The Tunneler is a title referring to at least five separate rabbits, who served as the successive leaders of the Seventh District in Akolan. In this capacity they functioned in a similar role to the citadel lords of the various secret citadels, though they were looked upon as father figures as well as military leaders.
The first Tunneler was seized by the Lords of Prey from the deck of Vanguard, and was brought to Akolan along with scores of other Rabbits captured from Seddleton. He originated the role of Tunneler, and spent fifty years digging a tunnel and what would become the Seventh District council chamber.
Second and third Tunnelers
Next to nothing is known of the second and third Tunnelers, except that they continued the work of the First Tunneler.
The fourth Tunneler was, by the time of Heather Longtreader's arrival in Akolan, an aged and blind Rabbit. He was a widower and had lost eight of his nine children to the cruel regime of Morbin Blackhawk. His only surviving child, a daughter named Melody, often clashed with him due to her desire for quick and decisive action, a contrast to her father's more cautious approach. Despite this, the Tunneler knew that action would eventually have to be taken, though he dread being the one to initiate the Seventh District's long-prepared plans of escape. However, his fear was not for his own life, but fear that he would fail past, present, and future Rabbits if he acted too quickly.
At the urging of Whittle Longtreader, the Tunneler allowed Heather to be brought to a meeting of the Seventh District. Due to her recent arrival, he was persuaded to do this only on the condition that the strictest law of the Seventh District be enacted; namely, that Heather would die if even one member of the group spoke against her. However, this never-before-used penalty did not come into effect, as all present at the meeting were convinced of Heather's trustworthiness, at least to the point of not objecting verbally. At the same meeting Melody proposed a plan to bring the more aged and infirm citizens of Akolan into the lepers' district, but the Tunneler asserted that the Longtreader administration would never allow it.
With his health failing rapidly, and knowing that action would have to be taken to prevent further tragedy on the upcoming Victory Day, the Tunneler summoned Heather to his private chamber. He revealed the full extent of the Seventh District's plans to her, as well as confessing his fears regarding it. He also asserted that his greatest hope was either to die passing his role on to a worthy successor, or else to stand defending the escape of the Seventh District's ships with other old bucks of the community, emulating the courage of King Gerard on Golden Coast. However, he knew that his most likely successor, Garlen Canton would seek to preserve the Seventh District as an institution rather than put its plans into motion.
As such, he asked Heather to help him survive for a few days longer so as to insure that he would be able to lead the district in their efforts. Sadly, Heather's efforts proved fruitless, and the Tunneler passed away shortly after lying down to rest following her ministrations. However, his dream would live on, as the council of the Seventh District appointed Whittle Longtreader to succeed him.
- See Whittle Longtreader.