I don’t want an Aravis who starts to pray to Aslan when she runs to Archenland. I don’t want an Aravis who asks Aslan for guidance or strength. I want a Calormene Tarkheena, through and through. Who recognizes the might of The Lion, but bows her head in reverence and prayer only to her Gods. I want Aravis, the true Calormene Queen, the Tarkheena who builds a home for her Gods in a land where They are feared. Who teaches the stories her mother taught her, who’s mother taught her mother, and so on back until the mothers of days of the early Calormene Empire.
Give me an Aravis who teaches the Archenlanders that Tash is not one to be feared but respected just like Aslan. Give me an Aravis who has flocks and flocks of light coloured children running in the wake of her steps with ‘Please Lady Aravis, I want to hear the story of The Warrior Goddess-’ only to be interrupted with a ‘No not that one, we heard that one yesterday. I want to hear about how Lord Tash saved-’ and so on and so on while the dismayed parents can only watch as the brown skinned Queen is only to happy to speak. Only to happy to spread the tales of her family, her Gods, again and again. No matter how much they tell her to ‘Stop feeding them lies’ or calling them ‘False and grand tales not fit for our children’, no matter how much they try and force their beliefs on her, no matter how much they insult her calling her everything from ‘The False Queen’ to a ‘dirty skinned girl’, I want an Aravis who looks at them with her fiery brown eyes and raises her head in defiance.
I want an Aravis who refuses to back down, refuses to stop, refuses to break. Who’s entire being from her darker skin to her bright and daring coloured outfits to her unreserved laughter and pounding feet as she dances to the drums screams Daughter of Tash and blood of Calormen.
Give me an Aravis who prays to the Great Lord Tash. And when people speak in fearful tones of the Calormene God, she laughs softly. Tash has never been one to fear, but respect. The Mighty One of the Calormene Empire does not walk alongside His subjects as Aslan does. Instead, He sits in the shadows and protects those who offer Him their prayers. To the devoted Calormen, the fearless ones, He is not something to hide from, never someone to fear. He is loved fiercely and He loves just as fiercely in return. He is the slayer of monsters and keeper of dreams. He is not evil. He is their shield from evil.
She does not fear Him. No, she loves Him just as all His children do. And she is protected and loved just as all His children are.
Give me an Aravis who speaks in laughing tones of Zardeenah, the Lady of the Night as if talking about a long lost sister. The same Sister who saved her from the trapped life her stepmother tried to force her into. A loveless marriage with someone who could be her father, or father’s father. Zardeenah, who she prays to months before she finally gives her heart to Cor. The One who keeps her company on the night before her marriage day and leaves laughter and love in Her wake. Zardeenah, who despite being widely known as the protector of unmarried maidens, is the Sister to all the Tarkheenas and Tarkaans and Calormene children who are about to embark on the next chapter of the story called Life. The one who when asked to - never begged because ‘Calormen do not beg’ - is willing to let Herself soak Her gentle hands, the same hands that never hesitate for a second to wipe away Her younger siblings tears, in the blood of those so called suitors who do not understand the sanctity of Her younger siblings. Is willing to tear Her heart and Her soul apart to keep the younger ones safe and sound and protected and innocent and-
The Calormen have no fear for the Lady of the Night. Only love and faith that She will be there when they look.
Give me an Aravis, who’s voice bleeds with the highest respect and awe in her voice as she speaks of the Great Lady Azaroth, the strongest and mightiest of the Calormene Deities. The Warrior Goddess. The Lady Azaroth who faces each battle with such fierce and unrivalled skill that even the Lord Tash can be seen deferring to Her judgement in the most trying battles. Azaroth, the bringer of peace because ‘When you ride with Azaroth, defeat will never know you.’ Give me an Aravis who turns to an imposing Azaroth and kneels in front of Her asking Her to protect her mislead countrypeople in the Battle of Anvard. Give me an Aravis who seeks protection for her fellow Calormen just as she seeks victory for the Archenlanders and Narnians victory over them. Give me an Aravis who sobs quietly in the aftermath upon learning just how high the death toll is of her countrypeople and non countrypeople alike. Give me an Aravis who’s heart breaks but she soldiers on because ’that’s the Calormen way’. Give me an Aravis who lights a fire that burns fierce and bright through the night for the fallen soldiers, Calormen, Narnian, and, Archenlander alike.
Give me a Tarkheena who lowers her head in gratitude to the Warrior who stands beside her as the fires are lit because she knows how worse it could have been.
Give me an Aravis who has seen the worst of the worst and the best of the best of her homeland and refuses to be shamed for being who she is. Give me an Aravis who is so unapologetically Calormene that Archenland isn’t prepared for her and she leaves them scrambling to keep up. Give me an Aravis that sweeps through Archenland with the force of a storm.
Give me an Aravis who respects and honours Aslan but bends her knees in prayer and respect only for her Gods.
Give me an Aravis who’s hands ring with music in each movement as the bangles clash and clang against each other with the sweetest sounds. Give me an Aravis who dances and twirls with colour bleeding through every step, as the brightest reds and purples and blues and and greens and pinks and- swirl around her.
Give me an Aravis who walks with Calormen forever in her heart and Gods in her wake.
Give me an Aravis, the Tarkheena Queen of Archenland, Daughter of Calormen who never once forgets who she is.