The Stone Key – Chapter 19 – Part Two

Chapter Nineteen – Part Two

So the group’s plans have changed from just escaping alive on The Stormdancer to saving the west coast from the plague that Ariel is going to unleash, to doing the latter as well as throwing down the Faction from the inside, with the help of Shadows and a few novices! But really, they are in the best position to do something, they have control of the leaders, and can coerce anyone they want because they don’t wear demonbands. As long as they keep their presence unknown, they can do this.

Back in the One’s chamber, a map of the Compound was taking shape, with all the different pathways and sectors. It is a really complex place, more intricate than imaginable. It really is like a hive of bees, each of the sectors are mostly self sufficient, but each of them provides something for the Faction. One section is a library, another a paper press, another is the food stores, and so on. Cinda suggests poisoning the food going to the Hedra, which would be quite easy, given enough poison, but even in this situation the Misfits don’t want to kill. It is a very interesting moral dilemma. It would be so easy to kill a lot of the priests, but that wouldn’t be ethically sound. Cinda doesn’t understand this pacifist nature, and given the treatment she and others have had to endure, it is only fitting that she would want them gone forever, unable to hurt anyone else. Elspeth tries to point out the technical challenges in poisoning so many, including dealing with all the bodies. Though, that doesn’t seem to dampen her enthusiasm for revenge.

I guess it comes down to the Misfits wanting to show a way forward that doesn’t involve bloodshed and violence. It has been repeated often that they don’t want to replace a bloodthirsty organisation with another one. They are proving that they aren’t like those people they are overthrowing, they aren’t the monsters and they won’t act like the Herders or Council ever. Cinda’s obvious desire for bloodshed, confuses Elspeth, as she wonders why didn’t they uprise before? What has a few coercers changed for them? I guess they’ve given the shadows hope, they’ve been the spark that is beginning to ignite the entire forest. The shadows have always wanted freedom, but it has been something impossible, and now, there are people who have a real chance at giving them that, and have already shown themselves capable of at least infiltrating the Faction, so they have thrown their support behind them. Elspeth doesn’t believe that all the shadows share Cinda’s desire, but I don’t think that’s true. Sure a lot of them have had it beaten out of them, but you can never stop longing for freedom.

Turning back to the structure of the Compound, I find it interesting that the inner-cadre priests have the largest section, with the Hedra having the section largest area. Why do these high ranking priests need so much space? There are only 12 of them (excluding the One, who has his own residence)! Or is there space for the outer-cadre priests as well? They do have a walled garden, so that takes up quite a lot of space, just like the training yards for the Hedra. Apparently this garden is the only in the Compound, and it is a proper garden for food and livestock, so it is important. The third largest area, is something unmarked and the furthest from the gate, but we don’t find out what that is, as the shadows have to leave to get the One’s meal. Harwood is interested in the healing facility which is multi-storied, with levels above and below the ground. All the priests, and novices live on various floors, so they can be available at a moments notice, they rarely leave. His interest is not just academic, he wants to set up a centre there of their own, so they can watch over more of the Compound, and have access to medicines plus it allows farseeking to all areas of the Compound.

One more section which is interesting, is the armoury, which is heavily guarded, and only accessible through the Hedra sector. They need to somehow gain control of that area, so they have weapons, and the Hedra do not, especially if there are any Beforetime weapons. Also demonbands are kept there, so they must control the access of those, otherwise they will lost their stronghold on the Compound. The only other place to get the demonbands, is from the production site, so Harwood wants to secure that as well. The next sector they need control of is where all the inner-cadre priests stay, because with ALL of them under their control, the Faction will have limited power remaining in terms of leadership.

Elspeth asks about Ariel’s chambers, but he is so secretive, he only uses his own nulls, and nobody has been inside. Even the Threes haven’t, but they have been coerced to ensure they don’t get too curious about what Ariel does there. A slight error occurs here, as Harwood says that Zuria has the same block as Mendi, and Elspeth then repeats that she thinks it will be the same for Zuria, when I think she means Grisyl! Something is obviously important there, so Harwood wants to keep trying to get information before Elspeth goes and searches for herself.

A while later, Elkar arrives in the One’s chamber, and has news of Ariel. Unfortunately it isn’t that much, just talk of a novice who had seen Ariel and his special nulls. For some reason they call him the Pale Man, a strange name. He also came to tell her that the other novices, as in those he trusts, are willing to fight the Faction. Elkar has started to get enthusiastic about this uprising, and suggests they talk to all the novices tonight at the prayer, instead of the Herder priest. He thinks that even though there will be some who won’t want to, the Misfits can control them with their powers, to which Cinda suggests that they should be killed. It is starting to get out of hand, and that could mean that power is wrest from them. Elkar also has news that there is a rumour going around that Salamander sunk The Orizon because of a plague a Hedra caught during the invasion. How strange.

 

UHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I just finished typing up the rest of the chapter, and then it disappeared! So I can’t be bothered writing everything, so here’s the quick version.

Elspeth wants to go to Fallo to see what the Norselander’s are doing and if they can come and fix the ship, and she goes with Reuvan and Cinda and Elkar. Word of their presence has spread via the shadows, and they see a group of Hedra, whose minds are individually blocked because they are such a cohesive group. They get stopped by some Hedra, and have to go to the healing centre because Elspeth had to coerce someone to have a stomach ache. Then everything falls to pieces as Elspeth finds out that the One has been killed by the shadows, and bells have been rung. Are they alarm bells? Is everything over?

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