Surayka is a Rukban human female. Notably, she was a childhood friend of Shaqmar and was the victim of unrequited love for him. Again and again, following Layla's capture, she attempted to ease Shaqmar's pain and help him, but her advances were constantly rebuffed and her attempts at kindness and support were generally misunderstood by Shaqmar or went unappreciated.

Following Shaqmar's suicide, Surayka was driven to such levels of grief that she donned the 'red and black' - a Rukban grieving custom for widows whose men had met with particularly abnormal deaths. This brings Azad political life to a halt as a man cannot be cremated so long as a woman dons the red and black for him, and so long as Shaqmar is not cremated, he remains the (Great Leader) and cannot be replaced. The Azad elders eventually decide to part with custom and cremate Shaqmar regardless.

The very next night, the Azad look up to heavens to find that the sky is falling. God's fury, it appears, has descended, and it is all due to Surayka's grief.