Chapter Eighteen – Part Two
Continuing on with Chapter 18, we get a nice little reminder of the state of things before and after the rebellion, in terms of mutations and how people chose to deal with them. And we all know, that you do not want to have some sort of deformity (in the Council/Herder’s eyes), otherwise you’ll be put to death or made a slave, which is just ridiculous. The only positive thing is that the hate for Misfits will continue to lessen over the generations, and it will finally become accepted. Maruman returns, telling them it is time to start moving again, and somehow he has found a narrow ledge that continues around the mountain flank, so there is a way out after all. I can hardly contain my excitement, where are we going?
Looking around now, Elspeth can tell that these mountains on the east, are less tainted than those on the west, so much so that life can be supported, and all water isn’t deadly. It is a good sign that maybe Miryum and Jacob Obernwetyn would have made their way up here, but I have to wonder how Miryum found this place, and how she managed to take Straaka up with her, I guess love and grief are powerful motivators.
It is slightly strange that the path they are on is completely smooth, with the mountain on the side progressively turning to cliffs, but then I guess this is the Beforetime road that Jacob was referring to. What else would be so smooth, than something the Beforetimers made, it’s just interesting it survived in tact. Winding up the mountain (at least I think that’s what they are doing), Elspeth wishes she was on ‘the southern slopes’, and I’m slightly confused, does she mean of this mountain, or the southern mountains. Maybe they aren’t winding up the mountain, I’m not sure, but since the path is flat, maybe they are just circling it. Without a ledge, Elspeth can’t let her thoughts wander too far, otherwise she might be taking a very nasty fall.
It is a shame that Elspeth isn’t going to be creating a map (and that makes me itching to turn to the front and see what map is included, they always help me gauge just where things are meant to be in relation to one another and just how far poor Elspeth has to travel sometimes, but I won’t, because I don’t want to know where we are headed), though who is going to be able to use it? No matter how much Elspeth thinks she isn’t going to go to the Red Land and see everyone again (or at least some people), I think she is wrong, we have to get their stories eventually, and unless Isobelle Carmody pulls out a huge twist and changes perspective, then she must talk to someone, or at the very least dream of them! The good news is though, Elspeth has left Obernewtyn behind, dealing with her grief earlier, has meant that now she is cut off from her old life, and feels like there is a gulf between them. I don’t know if that is great news, since she has to remember Obernewtyn and everyone, so she can fight when the times are tough, but at least she can now focus on the tasks at hand.
They keep walking on this path, now curving towards the south. It seems a pretty circuitous, but their path seems to continue on the next mountain as well, clearly this must be the only safe path for them to take, and Jacob Obernewtyn must have taken it too. They continued to walk until the sun had truly set, and being stuck on this ledge, in the dark and cold, isn’t exactly lots of fun, just imagine if you fell asleep and then rolled off the edge, I don’t think I’d be getting much sleep! Elspeth doesn’t get much sleep either, and thinks of Obernewtyn and the Moonfair that would be well under way. I’m guessing it’s quite subdued with Elspeth’s disappearance, but it is an important night for Obernewtyn and for Misfits, they should enjoy it. She can’t bear to dwell on it too long, and just looks and listens at the majesty of the world, before dozing.
The next morning, they continue on, not having enough space to eat, and the next section is even more precarious! By lunchtime Elspeth could see where they were headed next, on top of some spurs, which connect two mountains. I am having a hard time visualising all of this, so talking about it isn’t easy, and neither will this journey! Even on the spurs they can’t be complacent, as a simple stumble could end up killing you! And in the distance, Elspeth can see yet again, their likely route, a gap between two mountains. This is certainly an interesting route, and it just so happens to exist, even with the explanation of the Beforetimers and their involvement, it almost seems a little too ‘easy’. I know that this just means that right now, on the beginning of their path, it might be easy, but down the road (literally) it’s going to become so much harder.
Having stopped again, Elspeth raises a very good point, there better be some more safe water ahead, their supplies won’t last forever. But Maruman doesn’t answer at all, and just storms off, like it is the stupidest question ever. This may be because he knows something she doesn’t (but why won’t he share) or it could be that the beasts just have faith in the Agyllians and their destiny, that they will soon enough find water, and food, and it won’t be their concern, after all, they are on this quest, and if it was doomed for them never to reach their destination, so be it. Apparently Maruman is still angry at Elspeth for leaving him behind in Saithwood! That was not Elspeth’s fault, so he really should ‘get over it’, but apparently he doesn’t care it wasn’t her fault.
Elspeth decides to start reading Jacob Obernewtyn’s journal again, and turns her attention to the mention of a building in the high mountains, where he would find the location of his mysterious city. And this building is called the Taillard Observatory! Excellent a new location (but one I already knew the name of because of Obernewtyn.net’s Moonfair, but I was devoid of all context, so I still have no idea what it means), but what’s so important about an Observatory? Is he looking to the stars? For Jacob he is going to the Observatory to look at the (what I assume is) the internet/database to find some maps, or at the very least the old maps (presumably paper). And he believes it will show him a location of a large settlement, that must be what he’s dreaming of. And if he isn’t sure which one it is, he’ll travel to all of them, until he finds it. Starting with Pellmar, a place Hannah was familiar with, but it just raises more questions!
Jacob is hoping to find an iscoper, which sounds like a really good pair of binoculars or something. But he doesn’t give any clue as to where Pellmar is, or how to get to the Observatory. All he says is that the Observatory is white and lies beyond ‘The Horns’, which I guess we’ll understand when we see them. Elspeth has an amazing thought, when she finds Jacob’s body (a sad thing) and the key, he should still have his vessel and all his devices with him. Some of them won’t be working, but some of them could just help Elspeth enough to get to the Sentinel and destroy it!
The move off ahead, and indeed are heading for the pass, which they reach after a few more hours walking. It somewhat reminds me of Lord of the Rings, with all this talk of walking, but so far, it isn’t as tiring, I guess they haven’t travelled nearly as far. There was not enough light left for Elspeth to make a fire with the wood she has carried up, and they aren’t near any shelter. So it will be another rough night, and a tough morning with a precarious passage ahead. Which turns out to lead to a nice ledge coming off the mountain, and it looks just like the one they were on earlier, except this one was less eroded and wider, which is good news. It even has something of a lip around the edge, is that a drain or a curb? Elspeth only realises that this isn’t natural now, but given her lack of experience with roads and the Beforetime who can blame her.
It took them a few good hours to get around this mountain, which was larger than any Elspeth had seen before, and she wonders why on earth we would bother making these roads. Good question, but we like to be able to get anywhere we want, without too much hassle, in our vehicles that require paths to go across. But what was out here, apart from these little settlements, and where even are we that in the future there are still places uninhabited? Around the bend they find a waterfall, with, once again, clear water, and in the distance the ledge road continues. They take the time to rest, and finally eat something in this relative safety. Looking around, there just seem to be mountains everywhere, and they couldn’t have all come from the upheaval of the Great White, for how would the road survive? Or are they in the Alps or something?
Continuing on, their path seems to head downwards, heading towards a ‘flint vale’ (can I just ask, how much research did Isobelle have to do to write so easily about the mountains, and use all these terms, because I don’t think they are terms and things you just know normally, or do I know nothing about describing mountains?), which Elspeth had thought was a dark chasm. Darga alerts them though, to the fact that that way is tainted, it shouldn’t be surprising that they have come across a tainted patch, but, is it the way they have to go? And if so, how are they going to get around this?
Continuing on, they find a small cave to shelter in for the night, so they can get away from the ledge, and finally cook something with the wood Elspeth has been carrying. After laughing for a little while, I get the feeling that Elspeth has realised that maybe they should be quite, who knows what is out there, listening. Could there be the brildane/wolves that Gahltha was fearful of back in The Farseekers? There is still good news that Darga can sense clean water is still ahead of them. Sitting around the fire, Elspeth feels as though she is on any regular expedition, relaxed and content with the bare simplicity of life on the road. But the fire doesn’t last long, so Elspeth comfort might be short lived, they might not have too many more chances to find firewood, so better enjoy it now.
Falling asleep, Elspeth spirit form is once again flying back over Obernewtyn, but she is unable to get too close, a physical barrier (metaphorically her distance and own rift she has made to it) prevents it. Then the dream changed, as it always does, and she is flying over extremely tainted (or maybe it’s their aura) mountains, and on it, is a black road, which is the road they are following now. Elspeth could hear someone crying out, and finds a dragon above her, falling down, mad, with talons outstretched. Elspeth woke up screaming Dragon. What just happened? And where is the real Dragon? It will be a very sad day when I no longer have any questions left to ask, but even when The Red Queen is over, I’m sure I’ll still have some.