Leed is a little boy; he was born in Talbos, and sold by his parents when he was five years old. The sale was managed by Leed’s uncle. Leed was planted as a child laborer in the quarries of Slavithe.
Leed, The Child-Spy
He was to live as a faux-Slavithe boy there, and to be gradually promoted into higher circles of ranking Slavithe households, and to serve as a spy under the direction of his uncle, who carried information to the network of government spies answering to the king in Talbos.
King Fernos Is A Piece Of Work
Leed’s nasty uncle, his father’s brother, lives as a robber on the road between the cities of Talbos and Slavithe; when Leed obeys Ajalia, instead of his sleazy uncle, his uncle beats him.
Ajalia vows to take revenge on the man. This is an excerpt from Into the East:
“What don’t I know?” Leed demanded.
“Things,” Ajalia said.
“That is also nonsense,” Leed told her sternly. “You are avoiding telling me things.”
“Yes, I am,” Ajalia said. Leed gave her a long and offended silence, and then he drew an important breath.
“You are being very dismissive, and rude,” Leed informed her. Ajalia nodded. “You are not allowed to nod, and agree with me!” Leed cried. “You have to fight back, and tell me that I’m wrong. You can’t admit that you’re being rude!”
“I’m being very dismissive, and exceedingly rude,” Ajalia said calmly. Leed stopped on the brightly-lit mountain, and stared at her. When he saw that Ajalia did not stop and come back to confer with him, his face reddened, and he chased after her.
“You are supposed to be nice to me,” Leed told her. Ajalia waited until Leed was just behind her, and then she turned without a word, and caught Leed under the arms. She threw him onto the ground, and caught him just before his face hit the rocks. Leed did not cry out, but his whole body stiffened, and his shoulders and arms spread reflexively. Ajalia felt the breath leave the boy’s body in a long gasp of fear.
Leed is afraid of his uncle, because his uncle is a violent and unprincipled man. Leed is also used to being invisible, in that he is expected to function without any care being taken of him as a person with thoughts and feelings of his own. Leed has never been treated, by anyone, like a child, and he has consequently grown into a functional, invisible entity.
Leed Does Not Think Of Himself As A Person Who Counts
In Western therapy, this phenomenon is called “the forgotten child,” but that is hardly a fulsome description of the experience of not existing.
How Did Ajalia Get Him?
Ajalia wrested ownership of Leed’s labor from a grafter, Gevad, early in the first book of the series; ever after, Leed becomes Ajalia’s right hand and trusted confidant, because she was used in the same way; Leed and Ajalia understand each other.
He Asks For A Knife
Leed, some way into their relationship, says that he wants to learn to defend himself. Ajalia, you see, carries a knife, and uses it when she feels it necessary. Leed lusts after the knife, and the safety he believes it represents.
He Is Working With Philas When Ajalia Begins To Teach Him
Leed has to learn the difference between people who care about him and people who hate him, and he has to become angry on his own behalf. In the beginning of the series, Leed is deep in the culture of his people; he feels obligated to his uncle, and fears the existential consequences of being bad. Because he has been taught that he is not really a person, Leed sees badness as synonymous with standing up for himself, or defending himself from the abuse of his captors.
Leed Doesn’t Want To Be A Bad Person
When Ajalia sees that Leed earnestly desires the self-possession that she has, she strikes a deal with him: she will teach him to defend himself, if he takes revenge on his uncle himself. Ajalia meant to hunt Leed’s uncle herself, but Leed accepts the bargain, and she goes to work.
How Does Ajalia Teach Leed?
She begins by attacking him, but never harming him. Leed, for a long time, is violently indignant. He sees that Ajalia is like him, in that she has also been conditioned to serve others as an invisible nonentity. According to Leed’s ingrained thinking, it is wrong, for either Ajalia or himself, to stand up against any kind of abuse.
He Has To Get Mad Before He Will See Himself As Worthy
Ajalia begins to throw Leed around, and to turn him upside down, always taking care to protect him from pain, but causing him great fear in the process. Leed gets angrier and angrier throughout this process; he accuses Ajalia of hating him, and of being evil. She turns his reasoning back on him, and asks if his uncle is equally evil for causing him physical injury. When she says this, Leed goes very quiet. He does not know how to reply, except to say, in essence, that “It is different with my uncle, somehow.”
She Points Out The Dysfunction In His Thinking
Ajalia presses the point. She takes Leed off guard, again and again, until finally, in the wild mountains between Talbos and Slavithe, Leed gets really angry. He starts to watch her, and to mistrust her. Once he has learned to protect himself physically, she goes to work on his mind, but if you want to hear more about that, you’ll have to read the book.