The Stone Key – Chapter 32

Chapter Thirty-Two

Entering Aborium is a simple enough process, since the guards have all be coerced, and now have demonbands on to keep up the illusion, which is so crucial right now. Nobody can know that the rebels are here and ready to take back the west coast. Merret quickly informs Elspeth that Jakoby is invited to the meeting here in a merchant hall here in the third district. It is a good place to house a meeting, because they can make it look like a regular merchant meeting. Travelling through the city, talk is rife of the fires in Sutrium, but the outcome is not yet known, so Gwynedd will have to offer some explanation sooner rather than later, to make sure rumours don’t start on their own.

Arriving at the merchant hall, it is a grand and elegant building, more impressive than any in Sutrium, for it is made of a special rock, skinstone. I have no idea what real world equivalent skinstone could be, maybe someone with more experience with geology might have an idea. Only merchants could afford such a luxurious meeting place. There are a few real merchants who are here and annoyed that they weren’t invited to the meeting. They will be dealt with some coercion. Jakoby goes into the meeting hall, to join the 70 others that are already convening. Though it is a large group, they are all well known to Gwynedd who has been organising this since Dell spoke to him. They are to choose their leaders themselves, which means there will be much debate, something Elspeth is going to avoid. But she still gets involved by going up to watch from the gallery, where she joins Blyss who is focused on the speeches. Nothing has yet been decided, and it has been going for a good few hours now. For now they have been explaining what has happened on the other side of the river, and the attempted invasion by the Herders. Gwynedd has announced that they are here to choose leaders, some people weren’t too happy about that, for they don’t believe they can lead a city, but clearly they won’t be chosen.

I really like how Gwynedd is handling things, he has gotten Dardelan and Jakoby to both speak about how they have governed their people, to show the different methods and ways that they could decide to use. Ultimately he is showing that good leadership is needed, but they need to be clear what that means, and it doesn’t mean those who are the richest or best in battle. This whole process will take a copious amount of time, because Dardelan is doing something that we are familiar with, he is going to get all the candidates for the leadership of each city to come forward and give their talk about how they would run things. Then, it will be voted upon, and that person will become chieftain if everyone agrees. If they do not, and they won’t, he wants to get the candidates (the top three) in a sort of Q and A situation, before a second vote is taken. Then finally all the chieftains will be chosen, and among them, they will vote for their high chieftain. Yes Dardelan is the high chieftain of the other side of the river, but he wants the west to have its own high chieftain to ensure that he doesn’t have too much power and territory, plus, he will be able to confer with another person in the same role as his.

It is all very thought out, and I like that things have definitely changed from the dictatorship control of the Council and Herders, and it is a true display of democracy (putting some of ours to shame). And Gwynedd is the ideal high chieftain and leader, just like Dardelan he has vision and wisdom and will be an excellent leader. And he takes questions from the audience and answers them wonderfully. He wants ‘soldierguards’ to be replaced by a peace keeping force that serves for a maximum of two years, so they cannot become corrupt, which is a perfect idea.

Elspeth spots Rolf in the crowd, which is a surprise, but he is a worthy candidate of leadership, and I think he should definitely put his name forward for Halfmoon Bay’s position. Hopefully he does, as the election process begins, moving down from Murmroth, where Gwynedd was election unanimously. And so the process continues for Aborium, and it is truly lengthy, as the talks go on for more than an hour, then three candidates were selected to then be questioned once all top candidates were selected. This is going to take an age. But quite surprisingly, this is all part of Gwynedd’s plan, he wants people to get tired, bored and cranky, just to ensure that the audience see the candidates in all states, which is genius! And it weeds out those who are just all talk, when the questions come, because people will want more substance than air. When it comes to Halfmoon Bay, Rolf does not rise, but Gwynedd interrupts to make him rise and speak, this he does on a few occasions to ensure that those who are too modest to step up themselves, and thrown into the ring.

Rolf does a wonderful job after he starts off dismissing Gwynedd’s insistence, and then has to answer a few questions. One person is completely rude and says how could Rolf, a simple metal worker, know how to lead, and that allows Rolf to launch into an inspiring speech, highlighting that if class was important, than why wasn’t Councilman Kana chosen as chieftain. And he is able to address Halfmoon Bay’s key concern, the dreamweed that has left people crippled, he is passionate about returning Halfmoon Bay to its former glory. And with such a speech, he can’t lose. Plus Gwynedd sings his praise, and informs everyone of Rolf’s efforts to stop a deadly plague spreading, which nobody had known about, so he has to explain.

Elspeth leaves with Maruman, who is unable to bear more talking, so we don’t find out if Rolf is successful, but he should be. Coming outside, the sun has already set, showing that it is a laborious process, but a critical one. Elspeth and Gahltha return to the Sadorian ship, Gahltha somewhat downcast as he has dreamt of his son running like the wind beside him. He says he was happy, but not being there to join him, clearly is bringing him pain.

Seeing the Umborine, the great Sadorian spiceship, makes Elspeth more convinced that the Black Ship is very similar in design. She even wonders if Salamander somehow stole one of the Sadorian ships. Though it is likely that he took a ship from the Gadfian people themselves, who would have taught the Sadorian’s how to build ships in the first place, so who knows. Gilbert is already on the Umborine and Elspeth learns that he and 29 armsmen, including Gwynedd, will be travelling to Norseland, before continuing to Sador. Elspeth gets to have a cabin on deck, while Gilbert’s is below deck. Gwynedd must have asked Jakoby to take them to Norseland during the meeting, and Elspeth can’t quite figure why he would just rush off, after being elected chieftain. Of course Gwynedd was able to make a request to Jakoby, and she could not deny it, as he has been to Sador. And Elspeth has missed out on being taken directly to Sador (though she probably wasn’t meant to), since Jakoby is bound to go to Norseland first, so makes sure to ask Jakoby as soon as possible, lest being caught out and waiting for her to complete a list of requests.

It is slightly awkward for Elspeth because Gilbert has taken a fancy to her, and he now has been kicked out by his bondmate, and wants to find someone else who will love him. Honestly Gilbert’s advance is very quick and strong, and I think because of their sort of shared past and little bit of a ‘thing’ at the Druid’s camp, he thinks it is okay to do so. Elspeth did in fact love him at one point, and I guess he sensed that, but right now, she doesn’t have time for him, and there isn’t an easy way to let him down. And Elspeth does what she plays best and becomes cold and unemotional while she boards the ship.

She follows Maruman to her chamber, because he is experienced with this vessel, while Gahltha goes to his own spot, with his own attendant. For once Elspeth chides herself and stops trying to speculate about Gwynedd’s plans for Norseland, she is slowly learning that does nobody any good. But still it makes you wonder what he plans to do with 30 men.

As a side Elspeth thinks of Cassy and her carvings. But what is interesting is that Cassy had lived through the Beforetime and the Age of Chaos, which Elspeth thinks is impossible. But I’m thinking that the Age of Chaos didn’t last as long as the Council has told them. You can’t really trust anything they say, and who knows how long ago it actually was, we will never really know. But honestly it couldn’t have lasted that long, because all those people who had been irradiated and tried to invade the Land, wouldn’t have survived that long after the Great White anyway, they would have died of radiation sickness pretty quickly. So the Age might have only been a few years honestly, at that time Cassy was somehow in the Red Queen’s Land, and not in Obernewtyn or under Tor. So I wonder what she was doing there, and how she survived the Great White. She would have had some forewarning about it all, so I guess she travelled to a place where she knew she would be safe. I have to wonder if Hannah survived through it all, it seems her daughter did, but she couldn’t have survived for that long since Cassy was caring for her. It is all a big mystery, with so many gaps yet left to fill, and some, will never be.

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Filed under Isobelle Carmody, The Obernewtyn Chronicles, The Stone Key

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