And the politics continue. In this passage some more of the attitudes which drive The Valleys float to the surface. Let’s unpack.
What customs did the people’s of The Coastlands break by moving out to the region? Satal’s words are actually important, she specifically uses “custom” and not “law.”
When The Valleys were first settled the people, for reasons lost to antiquity, moved far from the ocean. While later settlements eventually moved back towards some secluded bays, the main coast has always been customarily avoided by all but the most independent settlers. Traditionally, those who moved to the Coastlands were those so poor or desperate that even the hope of non-persons had left them. Out far from the rule of the Senate new settlements were formed and a parallel society formed.
While these new settlements didn’t technically break the law, the Senate viewed them as being a semi-rebellious province. This attitude spread to the general population, and relationships between The Valleys and The Coastlands remained generally cold. Some trade passed between the areas, particularly because the Senate felt withholding the protection of evertorches would be barbarous, but very little wealth flowed out to the Coastlands. Requests which would have helped the Coastlands become more prosperous were summarily denied, which is why Walter’s arrival with news of a fresh evercoal deposit so important. Suddenly, the Coastlands have something the Inner Valleys wants.
As stated above, evercoal is something the Inner Valleys wants, as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to locate the ore. The Coastlands could have used their newfound wealth to formally declare their independence, which is actually what many people in their council of settlements desired. Walter’s decision to bring a petition to join The Valleys as equals, however won out.
What this will do to the political situation in The Valleys is yet to be seen. Senator Katlyn, as well as the outer settlements bloc in the Senate, are working from the assumption they would be natural allies in the struggle against the corruption of the Inner Valleys. The Inner Valleys bloc is struggling with how they will be able to control this new found wealth by bringing them on their side of issues. Few politicians in the Senate have considered the Coastlands might become it’s own voting bloc. They still think of it as a poor and under-developed area.
The sparring match
This is the first contact Walter has had with the main antagonist of the story, and he leads Merkot on a merry rabbit trail to the conclusion he desired to reach. The moment Walter pulls out the Highcliff-created evertorch the political winds shifted. Suddenly, Merkot and the Inner Valleys bloc had lost their claim to a unique position. Evercoal, the source of wealth and safety in The Valleys, could be found elsewhere.
It was fun witnessing Walter as he answered Merkot’s insinuations, one after another, but the Senator isn’t yet finished. He has plans to turn the sudden political power of the Coastlands to his advantage. We’ll have to see what those are.