Six years ago Marena awoke in Ardath's arms, having no memory of her past. She now works as the shop's cleaning lady.
Marena is a tall, skinny girl with dark curly hair and dark brown eyes. As is common among Zantines, she has dun-colored skin and a square jaw with thick eyebrows and full lips. She typically dresses plainly in comfortable "work clothes" but will endeavor to look nice for special occasions. Unlike the average young Amarnan, she has a strong sense of modesty and would never be caught dead in a revealing outfit. Her favorite color is periwinkle blue; she painted the walls of her room this shade.
Due to her amnesia, Marena at one point possessed a childlike innocence, though her experiences in the years since her awakening have put a dent in this. Ardath was able to shelter her for a time, but eventually the cruelties of the world punctured the illusion. Where once she was naively trusting and ignorant, she is now timid and fearful. Her manners and modesty are the result of a newfound sense of caution.
In many ways, she has the emotional maturity of a five year old child - after all, that is as far back as her memory stretches. Her ideas about the world and other people come across as simplistic and a little strange. She is terrified of simply leaving the house alone and relies heavily on Ardath. She longs to find her parents out of a superficial desire for protection, guidance, and security. The role which her mother and father fulfilled in her life is one that Ardath cannot occupy, and due to his upbringing as an orphan, he can't fully understand why she needs her parents in her life.
While she loves Ardath as a true friend, she is not capable of mature, romantic love. Even when she becomes aware of their marriage, she doesn't know how to be a wife to him.
She thinks of herself as pathetic and wants to be more independent, but she can't get over the obstacles responsible for her anxieties. Her suspicions and frustration with Ardath over his keeping secrets from her is at odds with her childish need to blindly love and follow him, since he is the closest thing to a parent she has. Her amnesia has left her incomplete as a person, a loss she feels keenly every day.
Despite this, she is intelligent and resourceful, and she isn't totally spineless. She simply needs to gain more confidence in herself.
Born in 143 AYZ in Kynaston, the former capital of Zantium, Marena Isolde Roland is the only child of Marcus and Lygia Roland, both members of the Zantine nobility. Marcus was a paladin purportedly descended from King Peredur, and Lygia was the eldest daughter of a lower house. The family was fairly well-off and lived in a white house by the sea. The walls of Marena's childhood bedroom were painted with elaborate and colorful scenes from their culture's mythology.
When Marena was seven years old, her family was forced to flee Zantium as the Iskirrans invaded. They wandered for three years, never staying in one place for very long. Accompanying them was Marcus' friend and fellow paladin, Rhys Sioned, until he was killed during a fight in Neroga.
Following this incident, Lygia convinced her husband to take them to the city of Amarna, where her sister Livia had settled many years earlier. Marcus was reluctant to go due to the nature of Livia's displacement - she had been banished from Zantium when she was sixteen years old for practicing witchcraft - and because of the liberal, vulgar attitudes common among Amarnans.
Upon their arrival in Amarna, they found Livia operating a magic shop. The family's relationship with Livia was immediately strained, but she allowed them to live with her, provided they moved out within a year.
Each of the Rolands took jobs in the city, but they were unable to meet the deadline. Livia still permitted them to stay, although by then she had other motives - namely, she wanted to groom Marena to become her successor and take ownership of the shop. Marena's parents opposed this and Marcus sought to tutor his daughter in the ways of Zantine Akhenism, which forbade magic.
As she entered her teen years, Marena befriended Ardath, a street urchin whom Livia had cared for since he was a baby. The two eventually fell in love, but their romance was met with opposition from both Marena's parents and her aunt. Livia scorned Marena's dreams of marriage and family as they would impede her plans for the girl, while Lygia and Marcus believed Ardath was a bad influence on their daughter. The situation sparked an explosive argument in which Livia revealed Ardath's true origins as an unwanted child whom she had tried to kill before he was even born.
In tears, Ardath ran away. Marena followed him, comforted him, and convinced him to come home. When they returned, Marcus gave their union his blessing on the condition that they marry in a traditional Zantine ceremony. This required Ardath to sever any ties he had with Livia and find a new family so as to avoid any implications of incest. He convinced his childhood friend, Malachi Dastagir, to adopt him as his "brother", fulfilling the requirements of Zantine law and gaining the surname Dastagir. He also chose the middle name Esra, as was the Zantine tradition.
After the wedding, Marena rapidly became estranged from her family. Under Ardath's influence, she developed an interest in the occult and was on the path to becoming a magician.
In 160, less than a year after their wedding, a plague epidemic struck Amarna. Marena's aunt and mother were among those who succumbed to the sickness. Marcus left the city and moved into the desert. He advised Ardath and Marena to do the same, but Marena was separated from Ardath during a chaotic quarantine. Trapped behind the barriers, Marena fell ill and died. Her remains were burned and the ashes were dumped in a pile with other plague victims.
Sometime in 163, Marena's restored body washed ashore, awaking in Ardath's arms. Having no memory, she had to be taught to walk, talk, and take care of herself. For the first three years after her resurrection, Ardath kept her within the confines of the first floor of the shop with the curtains drawn and the doors locked.
Eventually, Marena began questioning her origins and the circumstances surrounding her memory loss. Ardath was reluctant to answer, as speaking about her past tended to cause Marena intense headaches. While cleaning the back room of the shop, she discovered a family tree which revealed the names of her parents. This knowledge gave her a headache and she fell unconscious, hitting her head. After this incident, Ardath convinced her to stop looking for answers and hid or destroyed the family tree.
Six years after her awakening, Ardath decided to visit an old friend of his, Malachi, who lived on a ranch out west. He left Marena alone at the shop while he was gone, as Malachi had known her before her memory loss and bringing her along would cause too many complications. He did, however, leave his tarot deck in her keeping.
Some time after Ardath left, the shop was broken into and Marena was abducted. With her head covered by a black cloth, she was carried to a dungeon, where she was imprisoned.
While reading the cards, Marena heard a voice telling her what to say. The queen was unimpressed by the results of the reading, but revealed that the ghost of her husband had come to her in a dream and mentioned Marena and Ardath by name. She was determined to figure out the mystery of her husband's murder, as no one was ever punished and their one suspect, Selca Ducani, escaped custody.
Marena was taken to a prison cell, where she was to be held as bait to lure Ardath once he returned. With no way of escaping, Marena resigned herself to her fate. A servant eventually entered her cell with a tray of food, but to Marena's surprise, the servant transformed into another person entirely - Selca Ducani.
In the ensuing conversation, Selca claimed he used his powers to enter the employ of the queen as a palace servant, with the intention of eavesdropping and finding out what she’s up to. He overheard their conversation at dinner while posing as a waiter. He protested his innocence, but there was one problem—he had no memory of the murder. In fact, neither did the others who were present that night. Philomena has been driven mad by her recurring nightmares and insomnia.
Marena was afraid of Selca, but she agreed to his escape plans. Selca whisked her away beyond the city limits, then abandoned her in the desert. She narrowly managed to make it to the small town of Oasis ahead of a monsoon.
While staying in the town's hotel, she encountered her long-lost father, Marcus, as well as his apprentice Rowan Renard. Seeing Marcus triggered a headache and caused her to lose consciousness.
When she awoke, Marcus and Rowan had barred the doors to their quarters with her inside. Marcus demanded to know what had happened to her, but Marena was unable to give a satisfying answer. Confused, frustrated, and grief-stricken, her father conducted a ritual in an attempt to restore her memories. In the process, Marena learned that she and Ardath were married, and that she had been separated from her family during a chaotic plague epidemic that hit the city several years ago. Marcus had not seen her since and thought she was dead.
Since Marcus was not particularly skilled in mysticism, the ritual was only partially successful. Concerned that Ardath was deliberately withholding important information from her, Marcus sent her back out with a warning about the dangers of the tarot, and tasked his apprentice Rowan with protecting her.
Marena and Rowan made their way to Malachi's ranch, where Ardath was surprised to see them. She returned Ardath's tarot deck to him, wanting nothing more to do with it. As soon as he took it from her, the cards "called" to him, requesting that he enter the Arcane Realm. He convinced Marena to go with him.
Without Rowan's knowledge, Ardath and Marena astral-projected into the Arcane Realm, where they were met by the Magician. Unwilling to answer their questions directly, the Magician implied that a ritual Luther participated in on the night of his murder may have caused his death. Marena, who didn't trust the Magician from the beginning, grew increasingly alarmed as they began to toy with her, including shapeshifting into Ardath and asking her if she could really tell the difference between them. The arrival of Rowan interrupted their meeting and sent them back to the real world, much to Marena's relief.
Rowan had arrived to warn them that soldiers were descending upon the ranch. Marena and Ardath were captured and brought back to Amarna, while Rowan narrowly escaped. Knowing Rowan would go to Marcus for help, Ardath offered to "bless" Luther's quarters as a way of buying them more time. He, Philomena, and Marena were left alone in the king's old bedroom, where they successfully drew the attention of the ghost. To Marena's horror, Luther's shade accused Ardath of killing him and attacked the magician. She tried to protect Ardath, but this only turned the ghost's attention upon her and she was badly injured.
Ardath tended to her until he was arrested by Philomena for Luther's murder. Weak as she was, Marena begged the queen to reconsider, but since the accusation came from Luther himself, there was no questioning it.
The next morning, Marcus and Rowan arrived, ready to bust Marena out of prison. Seeing how injured she was, they were forced to change their plans. Dulling her pain, they carried her to the arena, where Ardath's trial was being held. Marcus left halfway through the proceedings, saying he couldn't watch anymore and was going to visit a friend.
The trial ended when Selca Ducani appeared suddenly and admitted his guilt. He was arrested and, in lieu of another trial, his execution was scheduled for the next day. Marena was alarmed by this and didn't like the idea of Selca being scapegoated, but there was nothing they could do.
Ardath was freed and, in a last attempt to get Marena back, he finally came to terms with his mistakes and revealed the truth to her. He had made a deal with the Magician to bring her back from the dead, at the cost of Luther's life. Marena was shocked and horrified by the news, but remained conflicted on whether or not to try and save Ardath at the cost of her own life. Eventually, she made her choice. Later on when they met Watchman Dimiter Yen, she privately confided in him what had really happened on the night of Luther's murder. He promised to undo the effects of the ritual during his exorcism, without revealing the truth to the others, as they might try to stop him.
Dimiter, Marcus, Ardath, and Marena all headed to the palace during the masquerade ball that was held after the execution. Costuming themselves and mingling with the guests while Dimiter conducted his ritual, Marena left Rowan in favor of Ardath. The two wound up on the dance floor together as the ritual finished. Feeling herself fading, she told Ardath she loved him before disappearing, leaving behind her empty costume.