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PB: Freida Pinto
Asharru hails from the ancient history of Earth, where mythology is a living, breathing thing. The Maya and the Babylonians charted the skies, Egypt made architecture its bitch and Rome stomped over three continents, but all those sacrifices and prayers and cults contributed to their success. Or not, as the rise and fall of empires suggests. Asharru lived/has been snatched from the Sumerian city state of Uruk (modern-day Iraq), circa 2274 BC.
For generations, Asharru's family had farmed a plot outside the city-state of Ur, situated a ways back from the mouth of the Euphrates. They were moderately prosperous, enough that even the girl children were given a basic education and taught to keep the accounts. If not for a string of nasty droughts followed by a plague from the port, she might have lived and died on that farm. Instead, she lost her family to sickness and was sent away to the local shrine of Inanna at the age of eight. There was no shortage of orphans in those days, but a temple always had plenty of menial labor to be done.
She wasn't treated badly, but the plague that took her family also blasted her mind with fever. She was raving, gibbering mess, and when the fever finally broke it left her vacant and dazed. Her new caretakers simply assumed she was deficient and gave her simple, tedious tasks. By the time she'd regained her senses, the temple's administrators had forgotten all about her.
Puberty and genetics saved her from a life of medial labor. Supplicants and devotees asked after the pretty little thing one too many times, motivating the higher-ranked priestesses to take a second look. They found a twelve year old of average intelligence, with better-than-average features and an raging desire to better her position. Never wasteful, they immediately appointed her to the novitiate.
At fifteen, she was sent away to the mother-temple in Uruk, Inanna's favored city. This marked her graduation from an acolyte to full-fledged priestess and courtesan. Her reputation and status increased over the next four years, until she was chosen to enact the role of Inanna during the spring Equinox, when the king of Uruk, in the role of the shepherd god Dumuzi, joined with a priestess of Inanna in a sacred marriage ritual to guarantee the continued fertility of the land. To be chosen was not only a great honor, but also elevated Asharru to the highest possible position within her church.
Moments before the ceremony, while ascending the ziggurat, she vanished into thin air. Before the year was out, Uruk fell to the invading Assyrian army, and the Sumerian religion was subsumed.
|What the Hell? - Asharru was snatched from her time by a group of neo-cultists attempting to awaken the goddess Inanna. Instead, they ended up summoning her high priestess because A) as a participant in the sacred marriage rite, she was about to become Inanna and B) you can't chain a fucking god in a chalk circle, idiots. As to why she, of all potential priestesses across the timespan, was snatched, her research suggests that she may have been the last appointed High Priestess before the Akkadians sacked Uruk and assimilated her religion.|
Stranded in the 21st century, she should have gone insane or succumbed to any number of foreign diseases. Fortunately, her abilities still worked, and she managed to sway the cultists into wanting to take care of her. Over time, she grasped the basics of their language and alphabet, and slowly educated herself. Within a year, she spoke English as well as any ESL graduate, and had a decent grasp on how the world evolved since her time. That she remained sane in the face of such violent cultural upheaval is a testament to her will to survive. That she prospered at all speaks to her ambition. Asharru joined a continuing education program for immigrant women and attained her GED. At twenty, she entered an Associates program for social work and went on attain her MA in Clinical Psychology, paying her way through a job with an escort service.
Now thirty one, she's a Licensed Professional Counselor with a small but thriving sex therapy practice. Her sexual habits were atypical in her own time, and they are not something she pushes through her work. Neither does she sleep with her own patients, though she does occasionally participate in sex-surrogacy for colleagues. She focuses on dispelling many of the myths and social stigma surrounding sex, but much of her work involves those who have recently experienced trauma or disability. Asharru does a lot of volunteer work at women's shelters, helping battered and broken women regain some normal sense of self. She never, ever uses her goddess-granted powers to achieve this; those effects are usually temporary and passing, and she's working towards real, healthy change.
Which isn't to say that she doesn't use them to make other matters more convenient, or that her private sex life has mellowed out. Asharru is promiscuous by most standards, but she couldn't care less what others think. If there's one thing she has in abundance, it's self respect and the confidence that stems from it. Although she's done a remarkable job conforming to modern Western culture, she does come off as distinctly 'odd,' a vibe most people attribute to 'hippie feminist crap.'
There's another side to her practice that most wouldn't suspect. Due to her own unique circumstances, Asharru sometimes finds herself counseling others with unusual powers, strange bloodlines or troublesome encounters. Such individuals make up a very small percentage of her clientele, and some can't pay for her services in any recognized currency, but she usually gives them priority anyway.
Personality - Practicality is the root of Asharru's nature. Well, practicality and a maternal streak a hemisphere wide. Total strangers trust her with their children, secure in the knowledge that they will return to find their offspring fed, cleaned, entertained and possibly a bit more educated than they were left. She can be awful overbearing, though there's little doubt that she means well.
Sumerians were culturally obsessed with counting, tallying, and the accumulation of material wealth. Their view of the afterlife was, to put it mildly, bleak, and they firmly believed in enjoying life while it lasted. Asharru is a product of her culture. She went without for so long that she gets caught up in owning things. This isn't to say that she won't share if asked, but if she wants something she finds a way to get it. As far as Asharru is concerned, there is no such thing as excess, only storing up against some future disaster.
Practicality also suggests that there's no point in being a Negative Nancy, so she's typically in a sunny mood, or at least easily swayed back to one. She's a morning person, with enough get-up-and-go to power a small city. Asharru goes about her chores quickly and cheerfully. If something needs done, why not do it, and do it right? In her opinion, an extra five minutes spent on a task makes all the difference between first-class and half-assed, and there's no excuse for shoddy work. However, she's really only able to focus on one thing at once; interrupt her in the middle of a job and she has a hard time reorienting herself. Though she works hard to keep her many priorities straight, she gets frustrated if too many things come at her at once.
Due to the extreme gender segregation of her upbringing, Sharru has some fragmented feelings about the sexes. She views women as both support and competition: her closest friends and lovers have been female-gendered, but she's not blind to the cattiness and backstabbing of her first profession, nor is she above it. Straight men represent a path to power and prestige, rarely an opportunity for companionship or equality. If she's subtly manipulative in her dealings with them (and she is) it's because she is accustomed to being treated as an object or a source of entertainment, to fighting and clawing for any sort of status and security. She accepts this as the way of things and isn't bothered by it, but she presents each gender with a completely different face. Regardless, she is attracted to power and confidence to the exclusion of physical attributes.
|Skills - The odds of ever finding a better lay than Asharru are extremely low. Goddess-given powers aside, She's a skilled courtesan with an unparalleled instinct for reading physical cues and responding appropriately.|
Her skills are not entirely altruistic; Inanna's priestesses draw power from sexual fulfillment, whether their own or their partners'. It's only by storing up a stock of this siphoned energy that Asharru is able to invoke Inanna's blessing of fertility on people, land and livestock. But, for all that she is a goddess of fertility, Inanna is not a mother figure. She is also goddess of war, lust and violent death, and all of these things boil down to one root: Desire. When properly stoked up on sex, Asharru can invoke and manipulate desire. Essentially, she makes people want, or not want, things as she sees fit. She can't alter someone's basic personality or core belief system (ex: she couldn't make someone commit suicide if they were genuinely happy or ideologically opposed to doing so), but she can operate within those boundaries to suit her own goals.
Sex-energy does give her a bit of a buzz, but it has no healing properties and does not grant extra-sensory abilities. Her only physical power is a blanket immunity to STDs. Also, as Inanna dictates when and by whom her priestesses bear children, Asharru is effectively sterile until her boss lifts the embargo on her uterus.
Her only other extrahuman ability is a sort of radar for divinity. As one who occasionally serves as the embodiment of a god, she can sense other avatars, as well as celestial/diabolical beings. They do not need to be of familiar pantheons to set off her alarm system, but she's done her homework on the religions that popped up in the five thousand odd years between her birth and her current situation.
Her professional education also included poetry, music and dance, erotic and otherwise. Though hardly a musical genius, she's proficient on both lute and flute and has a pleasant, furry sort of voice. She can read and write cuneiform, not that that has much bearing on the modern world.
Asharru is uber-domestic by modern standards, or at least has the know-how. Women in her era not only cooked, cleaned and cared for the children, they gardened, tended to/slaughtered animals, preserved foods for leaner months, made and mended clothing and managed household accounts. Her time as a drudge taught her the most efficient ways to finish chores as well as how to delegate, an invaluable skill as she moved into the realm of politics. For all that, she is an indifferent cook and enjoys a certain level of comfortable clutter in her personal quarters.
The Really Weird Shit - Although she doesn't know it, Asharru represents Inanna's sole remaining foothold in the mortal world, the doorstop preventing the power and influence of worship from being shut away forever. Inanna allowed her acolyte's abduction in order to create that wedge, so that her rites and rituals might be reestablished after the fall of the Sumerian city-states. She intends for her church to be rebuilt through Asharru, and she does not take kindly to outside forces trifling with her tools. If something were to threaten Asharru's life, Inanna is capable of possessing her priestess' body and smiting with typical Old God fury. This has only happened once, but the physical toll of becoming an avatar was so immense that Asharru has no memory of the incident.
sex therapy | sexual surrogacy | sumer | inanna | layout