Unpacking Departure

Big things are happening to Jeremy and company, and some significant events happened in yesterday’s scene. Let’s unpack.

Looking ahead

Before I sat down to write “Departure,” I took the time to map out the final movement of this book. It was actually the first time I used Scrivener’s cork-board & synopsis features, and it was fun. I also mapped out the rest of the story in Aeon Timeline 2, linking the scenes I’ve mapped out with actual times and days. When I finish this current chapter I’ll write a post on Scrivener’s cork-board. That way I can avoid spoilers.

Welcome to the Valleys began as serial fiction for my “Fiction Tuesday” feature here on Painfully Hopeful. I used it to explore a Minecraft world I’d spend a good deal of time creating, and wanted some backstory to fill in the different sites. Obviously the towns are larger, and the distances greater, than the original Minecraft template. But the general look and feel of that creation has held throughout the tale. It was never supposed to last as long as it has, but the characters seem to enjoy their existence and took many unexpected twists and turns as they travelled toward The Ravine. It’s currently over 114,000 words, which is the longest piece I’ve ever written.

The next arc in the wider narrative will be much more complex, so I’ll have to map out the story in advance of writing. Aeon Timeline and Scrivener will absolutely prove their worth as the tale moves forward.

For now, I hope you enjoy the last journey of this first story in The Valleys.

Sheilak’s haste

The Guardian is growing increasingly agitated as time goes on. She really wanted Jeremy out of The Ravine the moment Ama arrived, and doesn’t quite understand humanity’s need to prepare with suitable provisions. Walter’s been arranging stores which would normally be taken to The Retreats in the Spring and then left for any groups which followed. At the same time he’s also been subtly adding supplies which look like they’d be useful for the site, but are actually meant to be used on the journey South. It’s been delicate work, and he is raising more eyebrows than he knows, but his patience is actually helping their cause.

Sheilak can’t see that, she only sees the potential for Jeremy’s return South to be blocked before he sets out. Her willingness to bother Ama and Walter directly shows how concerned she’s become.


Walter wasn’t the only one stubbornly refusing to give Sheilak “satisfaction” by revealing their departure date. Ama is also used to being the one leading people to move for their own good and has not enjoyed being on the other end.

This is a bit of blind spot for both characters. They are so used to being in charge they don’t see how this impacts the way they relate to an entity such as Sheilak, who is both far more powerful and knowledgeable than either of them.

Satal’s send off

Satal wanted to use her surprise appearance to make one last attempt at persuading Walter to stay in The Ravine. Officially, Walter is scheduled to join the trade negotiations when they begin in two week’s time. Satal, knowing better, is not pleased by Walter’s need to “take a long walk to nowhere.” She hoped her obviously reckless decision to travel with Merkot would bring him back to his senses, but Jeremy’s outburst derailed her plan.

When Sheilak joins Jeremy’s protest, and then refuses to follow up with any useful information, Satal mentally surrenders. Jeremy and Sheilak are, in her mind, “uncontrollable players” in a game she’s spent her entire life mastering. Letting Walter accompany them on a fool’s errand becomes, in that moment, a price worth paying to remove them from the board.

Remember, Satal is not a bad person. In fact, she’s actually quite a good president. But her Senate designation is “Weaver” for reason. Her impulse is to weave webs which govern political discourse. Legends from the distant past, and monsters who are actually revealed to be friends, are too disruptive to her patterns.

The bonding crystal

The crystal which Talum gave to Jeremy is the first which has been seen in The Valleys since its founding. In ancient times they formed the bridge between the Guardians and humanity, and were worn by most of the Prismatics. Each stone resonates with a frequency which matches an individual human. When worn by the human who is a match for the crystal, a special bond can be formed with a guardian who shares the same frequency. This bond is, for example, what allows Jeremy to commune with Sheilak and suffer no ill effects.

When Sheilak duplicates Jeremy’s crystal, a new Guardian is called to bond with Satal. Whether she knows it or not, her life is about to get very interesting.

By the way, these are not the only two bonding crystals currently in existence, but we’ll find out more about that in the future.