I'm not sure where this fits in but hey I might as well post it!
The Keeper’s Assistant
By Kenneth Acumenious
There he stood waiting, and his legs hurt, after all he’d already been waiting for some time. He could hear them arguing, he tried not to of course; he tried to imagine his assignment. He couldn’t think of anything that sounded like a fun day, let alone this whole next year. Why did my father insist I do this, he thought to himself.
“You may think you know everything there is to know about the world, and for some you know enough, but I want more for you. And without something like this to broaden you horizons you may never become what I’ve always hoped for you” Said His father to him one afternoon after telling him about the job.
“What is it that you have always hoped father?”
“For you to be a man that can use more than just his physical strength to get through his life”
“All right father” he had said, not really knowing what he as getting himself into. A job at the university, it sounded easy enough at first, that is, until he started talking to the other boys and a few girls in entrance hall of the university. He had gotten lost, so, he arrived late and most of the assignments had already been given out. He was informed rather dispassionately that there were only two assignments left, by a very pale very thin robed figure that looked like he hadn’t left the university grounds in years. He did not want end up like that man no matter what his father said.
“Name please” said the pale fellow
“Jerem Iyesmen” The man scribbled something on the paper, probably his name and said
“Stand Over there” he pointed to the group of others. So he did. He made the mistake of thinking it would be a speedy affair. He found himself waiting there most of the morning. While they stood the boys began to talk, there didn’t seem to be anything else to do. Jerem didn’t say anything, but he sure did listen. They told stories of work boys being lost and never found, or being worked until they collapsed, one boy they talked about even got trapped into a magic book. The pale man seemed to hear the stories but didn’t put a stop to it, her only seemed amused as he went on with whatever task it was that her was doing. But one story stood out the most to Jerem; it was about one of the faculty here at the university. They called him Teldoor, the story they told spoke of one of his assistants that had once called him a crazy old man after they had been given a strange assignment to work on, suffice it to say his eventual fate is unknown, but that didn’t keep the boys from speculating.
Slowly the group Jerem stood with grew smaller until finally as each individual was given their assignments only he remained. He was afraid he had came too late and wouldn’t be given a job, that didn’t bother him so much, other than his father would be very disappointed with him. But his fear (or possibly hope) was quashed when the pale man and someone else in a robe started arguing. The other man had come down a hallway rather hastily. Once they started arguing they moved away from where Jerem was sanding, but that only made it a little harder for him to hear them. So, again and again he tried not listening. But of course that didn’t work and he got the general idea of what they were talking about. It seems that one of the faculty decided at the last minute that they wanted an assistant. The pale man seemed insistent that something wouldn’t be acceptable, that must be him. He didn’t know what kind of work they were talking about, but he was getting a little annoyed that they didn’t think he was good enough. Finally the pale man conceded to the other and he walked over to where Jerem stood.
“Your lucky, although you may not think that for long, I wasn’t going to give you anything. Follow this man to your assignment” he indicated the man he had been arguing with. Then the pale man walked away and went through a door unseen. The other man waited while Jerem hesitated. And then said.
“This way please.” He began to walk, so Jerem sprinted to catch up. “There are a few things you need to know before you go in.” He said as they walked. “First of all, he’ll probably want to ask you some questions, answer the best you can. Second of all watch what you say to him; actually don’t say anything at all unless he’s talking to you. He is a very respected member of the university staff. Keeper Teldoor is a little picky…” At that moment Jerem didn’t hear the rest of what the man said, his mind was still struggling with the name he had said, “Keeper Teldoor.” Could this be the same Teldoor the stories were about?
Fortunately Jerem didn’t have much time to obsess about the name for he had to concentrate on keeping up. The Robed man took him through an enormously complicated series of stairs, halls, and doorways until Jerem didn’t know where he was, and how he’d be able to travel this every day…oh, every day. He hadn’t let himself realize until now that today, however crazy, would become a norm. Finally they came to a door at the end of a long hall. They stopped and the man turned to look at Jerem.
“Well, this isn’t a sure thing by any means, but if he approves, you’ll have a job at least. The only advice I can give you is, don’t make him angry.” He finished, and with a sigh he pushed on the door and it swung open. The room was a play of light and dark, each battling the other for control. The ceiling was very high and in the forward wall rested four very large windows. Light streamed onto mountains of books and shelves full of strange objects of an origin unrecognizable to Jerem.
“Do you have a reason for being here Orin”? The voice came from behind a tall shelf, and a moment later a man appeared. He wore a blue robe with gold adornments on the sleeves and around the neck and had a long gray beard in keeping with his years.
“Yes Keeper Teldoor I…”
“That’s Senior Keeper”
“Yes of course, Senior Keeper Teldoor, I have brought an assistant for your approval.”
“Does he possess the characteristics I stipulated?”
“Senior Keeper, we didn’t have time, your request was received at the last minute…”
“Do my contributions count for nothing?”
“All faculty members must follow protocols no matter their standing with the university.” There was a moment of silence that seemed so long that Jerem couldn’t stand it. It was finally broken by Orin.
“His name is Jerem Iyesman, and he wishes to be submitted for you approval.” No I do not, Jerem thought to himself. Out of all of the places in the university he did not want to be stuck here with this scary old man.
“Fine,” said Teldoor, and he turned to face Jerem. For a moment he looked him over intently, and if Jerem wasn’t mistaken he might have winked, but it could have been just a twitch. “What is the year?”
“It is the year one thousand eight hundred twenty three.” Replied Jerem crisply; he had thought the questions would be harder than this. Teldoor only raised an eyebrow and replied
“Why?” Jerem was instantly confused and only managed to say
“What do you mean ‘why?’”
“I mean why is the year one thousand eight hundred twenty three?” he said rather condescendingly.
“I don’t know, it just is”
“Oh I see, well you’ve answered it then. Did you hear that Orin? It just is.” He turned back to Orin “you brought me someone who doesn’t even know the fundamentals of our basic history?”
“As I said before you did…” began Orin, but he was interrupted
“Yes I’ve heard your speech before.”
“Fine, senior Keeper, I will keep it short then, you may either take him or have no assistant at all.” The Keeper stood for a long moment then said
“Get out of my sight Orin”
“Very good Senior Keeper, if you have any further needs, you know where…
“Yes, yes” And with that Jerem was left alone in the room with Teldoor. For a while they only stood there. Then Jerem heard something he will never forget. It started as a kind of panting, and then steadily grew in sharpness until finally Teldoor threw himself back and just laughed and laughed. Jerem didn’t know what to do, so he just stared. Teldoor evidently saw his bewildered look and said through the laughs.
“Did you see the look on his face when he came in here…just priceless.” Unfortunately this only confused Jerem more, why in the world was he laughing? At last Teldoor got control of himself and started to explain. “You don’t really think I am that much of a pompous ass do you? Well I guess you wouldn’t know would you?” He slowly bowed before Jerem and introduced himself. “Teldoor, Senior Keeper of the common Histories of the Havenland Peninsula, quite a mouthful if I do say so myself.” Jerem must have looked completely ridiculous with such a stunned look on his face because Teldoor began to laugh again, but more controlled this time. After he was done he motioned Jerem over to a couple of chairs sitting around a small table. Jerem sat down and managed to get one word out.
“Its just to much fun, that’s why. Plus, I need to keep these young upstarts on their toes. I swear that Orin is more of a stick in the mud than any old man I ever met.” He offered Jerem some pastries that were sitting on the table. He hadn’t realized until then that he was hungry. He was in such a hurry when he left this morning he hadn’t eaten anything at all.
“So, What brings you to the university my young friend?” Jerem swallowed the bite he had been savoring.
“Your Father sent you to the university to work?”
“Yes, he says he wants me to broaden my horizons, he says he wants me to have more than strength when I’m a man.”
“Your Father Sounds like a wise man”
“But he never went to a school”
“Ah, I didn’t mean that he is learned, wisdom is something entirely different. Some of the most educated people in the land aren’t as wise as your father sounds.
“You mean that?”
“I don’t say things I don’t mean”
“What about what you said Orin?
“That doesn’t count, it’s all in jest, even though Orin doesn’t realize it.” And then they both laughed. And it was then that Jerem felt comfortable enough to bring up something that had bothered him.
“Senior Keeper Teldoor?”
“Please just call me Keeper.”
“Keeper, Earlier when you asked me about the year, what was the answer?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Well I don’t like anyone to think less of me, that’s all”
“I don’t think less of you”
“I know, but I would still like to know, so that if anyone ever asks me again, I won’t ever feel stupid”
“All right, it is the year 1823 because it has been eight hundred and twenty three years since men first came to Havenland, give or take year.”
“Oh, that’s not too complicated.”
“No not at all.” He paused for a moment. “I am going to make you a deal, you work for me, after all that’s why you’re here, and I will teach you all the History you will need to know so that you never look stupid in front of anyone again. Is it a deal?”
“It’s a deal!” Jerem had the distinct feeling that he was getting more out of this bargain than Teldoor.
“Unfortunately I do not have any work for you today, so you may return home.” He stood up and flattened out the wrinkles in his robe. Jerem stood up but then hesitated.
“I don’t think I know the way out Keeper.”
“Oh you don’t think a senior keeper uses hallways like everyone else do you?” He moved behind a shelf and Jerem followed. Behind the shelf was a door. “I use it to come in without being bothered, it will take you to an alley behind the building, just follow it out into the street.” Jerem said thank you and opened the door, started to leave but stopped.
“Keeper, before I came in I heard a story…”
“I started it, I don’t want the boys thinking I’m a nice old man do I?”
Jerem Quietly opened the secret door and looked into a dusty hall.
“Uh, hello?” Jerem said hesitantly. It had been a whole day and he wasn’t quite sure he believed it all. In response to his nervous greeting the keeper poked his head out from behind one of the large shelves.
“Jerem, just the assistant I was looking for.”
“Oh, am I late?”
“No, no I’ve just been waiting for you. Did you tell your father you got the job?”
“Yes, he was very pleased, he said he’s heard of you, you are very respected.”
“Am I?” He said nonchalantly as if didn’t place much importance on such things. “are you ready to do some work?”
“That depends, what will I be doing?” The keeper told him of various duties mostly consisting of moving large tomes about, and of course the occasional cleaning. At one point during the day Jerem found himself going this way and that looking for books the keeper needed. Finally Jerem couldn’t stand it and asked…
“So what is all of this for?”
“Humm…” The Keeper looked up from his notes, “oh , well I’m constructing a correlative index of historical markers indicating the first signs of a primitive version our modern Haven ceremonies.” He finished and looked at Jerem only to find a confused look rivaling that of the previous day’s. “Well what I mean is, I’m trying to find some evidence of how our Haven Ceremonies got started.”
“Oh.” Said Jerem, “had any luck?”
“Yes some, but history is usually slow going, actually I think this is a good time to take a break. Do you remember our agreement yesterday?”
“Yes” Replied Jerem
“You’ve done a lot of work today so don’t let me forget my end, what would you like to know of our history?” Jerem thought for a moment and said
“You said the year is a count from the time when people first started coming to the peninsula, who were the first to come here?”
“That is a very good question, and the only way to answer it is to tell you the story of the first tribe.”
The First tribe
The story of the first tribe is a very old one, but has been carefully passed down the generations by those we now call the stone leaguers. It is told proudly and held as evidence to their eternal strength and other such things. The story itself starts in the time of migration of the north. The Ice and cold had only just begun to creep over the world. One of the groups taking the great journey was the first tribe, It is said that they were drawn to the peninsula by the only land marks in sight, great peaks that we call today the shield mountains. At the time they were lost and in need of both direction and whatever food they might find as they got nearer to the mountains. Once they came closer they found the pass into Havenland, that which we now call the pass of ice. Beyond it lay green life and warmth. Paradise! What they had been searching for, so the tribe moved in and set of residence, and sent word to the groups behind them. When word came to the second tribe of a place of warmth beyond the mountains they moved forth to discover it for themselves. They traveled many days and once the to traveled through the pass they found only destruction. Where the first tribe once had been, there was death. There were no bodies but there was blood, it stained the ground and trees alike. In the midst of torn and broken shelters there was one, one small child that had survived. The tribesmen surrounded him, not sure if he was alive or just a ghost of a people gone. Finally the boy awoke and stared u at those who surrounded him, not once did he make a sound. A moment later a mother picked his up and they left that place of death. He was called Akassa, or one with death, for no one truly knew why he alone had survived. He was given to a family who had lost their child and was raised as their own.
The Tribe set up camp just outside the pass, for despite the danger, they could not abandon such a resource completely. So as the years went by there camp became a community, growing from the sustenance brought by hunting parties sent into the peninsula. These parties almost always came back unscathed, with only a few exceptions. Over these years also Akassa had grown into a man, he never spoke, but always insisted upon going with the hunting parties once he was old enough. On one such venture into the forested interior of the peninsula Akassa accompanied, they became lost after tracking game, and were not able to find their way back to the pass before nightfall. This was known to mean death, so although they feared the fate of those lost, the tribesmen dare not attempt a rescue until morning. So they waited and hoped, dire hopes that had yet to come true for any lost party. But once the sun arose they did as they always did on such instances, and went in search of those they had no real chance of finding. As they came through the pass they saw something completely unexpected. Through the shadows of the trees emerged a man covered in blood that did not seem entirely his own. But more surprising still was what he dragged behind him. Such a thing looked as though it had come from a nightmare, and truthfully such a thing had lived within the dreams of one man for all his life, Akassa. And it was he who dragged this dreadful thing behind him. He came before the search party and stood on shaky legs. They asked of him then
“The others?” and he answered with one word only, perhaps the first word they ever heard him speak, he said,
“Dead” and then he collapsed and was carried back to the village.
When he awoke he was brought to the village elders, they stood encircling the body of the beast that Akassa had killed. He stood for a moment before them and then one of the elders spoke to him.
“What happened to you companions?” Akassa spoke slowly and clearly knowing that he spoke to the whole tribe
“We were caught at night still within the forest, and one by one my companions were taken without a sound”
“How then did you survive” asked the same elder
“I managed to make it to a clearing, and when I turned I saw that beast leap towards me.” He indicated the dead thing that lay upon the ground. “At that moment I thrust my spear forward, and threw its chest it went, As it lay upon the ground I cut its throat with my knife.” He laid his fingers on the handle of the blade at his side. “With its blood upon me no other creature would attack.” The elders then spoke quietly amongst themselves for a time, and then finally turned to Akassa once more
“You have been lucky for the second time in your life, Akassa.” He said the name with a loud whisper. “But we have decided that you have faced death to many times and you are forbidden to go with another hunting party.” And with that the elders begin to walk away but were interrupted by Akassa.
“Wait, don’t you understand what this means? Don’t any of you understand what this means?” He addressed the rest of the tribe. “These things that have hunted us, these things that have murdered our people, these things that destroyed my entire tribe, they are not shadows, not phantoms, they can be killed!” Around him was a stir of voices as the people attempted to make sense of this revelation. The head elder stepped forward and shouted to the people.
“Listen not to this one who has made a pact with death, for he will lead you down a dark path that you may never return.” Akassa only waited for silence and calmly said.
“The Elders do not speak for the well being of our people, they speak out of fear, fear of losing their way of life, and fear of what may lie beyond. The Elders say I will lead you down a path of darkness, the path of darkness is one of living in fear, scrounging for scarps in this frozen wasteland. No, I speak of taking back the land of my tribe and being the hunted no longer!” And with that went up a roar from the people. And so it went that many followed him as he adorned his blood stained hide, and took up a torch and marched on towards the peninsula, leaving those behind that did not believe his words or though Akassa a phantom himself.
The line of swaying spears and torches reached the forest’s edge at dusk, and it was then that Akassa turned and said,
“Let us cleanse the land of these foul beasts.” And then he set his torch to a clump of dry grass near the bottom of a tree. Others did the same and soon the edge of the forest was ablaze. They did not have to wait long before dark shapes began to leap from the flames, but with superior numbers and Akassa as their leader, each of these were slain. This went on all though the night with few deaths of a tribesmen. When morning came only smoldering stumps and carcasses remained of the forest and its inhabitants. And it is in this place that men made their first successful community.~
Jerem sat on the edge of the stool for a moment before he spoke. “That doesn’t sound like it’s the end of the story.”
“Actually it’s not,” said Teldoor. “But it does answer your question. Besides the tales concerning this particular individual are considerably longer.”
“Are these one of those stories that I am supposed to learn some kind of lesson from?”
“I should hope not,” said the keeper laughing. “Although it’s still not known if these tales are wholly true after so many years, they originated at least, as first hand accounts passed down the generations.”
“Well it’s a very interesting tale wherever it came from,” said Jerem. Then he stood up and said, “I should probably get back to my duties.”
“And I need to get back to my index.” And so things went for many months, Jerem worked and the keeper told him of history.