The Stone Key – Chapter 7 – Part One

Chapter Seven – Part One (Quite a bit to talk about, so it is split into two)

Now riding towards Vos’ home, with one of his men, Elspeth has a unique opportunity. Because this armsman, Kevrik, seems more open and even friendly, at least in comparison to Vos’ nephew. And Elspeth gets to drop at least some of the fa├žade, and start working her magic, even though she cannot coerce him. She uses the horse, who is wearing a demonband, as an opening for a conversation, but quickly realises that she could use this to her advantage. It seems that the armsmen do not realise there is a danger to wearing demonbands. Of course, how could they know, they don’t know what material is tainted, and that it stops Misfits, so how could they know that what they were wearing was tainted. Apparently even the Misfits didn’t figure it out that long ago either, and Garth warned them that the taint would wear through its metal casing and poison the wearer. I guess they don’t even realise that radiation can affect people without even coming in direct contact, and that wearing it on your head, is a sure way of getting cancer. There hasn’t been any mention of cancers, just of rotting sickness, which is radiation sickness. But cancer should be so much more prevalent since everyone has come into contact with so much radiation. I guess it is a piece of fiction and not a scientific paper.

Elspeth plays her cards, and tries to tell Kevrik that the bands can cause ‘wasting sickness’ (another contradiction). Elspeth explains that the bands are just rock from the Blacklands covered in metal, and that in time, they will become sick. She also plays the naive and trusting role, by saying that Vos must have told them about the dangers. And then goes to wonder if Vos himself knows of it. Elspeth does a really good job of making Kevrik question Vos and everything they have been told, even without her powers. As he starts to wonder where the demonbands for the horses came from. Even Vos would surely wonder where Malik got them, since I am sure Vos knows nothing of the invasion and the Herders, Malik wouldn’t trust him. Kevrik has to resist the urge to remove his own demonband, but I think a seed of doubt has been planted, and it won’t go away easily.

Elspeth even questions the existence of the second blockade, and asks how many brigands come from the beach when there are camps of Malik’s men guarding them. It seems Kevrik does know about the Herder connection to Malik, so maybe Vos does know about it, but I would say that Vos doesn’t know about the invasion. The interaction with these men, who are just like sheep, leaves you wondering if these men really believe what Vos and Malik tell them. Just like the soldierguards of the Council, did they believe the lies and propaganda they were told? Or did they just not care, and chose to ignore the truth, because it allows them to have power. It allows them to control people, and abuse them, just because they are working for someone who doesn’t have morals. I am sure some of the men, are power hungry, but some are just honest men, who are trying to protect their families, so they are unable to do anything about the oppression.

Elspeth continues to make Kevrik fearful of the taint, but he is curious about Misfit abilities as well, so she talks a bit about farseeking. It is a good thing that non-Talents think Misfits can only have one ability, that is a very good thing. She does well in trying to allay Kevrik’s fears that Misfits would enter people’s minds for no reason. And his fears are legitimate, because he doesn’t understand Misfits, we fear what we don’t understand. And the population of the Land don’t understand the Misfits, and they have been made out as evil, so people continue to assume that these mysterious powers will be used against them, even though Obernewtyn have made strong assurances that they will only use them on enemies. I still do wonder whether there are other Misfits out there, doing as they please, because surely not every Misfit is at Obernewtyn. Some would want to hide their abilities, and ignore them, because they have been taught it is wrong. But I am sure there must be other rogue Misfits using their abilities without moral conscience, like Ariel.

They arrive at Vos’ abode, and Kevrik will most certainly be removing his own and his horse’s demonbands as soon as possible. I wonder if he will share his knowledge that they are dangerous, or would that in itself be dangerous for his position in Vos’ ‘army’? It seems that Kevrik hasn’t immediately shared this news, and of course, when Elspeth repeats it to some other armsmen, they see it as a trap, which honestly, it could be since Elspeth does want to coerce them. I do wonder what Elspeth thinks about coercing Kevrik if and when he takes off his demonband, is that ethically wrong? Or is he an enemy, and this all a war?

Elspeth is such a good actress, and willingly enters Vos’ home, when the armsmen thought she would have needed convincing, throwing them all off guard. As soon as she entered the house, there sat Vos, on a throne, as if he were a king. He even had a crown, which sadly, will cause his death, as it is a demonband. Elspeth launches into her story about how this is an accident to be in Saithwood, and she is so humble, and that Vos is doing a good thing by the town by having blockades, etc. Elspeth innocently asks to send work to Brydda telling them they have been delayed, but Vos is not quite that naive, and thinks that she will be sending work about what Noviny has had to say. But Elspeth is no fool, and goes ahead and criticises Noviny and Khuria as old men, who are angry at being locked up, even though it is ‘for their own good’. She plays as such a naive fool that it certainly throws Vos off guard when she doesn’t play along with his threats. Eventually Vos agrees to send word to Brydda, and even allows Kevrik to take Elspeth back to Noviny’s.

It seems every single person in Vos’ home had adorned demonbands for Elspeth’s arrival, which is much better than them wearing it constantly (or maybe they do), so Elspeth couldn’t coerce a soul. Her thoughts turn to the letter, which she would have to write carefully so it was not suspicious or altered. She does however intend to send a secret message though the ‘Braille’ Dameon uses, which will allow her true message to leave Saithwood. Elspeth has really shaken Kevrik, and I wonder just what he is going to do now, having learnt of the dangers of the demonbands, after all, he is more intelligent and kind than the barbarians (who cause offence to true barbarians by being compared to them) who work for Vos and Malik.

Elspeth has to walk the ill-kempt track to Noviny’s (as it is kept that way to prevent Vos and his men from arriving in wagons) in the rain. Elspeth decides to go to the hidden wagon and to Khuria’s cottage, to retrieve some more clothes, but also she is able to stay out of the approaching storm. With plenty of time for devising a plan now in the wagon, Elspeth comes up with one, which would certainly be thrown out of guildmerge, but it might just work. Of course, we are not yet privy to the plan, that will be for later. She falls asleep, but doesn’t dream, before waking when the storm is over. She can’t farseek the others to let them know she is alright, because of the tainted patches, which are a real pain. Luckily though, Gahltha was nearby grazing, and she was able to contact him, and tell him to go and notify the others that she is okay.

I also really like the fact that the beasts are so different to humans, and that they provide a unique perspective on things. Gahltha actually comments that he feels like he is becoming more human like, because he doesn’t go off and attack the men who put a demonband on a horse, even if waiting was better in the long run. That is an interesting idea. Do you want immediate reward, or is a bigger reward better, but it takes a long time? It is one of those questions that is hard to answer, we want instant gratification, but in the long run things take time, and can produce bigger and better things. I don’t think it is saying that beasts want instant gratification, but is it saying that beasts cannot plan?

Back to the mythology, and I find it interesting that beasts can communicate (apparently) even if wearing a demonband (how Gahltha and Elspeth know this, I have no idea). Or is it because they communicate with sounds instead of thoughts, like they would if talking to a human? I wonder if Gavyn is able to communicate to beasts in this method, and bypass a demonband, since he is so beast-like. I wonder how much longer we are going to be in Saithwood, surely we won’t be here for that long, when there is so much left to do.

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