Name: Lila Hadd (LEE-lah HAAHD) (née Jeim)
Age: 33 (at the start of Goda’s Slave)
Native Tongue: Modern Southern Outerlander, though she also speaks Middlelander, Northern Outerlander, Upperlander, and a few others with varying degrees of fluency.
She is a bureaucrat in the complex web of Middlelander government processes–an unusual position for an Outerlander–and specializes in placing foreign slaves (and other kinds of foreign workers) where they are most needed.
Lila was born out of wedlock to a pair of young Outerlanders, and as a result she was raised by her grandparents. Wanting what was best for her, her well-connected grandfather saw to it that she was educated in the Middlelander language and had access to opportunities in the Middleland, even against her parents’ objections (who viewed the Middlelanders as encroaching enemies).
In her late teens, Lila was hired as a nomadic tutor by the central government as part of a program to educate Outerland peasants. For many years, she taught the Middlelander language, spread Middlelander propaganda, and did her part to inject Middlelander cultural norms into Outerland tribal society. She also participated in mass religious conversions of the desert people, having officially converted to the Cult of Mahara in her early 20’s herself. (She was originally born into one of numerous animist Outerland religions, but gave it up for reasons of professional advancement; Middlelanders are hugely loyal to their state religion and view other belief systems with great suspicion.)
In spite of all this, she did not actually come to live in the Middleland until she was moved to a bureaucratic position by the government in her late 20’s. Finally able to immerse herself in the Middleland way of life, Lila was culture shocked, as she found society’s norms to be completely different from the propaganda espoused by the government on paper. Both disillusioned and curious, she found herself more and more torn between worlds, especially as some of her own countrymen came to view her as a cultural traitor.
Lila is a witch and a member of the Flower Cult, having converted shortly after joining the Cult of Mahara. Since these loyalties are diametrically opposed, she spent much of her young adulthood attempting to resolve the inner contradiction, until she consumed Flower for the first time, through the excretions of a vessel and had an experience of intense oneness that unified all her principles.
Like Kanna Rava, Lila can swallow and dissolve “snakes,” as well as give birth to self-similar snakes. When she mates with a being of opposite polarity (someone who has primarily masculine energy, for example), she can heal spiritual fractures (in both self and other) by giving birth to hybrid snakes. Snakes that feature mixed energy can help collapse dualities; she uses them strategically.
All of this is considered blasphemous in the Maharan religion, so Lila is discreet about her activities.
Lila has light hair, hazel eyes, and olive skin. She is only slightly taller than Kanna, though a bit more thickly framed. Being a Southern Outerlander, she is the result of a mix of various cultures and has the most diverse genetic background of all major characters.
Lila is close friends with Goda Brahm, whom she met in a desert village during one of her long-term teaching assignments. Goda, disoriented and having run out of yaw, became violent with villagers. Lila was sent to diffuse the situation because she was the only one who could fluently speak Goda’s language. This resulted in a years-long friendship and a shared subversive political agenda, which they act on through a covert partnership.
Over time, Lila noticed that young Goda had developed romantic feelings for her, which she reciprocated to a degree, but chose to ignore, as she felt that the age gap at the time was too wide. (They met when Goda was around 20 and Lila was 28.) She also surmised (correctly) that Goda’s feelings were laced with transference: Lila clearly reminded Goda of Taga. Sensing that Goda was unconsciously attempting to heal her trauma by seeking meaning through the affections of an older woman, Lila avoided reinforcing this unhealthy dynamic.
Less than two years prior to the events of Goda’s Slave, Lila married Jaya Hadd, a Middlelander who lives in the desert (and whom she met indirectly through her friendship with Goda, Jaya’s ex-betrothed). Because Lila is an Outerlander, she chose her spouse in accordance with the Outerlander cultural norm of marrying someone physically attractive to her, which indirectly led to a conflict of expectations in her marriage. Middlelanders typically marry instead for financial and social reasons, and so they prefer not to be physically or romantically attracted to their spouses.
Because sleeping with one’s own wife is viewed as low class by (especially Southern) Middlelanders, Lila’s wife Jaya outwardly denies any personal affection between them. However, Lila reveals much later in Goda’s Slave that she is in fact having a secret affair with her own wife, which Kanna finds ridiculous.
Because most of Jaya’s family members are racist towards Outerlanders (and were against the marriage), Lila rarely speaks with them. Though Lila actually lives in the same city (Suda) as her wife’s identical twin, they do not get along and ignore each other in public.
Adopting the Middlelander custom, Lila keeps multiple partners, mostly coworkers and neighbors. Kanna increasingly suspects that Lila is romantically involved with Eyan Mah, the head engineer in Suda, whom Kanna hates, but Lila playfully refuses to answer any questions about it.
Besides Kanna Rava, Lila is the only other gay character in Goda’s Slave, the rest being pansexual and panromantic. 🍳 🍞
Other Random Facts
Like the vast majority of Outerlanders, Lila is intolerant to yaw root and cannot consume it long-term without negative effects. This presented a problem for her upon moving to the Middleland, as yaw is a ubiquitous staple food that the Middlelanders gorge on almost to the exclusion of any other nourishment. (In fact, the Middleland government provides a basic food ration to all residents of the Middleland in the form of yaw.)
As a result, Lila subsists on mok, fruits, and cheeses that she buys from merchants who import into the Middleland, and occasionally insects grown by local farmers who have not used yaw as feed. (Middlelanders do not typically farm large mammals.) She also has a small food garden in her backyard planted by Goda Brahm that serves some of these needs.