— Zahra the Hyena
Zahra is a female Mobian hyena who has the power of manipulating smoke. She is a main antagonist in Dimitri Chronicles, a series created by Chamesthehero. Introduced in Flames of Courage, the second installment in the series, she is the current empress of the declining Sand Empire in the Scorched Dunes.
Debuting in Red Roses, Black Hearts, Zahra is the last blood-soaked imperial: a title given to the last sibling of her people's imperial generation. Along with her terrorist organization, the Inferno Bandits, she obtained the white Chaos Emerald and attempted to use it to reclaim her people's glory.
With a lot of power in her hands, she is keen on restoring her people's lost territory and eradicate their famine, though her methods become increasingly more gruesome as the pressure upon her shoulders escalates.
Zahra is a bole-colored hyena with brown sugar-colored skin who boasts an average height. Like the other members of her species, she has brown spots. She has a medium-sized tail and, aside from her long eyelashes, silver-colored eyes.
This hyena has a short, frizzy hairstyle that features a major bang. She wears yellow and white overalls, yellow highlights, and bracelets without gloves or shoes. Her lips are naturally black, though she wears dark-brown lipstick. Always seen with a pipe on her hands, like a hyena, she is rarely seen not smiling or laughing.
Zahra is a strong-willed, risible individual that is resolute in restoring her fallen empire to its former glory. Red-blooded and eager to make the difference her predecessors were too cowardly to do, this hyena willingly embraces the pressure of being the only remaining flame of hope her people have. Audacious as she is charismatic, her generosity and loyalty to her people are what make her confident and loved.
Being a spotted hyena, Zahra is seldom seen without expressing her emotions through laughter. This makes the tone of her voice always sound whimsical and laid-back. It is difficult to distinguish her seriousness from her attitude, though she is in actuality very maliciously manipulative. Besides being fearless in action and candid in words, she fully trusts practically no one aside from her main subordinate.
Although this hyena never admits it to herself, it seems this constant pressure has taken a psychological toll on her. Being the empress of a warrior-like people forces her to take difficult decisions that usually involve lives. This indifferent demeanor towards others that are no within her empire slowly progressed into an obsession to instigate its resurgence at all costs, no matter how gruesome or heartless her means are.
The Great Chaos Sandstorm was made to eradicate all existing civilizations in the Scorched Dunes, except for hers, to build her empire up from the ground up without traces of the past. Transcending morality, it seems that Zahra is oblivious to notice that her atrocious acts of terrorism and manipulation greatly cost her the support of her very own people, almost all of which believe she has gone too far.
History and Appearances
Zahra was born in the Scorched Dunes, the desert located within the continent of Soumerca. The last born in the family of the Sand Empire's emperor, she is the youngest of twelve siblings, all of which were rightful heirs to the throne. Her birth, however, was no celebration for her brothers and sisters. Instead, for them, Zahra's entire existence was a reminder of future bloodshed, one they would never escape from.
The Sand Empire's political structure lasted for generations and was part of an ancient tradition that required the strongest sibling out of the imperial bloodline to rule over all. The current emperor was required to have over twelve descendants that would have to fight each other to the death in a battle royal for everyone in the empire to watch. This would happen when the youngest child became eleven.
As their birth is the catalyst to this event, the last sibling was always called the blood-soaked imperial. The other siblings would train for the battle, choose their allies, but none would alert Zahra about it. Whether it was out of spite or for another reason entirely, they instead made Zahra walk a lonely path during her childhood years. Interested in battle tactics and history, the hyena would occasionally visit the palace's huge library.
During this time, Zahra would also frequently escape from the palace and live among her people, experiencing first-hand their famine and thirst while the imperials thrived. She took upon herself to aid them, shouldering all the blame, going as far as stealing food from her gluttonous siblings and becoming close to a nameless hyena she would later find and give her a name for herself, taking her under her wing as a subordinate.
Zahra always witnessed poverty around her empire and corruption among her siblings. She knew that, should they inherit her father's status, the horrible situation of Sand Empire would never change and, perhaps, worsen. Hence, she would go to her palace's library and read upon her people's history so she, when became empress, would not make the same mistakes of her antecedents and make her empire great again.
Upon the reveal of the battle royale a day before her eleventh birthday, she underwent a crisis. Throughout history, the blood-soaked imperials were always the least favorable to win. Zahra had no training. Yet, that did not stop her. It was in the evening before her eleventh birthday where she made a promise to Ember to win the battle royale and crush those, anyone, who stood in the way of her goal of saving her empire.
On her birthday, a large thunderstorm that covered the skies of the entire world occurred, seemingly originating from the lower parts of the continent. Although Zahra was sleeping when it happened, when she woke up the next day, the hyena's ambition became true as she gained a supernatural power herself... Indeed, she participated in the battle-royale and slaughtered her siblings gruesomely with her newfound powers.
As the crowd was awestruck by fear, Zahra, covered in the blood of her siblings, wipes it off her white hair and begins making a speech; a speech that mentions that her power is not meant to harm her people but bring the empire back to its former glory. The crowd cheered for her. First, it was out of fear of what they saw her do. It would then later be due to her unwavering charisma that supposedly brought them together.
Those who would join her army against the outside world were the Children of the Sand, but more vulgarly known throughout the rest of the world as the Inferno Bandits.
Although a seemingly low-scale organization at first, when she stumbled across an unusually beautiful white crystal on the desert and utilized its divine powers, she uses this to force a cooperative effort from Red Rose Town's Brotherhood of Thieves to gather as much Rainbow Dust as possible, unafraid of mercilessly creating devasting damage to the town and its citizens that refused to forcefully surrender.
Indeed, Zahra's plans for revolution were then promptly set in motion.
All of the information found about Zahra is a compilation of the accounts of contemporary historians of the Sand Empire, members of the Brotherhood of Thieves, and the Guardian Units of Nations' database.
Strengths and Powers
The last blood-soaked imperial and the leader of the Inferno Bandits, Zahra rightfully earns her title as the strongest and most dangerous woman in the Scorched Dunes. Training under several imperial masters after her ascension to the throne, for her people, she is the pinnacle of the spotted hyenas in terms of power.
She has no recollection of the origins of her superpowers. However, since Zahra's power is practically unopposed, surpassing even the potency of the desert's Rainbow Dust, she has no problem inducing fear even on her allies. Perhaps being both loved and feared makes her words and actions all the more impactful.
Zahra is a natural-born leader who researched about her ancestor's failures in order to improve upon them and witnessed the struggles of the lower classes first-hand in her childhood, fueling her desire to help them. And so, this hyena is extremely charismatic, embracing her role as an empress with utmost seriousness and reaching the hearts of her people with powerful speeches and innate generosity, though the fear of what she can possibly do also dwells deep into the hearts of those who follow her.
Zahra was born in a civilization where fighting is a common sight, hence the reason her fighting skills are extraordinarily better than someone else from a less belligerent culture. Her martial arts is a unique kind found only in her civilization. Aside from having an enhanced sense of smell, sight, and hearing due to being a hyena, she is rather fast on her feet and is also pretty strong, making her a force to be reckoned with.
Although arguably the strongest fighter in the desert, Zahra is not flawless. Generating smoke costs her energy so she cannot overexert herself in that regard. Her barriers of smoke made for protection are as almost fast as her mind, meaning surprise or blindingly fast attacks are effective against her.
Zahra has the supernatural ability to generate and manipulate smoke. With a strong affinity for this gray-colored gas, this hyena can alter its properties on a whim, creating impressive techniques for a multiple of offensive and defensive purposes. For example, she can absorb smoke from her environment to further increase the intensity of her own to create highly destructive blasts of thick, scorching hot smoke.
One notable property this hyena is able to solidify her smoke. She can compress its molecules to create weapons and barriers that can cause actual physical damage. Hitting her barriers is like hitting a brick wall, being hit by one of the weapons is like being slashed by an unblockable long-sword. Considering she occasionally surrounds herself with smoke, close-range combatants find it extremely hard to approach her.
Aside from weapon construction, Zahra is able to create bursts of smoke from her limbs to thrust herself into the air, though doing so consequently costs her energy. She can manipulate the toxicity of her smoke, allowing organic targets to become incapable of breathing through poisoning by smoke inhalation. Likewise, one of her signature techniques is teleportation through smoke to places she already visited.
Attaining a momentary link to the Chaos Force under the possession of a Chaos Emerald, the potency of Zahra's smoke is multiplied even further by Chaos energy and is granted mythical properties. An example of her feats includes triggering a powerful sandstorm that covered a whole desert for several days.
Debuting in the climax of The Blood-Soaked Empress, the Sand Colossus is a transformation attained by Zahra when she fuses the limitless Chaos energy from her Chaos Emerald and the sand around her. This ultimately makes sand and Chaos energy envelop the empress as a gigantic, realistic-shaped hyena made of sand and Chaos energy. The Sand Colossus is a mindless beast whose shrieks alone shake the ground.
The Sand Colossus does have many advantages. Due to its large size, its speed and strength are monstrous. Its offenses and defenses exponentially increased due to the Chaos energy it contains, so it is capable of withstanding techniques from powerful individuals with its exterior, sand-covered hide. It has the ability to regenerate itself using Chaos energy and sprout long tentacles from its back.
A frightful aspect of the Sand Colossus is that it contains the raw power of one Chaos Emerald. Since Zahra was able to create a sandstorm that would eventually consume the whole desert, its ultimate energy attack it charges with its mouth, the Chaos Plasma, would naturally be able to cause around the same level of destruction. It is crucial for its opponents not let it fire, for it would not only undoubtedly vaporize anything within a five-hundred-kilometer radius, but its sand hide will shield it from this disastrous blast.
The Sand Colossus does have exploitable weaknesses. Zahra cannot really control the monster from within, so it is animalistic in nature. Beneath the hide, the Sand Colossus is exposed and vulnerable to attack. Its sand hide is durable, but people of an unusual amount of supernatural strength can physically rip it apart. It is unknown whether the Sand Colossus has a time-limit, so it was essentially a last resort.
Creation and Development
The concept for this character was created during the production of what would have been the first installment of my series: a Flames of Courage that featured the events of Reign of Darkness strictly on badly-placed flashbacks. One could argue that Zahra holds the honor of being was my first main villainous female Sonic fan character. She even has a story-arc in which she is the titular character!
In terms of development, Zahra's Inferno Bandits were alarmingly similar to the Nightmare Seekers at first. Both were shady organizations based on each of their respective gods and attempted to revive them. It was then decided to leave that concept for the latter and give the Inferno Bandits a more realistically fitting goal.
Zahra has her personal foil: Ember. Their chemistry is intriguing for me since Ember was possibly the only one that stood beside this hyena in her childhood. I personally find them cute together. Like with Ember's design, Zahra's also gave me troubles. After a couple of redesigns, I feel satisfied with her current look.
This change greatly influenced this hyena's motivations and demeanor. On later iterations of the character, Zahra continued to be affable but the character itself became a lot darker. What I both like and find it disturbing about Zahra is that, at first glance, she does not seem like the kind of person that would brutally murder all of her siblings to become the empress. The whole concept of being "blood-soaked" fits her well.
Relationships with Other Characters
- The Inferno Bandits
- The Sand Empire's residents
- The Brotherhood of Thieves (bullied them into submission, work together)
- Zahra's name comes from the variation of the name Zara, a popular international fashion brand.
- She is envisioned to be in her early twenties.
- She was originally supposed to have an arm-cannon that releases smoke.
- Instead, she was given a pipe, which symbolizes that the stress is getting to her.
- She was originally going to have orange hair and brighter colors in her fur and clothes.
- She is the first villain in the series to have two arcs involving her conflict.