The Stone Key – Chapter 29 – Part Two

Chapter Twenty-Nine – Part Two

Having fallen asleep in her new room in the Beforetime complex Elspeth gets to experience some ‘modern’ luxuries, like toilets and showers, which are an odd experience for her (look, she has toilets and showers, but nothing like what we have, I doubt they have flushing water, or hot water coming out of taps whenever they want). I mean she is so surprised by the flushing of the toilet, that she trips over and falls. But at least she takes it in good spirit, and laughs about it all. She also takes her first shower in the complex, and has to contend with the hot and cold water, before finding a perfect medium. And experimenting with the soap, reminds me of similar encounters in The Hunger Games with Katniss in the Capitol, and even Harry Potter when he takes a bath in the prefect’s bath, and plays with all the taps. Having mastered the shower, she is quite pleased with her progress.

Of course she remembers the previous day, and everything that Domick told her, including Ariel’s intentions and Rushton’s apparent continued service of him. It is all confusing, and as usual, she tries to nut it out, but doesn’t get much further than she was before. The only interesting revelation is that Elspeth now sees her destiny and fight against the Destroyer, is not so much as a race, but a complex ‘dance’ where the Destroyer waits until Elspeth does most of the work, before coming in and taking over. It does give Elspeth a new understanding of the Destroyer, that she is his nemesis, and it worse for him, because he must let Elspeth do what she needs to do, even if it thwarts his own plans, because she needs to get the signs so he can eventually take over. And Rushton and his torture, makes Elspeth think that maybe he was working for Ariel, because he could be turned mad by Elspeth’s closeness, so she must act carefully around him next time.

She falls asleep again, and something is amiss, the sky (via Seely) is full of smoke. Something is going on, and they need Elspeth to farseek Merret ,who has gone back to Halfmoon Bay to check on Iriny and return Golfur. Going back in the elevator, I do like that Elspeth is curious enough to wonder what would happen if it stopped working while they were in it, and even Seely was slightly nervous at the thought, but believes Ines would soon fix it. It is little details like these that make Obernewtyn so realistic and believable. And Elspeth’s mixed feelings about computers is also very understandable, computers have done bad things to her and the world, but, as I’ve said before, it depends on who uses things, not the things themselves (however, I want to stress, that just because it is people that harm and not objects, it doesn’t mean the objects should be available, if you get what I’m hinting at).

Arriving at the watchtower, Elspeth experiences the smoke first-hand, and there is surprisingly a lot of it, and its location seems to be a mystery, but, it seems like it is coming from around the Suggredoon, and possibly from Sutrium. Elspeth tries to reach Merret but she is too far away, so she merges with Seely and Alun and just connects with Merret, who confirms their suspicion that it is coming from Sutrium. But what on earth is going on over there, it can’t just be another ship going up, the amount of smoke there is, it is like the entire town is aflame. Soldierguards are in a panic, and even the Herders on this side have no idea what is going on, though rumour is rife. I guess we shall find out soon enough.

As for other news, Merret made contact with Iriny, who was able to escape the cells before the Herders tried to get her, and now she is set on returning back to the other side of the river because she has some important information for Swallow. She had seen the smoke and decided to act during its cover, but that is all we know. Whether she returns to the rebels, or a town full of Herders, is another matter.

They eat a midmeal, where Dell’s cooking has vastly improved, and finally we meet some of the new children. Some are as young as 4 years old, and I wonder whether they were taken away from families, or they were wandering the streets? Surely they weren’t taken from their families, at least not without the parents consent, but then, why would the parents voluntarily let their children go with random people. And I doubt they could inform them that they are Misfits, and their child is too, they wouldn’t believe them, and would quickly turn them over. So I wonder how that works.

But right now, Elspeth has a meeting with Dell, who doesn’t seem to eat with the others, she eats in the ‘Sanctuary’ which is their underground greenhouse, filled with trees and plants, so quite literally a sanctuary if you consider the purpose of this whole complex. Somehow there is even a blue sky, which I presume is artificial, and is actually a painted roof. Though it is amazing that they have all the plants growing, it is hardly realistic, as there is not a single animal or insect inside. In the Sanctuary, there is a building, where Dell spends most of her time, surrounded by tomes of books, and communicating with Ines. And quickly she confirms what I suspected, she won’t leave if she is given the chance, and neither with Jak, some of the others might return, but I think most of them will remain here where they have become a family and been through a lot together.

Dell explains her relationship with Ines, and confirms her belief that she is teaching Ines, while she is teaching her in return. Of course, Ines is a huge resource of information and knowledge about the Beforetime (in fact it is likely she has ALL the information about the Beforetime), but she is limited to just before The Great White, when somebody ordered her to go to sleep. It was Dell who woke her by using her name, which Dell had seen around, and she was spurred on by Miky and Angina’s song about a sleeping princess, and she wondered if Ines was that princess. And it turns out she was. The last command Ines remembers is one to cut her off from all the other Ines programs around the world, as they were all linked to share information, and serve to communicate with one another. Then, they were shut off from each other, and left to become unique, with only the Govamen capable of achieving this. It would be possible to relink all the Ines, but that would only be doable at one of the Govamen computers, of which there were only three. Which makes the likelihood of them existing slim, but, just maybe there is one of these left, and it might just well be the computermachine that Elspeth is looking for. However, the linking could result in all Ines machines becoming defective, as those who were not put to sleep would have gone ‘mad’ without any access to information, and would corrupt any computer that came in contact with it.

Ines is capable of learning a conflicting piece of information, and then forming her own opinion on which is true, or combining them to create a merged new piece of information. And this is the promising feature of Ines, which might allow them access to the deeper areas of the complex. As for Dell, she has found her purpose here in the complex, and it isn’t about futuretelling, something that she thought defined her at Obernewtyn. This is a great moment for the story, as the message of not defining yourself by what you can do, but what you want to be, comes out.

But there is another moment for the story, and for Elspeth. She gets a futuretelling of sorts, as Dell sees that sometime in the future there will be more fighting and bloodshed, and Elspeth is in the centre of it. She is a change-bringer, and whatever she does, lead to changes for the rest of them. Dell announces that when Elspeth leaves, they will not see each other again. And her futuretelling becomes pronounced, as she reveals that when the next winter ends, Elspeth will have to leave all that she loves to journey far over land and sea to ‘face the beast’. Her destiny is fast approaching, and the end of the tale nearing. And it is all very exciting!

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