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Ancient Keeper

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Greetings, Adventurers! Welcome to the Archive of Backstory and Plot Advancement! Who am I? Why, I am the Ancient Keeper, and I take care of the place. It is my job to dust the bookshelves, change the lightbulbs, polish the Lost Technology, and provide doddering, yet helpful exposition to any and all heroes who happen to stumble within my realm of influence. Want to find the way to the next plot point? I can point you there. Want to discover the true nature of the Government Conspiracy threatening mankind? You'll find that information in that red book on the back shelf three rows down. Want to know the secret past of the hero's father? Look in that pile of dusty, rolled up scrolls over there. Want a copy of the blueprints containing the schematics to the villain's Unstoppable Superweapon? I have that on microfiche. Just walk this way and I'll show it to you.

Oh, before I do so, as an Ancient Keeper, I am contractually required to ask you if you'd like to have a spot of tea with me, and then wistfully remark about how extremely lonely I am, not having seen a single living soul for several centuries now. How do I manage to look so good despite my advanced age? Well, it's easy when one is an android/hologram/helpful ghost/Living Relic designed to fulfill viewer's expectations of what an Ancient Keeper of Knowledge should look like/magical construct/magician. Also, Purpose-Driven Immortality is part of the standard benefits package. Now if you would, walk this way...mind the creaking floorboards and that stack of stone tablets with the glowing cuneiform on it...

Huh? What's that? You say I look kind of creepy and you wonder if I can be trusted? I assure you, my good man, the information I reveal to you is not only entirely accurate, but extremely helpful. I am required to provide equal assistance to all visitors regardless of importance or heroic status, even if I am in the employ of the Big Bad. Which I may or may not be. Also, I assure you, I do not have my own agenda and would not harm you in any way. Now if you'll just finish drinking your tea — which I assure you has not been poisoned — I'll show you the way to the Ancient Planetarium which will reveal to you the solar system where the parts to the series' Magical MacGuffin are hidden....

Oh, and please don't walk so close behind me. You're stepping on the hem of my impractically long robes. (My kind always seems to be wearing impractically long robes.) I may just be an android with limitless time on my hands, but even I hate having to scrub shoeprints out of my clothing...

You say the Ancient Order of Protectors and the Threshold Guardians tried to kill you on the way in? Well, my, my, isn't that something...


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • At the end of the first season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Aoi, a.k.a. the Laughing Man, turns down Aramaki's offer to join Section 9 so he can remain sort of one of these for a massive, mainly automated library, that still keeps printed books. Given his age and the advanced medicine of time, he could quite likely stay in that position for well over a century, if he wanted.
  • Slayers NEXT has Auntie Aqua, a wizened old lady and avatar of the Water Dragon King who guards the secrets of the Clair Bible.

    Card Games 
  • In Magi-Nation, the merman Orothean Blu guards the Archive, just as his father did, and his father before him, and so on until, apparently, the beginning of time. In the video game, the main character comes and opens up Blu's Archive and discovers a pair of magic boots. Needless to say, Blu was pretty disappointed to learn his family spent ten generations guarding footwear.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ĉon Flux: The genebank zeppelin, the DNA archive floating above the city, is guarded by the Keeper, an incredibly old man who explains the plot at the end.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: One of the knights who originally found the grail in the middle ages has remained behind to guard the room where the true grail and many decoys are kept, kept alive by the grail's power for 700 years. He initially thinks Indy is there to relieve him of his duties, but gives information regarding the grail and its power.
    "You have chosen... wisely."
  • Box from Logan's Run. He doesn't so much help visitors though as much as freeze them and turn them into foodstuffs. He's long since forgotten for whom the food was intended, obviously.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: In both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, the Red Skull is cursed to serve as the keeper of the Soul Stone. He explains, first to Thanos and Gamora and later to Hawkeye and Black Widow, the high price that must be paid to obtain the stone.
    "A lifetime ago, I too sought the stones. I even held one in my hands, but it cast me out. Imprisoned me here, guiding others to a treasure I cannot possess."
  • Space Mutiny: The heroes stumble into the villain's headquarters and discover the creepy, Roddy MacDowell-like old man who guards the people whom Kalgan has put "on ice".

    Literature 
  • In Sword of Truth, there are a few of these scattered around the world, often by the wizards from the Great War.
    • The Dream Caster's Wise Man (a hereditary position) and his last-second replacement; (his granddaughter, slightly averting this trope) are a good example: they keep one of the "Central Sites", a scattering of library/bomb-shelter/safehouse/crypt things.
    • The Blademasters in the Old World are an unusually not-frail example. They qualify because they kept the keys to the knowledge of how to unlock the titular Sword of Truth's "memory", allowing the user to Take a Level in Badass from the acquired skills of previous users, the knowledge of how to enter the Dance Of Death, and the history to allow Richard to break through the Barrier between the Old World and the New.
  • Midnight from Warrior Cats is a helpful badger who can speak in cat language. She seems to have an infinite amount of knowledge, and she always shows up to inform the heroes of the next plot point. Also, she's been around since the dawn of time.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The creators of Battlestar Galactica (2003) suggest that Brother Cavil resembles this trope, especially during "Rapture", in which he's prepared to kill D'Anna, and later box her entire line, in order to preserve the identities of the Final Five. We later discover that this is literally true in "No Exit".
  • Merlin (2008) has the Fisher King himself being the keeper in his castle, and asking for a Mercy Kill when he has transmitted his knowledge.
  • The librarian Mr. Atoz in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "All Our Yesterdays". He offers to help the Enterprise landing party go back in time the way the rest of the planetary population had. (Note: "Atoz" is a joking reference to "A to Z", a logical name for a librarian.)
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): Perhaps the creepiest example occurs in the episode "Elegy". Three marooned astronauts stumble upon a world where people seem frozen in time. An Ancient Keeper shows up and reveals that it's actually a giant cemetery. He then takes pains to ensure that the three astronauts become its next occupants.

    Music 
  • "Frozen Rainbow" by Saxon is about a man who guards the eponymous frozen rainbow which holds the power of life. He will have to do that for a while longer, since according to the song's last verse, "The secret of the rainbow will never be revealed."

    Video Games 
  • Analogue: A Hate Story has the A.I.s *Hyun-ae and *Mute, who assist you in accessing the logs of the ancient generation ship. Having experienced the ship's final days firsthand, they can also provide further clarification on the information contained in the logs — although being of opposite viewpoints regarding the ship's feudalistic patriarchal society, their interpretations can vary wildly from one another. Especially given that *Hyun-ae is actually a memory imprint of a Fish out of Temporal Water girl who snapped and switched off the ship's life support systems — *Mute knows what she did and hates her for it, but she becomes sympathetic to her if you can show her what drove her over the edge.
  • Ergo from Anarchy Online manages this despite for all the world looking like a floating head and nothing more. Mind you, that's just the local interface for a massive computer network spanning the entire dimensional region you're in and who is also well over 30,000 years old.
  • Dark Souls has Frampt and Kaathe, the two primordial serpents. They're ancient beings that are very knowledgeable on the world's ancient history, who guide the player on two different paths regarding the fate of the First Flame. That said, their trustworthiness is very suspect.
  • Dragon Age:
    • The Guardian of the Temple of Sacred Ashes in Dragon Age: Origins was one of Andraste's first followers, and thus, incredibly old. He acts as the protector of the urn, allowing only truly humble and penitent worshipers to visit it. The Warden is the first potential one in centuries. If the Warden completes the trials of the Gauntlet, they can approach the Urn containing the ashes of the prophet Andraste. However, the Guardian will attack the Warden if they defile it with dragon's blood per the wishes of the Ax-Crazy dragon cult.
    • The Inquisitor meets Ancient Keepers of a different sort in Dragon Age: Inquisition when they visit the Temple of Mythal, which is guarded by incredibly old elves who protect the temple and its Well of Sorrows from all who would take it for themselves.
  • EXTRAPOWER: The fire majin of Magarda Volcano who has watched the Earth's history since the earliest days of the planet, and serves this purpose in EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce and EXTRAPOWER: Giant Fist. In Attack of Darkforce, he primarily gives guidance to V regarding his ore heart, and reveals to Zophy that he has phoenix ancestry and an opportunity to unlock his blood to become a flame hero and a majin himself if he so chooses. In Giant Fist, he is approached at the end of the Magarda Volcano stage, and so serves an expository role for each of the player characters passing through on their route. Sometimes it's to give a clue as to the nature of some plot element and point them toward the next objective, as he does when cluing Zophy and his friends in to a possible Latour connection; or to reveal some privileged knowledge, such as giving Wolf the secret backstory of the legendary hero Zophy.
  • Garland in Final Fantasy IX. He's the ancient Artificial Human caretaker of the planet Terra, whose original inhabitants died out after creating him to ensure their souls would be reborn on another planet. He's a bit more active in the plot than most examples, but his on-screen actions are mostly limited to providing exposition about Terra to the heroes.
  • In Halo, many Forerunner installations are watched over by robotic guardians, several of whom have gone rather loopy due to being alone for about 100,000 years:
    • 343 Guilty Spark, the Monitor of Alpha Halo. OK, he is trying to harm you (along with the rest of the galaxy), but he's in line with the other bits of this trope. Even then, he initially assumed you knew what you were doing the first time when he almost got you to wipe out all galactic life, which itself is just him following what he's programmed to do in the event of a Flood outbreak. When his installation is destroyed, he instantly becomes a lot more reasonable (since he presumably doesn't have to follow installation-based protocols anymore). However, he goes off the deep end in Halo 3 after getting a new installation, abandoning his previous goal of stopping the Flood in favor of keeping his new post intact.
    • Halo 2: 2401 Penitent Tangent of Delta Halo thinks he's doing his job, but he's actually being held captive by the local Flood Gravemind.
    • Halo 5: Guardians: 031 Exuberant Witness of Genesis is a nice change of pace. While she certainly takes her job seriously, she also sincerely enjoys helping people, and is willing to bend protocol to do so. She's also something of a dorky Genki Girl. In contrast, the Warden Eternal, the apparent "Keeper of the Domain", is arrogant and rather dismissive of organic life, and turns out to be The Dragon to a now-crazy Cortana.
  • HarmoKnight exaggerates this trope by combining it with Living MacGuffin, Royal Blood, and Damsel in Distress. Princess Ariana is all four. She is the only one who knows all about the magic staff, so the 4 heroes are trying to reach her as fast as they can, but then she gets kidnapped by the Big Bad, who was also after her.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: Sahasrahla is an old man who lives in the ancient ruins of the Eastern Palace, ready to give Link expository details about the Imprisoning War and a quest to obtain the Master Sword.
    • Impa and Sheik in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are somewhat ancient keepers. Impa is first met as a kid, explaining she is of the Sheikah race, a race dedicated to serving the royal family. She informs you of Kakariko Village and Death Mountain, as well as teaching you Zelda's Lullaby, an ancient royal family song, before disappearing with use of a Deku Nut. Ironically, Sheik later does almost exactly the same, being a Sheikah who informs Link of the ancient temples, before vanishing with a Deku Nut. But then again, does Sheik really count?
    • Impa serves the same role in Skyward Sword, providing protection and exposition to Zelda after she falls to the surface and is pursued by the forces of evil. There's also the old woman guarding the Temple of Time and awaiting the Hero to help him, who's actually Impa's future self.
    • Impa fills the role once again in Breath of the Wild. She has spent the last century since the Great Calamity waiting for Link to wake up and come to Kakariko Village, where she tells him more about the history of Calamity Ganon and points him in the direction of the Divine Beasts.
  • Mass Effect: Vigil is a sci-fi version, an ancient Prothean VI that's been waiting for someone to show up for almost fifty thousand years, just so that he can explain about the Reapers. The next game indicates that he deactivated shortly after his chat with Shepard.
  • With the minor quirk of being a stationary computer and not an android, and the fact that you have to get back stolen memory crystals to repair him before you can actually talk to him, the Oracle/Melian in Might and Magic VI fits quite well, as a really ancient being who provides key plot-advancing information. He actually mentions that he'd prefer a bit more active a role (he is definitely not on the side of the bad guys), but the damage caused by his memory crystals being stolen means he's for the time being limited to providing information and access to a (very dangerous) place where the heroes can find tools they'll need for the final battle.
  • The Big Bad of Pillars of Eternity, Thaos, is an evil version of this. His job — as given to him by the gods, no less — is to make sure that Things Man Was Not Meant to Know stay that way by any means necessary, and he is willing to commit all kinds of atrocities to do it.

    Webcomics 
  • In Rice Boy, there is an unnamed six-armed guy in the library of Seen. He pretty much lives in the library and is almost done reading every book there.
  • Phix in Wapsi Square, keeper of the Bibliothiki (a kind of archetypal library presumably containing every book ever written), is a female sphinx.

    Western Animation 
  • Kuzco and Malina run into the Royal Chalice Keeper in The Emperor's New School, who has apparently been guarding a bunch of chalices (including a very important one) for a thousand years. He's very deprived of human interaction and is quite stumped when Kuzco (somehow) beats his "Choose wisely" on the first pick...
    Malina: We've got to find the Chalice of Eternal Power!
    Royal Chalice Keeper: Very well... 'tis one of these! [displays entire table filled with chalices]
    Kuzco: Yeah, thanks for narrowing it down.
    Royal Chalice Keeper: Take your time and choose wisely...
    [Kuzco thinks for half a second, then picks up the chalice right in front of him]
    Kuzco: Gooot it! Let's go. [leaves]
    Royal Chalice Keeper: Wait! You didn't take your time! Come back! Please don't leave me... my next coffee break isn't until October.
  • Kim Possible has two examples of this. Sensei from the Yammanuchi School keeps the secrets of Mystical Monkey Power and the Lotus Blade. Monkey Fist has a keeper for his mansion, who deals with similar secrets as Sensei.
  • Daphne/Dafne from Winx Club, Bloom's dead sister, a nymph and protector of the Dragon Fire, appears to Bloom in her dreams, speaking to her about discovering her past and telling her about her trials and that she's a princess of Domino/Sparx.

 
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The Grail Knight

One of the knights who originally found the grail in the middle ages has remained behind to guard the room where the true grail and many decoys are kept, kept alive by the grail's power for 700 years. He initially thinks Indy is there to relieve him of his duties, but gives information regarding the grail and its power.

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