The Fae Worlds

Plans for Stormrock

Complications

Nodding, I looked at Mile. His eyes were on Galen, who, in turn, was focused on Jessie, the worry in her voice entirely understandable. Before making the decision to join Galen at Stormrock I’d heard of Mile, but never had a chance to get to know him. All the time we’d spent together working on the first steps changed everything. What I’d heard didn’t in any way describe the man I’d come to very much like. The two of us were very different people, with ambitions leading us in opposite directions, until they came together in the strangest of places.
Mile shrugged. “Our conversation showed me you are the kind of person we always needed here, Jessie. Someone willing to work a little differently to how you normally would. Considering what you were doing it’s understandable. Had you got to where you were meant to be going you’d be starting from the beginning, and here…” He gestured. “We were lucky to find a whole building we could use for town hall, as it gave us a place to start, but the rest is mostly materials now. I always knew Stormrock was hit hard, yet knowing and understanding are such different things. Until I arrived here I didn’t realise quite how different.”
“Having the materials is something to be grateful for.” Jessie smiled, seeming a little more at ease. “Okay, so, this is the centre of the town?”
“We believe it was, back before the war. There were a few documents we were lucky enough to find, which we have kept hold of, pointing to the building we’re currently using as being one of the hubs in the city.” Mile ran his tongue over his bottom lip. “Well, I say building, but in reality we’re using one room, because the rest of the building is in pieces.”
Standing there I found myself thinking back to the day Mile and I first walked into Stormrock. I knew a little of the history, thanks to Galen, who thought it was important I had a grounding in why he’d made the choices he had. Even though the whys didn’t matter to me it was important to him, so I listened to the kind of history lesson I’d generally avoided in the past. When I saw the town I understood.
Giving the ruins we stood in the name town was being kind. Mile had designed maps based on how he believed Stormrock might once have looked, and the changes he wanted to make. He believed deeply it could become the bustling port it once was. Without him by my side it was possible I’d have walked away from the whole thing, as I didn’t have the kind of mind he did. I couldn’t see what the town might be like in the future. Yet having him share his excitement was one of the reasons I’d stayed, ignoring the doubts, even though they were a reminder of the conversations I’d had with Father before I left Erith.
Jessie, breathing in deeply, looked around. At the ruins surrounding us. What she said next would be a sign of whether or not Mile was making the right choice. I wanted to believe he was. He was right when he said we needed someone more open minded, able to see the path we needed to be taking. It wasn’t going to be anything like the rebuilds they’d done before.
“The map you showed me was purely the area around here, right?”
“It was. We have a couple of others, but they’re pure speculation on my part.”
“Before the war the coast was being used as a port?”
“Evidence definitely points toward that being the case.”
“Your plan is to expand out?”
“Possibly, depending on how things work out. There’s a lot to take into consideration.”
Raising an eyebrow Jessie looked at Mile. “Let’s assume we’re talking best case scenario here. I know there are complications, but for now we’re creating dream Stormrock.”
Grinning, Mile nodded. “Dream Stormrock does become a bustling port, the same way I believe it once was, giving us the freedom to once more travel the seas, hopefully at some point within the next decade.”
A long silence followed Mile’s words. Jessie stood with her eyes closed. As we stood there I wondered if she could see Stormrock as it might be, rather than as the ruins it was. Sometimes, when the other two builders were talking, it seemed like they didn’t have the imagination to see anything more than what was in front of them.
“What do the others say?” Jessie looked at Mile, who’s lost the grin. “I thought so.” She put her hand on his shoulder. “A number of the builders who applied to join us weren’t accepted, because they didn’t have the breadth of imagination needed to be able to plan and build a whole new community.
“Having gone through the process I know those who were had added elements. We talked about how we were going to build something from nothing, because the prefabs were simply a stopgap measure. It was to give us a starting point, but, from there, the rest of it was up to us. Getting materials, planning out the builds, coming up with new ways of doing things…” She shrugged. “I can’t tell you if we’d actually have been able to do it. None of us knew it any of the other groups who’d made the journey were successful.
“Fortunately for you it means I’m not like your other builders. What’s here isn’t a sign of what will be here. I want to see your other maps, Mile, and the ideas you have, but I believe in you. I believe in Stormrock, even if there’s not much of it right now. One way or another we’ll make this work.”
Laughing, Mile shook his head. “There’s the two of us meeting probably an hour ago making the decision we believe in each other. I have to admit this wasn’t something I imagined was possible when I first heard about the crashed ship. Honestly, Jessie, I thought it was going to cause more problems than it solved, and finding I’m wrong is a very nice surprise.”
“Not so long ago I thought I was going to die. Then Arlo found me.” Jessie looked at me, her eyes meeting with mine, and I gently squeezed her. “Yeah, things are going to be hard, but this is the best situation I could have found myself in, even if I’m still struggling thanks to stasis.” She ran her tongue over her bottom lip as she glanced at Mile. “We keeping the hospital on the hill?”
“During the argument we had I thought the hill was probably the worst place for it, but had it been anywhere else today would have worked out very differently. I think we could, in the future, have a couple of other clinics, as well as the main hospital. Until the time comes I think the hospital works well enough where it is.”
“A good reason for the choice.” Jessie leaned against me a little more, a sign she was probably getting tired. We might have only known each other a short time, but it was obvious she would keep going until she couldn’t any more, and I was probably going to be the one to urge her to rest again. “With time it would make sense to have some sort of transportation service to get up there, of one form or another, for those who are less able to make the journey on their own two feet.”
“In Erith the researchers have done a lot of work looking into the technology of the old world, trying to work out if we will be able to use it in the future.” Galen shrugged. “I can understand the choice, but I think we need to be crafting a new path, rather than focusing too much on the old ways. There’s a chance it might help us, and yet I still argued against it. I’m probably more wary than most. Come with the territory. This is the world we inherited, and I’ve spent decades of my life trying to put things back together.”
Jessie nodded. “Had we made it I know there would have been similar conversations, because our lives would have irrevocably changed, and there would be no easy way of doing things any longer. I don’t think everyone truly understood, even though they said they did. Rather than having the easy life they left behind they’d need to be a part of a new struggle to survive. We were given enough supplies to last us a few months, and after that we’d be on our own entirely.”
“Maybe it was better for you to have crashed.” I studied Jessie. “That was really what you wanted from life.”
The pain in her eyes from before returned, and she nodded. “As hard as it might be to understand it was the path I thought was best for me. I might have been wrong, in the end, but I needed to do something different.” She sighed. “It’s hard to put into words, Arlo. I’ve tried so many times. No one I left behind really accepted my decision, telling me more than once it was a permanent solution for a temporary problem, and I know it’s because they couldn’t see how unhappy I was. Without the Paladin I’ve got no idea what my future might have held.”
Slowly, I nodded, thinking back to the conversations I’d had with Father, and how he’d tried to convince me to stay in Erith. “I think I understand, Jessie.” I smiled at her. “When I made the decision to come to Stormrock Father was very much against it, telling me I was throwing away my entire future with the Erith Defence Force, for something which was unlikely to work out. The arguments we had made it obvious I’d never be able to find the right words to explain it to him.
“He thought he knew who I was better then I did. I know he believed the main reason I accepted Galen’s offer was because it made me a leader, without having to put in the work I’d have needed to in Erith. Even when I tried to make him see it was more than that he was absolutely certain he was right.”
“People can be hard to deal with.” She gave me a gentle smile. “I think you might be right when you said it was better to have crashed, but not for the reasons you’re saying.” She glanced over at Mile. “If we’re going to do this I think we need your maps. How about you go grab them from town hall while I find somewhere I can get off my feet for a bit.”
Without really stopping to think I had Jessie in my arms, and the smile became a look of amused frustration. “Yes, I know.” I shrugged. “I am who I am.”
“Eventually I’ll probably get used to it.” She shook her head. “I could have just sat down somewhere. There are plenty of walls which would have worked out fine.”
“If you pick a wall I’ll set you down on it. Mile will probably take a little longer than normal, purely to make sure you actually rest.”
Out of the corner of my eye I could see Galen nod. “Arlo’s right. You’re still pushing yourself harder than you should.”
Jessie laughed. “I am who I am.”
Unable to stop myself laughing too I looked at Galen, who gave us a smile. “Come on. Let’s find a wall somewhere, and we can talk through some of the ideas I had, although I doubt they’re anywhere near as in depth as Mile’s. He has an imagination like no other. Without him I’m certain Stormrock would never get to where I hope it will be, but with him working on this I have a belief I didn’t before.”

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