It’s been rewarding to use some of these sections to work world-building. In this section we got to explore a bit about the nature of the political realities of The Valleys. Let’s unpack.
The nature of the Inner Valleys is on display as the Sun set. The peoples in the larger outer settlements, such as Water Gap, enjoy a vibrant night life – but only behind secured walls. In the Inner Valleys, the glow of the evertorches is considered to be security enough. So much so that people even enjoy night time fire pits. This is always done in sight of a major roadway, such as The Boulevard, but is still much different than attitude of the outer settlements.
Interestingly enough, the accompany shadow notices this behavior and whispers “as old times.” What about the fire pit reminds the shadow of times past?
Walter’s lack of plans
Walter doesn’t want to stay at the lodge, as he is well aware of the reputations they have. The lodge at this particular junction, for instance, is noted for selling certain… “physical” recreation to weary travelers. Ama, certainly, wouldn’t fit in there. Yet, at the same time, he really did want to slip into the Inner Valleys without attracting too much notice – staying at the lodge would have been the best way to do that.
With that plan scrapped 1, Walter was actually hoping Michael might have some ideas about alternative lodging options. When Michael offered a friend’s house as an alternative, he was so relieved he didn’t think for a moment that he would likely know Michael’s friend.
Not a town
I love the reveal about the nature of politics in The Valleys. Both Walter and Ama are incorrect about the nature of the system which prevents settlements like the junction from becoming an official town.
The system really doesn’t work, and even larger settlements like the junction frequently find their best interests are ignored in favor of the parent settlement. Very few families, for example, live in the junction because there are no funds for schools. The rate of serious illness and death are also higher because no healer is able to be licensed for the area. This prevents the junction from growing in size or gaining political power. The junction has much wealth pass through it, but it has no real identity.
Walter is also incorrect that the residents willingly give up both their political rights and the burden of citizenship simply to save a bit of money. The tax rates in unincorporated towns is far less than that of their incorporated counterparts. In the Inner Valleys, at least, this allows scions from some of the less well-off families find a space to amass a level of wealth which will allow them to take part in full range of Inner Valleys society. Walter, of course, knows this deep down – but to him to need for such a practice is just another sign of the decay of Inner Valley culture.
A slammed door
Tollen is not pleased to see Walter. Why? Well, because not everyone who lamented the Old Fox’s departure is ready to welcome him back with open arms. Tollen is among those who feel the Old Fox abandoned his post when he exiled himself to the coastlands. He honors the memory of Walter, but isn’t ready to trust the present incarnation of him. Jeremy is going to have to become the bridge between the two stubborn men.
- It was never a realistic one, anyway. ↩