The Fae Worlds

More Planning

Changes

Jessie’s closeness to Mile shouldn’t have bothered me. I’d known her for hours, the same way he had, and from the way she’d been acting it was obvious she was a friendly person. Yet there was this flash of jealousy, quickly quelled. There was no logical reason for it, but then I knew better than to think emotions were logical, especially as it probably wasn’t so much her. More a flicker of memory.
From the smile he gave her it was obvious how much he needed the support. I’d done what I could to be there for Mile, as a friend. With professional support, from a builder willing to work with him, everything was going to be different. The arrival of the Paladin was going to change all our lives.
“Your knowledge of architecture is going to be useful, the same way your building skills will be. Between the two of us we should be able to come up with a design for the bridge. It’s not something I have too much experience with.”
“Same.” Jessie raked a hand through her hair, looking into the distance once more. “I’ve studied a lot, because of what I chose to do, but when it comes to building we weren’t starting from scratch. This is new, in so many ways. Although I was prepared I’m not going to say I’m necessarily the best person for this.
“Everything I learnt was something I chose knowing we were starting off with next to nothing. I thought a lot about what we might need, should we land in specific places, due to the lack of knowledge we had when it came to the world itself. How we might need bridges, if there were rivers, and docks, if we landed on an island.” She shrugged. “Only I’ve never built any of them. It was all theory, and no practice, because the practice wasn’t something I could get where I was.”
“Theo and Franklin have learnt everything they know by trial and error. I don’t doubt they have some skill with building bridges, but they made the decision they weren’t willing to work with me.” Mile’s eyes were on Jessie, even though she wasn’t looking at him, her eyes still on the land we hoped would become a part of the town. “We’ll do the same thing. I’m not going to pretend we’ll get everything right the first time, because we won’t. It’ll be us learning the same things they did, one step at a time.”
Nodding, she breathed in deeply. “When it was us it was easier to take that weight on my shoulders.” Jessie looked at me, and our eyes met for a moment. I could see the uncertainty, leading to me reaching out to take her hand in mind, wanting to support her. “Now things are different in ways I never could have imagined. You…” She nibbled her bottom lip, turning to Mile. “This feels like so much more, even though it’s similar.
“Our survival was heavily on the shoulders of the builders. We weren’t the only ones, but when I talked to the others I knew the weight was a lot for all of us. Here, with what I know, it’s different, because rebuilding Stormrock is important in ways our survival wasn’t.” She shook her head. “I don’t think I’m saying this right.”
“I think I get it.” I squeezed her hand gently. “Stormrock is important. Erith… it’s changing, in ways we hoped we’d be able to stop, but when we realised we couldn’t this was one of our few options. We came here to rebuild so there were other options, and from the beginning we felt the same weight you did. There are others who came with less of an understanding. I couldn’t tell you if Theo and Franklin know why we chose Stormrock, or the importance of the town.
“Galen, when he spoke to me, understood we were all going to be learning, because I’ve never had to work with such a small group to keep people safe. For you and Mile it’s the same thing, albeit with something different. We understand there are going to be points when things won’t work out, for whatever reason, because I know I haven’t made all the right choices. You aren’t going to be blamed for not knowing everything. Even if you had once built a bridge there’s likely to be something else you hadn’t.”
Mile gently nudged Jessie. “Arlo, like always, is right. I’ve made mistakes too, Jessie. One of those was thinking Theo and Franklin would be able to set aside their dislike of me in order to work together on Stormrock. Instead they’ve let it get in the way of us really making any progress in the things I believe are most important.”
“Do I talk to them?” Jessie looked between the two of us. “Hearing their point of view might be worthwhile, considering how much there is to be done.”
Sharing a look with Mile, seeing the emotion in his eyes, I was certain he couldn’t be neutral about it. “I think you should. Theo and Franklin, as much as I dislike them for who they are, aren’t bad builders. Due to their past experiences they believe they know what should be done, without accepting how different things are here. There is a chance they’ll see you as nothing more than an interloper, so won’t be willing to talk to you, but if they don’t I think it gives you an idea of who they are.”
A flicker of amusement lit up Mile’s eyes. “You’re far more diplomatic than I am, Arlo.” He smiled. “Arlo isn’t wrong when he says Theo and Franklin aren’t bad builders. They are two of the best, but being the best sometimes does often give you a superiority complex, which is something both of them have. I’ve heard from apprentices who chose to work with them how hard it can be, purely due to their incapability of seeing another way of doing things might actually be better.
“Honestly, Jessie, I don’t think they will be willing to talk to you, but it’s worth a try. If they do I know they’re going to tell you working with me is a mistake, because I’m too young to understand why things need to be done the way they’re doing it, when really it’s more a case of them not being willing to listen to another point of view.”
“No matter what I make my own choices, Mile.” She ran her tongue over her bottom lip, seeming thoughtful. “If I can get them to work with us then you’ll have three builders rather than one.”
“They won’t.” Mile’s voice was matter of fact. “I appreciate you wanting to try, but I know them too well to think either of them will ever make the choice to work with me.”
“From what you’ve said I don’t think they will either, and I don’t actually believe they’re going to be willing to speak to me, but I’m willing to give them a chance. I’m new. Maybe that will be enough to get them to make different choices. As much as I doubt it it’s still worth a try.”
“Convincing them giving the survivors from the crash a chance to stay here is the right choice is going to be hard enough.” Jessie looked at me, and I shrugged. “You’re unknown, Jessie, and neither of them are exactly happy I was chosen either. To them I’m too young to be in this position. Accepting my word those who come here are safe won’t be something they’re willing to do.”
“Galen will make it obvious there’s no arguing, as it’s his choice more than Arlo’s, but it’s not only Theo and Franklin who’ll have an issue with it. There will be others.” Mile sighed. “It’s going to be a complicated time.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t stay.” Jessie looked between us again. “I know you’d both like me to, and I’m not against it, but I don’t want to make things harder for you then they already are.”
“Jess, Galen wants you to stay. Going out there alone without the knowledge we have…” I shook my head, knowing there were no right words for what I needed to say. “Anyone who makes the decision they want to leave is more likely to die than they are to survive. I’ve trained for years to have the strength to deal with the monsters, and I will do everything I can to convince everyone from the Paladin to stay. I don’t want any of you to leave.”
Slowly, understanding blossoming in her eyes, Jessie nodded, something I was grateful for. “We knew, from the beginning, there was a chance we might land somewhere entirely unsafe. This… it’s not something we weren’t prepared for, but I couldn’t tell you if any of our fighters survived, if they were even on the part of the Paladin that crashed here. If there are then it’s possible they might make the decision to go, because this…” She gestured. “We didn’t plan on working with other people. There’s a chance we might have landed on an already inhabited world, but most were hoping that wasn’t the case.
“They thought it would be easier for us if we were alone. I didn’t disagree, exactly, although it’s easier to learn about a world from the inhabitants. Had we landed somewhere like this, without knowing about the monsters, we probably wouldn’t have survived, and yet we still believed we should be on our own. With you here it’s possible the majority of the survivors will choose to leave, to be able to build somewhere entirely new. Then, of course, there are those who got out in the life pods, because they don’t know anything either.”
“Whatever happens you’re welcome here.” Mile studied Jessie. “No matter what the others might say. I’m not going to pretend everyone will accept you, because they won’t, but those who are meant to be in Stormrock will. Anyone who isn’t is more likely to leave than stay, and it’s possible there will be enough survivors to replace them. If not there are other options.”
Mile wasn’t wrong, but I thought of Reuben. He wasn’t going to agree with the choice to offer a place to the survivors. To him they were going to be another danger. It would be impossible for him to see past his beliefs to the people, because he still viewed me the same way he had back in Erith. As far as he was concerned I was the wrong person to be leading the defence force. Sometimes I thought the only reason he’d made the journey to Stormrock was to convince Galen he was the man for the job.
Unfortunately for him Galen wasn’t interested in replacing me. Reuben wasn’t willing to accept the decisions I made, leading to complications, even though he’d convinced me before we started he’d be able to accept me as his leader. Normally I was able to see past someone’s act, but he was good enough to fool me.
Feeling Jessie’s eyes on me I looked at her. “You okay?”
Giving her a smile, I nodded. “Thinking about my more recent mistakes.”
“Reuben?” All I needed to do was look at Mile for him to know he was right. “You made the best choices you could. He is one of the best, and having him here should have been a good thing for all of us. It’s not your fault things didn’t work out the way they should have done. He’s the reason, because he hid why he wanted to come out here, and you are still human.”
“Logically I know all that. Emotionally… I feel like I let Galen down.”
“You didn’t.” Mile sounded absolutely certain, and he’d know better than I did considering his relationship with Galen. “Had I been in your position I’d definitely have made the same choice, even with the doubts, because of how he acted in the early days of the journey. We all saw it. It wasn’t just you.”