This week’s portion of the narrative had to be split into two parts. “Breath” officially begins the finally chapter of Welcome To The Valleys, and “Intruding End” forces us to say goodbye to a major character. Needless to say, these are important events. We’ll unpack both sections today.
Anyone who has ever gone to Summer camp would feel right at home at the Retreats. It consists of a number of bunkhouses, some stables, and common gathering areas for recreation. I confess I spent some extra time in the location because it felt so homey.
Walter and company did go out of their way to appear as though they were heading out to the Retreats and then coming back into The Valleys. The supplies they brought with them were not considered unusual, though the canvas they took with them was often only brought out after roof damage was discovered.
It’s still very early in Spring at this time in the story, so traveling without some form of shelter would not be advisable. The scenes where the tents are being made were very fun to write. Not only did I relish the image of Walter being handed a needle and thread, I loved seeing Talum taking charge of the efforts. The absent-minded healer has often been used for minor comedy relief throughout the story, but when a construction project was at hand we got to see his brilliance come to the fore. He even got to make fun of Walter for a change!
The high point of the preparations, however, was the scene between Terrin and Jeremy. Terrin’s love for his Father, and the wisdom he accepted from unusual sources were wonderful moments of development for the character. Terrin’s willingness to open up to Jeremy is also a testament to the fondness these two characters have for one another.
The Evertorch Shards
Evertorches generate a light very much like an incandescent bulb, though much more yellow in hue. There are standard sizes for the construction of the lights, because at those sizes the light spills most naturally from a torch.
When torches are created which are not one of the standard sizes, however, something strange happens. The brightness of the light remains the same as the closest size torch to the non-standard model 1. The distance from which this light spills, however, radically changes. Rather than gently illuminating a certain area and slowly diminishing the further is flows from the evertorch, the light of a non-standard evertorch appears to have a hard stop. People on the outside of the bubble can see the light of the non-standard evertorch, but span of distance between the observer and the light bubble remains unaffected by the light. When non-standard evertorches are brought together the bubble expands.
In other words, the light from the Evertorch can be tricked into behaving like it functions according to the laws of physics. In reality, it follows it’s own rules.
The Exit Offer
I know this portion of the story was completely cliché, but it really had to be done. The mood of the group was so somber something was needed to get them up and moving, and Walter came to the rescue. It’s easy for miss how important this moment was for the characters. They were about to leave everything they ever knew, and none of them really knew if they’d ever find a way back. This was an especially difficult moment for Michael and Terrin, both of whom have families back in The Valleys.
While the offer to turn back is cliché, I did enjoy the humor brought out in the moment. The sudden return of Walter’s accent made me laugh, and the party seemed to be shaken awake by his relapse, which is actually why he did it. Walter is an extremely perceptive man.
The moment of laughter was also important as a narrative contrast. I knew what was coming later, and this light-hearted moment helped to highlight the tragedy which ended the section.
I have to confess, I hate how the unnamed villains acted in this scene. They came off far too much like b-movie adversaries. When I go back to edit the story story for the e-book I will certainly be tweaking the characters.
The thing is, as far as these people were concerned, they really do have all the power. They’re equipped with firearms and are facing people who, from all appearances, are completely unarmed. Their confidence was, in fact, why they called for a halt before the group entered the gully. Who are these people? That’s for a later time.
I covered my thoughts on Terrin’s death yesterday, but there’s couple of narrative elements I wanted to cover here.
First, Talum knows about guns. In fact, he seems to intimate the Um healers actually have stockpile of the weapons. Where did they get these weapons? And, perhaps more importantly, where are they?
Second, as he slowly bled out from his wound, Terrin seemed to become aware of Jeremy’s role and power. He knew the Guardians could be summoned to defend the party. He was also refused to let go of life until he had Jeremy’s promise he’d stop “them.”
The question is, if the Guardians were able to defend the party so successfully, why did they wait to move until after Terrin was mortally wounded? The clue which answers this is found in the sadness in Sheilak’s voice as she determines to move. She does what is necessary to save her friends, but her ideal plan was to flee the danger altogether. She did not want to attack.
- In the case of the shards Terrin was creating, the closest size evertorch is considered a “personal lamp.” ↩