|“||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 of Serra is a Scholar living with her grandparents and older brother Darin. They eke out an existence in the Martial Empire's impoverished backstreets, trying their best not to draw attention to themselves.
Laia is deeply loyal to her family and friends, and compassionate toward others, often to her own detriment. Even in the most dire situations she's unwilling to abandon people in need. She has a strong sense of justice, shows defiance against corrupt authority figures, and will risk her life if she feels it's the right thing to do. Once she puts her mind to a mission, she's determined to see it through. As a spy she develops a talent for lying and manipulation, especially when dealing with dangerous people.
Laia is small in stature and about five feet six inches tall. She has black hair, golden brown skin, high cheekbones, full lips, and golden eyes with flecks of green, brown and gray. She is described as being beautiful and having a curvaceous figure on multiple occasions. She is said to have inherited her looks from her father Jahan.
|This page may contain spoilers! Do not proceed unless you wish to be spoiled.|
Laia is a seventeen-year-old Scholar girl living in Serra with her grandparents and her brother Darin. She is the daughter of the famous leaders of the Scholar Resistance, who were murdered by the Empire, along with her older sister Lis. Her family now tries to stay away from the Empire's notice. Laia is unique because she knows how to read, which is forbidden for Scholars under Martial laws.
Laia is pretending to be asleep when her brother Darin comes home late at night. She knows he’s up to something and is worried about him. She learns that he is wanted by the Empire when Masks attack their house in the middle of the night. The Masks kill their grandparents, Nan and Pop. When the Masks capture Darin, he yells at Laia to flee and she escapes as their house is set on fire and Darin is arrested.
Laia runs through the Scholar’s Quarter, convincing herself that the only way to save Darin is to find the Resistance. She knows they are often in the catacombs below Serra, so she enters the tunnels. She spends the whole day searching for the Resistance. Just when she is losing hope, she encounters a group of armed people who she realizes are member of the Resistance. She is hauled to their hideout by two members named Keenan and Sana, to meet their leader, Mazen.
At first Mazen refuses to help her, until Laia reveals who her parents were. Reluctantly, Mazen informs Laia that they will help her free her brother, but she must do something for them in return. She is given a mission to spy on the Commandant and learn everything possible about the Trials. Laia agrees. That evening Keenan and Sana take her to a Resistance operative who is a slave trader. The man rejects Laia at first, but Sana manages to convince him. The man sells Laia to the Blackcliff slave provider who presents to the Commandant.
In the Commandant’s office she is instructed to look at the wall behind the Commandant’s desk. It is covered with wanted posters of Resistance members she has captured, including Laia’s parents. Laia had never known who had killed her parents and is shocked. Afterward, Izzi, the kitchen girl, takes Laia to the kitchen where she meets Cook, a surly older woman who does not seem to like Laia very much. When Laia is late delivering the Commandant her tea, she is given four lashes with a whip.
After ten days at Blackcliff, Laia knows she must find something for the Resistance. While doing the Commandant’s hair in her bedroom, Laia risks a peek at the letter the Commandant is reading. It seems to have something to do with the Emperor. The Commandant orders Laia to deliver a letter to the couriers’ office and another to Spiro Teluman. The Commandant then tells Laia to make friends. Laia asks Cook and Izzi why the Commandant would ask her to make friends. Izzi explains that the Commandant uses friendship against people, and if Laia wants to make friends, she should keep it secret.
On her way to the couriers’ office, Keenan signals Laia to come to an alley leading out of the main square. Laia reluctantly gives Mazen the letter for the couriers’ office. The information inside is useless. Despite the failed first attempt, Laia is given another chance to get information. As they leave the hideout, Keenan gives Laia some basic advice about spying. Later that night, Laia is punished by the Commandant for opening the letter. She slowly and painfully carves a letter K on Laia’s chest.
The next day, Laia attempts to continue her duties, but the wound is infected and begins eating up her strength. She nearly collapses on the sand dunes outside the Commandant’s house, but luckily Elias Veturius sees her and carries her back to be treated by Cook. Elias then promises to bring Laia a bloodroot serum that will cure her infection that slaves are not allowed to have.
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 cakes 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 Elias. 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 Marcus and Zak, 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 Helene 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.
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 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 Elias 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, 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 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 telling her that he is the last person who would judge her for killing in self-defense. They are interrupted by arrows flying at them. Elias blocks them and it is revealed that it is Keenan and Izzi. Laia is happy to see that both of them are safe and introduces Elias to Keenan. The two boys instantly hate each other. Keenan wants to leave Elias behind and find a safe place to leave Izzi so that he can get Laia to Kauf by himself. However, Laia will not leave Elias behind and Izzi refuses to be left behind as well. That night Elias tells Laia not to mention to Keenan and Izzi that he is poisoned and Laia promises not to. Laia goes to speak with Keenan who implores her again to leave Elias and Izzi behind. Laia refuses to do so. She tells him about her brother's knowledge of Serric steelmaking, wanting him to know from her how valuable Darin is. Laia, Elias, Izzi, and Keenan journey to Nur to find Afya Ara-Nur.
Laia and Darin have been working with Afya Ara-Nur and her tribe for the last two months freeing prisoners. They have helped to free more than four hundred Scholars and Tribesmen. They are on a mission now to free Mamie Rila and her tribe. This raid feels different than the others but is too important to abandon. The Martial village they are near has been evacuated for unknown reasons. Elias is supposed to join them to help, but he is late. Laia has been practicing her invisibility and uses it to unlock the wagons. Mamie Rila is not in the wagons. Her son Shan says the soldiers took her when they stopped for the night. Upon entering the village, Laia finds Mamie Rila in a cottage. She is tied to a chair. As she moves towards her, a hand locks around her mouth and her arms are wrenched behind her back. She is interrogated by Helene, when Elias finally arrives. Elias convinces Helene to let Mamie Rila go. Before he can finish talking to Helene, Shaeva arrives and takes Elias away. Laia reveals what is going on with Elias to Helene. Before Helene can do anything, Avitas Harper unties her hands and tells her to run.
Upon returning to their cabin, she finds Darin and Afya anxiously waiting for her. Afya says her good-byes and departs with her Tribe. That night Laia and Darin hear strange noises from the Forest and Laia suspects that something is wrong. She and Darin go into the Forest, even though humans are not supposed to. They find Shaeva, Elias, and the Nightbringer. Elias is pinned to a tree and Shaeva is floating in the air due to the magic of the Nightbringer. The Nightbringer kills Shaeva. As she dies, Shaeva gives one final prophecy: “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.” She then bursts into flames with a flash of bright light and fizzles into ashes within seconds. As the Nightbringer approaches Elias, Laia charges him. The Nightbringer tells Elias that he is alive only because he lets him live and that Laia tasted like “dew and a clear dawn.” He then leaves.
Laia is frustrated with Darin because he refuses to make Serric steel weapons for the Scholars, despite the genocide raining down on them from the Commandant. In the streets of Adisa she hears the children talking about her and the story she told Musa and his visitors. She hears the Kehanni of Tribe Nasur telling a story on the streets of Adisa and realizes that the Kehannis' stories contain history in them and light hold the understanding she seeks about the Nightbringer.
In the book A'vni gives her from the Great Library, Laia learns of a foretelling. "The blood of the father and the blood of the son are harbingers of darkness. The King shall light the Butcher's path, and when the Butcher bows to the deepest love of all, night approaches. Only the Ghost may stand against the onslaught. Should the Lioness's heir claim the Butcher's pride, it will evanesce, and the blood of seven generations shall pass from the earth before the King may seek vengeance again."
The jinn show Laia the truth about her mother, revealing that she is Cook. They repeatedly force her to watch her mother kill her sister and father and then be tortured by Keris. Their goal is make Laia hopeless. Elias rescues her from the jinn and helps her come back to herself. Laia travels to the village of Myrtium to meet Musa's contact. She discovers that the contact is Cook. Laia realizes that the Nightbringer and the jinn purposely revealed the truth about her mother when they did because they knew she was about to be confronted with her.
During the Battle of Antium, Laia helps Livia give birth to her son.
While traveling with Elias, Laia learns from Rehmat that she can communicate telepathically with Darin. Suddenly she is attacked by wraiths. More than fifty trap her in the River Dusk. When the wraiths touch her, she sees an image of the Sea of Suffering. Elias forces them to leave. Once they reach safety, Laia tries to tell Elias that something is wrong. She attempts to reach him by telling him that perhaps the Nightbringer is the reason there are so few ghosts to pass on. Elias remains unconvinced it is his problem. Laia at first thinks Musa has arrived as she is supposed to be meeting him, and Elias leaves. But then she realizes it is not Musa, it is the jinn.
Laia decides to train to become the next Kehanni of Tribe Saif, training with Mamie Rila. This will allow her to uphold her vow to tell the story of the Nightbringer. Elias proposes to her and they plan on returning to Serra.
Laia has the power of invisibility. However, her power is nullified when she is near the Nightbringer. After Rehmat is wakened in Laia, her powers are stronger. She can now hide herself as well as others, and she is not as weakened by the presence of the Nightbringer. She is also able to communicate telepathically with Darin because they share the same blood.
Elias and Laia initially bond over their lack of parents. Laia likes who she is with Elias. He makes her feel braver, stronger, and unafraid. She describes the version of her that is with Elias as burning the brightest.
Laia and Helene do not like each other upon meeting. They are on opposite sides of their society, and they both have feelings for Elias. Helene grows jealous when she sees Elias' growing affection for Laia. Laia even thinks Helene is going to kill her when she's in her sickbed dying from Marcus' assault, but Helene heals her instead.
After the Battle of Antium, Helene and Laia become allies and friends. Helene teaches Laia how to fight, hand-to-hand combat, and how to shoot a bow. Helene also attempts to teach Laia how to understand the Maritals' drum messages. They help each other deal with their grief as they both lost their parents and sister.
Keenan manipulates Laia into falling in love with him by preying on her loneliness. He seems to be doing something to Laia's emotions and mental state. He makes her doubt herself in order to make her feel weak and alone. He convinces her that all the bad things that have happened are her fault and that she should let him make the decisions going forward. The more she listens to Keenan, the more Laia feels weaker and diminished mentally. Keenan seems to be able to change her thoughts, especially when she thinks of Elias or wonders what is happening to her mental health and sense of identity. After sleeping with Keenan on their way to Kauf Prison, Laia feels confused. She thinks it's not quite regret, but it's not happiness either. Being with him was "heady, intoxicating, and filled with an unexpected depth of emotion." She wonders if this is what love is supposed to feel like.
- Laia is a Catalan diminutive of Eulalia meaning "sweet-speaking."
- Laia has always had a perfect sense of direction, even when underground.