Kaehl is the protagonist of Welltower: First Run, Welltower: Second Run, and Welltower: Final Run. His family includes Father, Mother, and Selda. As with most characters in the series, Kaehl has no family name.
He grew up in Welltower. While still a teenager he escaped from Welltower, bringing Selda with him. He lived briefly in Alizon City, rapidly gaining and meeting responsibilities. He was temporarily made the official representative of Welltower to Alizon. He played a significant role in the politics of Welltower and Alizon. In particular, he rescued Mister Jolley, the administrator of Welltower; he made decisions for Welltower during the flood massacre; and he helped uncover the plot between Chell and Serrin.
Little is known about Kaehl's physical appearance. He was a strong, healthy teenage boy in spite of poor nutrition during his youth. He had some tattoos which were removed by Alizon after he left Welltower.
In terms of personality, Kaehl was a compassionate person who hated violence. His biggest fear was that he might become like his father: violent, drunk, and cruel. He was more cautious and thoughtful than his sister, Selda.
Escape from Welltower
At the beginning of his life Kaehl lives in an otherwise empty quad on level 321 with Mother, Father, and his sister Selda. His father is a cruel, abusive drunk who beats his children and wife. Kaehl is depressed by his life, which he describes as "dullness, boredom and limitations and moments of screaming, stupefying pain."
Mother taught him how to read and write as a child. He was one of the few people in the community who possessed this ability and it made him famous.
While living with his family he rarely left the quad. He spent his time taking care of Selda, helping with housework, making dolls for Mother to sell, and doing exercise like push-ups and sit-ups. He resented being trapped in the quad but feared what Father would do to him if he left it.
He hated Father and feared becoming like him. When Father injured Cutdirte and began screaming at Kaehl, Kaehl nearly attacked him, but stopped himself because he believed such violence would make him too much life Father.
The next day Father beat Kaehl badly. He was unconscious for days afterwards. After this he swore that if Father ever injured him again, he would leave and join a Pack.
Later, when Father attempted to strike Selda, Kaehl struck him with a stool. Fearing that he was becoming a violent monster like his own father, Kaehl ran away from home. He ran in a panic through the hallways until he was lost and exhausted. He was saved by a Pack and became a carrier, then later a runner. After the Pack tried to Welcome Selda, Kaehl took her and fled from it.
Kaehl next began working at a farm. He met Doctor Herstand and a missionary and learned a little about the Outside, and that the Penthouse or the Outside might be able to cure Selda of her disability. After he was nearly caught working without paperwork, he ran away with Selda to try and find the Penthouse.
He found it but was separated from Selda in the process. He rescued her by kidnapping Mister Jolley at the point of a knife. During this period he learned many truths about Welltower, including that the structure is underground, that up and down are reversed, that light and dark are reversed, and that the Outside is actually a wonderful place. He resolves to climb to the surface and finally makes it out of Welltower.
A few months later he descended with Selda back into Welltower in search of his father. He was unable to find him. In the process he found that his home level had been devastated by the Black Spit and he contracted the plague himself.
He was assigned by Doctor Herstand to deliver a message to Mister Jolley, who was the official leader of Welltower at the time. On that mission he was captured, abused, and abandoned when it was discovered that he suffered from the plague. He was saved by Mister Jolley after Welltower was flooded.
After that he was made the representative of Welltower, since Jolley was in hiding amd Chell was a deserter. He spent his time organizing rescue efforts from the flood disaster.
He was ordered to accompany Special Team Alpha in a raid on Serrin. He participated in the battle down there, helping to interrogate the Aers, rescuing Dev, and heroically locating invisible Serrin troops using Seeker globes. He was shot in the leg during this fight and went unconscious. The Alizon soldiers took him to an Alizon hospital.
He was in extremely critical condition up there due to his wounded leg and his advanced case of Black Spit. Either condition would have been life-threatening; with both of them, even the high tech hospital light globes could barely keep him alive. When the Aers destroyed the city's power grid to defend it from a missile, Kaehl's light globes were destroyed and he died.
His funeral was well-attended. His gravestone reads:
Origin of Kaehl's NameYocum discusses the origin of Kaehl's name. The word "Kaehl" has no particular significance. It was chosen because few real-life people have that name and because the author liked the way it sounded. In the drafts of the book, Kaehl went through the names Tahn, Gorj, Kahl, Cahl, Cel, Sehl, Sel, and other variations before settling on what it is today.
- Bk. 1 Ch. 1
- Appendix, Welltower Names and Symbolism