Aitrus was a prominent member in the D'ni society just before it's fall. His curiosity about the surface dwellers led to his friendship with Ti'ana, whom he later married and had a child (Gehn) with. This led to his estrangement with Veovis, who later caused the Fall of D'ni. Though he survived The Fall of D'ni, he eventually contracted a deadly virus and sacrificed his life to save Ti'ana and stop A'Gaeris. He is the main protagonist of The Book of Ti'ana.
Character and traits
In his youth, Aitrus was a tall, athletic-looking man with an air of earnestness about him. His face had fineboned features accentuated by his cut short and neat fine black hair. His eyes were pale but keen, intelligent and observant eyes.
Aitrus was the son of Kahlis and Tasera. When he was 4, he was taken by his father (still a Guildsman of the Guild of Surveyors) to see the cutting of a new tunnel between the outer caverns. It was the first time he saw an excavator and he felt a fear inside him. But after talking to his father, he felt wonder and pride for their guildspeople. That day was perhaps when he decided to follow his father into the Guild.
He was interested in anything to do with lava flows and volcanic rocks, wishing to specialize in volcanism. His father called him "young worm" and his mother teased his "unnatural" fascination with rocks and geological processes, although himself considered it natural for a D'ni.
Around 23 years old, as a young guildsman of the Surveyors, he eventually volunteered for the expedition and the Journey to the Surface and was assistant to Guild Master Telanis. His favorite place was an office at the back of the excavator where he performed experiments with volcanic rocks. Wishing to understand everything about their nature and formation, he immersed himself in his studies, usually missing his supper prepared by Jerahl.
One evening Jerahl brought him food, and observed his interest in volcanism, about which he had studied in his youth. He told him that Telanis wanted to speak to him. Telanis was in his cabin with 4 Observers from the other Guilds sent by the D'ni Council. He ordered him to be at Master Kedri's disposal for 11 days in order to show and explain him the processes.
From the first day he found Kedri curious for Aitrus's experiments, but made him feel uncomfortable finding their methods too cautious and inefficient. He was excused from other duties but didn't like the assigned task. At night he went late to sleep but when he heard the arrival of a Messenger he went up to hear news from the D'ni City. On his way up, Telanis asked him about Kedri and told him that they need to talk early in the morning. Master Tejara handed to him his letters and a parcel which was from his old "enemy" Veovis. To his surprise, it contained 2 golden pairs of extremely fine scales and compasses, as good as those owned by Telanis, and a letter of friendship. This surprise troubled him before sleeping and he had a dream about his schooldays.
On the 3rd bell, Telanis woke him up and brought him to his cabin. He explained to Aitrus that he knew the task was uncomfortable, but the Observers were sent to survey their attitudes, and their opinions would influence the Council's meeting next month; Aitrus was the ideal person for this task. He asked Aitrus to note down the things that interest Kedri.
4 long and uncomfortable days later, Aitrus was ready to quit his task when he was notified that the next phase would begin and he ran to notify Kedri. As always Kedri showed a big curiosity and interest, and asked to try the fusion-compounder. Aitrus started liking the man.
2 days after testing the drills, he showed to Kedri a diagram of the tunnel and explained to him the use of a Cycler. Kedri asked him the sensitive question about contacting the surface dwellers but Telanis saved him, dismissing his questions. To divert his interest, Telanis proposed to start the drilling imediately. Atrus with the Observers stood in the chart room of the second excavator. That night Telanis congratulated him for entertaining their guests and keeping up their interests. They discussed the dialogue between Kedri and Ja'ir about whether there is life on the surface and whether contacting it was worth the trouble, and exchanged their views about it.
Though his team eventually breaks all the way to the surface, several deaths (and the near death of Veovis) cause The Council to reconsider it's usefulness and shut down the project mere days before contacting the surface. However, this strikes a friendship between him and Veovis, who bullied him as a child, and the two become best friends.
Several years later, Aitrus is now a member of The Council and is preparing to vote on whether or not to re-open the shaft. However, as The Council debate and talk, Anna manages to find D'ni and is immediately captured. While Veovis suggests that Anna is troublesome and will bring nothing but ill fortunes, Aitrus is intrigued and wishes to talk with her, but is forbidden to. After The Council interrogates her, Anna is sent to live with Aitrus' parents. They introduce Anna to Aitrus and the two become fast friends, Aitrus even going so far as to teach her The Art.
However, Aitrus' friendship with Anna strains his friendship with Veovis, who dislikes change. Things escalade after Veovis disallows Anna from linking to his Korfah V'ja ceremony on Nidur Gemat, refusing to allow an outsider to link, and Aitrus takes this as a personal snub, leaving the ceremony as well. Veovis partly apologizes for this, but still refuses to allow her to link, which Aitrus challenges. Veovis later finds out about Anna learning The Art and confronts Aitrus, leading to an investigation by The Council which causes them to confiscate his books and expel Aitrus from The Council and his guild. However, after some investigation, Aitrus presents evidence to The Council and is reinstated, allowing Anna to learn to write.
After several months, Aitrus finds himself falling in love with Anna as they explore the Gemedet age they wrote together. After more investigation, he proposes to Anna and renames her Ti'ana (meaning teller of stories). As the two bring their news to The Council, all vote to accept it but one: Veovis. Aitrus confronts him and the two aruge before Aitrus calls in a favor, changing Veovis' vote at the cost of their friendship. Veovis tells Aitrus to never talk to him again.
Aitrus and Ti'ana later have a child, Gehn, who is plagued with health problems as a baby. However, most of D'ni cast Gehn off as a plague and tell Ti'ana that Gehn is better off dead, as his existence is an abomination. However, Gehn eventually kicks his health problems to Aitrus's delight.
Aitrus later receives a mystery message from A'Gaeris, which he first ignores but later investigates. A'Gaeris uses his ability to forge handwriting to fool Aitrus into believing that Veovis was responsible for two murders and presents him with a linking book to the bodies. Aitrus brings the evidence to Council, who expel Veovis and imprison him in a Prison age.
Later, Gehn joins the Guild of Books to his father's delight and, though he first hates it, is inspired to be more like Aitrus, who he begins to look up to as a role model. During Gehn's studies, Veovis breaks out of prison and bombs several of the ink wells in the Guild Hall. Aitrus has an emergency meeting and prompts Lord R'hira to investigate Veovis' prison age. Though skeptical, R'hira finds it empty and orders a search for him.
Meanwhile, Aitrus returns home to find Ti'ana missing. With no information, he races off to search for her, only to find no trace of her. However, just as he's searching his office, Veovis appears and tells him he has Ti'ana hostage. Aitrus panics and links after him to Ederat, where he is knocked out by Veovis and A'Gaeris to use as bait for Ti'ana (unaware she was already in the age). He is placed in a cage and Ti'ana attempts to save him, but is unable to pick the lock. After dealing with Veovis, Aitrus is rescued and awaits Veovis' trial.
Several months later, Veovis is sentenced to be beheaded for his crimes. However, Ti'ana stands up for him and he is instead transferred to a new prison age, whose linking book is soon burned to prevent anyone from entering it. Unfortunately, A'Gaeris infiltrates it first to free Veovis and at Gehn's graduation, start the events that led to the Fall of D'ni. Aitrus races to Gemedet, where he waits there several days before returning to D'ni to investigate.
While in D'ni, he finds the entire place ruined and eventually finds the entire Council dead from a virus. Unfortunately for him, he also contracts it and spends most of his energy mapping out the tunnels for Ti'ana, as well as hiding the Gemedet linking book. He returns to Gemedet where he collapses and remains asleep for several days. He breaks the news to Tasera and Ti'ana, which leads to Tasera's eventual death. However, Aitrus vows to save his wife and son and links them back to D'ni with them to show them the way.
Once there, he attempts to escape in a boat but hears the cries of Veovis, who is stabbed in the back by A'Gaeris. He runs off to investigate, which causes A'Gaeris to kidnap Gehn and Ti'ana. Veovis explains with his dying breath that he can save them by cutting them off and Aitrus links to K'veer, where the three were heading. He rewrites a linking book to become a death book and burns the remaining books, much to A'Gaeris's anger. A'Gaeris threatens Ti'ana, but grows shocked and angry as Aitrus links into the death book, causing the linking book to fall into the fire. A'Gaeris follows shortly after and the two die from the flowing lava. Ti'ana and Gehn are saddened by their loss, but return to the surface with the notes Aitrus left them.
Gehn apparently salvaged a black-and-white photograph of Aitrus taken during his later years. He had taken it to Riven and later adorned his room in Age 233 with it, next to the photograph of Keta.