rian

Much like the first, the second chapter of Blank Slate sets up Zen's character through the eyes of another: Rian. And over the course of the story, we see a different man than the one seen by the other characters. Rather than painting Zen as a supreme villain, Rian sees him as hope.

Rian is established very firmly in her introduction: she is the daughter of the general of Galay, who led the war against Amata. Blind and frail, she is never without an aide and never leaves her home save to go to an annual concert and to go to her family's summer home. She lives the life of a bird in a gilded cage, ever cared for but unable to see past the bars. In kidnapping her, Zen destroys this carefully constructed world and reveals the lies that hold it up one by one.

To Rian, Zen is much more of a heroic character: the only one able to make her see beyond the careful construct of her existence. She's clearly fascinated by him and longs to accompany him in hopes of further tearing her world apart, but Zen shoots that idea down while planting another in her head.

Rian: Just like this, will you... take me with you somewhere?
Zen: The truth of the outside world... isn't all fun. Only my own thoughts matter. You're only a hostage. Once I get the ransom, I don't need you. If at that point... you still want to be free... destroy your world yourself.

Rian's entire worldview was upended by Zen, and the idea of actively changing her life most likely never occurred to her. He inspires her to take control of her life in a way she never has before, and when the chance comes to go to Zen herself, she takes it. The choices Rian makes aren't the most reasonable or safe, but simply having the capability to make them is a step she never would have considered taking before.

Rian spends most of the last few chapters sitting on the sidelines, but she is critical in the climax. This is discussed in the identity section, but the most fundamental point about Rian's relationship with Zen is that she sees him as him. She alone sees him as Zen the person, not Zen the criminal or Zero the weapon. And she dies having achieved the one thing she set out to find: her own identity.

Rian: I'm... glad. For the first time... since I was born... by my own free will... I thought... and... acted... I... am... free...

For all that Zen affects in Rian, however, she doesn't seem to make much of an impact on him. Their relationship is one-sided in that Rian is fascinated by him, but Zen sees her as nothing more than a means to an end. (There's a certain level of irony in that — Rian is the one person who sees him as more than a weapon or a criminal, and yet he only sees how she can be of use to him, like an object.) Even so, he smiles as she dies, acknowledging that she has destroyed her world, just as he suggested.

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