Ama directed Jeremy to sit in a plush chair in the center of a small room. As with the waiting room this space was well-lit, though Jeremy couldn’t discern what the light source was. The healer stepped over toward a table and began pulling several glass bottles off the well-stocked shelves. She muttered slightly as she worked, but Jeremy couldn’t make out any of the words. After several minutes she turned and handed Jeremy an earthen mug.
“Here is our first Attempt, Jeremy. Drink up.”
For some reason Jeremy was expecting the potion to taste terrible, but the scent off the crimson liquid smelled pleasant. When he sipped the liquid he found it had a minty flavor. Suddenly thirsty, Jeremy downed the concoction in two gulps. Ama waited while he finished, smiling warmly at her patient. Once he had drained the mug she turned over small hour-glass and seemed to wait for the sand to drain. As it did so Jeremy’s eyes began to droop, only to suddenly find himself intensely awake. It was not an altogether pleasant feeling, as he was suddenly aware of how much his feet ached. Once the sand had drained in the hour glass, Ama continued.
“Now, Jeremy. Where are you from?”
Jeremy opened his mouth to answer, and felt like a word had almost formed on his lips. Then it quickly vanished. Frustrated, Jeremy shook his head.
“I don’t know.”
Ama pursed her lips. “Hmm. That, young man, was the most powerful restorative I have at my disposal. It also has the interesting side effect of encouraging the truth out of those currently under it’s influence. I wasn’t entirely convinced you weren’t simply a spoiled child chasing the dark, but I certainly do now. Callah Leaf isn’t resisted easily, and I can see the frustration in your eyes. Please forgive my skepticism.”
Jeremy shook his head gently. He wasn’t thrilled at having been fed truth-serum, but given his story he couldn’t blame people for being skeptical. “No ma’am, thank you for your help. You’re the third person I’ve met who’s thought I was ‘chasing the dark.’ I don’t know what it means, but the way people act it must be pretty bad.”
Ama grunted, a sound which Jeremy felt strangely out of place emerging from such a kindly woman. “Yes, Jeremy. It is. ‘Chasing the dark’ is how we describe youths from the Inner Valleys who have too much wealth and far too little sense. They go out into the woods and wait for nightfall, trying to catch a glimpse of Them before making it back to the Boulevard. It’s a dangerous game, and there was a time when many an Inner Valley family were forced to grieve their lost children.”
“Yes, lost. They don’t like us much, they certainly don’t like us spying on their movements at night. Mostly they’ll scare the young fools away, but sometimes they take them. Those unfortunate souls are never seen again.”
Ama nodded. “Yes. Yes it is. Whenever a child goes missing our guard is called out to go search for them in the woods, which They feel is an intrusion. Our poor protectors often come back bloodied and beaten.”
Jeremy shuddered. “Well, now I know why people aren’t very pleased when they hear how Walter found me. I don’t think I’d be very happy either to be forced to go out into the woods at night just to find someone who seems rather irresponsible.” Ama nodded, but the visage of her face changed as Jeremy responded. He found it uncomfortable. “I’m sorry Ma’am, did I say something wrong?”
Ama shook her head and smiled. “What? Oh, no. No, Jeremy, you said nothing wrong. It’s just that Water mentioned you had Inner Valley ideas running around in your head, but what you just spoke doesn’t sound like an Inner Valley scion to me. You are a very peculiar young man.”
Jeremy shrugged. “I think I’d like to be less peculiar, if it’s all the same, Ma’am.”
“Yes, I’m sure that’s true. Let’s try my other restoratives, shall we?” With that, Ama mixed a succession of potions for Jeremy to drink. There was a bright green broth which tasted like Apples but smelled like licorice. This was followed with a thick, sky-blue, concoction with a fruity flavor. Finally, Ama handed Jeremy a wooden cup with a deep brown liquid sloshing around inside which Jeremy obediently drank it down. It had a wonderful nutty flavor. Sadly, none of the potions managed to restore Jeremy’s memory. He could sense ideas wanting to emerge into words, but something kept pushing them back into his head. After the last potion he was extremely frustrated.
Ama was equally frustrated, as her potions had never before failed her. Finally, her eyes widened and she moved back to her shelves. Pulling over a small step-stool, the healer reached to a top corner and pulled down a small, dust-covered, box. After lifting the lid, Ama pulled out a small dull stone. Jeremy couldn’t see any distinctive markings on it, and it looked as though it had been smoothed out by running water. She placed the stone reverently in Jeremy’s hand and motioned for him to raise it toward his mouth.
“Breathe on the stone Jeremy.”
Jeremy exhaled and was shocked by the transformation the stone underwent. It glowed brightly, casting a golden hue into the already bright room. Patterns of light and dark streaks criss-crossed its surface, and as Jeremy examined these new features he began to feel that this rock, little larger than a pebble, had depth – as though he could gaze into it and never be able to see deep enough to glimpse its center.
Ama’s eyes were wide, her jaw open in wonder. She didn’t speak again until the stone finally dimmed to is former state. “Jeremy, you’re a pathfinder!”