Some interesting items in yesterday’s segment. We’re getting to the end of the Senate sequence, but Merkot has some maneuvers he wants to impose on the debate. That’s next week. For now, let’s unpack.
Jeremy zones out
Once again, the characters reveal portions of my own personality. I hate meetings. The very thought of sitting in an hours-long debate actually causes me some anxiety 1.
Deep in the heart of The Ravine, Jeremy actually has it far worse than I ever have. I can at least look out a window and daydream, or dive into the Internet. I also have some frame of reference for what’s going on around me, while Jeremy has next to no understanding of the customs which guide The Valleys. So, he “zoned out.”
From a writer’s perspective this was a perfect storm of opportunity. Jeremy has been, for the most part, our window into the world of The Valleys. His zoning out allowed me to move the debate along while being true to who the characters are. Until, that is, he was called forward by Satal.
Yes, Satal already knew about Jeremy’s lost memory, as well as his true identity as a Prismatic. What happens in the Senate Chamber is a political pageant. The Senator’s are well aware Satal knows Jeremy’s back-story, but the drama which plays out before the dais is what people expect, so Satal makes sure to play it up. Her office has, however, managed to keep Jeremy’s backstory and true identity a closely-guarded secret. Among the Senators, only Kaitlyn knows who Jeremy truly is. It adds to the drama.
The thunder of applause is also part of the pageant. It’s a sign to the public gallery highlighting how their system continues to work. Truly anyone could one day be discovered and become part of the highest nobility of The Valleys, just like Jeremy. In truth, this is a convenient lie. Pathfinding talents really are concentrated into a few bloodlines. Those who rise up seemingly out of nowhere are often children from those lines who were never claimed by their respective families.
Thus, when the system “works” publicly, the balance which the Pathfinding Families try to maintain is actually sent spinning. This is why families try to claim “unknowns” almost immediately upon their discovery – they want to instill the value of the oligarchy upon the young. Jeremy, being older, is a true wildcard. Several are fearful he will be another Kaitlyn, his arrival with Walter only confirms their fears.
Ama’s speculation, it must be noted, is not an utter fabrication – though she does omit several significant factors. She truly does believe Jeremy’s lost of memory is linked to a traumatic event, and that he was living in an unnamed settlement outside Senatorial control. She doesn’t know why Jeremy’s settlement was attacked, but believes some unknown force is responsible. As the Guardians are the most unknown beings in The Valleys, she inserts the pejorative “shadestalker” into her narrative, thus swaying the crowd.
Not even Jeremy knows if Ama’s speculation is correct.
As planned, Walter claims Jeremy as his charge. Satal had expected the debate about The Coastlands to go unresolved and so she and Walter came up with a strategy should anyone challenge his right to claim a student.
Walter is unseated and, at least semi-officially, is a representative for a pseudo-government outside Senatorial Rule. Yet, unseated though he is, he continues to be recognized as a member of the Senate’s social class. He has no vote in the Senate Chamber until he gains a legal constituency, but remains a Senator. That includes all the rights of office, and claiming a charge is among those rights.
Merkot hoped people would perceive Walter’s long absence as a loss of those rights, and desired to take Jermey under his own tutelage. But Merkot’s play was expected by Satal. When Walter offers his “compromise,” he drops the hint a truly independent Coastlands could be a hostile foreign entity, which might not take kindly to having a potential leader snatched away from their lone Pathfinder. Were the region truly poor and destitute, the Senate wouldn’t have cared if they upset it’s people. Now that The Coastlands is proving to be a source of evercoal, politeness is the order of the day.
Of course, many viewed Satal’s provisional offer of privilege to Jeremy one step too far. But having successfully out maneuvered Merkot she was feeling magnanimous.
- Grade school was like living my worst nightmare over and over and over. ↩