I really wanted to have Jeremy actually enter into The Ravine this week, but the characters had something different in mind. We did get to catch some glimpses of how this world is put together, though, so I found it wonderfully enjoyable to write. Let’s unpack.
Walter truly did not want to return to the Inner Valleys, but now that he has returned he’s being moved by the experience. Walter is realizing just how bound he is to the fate of The Valleys, and the responsibility he bears in his office. For thirty years he convinced himself he left it all behind, but the moment he came into view of The Ravine he realized he had never truly left. This is why Ama says he’s woken up. She knew more about her friend’s psyche than he did.
This reaction is probably based partly on my own experiences. Unlike Walter, I never wanted to leave the Philly area – but did so to attend seminary in Massachusetts. My wife and I lived there for several years and it did become our home – but Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia in particular, will always be my native land. Every time I crossed back into my home state I could feel the weight of absence lifting from my shoulders. To this day, even though I’m literally a river away from my Philly, I have that same sensation any time I cross the Delaware.
Talum isn’t exaggerating when he points out that Beklow doesn’t have time for humor. Most guardians in The Valleys haven’t really taken the time to understand humans. Talum is as close as they’ve had to a human friend, but the group there is more than willing to allow humanity to remain an alien mystery. This is mostly because they consider an over-closeness with the humans to have been a cause of The Extinction War.
Sheilak is very much minority among her kind, having devoted much of her existence to learning about humans and how to interact with them. It’s partly why she’s able to mitigate the effects of her manifestations to the group as quickly as she did. In many ways, Sheilak is the Guardian version of Talum – though she has a greater attention span.
The Ravine is Hiding
Given the nature of The Valleys, and their extensive road-system, the idea that they are a people in hiding seems almost laughable. When The Valleys were founded, however, this was very much a worry of the people. In fact, if you remember Sheilak’s statements regarding “the silent ones” you might have picked up that hiding is a big point of the plot.
The nature of the Ravine’s walls is such that it is not able to be detected. I can’t really say, “by what” without giving away much of this world’s history, but Walter’s statement is correct. The watch tower was built after the original fear of being discovered was largely forgotten, though the Um healers undertook the project under some protest.
Also, the glint Jeremy spies near the top of the walls is actually a crystalline roof similar to the one which covers Shelter. This was also part of the way the city was hidden in it’s earlier years.
Each order does, indeed have their own secrets, and this was not an accidental occurrence. The different orders were meant to remain separate as much as possible, lest they manage to somehow fuse and produce a Prismatic, which was recognized as being extremely dangerous. It’s also why those who diffused toward Violet left and went their own direction. The characters in Jeremy’s era don’t remember this, however, and Walter sees it as each order being unnecessarily secretive.
Sheilak, however, is absolutely correct. If Jeremy regains his memories now he’ll be in great danger. Eventually, he’ll have to remember if he wants to save The Valleys, but not just yet.