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a Tarkheena, everlasting.

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Lasaraleen is not a decoration. She is not a side piece for Aravis’ story. She is her own. Always has been, always will be.

She falls in love with long heavy lehengas that twirl dazzlingly and shine and sparkle wherever the light touches as she dances. Her forearms are always covered with bangles that clash against one another in a dance of their own. Her hair falls down her back, long and black the colour of night. She braids it each night and brushes it every morning. Her ankles are never bare either. Instead they are adorned with anklets that jingle with each step. They have their own music and they play it only when she moves. As she grows older, she finds herself drawn to the sleekest and brightest sarees. Earrings dangle bright and daring from her ears. Her room is bursting with colour like a meadow filled with the most colourful of flowers. When she walks into a room, the room holds its breath. She takes a step and eyes follow in awe. She speaks and world listens.

She is born with the rising sun. Blessed by the light of the bright morning. Lasaraleen is the soul of her empire. A devout follower despite her materialistic desires. She loves her Gods. She is Their mouthpiece. She wakes with the sun and prays to Them in the early light. She gives herself to Them freely.

And the Gods? Well, They love her with Their entire being.

Tash visits her on the day of her birth. A large warm hand gently covers her drooping tired eyes as He whispers "May Evil never set its sight on you, my little one." He takes a moment staring warmly at His new child and when He leaves, He leaves with a proud raise of His head knowing that behind Him sleeps a Tarkheena, who will be grow to be one of His fiercest and loudest and brightest children.

As she learns to sit, Tash watches over her fiercely so she may never hurt herself. As she learns to crawl, He laughs bright and proud knowing the moment she learns to walk, she will fly.

Zardeenah, the Sister, is there for Lasaraleen’s first love. She is there in the aftermath of her first heartbreak. She holds her younger sister close to her chest as she cries and She cries with her. She is there the night before Lasaraleen is set to marry. And as the young Tarkheena sits upon the chair in front of the (rather) large mirror and desk, fingers nervously twisting and twirling at her hair, Zardeenah slowly takes the comb that rests on the side and gently works it through her younger sister’s soft flowing locks. As the comb shifts lightly, Zardeenah sees the weight lessen on Lasaraleen’s shoulders. Breaths come easier and deeper than a moment ago. Zardeenah knows that even though Lasaraleen marries for love, fear and nervousness of the future can take hold of even the surest of Her siblings. She leaves the reddest and brightest flower She can find resting on the pillow next to Her sleeping sister’s hand as She takes her leave in the early morning.

The next time Zardeenah sees her is in the morning after Aravis is gone, safe and far on her way to her new life. Zardeenah dares not see Lasaraleen before having seen to Aravis and her safety away first. She knows that Lasaraleen will only turn Her away if Aravis is not safe. So She goes. She flies and runs alongside the fleeing Tarkheena, knowing as She runs with one Tarkheena to a brighter future, another lies behind Her with a heart that slowly breaks for a sister she doesn’t know will survive.

Azaroth meets the young Tarkheena the very same night Aravis flees. The Warrior Goddess does not know her from birth like the Lord Tash. He checks in all His children. He watches over them, even if they do not see Him. Azaroth does not. Why would She? Lasaraleen is not a warrior. Lasaraleen is a young woman who has only recently been married and is endlessly filled with laughter and happiness. She is not a fighter. Azaroth does not know Lasaraleen as Zardeenah does. She does not know the infant that grows into a child. She meets this Tarkheena when she stands firm and mighty, a grown woman.

Azaroth remembers it well. It’s on the very same night that the Zardeenah runs with Aravis, guiding her away from the cage she was to be locked in. The very same night that the young Lasaraleen says goodbye to her lifelong friend, her sister from the moment they set eyes on each other. The very same night that Lasaraleen for the very first time does not know what will happen to Aravis, or know when she will see her next. Azaroth has heard good things, loving things from both Tash and Zardeenah. However, She is still wary as She always is. She knows all about this Tarkheena. Has heard the prayers the young one sends in the earliest of mornings and latest of nights. Has heard how she drops to the deepest of bows when she stands before the altar. Has heard how tight she clasps her hands sending prayers for safety and happiness for her family and friends. Has heard her whisper about marriage and clothes and all the sorts of things that Zardeenah would listen to endlessly with laughter and smiles, but things that Azaroth has no need for. Azaroth does not know why the young Tarkheena calls for Her, but She answers all the same as She would for any child of Calormen.

Azaroth dons her sleekest armour and grabs her sharpest blade not knowing which enemy Lasaraleen would ask Her to face. But Lasaraleen surprises her. Before Azaroth has even arrived Lasaraleen sits on folded legs and hands clasped tightly together and before the Goddess can speak, Lasaraleen speaks first. She begs and pleads the Mighty Goddess to protect her sister, her Aravis from any enemy she will face because Lasaraleen "cannot do that for Aravis anymore from all the way over here". Azaroth is stunned because ‘Calormen do not beg’. This is something that all the Calormen know. But here is Lasaraleen, the very same Lasaraleen that Azaroth had foolishly found Herself scoffing at before She had met her. And she finally sees what it was Tash saw on the day she was born. What Zardeenah saw from the moment she had first met her, cried with her, and laughed with her. Azaroth sees a very young woman, tired and scared and pleading on her knees - not for herself - no, for her sister. And in the Tarkheena’s heart Azaroth finally sees the blinding fire burning wild and bright. The fire that could lead Lasaraleen to lay waste to everyone and everything for daring to harm her sister.

Azaroth finally sees her, not a warrior - never a warrior - but a sister that would tear the heavens apart and leave nothing but destruction in her wake for her younger sister. She sees a Tarkheena, everlasting, and She can’t help but grin mighty and ferocious. The hand that She lays on the bowed woman’s head is gentle and with Her other hand She helps the woman rise to her feet. "Aravis could never have asked for a better protector," She says loudly and joyfully. She lays a gentle kiss on the young Tarkheena’s brow and before Lasaraleen can do much more than blink in surprise, Azaroth is gone. She is running with long strides and a sharp smile and catches up with her dear Zardeenah and fierce Aravis (and the young Prince who knows not who he is, and the horses that gasp and skitter backward at her bright and daring entrance) quickly. She switches with Zardeenah, the Tarkheenas that They will watch over, and stands by Aravis who watches with a saddened smile as Zardeenah leaves for the Tarkheena that was left behind.

Lasaraleen becomes the mouthpiece for her Gods. They trust her with Their stories. Their mistakes, Their triumphs, Their entire lives become hers and in return she gives them to her countrypeople freely so they may know their Gods as those Gods know each and every one of them.

Aravis joins the ranks of the royal family of Archenland, a Calormen Queen through and through. But Lasaraleen? Lasaraleen is trusted by the Gods of Calormen and Calormen itself. She sits in counsel with Gods and Calormen on either side and speaks on behalf of those who cannot.

Lasaraleen is the soul of Calormen.

She has always been what Calormen is and what it aspires to be.