Laida Mabattan Character in Isles of the Lights | World Anvil
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Laida Mabattan

Laida Mabattan was an immensely influential Osup composer, playwright, performer and actress of the late classical period. Her many works (over 2000 pieces survive) are often heralded as a ‘gold standard’ for future artists to look up to, particularly the operatic compositions for which she is most known.

Early Life

Laida Mabattan was born in the relatively small, isolated town of Alef, in the north of Osupemlaba, to Pilac Mabattan and Oyuella Ahaowa. Her parents both worked as teachers at the local school, and though they were not wealthy, supported her as she began to develop an interest in music and writing. This happened at an early age- Laida was 7 when she started taking singing lessons and 10 when she was given her first 5-stringed violin, which would become one of her signature instruments. It was soon after this that she began to compose her own music, as well as performing these pieces for her family and community.
At 14 years old, Laida moved with her parents to the capital city, Lamras, due to the famine that had suddenly struck the north. Here she was surrounded by opportunities for cultural exploration and chances to prove herself. The financial situation of the family had improved, and Laida was able to afford an education at the Lamras School of the Arts. She rapidly rose through the ranks, excelling at her classes and thoroughly impressing her teachers, one of whom later wrote:
“[Mabattan] dazzled with her intuitive understanding of all things musical. The notes flowed effortlessly from her tongue and fingers; lyrics appeared in her mind fully written, and her stylus was never far from the page… Her dedication, enthusiasm and talent were unmatched and will continue to be unmatched for quite some time.”
— Mulairin Tiol, in his memoirs, 2974 AL.


During her years at school, Laida continued to write and perform her own music, quickly gathering a wide audience. She accepted a post at The Silver Orbit, a prestigious theatre, where she sang and played in the intervals between shows. Laida wanted more, however, and as soon as her schooling was complete and she had moved out of her parent’s home, she embarked on her first tour across the entirety of Osupemlaba. She was an immediate success. Her fame grew and grew, and soon there was no member of high society who had not heard of her.
During the next few years, Laida divided her time between tours, where she sang and played the violin, and her residence in Lamras. In 2791 AL., Laida received an offer from His Majesty, King Olmeniu himself, to become her sponsor and for her to join the High Court’s musicians. She considered this a great honour and gladly accepted. With this new financial security and even greater prestige, Laida was able to dedicate herself to completing her first large work, a symphony entitled simply ‘The Night’, which she dedicated both to her new sponsor and, as was the tradition, to the Gods. ‘The Night’ was performed at the royal court and greatly lauded. It was followed by the opera ‘Visiting the Fallen Tower’, which cemented her love for writing operas, plays, and musical theatre, particularly tragedies. It was her first work to require actors, and when it premiered, she played the main role of Lia, the farmer’s daughter. From this point on, Laida wrote one show after the next, almost always appearing as one of the principal actors during the initial runs. Though not all were praised as highly as others, it was very rare that serious criticism could be found.

The Magpie

‘The Magpie’ is a 4-hour long opera/musical theatre, written in 2912 AL. and widely considered to be Laida’s magnum opus. It tells the story of a fictional village called Bûn, which is playing host to a mysterious figure, known only as ‘The Magpie’, who appears in the background of a series of murders, seemingly drawn to death. Always it seems that something is slightly off, slightly wrong about the scene, as if the victim and the perpetrator never planned to be near each other, that it is all coincidence, and yet the killer always becomes just that. These scenes are narrated from the perspective of the murderer, and each time they swear The Magpie forced their hand. After each death, the mysterious figure kneels by the fallen body and places a hand on their chest, uttering the cryptic line:
“A soul that once held righteous breath here lies/ yet gone it is- away the magpie flies”
They then reach into the victim’s clothes and take out a single coin, which they place into the pocket of their cloak before turning and leaving the stage. This happens multiple times throughout the story. The villagers grow increasingly scared and upset, and begin fighting among themselves, accusing each other of secretly being behind the figure of The Magpie. Old feuds and grievances between them are revealed, and acts of sabotage committed, until the audience starts to wonder whether or not these people, including the previous victims, are really so innocent after all. The Magpie starts to show up more and more frequently, yet is never caught or unmasked by the people. Until the end of the play, that is, when, in a dramatic showdown of sorts, a large group of villagers bands together to confront them. They accuse The Magpie of plotting and forcing the deaths of their fellow citizens, and planting dark thoughts into the minds of the murderers- 'stealing' their lives and their innocence.
The last words of the play are spoken by the hooded figure, and this paragraph is one of the most widely known and quoted lines of the modern day. Even a person totally unfamiliar with the story of The Magpie will be able to recognise, and often quote entirely, these lines. They have become synonymous with a dramatic ending, with theatre, and with Laida Mabattan herself. The end of The Magpie is as follows:
"You speak of fierce and cruelly twisted minds/ that by my hand have fall'n to my designs/ and, meaning not the bloodshed that they caused,/ were surely pulled unwilling to the maw/ of corrupt hearts. You say t'was I,/ in dark cloak; skin of a magpie,/ who crept behind your closéd eyes/ and swiftly stole away that treasured prize/- your inner thoughts, so clean and free of blame-/ like so many trinkets to make me worth my name./ Fools! I ask you this (and think before you speak)-/ what did I truly clutch inside my beak?/ An untouched parchment, a pristine page?/ Or was something far worse freed from its cage?/ You say I stole your lives, your minds,/ and turned your wicked deeds to mine/ but, killers, look inside your hearts and know/ that it was never truly me who struck the blows/ I do not drive a guiltless soul to hunt,/ I do not end a guiltless life in blood./ So curse my name! But understand,/ when next you vow I steered and forced your hand-/ I take but that which is already mine!/ Now late's the day- away the magpie flies!"
Enraged by these words, the villagers rush towards The Magpie, who does not flinch. Instead, the figure reaches up and pulls off their hood. As they do so, they are briefly wrapped in tendrils of dark smoke, and transform into a large magpie, which flies out of the reach of the villagers' grasping hands, and off into the night.

Other Notable Works

Though, as mentioned, more than 2000 compositions by Laida Mabattan survive today, there are some that are even more well-known than others. A few of these appear below, along with their dates and (if applicable) their most famous or most quoted passages.
  • ‘The Night’- written in 2793 AL. As her first symphony, Laida wrote a simple but moving and delicate piece designed to echo the infinity of the night sky.
  • ‘A Starry Sky’- a tragic tale of two lovers, Yossundar and Apûl, forced apart by a war which ends up killing the latter. The title is taken from their first romantic scene, where Apûl takes Yossundar’s hand and says to him:
  • “And now do I most clearly see/ the sight that was foretold to me/ for here beneath this starry sky/ there’s nought but beauty in thine eye.”
    One of the only plays not to feature Laida in a principal role- instead, she played Samna, an unlucky background figure who falls prey to the dangers of Moonglow Fever . Written in 2900 AL.
  • ‘The Rustling of Leaves’- Laida’s second symphony after ‘The Night’, which features creative use of dynamics and is played by a surprisingly small number of instruments. Written in 2799 AL.
  • ‘Are you sure?’- a rare comedic story from 2856 AL. Laida played the role of Viltai, a cook in the kitchens of a petulant noble. Filled with slapstick comedy, nonsense rhymes, word play, and colourful costumes, this was Laida’s gift to the young son of one of her best friends. Often sung by children at play are the opening lines, which show Viltai at work:
  • “Up and over, round about, mushroom and salt and pepper and sprout, spoon and knife and fork and tray, off to send the soup away!”
  • ‘Visiting the Fallen Tower’ was Laida’s first operatic story, written in 2804, in which she played Lia, a farmer’s daughter who is tormented and eventually driven mad by visions of a broken, ruined tower, which she tries to seek out but never can. The most famous passage comes at the start of the second act, when Lia’s father asks her what is troubling her and she responds:
  • “Father, ask me not of what I see behind closed eyes,/ For my torture is a truly strange and dreadful thing:/ A tower, stricken, toppled, fallen, crumbled, broken, lies;/ and I know not what horrid doom the future now will bring./ Oh let me out into the night to seek my visions’ source!/ Although the lightning in the sky doth make the darkness day-/ I care not for the wind and rain that fly with deadly force,/ If only I behold the tow’r and know I’ve found the way!”

    Personal life and death

      Laida Mabattan never married, though she is rumoured to have had a romantic connection to Kuleion Fotla, another musician at the High Court. She passed away at the age of 238 at her residence in Lamras. The funeral was attended by most of the Court, including the King, and a great number of Laida's personal friends. Her memorial stone is set in the palace's Garden of Remembrance.
    Honorary & Occupational Titles
    Member of the High Court of Osupemlaba
    Date of Birth
    9th of Yonnan, 2752 AL.
    Date of Death
    17th of Yonneder, 2990 AL.
    2752 AL. 2990 AL. 238 years old
    Place of Death
    Dark Brown
    Instruments: Apart from her voice, Laida was famous for playing the 5-stringed violin, the flute (both reed and silver), the harp, and the metal xylophone. She also composed for a wide range of other instruments, though she herself was not proficient in them.
    Style and Legacy: Most of Laida Mabattan’s texts feature iambic meters, though trochees are used too. Laida was notable for her usage of the northern dialect during performances. Many actors and musicians work to rid themselves of their natural accent, in order to appeal to a larger audience- particularly those from the northern areas, as this sound is often stereotyped as uncultured or rude. Laida, however, chose to incorporate this dialect into her songs and writing and thereby gave it a unique flavour not found in many contemporary works. This has encouraged many younger writers to do the same, and is part of the reason for a recent resurgence of accent-filled music and theatre, even in so-called ‘polite society’. Her works are studied at most schools, and are some of the most popular pieces young musicians learn to impress their peers. Stories, and even excerpts from those stories, such as ‘The Magpie’ or ‘A Starry Sky’ have permeated the cultural consciousness and influenced many writers since.
    Her works have also spawned a few idioms, such as:
  • (after completing some difficult or important task:)'Well, away the magpie flies!'
  • (in response to someone acting ridiculous or making a statement that seems ill-advised:) 'Oh no, don't tell me you're seeing the broken tower as well!'
  • (of a relationship or a person in a relationship:) 'to end up like Apûl/ Yossundar'- to leave a relationship heartbroken, to end badly
  • Laida Mabattan in ‘The Magpie’

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    Cover image: by Duncan Sanchez
    Character Portrait image: by Hiddenworlds


    Author's Notes

    Eventually (hopefully) I will have full articles about each of the plays linked to this page!

    Please Login in order to comment!
    Jan 22, 2022 11:11

    Nice read and interesting article! You seem to have really put some thougt into it with the various plays, especially like the magpie one. The fact that she is responsible for people starting to use their own accents again is also quite interesting.

    Feel free to check my new world Terra Occidentalis if you want to see what I am up to!
    Jan 22, 2022 11:29

    Thanks for the compliments! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

    Jan 26, 2022 17:50 by Tillerz

    I really like the quotes. :)

    Jan 27, 2022 23:58 by Angantyr

    This is pure gold, truly! :D I enjoyed every bit of poetry with its neatly spun rhythms and structures. The idea of describing a piece in a paragraph then adding a famous excerpt that is quoted creates an impression of that single and intricate pattern being extrapolated to the entire play. Even if that is not the case, it paints the emotions well.   Full articles about the plays linked would be fantastic. Fingers crossed for the energy to make it happen!   Is it a coincidence that the remembered symphonies were created in her early life, while operas and plays when she was older? I cannot say for sure as there were over 2000 works, but it made me wonder if and why would she turn towards plays? Was it because she could convey stories not only through music but also words and body language? Or was there some external event that pushed her towards it?

    Playing around with words and worlds
    Jan 29, 2022 16:37

    Thank you so much!! I tried really hard on the poetry haha... Yep, fingers crossed! It's always a mystery to me when the motivation comes along. Theres's no huge deeper meaning to that- it's probably mostly due to the fact that she went on tours a lot when she was younger- out of fun, because she wanted to, and out of necessity, because she needed to keep performing to keep earning. This meant not enough time to work on longer things. Also, her education was mostly musical rather than in storytelling, so it took longer for her to get into writing more 'literary' pieces. Again, thanks for your kind words!

    Feb 8, 2022 11:58

    (Commenting again because I messed up the format) This was such a great read. The writing is clear, easy to understand–in fact, it could well be a biography of a real person on Wikipedia. Also, dates! I love articles that include them–they just make everything so much more realistic.   People have already commented on this, but the quotes are really impactful–they contrast with the more clinical tone of the rest of the text. Not to mention, the details you put into the plays deserve their own article, so I'm glad you're planning on that. 'The Magpie' and 'Visiting the Fallen Tower' are my particular favourites.   Speaking of details, mentioning the cultural impacts such as idioms and Laida's decision to keep her accent are a nice touch that adds to the sense that this was an actual person who lived and made lasting change to her world. Powerful stuff :)   Completely unrelated, but I can't help noticing that Good Omens is one of your favourite shows! <3    

      (づ。◕‿‿◕。)づ My entry for the bard challenge: Dinara Görah!

    Feb 9, 2022 20:42

    Thank you so much! I'm glad people are liking this! It's funny you mention Wikipedia- I actually looked up people like Mozart to get some ideas for the structure haha!
    Sometimes when I was writing I just kept adding more and more quotes so it's good they are well-received! I will definitely be working on extra articles for the plays at some point, though I'm not sure when. And yeah, I liked the idea of idioms and such being based off a well-known piece of literature, or a section. An inspiration for that was the 'To be or not to be' soliloquy- not technically an idiom, but you know what I mean.
    Yup, love me some Good Omens! I'm looking forward to the second season ; )

    Feb 11, 2022 03:44

    I love the detail about the music she wrote! It makes this feel so real. I wish I could hear some of the music.

    If you're seeing this, I may have used your article for my 2023 Reading Challenge.
    Feb 12, 2022 11:42

    Thanks! And trust me, if I were any good at music I would try to write some to fit the lyrics, but I'm really not haha

    Feb 12, 2022 14:49

    Thanks for this, it was a joy to read. So much details even on the way she performed her works (iambic meters). I hope her memorial stone mimics her life and her works. :)

    You wanna see what we did for the last events? Go, click here: Eddies Major Events
    Feb 12, 2022 15:09

    Her memorial stone has a lot written on it, that's for sure :)

    Feb 16, 2022 16:56 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

    Nice character! I really love the poetry you wrote :D   She was really prolific and had a very successful career at court! Was she also well appreciated by everyone, or were they people who were jealous of her, maybe spreading rumours etc?

    Feb 16, 2022 19:58

    (Reposting comment bc of a mistake) Thanks for the comment! There were a few rumours, and many who tried to emulate her, but on average she enjoyed success pretty much everywhere!

    Feb 18, 2022 19:36

    The poetry here really works for me, especially the Magpie. It's also interesting that she chose to act herself in smaller roles sometimes - a very fascinating quirk, which is in line with her strong artistic vision (as seen by her refusal to adapt her accent just to be popular). This was fun to read!

    If you have some time, I would much appreciate your feedback on my entry for Adventure April: Carbon Copy Paradise
    Feb 19, 2022 13:16

    Thank you! I'm glad that came across properly!