Yasmina, Devi of Vendhya
"A woman whose gossamer robes did not
conceal the rich garments beneath any more than they concealed the
suppleness of her tall, slender figure. A filmy veil fell
below her breasts, supported by a flowing headdress bound about with a
triple gold braid and adorned with a golden crescent. Her dark eyes
regarded the astonished governor across the veil, and then with an
imperious gesture of her white hand, she uncovered her
~ The People of the Black
Circle, by Robert E. Howard.
The Devi Yasmina is sister to the slain king of Vendhya. She vowed find the slayers of her beloved brother and her searches led her to the occult. She has read The Book of Skelos and made other arcane researches, so this gives her some skill in the Knowledge (Arcane) category. She went to the borders of her kingdom to find Conan, the chief of the Afghulis, so that she could force him to kill the Black Seers of Yimsha, who killed her brother. The governor of the border kingdom had captured several Afghuli sub-chiefs, and she was going to ransom them back to Conan in return for the heads of the Black Seers. Unfortunately for her plans, Conan arrived earlier than expected and kidnapped the Devi, hoping to use her to ransom some of his captured sub-chiefs.
Yasmina plays a cat-and-mouse game of intrigue with Conan, but the feelings the ferocious hill chief's attentions arose in her confused her. "...she felt a curious rush of emotions... she felt shame, embarrassment, yet a stimulation of vanity that she had never before experienced..." Although Conan and Yasmina grow fond of each other during the course of their adventures, neither can adjust to the life of the other. In the end, they part. Conan to return to his wild hillmen, Yasmina to go back to her throne.
Yasmina primarily avoids combat, but can use a dagger or knife effectively. With one blow she was able to kill her brother in time to keep his soul from being destroyed by the Seers of Yimsha.
Yasmina is a surprising character from Robert E. Howard's story, "The People of the Black Circle." This story was first published in Weird Tales as a three part seriel in the September, October, and November issues of 1934. The story can also be found in the Ace/Lancer paperback "Conan the Adventurer"; the Berkley/Putnam hardbound collection, "The People of the Black Circle," the Donald M. Grant Limited Edition "The People of the Black Circle", and the Gnome Press collection "The Sword of Conan". Marvel Comics adapted the story into comic form in "The Savage Sword of Conan" issues 16-19. All of these are out of print, but are usually available on eBay.
This story is the first Conan story I ever read, and is one of the best. It is certainly my favorite. Fritz Lieber characterized the story as the best story of the entire Conan saga.
Above are the original pieces of artwork that accompanied the original publication of Robert E. Howard's story
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