Jared Aragona


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Miles’s Apprenticeship Journey begins with his mind’s eye leaping from his human self to the person he is on the world of Riesa.  Earth and Riesa share some similarities, but Riesa is very different from Earth.  Microbial life is more intelligent and destructive on Riesa, and the Attendant Beings (people) contend daily with rampant diseases that regularly wipe out great populations.  Death is far more commonplace than it is on Earth, but the Riesan people’s biology and the societies they’ve constructed have evolved to contend with death.  The economy of the world is based entirely upon the medical infrastructure.  Although Miles has some trouble integrating with his new self, he eventually can see himself as the Riesan person he is: a low-level “Doctor” at a “clinic city,” one of several surviving among the ruins of a once great civilization.

The story begins with Miles being attacked and nearly killed by a Breaker.  He is saved by the intervention of another Caretaker, but he chooses to take revenge on the Breaker who nearly killed him.  This vengeance only serves to play into a larger catastrophe brewing behind the surface of reality.  Miles wants to tell Luzciel more about this dangerous back story, since those events are affecting her as she reads, but there is a threat of telling Luzciel too much too soon.

At the time of his story, Miles is not developed enough to know what the Caretaker Quest for Riesa entails, but he knows to follow his instincts spontaneously.  These instincts lead him to volunteer as an assistant to a “High Doctor” on an overseas voyage to find the cure for a disease that threatens to destroy their city.  When the High Doctor dies before the voyage begins, Miles offers to make the journey on his own.  

Overseas voyages are practically suicidal on Riesa, but using his Caretaker abilities, Miles arrives on a foreign continent where he hikes into a wilderness area.  There he encounters a blind, elderly doctor, SUDIK, who has fallen out of a stampeding migrant tree.  Near death, the blind Sudik returns a kindness to Miles by giving him a crystalline key to take to a clinic city called “Bessos” where Miles can use a lab to find his cure.

With the key, Miles ventures to Bessos, which is one of two warring clinic cities existing within the massive “Wall of Manoon.”  In order to get inside the wall, Miles first passes through a dense perimeter city filled with dying people, and circumstances lead him to become poisoned by a fungus that causes Riesan people to feel compassion, which Riesans don’t feel naturally and find loathsome.  Miles is saved by BOLTRIST, the “True Child” of the Ruling Doctor of Bessos, who disdains Miles for succumbing to the poison but is impressed that anyone could survive an overseas voyage.  Boltrist escorts Miles into the Wall of Manoon and to the Bessos Clinic for detoxification.  

Once Miles is cured, Caretaker Instinct leads him to Boltrist in the restricted “Upper Pyramid.”  Boltrist is infuriated by Miles entering the restricted area but becomes intrigued when Miles reveals Sudik’s key.  The key opens Sudik’s private laboratory, and by a scarring ritual that Sudik had performed on Miles in the wilderness, Miles is the official heir to the lab.  To ally with Miles, Boltrist invites him to a “Tare Ceremony” where Miles can meet the RULER OF BESSOS.  

Tares are nomadic Riesan people who have a genetic ability to detect and prevent oncoming epidemics, but their history is marked by ethnic tensions that have made their efforts to help the populations inside walled compounds a complex endeavor.  However, their assistance is needed, since disease is rampant inside the Wall of Manoon, particularly a horrifying disease called “Sworletts,” which is the focus of Boltrist’s research.  

Before the Tare Ceremony takes place, however, Miles disregards Boltrist’s advice to stay in Sudik’s lab.  Instead he ventures around the city to a dirty market square where he witnesses the crime of two people trading a cure from the “City of Vagney.”  This city exists on the other side of an enormous barrier of mobile trees, the “Sgreav.”  One of the miscreants, ZOZO, later approaches Miles in a “Gullet House.”  Miles clearly comes from a foreign continent, and Zozo knows that any foreigner would be valuable to the underground operation.  However, when Miles mentions he has a lab at the Bessos Clinic, Zozo becomes suspicious and slips away.  Miles knows he has made an error that will negatively affect the Caretaker Quest.  Then, when he tries to leave the Gullet House, he is forced to enter a “Lust Nest Maze,” since reproduction in Bessos happens by mandate.  

Lost in the delirium of the Lust Nest Maze, Miles almost misses the Tare Ceremony, and this circumstance is made more likely by a surprise attack on Miles’s future by an unseen Breaker.  The prescience required for the attack leads Miles to believe that the Breakers might be more powerful than he was taught during his training on Earth.  He knows that if he fails to arrive at the Tare Ceremony, the Caretaker Quest will be irretrievably lost.

Miles, however, is able to use his Caretaker Instinct to find a way to the Tare Ceremony where he discovers that one of the Tares is his Guiding Caretaker, Oliver Crucias, in his Riesan form.  During the Tare Ceremony, which is attended by Doctors from both Bessos and Vagney, Tare Oliver announces the offer to assist one clinic in finding the cure for Sworletts.  In order to determine which clinic that will be, Tare Oliver proclaims it will be the first clinic to obtain “ten vials of sap from an Ayoorian Blueblood Tree.”  This challenge requires that the Doctors from both Bessos and Vagney travel to the dead city of Ayoor, an extremely dangerous mission.  Since Boltrist is the head of the Bessos Sworletts Ward, Boltrist’s team will be the one to undertake that mission.  After the ceremony is complete, Miles meets the Ruler of Bessos who agrees to honor Miles’s possession of Sudik’s lab as long as Miles assists with the Tare Challenge.  

Miles becomes part of Boltrist’s team, which includes a variety of characters, including DREYFO, the strongest Breaker Miles has yet to encounter.  Breakers are not aware of Caretakers in the same way that Caretakers are aware of Breakers, but Dreyfo feels unexplainable animosity toward Miles.  Later, Miles meets Tare Oliver in a place where they can converse openly, and he learns about their Caretaker Quest, which is to ensure a cure for Sworletts is found or else it will wipe out all life on Riesa.  Oliver is also aware that something larger has happened behind the surface of reality.

Just before leaving for Ayoor, Boltrist’s team and the Vagney team meet Tare Oliver outside the Wall of Manoon.  Oliver uses the Caretaker power of Lovespark to make Boltrist and a Doctor from Vagney named SIDISOLD fall in love.  Then the Tare Challenge begins, and both teams use Extreme Motion Endurance Pants to sprint at lightning speed to the dead city of Ayoor.  Instinct forces Miles to deceive his own team, and in a fierce battle to take down the same Blueblood Tree, the Doctors of Bessos and Vagney attack each other.  During this battle, Boltrist injures Sidisold and then gives up fighting in order to help Sidisold, allowing the Vagney team to win the Tare Challenge.  Boltrist’s defeated team returns to an unforgiving populace.  Every doctor except Boltrist is demoted, and Miles is confined to Sudik’s lab until he is willing to name a local heir.  

After a long imprisonment, Miles is visited by Boltrist, who seems near death.  Boltrist informs him that Sworletts is rampant in Bessos, but the problem ailing Boltrist is the agony of love.  Boltrist begs Miles to use his foreign status to travel freely in the City of Vagney and pass a message to Sidisold.  Miles pretends to be reluctant, but agrees when Boltrist offers the coveted “Cure of Chardil.”  Miles then reveals that he knows a way into Vagney through Zozo.  Dreyfo discovers Miles and Boltrist’s plan, but Boltrist is temporarily able to subdue the Breaker.

With Boltrist’s message for Sidisold, Miles returns to the dirty market section and reconnects with Zozo who leads him through back alleys to the genius of the underground movement, a crazed mutant named BIZBEZAN.  To guarantee Miles’s allegiance, Bizbezan gives Miles a drug that makes him fanatically receptive to anything Bizbezan says.  Bizbezan then sends Miles on a dangerous smuggling errand that requires him to ride an enormous tree through the writhing Sgreav and into the City of Vagney.

Inside Vagney, Miles crosses paths with Oliver in a marketplace.  Oliver informs him about their need to make the Rulers of Bessos and Vagney themselves work together in order to complete their Caretaker Quest.  Miles thinks this collaboration is impossible, but Oliver is more worried about the greater disturbance behind the surface of reality that is allowing Breakers to strike at creation more precisely than ever before.

Miles eventually delivers Boltrist’s message to Sidisold, who exposes a hidden love for Boltrist but quickly grows skeptical.  Boltrist’s attack in Ayoor had caused Sidisold to become infected with a fatal disease.  To prove that Boltrist’s love is genuine, Sidisold demands the Bessos “Rock of Lineage,” which Boltrist possesses as the Ruling Doctor’s “True Child.”  Miles thinks the Caretaker Quest is lost, especially when a Breaker attack causes him to oversleep and miss the time to return to Bessos.  When he tries to reestablish his return, Miles is caught by Vagney Guards.  He is saved by Sidisold, who is near death but finds an expression of love for Boltrist to be the most important final act before death.  

By the time Miles is able to return to Bessos, society is breaking down and bodies are strewn in the streets as a result of Sworletts.  Miles arrives at the chaotic Bessos Clinic where the highest ranking doctors are sequestered in the High Court.  Miles encounters Dreyfo in a back corridor, and the Breaker is tempted to kill Miles.  Miles is shocked to find Caretaker Instinct telling him to reveal Boltrist’s plot to Dreyfo who knows that the news of Boltrist and Sidisold will destroy Boltrist.  Miles even gives Dreyfo some of Bizbezan’s Receptive Fanaticism drug, which Miles had obtained upon his return from Vagney.  

Miles eventually finds Boltrist and tells the news of Sidisold’s imminent death.  Boltrist grows wild and refuses to give Miles the promised cure until he is taken to Sidisold.  The passage over the Sgreav is no longer viable, so Boltrist takes Miles to a place where the Extreme Motion Endurance Pants are stored, and they use them to run across “The Great Split,” the final spot joining Bessos and Vagney.  This crossing happens just in time because Dreyfo has the Ruler of Bessos under the influence of Bizbezan’s Receptive Fanaticism drug, and an army of guards is pursuing Boltrist and Miles.

Miles and Boltrist make it into Vagney, but a collision critically injures Boltrist.  Miles finds a way for them to enter the Vagney Clinic where they find Sidisold quarantined and moments from death.  Boltrist breaks into the quarantined area and the two face death together.  Then a huge commotion makes clear that Vagney is being invaded by Bessos.  The Rulers of Bessos and Vagney come to face to face, and the fruits of Miles and Oliver’s manipulations cause the Rulers to become infected with the compassion-causing fungus and thus work together to find the Sworletts cure.  

After successfully completing the Caretaker Quest, Miles goes underground and eventually leaves the Wall of Manoon, but he is able to reconnect with Boltrist and learn the way that Boltrist and Sidisold survived to have clandestine meetings outside the wall.  Miles bequeaths Sudik’s lab key to Boltrist who has been stripped of all previous authority.                                                

In the wilderness, Miles meets with Oliver, and the two debrief before Miles journeys overseas to his homeland.  When he arrives there, he learns the destructive outcomes of the revenge he sought before departing, and he questions his own strength as a Caretaker.  Miles, however, is growing in consciousness and changing into the Caretaker he will become by the time he is writing to his Apprentice Caretaker.

Throughout the entire telling of Miles’s story from Riesa, Luzciel, the apprentice Miles is trying to recruit, battles apathy and takes risks with Breakers who are attacking her.  She takes her reading more seriously when she realizes that Breakers from her past are converging around her in the present, but she needs to read another story before she can accept the fact that she is a Caretaker.

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Jared Aragona