The Stone Key – Chapter 21 – Part Two

Chapter Twenty-One – Part Two

We’ve just had one of the most intense, and amazing scenes unveil, and now, we are left with the aftermath. Has the group been able to taken down the Faction from within the Compound? Are they now actually in control? And is the causality list any longer?

Harwood is only the first of the casualities that we meet, and was saved by Reuvan who was able to be shielded by the wall, during the second explosion, which managed to kill a lot of Hedra. Sadly Hilder died, struck by a piece of stonework flung into the air by the explosion (though later on, when Harwood mentions the two deaths, he says Geratty and Ode had died, though they didn’t talk of him at all, huh?). He was carrying Colwyn who had been knocked unconscious when the cell they were in collapsed, and so far hasn’t recovered. The explosions certainly caused more damage than they anticipated, and Elspeth realises that it was a mistake, and they were very lucky that they didn’t set off some horrible Beforetime weapon, which is true, what if there was a huge bomb there? Ariel’s chambers were destroyed in the process, and seemed to be the centre of further explosions. But the damage from the explosions is only the least of their troubles as there is still a resistance against the Misfits, the pair that were sent for the demonbands, they could pose a threat, and the Hedra master, well he still has Yarrow and Asra as hostages, and isn’t looking like backing down in the One’s chambers. But they have the majority of the place locked down, they are using Hedra to spread word that plague affected Hedra have been going around blowing up things. They really know how to tell a tale. All the leaders and inner-cadre priests (though Zuria and Mendi died during the explosions) are under their control, and the novices and shadows are keeping watch on everyone.

The Herder that aided them in their battle, is called Sabatien, and he was the leader of the rebellious group in the Compound. The interesting thing is that part of the outer wall collapsed into the ocean, and has nearly connected the islands, something that was foretold by Norse legends. Apparently it says that Norselanders would be free when the Girdle of the Goddess had been restored, which is promising news, but Norseland itself remains tightly controlled. But this Sabatien is definitely leading things now that he can fight openly, he has told the Hedra master that if he kills his hostages, his men will be killed in turn, but if they let them go, they were be spared. I am glad to see that he isn’t sharing in the bloodthirsty ways of the other priests. And what is more, he is Mouse’s father! Now that explains why he had a relationship with a shadow, and saved his son!

Hevlar and his people actually witnessed the downfall of the wall, and they soon will begin repairs on the Stormdancer, which reminds me that the west coast is still in grave peril, they may have just beaten the Herders, but they are far from beating Ariel. Elspeth is going to go down to see Hevlar and the others, and Cinda wants to come too, and adventure that will be her first time outside of the Compound since she came here. On the way they meet Elkar, and he comes too, since he has a lantern and it isn’t yet dawn. Even for Elspeth walking out of the gates is an important moment, and she remembers when she arrived, and had so little hope of ever leaving. Such a long time ago that was, and for Cinda and even Elkar this must be something so much more special for them. Cinda has been here since she was 6 and remembers little freedom, Elkar came when he was 10 so remembers what it was like to be free. But what would it be like knowing you were now free, after years of abuse and pain? Emotional to say the very least, but their joy must be so intense.

I had completely forgotten that Maryon had predicted that Elspeth needed to go on the original journey, that was headed to Sutrium, to save the west coast, little did she know what would happen on the way to doing so, and what she would have to save the west coast from. Even though they have a long way to go to find this null, Elspeth now has hope, and I think for everything that she is going to have to face now, she will have hope after this. Their triumph over the Faction is something remarkable, and couldn’t have happened from the outside, and I like Elkar’s analogy to a thief opening a locked door from the inside, it really fits. The Faction never imagined resistance to come from within, and it proved to be their downfall. And since the Faction appeared too large and too strong to break, nobody tried, which is an interesting form of defence, but clearly it becomes weakness when they don’t imagine the possibility that someone would strike.

I find Elkar’s statement (he seems to be very wise) that power is just an agreement between those oppressed and those oppressing to be very intriguing, and I like these moments when Isobelle Carmody gives her messages about the world, there are plenty throughout the series, but I quite like this discussion on power. Power is a strange thing, but it is fleeting, all oppressors are eventually overthrown, but then, do the oppressed become the oppressors? Even Cinda has thoughts on power, and says that only by accepting that power is an idea, does it become something real. Even Elspeth and Reuvan are struck by her words (yes I know that is Carmody’s doing, but still, Cinda’s words are wise).

That moment ends as Lark runs up and greets Elspeth, and he could hardly believe what she was able to do. He and Elkar strike it off, and talk, both being Norselanders. I guess Lark now being saved the fate of becoming novice, could almost see that Elkar was hopefully the person he was going to become. Elkar saved Lark from his fate, but then again, I think two boys can talk about a lot. More reunions happen as Oma and Helvar arrive, both surprised to see Elspeth again, and glad that it came to pass. Elspeth suggests that the Norselanders and the Pers should take charge of the Compound and figure out what they want to do with the Hedra and Herders, since it is their land, and they should be in control.

But after all the happiness of this section, it ends with a sour note. The ship cannot be repaired for a week, it was damaged by its time on the beach. That is not soon enough, for the plague would have taken hold by then, and it will be too late. But, how can they save them now? There has to be a way, is there another boat? Otherwise, this joy is too short-lived.

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