Jomay's Story (book)
It was the beginning of the end.
Long had the Imperial Healers' Guild held a special place in our Emperors' and Empresses' hearts. "Why?" you may ask. That very guild had been among the first formed by the Empire back in the days of the first Elven Emperor, Lenvuc. The stalwart Mauk Gaendar, himself once one of Akroeg's greatest soldiers, abandoned his thirst for violence for the more peaceful task of gathering and cultivating the healing talents of those around him, not too far a cry from his original profession of farming.
But the Empress Surleerik's heart could no longer smile purely upon all of that Guild, for its leader, the Khalo'rae'Fand Jomay Maveinelei, had sought Surleerik's own death, and had already hideously ravaged the lives of many of the Empire with the Liva'anneg, her group of accomplices. The Empress observed the faces of the accused, attempting to assess their states of mind.
Several of the Guild Members shuddered privately at the back of the great hall. Surleerik knew for a fact that she did not possess the slightest talent of their unique Empathy, but she knew that the stains on Jomay's and the sixteen other Healers' souls must be as black as pitch in Shock. The only thing each of the accused shared was some sort of physical deformity. Meldar Viknor, one of the lone men, a Human, looked calm, collected. In contrast, one of the Halflings, a club-footed woman named Yindi, kept flopping her eyes back and forth between the audience and the Elothean ruler.
Jomay herself barely breathed; this wasn't so much from nervousness, Surleerik thought, but probably from the nature of her face. She was deformed, born with neither nostrils nor the characteristic pointed ears of her race, and thus her mother's midwife had to create impromptu nostrils and ear openings with a spare knife. She looked rather like a S'Kra Mur/Elven crossbreed, if such a thing could exist, as a result. How she survived infancy and childhood with such a grotesque appearance was a mystery to everyone. How she survived adulthood and rose to such prestige was a miracle. What a shame that she used her great knowledge for such a crime.
Surleerik stood, and proclaimed in a loud voice, "Do any of you have any last words in your own defense before your sentences are determined?"
Jomay, still maintaining the silence that she and the others had held throughout the trial, merely spat towards Surleerik's feet in response. Her heartless grey eyes steeled upon Surleerik, still in defiance even as she had to surely know that she was going to die
Surleerik's composure did not waver in the slightest from the small globule of saliva and mucus before her. "Very well, then. In the morning..."
"...we'll finish up those experiments with the ristan'dias. Jomay, if you would, please return those powders to over there?"
"Surely, Khalotok," was the voice that echoed down the corridor, the final known words from Jomay's mouth to her guild elder, Niedave Jataid, according to one of the young Rathims at the Gaendar Academy in Throne City.
The next morning, the Khalotok was dead. The news spread through the Alchemical Department like wildfire. Who could have taken it upon themselves to accomplish such an atrocity? The Khalo Chene, second only to the Khalo'rae'Fand Grungin in authority, questioned almost all of Niedave's assistants, but no one knew anything as to the cause, other than Niedave had died from some sort of insect bites all over her body, which had caused her to break out in purple hives. No one was able to identify the sort of insect, however. Jomay herself was in utter shock at the loss of her mentor.
Jomay was a pitiable Elf. Hardly more than 50, she had grown up abused by her father. Her elder brother, Jimohe, ten years her elder, was an accomplished assassin, who she hadn't seen in nearly 35 years. At the age of 15, she'd run away to Throne City, but on the way, she stumbled upon her life's calling -- the birth of an Empath's powers. She then entered the Imperial Healers' Guild -- the one guild that would take a girl as deformed as herself, and devoted herself to finding a way to look normal. Her interests, as the years went by, veered off in other directions -- studying insect-borne illnesses, but still she yearned to be pretty and not a circus spectacle.
Though suspicions rested upon her for a while, since she was the last person to have seen Niedave alive, Jomay shrugged them off. Whenever anyone accused her, she countered them with such logic as, "Folks, I know I'm deformed. I know I'm ugly. I'm the first person everyone thinks of when they think of someone who's might have caused something malicious to someone else. Do you think I'm foolish enough to go killing the one person who had the potential to figure out how to help me?" Which was the truth, as it were -- Niedave was probably the most brilliant researcher in the guild at the time.
Jomay's research into insects continued, even without her mentor. Her trial under fire following Niedave's loss had strengthened her, and many Empaths admired her for it. After a career in which she had toiled for so long in near obscurity, her newfound fame from Niedave's passing showed that she had indeed achieved a lot, and she was finally recognized for her efforts. Though that shadow always hung over her head, she rapidly rose through the ranks over the next five years to Lotok to the Khalo in charge of research. A short while afterwards, Grungrin died of old age, and Jomay assumed the position of Khalo'rae'Fand, head leader of the Empath Guild.
After only a scant few months in her new posting, Jomay gradually became increasingly absent from the Imperial Healers' Guild. While at the time it was explained away because she was known to be researching methods on perfecting the Link ability, the talent of connecting with another's mind to gain their abilities temporarily, Jomay was not around even at her primary place of research. That location was one of the local prisons, which curiously enough was full of mentally deranged artists and musicians -- fantastic artistic talent, fantastically insane.
Two months later, the explanation became clear. A group known as Liva'anneg danced around the countryside, spreading a sort of insect, ristan'dia, every which way that they could. The plague that they had formulated and released through the ristan'dia covered the land in a blanket of sores and aches, twisting bodies beyond repair. Some people's limbs shortened, others' faces contorted so that they could barely see, hear, or breathe, and hundreds died. A few souls who had escaped the bugs immediately recognized Jomay among the culprits -- she wasn't particularly hard to recognize, given her appearance. A few of them claimed that even some of the Goblins were seen spreading the insects around -- a sign, no doubt, of a possible alliance between Jomay and the Goblin Lords.
For three months, their acts razed the Elanthian landscape, but one night, a strange twist took place. The Liva'anneg had camped in a cave for the night. The next morning, a local farmer spotted and recognized Jimohe -- after all, he was a wanted murderer -- running from the direction of the cave, and yelled for a few villagers to follow him. When those people arrived, they discovered that all seventeen had their wrists and legs bound, their mouths gagged, and were further chained to the ground. A few of the villagers had gone after Jimohe, but he had vanished without a trace -- truly telling of his character. Jomay's eyes were of utter shock and disbelief, but only three words left her mouth when questioned -- "Jimohe did this." After that, she said no more to anyone, and nor did her companions.
Why did Jimohe bind and gag his sister and her allies? Did he think by doing so that he'd get a reprieve in the eyes of the Empire for the murders he'd committed? In any case, to this date he has still not been seen nor captured, though rumor has it that he ran back to the Goblin Lords to entreat their assistance
"... you shall have your sentences carried out -- death. This court is adjourned," concluded Surleerik, rising from her throne.
The seventeen rose, and Jomay looked back towards Surleerik. She grimaced broadly at the Empress, bowed mockingly, then proceeded back to the dungeons.
"What could she have been thinking as she was taken off that final day?" Surleerik wondered aloud to me later. "The woman was incredibly sharp. I'd even go far as to say crafty; I wouldn't have dreamed she ever would have been captured by her own brother like that. She would have seen it coming. Even if she hadn't, though, her emotions at the end were off - instead of being infuriated, her eyes were howling in laughter at me. What was the punchline to the joke she was listening to? Why did she throw away her position as the most powerful Empath in her guild to do what she did?"
By my hand,
Royal Historian to Her Empress, Surleerik, of the Seven-Star Empire