The crown princess and only child of her mother and father, Runa is a happy, friendly, and optimistic girl.  She lives a carefree life, and gladly adheres to the tenets of her religion--trusting that even the deadliest creatures of the desert will not strike her, so long as she withholds her own fear and aggression.  Runa's interests in life are lovely fabrics, dancing through the marketplace, and spending time with her best friends, Basir and Basima.  Technically, she is engaged to her third cousin, Devarajas, but she tries not to think about that very often.

Eventually given the nickname 'the Scorpion' by his people and the world at large, Damayanti is a serious, studious young man.  He feels that Shantiis has existed in a dream bubble for too long, and has thus become soft, naive, and unable to handle the approaching storm of foreign interest.  He is willing to take drastic measures to ensure that his kingdom is not exploited, even if it means breaking Shantiis's most sacred traditions.

BASIR; 20.
A member of the royal guard, twin to Basima.  Basir would be a great warrior, if he had any wars to fight; as it stands, he approaches his ritual exercises with great zeal, and often asks the other guard members to spar with him (it's a good day when anyone accepts).  Friends with Runa since they were children, he considers himself her self-appointed protector.  This protective spirit extends to his sister
as well, and neither girl is particularly appreciative.

Runa's best friend and Basir's twin sister.  Basima is excitable and adventurous; she longs to go somewhere--anywhere--beyond the boundaries of their kingdom.  In the mean time, she spends her time trying to get away from the watchful eye of her brother, making faces at Devas, and generally trying to get into as much trouble as possible with Runa (given their idyll, this mostly involves sleeping late and eating a lot of figs).

Runa's third cousin and her (arranged) fiance.  He's handsome and cultured, but there's something not quite right about this guy ...

One of Damayanti's schoolmates.  He broke the news to Damayanti about Shantiis's discovery in the desert.