“A Wrestless Night” is the longest section I’ve yet written for Welcome to the Valleys. I didn’t set out to make the conversation as long as it was, Jeremy and company really need to move on to the Inner Valleys, but I was pleased because I was able to establish his character a bit more.
Why did the room grow so cold when the shadow manifested itself? For that matter what on earth are the Shadows? Sadly, I really can’t explain without giving anything else away about the Shadows, and I’d like to leave that for some upcoming sections.
I will point this out. The Shadows are more than dimming the evertorches when they manifest.
Walter has become incredibly protective of Jeremy. His outburst of slamming the door, followed by shouting to any listening Shadow to stay away from Jeremy, is the most character development I’ve done on him in a while. He seems to have fallen through the cracks lately as Ama has taken the reigns. The way he rushed to Jeremy’s aid is an important cornerstone of who he is. I’ve said before that Walter hadn’t ever met the Shadows. In reality, he’s terrified of them – shouting at one even caught him by surprise.
Walter will re-assert himself soon, but it’s good to see him stepping forward. Even if it was only for a ineffectual stand.
Ama cradles Jeremy
I wanted Ama’s cradling of Jeremy to feel motherly. Her naturally protective nature, combined with her healing abilities, made this scene work. She does, however, develop a shortness of breath as she restores Jeremy’s calm. Ama is a very skilled Am healer, and it takes a huge amount of damage to the psyche for her abilities have a physical consequence upon her. Walter knows this about her, which is why he points out the strain she was under.
Walter and Ama are both wrong in their assumptions, though. Well, partly. The Shadows are putting a great strain on Jeremy’s psyche, no doubt, but that’s not why Ama’s paid a bit of a price when she uses her abilities in this passage 1. Why is there so much damage to Jeremy’s psyche? Well, Jeremy has lost his memory, if that gives you any clue.
If there’s anything I thought got missed in this passage, is how folks responded to Jeremy being told to not remember. Why? Well, if Jeremy is correct about his roll in saving the Valleys 2, there must be something about his memory which could help bring about it’s destruction.
Keep in mind the vast amount of forgetting going on in The Valleys, there is a link between that and the command given to Jeremy. Why is remembering dangerous?
Jeremy feels the emotions
The Shadows really do think differently from humans, and he’s the first person in the recent age of The Valleys who is able to actually sense emotion trough their chaotic state.
We learn a bit more about those who speak with the Shadows, it’s actually part of the Pathfinder gene. Ama can typically hear the Shadows, but in the past she’s had trouble making them hear her. The closest she ever got was in her healing school, where it took her 6 days to convey her desire to say hello to a Shadow.
Yet, in “A Restless Night,” the shadow responds to her use of the word “Shadestalker.” Either her voice resonates with the Shadows more than she knows, or there is something odd about the Shadow which is apparently following Jeremy.
Talum and Meadowrun
I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get Jeremy to take a spur of The Boulevard into The Ravine, rather than progressing straight in, it’s a much more impressive approach. Given the nature of their mission, however, taking time to sight-see didn’t make any sense.
Thankfully, the trip to Meadowrun puts Jeremy on this spur. A character like Talum was originally going to be introduced in The Ravine, as the Um healers are going to be very interested in Jeremy’s background, but I moved him out into the country a bit. Walter doesn’t care much for Talum, as he thinks he goes around kicking hornets nests for fun. Walter isn’t wrong about Talum in that regard, but I’m still looking forward to meeting him.
The one Shadow who seems to be staying around Jeremy seems to be extremely “in tune” with Jeremy and his companions. So much so that it’s even able to make it’s emotions understood to his friends by playing with the lights.
This particular Shadow been left behind to keep and eye on the companions’ progress. The question is, why?
Jeremy is not afraid of the Shadows, and this lack of fear is not merely due to his lack of knowledge about their interactions with the people of That Valleys. Yes, the affect him greatly – but isn’t fear, it’s actually a form of exhausting. In fact, the more used to the Shadow’s presence he gets, the less they are affecting him. We’re also seeing his stress come to the fore more and more. Jeremy isn’t an “obnoxious teenager,” but he has been dumped into a very stressful situation – and his is an adolescent.
Walter’s explosion upon the invisible companion actually helped Jeremy to dare to treat the Shadow the way he does. I find it interesting the Shadow acquiesces to Jeremy’s demands, Walter and Ama are completely flummoxed by it.
What’s the source of the joy the three companions feel? If it’s the shadow there are a couple of questions to ponder.
First, after Ama just said no one had ever sensed emotions like a human’s from the Shadows, why could all three suddenly sense something.
Second, up to this point, each manifestation of the Shadows has been associated with darkness. Even the phrase “chasing the dark,” which is typically associated with the creatures, has to do with darkness. Why, suddenly, would it cause the evertorch to glow brighter?
I’m going to have to spend some more time pondering the nature of the Shadows, because these things are really interesting.