Today's post features a favorite minor character of mine. This will probably be a scene in a book (considering I ever write it) called The Keeper Legend. It is the story of Jaeso, the human Keeper. He is an important, though minor character in The Acaethian Chronicles, though there isn't time for his backstory within those books. Anyway, here it is.
The look on Lixa’s face was far from helping, as she seemed completely intrigued and excited about walking down the dark stairway. She had clearly not heard the same words coming from the Dahriik’s mouth as Jaeso had: Let us proceed to the dungeons. Dungeons. Since when did temples of Bannaeodai have bloody dungeons?
Jaeso looked to his friend, Sashna, who was as new to this whole world as he, and tried to read his expression. Alas, Sashna looked at least as excited about their descent into the prisons as Lixa. Maybe more.
But with the Dahriik walking right beside him, a solemn look of awareness on his face, Jaeso did not nearly have the courage to speak his mind.
At last they arrived in the stone-lined rectangle room. A single row of four barred-door cells lined one wall. Three of them were empty. The place stank of age and moisture, in addition to the foul odor of a chamber pot that had yet to be cleaned.
Jaeso leaned forward, peering into the one cell with a closed door. It was large inside the cast-iron gate, and it was almost difficult to spot the acaeth sitting in the back corner, cross-legged on his bed.
The eyes of the creature—for that is almost what he was—rose slowly to meet them. He only seemed to look at the Dahriik, though. He didn’t move. He didn’t speak. He only sat and gazed emptily forward in abject silence.
“Good morning, Aejath,” Dahriik Weyrn said, his speech to the prisoner was slow and emphasized. “How have you been?”
The acaeth straightened his legs with a slow, tired sigh, and made to get up off the suspended bed, but came to a stop once his bare feet touched the floor. He was thin, and the burlap top he wore sagged over him like a blanket.
“I’ve brought some people who need your help,” Dahriik Weyrn continued. “Can you help them, Aejath?”
His legs swung listlessly from the edge of his bed and he looked about the cell, not making any sign of speaking.
“Very good,” the Dahriik said, appearing very satisfied.
“He didn’t say anything,” Sashna said.
Aejath leaned against the bars, his dirty hands gripping them. He rose his eyes to Jaeso’s.
<<Don’t be afraid,>> he said. His voice was quiet and smooth like still water. <<You are very kind.>>
Sashna and Lixa looked from Aejath to Jaeso and back. “Th—thank you,” Jaeso stuttered.
“Did he talk to you, Jaeso?” Sashna asked.
Jaeso nodded. “Of course. He—” Jaeso stopped and looked at the creature again. He had spoken, right?
Jaeso’s gaze fell to Aejath’s mouth. No. It hadn’t opened. Not once. In the dim light of the prison, it was difficult to see. But Jaeso thought he saw scars around the prisoner’s mouth. Scars that looked almost like freckles.
“Aejath is a Speaker,” Dahriik Weyrn said. “And a very special Speaker, at that. He is the most powerful telepath known in our world. He can not only speak to the mind, like acaeths of Faliinlae, but he can read minds as well. He is a phenomenal specimen.”
“Why is he imprisoned?” Sashna asked.
The Dahriik’s expression changed slightly. “Such a power must be kept under control. Some people fear them and hunt them, but Aejath has never done anything that deserves death. He only is kept under tight watch. The people of Parrenth once greatly feared him and his power. We keep him here to keep him safe from those who would kill out of fear.”
Jaeso’s wide eyes fell back to Aejath, who hadn’t moved from the door. His expression was calm, serene. He hadn’t looked away from Jaeso yet.
Jaeso remembered exactly what had brought them down into the dungeons to meet Aejath. They needed a fast, private way to speak to Simeon in Cytee. Now he understood why Dahriik Weyrn had taken them here. “You can speak all the way to the Free Provinces from here, Aejath?” Jaeso asked.
The Speaker nodded. <<I can speak to anyone whom I have ever met,>> he said. <<I have to have seen their mind in person. Once then, I can always speak to them. You have such a kind heart.>>
Jaeso flushed. He was glad no one else, apparently, could hear Aejath’s words. No one was acting like they were listening, anyway.
<<That is why I will help you, kind one. Though you should not take so much pity on me.>>
Jaeso gulped. He wished he knew how to somehow block mind-probing.
<<I’m sorry,>> Aejath said. <<I won’t read your mind if it bothers you. You shall speak aloud to me and I will listen only to your words.>>
“Thank you,” Jaeso said.
“What’s he saying, Jaeso?” Lixa asked.
<<I will speak to all of you, if you like better.>>
Understanding dawned on Sashna and Lixa’s faces. He was speaking into all of their minds.
<<To whom do you wish to speak?>> Aejath asked.
Dahriik Weyrn spoke up. “We need to contact the young dastarium in Rosenmauk. Who can you best contact there?”
Aejath formed a weak smile. <<Ah. Yes. I can speak with a sister Disciple there. She is very wonderful and sad.>>
The Dahriik nodded. “See if you can locate her.”
Aejath closed his eyes and was silent. After a moment he opened them and said, <<Jaeso, place your hand on mine.>>
Cautiously, Jaeso reached out and laid his hand over the Speaker’s hand. In an instant, he heard many voices. He jumped back and let go.
“What is it!?” Sashna asked, looking just as scared as Jaeso felt.
<<Don’t be afraid, Jaeso,>> Aejath said. <<They are the Disciples in Rosenmauk. They will not harm you.>>
As Jaeso placed his shaking hand back on Aejath’s, the Dahriik put his hand over Aejath’s other. The Speaker held no objection.
<<Dear Sahm,>> he heard Aejath’s voice call. <<Are you there?>>
Through the mesh of voices, Jaeso heard a female voice respond. Who’s there? Oh, by the hills. Aejath? Is that you?
A million words in the same voice flew into Jaeso’s mind. It took him a moment to figure them out, but he realized he was hearing Sahm’s many thoughts. Let me get to my room, she said. I need a pen and paper.
“Why does she need a pen and paper?” Jaeso asked.
Aejath opened his eyes. <<If she writes the things she wants to say to me, she is able to better focus the communication. It helps her thoughts from wandering, and telling me things she doesn’t want to.>>
Jaeso nodded. “She’s getting a pen and paper,” he said to his two curious friends who weren’t included in the communication.
That’s better, Sahm’s voice returned, this time clearer than before. Does Dahriik Weyrd have something to tell me?
“Hello,” the Dahriik said. “I have a young man here who is in search of some answers. He has traveled to me from Faliinwal and is coming to the Disciples for help.”
Hardly, Jaeso thought. It wasn’t exactly a choice. He hoped Aejath wasn’t listening in.
How wonderful! Sahm’s voice echoed strangely in Jaeso’s mind. He wasn’t sure if he liked hearing people this way or not. Is there some way I can help?
“The boy has a mysterious past that he wants uncovered. His home was attacked by Shadowalkers a few days ago. They were searching for him, calling him the keeper.”
The keeper! How is that…even possible?
“That’s why he needs some help. Your dastarium has far more information to be found on histories and power studies than any place on Coloterra. If I send him and his companions to you, do you think the brothers and sisters there can offer some help?”
I don’t doubt it, Sahm replied. The journey here will be a long one, but I would personally be willing to help him find the answers he seeks if he comes here. If there is a shimmer of the keeper abilities in this world, we need to know about them. With the state of things right now… Her voice died away for a short time. Aejath looked like he was struggling to find her. I just hope this means he can help us. I must go. Send him our way, and we shall have help ready for him.
“Thank you, Sahm,” the Dahriik said, stepping back as Aejath cut off the communication with her.
Suddenly Lixa shot upright. “Sahm!?”
Jaeso and the Dahriik looked at her, bewildered.
The Dahriik nodded dully. “It was the one whom Aejath was able to locate at the Rosenmauk dastarium.”
Lixa looked like she might cry, or laugh, it was difficult to tell. “Sahm is my mother,” she said, her voice light as mist. “I had no idea she…oh, tides!”
Aejath’s slow moving eyes looked over to her. <<Your mother is Sahm? I should have known. Your mind looks so similar. Your mother is wonderful. I am sorry I did not give you a chance to say hello to her.>>
Lixa choked some mixture between a laugh and a sob. “I might get to see her, then. We’re going there, right? If you go to the Free Provinces, I can come with you, right?”
Jaeso nodded, which was all he could manage in the face Lixa’s enthusiasm.
“How long has it been, Lixa?” Sashna asked. It was evident that it had been a very long time.
She rubbed her eyes, wiping tears away. “Fourteen years. I was only a child. The last I even heard from her she was being chased out of Cytee. I’ve…thought she was dead!” A sob escaped her lips as she excused herself from the room.
Aejath was smiling just as sincerely as Lixa as he watched her leave.
“Thank you for the help, Aejath,” said Dahriik Weyrn.
The Speaker nodded, not moving from the place he had stood so long now against the bars.
“We should get going, then,” the Dahriik said to the others. “If you plan to get to the Free Provinces as fast as possible, you’ll need to find passage on a ship before long.”
“Goodbye, Aejath,” Jaeso said as they began walking away. He had wanted to run from the Speaker before, but now he wanted to stay and talk with him all day. His deep eyes followed them as they walked down the corridor.
<<Will you come back to visit me soon, Dahriik?>> his voice rang in all of their minds.
The Dahriik turned around. “As soon as is needed, Aejath.”
The last time Jaeso turned around to glance back at Aejath, he was still standing against the bars. His arms now held out into the corridor. His eyes shone orange in the candle light.