They were travelling down the Suggredoon at breakneck speed, Domick stood up and used a paddle to attempt to steer the raft, even if it was only a little. Surprisingly the cavern was not pitch black, but the walls were slightly luminescent, providing dim light. Well actually it was some insects that were luminescent, not the walls themselves. For the most part it was ‘smooth sailing’ and until they hit their first rapid, it seemed danger free. Their first rapid however, was still without trouble, but they came close to sharp rocks, and it was only their steering that saved them from overturning, well that and a lot of luck. There were quite a few rapids, but their biggest problem was the slowly enclosing walls and roof, that might soon not be wide enough for the raft. It even became too low for Domick to stand, and soon it might not be large enough for Avra, and there was no turning around.
But then then cavern expanded again. Elspeth reflects on the fact that at first everyone was afraid of the soldierguards on the expedition, and yet they had not met one on their way, though their journey was troubled. They turned a corner, and opened out into a large ‘sea’ filled with stalagmites, stalactites and stone columns rising out of the water (and approaching it). They then approached quite large rocky mounds, but to their amazement (and mine) it was not rocks, but a building. They had stumbled upon a Beforetime city.
The buildings stretched up high, it was the first time any of them had seen skyscrapers, legends they had only heard about. Some buildings had already collapsed, having been eroded by the water, but still some survive. Strange to think how the city could now be in a mountain, did the earth enclose it, or did it sink down inside the mountain? And is this even possible in a ‘real world’? Pavo didn’t want to miss the chance to collect some things, but Darga with his keen sense of smell could tell that the buildings were still poison filled and tainted, but the water was not, as it flowed. Avra too did not like the place.
Elspeth took the time to ask Avra about Gahltha and his behaviour that prevented him joining them. The funaga that had first had him, almost drowned him when they got him, to ‘break his spirit’. From this, he has a fear of water that he cannot overcome, just goes to show that maybe humans are the real ‘animals’. Avra tells Elspeth that he will be in great shame, and probably has not returned to Obernewtyn.
Hours later and they were still drifting past buildings, the novelty having now warn off, talk turned to their next plan of getting to the library (oh right, they still have things to ACTUALLY DO before getting back to Obernewtyn!). They no longer looked like Gypsies, their ‘tan’ washed and faded off, and with no caravan it would look more suspicious than if they were ‘normal’. Now being on foot, it would slow them down and time is still a concern. Domick still wondered how they were found so quickly, but it was just bad luck, as the group was out hunting, and somehow found them. The mystery of what Gilbert tried to call out, still is on Elspeth’s mind, he could have been trying to help her, who knows.
They soon passed back into tunnels filled with rapids, this side seemed to be more ferocious. Still an hour later travelling through the rapids, they heard a strange noise. It was much louder than any rapid, it was one of their worst fears, a waterfall. The only thing that saved them, was being tied on.
When Elspeth woke, she could not see and thought that she had gone blind. Kella is there though to calm her fears, her eyes are just stuck shut from blood from a cut on her forehead, well its still not ‘good news’ but its better than finding out you are now blind. She now understood what it was like for Dameon, well she got a glimpse at how it is for him. When Elspeth could open her eyes, she saw that she was now in a room, with Kella and another woman. She is Katlyn, who along with her husband, Grufyyd found them washed up on the banks of the Suggredoon, and they know that they have ‘escape from a Council farm’. They don’t mind though, they are also breaking the law, Katlyn is a master of herb lore, which is also illegal.
Elspeth isn’t exactly keen on the idea of staying with the pair for very long, and is quite suspicious of their intentions. Kella doesn’t agree or approve of Elspeth’s cynical nature and truly believes that they are helping them out of the kindness of their hearts, which I think they are. Their plans of the expedition just seem to get worse, they no longer have any forged papers, and have no disguise, and the group is worse for ware.
That night Domick came to talk to Elspeth, and revealed that he didn’t like lying to the pair, who are genuinely good people. He thinks that they have done this sort of thing before. It doesn’t change the fact that they cannot stay here forever, and will soon have to move on to complete the expedition, even if they have to leave some people behind. Domick will try to get a cart for the group so Pavo and Elspeth can both move quicker (since they are the most infirm), Domick himself will have to get some papers, so he can head onto Sutrium.
Later Katlyn came to Elspeth to try and help her feet, which just seem to get worse. And if she ever wants her feet to heal, Katlyn believes that Elspeth will have to be off her feet for many months, maybe even more. Katlyn is a lovely maternal woman, who actually cares dearly for our group, and even offers them a place to live with them. Their home is a refuge for runaways, and if they stay they too could help others like them. I think even for Elspeth it would be a tempting offer to just give up on the expedition and live there forever, but there is Obernewtyn to think about, and many others who are depending on them. Obviously they aren’t going to stay with them, but I don’t think they will be leaving too soon. It is good to think though, that there are still good people living in the Land, and it isn’t just filled with fanatical Herders who are willing to turn even their own family into the Council.