Name: Kanna Rava (KAHN-nah RAH-vah)
Age: 19 (at the start of Goda’s Slave)
Native Tongue: Modern Upperlander, though she also speaks and reads Modern Middlelander with a high degree of fluency, and can read Old Middlelander to an extent
Kanna first appears in Chapter 1 of Goda’s Slave, shortly after she has been cuffed to Goda Brahm and sent to serve out her criminal sentence in bondage. Her family fortune was dissolved by the Middlelanders, who used political pressure to take over the Upperland government and bureaucratic manipulation to subsequently take ownership over her father’s land, which was rich with an important resource. In order to disrupt any cycle of inheritance, they enslaved all members of Kanna’s clan on bogus criminal charges.
Thrust into a culture that she had only previously read about, Kanna is clueless about her surroundings and initially extremely resistant to her situation.
Kanna is native to the meadows of the Upperland, spreading grasslands that were freshly revealed by retreating glaciers only a few thousand years prior. Her ancestors historically lived in the caves that peppered the mountains separating the Upperland from the Middleland and survived as goat herders. However, as farmland became increasingly available to the North, her people transitioned to subsistence farming, then eventually–under the influence of the Middlelanders–to industrial-scale agriculture.
Her father was a wealthy landowner who profited from the cash crop mok, a sugary grain that grows only in the Upperland and serves to make both bread and alcohol. At the height of the Rava tribe’s success, they owned over 90% of the mok fields on the entire continent, and it was during this time of great family wealth that Kanna was born into a sheltered life.
The daughter of her father’s third (and least favorite) wife, Kanna was raised as an only child and rarely visited by her half-siblings or her father, in spite of the fact that her extended family all lived on the same large plot of land. Her mother was the widow of her father’s late brother, whom her father grudgingly married out of a sense of family duty. At the same time, he maintained three other wives and two non-wife consorts, most of which bore him children as well.
Kanna was born with an identical twin, but her sister died shortly after birth.
Throughout her life, Kanna’s mother was overbearing and overprotective (in part due to her loss of Kanna’s twin), so much of Kanna’s childhood was spent in isolation, with only her tutors as social contact. Kanna frequently escaped into books and, as she got older, sought out romance novels that had been translated into the common tongue (Middlelander), so that her mother would not know what she was reading. Some of these books depicted violent eroticism, which eventually colored teenage Kanna’s sexuality.
In her later childhood, Kanna began to suffer from sleep paralysis, then eventually out-of-body experiences. Able to perceive spirits, Kanna was too afraid to mention it to anyone, thinking her mother would accuse her of witchcraft, but her night terrors improved when she made friends with a “shadow monster” who appeared outside her window.
Gradually, Kanna blocked out this phenomenon and lost her ability to contact spirits as she grew older. As an adult, she assumes that they were all hallucinations or the product of an over-active imagination.
About a year prior to the events of Goda’s Slave, Kanna’s mother dies under ambiguous circumstances. Kanna is living alone in her childhood house when her half-sister comes to inform her that the Middleland military is about to seize all of their family property.
Kanna is around 1.5 meters (5′, 0″) tall, which is taller than the average Upperlander woman, due in large part to superior nutrition compared to the typical Upperlander. (Most Upperlanders are impoverished and suffer a low standard of living.)
She has brown hair, small eyes, and a small frame. She has a tiny scar just to the side of her left eyebrow from being hit with shattered glass as a child. By Upperlander standards, Kanna has an unexceptional appearance, and would easily blend into a crowd of other Upperlanders.
Though she does not realize this at first, from a Middlelander perspective, Kanna comes off as having something of an androgynous appearance because she is about the size and build of an average Middlelander male. Goda (who likes both men and women) finds this extremely attractive, but tactfully does not mention it.
Ironically, both Kanna and Goda perceive each other as being androgynous to varying degrees, even though neither of them finds their own self to be particularly androgynous.
Kanna has a difficult relationship with her family, both close and extended. Her father was mostly absent and her mother was an angry woman who often took out her frustrations by emotionally abusing Kanna. She has about 11 half-siblings from her father’s other wives and dozens of first and second cousins, but never made close friends with any of them.
Her closest friend growing up was imaginary (in Kanna’s interpretation), a “shadow monster” that frequented her room at night for less than a year between the ages of around 11 to 12, then suddenly disappeared.
When Kanna meets Goda Brahm at the beginning of Goda’s Slave, she is afraid of her as much as she is animalistically attracted. Slowly, as she gets to know Goda, her feelings for her become more integrated. As a result, she begins to objectify Goda less and her oscillation between demonizing and idolizing Goda also begins to fall into balance.
Kanna is gay, a fact surmised by her mother, but not known to her father or her siblings. Because there is no concept of sexual orientation as an identity in the Upperland and no religious prohibitions surrounding it, either, Kanna’s mother never thought it was important enough to discuss with her. Kanna herself never considered her exclusive attraction to women as anything special.
In particular, Kanna has a strong taste for Middlelander women and her first crush was on her half-Middlelander tutor when she was young. She likes robust women especially.
In spite of being gay herself, Kanna is at first bothered to learn that same-sex marriage is the norm in the Middleland, since it’s different from what she’s used to. Growing up, she simply assumed marriage would not be possible for her. (Marriage in the Upperland typically happens between men and women.)
Most of Goda’s Slave deals with Kanna’s harrowing spiritual awakening and the letting go of parts of her self-image and societal conditioning that no longer serve her. This is when she also begins to awaken to the truth of her reality, and discovers that she is spiritually gifted, and in fact is capable of creating reality by both imagining new “snakes” into existence and dissolving pre-existing ones.