Yesterday’s passage was a bit of a pause before they (almost literally) dive into heart of The Ravine. It was fun to unveil some of the nature of the capital city, so let’s unpack.
The Ravine’s layout
The walls which have been looming large in Jeremy’s vision make up the actual city of The Ravine. This walled area is surrounded by four Districts, unofficially called “Wedges,” one for each main gate in and out of the main city. The District though which the characters are entering the city is New Town. The other three are The Rising (the point from which The Boulevard enters the city), The Setting (The opposite district), and Winward.
Interestingly, these official names of the Districts are not used much by residents of The Ravine, which is why Michael doesn’t use the name in his conversation with Walter. Rather, they simply refer to the different districts by compass points, or by the roads which pass through them. The official names used to have a greater pull when the different districts were semi-autonomous from The Ravine, proper, but those old identities are long since faded in the time of this story. What has not changed this the desirability of having an address inside The Ravine.
The Ravine Attitude
If Riverside is Philadelphia, then The Ravine is almost certainly New York. In Riverside the population was set into manageable neighborhoods, in which people looked out for one another and kept an eye on unfamiliar people walking through a neighborhoods unmarked boundaries. The population of The Ravine is simply too large for this to be possible and, much like New Yorkers, turn inward as they move about as way to protect themselves from the crowds. The city can get quite overwhelming, at least for me, and the experience of the characters is really how I feel when I’m walking in New York.
The one thing out of place is the Bakery to which Michael brings the traveller, Sarcon’s, is actually a nod to the bakers of the greatest rolls on the planet, Sarcone’s Bakery. The bakery is actually located in the Italian Market in Philly and doesn’t serve the type of breakfast sandwich described in the story. That honor goes to the greatest coffee shop in South Jersey, The Treehouse.
I figure if I’m going to have the characters eat my favorite breakfast sandwich, I might as well give them something to drink along with it. Michael drinks his coffee the way I do, black and piping hot. Though I guess I do allow it to cool some.
In some ways, I guess this section was a tribute to my own tastes and preferences.
Jeremy points out how flat the area around The Ravine is, and that it seems to be mis-named. Talum cryptically responds with “wait until you see!” Next week we will see. In fact, I’ll probably be working on the description for the better part of this week.
Introducing the President
The character of President Satal is someone I’ve been chewing on for a while. I’ve known she’s a political animal for some time, but have also seen her heart and realize she really is a good soul.
Her heart has wanted her to openly oppose Merkot for months but, politically speaking, this would have been a poor decision. So she kept handing him what she hoped would be permission to pursue his goals and generate a general antagonism which she could ride. Merkot’s general success has left her politically vulnerable, and slightly humbled. From her perspective, Walter could not have picked a better time to return.
Incidentally, Satal was a very junior Senator when Walter departed, and the two crossed paths a bit prior to his departure. Walter likes Satal, and has fond memories of the young woman she was. Senator Kaitlyn sees her as the embodiment of Inner Valley political laziness, an opinion shared by most of the senators from the outer settlements. This mistrust among Merkot’s opposition is partly why he’s been able to maneuver as much as he has.
Walter will, hopefully, be able to sort it out.