The Verdant Passage
Zaidah is a maelstrom of contradictions, even more so than most women. More often than not her mind seems to be elsewhere and she can frequently be caught carrying on conversations with people dead, distant or imaginary. In spite of this, you get the impression that she is more aware of her present surroundings and circumstances than such a preoccupation would indicate. She is generally very cheerful in aspect. Perhaps the joys of freedom after captivity are so great she cannot contain them. Or perhaps she just keeps those memories and the pain associated with them behind psychic doors, locked and barred.
She can be both trusting and suspicious, often without cause, changing from one to the other in the span of a breath. After spending enough time with her it would not surprise you to see her walk towards a dangerous beast, totally without fear or glare menacingly at a rock, insisting it was plotting against her. However, her actions are almost impossible to predict. Some days she is perfectly lucid and friendly. Some days she is skittish and strange.
In her own words:
“Me? Why are they wanting to know about me?” She suddenly pierces you with a suspicious look. "Did Hazor send you? No, no! We’re not there anymore. Remember..? Yes. Yes.
“Well then,” she sits and smooths her skirts around her. “Nora was always the pretty one. That’s why that coward chose her. I was there working with her in the market that day, but he didn’t see me. Or was that a dream? I can’t remember. Either way I already knew when she told me about her… change of station. No, not at all betrayed. Not at all abandoned. Not at all lonely was I. I still had Mother and Father.”
She gets a far off look in her eyes and seems to be totally unaware of your presence for several minutes. When she speaks her voice is hollow, her eyes not only dry but totally vacant. "And then came blood and fire… and Death walking… " She refocuses on you, returning to the present. “Then it was just me.” She adds, almost off-hand as if discussing a child’s progress in her studies, “they died better than some.”
She bursts out laughing, a laugh that borders somewhere between relief and hysteria, a laugh that ends in choked sobs and her face in her hands as she struggles to shove the thoughts back into the little box inside her head where she keeps them.
“I did what I had to do to survive, just like you.” She leans forward, urgent and insisting. “Don’t let them tell you that I did it for fun. My gift saved me, but I never wanted to hurt those people. Faster, faster! I tried to learn as fast as I could so I wouldn’t have to hurt them, so I could just unlocked their heads and take what I had to take. But my wishes don’t have wings. I didn’t want to hurt them. I didn’t want to hear the screams and scrub the scent of fear from my clothes. I just wanted to live.”
She takes deep breaths to calm herself. Finally, when she is settled again she looked at you and smiles sadly. “And then you came.”