The Stone Key – Chapter 6 – Part 1

Chapter Six – Part One (yes I already know there will be two parts, because this chapter goes on for 30 pages, and around 20 is about the limit of how much I want to get through a day, so this post will review approximately 15 pages of Chapter Six)

So the group consisting of Elspeth, Zarak and Darius, have entered Saithwood with the help of Brydda, and are now eagerly awaiting Noviny’s story, which is bound to horrify us all as Malik plans to do something devious. Elspeth, and myself are eager to find out what Malik is doing, but Noviny wants to find out how they got through the blockade first. And you can feel Elspeth’s anxiety and impatience as she makes Zarak explain, and skips over what he says, and instead asks a question straight to the point about why Malik’s man is guarding the blockade.

The answer is surprising. Malik (through Vos I guess) is using him to detect any Misfits trying to coerce their way into Saithwood (or out, as the case may be). Because, his mind is sensitive, so he can feel when someone is trying to enter his mind. What I’d like to know, is how on earth does Malik know this? Was it when the Misfits went around testing everyone to see if they were traitors, that they figured out that his mind was sensitive (or at least he felt something and later told Malik)? What is more, that the tainted earth that Elspeth noticed, was not just done before the rebellion by the Herders, but Vos’ men are doing it now, to stop the Misfits. They have poisoned the entire perimeter of the town. Vos seems to think that this will gain his reelection, but Malik is obviously doing this for a different reason, but making Vos believe it will help him.

Noviny decides to start from the beginning, which is a good place to start. During winter, Vos’ men went around demanding that people pledge that they would vote for Vos at the upcoming elections. Noviny thought that Dardelan would soon find out and put a stop to it, but the oppression continued, and obviously resulted in mail being checked and their movement monitored and restricted. They couldn’t leave Saithwood without permission, because of the ‘brigands’ that would rob and rape them. Of course it sounded innocent enough, and so was the blockade, it was there to keep these people out. But soon people realised, it was there to keep everyone in, and keep everyone out. Noviny was certain that Dardelan would do something in time, and reassured everyone to wait.

Soon Khuria was informed by some dogs, that men were creeping around Noviny’s property, and they found out that Vos’ men were burying tainted material. It was then Noviny heard that Malik was involved, and he knew that Malik wasn’t foolish enough to get involved with Vos’ attempts at keeping power, so something else must be going on. Then another blockade was set up, this time to the coast. But, Noviny soon realised that it was there to keep people from investigating what Malik’s men were doing when they were ‘guarding’ the coast. Noviny trusts the Misfits enough (because they can wipe their memories) that he tells them a big secret. Noviny at first assumed Malik’s men were these so called brigands, and that his camp would incriminate him. Being so well acquainted with the local area, Noviny used a hidden track to reach the coast, and soon he nearly walked into a group of Malik’s men.

It was just an outpost, guarding one of the three sets of steps that lead down to the small strip of sand from the cliffs. Noviny got into position so he could hear what the men were talking about, in the hope that they would say something of interest. Before he actually heard anything interesting, he looked down from his position to find that there was a ship anchored on the beach. And who should come out, but Herders! The MISCREANT MALIK, IS WORKING WITH THE HERDERS! What on earth does he think he is doing? Does he want the Herders back? Does he think he will then be councilman? Obviously he never cared about getting rid of the Council and Herders, and just wanted to be in power himself! Seriously, he deserves to die for what he has done, and continues to do.

Malik himself was there to meet the priests, and it was clear that they have done this before. I wonder how their first encounter went, did he flag them down, or was this part of a longer, more sinister, scheme? Malik took some crates, of weapons, Demonbands, and who knows else, in exchange for HUMANS! That’s right, he is selling people to the Herders, who presumably are selling them on to Salamander! Seriously, Malik has no conscious or morals what so ever. So infuriating! Malik under the guise of arresting brigands, took these men, women and children to sell to Herders. Correction, Malik’s men, under the guise of being brigands, stole the families, and burnt their houses. Eventually the Herders went away, and Malik’s men busied themselves with carrying their crates of goods.

Noviny stayed in his position, long after Malik rode off, and was still there at nightfall before it was dark enough that he could leave unseen. But he had enough information to know that Malik and the Herders are allies, and they are planning an INVASION! Seriously Malik? You are supposed to be protecting this Land, but you are selling out just because you want to be in control and rid the Land of Misfits? You deserve nothing. Noviny struggled to get home, and was ill for many days. Luckily that gave him cover, since people thought he fell into a tainted area or something, so Vos and hence, Malik, would have heard that story.

This was all before winter, and Noviny struggled to figure out a way of letting Dardelan know, since his letters were monitored, and he couldn’t travel to Sutrium to tell him, so he enlisted the help of Khuria. The reasoning behind posioning the perimeter of Saithwood became clear, when Khuria tried to get a message out with a beast, but found they could not do so safely. They had planned for Zarak to come and be turned away, and then try again with the coercer-knights and Rushton, but to be again turned away (not without noticing the Demonbands), before going to Dardelan. Khuria and Noviny are very apologetic for bringing them here, and making them now prisoners.

Elspeth tells Noviny of their plan to get Dardelan and many others in for the election, and then they could warn him. But, sadly, that will be too late, as Malik has planned the invasion for before the elections. This has been the source of Elspeth’s premonition. But, as always, Elspeth steps into action, and starts planning to head off the invasion themselves. She assumes everyone in the town will help, and then they can watch all of the sets of stairs. Elspeth has forgotten that every movement is monitored, and if something out of the ordinary occurs, they are brought before Vos for questioning, who then confides in Malik. Noviny warns them that Malik will soon be aware that Brydda helped in three people, and he will want to investigate.

The invasion will not be of ordinary priests, but so called, ‘warrior priests’. We must remember Wila’s astonishing findings, which detailed just how large the Herder Faction was. We can only imagine that they have a very lethal group of Herders who have been training for such an event. The Warrior Priests have been around for quite some time, and Noviny has seen them practise, and it is a sight to behold, and a formidable one at that. Apparently Domick had mentioned warrior priests, shortly before his disappearance, but nobody took his word seriously, since his messages had become vague and cryptic. The Herders have always been a shadowy figure, and now, it appears they are cleverer than first thought. And they should have been taken seriously from the start, since they have created two smaller powers, just waiting to be overrun, by the Herders.

Zarak reminds Elspeth, that though nobody might come until the election, if Brydda gets Zarak’s plan underway. But there is of course Obernewtyn, and Rushton, who is coming to Sutrium, and would be expecting Elspeth and the others to be there already. Then, they would immediately investigate, and demand, and even fight, their way into Saithwood. But Elspeth believes Rushton would do nothing of the sort, and would just allow Dardelan to deal with Saithwood. But Elspeth hasn’t given up, and it is good news that Khuria’s beastspeaking ability has been kept a secret. That way, there is no link between Khuria (and thus Noviny) and Obernewtyn. Elspeth, decides that they will still act as though they are unfortunate travellers, and will go into town to see what medicines there are for their ill traveller. Elspeth wants to be harassed by Vos’ men, so that then, she can try to get to one of the men when she is taken to Vos’ house. Then, she will coerce them to take off their demonbands. Elspeth will go in disguise, and luckily Malik won’t be present since he isn’t supposed to be here. So, they have the beginnings of a plan. But, we all know how plans tend to go, and things change within an instant, as an unexpected variable comes into the equation or a small oversight happens, and messes everything up. But we need them to succeed, or the Land will be back under Herder control, and Misfits no longer safe.

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