This week’s section marked a first. I actually scrapped a piece after it was about one third of the way written and started over. It just seemed as though the words I was writing was pulling the characters away from where they wanted to go. In the end, I’m quite happy with how the passage turned out. Let’s unpack.
Walter gets angry
There have been a great many hints about Walter’s stature in the Inner Valleys up to this point. Now we know his story, Walter is a disillusioned idealist who cannot keep himself from caring 1. Tollen remains angry with Walter for leaving just as things began moving in a more positive direction. Walter is equally angry that it was his leaving which sparked a change his presence could not.
Walter was being used by his family when he was younger. In his idealism he failed to recognized the maneuvering being pursued around him. He did accomplish much, and the common people of the Inner Valleys held him in high esteem, but most of the Senators simply learned to roll with Walter’s punches at corruption. When his family actively worked against their favorite son, he was understandably broken. More than anything, it was that betrayal which sparked his self-imposed exile.
Incidentally, Walter’s family has since fallen into great debt. With no one representing their family on the Senate, they lost the access the had used to gain lucrative contracts. Their “wayward” son’s re-emergence may prove interesting.
In case you were wondering, Walter is still a Senator. I hadn’t intended to reveal this until the party reached The Ravine, but Tollen wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to spill all of Walter’s secrets for a willing audience. He’s got a bit of a harsh sense of humor.
Merkot is much more powerful than the characters know at present. Tollen was absolutely correct, guards who are not connected to his training programs are being slowly cut out of the loop. In fact, Michael may have never been re-deployed to his post after returning home.
He is also quite aware of the new evercoal deposits discovered out near Highcliff and is intent on putting them under the direct authority of the Senate. In Merkot’s mind, Highcliff would trade this in order to be a full member of The Valleys, and he fears if they don’t accept his proposal they might become an economic power greater than that of the Inner Valleys.
The characters are incorrect that Merkot is attempting to intercept the evercoal, however. He actually wants the coal to get to the Senate so he can officially propose the management of Highcliff’s evercoal deposits. Jeremy was right in pointing out that it seemed as though Merkot was trying to prevent Walter from getting to Meadowrun.
The Shadow Speaks
The next passage will bring the end of Chapter 3. I’m planning for us to find out some more about the party’s shadowy companion. She’s never going to be joining the banter of the rest of the characters, as her race is completely alien to human psychology. But we will finally get to really meet her at some point in Chapter 4.
- Which doesn’t sound like someone who named his blog “Painfully Hopeful” at all. ↩