After days of starvation and nineteen attempts of torture, the old man finally died.
It was a precise incursion. It was three years planned. Multiple spies and traitors in the courts paid handsomely.
It —or better yet — he was the crown jewel of the kingdom of Suhtranj. He was the Emperor Paatcha’s most valuable possession. He was both the most powerful and vulnerable piece in the King’s board.
He was the Keeper.
He kept the secrets of great men and women. Nobility from the five kingdoms would seek his counsel. Many left their wills and testaments with him. All verbal. All memorized.
The Keeper was born from the Raazin family line. A great house of honour known for their incredible powers of memory. One chosen member at a time would serve the Emperor and the People as the official Keeper.
While safe within the Emperor’s gates, many attempts had been made on the Raazin family before. This was the first time a covert military strike had succeeded. If the Nameless Enemy could crack the Keeper, they would obtain intimate and precious knowledge spanning across royal bloodlines including undisclosed military strategies and locales of hidden treasures unknown to the world.
Each finger was crushed in a vice and ripped off from the base knuckle with hardwood pliers. Both eyes gouged and filled with salt. Iron rods pierced the old man’s abdomen, out his back. They brutalized him. They mutilated him. All for not. He did not surrender.
While the old man did not survive, the secrets did, and died with him.
Some say the Keeper did not suffer through the tortures. Who are we to know? We hope that his meditative powers minimized his suffering. His grandson and heir to the seat of the Keeper believed truly that he felt no pain. The young man claimed he could endure as his grandfather did and was ready for appointment.
Requests from the five kingdoms to meet the young man flurried into the Emperor’s office. The new Keeper is seven years too young for the position. He will have to do.