Jeremy awoke in a soft bed, covers pulled up to his head to keep out a slight chill ,and covered in some sort of bed clothes he didn’t recognize. He didn’t know how he’d gotten there, but after a moment assumed he must have fallen asleep as Walter and Ama spoke. He’d been dreaming about… something… but couldn’t quite form the dream’s image in his head. He had the sense the dream was important, but didn’t know why. It was quite frustrating.
He sat up slowly and took in the room. It was small, but paneled with well-cut wood stained brightly. A single table was next to the bed, adorned with what Jeremy assumed was a lamp of some kind. Jeremy looked for a switch, though he couldn’t remember why he thought a lamp would have one. When he found none, he assumed it must be fueled by some kind of oil, but also couldn’t locate any of that. The little light Jeremy did perceive flowed through a crack in what he assumed to be shutters over the window. It was a feeble light, the kind Jeremy’s mind associated with dawn.
Just then a knock rapped gently on his door. “Jeremy, Lady says it’s time for you to wake. There’s much to do before you leave.” The voice came from Ami, the senior healer’s assistant whom Jeremy had met briefly the night before.
“Ummm, OK. But I’m not sure where my clothes are, and there’s not a whole lot of light in here.”
Through the door, Jeremy could almost feel Ami roll her eyes. “Lady believed you should wear something more appropriate for The Valleys, you’ll find them on the trunk at the foot of the bed. There’s also a basin with water for washing and a comb for your hair on the table in the corner. As for light. Well, you can either open the shutters and give the morning merchants a show or lift the cover off the evertorch on the table. I suppose one is more modest, but the merchants do enjoy a tale to tell at the taverns.”
“Thanks, I thought that must be a lamp but I didn’t know how to light it.”
“It’s not a lamp Jeremy, it’s an evertorch. Lady says you should be out as soon as you are dressed. I’d come quick, Lady doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”
“I will, thank you again.” Jeremy listened as Ami walked away from his door and examined the object on the table once again. He’d looked for a switch, or a wick to ignite, but Ami said all he had to do was lift the cover. So, he grabbed the base of the object so he might find a seam by which he could separate the cover but was unable to discover one. He finally gave up, placed the object back on the table, and lifted up. To his surprise the cover gently rose from the base. Jeremy immediately understood why it was called an evertorch. As soon as the cover was lifted, a gentle golden light filled the room. The speed of which it flooded out from under the cover gave Jeremy the impression that one didn’t light this object, but that it was already lit. Given the name Jeremy assumed evertorches were either permanently lit, or had such long lives that they might as well last forever.
Once the room was lit up Jeremy had no trouble locating the clothes laid out for him, or the table in the corner. The clothes took some figuring out, as the connectors seemed rather foreign to him, but they were’t too troublesome. His clothing now resembled Walter’s. Grey trousers of some light but tough material, and a soft linen shirt dyed emerald green. Suspenders were also laid out, and these gave Jeremy the most difficulty as he figured them out. A pair of slightly too-big, but comfortable, shoes finished the outfit. Once dressed, Jeremy washed his face with some soap and combed out his hair. There was some powder also on the table, but Jeremy wasn’t sure what it was for. As he pondered it’s purpose another knock sounded in the room, almost as if in answer. “Lady says not to forget the power, it won’t do to go out stinking up the room.”
“Right, got it. Thanks.” Then, after a pause, Jeremy added, “Uh, are you spying on me?”
This time Ami giggle a bit as she answered, “You are not that interesting. Lady is waiting.”
As Jeremy heard Ami move away from his door once more, he took some powder and applied it under his armpits. It had a nice floral scent, which actually seemed to wake him slightly. Assuming he was fully prepared, Jeremy exited the room and followed the direction of Ami’s footsteps. He returned to the room in which he’d fallen asleep the night before and found Ama, Walter, and Ami seated at the table eating a breakfast of ham and eggs. Walter motioned for Jeremy to join them at an empty seat, piling a plate for him which Jeremy accepted gratefully.
“There you are, Lad, we thought you might sleep the day away!”
“I might have, if Ami hadn’t stirred me,” Jeremy took several bites of his food before speaking again. “ I didn’t realize how tired I was, sorry for falling asleep last night.”
Ama placed a hand on Jeremy’s right shoulder. “No need, child. In fact it only confirms to me what I already believed. Our stories of Pathfinders often tell us how journeys often require deep sleep once accomplished. This is, no doubt to me, why Walter found you asleep along The Boulevard.”
Jeremy shrugged. “I guess, Ama, I just wish I could remember. Thanks for the clothes, by the way. They took some getting used to but they’re quite comfortable.”
“You’re welcome, Lad. I had Ami go out and make the purchases last night. We did some guessin’ on the measurements, but you look alright.”
“Yes, and the outfit will make you appear to be a Coastal. Most people will assume you are merely Walter’s assistant and pay you no mind. It’s important we get you to the Ravine without raising too much attention. I’m not sure what people would do if the arrival of a new pathfinder became general knowledge before we present you to the Senate.”
“Do you think they’d hurt me?”
Ami shook her head slightly, and Walter belted a quick, “Ha!” but it was Ama who continued. “No Jeremy, they most certainly would not harm you, but they might cause the desperate or gullible to harm others. Being a Pathfinder, you are automatically part of the most important class of people in The Valleys – and there are many who might use your unattached status for their own ends. These people will treat you like a king, but make you a pawn. We must avoid this.”
Jeremy shook his head in wonder. “I just can’t believe I’m that important, but I’ll do what you want.”
“That’s a good lad, Ama’s one to trust.”
Ama smiled and shook her head in mock exasperation. “And you, Old Fox, are as well – though you do your best to make it seem otherwise. At any rate, we must be off. Ami would you please clean the breakfast dishes. We will be back by Noon meal, dine together at Tavern. Please join us then.”
Ama had been in the process of rising from her seat, but slowly descended back into it after hearing Ami’s customary reply. “Ami, soon you will be the healer for Water Gap. Perhaps for a short-while, but it could be for some time. Healers call no one Lord or Lady – not even their seniors. I know you have not passed your tests yet, but these are unusual circumstances. I am your Lady no longer, child. You will address me as an equal.”
Ami blushed slightly, but nodded. “I will, Ama. And I thank you for the privilege.” With that Ama rose and exited the room, and Walter and Jeremy followed. Jeremy could hear as Ami began to clear their dishes.
Jeremy wasn’t very familiar with Water Gap, but he did recognize their path was actually taking them deeper into the city, which seemed odd given their plans for an early departure. “Ama.”
“I thought we were leaving first thing this morning. But aren’t we moving deeper into the city? And, why did you say we would each lunch with Ami?”
It was Walter who answered Jeremy’s question. “Well you see, Lad, that guard reported you to the council last night like he said. Then ya had Ama here saying that she had to be goin’ away for a bit, leavin’ Ami to be the healer and…. Well sometimes even politicians can add two and two.”
Jeremy fell into the grip of sudden alarm. “You mean?”
“Yes, child. They are very interested in meeting you.”