Shadows of Gold
Born with a heart full of neutrality.
The first thing you notice about Qara is that she is aggressively plain. Her apparel ranges from beige to burnt sienna, and her armor, though kept in perfect condition, is unpolished.
She carries herself with a posture suggestive of a much less short individual, and prefers to sit astride her horse, Temujin, for the view such a perch affords.
Her father‘s disappointment as Qara, the third of three daughters, was born, lasted until she began playing with her sisters’ dolls. Immediately, the crude figures were drafted from their lives of domesticity into epic battles, executing pincer maneuvers against hordes of demons one day and pitched, suicide defenses against dragons the next.
The second Qara could hold a sword, her father, a retired cavalryman, insisted she do so, and before she knew it she was starting class at a prestigious military academy, a bright career in the armed forces ahead of her. With her father’s mentoring, she excelled in her studies. Whether she sought such success for herself, or simply because it was expected of her, was immaterial. All she knew was that it came easily to her. Until it didn’t.
Qara found exams easy, but she had never had one like this. The Exam was well-understood to constitute a no-win scenario; a hypothetical battle set up for failure, it was meant to inspire creativity. Prior exemplary students had suggested strategies ranging from the clever (approaching the enemy diplomatically) to the deranged (seeking the aid of infernal forces), and one had simply cheated his way out. However, after several hours of consulting, in sullen silence, her many diagrams and spreadsheets, Qara stood and approached her professor. “I would surrender. Our prisoners would receive better treatment if we give up without a fight.”
A general, her professors told her, was first and foremost a warrior, and a warrior Qara was not. Not yet. Without a spark, without a fire in her belly, defeat would come too easily. Adventuring, her father suggested, might awaken such a spark in her.
(1) Javad Danashri, her father and mentor, whom Qara is duty-bound not to disappoint.
(2) Thorin Taleb-Khan, her professor of logistics at The Military Academy of our Queen Immortal, a Dwarf.