Fiction Tuesday – Nighttime Resolve

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“Easy lad,” Walter soothed as he guided Jeremy to a couch. He winced as he touched the youth’s head. “Lad, you’re ice cold! What happened?”

Jeremy shivered and shook his head to clear the cobwebs from his mind. He remembered having a dream, and that it held warnings for both he and his friends, but the details remained fuzzy. As Jeremy sat back on the couch in disgust, Walter grabbed a blanket and covered him up. Even as the woolen mesh began to capture Jeremy’s body heat he continued to shiver uncontrollably.

“I had a dream, Walter. Sheilak was in it.”

Walter grimaced, even after having Sheilak around for nearly half a year he remained wary of the Guardian. “Sheilak? Did she do this to you?”

“No. Well, maybe, but it wasn’t what she intended.” He threw his hands up in frustration, “I don’t know, I can’t remember! The details are right in front of me, but I can’t focus on them.”

Walter patted Jeremy’s shoulders. “That’s alright lad, I’m sure it’ll come to you. You sit here and try to remember what you dreamed and I’ll boil some water for tea.”

Jeremy tilted his head back in concentration, but said nothing. Walter pressed no further, but headed into their kitchen to put the kettle on for tea. The Senator marveled for a moment at the ease of this task in The Ravine. Out in the Coastlands, boiling a kettle would have meant stoking a fire and waiting for the flames to die down before putting the kettle over the coals. In The Ravine, he simply turned a switch and a small flame erupted from a fixture. Even though Walter had grown up in The Ravine, he still held it’s engineering feats in awe.

It took several minutes for the water to boil, and several more for the tea to steep properly, but finally he returned with a pot of a aromatic black tea to share with his frustrated friend.

“Here you are, lad,” said Walter as he offered his young friend a cup. Jeremy accepted it gratefully and the first sip restored some warmth to his body. Walter likewise poured himself some tea and sipped the dark liquid. “Ahh. As much as I miss Ama, lad, I do have to admit I’m glad I got to introduce you to the art of tea brewing. Meddle would have had you putting milk and sugar in this lovely beverage and ruined you forever.”

Jeremy quietly chuckled, he knew how much Walter missed Ama and seeing his friend try to keep up appearances until her return made him smile. “Well, she’ll be back soon. Maybe she can ruin me then!”

Walter pretended to gag on the tea he was sipping. Setting the cup down he pointed at Jeremy in mock indignation, “I’ll not have it, I tell you! That meddlesome healer can teach you her arts and tricks and culture all she wants. But I’m teaching you what’s good to eat!”

Jeremy grinned, Walter’s mock outburst help me forget his frustration and he was grateful to his friend. “OK, Walter. You win.”

“It’s about time!” The two friends chuckled for a moment and went back to sipping their tea in silence. Eventually, Walter’s curiosity overcame his compassion and he leaned toward the couch. “So, Jeremy. Are any details coming back?”

Jeremy was mid-sip when Walter asked this question, and he took his time setting the cup back down. “A few. Sheilak wants us to get moving.”

“Well we knew that from her surprise visit yesterday afternoon. Why did she bother with giving you clouded messages in a dream?”

“I don’t know, Walter. You know how Sheilak feels about me remembering things from my past. If she needs to tell me something she’ll do it in a way which almost keeps it hidden, like I’m some sort of bomb waiting to go off.”

Walter’s brow creased. “A what?”

“A bomb. It’s a,” Jeremy searched his memory for the word’s definition but ended up sighing in frustration when none presented itself. “Well, it’s something bad, and when it goes off it’s especially bad. It’s a figure of speech.”

“Not in The Valley’s it isn’t, lad. That’s got to be something from your own head.”

“Hmm,” muttered Jeremy. “I guess it is. That’s strange, I’ve never said anything like that before.”

“Not that I remember, lad. And, seeing as figures of speech are a particular passion of mine, I would have noticed.”

“Weird, why would I remember that now?”

“Who know’s? Let’s ponder that later. Can you remember where Sheilak wants us to go?”

“Umm,” buzzed Jeremy once more as he peered through the clouds of his dream. Finally, his eyes brightened as he remembered Sheilak’s instructions. “We need to go South, toward Woodhall, and then we need to keep going.”

“South beyond Woodhall? Jeremy, there’s nothing South of Woodhall, its fields are the end of our settlements. South of Woodhall is nothing but forest, and it’s crawling with Guardians. Most people think it’s where the shadows come from, because it’s where we hold our Meets with their leadership.”

“I know, Walter, I’ve heard the stories of people who’ve ventured too far into he trees from some of the other apprentices.”

“Ah. Those are old camp stories, lad, no one ventures under that canopy. Or, at least they haven’t in several lifetimes.”

“Well, that’s where we need to go. And we have to get there without Merkot knowing what we’re up to.”

Walter leaned back in his chair and stroked his chin. “Well, lad, I’m not saying I agree with what you’re saying, but even if I did I’m not sure we’d be able to go anywhere without Merkot knowing what we’re up to. He still controls the guards and we’re bound to attract their patrols on the road.”

“Well, we don’t need to hide our initial destination from him, just our next steps.”

“You mean our next steps South into the forest where no human goes?”

“Yes.”

“Well Woodhall’s a good place to visit, at any rate. With the Senate in recess I could take the time to introduce you to one of our political allies. That should be cover enough. Merkot’s planning on visiting the site of the new port two weeks from now. I was planning on going with him and then heading North to Highcliff. But we could turn South toward Woodhall if you think we should.”

“Two weeks? No, that won’t do. Sheilak says we need to be on the road in ten days.”

“Ten days? Lad, that’ll be difficult. Not to get to Woodhall, that’s an easy journey. But if you want to go South beyond that we’re going to need supplies. How far South do we need to go?”

“I don’t know, Walter. But we have to go.”

“All right, Lad. I’m not saying I agree with you, but I’ll think of something to make our stockpiling supplies seem innocent. And who do you want on this little trip of yours?”

“Everyone. Me, you, Ama, Michael and Terrin, and eve Talum. We’ve all got to go.”

Walter grinned, “Well, at least we’ll get to leave Tolen behind.”

As Walter smiled at his own joke, Jeremy’s face suddenly lost it’s color.

“Lad, what is it?”

“I just remembered something else, something you’ve got to pass on to Senator Kaitlyn and President Satal.”

“What’s that, lad?”

“It’s a warning, ‘Beware the sea.’”

Walter scowled, “I knew that slimy pup had something up his sleeve!”

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