Character sketchies by ACBradley

Character sketchies


31 July 2017 at 12:12:01 MDT

This is 7-year-old Princess Yasemin of Tarquesh (in the middle, with her beloved snek Eri) with her 7'5 tigress bodyguard Zahra and her 5'8 zebra tutor Dalia. Yasemin moved to Aludra after her mother arranged for her to be married to the similarly-tiny Princess Imperial, Jirina dio Alud. On the left is the three right after they moved, on the right is after they got settled. In that one Yasemin's got a little flower behind her ear that her wife gave her earlier in the day, and she's very happy because that means they're married and in love!

Zahra's from a very conservative family in Northern Tarquesh and her mother was always worried she wasn't sufficiently Tarqueshi, hence her always covering her mouth and ears even though non-hyenas don't really need to do that. While this is in part related to modesty, the main reason Tarqueshi do this is religious: they believe the personification of evil in their pantheon, a mindless but incredibly powerful creature called the Voice of the Desert, is always searching for them, and so they conceal their appearances and don't give their real names to outsiders.

The ultimate example of this is Yasemin's mother the Queen, who is only known by her title to anyone outside her immediate family. The inside of one's home is held to be a sacred place (harim) where one is safe from the Voice's influence, hence Yasemin not covering her face around the Imperial Palace after she started to feel safe there: Dalia suggested it, so she wouldn't feel like a stranger in her new home, and argued with Zahra about it before the proud tigress agreed it was probably for the best, even though she had no intention of doing the same. After she was crowned as Empress-Consort she stopped doing so entirely, hoping the gesture would show that all of Aludra was her family now, and being from a sect that believes the Voice has no power outside Tarquesh anyway.

Since this doesn't apply to other species, zebras in Tarquesh (the second-biggest group after hyenas) tend to dress as Dalia does here, and don't usually give it a second thought. There was initially a little friction between Zahra and Dalia over this since Zahra thought Dalia was an Indecent Southerner, but they learned to get along.

Zahra is former Special Forces and was overall very nervous about her little Princess being in a foreign land, and so turned up with a case of weapons including a general-purpose machine gun and several anti-tank missiles, though after a while she realised she didn't need her custom-made integrally suppressed .265 assault rifle (6.72x43mm*) and full body armour under her robes. On the right she just has a submachine gun chambered for the Tarqueshi-standard .335 pistol round (hers using +P rounds, and she still handles it like it's a water pistol) and a bulletproof vest on under her shirt. She still carries a two-way radio and never allows it out of her sight: Yasemin has the other handset, it's in the little pouch on her belt on the right. When they'd just moved and Yasemin was having nightmares, Zahra would sometimes spend the night sitting at the foot of her little charge's bed, rifle in hand, or have the complex task of escorting the young hyena to her wife's room so they could read stories under the bedclothes and giggle. She also always carries a water canteen in case Yasemin is thirsty: when they first moved, she used to spread her robe around Yasemin so she could uncover her face to drink.

The sashes Zahra and Yasemin wear indicate their clan affiliation: Zahra's is from one of the Northern fortress-cities, while Yasemin's is the royal sash with the blue referring to the coastal capital of Tarquesh, Sarib. The lettering roughly translating to "People of the Southern Water." Dalia doesn't wear a sash since zebras aren't regarded as having any clan affiliation: they often served as negotiators between the states that are now incorporated into Tarquesh.

The device on Dalia's wrist is her Everybook, a sophisticated holographic PDA that she uses for lesson plans and as a teaching aid. She mostly acts as Yasemin's personal tutor, but she also tutors other girls in the Palace. It turned out her skill at reading maps to plan educational visits for her little Princess also translates to a talent for reading military maps, and later on she acts as a strategic adviser to Yasemin.

Dalia's wearing a little more on the right because Aludra is a lot colder than Tarquesh; in summer she'll still wear variations on her old outfit. The flap on the back of her trousers is because she's used to having something like that under her tail: she feels like she isn't wearing anything below the waist without it.

Zahra tends to stand still to listen and Dalia tends to move around when she's talking, which means she tends to walk in circles while Zahra stands still and turns her head: on the right she's in mid-orbit. Zahra's fairly sure she has no idea she does this, and Yasemin thinks it's hilarious.

*Intermediate rounds are mostly used in the East because the issue that they are almost totally ineffective against Alcacians does not really come into play there. The assault rifle was invented in Chira: a few decades later the rabbits of Lis, the smallest Continental species with an average height of 4'6, took up the idea for their standard rifle, and from this intermediate rounds spread to Doras to their north and from there to Tarquesh. The Standard Combat Rifle Zahra is holding was adopted a decade before Yasemin moved to Aludra. The Future Soldier version of the Aludran Sabran Model 37 battle rifle would later use the same stock as the Tarqueshi SCR.

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