The surprises these characters keeping springing on me a truly dizzying. The first title for this passage was supposed to be “On the Road.” I wanted the party to have a conversation about Walter’s “summons” as they travelled to Meadow Run and end the segment with the introduction of Talum. I even created a character sheet for him before I sat down to write! As it is, we never got to the nature of Walter’s summons, as something new got in the way. Let’s unpack.
Dealing with bystanders
Up to this point, the main characters have been able to talk openly about their journey, even in crowded areas, as long as they kept their voices down. Walter’s mock-scolding of Jeremy, however, ought to warn them this is no longer a good idea. This hasn’t quite sunk in yet, as they talk rather openly in the stables as they pack to leave, which might have some consequences down the road.
What Ama feels is accurate. Something in the Inner Valleys is heightening people’s mistrust and hostility toward those from the outer settlements. The small bit of push-back Walter experiences in the cafeteria is a sign of things to come. The fabric of society in The Valleys is in jeopardy.
The “inspiration” for this tension, sadly, springs from the tension between different groups in the United States. The mistrust of the Black community towards law enforcement is palpable, and has grown worse after several high profile shootings in the last year – an abuse of power the Black community has stated is the norm rather than the exception. Muslims, or anyone who looks Muslim, have faced increased hostility ever since 9/11. Even people with cameras are not seen by many in Law Enforcement as artists or lovers of beauty, but as security threats. The fabric of American society is under great strain, and the institutions upon which we have relied to help ease our tension seem to be either unwilling or unable to help the tension loosen. Since 9/11 we, as a culture, have lived with a horrible case of untreated post-traumatic stress – and we are dangerously lashing out under the burden. This is what’s happening in the Inner Valleys, a cork has popped, and pent up anxiety is leading people down a dark path.
The pathfinder healer
I actually think I may have to capitalize that as a title, but we’ll retcon that in the future. Remember, a loss of their past is a key point of the story in The Valleys. The people don’t remember the nature of the gifts they possess, nor to they remember a time when healers and pathfinders were one and the same. In fact, the pathfinding ability is triggered by the healing gifts. Or, at least, it used to be.
The Extinction War led to the divergence of those two particular gifts. Pathfinding became a symbolic ability only, but which carried political power. The healing gifts continued to diverge into the forms currently present in The Valleys. Jeremy, who comes from outside the forces which have shaped The Valleys, isn’t limited to their confines. His pathfinding ability, which have yet to explore, is far from symbolic – and his healing abilities aren’t specialized in the ways Ama and the other Valley healers are.
Jeremy’s healing gifts took me by surprise. As Ama and Walter spoke about the sickness she was feeling I found myself suddenly typing, “I can feel it.” I think I looked at him in shock ever bit as much as his two friends did!
The color purple
Have you ever closed you eyes and seen flashes of color? I have, especially after looking at a bright light for a time.
This is what Jeremy was seeing. The emotions he feels from the crowd are interpreted by his retina in certain colors. When he closes his eyes and concentrates the colors ping in the darkness before him. It’s a gift Ama has honed to a fine art.
Ama has been growing increasingly troubled, and has had her fears confirmed by Jeremy, because when she closes her eyes there is no “ping” of color. Instead, the entirely of the Inner Valleys is awash in a haze of purple. For the people of The Valleys this is a representation of violence, anger, and war.