Chapter Twenty – Part One
The moment has arrived, for Elspeth to meet the Gedhra (or wolves), and this is a huge moment, if she doesn’t convince them to come along with them to the Sentinel, the quest will fail, and ultimately the Destroyer will win. Though, having said that, I still have to wonder how on earth the Destroyer would be able to succeed, if Elspeth wasn’t around. Because without the memory seed, and Elspeth’s (plus Maruman’s) voices, along with Cassy’s key, and the other signs, the Destroyer wouldn’t theoretically be even able to enter the Sentinel project (activating it might not require so many passwords and things as destroying it…). I guess it’s one of those situations where both their destinies are linked, and both need each other. And the final show down, will happen in the Sentinel facility. If Elspeth were to die, I don’t think the Destroyer would succeed in the same way as if he was able to take over at the last minute, I think that given enough time, he would be able to activate the weaponmachines, and even if he didn’t, someone else would. One possibility is that just entering the facility without clearance, could set off some sort of attack, which could set of the BoT? Just a thought.
Anyway, enough of that, we have serious business to read. A pack of twenty huge wolves quickly arrived out of the foliage, surrounding our trio. The pack-leader a huge male, seemed to be communicating with Darga, through some undetectable (for Elspeth) means. Darga calmly and respectful introduces their group, and says that the Agyllians ask them to listen to Elspeth’s request. It takes some discussion on Darga’s part to convince the pack-leader that they are not servants of the funaga, and that if they kill Elspeth, they are killing Innle, the only hope for beasts. In addition to that, they shouldn’t kill Maruman either, since he is the protector of Innle, as appointed by the Agyllians, who really seem to be the ‘rulers’ of beasts (plus he wouldn’t be tasty, since he is so old, tough and bitter!).
The wolf doesn’t seem to listen to Darga, and approaches Maruman, seemingly going to attack him. So Elspeth decides to do something that could prove to be very foolish, she uses her dark power, to move some of the scalding water, and fling it at the wolf! First of all, that’s damn cool that she is like a waterbender from Avatar! But secondly, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING ELSPETH? That was so foolish, and could get you all killed. But, just maybe, the wolves don’t see this as an attack, but see it as a sign that you are strong and not to be messed with. Indeed for a moment it looks like the wolf wants to kill Elspeth (what is dinrai? Possibly it is a derogatory word for human), but I actually think maybe this is a test?
Elspeth doesn’t have the energy to defend coercively, now that his mind is open to her (that’s one way to get talking), but it’s a very weird fit, the wolf’s mind is clearly so different to any other beast. Elspeth tells the wolf, that if they kill her, then every wolf will die. Which the wolf just takes as a laughable threat, but Elspeth becomes serious and tells him that there will be nothing left if she does not succeed, nothing. Apparently the Agyllians have spoken to this wolf (or his ancestors) before, and told him of Innle, but he thinks this is a different Innle, since the one he was told about, wasn’t talking of the doom of the world. Elspeth tells him that he must already know that she is Innle, because all beasts inherently know with her.
Elspeth asks them to go with her on the quest, and a different wolf, says they will, if it is to be killed. It seems that that wolf, was one of the ones harmed by Ariel, or any human, and he is out to get some vengeance. Dinrai seems to mean beastspeaker, or coercive beastspeaker, and Ariel was certainly the person who harmed the wolves. The ‘Gobor One Ear’ tries to attack Elspeth after she puts a picture of Ariel in their minds, but is held back by the pack-leader (Rheagor), who tries to say that it is the pack-leader who should have the taste of first blood (not exactly encouraging for Elspeth). Elspeth tells them that Ariel is the H’rayka, and he is her enemy and prey, and she will seek him out and vanquish him, but she has to complete her quest. The wolves seem to equate Elspeth’s ability to talk to them, with being connected to Ariel. So Elspeth shows them a memory of when Ariel tortured her with the Zebkrahn machine, and how he tortured Rushton, her mate.
It seems to work, and the leader knows she speaks the truth, but still, isn’t interested in helping. So once again, Elspeth says that everything will die if the quest fails, and Rheagor seems to now believe her, but others in his pack, like Descantra and Gobor (both survived Ariel) aren’t so happy, they think she is just lying. But Rheagor has cubs of his own, and he wants a future, so he says that Descantra must go seliga, which is the word used about Maruman, which means behind/back/under/between. Actually, it seems that Rheagor is going seliga, maybe to spirit-travel and seek the answers. The rest of the pack departs, as Rheagor prepares to go seliga, he is going to help Elspeth, but for now she should go to Skylake and wait. If she has been lying, the pack will be eager for some fresh meat.
The trio continue through the rift, heading out the other side, it will take them a day to reach the valley of Skylake. Everyone is quite subdued after their encounter with the wolves (despite how much Maruman plays it down), whose scent/musk must have some sort of paralysing agent. Elspeth acknowledges Maruman sending Gahltha to Skylake since they will be going there (indeed he was aware that this would happen), but Maruman also reveals that they aren’t going to the Agyllian ken. And it gets worse, as Elspeth tries to say that Atthis said that she would, Maruman tells her that Atthis is dead! She died the night she sent away Darga and Maruman to return to Obernewtyn! Elspeth can’t believe it (I though saw it coming, she had to give up that golden life spirit to save Rushton!), Atthis was supposed to answer her questions (still I don’t remember that deal), so now she can’t believe she won’t get to do that. Maruman confirms that she died because it was the price Elspeth had to pay for saving Rushton, it had reduced her life to save him. It was too soon for her to talk to Elspeth, there was things that needed to be done, so instead, she told Maruman many things, and told him what to say and what to do. But they never mentioned Cassy’s key, and Maruman doesn’t say much about everything else, apart from that she will learn what she needs to know when they reach Skylake, from those who come. The pack leader is going seliga, so he is going to find out some things, but what and how?
Elspeth finally is hit by the realisation of what Atthis’ death means, she seems to think it signifies the final end of the connection from the Beforetime to now, and I think that’s pretty symbolic, but only if it had happened as ‘planned’ when Elspeth had completed her quest, and the Beforetime was truly ‘over’. Elspeth realises that Maruman didn’t tell her until now, because she wouldn’t have probably wanted to leave Obernewtyn and continue her quest, now was the perfect time. Just as it is the perfect time for this section of my review to come to an end, even though I’d like to continue, I’ve already said so much, and this was a momentous event, and that’s just going to keep happening! They arrive at the Valley of Skylake, so we’ll get to see what’s that is like.
Did Atthis’ death surprise you? And what do you think Rheagor is doing whilst he is seliga? And how does that seliga related to Maruman’s? (of course no spoilers! Or if you like, put them in rot13)