Raised by bedouins during the height of the Ottoman Empire, she who is now Jyanavar left her camp one evening in search of the sabi star, the desert rose. She carried the bouquet back to her tent, squeezing the stems into a brass ampoule as she walked. What poison she would glean from beauty's sap, and oh, how her arrows thirsted for the taste of Shadow. Those spindly hunters had chased her with lions' jaws and rattlesnakes, smoke and howl. They were real, she swore. Her father never believed it.
When she returned, she discovered that fire tastes like molten sandstorm, and victory. Father was too charred to believe Jyanavar now, unable to watch as shadows wrestled rope around her ankles, dragging her to the coast where a ship waited.
The ship was made from whalebone. The sails, moth-wing: the death's-head moth. The kind born with both a skull and a thorax. And when a storm came in from the west, Jyanavar knew nightfall was the cleanest time to escape a shadow. She walked the catclaw plank and dropped into the sea like a sacrifice, or a burden. If she'd had a map, her fall would have been marked by the phrase: "Here be monsters."
And monsters there were.
Amidst the seaweed and marine snow they hid her, saw in her something of themselves....No shadow penetrates the deep that is not born there. Three centuries she spent with them, drunk on the language of sea beasts. Before the ocean spit her back, they named her as their own.