?
- Did Lucrezia try to kill her the night Klaus Barry was killed, as implied by "What the Deuce are you doing?! You're supposed to be dead!", or did she remember that she fell several floors?.
- Von Pinn obeying the Mongfish Command voice (as a bicentarian): While the personality is that of the Muse Otilia, Von Pinn's current construct body has been indicated to have been created by Lucrezia. However, she manages to overcome this too when Lucrezia in Agatha's body tries to command her... and fails, before .