This was a very different passage. Let’s unpack.
I’ve been writing this story for over a year, but in story time that only amounted to several days. So I took the opportunity to speed up time a bit. It allowed me to shift things up and prod the story along. It was an ideal time for this break. Jeremy’s appearance before the Senate was really the end of a journey, and things needed to be set up for the next arc.
The time jump, about six months, allows Jeremy to develop off page. He’s no longer the desperate newcomer, concerned with his ignorance. The months Jeremy has spent in The Ravine have given him more confidence in his ability to navigate the world in which he finds himself. Merkot’s apparent defeat has also given him room to explore. This new aspect of his character emerges a bit when he pops his head up from the couch, but look for a stronger presence from his character moving forward.
The one person I’m sad we won’t meet on page is Michael’s wife. She’s a delightful person, and bakes terrific bread, but the story needs to move forward.
The political shift which follows Walter’s inclusion to the Senate is profound. Merkot’s policies have all been repealed, and he’s barely led an opposition to new programs meant to increase representation for outer settlements.
Most chalk this up to Merkot feeling embarrassed by his very public defeat. Kaitlyn and Walter, however, are convinced Merkot merely shifted his strategy. As the conversation the two were having upon their entrance into this passage shows, they are correct. Merkot has shifted his plans, and Walter is nervous because none of Merkot’s moves seem to make any sense according to the rules Valleys Politics play.
With Jeremy safely delivered to The Ravine and protected from Merkot’s maneuvers, Ama felt compelled to return to Water Gap and check in on Ami. Jermey misses her terribly, but is grateful for Michael and Terrin’s companionship. Ama had resigned her position in Water Gap, and was prepared to take a seat in the Congress of Healers, but needed to return to formally make the transition. The two months of her absence was felt by Jeremy, who valued Ama’s calm guidance. It was felt even deeper by Walter, who was finding difficultly re-adjusting to life in The Ravine.
Tollen also returned to his home outside the Junction of The Boulevard and First Run, but has returned frequently to check in on Walter and Jeremy. Much of Tollen’s animosity toward Walter has faded, but he’s still somewhat bitter.
Talum’s refusal to return to his practice in Meadow Run was met with a sigh by the Congress. Still, having dealt with Talum for many years, they allowed Dosum to take up the practice in an official capacity in order to free Talum to pursue his research without opposition. The absent-minded healer was difficult to deal with, but almost always produced something of benefit for The Valleys. He still doesn’t know about his reassignment, or that his belongings are in the room next to the one in which he’s been sleeping for the last six months. Talum is weird.
Sheilak has been spending more time away from Jeremy because she knows these might be the last days she is able to spend with them for the foreseeable future. Remember, she knows more about Jeremy’s mission then even he does. Each evening, however, Sheilak returns to guide Jeremy’s dreams, in case his memories attempt to come back too early.
The peoples of The Valleys have never had a port along the coast. In fact, as we’ve discovered, even settling along the coast has been viewed as a reckless act. For Merkot, ever the champion of the Inner Valleys, to propose breaking their cultural taboo is a massive shift. For him to offer the first shipping contracts to the people of Riverside puts that city dangerously in his debt. Politically, it was a master stroke. Again, however, it’s a dramatic shift from the normal patterns of the Inner Valleys voting block. Walter is extremely concerned by whatever Merkot’s end-game is.
Time to move
Sheilak has been keeping an eye on the Senate’s debates, waiting for the time to prod Jeremy to move on. She’s tried to wait as long as possible because she wanted Jeremy to form a deeper bond with the people of The Valleys, but something about Merkot’s plan for a port has showed her it’s time to get moving.