- "I have come to dance in dreary streets, and to make a holy sound with my dirty mouth."
- ―Ofira the Mad, The Fall
Ofira of Many Faces, Ofira the Fool, (also known to the Vormundists as "Ofira the Mad"), is a character found in the Holy Books and Mandorlin. She is a historical figure of some significance and is revered in the various Akhenist religions as the epitome of an artist or jester archetype.
A human born into slavery in the heyday of the Old Exekian Empire, she was selected at the age of ten to be trained as a performer at the Imperial Theater. She acted, mimed, and danced for the entertainment of the most powerful and wealthy people in the Empire. During these performances, she wore costumes of many colors and designs as she played different characters, earning her first moniker. In the Temple and Zantine versions of the story, Ofira was sentenced to death for putting on a show which criticized the Old Exekian Empire's use of slavery, making her a martyr to the abolitionist cause.
According to the Vormundist version found in the Mandorlin, Ofira went mad, and the performance which so irked the Exekians was not only a criticism of slavery, but a manifesto of the many wrongs which had been inflicted upon her throughout her life. Given the dark and occasionally explicit content of the story presented in the unexpurgated Mandorlin, it is easy to see why much of it was cut from the official versions.
Much of what is known about Ofira's life comes from the play she wrote, much of which was a kind of autobiographical monologue. Outside of this primary source, some Exekian chronicles mention the tale of her execution for "provocation", as well as the official report on Ofira's deteriorating mental state compiled while she was incarcerated. The actual report was destroyed during the First Exekian War, however, and no copies have been found.
Born a slave, at the age of ten Ofira was selected to be trained as a performer. She was chosen based on her physical beauty and athletic grace, and shipped off to the Imperial Theater Academy. The heavily regimented lifestyle offered by the school was designed to manufacture the finest entertainers in the world for the delight of the Exekian elite. As adults, they would have greater freedom and luxuries than the typical slave, having been granted a protected celebrity status.
Ofira described being mercilessly bullied by her peers at the academy, who were jealous of her talents and the approval she received from the teachers. At one point they attempted to kill her in order to remove her from competition. The attack left her badly injured, but she survived. She was often blamed for the mischief and wrongdoings of others. This led to an incident in which Ofira's mother was induced by the school administration to whip her daughter for a crime she did not commit.
Her only consolation was her love for the stage, upon which she excelled at anything she put her mind to. After her graduation, she was finally able to perform in public, which had been her dream. But even this joyful experience was corrupted, as her dancing soon drew unwanted attention. Because of her status as a slave, she was obligated to meet the demands of those who sought to financially, sexually, and emotionally exploit her. She referred to these individuals as "sacred monsters", and even named a few of them in her work.
Seeking to minimize this treatment, she retreated from dancing and verged more into acting. She obscured her body with long loose robes and elaborate costumes, painting her face and hiding behind masks. There were fewer overzealous admirers then.
Ofira began a courtship with another performer, Abelard. But she soon discovered that he was using his relationship with her to climb through the theater ranks, and he abandoned her as soon as she was no longer useful to him. She initially blamed the attitudes of Abelard, her classmates, her teachers, and so on on the unfair system of slavery, but concluded that it was ultimately the nature of the world that manifested evil at every turn.
Driven mad by her suffering, she conceived the play which would doom her to die. Titling it "The Fall" she cast herself as the lead, along with a handful of supporting characters who served as confidantes (the framework of the play is a poetic confession) or as stand-ins for the people who wronged her. At the conclusion of the performance, Ofira was arrested and charged with "provocation", a typical charge against abolitionists. Upon examination, she was determined to be insane, but the court ignored this report. She was found guilty and sentenced to death.