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Jengo Baharia, 2019

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Finally solidifying a design that I like for Rachel's best pal growing up, and an occasional brother-in-arms for her various escapades across Arakhavia. Went with a quasi-Arabic vibe as originally intended, and to have my lion-folk be even partly barefoot as a cultural thing.

As I did with Lovella prior, feel I may as well flesh out elements of the Leonine culture as well as Jengo's personal history and power source. The Leonine, also called Brigalians after their home capital, are a strong and emotional people who are closely knit to their friends and family, forming so-called "prides" like normal lions. Born from their goddess Aralisi from her stock of chosen lions, they were intended to be a companion race to the humans of the southern half of the known world. Considering they've had a much better track record with darker-skinned humans of that region compared to the Jalquin people and their pale-skinned human counterparts, one can say Aralisi's wishes for her chosen race were fulfilled.

Since Jengo's childhood, three families converged together to form an honorary pride, called Pride Aviv -- the Ashes, the Baharias, and even a Dwarven family called the Dahans. Of them, all three of the men-folk (alongside Rachel's mother, Anastasia Ash) were monster hunters and sell-swords who inevitably retired to less dangerous jobs for the sake of their children. Meeting Rachel when she was still a lad named Ashur, the two were beloved childhood friends.

Jengo's retired father was the stubborn and tough-love type of dad, and his mother was absent-minded; both factors led to Jengo disapproving of his parents and wanting to spend as much time as possible with the child and mother Ash. He became as close to the Ashes as if he was a sibling to Rachel, even given full permission to refer to Anastasia and Horatio (when the latter was home) by name. Despite this, Jengo thought his parents uncaring; he oft had a nose for trouble, and a habit for getting the pre-transitioned Rachel in and out of misadventures.

One such escapade of note got Jengo and his bestie in trouble against a pack of the monkey-like goblins of the region, and had something wicked not come out from deep within Jengo from the fear of his friend's demise, he and "Ashur" wouldn't have walked home from that encounter. Instead the lion, never much of one for the gods or spirits prior, found himself bellowing in hatred and terror as necrotic energy surged from the wooden waster he brought on the monster hunt. Sweeping the practice blade forth, he and his friend watched in terrified relief as the goblins were half-sliced, half-melted in half from the stygian shockwave he let loose.

Months would go by since the incident of their early teens. Rachel would realize her gender in that time, and Jengo accepted her for who she was and helped her through her early transition. By that time, Jengo would test his might in swordsmanship with formal swordplay lessons, as well as learn to understand and control the fierce power within him. It wasn't long before tragedy struck the Ash family, as Horatio's final adventure to protect his daughter and wife left him and his nemesis dead. Mourning the loss of the great warrior, times took a nosedive as Anastasia became restrictive of her child's ambitions out of fear for the aspiring adventurer. Constantly egging on Rachel to fight for her desires and seeing no success until a year after Horatio's death, Jengo fell further and further into the darkness inside himself.

When Rachel finally set out to learn from Horatio's old mentor, a warrior-monk named Hektor, Jengo's tears at the news were both joyous and sorrowful. Finally Rachel would become her own woman, but it also meant it'd be some time before he'd see her again. The other neighborhood rowdies either shunned him for his fell magic, or grew up to become awful people. With no one left to turn to, it wasn't long before Jengo snapped at his father's domineering personality. Leading to an altercation that nearly maimed the elder Baharia, Jengo finally fled his desert hometown, having become a pariah by more than just a type of magic-user.

Now living on the coast of the inland sea years later, Jengo slowly healed from his losses, but for the longest time he was never truly the roguish gadabout he used to be. Taking up odd jobs that would benefit from his martial skill set, one such rainy season renewed his belief in fate and reinvigorated his lost fervor for the god of travel and trickery, Rotorzi, once more. One night a lone lioness marched into the town of Dawnslight, asking for a place to stay for a time while she made ends meet. Figuring he could use a roommate, Jengo took up the offer and met with the lioness at her inn room.

When he entered that room, Jengo's jaw dropped as he heard a familiar voice and smelled a familiar scent. The lioness before him was maned, with blue eyes and wearing a red tunic. She was no longer scrawny from alchemical hormones and with a cracking voice, but now possessed a toned and gorgeous form and a deep, but lovely, voice.

Tears of joy were shed on the spot. Somehow, some way, his best friend stood before him... and had grown up to be the mighty warrior-monk she set out to be.
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