I’m changing things up this week to introduce Dai Meredin, the protagonist of my work-in-progress, Rifted. Here, we meet him through the eyes of a reporter – and learn more about his world than the man himself. Enjoy!
From the Strella Star (Belbrae’s leading weekly newspaper):
Our Lives: Dai Meredin
For this installment, Our Lives reporter Milin Kaen journeyed across the Rift Zone to get a look at life in the Riftlands through the eyes of those who call the frontier outland home.
This week, we speak with a resident whose family name is well-known throughout Belbrae, Sena Dai Meredin – Dai, as he insists on being called by friends and strangers alike, tossing aside the expected etiquette in favor of the casual form of address used in the Riftlands.
Sena Meredin, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to our readers that you were not born or raised in the Riftlands. What brought you there and how long have you been a resident?
Dai, please. I came here shortly after the war ended to visit a friend, and, well, I guess I just never left. So, about 8 years, give or take a few months.
That’s quite a long time. The Riftlands is thought by many to be a crime-ridden territory, filled with refugees and outcasts from both Belbrae and Lolaith. What is your impression?
I think that those people make judgments without having the slightest clue what they’re talking about and that they should stop spouting nonsense.
Oh, you mean my impression of the Riftlands? It’s my home and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s true that we have community members from both Belbrae and Lolaith. They’re all good people who care more about the well-being of their community than about the rules imposed by outsiders.
By outsiders, do you mean the Elder Council of Belbrae?
Yes, I do.
That’s an unusual perspective from someone who has three close family members serving on the Council. What do they think of your choice to live there?
I have no idea. You’ll have to ask them if you want their opinions.
We’ll follow up with them, as I’m sure our readers would like to hear their thoughts. In the meantime, what are the challenges of living outside of Belbrae?
The same challenges that people face anywhere – making sure that everyone’s basic needs are met – food, shelter, safety, and support.
Those are very basic needs indeed that most people take for granted. Surely, being under the oversight of the Elder Council, the conditions here should be similar to those in the Bel.
(Interviewer’s note: At this point, Sena Meredin insisted that we take a walking tour of the Riftland’s only town. We’ll share that tour in a separate report. For now, it will suffice to say that it provided an eye-opening insight into the conditions of deprivation and decline there. We pick up our interview with Sena Meredin’s comment as we concluded the tour.).
As you can see, there’s little semblance between life in the Bel and here. While it may seem, what did you call it… primitive? While it may seem primitive to someone who’s never journeyed further than the outskirts of Estrella, we do what we can to make it a place where all are welcome and cared for.
For this community, that is more important than the things you pointed out as lacking – the shopping districts, the entertainment halls, the museums, the restaurants, and the clubs.
Speaking of those things, as someone who grew up in Estrella, do you miss those niceties?
Like a fly misses a spider’s web. I’d rather see one Riftlands sunset than spend a thousand nights in any of those places.
What do you think your father would think of your choice to live here?
(Interviewer’s note: Sena Meredin declined to comment on the subject. When pressed, he responded with a remark that is not publishable here. Readers, we’ll leave it to your imagination.).
Let’s move on. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for employment in the Riftlands. How do you make your living? The Town Clerk mentioned that the town makes a tidy sum in tariffs from your scavenging efforts. Would you care to elaborate on that?
I do whatever needs doing, which includes looking for any salvageable goods deposited by the rift storms.
Right now, most of my time is spent building additional housing for newcomers and making sure they have what they need to set up their households.
But who do you work for? Who pays your wages?
I work for the community, just like every other resident.
Except for our dealings with the Town Council and by extension, the Elder Council, we manage with a bartering system. If Caly (the head of the community kitchen) needs a leaky faucet fixed, she might offer a pie or cake to the person who fixes it. That person might trade the cake for a few hours of help around their home. And so on.
That sounds like a very convoluted system. Wouldn’t it be simpler to have a cash economy?
(Interviewer’s note: Sena Meredin then made a disparaging comment about this report’s grasp on “reality” that will not be dignified here. However, his comment does give some credence to the notion that polite society has yet to find its way to the Riftlands).
We’re running short on time, so one last question: It’s no secret that your father, Councilor Emin Meredin, campaigned, quite successfully, for the separation of Belbrae and Lolaith. Like the majority of our readers, he felt that our society would be better served by removing those who refused to embrace magic.
He also tirelessly worked to quell internal opposition to the Elder Council, including families like the Wests and Mourntrees. What do you think he would say about your refusal to be his successor in the Elder Council and choosing instead to live in a community that embraces and welcomes the very people he fought against?
First of all, there are no Mourntrees in the Riftlands. If any survived the Aradia Falls massacre,* they went elsewhere. If they’d chosen to come here, they’d be as welcome as anyone else.
As for others you’ve mentioned, they’re no different from anyone else in this town. Living here puts things into perspective. We can’t be at each other’s throats constantly if we want to survive. What would my father think of that? I really don’t care.
*(Interviewer’s Note: Sena Meredin misspoke when referring to the Aradia Falls Uprising, which our readers will recall, was the successful quelling of an insurrection led by the Mourntree family in which the only casualties were members of that family and their supporters).
Well, readers, as you might guess, this reporter’s journey has been an interesting one so far. While I’ve been giving an introduction to the Riftlands, I find Sena Meredin’s attitude far more intriguing and understand now why there was little protest when he declined to take his father’s seat on the Elder Council. Sena Meredin would seem to favor the views of his paternal grandparents and his uncle, Leain Meredin. Let’s hope that Sena Meredin doesn’t meet with a fate similar to theirs.
Look for the next installment of Our Lives for more on this fascinating foreign territory.