I am the daughter of the lioness. I destroyed Blackcliff. I saved the life of Elias Veturius. I survived Commandant Keris Veturia. I survived the betrayals of the Resistance and the Nightbringer. I crossed the Empire and broke into Kauf Prison. I rescued my brother and hundreds of other Scholars. I am not nothing."

–Laia to King Irmand and Princess Nikla of Marinn [A Reaper At The Gates]

Spoiler alert!
This page may contain spoilers! Do not proceed unless you wish to be spoiled.

Laia of Serra is one of the two main characters in the An Ember In The Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir. She is the youngest sibling of Darin and Lis.


At the time the story takes place Laia is a 17-year-old Scholar girl who takes on the risky mission of rescuing her brother from the Martials. Laia is unique in the Scholar society because although Scholars are forbidden to learn how to read, she is extremely literate. This skill serves her well in her mission of being a spy for the Scholar Rebellion.


Laia pretends to have fallen asleep when her brother, Darin comes home late at night. Soon, she learns that her brother is wanted by the Empire and quickly escapes with him through the backdoor of their house while Nan and Pop hold them off. Nevertheless, they run into a Mask on the backyard. Laia and Darin are brought back to their home where the soldiers steal Darin's sketchbook and murder Nan and Pop. They set a fire on the house and take her brother as a prisoner.

Laia runs through the Quarter, convincing herself she needs to find the Resistance which is a group of rebels she can trust to save Darin. In the catacombs of Serra, she encounters a group of armed people who later she realizes are the members of the Resistance. She is hauled to their hideout where she meets their leader, Mazen. She is given a mission which is to spy on the Commandant of the Blackcliff in return for their help. By the evening, she is accompanied by Keenan and Sana as they present her to the Resistance operative. The man rejects Laia at first but Sana manages to convince him.

The Mission

In the Commandant's office, she spots a wanted poster for her parents and realizes the woman must have killed them. Izzi the Kitchen-Girl escorts her to the kitchen where she meets Cook, a surly old lady who does not seem to like her very much. Laia receives backlashes as her first punishment for delaying Commandant's evening tea on the ninth bell. She is flogged viciously but the misery does not stop there as Marcus who happens to come across her outside of the Commandant's room later also abuses her, causing her neck to bruise.

After ten days at Blackcliff, Laia finally has something to get on with. While doing the Commandant's hair in her bedroom, Laia risks a peek or so at a letter which appears to be politically suggestive. She is given an order to deliver a red sealed letter to the couriers' office and a black sealed one to Spiro Teluman. Laia begins asking around but only to receive a cold response from Cook. Izzi who has been slightly friendlier speaks out and tells her about him. From Izzi, she learns that the Commandant uses friendship against them - if she wants to make friends she ought to keep it secret.

I'm fairly certain that if I walked into the kitchen stark-naked and squawking like a chicken, I still wouldn't get a word out of them.

–Laia frustrating the unfriendliness of Cook and Izzi.

On her way to the couriers' office, Keenan signals her to an alley leading out of the square. Laia has no choice but to show the letter to the rebels. Despite the failed first report, she is given another chance to continue her mission. Outside their hideout, Keenan gives her some basics about spying. Later that night, she tries to get some words out of Izzi but suddenly, the Commandant appears in the kitchen and orders her to go upstairs. Laia receives a severe punishment from the Commandant; a letter 'K' is carved on her chest using a dagger for breaking the letter's seal.

The next day, Laia continues her duty untended. The infection eats up her strength. She nearly collapses but luckily she comes across merciful Aspirant Veturius. She is carried back to the slave quarters and warned by Cook to stay away from the rebels. During her second visit to the Teluman's forge, she learns that Darin was his apprentice. Later that night, she overhears a conversation between the Commandant and the Nightbringer. She is shocked and eager at the same time to pass the valuable information on to the rebels. However, the Resistance has not been looking for her.

A few days later, in the couriers' office, Laia is informed that her brother is to be executed. Despite the Moon Festival tonight, she is determined to meet up with Mazen. She lets Izzi join in because she has been insisting to help her and this time, showing her a hidden way out of Blackcliff. At the Moon Festival, Laia introduces Moon Cake to Izzi. She notices a Tribesman admiring her but she does not recognize him. During the meeting, she is given another task which is to find a maneuverable entrance to the Blackcliff. Once the meeting is over, she dances with Keenan before dancing with the Tribesman.

Laia and Izzi follow the Tribesman to an alley, escaping a raid. There, she realizes that the Tribesman is actually the Commandant's son, Elias Veturius. Although she chooses to trust him over the Commandant's punishment, she silently protests and keeps the skepticism to herself. Back at the slave quarters, she receives a bloodroot serum from Elias and reluctantly pretends to be raped by him. Their act is a success but the Commandant threats her before she can leave. The next day, she is told to send a folio to Teluman. At his forge, she chances upon Afya Ara-Nur.

At the slave quarters, Laia is scolded by Cook for being affiliated with the Resistance. Hours later, instead of minding Cook's warning, Laia teams up with Izzi to find the students' secret passage out of Blackcliff. They alternate nights, spying on the Farrars and eventually, Izzi finds their secret tunnel. Just before they enter, Marcus spots Laia captures and attempts to rape her. She is saved by Elias after Izzi runs to him for help in the hallway. Laia is bedridden and moribund to the point of seeing her deceased family but she is actually sung back to life by Aspirant Aquilla.

Laia is told that the tunnel has been sealed up by the Commandant. Having nothing to offer to the Resistance during the meeting, she braces herself to ask Darin's real location and when she is told that he is in Bekkar Prison, she believes it easily because she does not really know the idea of that place and Mazen speaks with such confidence that masks his deception. Her request (to be given more time) is granted but she feels like Mazen abandons her as he quickly leaves when Sana shows up informing him of something she does not quite understand.

After the Third Trial, Laia stays in Elias's room as a winning price and safely leaves the place by dawn. She is interrogated by the Commandant and about to be punished when an Augur claims her. At the amphitheater, she is to be executed by the aspirants and when the crowds are convinced that Marcus is the one who kills her, she is told to play dead while the Augur carries her to a secluded place. Laia is brought to the Resistance's hideout by the leader of the Augurs, Cain. There, she learns that Mazen betrays her. She attacks him, holding him as a captive, threatening the Resistance to reveal Darin's exact location.

Before she realizes it, she is hit in the temple from behind by Keenan.

Elias's Freedom

Laia wakes up to find herself in a large shed and dreadfully tries to flee Keenan, thinking he might be a part of the betrayal but quickly puts her trust in him as he carefully explains the whole situation to her. Despite Keenan's offer to freedom, she forms her own plan and the first step is involving Spiro Teluman to break her cuffs. She carries Darin's scim, sneaks in the slave quarters to inform Cook and Izzi of her well-being. She tells them her plan, passes the freedom given by Keenan on to her friend, Izzi and joins Cook to make some harmless explosives as a sort of distraction.

Later that night, Laia together with Cook and Izzi spend the last hours depositing the explosives which are connected to one another in certain areas of the school. She awakes to Cook next morning telling her to gear up. At the courtyard, she hides under the execution stage. Once Cook gives her a signal from the clock tower, she lights the fuse which results in chaos throughout Blackcliff. She saves Elias in the meantime and makes him swear to guide her all the way to Kauf Prison to save her brother before heading to his room for a secret tunnel to escape Blackcliff forever.

Laia and her guide, Elias Veturius are fleeing the Empire soldiers in the catacombs of Serra. They come across an efrit in a burial chamber that passes itself off as a little girl. It demands the silver armlet from Laia and offers to help her if she gives it what it wants. When Laia refuses, the creature warns her that the Nightbringer will get the silver thing himself. Elias kills the efrit by ripping his scim through its heart.

The Scholar Resistance is revolting and explosions are destroying the catacombs. The two make their way out of the catacombs and into the streets of Serra. They are getting out of the city but they must first head to an abandoned storage building owned by Quin Veturius. There is a door in the back courtyard that leads out of the city. Elias goes in first, making sure that the coast is clear. Laia risks going after him when she receives the signal indicating that the Commandant has found them.

The two fight and escape the Commandant but Elias is poisoned. In the desert, the wraiths attack them, calling on Laia to give up her silver armlet. As Elias grows weaker by the poison, Laia takes over and they head for Raider's Roost to find a medicine for him. When she's at the roost she gets the medicine but is spotted by mercenaries. She draws one into a trap and kills him, this first kill however weighs heavy on her.

Laia and Elias make it to The Jutts and decide to rest there for the night. Laia is still tormented by her kill and Elias comforts her by saying "Laia, I am the last person who will judge you for killing in your own defense.".Laia and Elias are interrupted however by arrows flying at them. Elias blocks them and it is revealed that it was Keenan and Izzi. Laia is happy to see that both of them are safe and introduces Elias to Keenan. They both hate each other but decide to form a truce for Laia. At night Elias tells Laia to not mention that he is poisoned and Laia promises not to. Laia then goes to Keenan and tells him that Elias is just a friend and that he can be trusted but Keenan tells her that he's a Martial and the son of The Commandant and that he can't be trusted. Laia tells him about her brother's skill in Serric Steelmaking, making sure he hears it from her and by other people. Laia, Elias, Kennan, and Izzi are crossing the Serran Mountain Range and Laia tells them they should reach Nur today.

Laia is on a mission with Afya and Darin on a wagon raid. She tells us the three of them including Elias have raided 9 wagons so far but she says this raid is different. At this point, shes grow to somewhat master her invisibility and uses it to find the wagon and unlock it. When Elias doesn't come she decides that she has to do this on her own. When she walks into a house that's far from the rest of the village she finds Mamie Rila but Helene is thereto, who now replaced her name to Blood Shrike. She is interrogated by Helene but fortunately, Elias shows up and Laia immediately senses something awkward between Elias and the Blood Shrike. Elias and Helene talk for a while before Shaeva comes and takes Elias away from the village and Laia is told to run by Black Guard Harper and she runs using her invisibility. She soon makes it to Darin and Afya who camped outside the village awaiting her arrival. That night Laia and Darin hear strange noises from the forest and Laia suspects that something is wrong and goes into the Forest Of Dusk with Darin. They both find Shaeva, Elias, and the Nightbringer. Elias is pinned to a tree and Shaeva is in the air. the Nightbringer taunts Laia and Elias and kills shaeva her last words being:

One piece remains, and beware the Reaper at the Gates! The sparrows will drown, and none will know it. The past shall burn, and none will slow it. The Dead will rise, and none can survive. The Child will be bathed in blood but alive. The Pearl will crack, the cold will enter. The Butcher will break, and none will hold her. The Ghost will fall, her flesh will wither. By the Grain Moon, the King will have his answer. By the Grain Moon, the forgotten will find their master.

Shaeva then bursts into flames with a flash of bright light and then fizzles into ashes into seconds. The Nghtbringer goes up to Elias, Laia then charges at the Nightbringer but he ignores her attempts at killing him. The Nightbringer tells Elias that he will let him live and tells him that Laia tasted like "dew and a clear dawn". Then the Jinn starts to swarming Laia saying:c


Laia is described as being small in stature with black hair, brown skin, and golden eyes. She is described as being beautiful and multiple occasions.

He [Laia’s dad] gave me his unruly midnight hair and gold eyes, his high cheekbones and his full, unsmiling lips.

Laia describing herself in An Ember In The Ashes

She had a strange song, this girl, with with a fey beauty that raised the hair on the back of my neck.

Helene Aquilla about Laia, A Torch Against The Night

Fan Art


  • Laia is Catalan diminutive of "Eulalia" meaning "sweet-speaking"
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.