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
Over the next two days Jeremy didn’t see much of Walter. The old Senator was often meeting with President Satal to discuss Jeremy’s dream and his desire to go South. After Walter’s first broached the topic with the President Jeremy himself had been called into the President’s office, ostensibly for his briefing on the settlement of Woodhall.
“So, Jeremy, Walter tells me you want to go exploring.” Satal’s face had been a mask of pleasant indulgence, but over the past several months Jeremy had learned how to read the President’s moods.
Jeremy, who had still been crossing over to the President’s desk, answered before taking his own seat. “Not exploring, exactly.”
Satal’s eyebrows had raised ever so slightly in annoyance, which most people wouldn’t have even noticed. To Jeremy, however, it stood out like a glaring Sun.
“Whatever you want to call it, Jeremy, it’s a nuisance. With the new port opening up soon, and trade talks going on between The Coastlands and the rest of The Valleys, I should be sending Walter North. Instead, you want to take him the opposite direction.”
“Yes, Madam President.”
“And Walter, bless his stray-collecting heart, is inclined to let you have his way. Do you have any idea what a disruption that would cause me?”
“I do. I’m sorry.”
“And what’s this about a warning?” Satal had leaned in for that question, attempting to look bored – her head wearily propped up by her hand.
Jeremy had been uncomfortable with the question, there were times he wished Walter would withhold some of his information from the President. Satal’s mistrust of Jeremy was partly due to his connection with Sheilak.
“I don’t know much more. Sheilak won’t elaborate.”
“But you think it has to do with the port?”
Jeremy had frowned slightly, expecting an outburst, but answered anyway, “I think so, yes.”
Satal sighed and leaned back in her seat. “Jeremy, I’m not sure what to make of you. You’re some throwback to our ancient past, you have a connection with a being most people would consider a monster, and you don’t play by the rules. To tell you the truth, if it was just you, I’d escort you to Woodhall myself. But you want to take Walter, and I need him.”
“I don’t know what to say, Madam President. I’m not certain I have a choice.”
Satal sniffed in frustration and shook her head. “Well I’ll take this under advisement, Jeremy. But please understand, I have to do what’s good for The Valleys. Whatever quest you’re on isn’t important to me.”
“I understand, Madam President. But please understand. I may not know exactly what my ‘quest’ is, but I think it’s supposed to be for the good of The Valleys.”
“I suppose I’d have an easier time believing that if the Prismatics hadn’t abandoned us so long ago. You’re dismissed.”
With that Jeremy’s interview had ended. He departed the office and was joined by Michael as he made his way to the lift.
“You’re frowning.” Michael had whispered.
Jeremy had nodded and perked up some as he entered the lift. When the doors closed his frown returned and he uttered, “I don’t think it went that well.”
Michael placed a comforting hand on Jeremy’s shoulder. “Don’t assume too much, Son. President Satal is a complex person. You never know what’s she’s really thinking just by looking at her.”
“Well, I know she doesn’t trust me, and she doesn’t want Walter to go with me. So…” Jeremy hadn’t finished the sentence, but Micheal understood what he meant.
“We’ll see,” was all he had said.
The next morning, much to Jeremy’s surprise, he found Walter looking over a map in their dining area. As Jermey had examined the unfurled image he saw several roads and the name of a single settlement.
“That is it, Lad,” said Walter, smiling. “Satal has given us leave to go.”
“Really? I was certain she’d try to stop you.”
Walter only chuckled. “She did, but even if it’s an inconvenience she still needs me as an ally. So we’re heading out to Woodhall in four days. We’ll spend a couple of days meeting folks there and then we’ll head out toward one of the retreats East of the town.” Walter drew his finger along a line marking an unpaved path, which ended in an open clearing overlooking some bluffs near the ocean.
“Why would we do that?”
“Think, Lad. We’ll need supplies if we’re going to survive a journey South. Those retreats are unstocked in Winter so we’ll have to take our own provisions out with us. Satal’s letting people know I’m taking you out there with Ama to better school you in etiquette.”
“Me? Walter, the other representatives think you’re the most uncouth person to ever sit in the Senate!”
Walter had grinned widely. “I’ve got to keep up appearances, Lad.” He then rolled up the map and added, “I’ve got to go see to the provisions. You stay out of trouble until we go.”
With that, Walter left and Jeremy hadn’t seen him since except in passing. That was over a day ago, and the young man was becoming restless. He stayed in the rooms he shared with Walter, passing the time playing table games with either Michael or Terrin, or reading books from the massive library which he had at his disposal. Sheilak hadn’t even stopped in to see how he was doing.
As his day of isolation wound down, Jeremy had given up hope Walter might return to share dinner with him. Suddenly overcome with the desire to alleviate his boredom, he determined to head out to the Senate commissary and join some friends for a meal. He shut his book, tossed it gently on a nearby table, and went to don attire more fitting to his office. Walter might have relished being “uncouth,” but Jeremy thought wearing bed clothes to dinner a bit much.
It took him several minutes to get ready, and as he emerged from his room he discovered Terrin standing in the entrance hall. His friend spied Jeremy’s change of clothes and smiled.
“I see you’ve decided to end your hibernation.”
“Well, if I’m going to be leaving soon I figured I might was well spend some time with my friends from the Senate. And… it’s lonely here with Walter too busy to stop by.”
“Yes, I understand. But I believe I know something which might make you break out of your isolation even better than your friends from the Senate.”
Jeremy cocked his head. “What’s that?”
“He means, me,” called a voice from out of Jeremy’s sight. Suddenly, a tall and kindly woman strode past Terrin. She opened her arms wide and smiled broadly as Jeremy rushed forward into her embrace.