Laylani is the name given to the Elf of Deep Shadow by Eric Sturgg. Known by her proper name as LeLayhilani, she is the herald of the end times. Set loose on the King’s Realm to gather the twelve decedents of legendary heroes who long before prevented the world from falling to ruin, LeLayhilani is tasked with delivering a simple but terrible message.
The end is at hand. You will play your part. There is no escape.
Even as she speaks those words and reveals terrible visions to her charges, LeLayhilani knows they are not entirely true. She knows a terrible secret that threatens the very sanctity of her task: She is not the true herald.
It was in truth LeLayhilani’s sister who was fated to be the herald of the end times. Knowing that her sister was not strong enough to shoulder the burden of self-destruction that her task would require of the herald, LeLayhilani forcefully stole the responsibilities for herself. She knew that the creature they faced had no limits to its hunger, that it was a relentless foe who was already attempting to circumvent the natural order. To protect her charges, she must be willing to delve into the darkest magics at the cost of her own life and perhaps at the cost of her soul. LeLayhilani was willing to do all this and more. She would match the dark resolve of Envy with her own will. She would not fail.
Her encounter with Eric Sturgg in the streets of Britania was the first clue that something had indeed changed. The wheel of fate was on tilt. Outcomes were no longer certain. It was a spark of hope that she would not have to face the coming storm alone.
The meeting was fated and despite her loss to the Templar, the fact that these two souls had found one another in the shadows of life had great meaning to the elf. Renewed in her faith, LeLayhilani looked into the soul of Eric and found that his emptiness reflected her own. Together they would find answers. Together they would find the meaning in life.
Minor spoilers ahead:
Perhaps not so many spoilers this time around. Laylani, aside from being an interesting character, is also a pair of fresh eyes for evaluating the world in which these characters exist. Human ways of living are foreign to her. Concepts such as machinery, buildings, and basic polite human interaction escape her. As a writer, Laylani allows me some freedom to explain things to both her and the reader. I try to avoid making it blunt and instead go for amusing most of the time.
A good example of this is her first encounter with a ‘Copter. Laylani points and looks out the windows like an excited child. It’s a natural response but also allows me to explain what these machines look like and feel like in context.
She is also a point of mystery in the book. Her knowledge of things to come is significant but the readers will not recognize immediately that it is also incomplete. She knows enough to complete her task but the larger scope of the threat is almost beyond her.
Laylani is something of an exotic ambassador of the larger world these characters exist in. Her very presence hints at a whole other culture and people. She talks of others like her who know about the rising threats around them and of a lost history between humanity and her people. She is also a more than capable match for Eric and most every fighter in the story. At this point in the description, it occurs to me to mention the fact that she is very much not a “Mary Sue”.
Laylani is plagued by doubt, fearful that her choices have began a chain reaction of events that will ultimately culminate in failure for herself and her people. She has chosen a path that will almost certainly lead to her death. Her weakness is shown clearly in that while she is willing to stand alone in the world, she knows it will not be enough.