Fiction Tuesday – Risk Assessment

Today’s blog is the continuation of, Welcome to the Valleys. If you would like to catch up with the tale, the first section can be found at this link

Welcome to the Valleys Cover“Well lad, I can’t say you have a timid heart. That’s for certain.”

Shortly after their interview with Satal Jeremy and Walter had been escorted to a set of rooms just outside the presidential offices. Two of Satal’s guards had been left with the travellers to provide security, and Walter had ordered them to remain outside.. Michael and Terrin were not there, but left a note assuring them the rooms were safe and that they would return soon with Ama and Talum. Walter collapsed into an over-stuffed chair upon arrival, and it was from that position he addressed Jeremy.

Jeremy hadn’t collapsed with his friend. Instead, he paced the room on order to explore his surroundings. “Why did was the president so unnerved by what I said, Walter?” He didn’t cease pacing as he replied, and discovered something he found somewhat alarming. There was a large veranda off the central room, but the door to access it was locked. The key was also missing from the latch.

Walter, not sensing Jeremy’s discomfort, chuckled. “Oh, you saw that? I’ve not seen someone with your level of perception in a long time, Jeremy. Satal was wearing the best straight face I’d ever seen when you let that pebble drop.”

“It was Sheilak who noticed it,” said Jeremy as he pulled on the door handle. “She thought it was a bit amusing.”

“Hmm. Well, I can’t say I wasn’t a bit unnerved as well.” Walter then took a deep breath and exiled with a sigh. “What else are you keeping from us Sheilak? I don’t mind tell you I don’t appreciate being manipulated.”

The light in the room dimmed slightly as a voice rang out from the crystal which hung around Jeremy’s neck. “We do not manipulate, we protect.”

“Yes, I get that. You’re ‘Guardians.’ But what are you protecting us from.”

Sheilak didn’t respond immediately, but Jeremy could sense her frustration. The Guardian wanted to speak in depth, but forced herself to contain her answer to a single word, “Others.”

“That’s it? You drag me from my home back into this mess and all I get from you is ‘others?’”

I cannot say more, it is d…

“‘Dangerous,’ so you’ve said,” cut in Walter with some audible resentment.

Jeremy continued to sense Sheilak’s frustration, but Walter’s interruption sparked something else in her. His tone had caused her sorrow. Surprising even himself, Jeremy challenged Walter’s attitude.

“Walter, that’s not fair. Sheilak would say more if she could. I know it, but she can’t, and I understand. I don’t know why I understand, but I do. Besides,” he added in with an accusing tone, “If anyone has a right to be upset about being manipulated it’s me! I know Sheilak is partly the reason why I can’t remember my past. At least you know who you are and where you’re from.” At his words his crystal link with Sheilak grew comfortably warm, the Guardian was pleased.

Walter sighed, but nodded. “You’re right lad, I’m sorry. As much as I’ve been led here, at least I know where I am.”

“You don’t have to apologize to me, Walter.”

Walter threw up his hands in surrender. “OK, you’re right. Sheilak, I’m sorry for my tone.”

The light dimmed once more, “Apology accepted.” She paused for a moment before adding, “I am sorry.

Walter’s brow creased at this unexpected comment. “For what?”

For not being able to give more answers. For taking you away from peace.”

“I suppose I’ll have to get over it. I’m back in the thick of it now anyway, and I might as well do some good.”

This is why you were summoned. You do good.”

“OK, fine. But tell me this. If you Guardians have the ability to move evercoal around why, in all The Valleys, have you kept it in the Inner Valleys? Spreading it out could have done a lot of good.”

A voice rang in Jeremy’s mind. “I must be careful.

“Careful? Why?” Jeremy thought in response.

Revelations can be dangerous, we have already risked much.

“Maybe you need to risk just a bit more.”

“You two finished chatting yet?” Chimed in Walter with a tone of someone annoyed at being ignored.

“Sorry, Walter. Sheilak isn’t sure what she should say without risking too much.”

“Well, some answer would be appreciated, Sheilak.”

We were too few to spread out. If we were thin, we couldn’t protect.

“So you Guardians are connected to evercoal?”

We came to being in evercoal, it is our natural place. But we much prefer your fine torches. With them we can keep our presence in the brightness and our minds in the shadow.

“So when you moved evercoal out to the coast what did that do to you lot?”

A colony was established, at great risk.”

Walter smiled, “And now we get back to that. Risk of what?”

Jeremy sensed Sheilak grumbling in frustration. “Relentless is the Old Fox. Are you so eager for danger?

Walter’s grin didn’t fade. “You summoned me, remember?”

The crystal became ice cold, as Sheilak determined to answer. “We are still not many, sending such a great number away weakens our ability to shield The Valleys.

“Shield us from what?”

From those who would see you all destroyed.

At the moment a flash of memory exploded in Jeremy’s mind. He saw city, majestic but abandoned, and a small settlement of people he recognized but couldn’t name. The youth cried out in pain and collapsed to the floor as Walter rushed to his side. As he cradled Jermey in his arms Sheilak hissed, “See what your questions have done?

But Jeremy hadn’t heard her words. He was lost in a dream.

3 Comments

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  1. It seems that Walter has no faith.

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  2. Early. In the travels, he used the word ” heaven” so he may know or have some idea of it’s existence

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