NaNoWriMo – Bridgeton

Throughout November I’ll be concentrating my posts on Welcome to the Valleys in honor of NaNoWriMo. If you’d like to catch up on this story, the first post of this story can be found at this link

Welcome to the Valleys CoverJeremy ran to the railing and searched for the jettisoned guard, worried he may have drowned. He spotted him rather easily, however, swimming with the current back towards the opposite bank. Surprised at himself, Jeremy turned on the leader of this new group with surprising anger.

“You could have killed him!”

The man stopped biting his fingernails. “Killed him? Nah, you heard me ask if he could swim, right?”

“Well, yes, but the fall…”

“The fall from here is nothing Kids spend all summer jumping off the from this spot for fun. Besides, old Clyde here knows how to drop ‘em so they don’t get hurt. Ain’t that right, Clyde?”

The man who had tossed the guard over the railing smiled grimly and nodded. “That’s right. I don’t wanna hurt folks, that’s not my style. Scare ‘em, sure, but not hurt.”

“But…”

The nail biter sighed. “Look, kid, it sounded like those two sorry excuses for guards wanted to hall your butt back to Meadowrun. I’m pretty sure you didn’t want to go. Or was I mistaken?”

Walter rested his hand on Jeremy’s shoulder. “You were not, Alec. I need to get to The Ravine and heading back to Senator Merkot’s home town doesn’t seem to conducive to that desire.” Walter than held out his hand to the nail biter, who grabbed with roughly and shook. He grinned.

“Good to see you, Old Fox. We heard some rumblings you’d poked your nose back in these parts. The little weasel’s got half the guards in the Inner Valleys looking for you, by the way. It’s a good thing you met us.”

“That it is. Alec, I’m going to assume you know Michael?”

The man Jermey could only think of as “nail-biter” nodded and held out his hand. “That I do. We’ve got a lot of respect of you in these parts, Captain.”

Michael took the offered hand, though perhaps not as enthusiastically as Walter. “You do?”

“You treat folks fair, you don’t go for any of the nonsense coming out of command. It feels like we’ve got friends when we hear about you.”

Michael nodded, but otherwise didn’t response. Walter then pointed out the man standing next to Michael. “And this is Terrin, a former guard of the First Run Troop, currently exploring other opportunities.”

Alex considered Terrin for a moment, but then shrugged and offered his hand a second time. “Terrin, huh? I knew your dad. Good man. I heard you were hanging out with Merkot’s pets out there in Meadowrun, though.”

Terrin took the offered hand, and Jeremy noticed the exchange was a bit more forceful than those with Walter or Michael. The two locked eyes, until Alec’s face broke into a sly grin.

“I wasn’t easily domesticated.”

Alec slapped his hands together gleefully. “Ha! I bet. Too much old school in you. I can tell.” Alec then looked over Terrin’s shoulder and called out, “What’s up, Talum? They finally chase you out of Meadowrun?”

Talum crossed his arms. “No one ‘chased’ me anywhere. I am accompanying the Senator on his way to The Ravine.”

Alec spat to his left. “Shame. You’re a good healer, we could use you around these parts as ours ain’t worth a turnip.”

Ama seemed to take offense at this. “What do you mean? I know Emily, she is a fine healer.”

“Well now. We’d best behave, gents. Healer Ama’s on the prowl.”

Ama was not amused. “I do not prowl, Alec. And I still want do know why you are speaking of Emily the way you are.”

“Emily is a fine healer, Ama. Near the best I’ve ever met, aside from you, of course. But she ain’t here any more – they called her to The Ravine and sent us a sorry sack named Emmens.”

“Who?”

“That’s what we said, Ama.”

“Why would Emily have been recalled, Alec. That makes no sense.”

“You’re guess is as good as mine, Old Fox. The folks up in high places don’t tell lowly captains what they’re up to.”

Walter smiled, “But you have a guess, am I correct?”

Alec spat again. “Well, it could have something to do with what happened to the little yappy dogs Weasel tried to send down here to be part of our troop.”

“What happened to them?”

Alex pointed to the spot where the guard had been thrown over the side. “They took a swim. Didn’t seem to want to come back after our recreational activities. Soon after they floated away downstream, Emily got recalled, she was not pleased, and we got stuck with Emmens. The guy can barely wrap a bandage around a cut, but he sure does love writing letters to The Cracks.”

“Well, this just makes me all the more determined to get to The Ravine. Thank you for your help, Alec. Do you think we’ll have much trouble getting out of Bridgeton and on to The Ravine?”

Alec held up his hand, calling for a halt. “Hold on a moment, Old Fox. Who’s your friend that feels bad for Merkot’s pets?”

“Him? Oh, that’s Jeremy. I’m training him up, he’s new around here and isn’t quite sure how things work.”

“Kind of a strange name, Jeremy.”

“Yes, yes it is. We think he must have come from an unlicensed union from someone in a high senatorial family. The boy doesn’t know much about his parentage, I’m afraid, but he’s quite strong-willed.”

“I’ve seen that.” Turning back to Jeremy he said, “Listen, son, I know you’re new here so let me give you some advice. We ain’t the bunch of savages you may have heard tell about us. We don’t go out of our way hurt folks, and we don’t take pleasure in another’s pain. We’re direct, not cruel. Understand?”

“I, think so.”

Alec nodded. “Good. If you remember that you’ll do fine in these parts.” He turned back to Walter. “As for your question, Old Fox, I don’t think you’ll have trouble. I say half the guards are looking for you, but the official story is they’re looking for ‘a dangerous smuggler.’ We just heard you’d come back and remembered how much you and Weasel got along, we figured he must be looking for you.”

“Good, the last thing I want are any more delays.”

“You won’t have them. Now get moving, some more puppies are about to show up looking for you, and Clyde does’t like throwing too many people off the bridge at the same time. He’s a sensitive soul.”

Jeremy turned and saw the mounted troop of guards which had been coming up behind them speaking with the guard who earlier fled from a watery appointment. He was pointing back in their direction and the lead guard was nodding curtly from his saddle.

Walter saluted. “Very good. Thank you Alec, I owe you.”

“Then the ales are you this evening, you know the place.”

“I do, come along folks, let’s allow these gentlemen to pursue their profession without us hindering them.”

The party moved through the crowd which had hung back behind Alec. Some smiled as they passed, many did not. After they’d pass by and begun a decent down into town Jeremy shifted over to Walter and whispered, “Those were the guards in this town?”

Walter grinned. “Well, Bridgeton is a bit of a different place.”

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  1. Well, Jeremy, you have met the dark and the light, the good and not good. You are learning about life..

    Sent from my iPad

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