Played By: Lisa Mork
Character Name: Umm Haidar
Full Name: Umm Haidar Atifa Bint Baqi Al Mo’alej Al Saresh
Translation: Mother of Hadir, Atifa, Daughter of Faraj, the healer, of Saresh
HAIDAR حيدر m Arabic
Means “lion” in Arabic
ATIFA عاطفه f Arabic
Feminine form of ATIF Means “affection, kindness” in Arabic.
BAQI باقي m Arabic
Means “eternal” in Arabic. This was the pen name of a 16th-century Turkish poet.
Occupation: Mercenary healer
Religious Zealot (of Mahsai)
Strongly believes in the sanctity of life
Willing to heal all
Backstory: What are you searching for? Have you ever really thought about it? You have spent your whole life chasing experience. Why? You can use the experience you gain to better yourself if you try, but is that your goal? Are you merely trying to amass skill, wealth, and power? Like some sort of parasite, competing with the rest of your kind to see who can be the fattest, while your host languishes under the combined weight of you and your ilk.
I know my answer. Peace. Not the peace of nations, or two people settling a feud. I care nothing for the pains of others. Inner peace is my aim. The peace of balance, of stillness, that lets your living mind feel the silence of the grave. I am no tick to take the life blood of those around me for my own uses. I must make my own spiritual sustenance, for I will be eternal.
I remember when our King rose again. I recall the terror when he ordered the gates opened, and the confusion when we were not killed. The Penitent walked through the city as if they were on parade, they looked so proud. I still sometimes wonder if they thought they had conquered us. The undead merely walked. Corpses (even walking ones) have no need for pride although it could just be that they knew the truth. I was still a girl when the gates were opened, but I had lived my whole life trying to conquer my fear of the undead and their followers. When I was suddenly confronted with the reality of living side by side with my nightmares and the worst did not come to pass, I was forced to look at the “enemy” in a new light.
The Undead were not what I expected. They were gruesome, sure, but they just didn’t do very much. Most of the time they were just still. I was surprised to learn that despite their formidable power and martial prowess they are actually quite fragile. Most of the times that I did see them moving they were engaged in activities to preserve their bodies. The Undead with flesh did things like stitching together cuts and oiling their skin like I would care for leather armor. Those without would pad their joints with leather to prevent the bones from wearing. They seemed particularly concerned with preventing rot, I imagine they found the dry desert air of Saresh comforting.
It turned out that the real monsters were the Penitent. I am not sure if they felt entitled, were stupid, or had just never spent time in civilization. Within the May’Kar Dominion, everything has a price and nothing is free. I remember on that first day when the gates were open, seeing a group Penitent arguing with an innkeeper about having to pay for a room. One of them became so enraged at the idea of having to pay, they struck the innkeeper. A passing lesser Undead shambled over, and the group of Penitent started to grin. I suspect that they thought they were about to see a show, it turned out that they were right. The lesser Undead grabbed the hand that had hit the innkeeper, pulled it and the arm from the Penitent and beat him with his own arm till he stopped moving. Then it just walked away as if it had been window shopping and decided the price was too high on the item it was looking at. I had thought that the lesson was clear, that violence against the May’Kar would not be tolerated. I was wrong. The next morning the innkeeper was found on the spot the Penitent had fallen, her body parts had been “cleverly” rearranged to form the distinctive teardrops that the Penitent had tattooed on their cheeks. The real lesson was that violence against the May’Kar would not be seen… I knew many people who tried to leave Saresh for the villages or even the other nations, but every time someone would try to leave there would be “tears” on the road when the gates were opened in the morning. While we were no longer under siege from without, the siege from within was much worse.
It wasn’t long before the Vandregonians came and it was not just us that were trapped within the walls of Saresh. The Penitent numbers quickly dwindled since they seemed to prefer fighting the Vandregonians head on to letting the desert do the fighting for them. Perhaps they were bored. Perhaps they had something to prove. Perhaps they just didn’t understand the patience required to weather a siege. I was almost happy. The Vandregonians laid siege to Saresh for 17 years before they finally broke us as a people. I don’t know how they broke our walls. My husband and I had found a way out of the city before it fell, but that isn’t the part that matters anyways. What matters is what the barbarians did once we were defeated. They lined my people up and asked them if they would fight to stop the Penitent and their undead gods. As if they didn’t know that we follow Mashi… I wonder if they phrased the question that way on purpose. I could almost overlook the genocide, if it weren’t for Saresh itself. You would think that it would be enough to destroy our people and scatter us, but no. They burned Saresh and toppled anything that was left. They destroyed our libraries, poisoned the wells, and desecrated the statues of the gods. The Vandregonians made sure that we could never rebuild the glory of the city that was heaven on earth.
After Saresh fell everything was different. I was 25 and on the run with my husband through the great forests trying to find a safe place. It was the first time I had been outside the walls of Saresh and the outside world may as well have been another planet for all I knew of it. It was years, and a lifetime, before we found ourselves on a ship bound for Mardrun. By that time we had found other May’Kar and it almost felt like we had a real family again. All of us were infatuated with the idea of saving our culture from annihilation. We decided to settle in secret far away from the other human colonies, and to try and rebuild the best we could from memory.