Hitch is one of the two main characters from The Dreamwright and Shadowsmith, the two novels by Geary Gravel. He is a mountain boy who leaves his home seeking adventure, and eventually ends up becoming the new dreamwright.
Diligence estimated him to be a year or two younger than she. If true, this would make him between 14 and 16 at the start of the novel.
In the Dreamwright
Starting his adventure
Hitch was born in the Silent Falls in Jogjaw Pass. He got his name because as a child, he was always getting tangled in things, and the adults often had to tie him to a fence post or dangle him from a tree limb in order to keep him out of trouble. He was a very skilled trap-chain maker, and learned how to cheat at pebblehorn.
When he got older, he started having vivid dreams of expertly captaining a ship through a terrible storm. Shortly afterwards, he left his home behind to explore the world, and eventually became a pack-man in a small traveling party. One morning, Hitch left camp to rinse his breakfast bowl in a river, when he suddenly heard the sounds of a large, vicious stonecrush attacking the party. Realizing there was nothing he could do to help, he hid in the forest while the monster killed and ate the rest of his party.
After the beast had left, Hitch went back to the camp and collected what remained of their belongings: A new pair of boots, which replaced his old, ill-fitting ones; some delicate lace undergarments that he hoped he could eventually trade for food or lodging; a three-volume guide to common hobs and flickers; a wicked-looking finger knife that he strapped to his palm; a gem-encrusted belt that he wore around his waist; a large tooth mounted on a collar of silver filigree, that he brought along as a good-luck charm; and the marchmaster's jewel-headed walking-stick.
The boy spent weeks lost and starving in the wilderness before he found Pandandoleet's cottage. The old woman, who was bed-ridden from age and sickness, greeted him warmly, and he stayed there for a few days, preparing meals for her and listening to her stories. She told him that she'd once gone out in the world to "follow the green moth", which meant to take a chance and maybe find out something new. From time to time, a bird would land on her windowsill, and she'd ask Hitch to take her hand. As the bird flew away, she seemed to fall into a sort of seizure, but stopped when the bird returned.
The old woman felt her death approaching, and asked him to drag her corpse outside for the animals when she had passed away. Hitch felt horrified at the thought, but agreed. She then taught him how to see through the eyes of dowchits, the small gray birds he'd seen. She soon died, and when the bird returned, Hitch was suddenly flying through the air on tiny wings. He tumbled around, delighting in the sensation, when he suddenly spotted an army of evil-looking soldiers, carrying a boxlike device with someone inside it. The soldiers were approaching the valley where the cottage was located, so as soon as his consciousness returned to his body, Hitch picked up his belongings, as well as some food and a green wool cloak, and fled. He was gone long before the soldiers reached the cottage.
A few days later, Hitch had set up camp at the shore of a lake, but was woken up when the jewel on the walking stick began to glow. Shortly afterwards, an object that looked like a giant golden egg fell from the sky and crashed in the lake, and Hitch saw a figure emerge, splashing around in the water. Hitch jumped into the lake and pulled the creature to the shore, where he saw that it appeared to be a man in a strange, blue garment that looked like a second skin. The man was unconscious, and as he was too tired to drag him any further, Hitch left him on the shore and returned to the fire. He was soon grabbed by two guards, threatening him with slicers.
The guards were accompanied by a girl named Diligence, who told them to stop bothering him, and asked him about the golden object they'd seen fall down around here. He told them what had happened, and when she asked why she'd jumped in to save the man, he explained that he'd been curious, and had just been following "the green moth". The girl's tutor, an old man named Pomponderant, was a member of the Green Moth Society, the group of scientists and thinkers that originated the phrase. He became quite curious where Hitch had learned it, and also wanted to know more about the unconscious man's strange garment, so he decided that both Hitch and the hatchling would accompany their caravan until he'd unpacked their mysteries. Breitling the marchmaster and Nury, a representative of the eight kings of The Wheel, protested at this and wanted to leave them both behind, but Pomponderant refused to budge. Hitch eagerly joined the caravan, and shared a wagon with the cook and a young scrivener named Alacrity, while the man was placed in the soldiers' wagon.
Hitch and Diligence became good friends, and she showed him how the caravan's solar-powered wagons worked, and the herds of alters and yeofolk they were transporting. She also told him that the caravan's goal was to take her and the herds safely to the Unseen Wall and her mother Amonwelle, a powerful, immortal being that was known as the Protector of the North. Hitch and Diligence then aided Pomponderant while he tried to puzzle out the origin of the unconscious hatchling and his garment, which would change color on its own every night. But one night, Pomponderant left the caravan in secret.
Later that morning, Hitch learned that the hatchling had woken up, but when he ran over to see him, the man seemed to be mentally gone - he didn't speak, and didn't react when spoken to. But when Hitch approached him, the man suddenly pulled him closer and sniffed his shirt, affirming that Hitch was the one that had saved him. A voice explained that due to the damage suffered in the landing, his mind would enter a sort of coma to prevent memory loss. It would last for one year, or until Hitch showed him the unlocking sequence, which consisted of using the first two fingers of his right hand to touch his throat, navel, and left shoulder. Sadly, Hitch understood nothing of this, and was shocked when the man stopped speaking and went back to his silent state.
After this, the hatchling would copy any of Hitch's movements if he saw them. He never spoke, slept, or needed to use the bathroom, only ate if he saw Hitch eating, and would only move if Hitch moved, or in order to lie on the wagon's roof and soak up the sunlight.
Since Pomponderant was gone, Diligence declared that Hitch was her new advisor, and that he would sit in the caravan's meetings, despite the open contempt that Breitling and Nury showed for him. Hitch also became a good friend of Welleck, the wagoneer.
One night, Hitch was woken up when the staff began glowing again. He emerged from the wagon to see a great funnel of light in the sky. As the other members of the caravan emerged to stare at it, he began to look for Diligence, but decided to head back to the wagon and hide the staff better; he'd kept the valuable artifact hidden until now, and wanted it to remain hidden. As he walked past the sleeping yeofolk, he spotted a dark shadow crawling among them. When he got closer, the small creature, which turned out to be an astilfe, stung him and ran away. Hitch may have been killed by the creature's poison if not for the aid of Welleck, who fetched an antidote, and Hitch was left bed-ridden for days. Diligence volunteered to nurse her friend back to health. When he recovered slightly, Hitch told her about the walking stick, and asked her to hide it in her wagon, since he could no longer watch over it himself.
Astilfe poison caused pregnancy in yeofolk, and the others told him that if Hitch hadn't intervened, their entire herd might have been unfit to travel. Luckily, only one of the creatures had been stung, and the group decided to head for Old Hopshog, the nearest safe impery on their route, and trade it for a few adult yeofolk.
While Hitch remained behind, Diligence began to explore the impery, and returned to tell him that she'd found an underground tunnel, and had barely had time to hide before a lumbering monster, completely covered by a purple-black cloak, skulked past with a yeofolk imp in its grasp. Hitch commented that it sounded like "something from one of the Fabularies: a hideous monster under the ground, stealing babies for its supper and nobody knows".
Rout of Red Harra
When the deal was complete, the caravan continued on their way. They had to pass through a basin near the Aulmad, but received conflicting reports from the scouts - some had seen a great battle in the basin, while others saw no signs of any conflict. Deciding to go ahead, the members of the caravan were shocked when two armies suddenly appeared out of nowhere, battling against each other. Diligence and Hitch were separated from the caravan and found Pomponderant on a nearby hill. He told them that the whole thing was an illusion - a recording of the Rout of Red Harra, an important battle that took place 1800 years before.
He also informed them that he'd left the caravan because he had received a message from his colleague Derbelderhed about an important excavation he was conducting in the lower Aulmad. He told them he might meet them at the Unseen Wall, before vanishing - like the battle, he'd been an illusion.
Later that day, the caravan was coming closer to the ramble house known as Paddifraw's Repose, where they would rest and purchase supplies. That evening, Hitch and Diligence were sitting on the porch of the cook's car, watching the soft lights coming from the way station. In a flirting gesture, Hitch put his arm around her shoulder, but she pushed it gently aside and left, telling him she'd see him in the morning.
At the ramble house, Hitch became friends with Semmalyne, one of the girls that worked there. He agreed to sell her the lace underwear he'd found, in return for an ancient bronze disk he could give to Diligence. They agreed to meet up on the second day of the caravan's stay. Hitch was unable to afford the entry fee, but luckily, Alacrity had grown quite tired of hanging out with strangers, and he gave Hitch his entrance badge. When the deal was complete, Hitch sat down in one of the ramble house's dining halls to study the disk, and was approached by a mysterious hooded figure. The stranger rambled cryptically at him for a while, before giving him a tiny, concave, button-like object. Hitch stared at the thing, and the next time he looked up, the stranger was gone.
When Hitch returned to the caravan, he saw a large crowd gathering outside, and the caravan members surrounding a dead body beneath Hitch's green wool cloak. He learned they had found a boy murdered in the cook's wagon, the body chopped into pieces, and the wagon had been torn apart, as if someone was searching for something. They'd assumed that thieves had struck while they were away, and that the murdered boy was Hitch, since he'd been moping in his wagon when the others left. They then realized that Alacrity was the one that had been murdered. Alacrity was buried on a hill near the ramble house, and the caravan continued on their way.
Hitch and Diligence began to wonder if the murderer had been looking for the glowing walking stick, as it was one of the few things Hitch owned that seemed to be worth anything. They considered telling someone, but wasn't sure who to trust, since Pomponderant was no longer traveling with them. They decided that, since any thief would now be sure that the staff was not in the cook's wagon, this was really the safest place to keep it, so Hitch placed it back under his bunk.
Shortly after they entered the Blasted Lands, the group was attacked by the evil soldiers of Dubiel the Shadowsmith. While the guards battled the enemy soldiers, Hitch and Diligence fled in the cook's wagon, but fell into a wormhole. The wormhole began digesting the wagon as it fell through the tunnel, but luckily, it lasted long enough for Hitch and Diligence to emerge relatively unscathed on the other side. They were soon followed by the hatchling, who had also fallen into the wormhole, but his strange suit had completely protected him from harm.
Hitch managed to locate his pack and the walking stick. Diligence found the tooth he'd kept as a lucky charm, and told him it was a broodwing incisor - a rare object, and easily worth a wagonload of glint. She told him that he never had to work as a pack-man ever again - or anything else, if he didn't want to. She placed the tooth on the ground as they explored, but suddenly, the wormhole opened up again, and the tooth was lost.
They eventually realized that they were now in the Madescent, and decided to head north and try to reach the Unseen Wall on their own. Hitch used a dowchit to scout ahead, and they were soon contacted by Pomponderant, who appeared as an illusion before them. After this, he appeared before them every night, telling them what route to take to reach Penbarb's Balm of Golden Rest, another ramble house. They met up with Welleck, and boarded a ship heading for the small, nameless village outside the Unseen Wall. Here, they were reunited with the other survivors - Breitling, Nury, the yeofolk handler Grapple, and the guards Cobby and Shevoss. The group was then picked up by horseless and driverless carriages and taken to the Unseen Wall, though Grapple chose to stay behind and look after the remaining alters.
The Unseen Wall
They passed through the Unseen Wall and entered the great crystal palace of the Dreamwright, which showed signs of recent damage. They were greeted by Pomponderant, who told them that Niirphar, the Dreamwright, had been killed in the same attack that damaged the palace. He gave them a short introduction to the history of the Green Moth Society, before showing them the Dreamwright machine; a great structure that allowed the user to see almost any location on the planet. The Dreamwright, rather than being some immortal oracle, was actually the operator of the machine. It had once been able to open portals to anywhere on the planet, as well as to other realms, but those parts had been deactivated. Pomponderant then introduced them to Amonwelle, who told them the history of the Wielders, and their war against Dubiel. She also showed them a vision that the Dreamwright had recorded. A ship from beyond the stars had landed in Dubiel's swamps, and his minions had made contact with a being in a red and black armor. They assumed that this was where Dubiel had gotten the weapons he needed to attack as aggressively as he did.
Amonwelle then invited Hitch and Diligence to a private dinner. She explained that Niirphar had been her son, and that in fact, most of the Dreamwrights had been her children. Diligence asked if she expecter her to become the new Dreamwright, but Amonwelle replied that she'd only asked for her to come to the palace to keep her safe. She actually wanted Hitch to be the Dreamwright.
Hitch protested, telling her that he lacked the natural gifts needed to control the machine, but she reminded him of the dreams that had driven him to leave his home. She told him that if his journey here had lasted longer, his dream would eventually have reached the shore, where she was waiting. Amonwelle had long known that someone with those gifts would eventually be born in the Silent Falls, and when Dubiel stirred in his lands to the south, she had asked Niirphar to send him the dream, to guide him to the crystal palace in case they needed another Dreamwright.
While contemplating this offer, Hitch took a closer look at the Dreamwright machine, and discovered that a node was missing. He realized that it matched the small object he'd been given by the hooded figure, and placed it in the hole. Immediately, portals began opening randomly in the room, and Nury appeared and attacked him. It turned out that she had actually been under Dubiel's control ever since the night Huben and Tarler were murdered, and she was the one that killed Alacrity, believing him to be Hitch. Amonwelle arrived in time to defeat Nury, but Hitch and the hatchling had fallen through a magic portal. They woke up in the Aulmad, and the portal was gone.
The noose woman
Carrying only his pack and his walking stick, Hitch began to move through the forest, with the hatchling following behind. One night, they were attacked by a golden-haired noose woman. Hitch ran away, but fell into a large hole, and the hatchling obediently followed him. They remained there for several days, unable to climb the high walls, and every night, the noose woman would return to skulk around above them, sneering down at them. In a moment of weary despair, Hitch found himself idly repeating the unlocking sequence that the hatchling had once shown him, and was shocked when the hatchling started speaking. With his mind unlocked, the man introduced himself as Jassad Attqua, a traveler and scholar from another world. He chased away the noose woman with a blast of energy from his palm, and used his now-golden suit to fly them out of the hole.
In the Shadowsmith
Through the Aulmad
Jassad told Hitch that he needed to return to the large golden egg, which was actually the spaceship he had used to reach the planet. The two started to go south towards the lake, Hitch struggling through the forest on foot and Jassad gliding through the air above him. Suddenly, Jassad got a strange look in his eyes and fell unconscious to the ground. Before Hitch could go see what was wrong, he heard a group of evil facestretchers approaching, and had to hide.
The facestretchers found the unconscious man and took him prisoner, planning on slicing off his face when they reached their meeting place. While following them, Hitch spotted a nearby group of flaymen; ancient rivals of the facestretchers. By using his old trap-chain skills, Hitch was able to trick the flaymen into going nearer the facestretcher camp, and when the flaymen charged their old enemies, he managed to drag Jassad away in the confusion.
They made their way into the Siccative, where Jassad decided to speed their progress by taking Hitch on his back and running across the sand. A group of trammelers sent illusions at them, trying to scare them into going the wrong way and ending up in their dens, but Jassad's suit was able to see through the illusions and let him choose the correct path. When they passed into the Blasted Lands, they met up with Varve, one of the guards from Diligence's caravan. Varve had been lost, presumed dead, when the caravan was ambushed, but had woken up in a ravine after the battle. Believing that everyone else was dead, he had decided to head home in the broken shell of one of the caravan's solar powered wagons. Since they were going the same way, Hitch and Jassad decided to travel with him.
Stopping for a rest, the group dicovered a tribe of candlemen that had been massacred, the bodies and their belongings burned to ash. The only survivor was a young candleboy, hidden beneath a upturned wagon. Since they couldn't leave a young child alone in the desert, they decided to take him with them and give him to the first tribe of candlemen they came across.
A few days later, they spotted another tribe wandering through the desert. Deciding not to announce their presence until the morning, they were woken in the night to find a flying craft attacking the candlemen's camp. Fire swept the ground as the ship flew back and forth, reducing the camp to ash. Jassad recognized the craft as a vessel of Bright Star, an alliance of worlds that was hostile to his own home, the Arc. He was about to fly up and engage the ship, but Hitch stopped him, pointing out that he stood no chance against a vessel like that on his own. Jassad had to admit he was right, and returned to the ground.
Changing direction, the ship then flew straight towards the group, but was struck by a building thunderstorm, and became disoriented. The others prepared the wagon while Hitch picked up the candleboy, and they fled as the thunderstorm died.
The group eventually headed to the nearby impery known as Tustable to find supplies, but the place was deserted. Hitch then remembered a warning that Welleck had once given them: the place had been overrun by a coalition of rockrasps and little winding men. That night, a group of rockrasps caused a wall to fall on the wagon, but the travelers woke up in time to evade it. They fled into the tunnels beneath the impery, where they eventually discovered the ancient ruins of a very advanced civilization. Jassad was eager to explore this wonderful secret society, but Hitch reminded him that they still needed to find his ship.
While searching for food in the ruins, Hitch accidentally activated an ancient statue by holding his walking stick beneath it. The statue, which called itself Carverax, bowed before him and pledged to serve him for eternity. Hitch and Jassad then found a room full of portals. Jassad fell through one of them, and when Hitch went to fetch the others and follow him through, he was once again approached by the strange hooded figure. The stranger placed a golden cap on Hitch's staff, telling him that this would allow him to open and close portals - "two taps to open doors, three to close them." He was then told to keep his eyes wide around the lake, and that "there's more to death than a pile of smoking garments".
The stranger left, and Hitch returned to Varve and the candleboy. They went to the portal room, where Jassad had still not returned. A group of yeofolk attacked, and Hitch, Varve, Carverax, and the candleboy decided to go through the portal.
The red-skied world
They emerged in a strange, red-skied world. Due to the heat and the occasional earthquakes, Varve concluded that they had ended up far to the south, in the Restless Lands, despite the fact that it was obvious to everyone else that they were no longer in the same world. After locating Jassad, they encountered a tribe of red-skinned people, and with his strange technology, Jassad was eventually able to learn their language. They befriended the headman of the tribe, who gave them food and shelter.
When one of Dubiel's armies followed the group through the portal, Hitch and his friends aided by the villagers, and the enemy soldiers were soon defeated. The group was debating about whether to they should go home, or stay a while longer, but Jassad began to be plagued by terrible headaches. He declared that he needed to return to his ship as soon as possible.
Returning to their own world, the group finally reached the lake. While Jassad was retrieving his spacecraft from the depths, the others spotted a dark creature sneaking up on him. Hitch rushed forward and hit it with his walking stick, causing a great flash of light that disintegrated the figure. Somehow, Hitch knew that he had struck down Dubiel himself. Carverax then grabbed a spy hiding in a nearby tree, who turned out to be one of Dubiel's lieutenants. The short figure introduced himself as Nobbon Half-hob, valued confidant of Lord Dubiel - "or of what remains of him," he added as he pointed at Dubiel's still-smoking garments.
When his vessel had been raised from the lake, Jassad seemed to go insane, talking about destroying the Unseen Wall and eradicating the yeofolk and the candlemen. Jassad began to take off, and Carverax tried to hold the ship down, but was stuck clinging to the outside as it flew into the air. Knowing that they couldn't follow the ship on foot, Nobbon offered to let them ride in his car, which was a strange craft similar to the vehicles they had seen in the ruins beneath Tustable. But one night, Nobbon attempted to take their supplies and leave. Hitch woke up in time to stop him, and learned that Dubiel was still alive - the Shadowsmith had the ability to infect his enemies, gradually taking control of his bodies, and he could transfer his consciousness between them. They continued to travel on in the car, but kept a close eye on the half-hob.
One day, the young candleboy began to walk away from the camp. Hitch and Varve made sure Nobbon was tied up before they followed the boy to the hearthstone, an ancient holy site of the candlemen. Diligence and her new caravan were about to be sacrificed by summoning lightning to strike them, but the candleboy gathered up the lightning in his strongbox, and was hailed as the candlemen's new tinderboy and leader. In the celebration, the prisoners were freed.
Hitch was introduced to the new members of Diligence's caravan, which included a strange young woman who called herself Eil do Mer. Sadly, when Grapple went to check on Nobbon, she told them that he had fled, and taken Hitch's walking stick with him. The stick was actually the Staff of Blue Light, a legendary artifact that Amonwelle had wanted to keep out of Dubiel's hands at all costs.
The hatchling returns
The group soon learned that Jassad's golden ship was drawing closer, destroying everything in its path. They could not fight it, and there was nowhere to run. Eil do Mer told them that she had the power to fight him, and used her amulet to summon her own ship, which the group recognized from the Dreamwright's vision. She told the tinderboy to unleash his lightning upon it, and when it crashed into the sand, she went to enter it. Grapple told them that Eil do Mer had been the figure in the armor that made contact with Dubiel's soldiers, and that she was obviously working with the Shadowsmith. Despite this, Diligence trusted her new friend, and let her enter the ship.
When the golden ship came closer, the two ships engaged each other in combat. Eil do Mer's vessel was faster and better armed, and the golden ship soon fell to the ground. Carverax returned to the group, completely unharmed from his trip on the ship's exterior. Jassad was unconscious, and the others began to wonder how they could cure his madness.
That night, Diligence was awakened by the group's alter, who wanted her to enter the golden ship. Here, the group found Grapple and Eil do Mer, standing over the unconscious Jassad. Grapple was holding a knife and one of Dubiel's metal seeds. Both Eil do Mer and Grapple claimed that they had seen the other sneak into the ship, and arrived just in time to stop them from infecting the hatchling. The others were unsure of which of them was lying, but Diligence reminded them what Grapple had said previously, about seeing Eil do Mer in the Dreamwright's vision; when they'd been shown the recording, Grapple was still in the village outside the Unseen Wall - she never saw it.
They realized that Grapple was under Dubiel's control, and the Shadowsmith took full control of her body. He called out for Nobbon, who emerged from a nearby cupboard with the Staff of Blue Light. Having second thoughts, Nobbon told Dubiel that he didn't want to fight anymore, and tried to keep the staff out of his hands, but the Shadowsmith killed him and took it.
He planned to destroy them all with the power of the staff, but the alter charged forward and attacked him with her claws just as he loosened the blast, and they were both killed. Diligence shed a tear for the alter that had died while protecting them all.
Returning to the palace
Eil do Mer told them that Jassad had gone mad due to the AI implanted in his head, which didn't function properly on this planet - either due to Dubiel's machinations, or some other interference. This weakness had also allowed Dubiel to control her ship when she landed in the swamp, and she'd been his prisoner for a year before managing to escape. It was only the tinderboy's lightning that allowed her to regain control now. She then used the golden ship's medical equipment to remove the AI from Jassad's head, and his sanity was restored. The two alien visitors then transported the group back to the crystal palace, where Hitch accepted Amonwelle's offer to become the Dreamwright.
One day, he decided to place his walking stick into one of Amonwelle's armories, as he didn't need it anymore. Diligence was down here admiring some of the treasures, which included the sword Manscythe. Hitch tapped his staff on the ground and accidentally opened a portal into another world, and the two heard Pomponderant yelling for help. They decided to charge through the portal and aid him, Hitch wielding the staff and Diligence clutching Manscythe.