The Stone Key – Chapter 31 – Part Two

12 days till The Sending!

Chapter Thirty-One – Part Two

Elspeth is woken up by Seely, remembering that she has nothing to do right now so sleeping in isn’t a problem, but since Seely is here, something is up again. Seems to be that every single time Elspeth goes to sleep she is woken up for something important. And this time there are riders here to take her to Aborium, Gwynedd is eager to see her. Elspeth is set on speaking to Dell again, so tells Seely to let them know to wait a while.

Now used to Ines, she asks her to find Dell, and to take her there. Dell either was told of her arrival or was expecting her, and gives her some books to take back to Maryon, since Elspeth will be going to Sutrium after Aborium. But Elspeth wants to talk about Rushton, and Dell was expecting that (not just because of her Talent, Jak told her). Elspeth first explains everything, because Dell is good, but not THAT good. Dell seems to share Elspeth’s sentiments and concern about Rushton, she too saw Rushton’s behaviour and thinks it is probably true that his memories are starting to creep back into his conscious. Though she reminds her that it can’t just be her that is forcing them out, after all it has gotten worse since they last saw each other, and clearly Elspeth wasn’t around to make it happen. So even if Elspeth avoids him, they’ll still come out sooner or later. And they have to come out eventually, or he will end up like Dragon.

As for what Dell suggests, the only way for Rushton to deal with his memories, is actually to remember them, but in a controlled way. Dell believes his memories will be deformed, since he was drugged when his mind was tampered with, so the drugs would have created false memories. Which means he could believe he did things (like torture Elspeth or Domick) when he didn’t, which could cause great guilt. So he must be aware that these things might be false, and telling him that is tricky, since he can’t be prepared without being told what happened, which would cause the release of such memories.

 

Elspeth still thinks it best to avoid Rushton as much as possible in Aborium, but Dell isn’t sure that is the best idea. After all he did us her as a symbol of strength, and even though it has been twisted, Elspeth is still a source of strength for Rushton, and she is key to his healing. Elspeth becomes agitated as Dell doesn’t give her clear advice, simply because she cannot give exact advice. Elspeth will have to figure out what to do about Rushton herself, she cannot rely on Dell or anyone else to give her advice, in the end it is up to her. But Dell does offer advice, dream manipulation, to prepare Rushton for what he is going to face, so that he is introduced to the lies, and taught that they are lies, without bursting the dam. She will have to employ the help of others to do that, if she decides on that path, an empath to make sure he feels safe and calm, and a coercer to put him to sleep if need be. Blyss and Merret are the perfect pair for the job. Blyss will have to judge the right moment to start the dreams, which will be when he is close to remembering. So maybe it isn’t all up to Elspeth, but the final stage will be down to Elspeth, to help Rushton get through all the memories and pain.

Going up to the surface there is a surprise for Elspeth, the riders are not who she expected. Among them is Jakoby, Gahltha and Maruman! It has been a long while since they’ve seen each other, and for Elspeth being in the company of her two animal friends is probably the most comforting thing she could have had. Even though Maruman is indignant at being left behind, even though he could never have followed her over the water. The best Elspeth is do is agree and apologise, compromise and reasoning do not work with him. And the banter between the two animals is heart-warming after all the chaotic events of the past week.

Even being reunited with Jakoby is cause for celebration, though she is here for a reason. The overguardian of the Earth temple said it was of the utmost important that they set sail to Sutrium, even risking a meeting with The Black Ship, because even the ship and its crew were not as important as the mission. It is a very cryptic missive, even for the overguardian, but it seems that Jakoby is going to be at the command of someone who has been to Sador, until they tell them to return to Sador. And before they return, she will learn something about an old and deep sorrow.

There is good news though, the Stormdancer has arrived, just as Jakoby and her ship were arriving also. This piece of news also reveals that the Hedra captain had finally surrendered, but whether any further fighting was involved we don’t know. Jakoby soon realised that the fires were a ruse, since they could see Sutrium, and then met Dameon who explained everything, as Dardelan and the others had just went across the river. Bruna had returned to Sutrium a day earlier via the coast road, which is interesting, something must be going on between her and Dardelan.

It was actually Maruman who requested Jakoby travel to find Elspeth, for he did travel to Sador, and was able to make a request. Elspeth then realises that Jakoby can now be requested to go anywhere, even the Red Queen’s land, which must be the true reason Jakoby is here. They depart for Aborium, so Elspeth can tell Blyss about Rushton. Back in Sutrium, Kella had been asking the pair of animals to return to Obernewtyn, but Maruman knew that they could not, for the Agyllians had told him to go and find Elspeth. This means that Kella never found out that Domick was infected, and hence why she wasn’t here to see him. Then we learn that Dragon disappeared upon their arrival at Sutrium! More worryingly (though that is still concerning, where is Dragon, what is she doing, and has she finally remembered her duty?) is that Maruman was ‘seliga’ for nearly this whole week, until the ruse had begun. This was the longest time he had been in his daze, travelling the dreamtrails, so it is a worry, but he is back now.

With Jakoby here, and the possibility of returning to Sador with both Maruman and Gahltha (the day and moon watchers) it could be time for Elspeth to retrieve the 5th sign from the overguardian. So on her journey to Aborium, we get a recap of all the things we have learnt so far about the signs, which is helpful since a lot has been going on. Elspeth has probably found 2 signs, and the statue for the safe-passage agreement, and whatever is in the Red Queen’s Land, are the two others that remain. But to get the 5th sign, she is supposed to have somebody of Kasanda’s blood with her, and that would mean a Gypsy, so most likely Swallow. But we shall have to wait and see if he turns up. Of course it could be Iriny, but she too is no longer nearby. It seems that Elspeth can’t go straight to Sador, that would be too simple for the futuretelling, so something else, unknown must happen first.

Nearing Aborium, Elspeth asks about Bruna and her quick departure. She and Dardelan were said to be quarrelling, but as to why, they would have to ask one of the pair. The love of the pair is an unusual thing, the both of them have strong ties and duties to their people, and someone would have to eventually relent. Bruna’s love for Dardelan is strong, and I think the same is true in reverse, but Jakoby does not know. And Jakoby touches on something poignant for Elspeth, if love is withheld for a long time, is it really love. And it hurts Elspeth to hear her say it is cowardice, and tries to say sometimes people have reasons, but Jakoby doesn’t accept any reason to hide love.

Dameon did reveal a little about their quarrel, Bruna had wanted to go to the highlands and track down the ‘robbers’ burning down houses, but Dardelan thought it was Malik. And he was waiting for Obernewtyn to formally charge Malik for his betrayal, so didn’t want confrontation with him, when he was to judge Malik. Bruna had become annoyed, since Dardelan didn’t explain his refusal, and decided to leave since he was showing a lack of regard for her. It may be that it is best they were separated, after all love can’t be a perfect thing, and it takes time and some hassles for it to really shine. Jakoby will speak with Dardelan about the matter when she gets the chance, and honestly, I wouldn’t want to cross her. So Dardelan might want to watch out!

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