Read The Unspoken: Book One in the Keres Trilogy Online

Authors: A. E. Waller

Tags: #magic, #girl adventure, #Fantasy, #dytopian fiction, #action adventure, #friendship

The Unspoken: Book One in the Keres Trilogy

The Unspoken


Book One in the Keres Trilogy



A. E. Waller





“We are the keepers of the ancient secrets; for we walked the world when it was new.”


—Eileen Lynch

Chapter One



The Mothers arrive at 05:00 to dress me. They arrange my hair carefully in tiny braids and curls, some pinned up with delicate ornaments representing the nine different lines of Service. They drape multiple layers of white satin robes with terra-cotta orange bands around the hems and sleeves. A pattern of life in Chelon is woven into the fabric of the outermost robe- Play Groups as children, people working together in the different Services, a Banding Ceremony, and featured prominently on the front are the five Absolute Mothers, the omnipotent rulers of Chelon.

It takes over two hours to clean and dress me. I wonder if everyone else

s preparation takes so long or if it

s just the two years of neglect that causes mine to be so lengthy. Once dressed, I am told to kneel in the center of the room until I am collected for the Oath. There isn

t much else I can do in this getup. I cannot lean on anything because of the elaborate hair arrangement and I cannot sit on a chair because the robes are too stiff. So I kneel with the thirty pounds of dense fabric billowing around me.

I am dressed up like a goddess to be told how I will serve Chelon for the rest of my life. I turn my head to look at myself in the long glass on the wall. My breath catches in my chest. The makeup The Mothers have applied hides my sunken eyes and hollow cheeks. I have been given the Chelon red lips and blue star under my right eye. The robes are heart breaking; they are so exquisite and made specifically for me. The Service ornaments fixed in the mass of black hair on my head draw attention like a mystical crown.

I am beautiful.

The door tone rings and a Mother comes in, helps me to my feet and leads me to the line of Play Groups from my year. We are all dressed with care, the girls much like me with hair ornaments of the Services and robes with elaborate patterns woven especially for them. The only thing alike on us is the black diamond pin over our left ears. The boys, dressed in leggings with scenes embroidered in silk threads and patterned with jewels creeping up the legs are topped with shirts of almost transparent white gauze. A masculine version of Service ornaments hang from their belts.

Our biological parents make our ceremonial clothes and ornaments. They begin the day we are born, as the activity is supposed to distract them from the removal of their children. It takes most parents over ten years to gather materials to create these outward signs of ceremony. Some of these robes were only completed last night. The goal is to make them more beautiful than any that have been seen before, to make them especially unique and easy to spot from a distance. This will be the first time they will be able to identify us as their own blood line. The day we are no longer children, the day we become full citizens, serving the city.

The line of Play Groups travels silently to the center of the Quad, four large residence compounds shaped like pie wedges meeting at their points in a vast courtyard. It is already strung with lights for the celebration later tonight. Our line slowly arranges itself around the center stage while the rest of Chelon gathers in close. People eager to spot the robes and leggings they have made, eager to see their children for the first time. Not that they will be allowed to make themselves known to us.

The five Absolute Mothers appear at the balcony on the north residence compound, their elaborate headdresses of hammered copper reflecting in the morning sun, their deep purple robes standing out against the stark white of the building. They survey the stillness that has spread through the crowd. The appearance of the Chelon flag signals the start of the Pledge.


We, the children of Chelon,

Pledge our lives to our lines of Service.

We, the children of Chelon,

Pledge our lives to our city.

We, the children of Chelon,

Pledge our lives to The Mothers.


After a single long note plays on a brass horn, everyone turns their attention to The Mother on stage with us. Her image appears on the two large television screens on either side of the stage. In a sugar sweet voice, dripping with honey and caramel, she recites the Play Group numbers who are being assigned to Service this year. It

s when she is talking about the importance of each line of Service that I see him. Wex. Tall, so much taller than I remember him that I have to tilt my head up to see all of him at once. His eyes meet mine and I can see his chest rising and falling, slowly. Two years is a long time, especially between the ages of 13 and 15. And then to see each other bejeweled like celestial beings for the Oath instead of how we are naturally. How he even recognizes me under all the makeup and finery is beyond reason. Everything around me melts away, and I see nothing but Wex. I hear nothing but his breath.

The Mother suddenly changes her tone,


This rattles me, reminds me we shouldn

t have shown any sign of remembering each other. I rip my eyes away from him to look at PG3446, dazzling in blues and oranges. The Mother calls for one of the girls to step forward, center stage. A young woman, a novice Mother by her white tunic and lavender apron, steps with her and slowly pulls out different hair ornaments while The Mother speaks of this girl

s individual traits and talents. Soon, only one ornament is left, the tiny leather bound book with gold lettering of Pedagogics. She will be trained as a teacher. The crowd applauds and the girl steps back to her place with her Play Group, glancing with relief at another girl from PG3446.

The assignments continue, future miners, factory workers, and Keepers being the most frequent. There are several farmers, healers, and educators which all receive a tangible feeling of relief from the crowd. These kids won

t be in direct danger of a cave in or a mangling by the machines. Exactly fifty-four of us are assigned before The Mother calls out



m surprised we are called as a group considering we have just completed the longest Solace in the history of Chelon. We aren

t even standing together on the stage. Shuffling motions are all around me as girls try to move sideways in their weighty robes, making room for the six of us to gather for the first time in two years.

There they all are to my left and right. Doe, a full head shorter than me with her honey-blond hair piled on top of her head, Harc

s gray eyes gazing resolutely before her, Frehn whose muscle mass has doubled since I last saw him, his eyes darting through the crowd. Merit, long and lean as ever, and Wex, who towers over all of us. We stand in a line, not a group as the others have done, staring straight before us.

PG3456, just this morning returned to us from Solace,

says The Mother in her sticky sweet tone.

It is so good to have you among us again, darlings.

My stomach turns over.


Merit moves forward to the center of the stage. Is this it? Is that all the public humiliation we are to endure? No additional punishments? Are we allowed to remain a Play Group? There will be something else, surely. The Mother is talking about Merit

s virtues. Quiet and loving, obedient and purposeful in his studies. The novice removes ornaments with long fingers, and my head swims. There is a dramatic pause over the last two ornaments, an elaborately carved jade horse and a long silk tassel strung with jewels. As the novice reaches for the last ornament, her fingers graze his leg and Merit jerks away from the touch.

Suddenly I wonder what they did to him during Solace. For the first thirteen years of our lives, he was always reaching for the comfort of others. While the overwhelming Heavy Weight of guilt and despair was enough to immobilize me with its darkness, did Merit not give into it as I did? Was something else necessary to press him into submission? He recovers quickly and I can see the muscles twitch on the side of his face. The novice removes the tassel- Merit will work with the animals. I breathe for the first time since his name was called. Animals will not hurt him like people can. He is safe.

Doe is called forward, her large soft brown eyes looking down at the stage floor. She

s the youngest member of PG3456, born two hours before we were grouped.

Strength of mind coupled with the elevation of spirit,

oozes the Mother,

Poised for action with a steady hand.


s shoulders droop slightly when she looks at all the removed ornaments and deduces she is left with the Healers

bandages, bronzed and gathered in rosettes. Then she quickly straightens and returns to her spot to my right, avoiding my sideways glance. Healers are one of the coveted Services, as they are considered safe from pain and physical catastrophe. They have access to medicine and soothing drugs. Maybe too much access in some cases.


the Mother says it as though it

s a call and not a name. It sends a shot of loathing through me that I can

t explain.

Harc, our own little gray dove,

The Mother purrs. She is using PG3456

s pet name for Harc and it transmits a stab of palpable pain down our line. Harc

s velvet gray hair is always in perfect order like the feathers of a bird. Hers isn

t the coarse white-gray hair of the aged, Harc

s is the soft gray of a heavy thundercloud. Smooth and cool to the touch. I know we will never call her Dove again.

Refreshing as a summer rain, powerful as the thunder that follows. And with the ability to electrify all of Chelon with fragile hands.

Harc twists her long fingers and I see the white and red scars. Then it

s true. PG3456 has been tortured, their strengths turned to liabilities. Why then was I left virtually untouched? Why wasn

t I tortured? I could have handled pain with more fortitude than I could the emptiness of the Heavy.

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