The Fae Worlds


A Conversation/Lessons

“Oh, so you’re going to try to use me to bypass the issue of the others not being as open minded?” I smiled back. “Trust me, I’ve been there, so I understand why you’d do it, but I don’t want to cause more problems.”
“They can bring any of their complaints to me.” Galen shrugged. “It’s not like they don’t already. They think Mile’s inclusion is purely due to us being family, and not because he was the best person for the job. Unfortunately for us it does mean they can be less inclined to listen, as they don’t believe I’m willing to argue with my own nephew, although there have been plenty of times in the past when the two of us have disagreed on how to do things.”
Looking between them I could see the similarities, but if they hadn’t said anything I’d never have known they were family. “Does that include the bridge?” My eyes met with Galen’s. “What do you think needs to be done next?”
“Mile is right when he says not having the bridge there is a problem.” Galen sipped his drink. “We’ve been trying to work out the best next steps for a couple of weeks now, and with what’s happened today I do think Alexander needs access to the area sooner rather than later. Stocks of certain herbs are purely where they are thanks to the fact journeys have been made across the river, but they do take longer than they should, and it makes Arlo’s job harder.”
Nodding, I looked at the map. “Buildings exist, like this one, but they aren’t fully fixed up, are they? I saw there was still work to be done in the hospital when I was there.”
“Every choice we make is complicated, Jessie.” Galen stood, mug wrapped in his hands, and stepped around the desk to where we were. “Stormrock was hit hard during the war, because of where it was. It’s part of the reason we made the decision this was the logical next step. By undoing the damage we start to make it possible to travel by sea once more. Although we have explorers the process is slow. They go out into places we know nothing about, and it’s not unheard for them to never come back again.
“We have no idea what’s on the other side of that sea. Being able to make the journey, and learn more about out world, our lives will be changed for the better. Our maps tell us what was before, so we can’t rely on them. We know, for certain, there is land, but what state it’ll be in is something we can’t find out without putting in the work to build up Stormrock. Anyone going out there will want to have somewhere they can come back to.
“Both of us have been working hard on plans for how the city will come together. To us it’s far less important we sleep in houses, because there are so many other things which need to be done. With only two builders we have to prioritise, and, as we’ve said, it can be complicated to get them to see our vision.”
“Show me your vision, Galen.” I stood, feeling more normal than I had done, but I found myself leaning on the chair more than I wanted to. “Show me Stormrock.”
Raising an eyebrow Galen opened his mouth, I’m certain to argue with me, and then Arlo walked through the door. “Did I not say something about not leaving this room until I was back?” He shook his head, stepping over to me. “Jessie…”
“Yes, I know, but I felt better. At least until I stood up.”
He shook his head, looking amused. “What was the plan?”
“I was going to be shown Stormrock.” I looked at Mile. “You coming?”
“Of course.” He stood. “Keep in mind with the town so broken it can be hard to see what it could become.”
“For your other builders it is.” I smiled. “I’m not them.”
Arlo already had his arm around me when I turned, and I looked at him. He looked back at me. We were going to butt heads in the future, but right then I accepted the necessity of having his help, because it was the simpler choice. Letting him take some of my weight, more grateful he was willing to help than I was annoyed, I walked toward the door, which Galen was holding open for us.
“How are things with the crash, Arlo?”
“No sightings so far, but Mara’s watching closely.” Arlo shrugged. “It could get bad over the next few nights, so I wanted to suggest a curfew, for the safety of everyone here.”
“Last time we suggested a curfew it went badly.”
“I remember last time, Galen, but this is very different. Circumstances are more complicated than they ever have been, and there’s only five of us. I will work on new patrol routes, to include the area the ship is in, to make it more likely we’re in the right place at the right time, even if it just by luck.”
“There are a lot of beings around here?” I looked at Arlo, who seemed relieved I knew. “Galen told me what the situation was.”
“Good. I’m glad you know.” Arlo sighed. “The area is one of the more dangerous ones. There a couple of caves we haven’t been able to clear, because we don’t have the numbers to make it the logical choice, and yet there are people here who believe we’re going to be able to keep them safe no matter what. I’ve done what I can, but it’s never going to be quite enough. Someone is going to end up dead.”
“Due to their inability to accept the situation, not because you aren’t doing enough.” I studied him. “I know people like you. You’re the kind to blame yourself for something that really isn’t your fault. Anything happens to someone out wandering at night in the wrong place then that’s on them. Not you. Everything you’ve done has been to protect them, and if they aren’t willing to accept they shouldn’t be going out at a time when they knows it’s more dangerous then they’re idiots.”
“Jessie’s right, and it’s not as though I haven’t said something similar before.” Galen sounded amused. When I glanced at him he smiled at me, giving me a nod. “Maybe, as it’s coming from someone looking into this situation from the outside, it might actually sink in.”
“My job is to protect the people of Stormrock.”
Laughing, I shook my head. “You can’t protect them from themselves, Arlo, and you’re going to get nowhere fast if you try. Let them make their mistakes. They’re the ones who are going to regret it, one way or another.” I nudged him slightly. “I get it. I really do. I’ve been there. Only I had to find a way to let go at times, because otherwise I was going to have a breakdown.”
“A death at Stormrock will complicate everything.”
“You leave that for me to deal with. I will do my best to convince everyone a curfew is the only logical next step, considering the situation we’ve found ourselves in, but if they aren’t willing to listen then so be it. We can’t force them to make the right choices, as tempting as it may be at times.” Galen sighed. “They make their choices, and we make ours. We do our best to keep them safe. Only Jessie’s right when she says we can’t protect them from themselves.
“Both of us have done our best to keep anyone from believing Stormrock is as safe as Erith. Night is the most dangerous time to be wandering around, and even during the day we need to be more careful than we did there. Only they’ve come to the conclusion, for whatever reason it is they have, everything will be fine. I hope they’re right, but if they aren’t then it’s on their shoulders.”
“I know.” There was a bleakness in Arlo’s voice I knew I couldn’t do anything to fix. “Sometimes our best isn’t going to be enough.”
“No, it’s not.” I smiled. “Yet it’s all we can do, and you have one of the hardest jobs. Mine, now, is to try to make it a little easier, so I need your opinion on a bridge being built.”
“Depends on the bridge you’re talking about.” He looked back at Mile. “If it’s the one I think it is then it will go toward eliminating one complicating element, as it means we won’t need to be watching over Alexander the whole time he’s out harvesting herbs. Being able to patrol over their regularly will make Stormrock safer.”
“After talking to you I knew it had to be the next step. There were other possibilities, and I don’t doubt they’ll be brought up, but this is the only logical choice to make.” Mile stepped forward, so he was walking beside us rather than behind. “Jessie, I think, is going to make certain things much simpler, rather than us having to convince two people who are very stuck in their ways it’s important to think differently out here.”
With a nod Arlo looked at me. “You can take on the building of a bridge?”
“Soon enough the stasis sickness will fade, and I’ll be back to normal. Mostly.” I ran my tongue over my bottom lip. “Working out the logistics will probably take whatever time my body needs to get to that point. Bridges aren’t something I’ve done a lot of work on before, but this is something I prepared for, when I made the decision to journey into space on the Paladin. Everything about that was taking a step out of my comfort zone. This is doing something similar in a different place to the one I expected.”
He didn’t sound certain, but then I wasn’t too surprised. Arlo didn’t know me. It was going to take time to build up trust with the majority of the people in Stormrock, so they’d be able to accept me being the person to do jobs they’d normally turn to someone else to do. Except Mile, who’d accepted me straight off, which was probably more because he needed a builder on his side than due to an inexplicable trust he had in me.
“Taking a chance on someone new is the best thing we can do right now.” Mile put his hand on my shoulder, and I looked at him. “Someone who’s more likely to work with us than against us. We’ve been dealing with this for a long time now, and every time we have to argue about how things need to be done, with two men who are too stubborn for their own good, it wastes time we should be using for more important things. Like coming up with the design for the bridge we need.”
“You aren’t wrong.” Arlo raked his free hand through his hair. “When I came here I didn’t realise how tangled up in the politics I’d become.”
“I am sorry for that.” Galen sighed. “I knew things were likely to be complicated, especially when I made the decision Mile was someone I wanted to be working on Stormrock by my side, but this is worse than I could have imagined.”
“Am I right in think they probably aren’t going to be pleased with me stepping into the situation?” I looked at each of them in turn, Arlo, then Mile, and finally Gale. “An unknown builder from another world?”
“No, they aren’t, but you have us on your side.” Galen’s eyes met with mine. “I don’t doubt for a moment they’re going to argue we’re making all the wrong choices, and there is a chance they might be right. However I’ve never known Mile be wrong when he’s made the decision he wants to work with someone, so this is what we’re going to do, no matter how much they complain.”

Plans for Stormrock