I almost wasn’t able to find the time to write for this past Tuesday, but I’m glad I did! This portion of the journey will funnel us to his meeting on the Senate floor. Satal wants to meet with him first, as well as settle the troubling situations of both Michael and Terrin, before she releases him to the public. We also saw our party split up for the second time in the tale, though we’ll follow both groups in more detail this time around. Next week we’ll even get to meet an old friend. For now, let’s unpack.
The bureaucratic maze
Jeremy’s experience of the massive bureaucracy which runs The Valleys echoes my own. As I wrote last week, a bureaucracy can actually have a positive impact, but it pulses with its own life – independent of the people who power its existence. “Swimming in the ocean surf” is about the best way I can describe it.
By the way, Jeremy has both seen the ocean and swam in the surf. I don’t even think he realizes what he revealed about himself there.
Why aren’t healers allowed in the Presidential Office? It’s to maintain the symbolic separation of the healing orders with the power of the Senate. The Healers have a great deal of influence, but are pledged to avoid becoming embroiled in the politics of power. Ama is skirting a line by throwing in with Walter, and there are some in her order who are disturbed by her involvement.
This separation wasn’t always as strict as it is now, and the presence of a prismatic might upset a few guidelines which were once thought to be “absolute.”
I wanted to convey some of Jeremy’s youth as he contemplates Ama’s departure. Among his people he’s had to mature quickly, but in many respects he’s still a young man eager for the comfort of others who make large decisions on his behalf. Walter is a companion and mentor, but in Ama Jeremy has come to see a protector. Her temporary absence is going to force Jeremy to take up more responsibility for himself.
The environment of The Ravine
I’ve pointed out character’s wariness several times since the party has reached The Ravine. On the surface, everything looks as though it’s running as smooth as ever, but most of the characters know how to look under the surface. Where as Jeremy senses the pulse of the bureaucratic machine, the others can read it’s mood and rhythm. People are nervous, most don’t even know why.
Walter’s desire for Ama to have a guard springs from his interpretation of the bureaucratic song, he knows things are much closer to blowing up than anyone is letting on. Satal is practiced at publicly ignoring this undercurrent, but as we travel with the healers we’ll delve into it a bit more deeply.
The Return of Kaitlyn
I love the character of Kaitlyn. Her idealism and headstrong demeanor are such a marked contrast to Satal that she was demanding to be included in this scene. Walter is closer to Kaitlyn in his idealism, but much closer to Satal in his pragmatism. Making these three the key allies against an out of control Merkot should be a fun dynamic to explore!
Kaitlyn is every bit as furious with Satal as their conversation implies. As head of the Senate block from the outer settlements she’s been conveying concerns about Merkot for years. Using information produced by Tollen, however, in the last six weeks she’s been pressing more strongly the need to rein the senator in. Satal, understanding Merkot’s popularity, realized a pre-emptive attack on the senator would have back-fired. So she waited and began gathering evidence on her own – which Kaitlyn interpreted as “doing nothing.” The truth is, neither Satal’s political pragmatism and Kaitlyn’s idealism were going to be able to prevent Merkot from expanding his power. He moved much faster than Satal predicted, and with more force than Kaitlyn believed possible. Now the uneasy allies have to regroup and create a new strategy.
This is where Jeremy will come into play.
Satal hasn’t remained in the presidency of the Senate by accident. She is a well informed politician, and has excellent sources among the Seekers, some of whom are not as tightlipped as Walter would like. Satal knew he was a Prismatic even before Kaitlyn returned from Riverside – and she plans on using Jeremy’s presence to check Merkot. We’ll have to see what Sheilak thinks about that.
Ironically, the head of the guards in The Valleys has absolutely no idea who Jeremy is. He’s about the be blindsided!