At last we catch our first glimpse of the Ravine. Part of me wants to rechristen this trip out of Riverside as it’s own short chapter. Once we arrive in the city the tone it going to change significantly and it seems like a good break. That, however, is for when I turn this into an actual book for folks to download. Right now, let’s unpack.
The guards pull back
Walter and company are relieved to hear that the First Run guards pulled back from Great Bridge and back toward Meadowrun. They are, however, rather alarmed by the sudden scope of the size of the First Run Troop. Michael was correct, two weeks earlier the active roster of guards in the Inner Valleys was hovering just under three-hundred. It’s now closer to five-hundred, Merkot has “super-sized” at least one other troop in the Inner Valleys, but they don’t play a roll in our story.
The Guards pulled back because Merkot felt threatened and accelerated his plans. This is what Walter is referring to when he wonders if Merkot has bitten off more than he could chew. When news of the pullback was spoken to Walter, he was afraid the third which had moved off back toward The Boulevard would attempt to block their path moving forward. When the Riverside guard revealed the lack of inroads Merkot was making among the troops near Second Run, however, he was greatly reassured. Walter took it as a sign the Senate still exists.
The third of the troop which moved back toward the Ravine are moving on Shelter, where a general strike is under way in protest of how Merkot was treating the settlement. This may come up when our characters reach The Ravine, but it may not. We’ll see.
The Sneaking Guards
Riversides are, as has been said, a generally different breed of people. The dislike “The Cracks,” and ignore many of the Inner Valley taboos. The Riverside guards, unlike most people from The Valleys, have no problems moving about in darkness, and thus were able to scout out Merkot’s movements with great detail. Typically speaking, they aren’t wrong to ignore this “superstition.” The Guardians don’t normally manifest in the bounds of the Inner Valleys.
The Guard Questions Jeremy
I love the interaction with the guard and Jeremy. Interestingly, I had to work the whole scene of Jeremy’s wardrobe change because I forgot he was sopping wet and fighting hypothermia! Once I remember to get him in dry clothes, it seemed natural for the guard to openly wonder about such a young man traveling in austere company. He spotted Michael hovering protectively over Jeremy, which the guard isn’t even away of doing, and quickly deduced the youth was important.
In fact, the guard is a seeker, and he has a few suspicions about Walter’s party – especially Jeremy.
The Glowing City
The walls of The Ravine are, indeed, a white so bright they almost glow when light hits them. The people of The Valleys believe it was constructed this way as an effort to keep the Shadows away, but the truth is more complex than that. The stone from which the walls are made provides a very particular protection, which we won’t be exploring during this visit to the city.
We will get to finally see why it’s called “The Ravine” next week. I’ve been writing that description in my head for months!