Jeremy found he had begun holding his breath the moment Walter motioned toward the open glass doors. He knew he needed to discuss the shadow encounter with Walter and Ama, but he was also dreading what might come of the conversation. Jeremy hadn’t forgotten the looks his friends had given him when he first spoke his fears out loud.
Walter pointed him towards a soft arm chair facing the balcony, into which he fell gratefully. Ama took a moment to decide where she would sit, but finally settled on a small sofa opposite Jeremy’s seat. After closing the doors Walter took the other spot on Ama’s couch.
“Those doors aren’t the most privacy-minded obstructions, but Meddle has us so high up in Shelter I doubt anyone would hear us if we started shoutin’ at the top of our lungs.”
Jeremy wasn’t certain of Walter’s mood, but gave an expressionless nod in response to his observation. Ama Patted Walter’s hand. Her face was adorned with what Jeremy had come to recognize as her “comforting smile” but, observing her in the privacy of their rooms, he noticed something else in her eyes – something which looked very much like worry.
“Lad, I don’t know if there’s an easy way to bring this up, so I won’t even try. What did ya mean when you said you were frightened for us and not yourself?”
Jeremy shook his head in frustration. “I don’t know, Walter. I just think of all these amazing things I keep seeing, and the more I’m impressed with them the more it feels like…” Jeremy paused, trying to measure the words which would best finish the sentence. After a moment Ama prodded him with her gentle voice.
“What does it feel like to you, Jeremy?”
“I don’t know.” Jeremy covered his face with his hands and was surprised to find tears had begun to fall down his face. “I don’t know anything!”
He stood up and pointed to the newly discovered tears. “I don’t even know why I’m crying! Ama you think I did this to myself, but why? Why would I take away my own memories? You both think there’s a reason for me to be here, but why would I keep it from myself? I didn’t ask for this. Whoever I was, I don’t want to be lost in a world of shadows and healers and underground valleys. I don’t want to love this place!”
“What are you feeling about this place which makes you not want to love it, Jeremy?”
“I feel like it’s all about to end!” He was shouting so loudly Walter glanced out the doors to see if anyone was coming up to check on the commotion. Realizing he was loosing control of himself, Jeremy took several breaths before he continued. “I don’t know why I feel that way, but I do. And it’s got something to do with me.”
“You think you’re going to bring an end to The Valleys, lad?”
“No.” Jeremy uttered this single word with such force he actually felt relieved. The interest the shadows had shown in the tunnel, combined with his own growing fear of an imminent end to all he was seeing, had caused him to become concerned he would someone be the cause of that end. The moment Walter asked that question, however, Jeremy became certain this was not the case.
“No. I think I’m here for another reason.”
“What reason is that, lad?”
“I’m here as a warning. Something awful is coming, and The Valleys need to be prepared for it’s arrival.”
“What is it? What’s coming Jeremy.”
“I… I don’t know.” Shaking his head in frustration he collapsed back into his arm chair. “I don’t even know how I know something awful is coming.” He balled his left hand into a fist and wrapped his knuckles on his forehead. “Why would I do this to myself?”
Ama stood and walked over beside Jeremy’s chair. Kneeling, she cradled his fist into her hands with a gentleness which Jeremy found overwhelming. “Jeremy, I don’t know why you would have done this to yourself. But I am certain of this, you are here to help us and, in time, I believe you will know why.”
“I don’t know why either, lad, but I’ll tell you this. I’ll stick with you as long as ya want me around. Don’t you worry about that.”
“Thank you. Thank you both.”
“Ya didn’t think I’d kick a stray to the curb so soon after takin’ him with me, did you?”
“I really didn’t know, Walter. To me it seems like all I am is trouble.”
“Well, lad, ya got a lot to learn about me. Even if you weren’t getting visits from shadows and having awful feelings about The Valleys, you’re still the first new pathfinder to arrive here for centuries. I got a responsibility to you.”
“And if he wasn’t a pathfinder, Old Fox?”
Walter shot an annoyed look towards Ama as he responded. “I still wouldn’t kick you to the curb, lad. It’s not what I do.”
Ama patted Jeremy’s hand. “You see, Jeremy, you aren’t alone. We will stay with you, and we will help you discover what you have forgotten.”
“But why? Why would you want to help me? You don’t even know me. I don’t even know myself.”
Ama glanced at Walter, who shrugged and said, “Let’s just say helpin’ folks is what we’re about and leave it at that. Now, let’s get to bed. We can speak more in the morning.”
Jeremy nodded and rose from his chair. Walter pointed Ama t the door behind him, “I guess you know where your suite is, Ama.” She nodded and bid the two men good night before retreating to her bedroom. Walter then motioned Jeremy to a door on his right. “Jeremy, in there is the bath. I had some bed clothes laid out for you before I came to dinner. Why don’t you wash up some? When you’re done our room is the that door behind you.”
“OK Walter. Thanks.”
Jeremy entered the bath room and immediately felt the warmth of the floor tiles. In the center of the room was a submerged tub of steaming water. A set of bed clothes hung on a set of hooks on his left, and a wrack of fluffy towels was found on his right. Gratefully, he stripped off his travel clothes and submerged himself into the water. He laid his head back and shut his eyes, allowing the warmth of the water to relax his tired muscles. After several minutes of rest, Jeremy decided to grab the soap which was positioned by the edge of the tub, lest he accidentally fall asleep before washing. When he opened his eyes, however, he was greeted with nothing but darkness.
The evertorch had gone out.
As in the tunnel, Jeremy began to feel a voice address him.
“Do you wish to save this place?” It said quietly.
“Yes,” Jeremy whispered. “Yes I do.”
“Then seek truth, but *do not remember.”
“What do you mean?” he asked. But no response came. The shadows had fled once again, replaced with honey glow of the evertorch. It’s light glistened in the water, which had suddenly grown cold.