So there is a firestorm and Elspeth, Dragon, Jik and Darga are all out in the open, how on earth can they survive this? It is a storm with FIRE RAIN, that CANNOT be put out, so how on earth can they get away. Elspeth can’t even run anymore, her feet are destroyed. Let’s see what on earth they can do to survive.
Someone yells at Elspeth, a man that we do not know and must be from the Druid’s place, to get up or die, and the man/youth points them in the direction of caves that he knows of. Jik and Darga are nowhere to be seen, let’s hope they ran further ahead, but Dragon is just in front of Elspeth. The flames were catching up to them, and the air was filled with choking smoke, and the heat was intense. What makes this worse, is that Elspeth is reminded when her parents were burned alive, and what it smelt like. What a pleasant memory for her to remember RIGHT BEFORE she DIES!
They finally were at the caves, and ran into the first one they found, it won’t be deep enough to really protect them, but there is no time to find a better suited location. Hopefully the wind changes direction and blows the flames away, remember these flames can burn ROCK! They both huddle into the cave as deep as possible, as they watch the hellish scene outside. The two of them aren’t in any danger at the moment, but the heat is intense, and I don’t think they could last in here for hours. But where are Dragon and Jik? Elspeth nearly runs out to find them, but the youth stops her, because that would just kill her. Either they are safe, or not, hopefully they found other caves. There is nothing for them to do, until the flames die down, and who knows how long that will be.
So they just rest, and it is then for the first time the youth recognises that Elspeth isn’t from the camp, and he doesn’t know her, so where did she come from? He is a Druidsman, and is about Rushton’s age (whatever that is, like 20 or something). Elspeth begins to worry that she might now be captured by the Druid, but if she hasn’t noticed the whole White Valley is engulfed by a firestorm, is there any Druid camp actually left? But the Druid armsman actually does know Elspeth, and she knows him, but she hasn’t seen him for a while. It is Daffyd. Fancy meeting each other again, running for their lives, at least it wasn’t Erin Druid!
How long can a firestorm go for, can we expect it to be like a real storm and maybe last an hour or more, because I don’t think Elspeth can last very long, especially with all that pain that is building up. Daffyd has spoken to Gilaine about her, and now believes that she was travelling with Gypsies because she escape from Oberenwtyn or something. It’s quite endearing to see Daffyd try and enter Elspeth’s mind, because it is just so weak, that Elspeth compares it to ‘watching a baby trying to walk’, and a very weak shield would block him. I guess those in the Druid’s camp haven’t really used their powers much, I wonder if they get out of here alive, will he join her and go back to Obernewtyn?
I think it is quite a good plot circle that we return back to the White Valley, and hear what happened here after they rafted through the mountain, and to meet up with Daffyd again. The Druid made everyone search for them because he was convinced that it was some sort of trick. Now, Elspeth is so weak that she can hardly move her limbs, I don’t think that even when the storm passes (and the rain which according to Daffyd is also deadly) Elspeth will be able to get to Obernewtyn alive. Just on cue, the fire-rains started to quench the flames. They are lucky that the water isn’t flooding their cave, and there is evidence that they were really close to the flames, just a span away (which if comparable to a span that has been used historically, is around 23 cm).
I think Elspeth has now come to realise that she won’t make it to Obernewtyn, so she has decided to trust Daffyd and make him the messenger, because we aren’t sure if the others are even alive. So Elspeth begins her tale by asking about the Druid’s friend, Ariel. Which launches Daffyd into a story of when Ariel came to the settlement, and how he soon became loved by the Druid (even though he was widely hated). And he soon came up with a plan to infiltrate the Council, which he enacted and started waiting until the Druid was strong enough to rise up and take over the land. For some strange reason the Druid banned anyone from using his name, which allows Elspeth to explain to Daffyd about Obernewtyn, and how it is a safe place for Misfits, and is very much NOT burnt from a firestorm. And she implores to him about the importance of getting the message to Obernewtyn. And she asks him if he will go to Obernewtyn. She will stay in the cave waiting for Obernewtyn to send help, and will try to see if she can find Dragon, Jik or Darga (or if they can find her).
So Elspeth gave Daffyd her whole story about the expedition, and once she was done the rain had ceased and it was time for him to go. But just as she was saying goodbye to him, there was a scream, it was Dragon. Daffyd rushed out to find her, and brought her back, she had fainted. She is very much alive, but it is not good news. The reason why she had screamed, was because she found a body, it was Jik. Poor Jik, this is actually upsetting for me, it is the first good character to actually die, and Jik didn’t deserve it. He was so young, and so new to Obernewtyn and freedom. And now Elspeth feels responsible because she brought him on this expedition, she had the choice to send him with Brydda to Sutirum, but she didn’t. But how could she know? It isn’t her fault. But that is little comfort for her.
And Elspeth knows that Maryon’s futuretelling prediction wasn’t really about Jik, he just meant that Darga would come along, who is really the true hero of the story and has allowed them to get here. But what has happened to Darga? It is unlikely he would leave Jik, but there is no sign of him. We have lost two great characters, and to be honest they are the first ones we have lost. Well Pavo is just about lost too, what a high toll for the expedition. Though they have found Dragon, and gained allies in Brydda, and found a host of knowledge, does that make the death’s ‘acceptable’?
After much crying Elspeth got herself together and made Daffyd go and take Dragon with him. She now accepted death, because even Roland could not help her now, there was just too much pain accumulated (there is too much book left for her to die though!). And she had to say goodbye to Dragon, who didn’t want to leave her, and she has been through a lot too, I hope she can improve at Obernewtyn. Of course Obernewtyn don’t know these two at all, so Elspeth gives them her armband as proof. And then she was alone.
Elspeth went into some sort of lucid state, but never let go of the barrier blocking the pain, that would happen soon enough without her. She dreamed she was whisked onto of the mountains by a flying horse, and of Jik, Darga and even Maruman (forgot all about him!). Lastly she dreamed of birds. Is she dead? I think not.