The Fae Worlds

More About Stormrock

Plans For Stormrock

Galen led us to the back of the ruins of the building they’d managed to claim one room from to make town hall, and from there it was possible for me to see more of Stormrock. Gently, Arlo set me on the remnants of one of the walls, before sitting beside me. We looked out at what had once probably been a sprawling port town. In some places nothing was left behind, and in other ruins similar to the one I was sitting on.
“Before the war a road led from here to the sea.” Galen sat on the other side, sounding wistful. “There are parts of it still left, but the majority of it has been reclaimed by nature, and when I look at it I’m reminded of why it is we made the decision to come to Stormrock. Nothing about this was easy.
“Convincing the Council was probably the simplest part. I was someone they trusted to make the best choices possible, although there were still those who argued against my plan, as they believed it would be a waste of resources and time. The nights it’s the hardest I’m reminded of their words. More than anything I want to prove them wrong, but I know so much of that relies on other people. Mile and Arlo I trust with the future of Stormrock in a way I don’t trust anyone else.”
He glanced at Arlo, who gave him a tight smile. I was sure Arlo didn’t entirely trust himself, and I found myself taking his hand in mine, to show I supported him the same way Galen did. A man I’d only met a few hours before. Had he been anyone else I might not have done, but everything he’d done showed me who he was. I trusted him in a way I didn’t think I’d ever trusted anyone else. For a moment he looked down at our hands, and then his eyes met with mine, the slight disbelief obvious.
“You made the decision to save strangers, when you could easily have walked away.”
Arlo shook his head. “When I knew there were people alive I knew there was only one option. No matter how this works out I don’t regret the choice I made. You deserved a chance to live.”
“They did, and I’m glad you proved I was right in choosing you to the leader of the Defence Force here. I didn’t think for a moment you’d walk away when I found out the situation. When I was going through the possibilities I wanted someone morally good in a way so few people truly are. Coming across you was more luck than anything, but when I did I knew you were the only person I could ask to come with us.”
“Morally good?”
“I’ve seen your record, Arlo. How you were always the one there to help your fellows, even if it meant you were slowed down, and I know those choices led to you missing out on promotions you should have got purely for being who you were. I did understand their reasoning, but I never agreed with it. You deserved a better position, so I gave you one, seeing you for who you were in a way I don’t think they could.”
Looking down, a slight flush on his cheeks, Arlo shook his head. “I only ever did what I believed was right.”
“Of course you did.” I didn’t need to look at Galen to know he was smiling. The sound of it was in his voice. “Exactly the way you did when you realised what the situation was with the Paladin. It’s going to complicate things, especially when it comes to supplies, but there will be advantages. We have a new builder.” He rested his hand on my shoulder. “Even if it’s the only advantage we have we are one step closer to having Stormrock the town it was before.”
Raking my free hand through my hair I turned to Galen. “I’m one person.”
“Jessie, I never thought this would be a short project. We’re in this for as long as it takes. For now we have two builders, both who are more combative than I was hoping, because they aren’t willing to accept Mile. They don’t agree with my choice to hire a ‘boy’, so they argue with every choice he makes. It makes everything take longer than it should.
“Even though you’re one person your willingness to work with us, to listen to Mile, means we’re in a better position than we were this morning, before the Paladin crashed. Mile was at a point where I thought it was possible he might actually leave. He hadn’t, I don’t think, actively planned anything out, but it was wearing on him. I saw it. Then you appeared, and everything changed.
“He’s got hope again. I have too. You’ll understand when you meet the others. What I don’t want it to do is turn you off working with us, because they’re… choosing them was my only option. There were very few builders willing to make the journey to Stormrock. Even less of them were in a position where I was willing to bring them here, as they had families they’d have left behind if anything happened to them. Theo and Franklin were the kind of people who’d focused entirely on their careers.
“Seeing the signs didn’t change the facts. I needed them. Mile and I talked it through. He believed he’d be able to deal with them, as hard as it might be, so I gave them a chance. Had it come down to it then I’d have sent both of them back to Erith if it meant keeping Mile, as complicated as it would have made everything else.”
Nodding, I looked out at Stormrock, nibbling my bottom lip. Being the only builder was a lot of weight, but if they were willing to give things the time they needed it wouldn’t be impossible to deal with. Maybe my arrival would help the others see the mistakes they were making. I doubt it, from what I’d been told, but anything was possible, and I liked to believe people could change.
“How many people are living here currently?”
“There’s five in the Defence Force, us, Theo and Franklin, three hospital staff, a blacksmith, three farmers, and the priest. Had it not been for the Council pushing me to I wouldn’t have brought the priest, but he does at least know how to fish, so he’s useful to us in other ways.”
“Do you know the number of suvivors from the Paladin?” I glanced at Arlo, as he was the one more likely to have an idea, and he shook his head. “How many did you pull out?”
“As I wasn’t the only one working to get people out I can’t be certain, but it was around fifty. I’d say, for me, it was more a case of finding bodies, which could have been bad luck. When I first saw you I thought you’d be another to add to the death statistic, and then you opened your eyes.”
“Staying calm was the logical way to survive, as terrifying as it was to believe the stasis chamber was my casket.” Arlo squeezed my hand. “You said before you’re living under canvas?”
“Better than nothing, although I would like to start working on building homes before winter begins to set in.” Galen sighed. “We are still trying to work out what we can use from the ruins of Stormrock, because I don’t want to rely too much on Erith, but Theo and Franklin have been arguing against it. They’d much rather use fresh materials, which is going to cost us in the future. The Council wouldn’t be helping out of the goodness of their hearts. They’d want a profit from it in the future.”
“Mile’s doing the majority of the work?”
“Unfortunately, so having you there to help would definitely make the job move much faster, especially as there have been times when he hasn’t been entirely certain of the choices he’s made. He’s doing his best, considering the circumstances, but he’s not a builder, which is an added complication.”
“It’s not going to be on Mile much longer.” I bit down on my lip. “Do you have an idea of where you want those homes to go?”
“Not so far. We’ve been trying to work out, based on the limited information we have on Stormrock, where they might have been in the past, to see if it would work best now. There are elements we need to take into consideration they wouldn’t. Every time we build something new we know the noise could draw in more of the beings all around.”
“Like I said before our limited numbers means we haven’t been able to clear out areas the way we would have done had we been supported by another team. Normally, in situations like this, Erith would send a number of their Defence Force with us, to help with the monsters.” I looked at Arlo. “They made the decision we were on our own.”
“Why?” Turning to Galen, I shook my head. “You said they believed you were right when you argued Stormrock should be a focus.”
“Oh, they did, but they’re also very pragmatic, and I don’t think any of them thought we’d make this work. I’m almost certain they were expecting me to return to Erith to tell them this couldn’t work.” Galen shrugged. “We had long arguments about the decision they made not to send us with help, the same way they would have done if it was any other town, which came to nothing.
“Coming here, honestly, was part stubbornness on my part. Putting the whole idea to one side was the more logical thing to do, considering their choices, but I wasn’t willing to give up on Stormrock. Mile was with me, so we did what we had to do. Yes, it means we’re in a more dangerous position, and I made it very obvious to the others what the situation was. They seemed to understand.
“They were lying, to themselves as well as us. Whenever we talk it seems they’re waiting for something to change. For some members of the Erith Defence Force to turn up. For supplies to arrive we haven’t asked for.” He shook his head. “I’ve helped to rebuild multiple towns in the past, so I know how it should be, but that’s not how things are here.”
Looking out at Stormrock once more I slowly nodded. What I needed were the maps, to be able to understand what I was looking at, but I knew the sea was somewhere in front of me. I couldn’t see it, or smell it, so I had to trust the two men I was sitting with were telling me the truth. I had no reason to think they weren’t. They wanted my help, so they were more likely to be honest.
No matter what choices we made in the near future the time would come when we’d need to start building out further. Running my tongue over my lips I glanced around, seeing how much land was out there, where there could be any number of monsters. Dealing with unwanted beings was something we had to be prepared for, as we had no way of knowing what the world we landed on would be like. At least here I had people who understood what was out there.
“How do you solve the problem of the sound of the building work drawing in the monsters?”
“You will always have two of the Defence Force with you. They’ll make certain no harm comes to you while you’re out there.” Galen’s hand was on my shoulder once more. “I promise you will be safe, no matter what you might think now. The Defence Force are good at what they do. Arlo chose his people well, and I wouldn’t be putting anyone’s lives in their hands if I didn’t believe in their skills.”