He is from a culture that prides itself on its hardiness, having survived a harsh desert/steppes environment. He definitely has an edge of dark humor to him but he hasn't yet told me why. Something in his past has left him sardonic. When he lets me know, I'll pass it along.
I'm really enjoying plotting out this story and have some ideas for a chunk of the middle, when Zev's and Lilliane's plot lines intersect.
A snippet from Zev's POV:
Zev woke to a strangeness that was no less alien than his dreamscape. But he had no doubt that he was truly awake now. Gone was the white woman who had touched him with gentle hands and left him in agony. There was pain, but not the searing that had nearly delivered him to a dishonorable death.
He was in some sort of hospital or holding room. The physical results of healing or interrogation weren’t all that different and blood was blood, no matter how it was shed. Bare stone walls were easier to clean.
He had no memory of getting here. Reaching for his prayer beads, his hand came up against the short length of chain that connected iron shackle to cot. Prisoner. That much wasn’t a dream.
“So, you live.”
A rumbling voice came from behind his head. Tisree badly spoken with a thick Eastern accent told Zev where he was. Rimland. The city of Naleth. The last thing Zev remembered with any clarity was entering Naleth on the night of the new moon. It wasn’t a stretch to say that something had gone terribly wrong. So why was he so calm?
“I demand to see my ambassador.” He spoke slowly, but in his native Tisree. No reason to let his captors know he spoke fluent Rimesh. Zev’s voice held none of its usual authority. His throat burned and not just with thirst. Screaming could do that.
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible.”
Zev wasn’t surprised. He smiled, wincing briefly as the movement opened barely sealed cracks on his lips. “Guild hospitality is everything I’d been told to expect.”
The backhand blow across his cheek didn’t surprise him either. Pain bloomed in his jaw, igniting a fierce throbbing in his head. His stomach rebelled against a wave of nausea and the dry heaves only made his skull pound harder. Then it was as if a window opened in his mind; the pain blown before a cleansing wind. The sensation was still there, but in the distance, leaving him calm and clear headed.
“That was unexpected,” he thought.
“What was your mission, Tisreen?”
Zev fought the urge to laugh. Even if he could remember, he knew he’d never divulge it. This Rimlander surely knew that as well. “You may as well kill me now.” Zev swallowed blood. He must’ve bitten his tongue. “I have nothing to tell you.”
A gift from the Divine. As was this strange disconnection from his maimed body. Zev closed his eyes and whispered a prayer of thanks. He had not failed in his devotion. He would not die unredeemed.
The new pain, when it ripped into his concentration, felt like the jaws of some wild beast clamped on his arm. A scream echoed in the stone room. His voice. His scream. Again, the agony burned out, leaving only what was bearable. It didn’t matter. He would be in the desert soon.
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