Name: Noa Bou (NOH-ah BOH)
Age: 21 (at the start of Goda’s Slave)
Native Tongue: Middlelander (Northern dialect)
Noa Bou first appears in Chapter 17 of Goda’s Slave, when she introduces herself (along with her sister Leina) to Kanna Rava in a tavern. Kanna has difficultly understanding their motivations through their cultural differences at first, but decides soon enough that Noa and Leina are trying to make friends with her.
Noa was born in the Northern Middleland town of Gam, a rural area close to the bordering mountains between the Middleland and the Upperland. It is the most Northern major settlement of the Middlelander territory (though very little trade happens across these treacherous cliffs and most exchange between the Upperland and Middleland is routed through the Outerland desert instead).
She is the identical twin of Leina Bou and the younger sister of Thuja Bou. Like most Northern Middlelanders, Noa’s mothers and grandmothers were subsistence farmers who supplemented with hunting and gathering. As a result of geographic isolation, she and her sisters were given basic schooling at home by government-sanctioned tutors, but received little vocation-centric training, which is more widely available in the wealthier Southern region of the Middleland (close to the capital city of Suda).
When the community-shared farmland is eventually co-opted by military to feed a base that the central government establishes near Gam, Noa and her twin sister see no future in their town and begin traveling (by means of train-hopping) at around the age of 17. After a time, they become bootleggers to support themselves, but tell their mothers and extended family that they have joined the military–and were assigned to handle rebellions deep in the Outerland desert–as a cover story.
Only their older sister Thuja knows what they’re really up to. Though she highly disapproves, she keeps their secret out of a strong sense of loyalty.
Not very prudent with their resources and not exceptionally good at drug-dealing, Noa and Leina frequently find themselves broke and on the run from authorities.
Noa has wavy, light brown hair and brown eyes. She’s around 1.8 meters (5′, 11″) tall and is very, very slightly taller than her twin sister by a fraction of a centimeter, a fact that she brings up with her frequently.
Noa is close to her twin sister Leina. They travel together, work together, and have never lived apart (besides a brief period where Noa was arrested and confined for starting a fight, but ultimately released after a few weeks). She also maintains a positive relationship to her older sister Thuja, though they came into increasingly less contact after the Bou twins left their family home, and their relationship grew more distant after Thuja ventured South to seek resources (and eventually accepted a position in an isolated monastery in the South-Western Middleland).
They primarily communicate with their sister and mothers by sending letters. Leina is in charge of coming up with all of their fake war stories to make their excuses sound convincing.
Because they travel constantly, Noa has few stable friendships besides her sister and no steady romantic relationships. However, she has a huge crush on Kanna Rava.
Noa has never been married or engaged, something that both she and her sister avoided in spite of their mothers’ early attempts at match-making with the daughters of their neighbors. She considers marriage to be akin to a prison sentence and has no desire for children.
Other Random Facts
Both Noa and her sister are attracted to people of all ethnicities, but Noa has a particularly strong preference for foreigners that can get her into trouble. Early on in her travels, she was arrested for fighting with a jealous Outerlander in Karo who attacked her after finding that Noa was sleeping with her husband. Due to vastly different cultural expectations (monoamory is not at all a typical feature of Middleland culture, but is common in Outerlanders), Noa did not understand at the time why the woman was angry.
After a few years of experience, Noa learns to be sneaky when approaching married Outerlanders and Upperlanders (of any gender), so that they can have a safe opportunity to cheat without offending their partners. Leina finds this unethical and discourages her, but Noa argues that forcing sexual fidelity on a marriage partner is overly possessive and treats a person as if they are property. (She uses similar arguments to try to convince Kanna Rava to stray from Goda and follow her into a bathhouse in Goda’s Slave.)