It been a bit of a different week, so my apologies for the delay in unpacking Tuesday’s portion of Welcome to the Valleys. This wasn’t a huge revelation section, but there are some insights which call for exploration.
Change in Tone
The story is going to begin speeding up as we reach the conclusion of this particular tale. There remains a fair bit of story to be told, but we’ll be spending less time fussing over the details of the world. Remember, Jeremy’s our eyes for this story – he’s not the wide-eyed newcomer any more.
Readers may have guessed this already, but The Ravine, and environs, is the most technologically advanced area in all The Valleys. The power and engineering needed to make the The Ravine habitable for it’s population is staggering. The Um healers have spent a great deal of time and energy making The buried city a wonder of the world, and the further one moves from it’s confines the less advanced the level of technology becomes.
This is partly why those born in the Inner Valleys look down upon those in the outer settlements, as the level of technological comforts found beyond the tunnel are insignificant when compared to the wonders of The Ravine. Walter’s been living in a region which was, up until the previous few months, a semi tolerated enclave of societal rebels. Highcliff is it’s greatest city, but the settlement is little more than backwater shack as far as many Senators are concerned.
A Bomb going off
Sheilak told Jeremy she’d no longer be reinforcing the mental blocks which Jeremy had in place to keep him from remembering. His euphemistic reference to a “bomb waiting to go off” is actually the first sign this was, indeed, the case. Wherever Jeremy is from, the concept of a “bomb” is widely known.
Had Jeremy offered up that expression in the presence of any Um healer, such as Talum, they would have done a double-take. Weapons technology is guarded by the order with extreme care, with the terminology and technological details carefully passed on through generations. They would have recognized the word immediately.
Woodhall’s fields really are the end of the line for The Valleys. South there is nothing but forest for as far as the eye can see, even from the high bluffs overlooking that settlement. The Guardians have encouraged a fear of expanding beyond the forest boundary for two reasons.
First, part of their charge has been to prevent people from taking the very journey Jeremy is proposing. Southward was danger, and they’ve actually been instilling this emotional response in anyone who approaches the forest ever since Woodhall was founded. This is partly created by the natural unease people who are unfamiliar with manifested guardians experience, but it is amplified. It’s why unprepared people who attend “Meets” to discuss issues between the Senate and the “Shadows” frequently pass out – fear overwhelms them.
Second, the absence of human activity, and the unlikely prospect humans would ever move that direction, has made the forests South of Woodhall the Guardians’ favorite hunting grounds. Under the branches of the trees they do what they must do to live, and without fear of accidentally harming their human charges.
Merkot has been tracking Jeremy and Walter’s movements. He still sees Walter as a political threat, and is alarmed by the suddenness of Jeremy’s appearance. The paranoid Senator might not be willing to confront Walter while he’s directly under Presidential protection, but on the roads where he still has great influence might be a different story. If it got out Walter was planning an excursion into the unknown, he’d almost certainly take advantage of it.
Walter, comfortable as he is with his new role, is under no illusions as to the threat Merkot poses.When Sheilak’s warning is conveyed to him, the old Senator has all his fears confirmed. Merkot has something nefarious in mind for his port.