Elspeth was woken by her daze by a breaking branch, which she believes is a predator finding some easy prey after the firestorm. Her pain suppression was still in tact, but oddly her vision and hearing were affected. She had the odd sensation of feeling watched, but she could not see anyone or anything from where she was lying. But she continued to hear noises, so decided to send out a probe, and came across a mental dialogue. Two minds are wondering what Elspeth is, and Elspeth wonders back who they are. That silences the minds, and all Elspeth can see are three birds. Not just any birds, Guanette birds, and Elspeth figures out that it is the birds who were talking.
She tries to enquire them about who they are, it takes some time, but eventually they sent a probe to her mind. It was a very delicate probe, and Elspeth thought that no shield would be able to stop it, no matter how strong. One of them, a male, introduces himself as Astyanax, and sends to the other two female birds, that Elspeth is a female. Apparently they struggle to work out the differences between male and female funaga. They are Agyllians, Elspeth asks what that is, but they do not answer straight away, instead they came close to her. They are quite large, and Elspeth hopes they are not carnivorous, so she sends to them that she wouldn’t taste very good and her wounds are poisoned. The mention of wounds, sparks interest in Elspeth as the birds seem to think that she might be ‘the one’. So another bird introduced herself as Ruatha of the Agyllians and the other bird is Illyx. Again Elspeth insists she would taste bad, but the Agyllians laugh, they do not eat flesh. They seem to be contemplating whether Elspeth is the one, and ask her if she is Innle.
Didn’t Elspeth introduce herself as ElspethInnle, so why are they asking if she is Innle? Elspeth is shocked that she is called this, and wonders why they want to know. Apparently the Agyllians eldar, sent them to find the Seeker who was mortally injured, and there are many nearby who fit that description, but they also said that the Seeker would be alone waiting to die, and they didn’t have time to make the wrong decision. An eldar (Elspeth asks) is the name of the Agyllian high council, made up of the wisest Agyllians, and the wisest of them all is the Elder. Elspeth is confused at the concept of birds having a Council and she thinks herself delirious, but if these birds can mind talk so strong and delicately there has to be something more to their story. Elspeth wonders what the Seeker is, and Illyx answers rudely that it is one who seeks, and if Elspeth doesn’t know then maybe she isn’t who they are looking for.
But Ruatha says that they will take her. So the birds start to organise to take Elspeth to the Ken, and get out a net to hold Elspeth. Elspeth feel out of consciousness and when she woke, she was high in the sky, atop the tallest mountains, and remembering her strangest dream. She saw Guanette birds flying intricately, it was one of the best sights she had ever seen. Then one of the birds, a male comes over to talk to her, his name is Nerat and he is of the eldar. He is what we refer to as a healer, and once again Elspeth comments on their ability to get through her shield effortlessly. He comments that there will be pain, but not a lot, and he can rid her body of the infection which is quite bad, the real difficulty is releasing the pain that Elspeth has blocked and to do that Elspeth has to open her mind to him. He will teach her body to heal itself and build up an immunity, but only if Elspeth opens her mind, otherwise she will die.
He has mixed whitestick with salivas to rid it of the poisons, and the Agyllians call it narma, as it rose from the ashes of the Great White. Ominously he reveals that next time there will be no narma, next time the world will be completely dead with no hope of revival. So Elspeth tries to relax and let Nerat do his work, and eventually released her block. This sent her in a daze, sometimes she was in unbearable pain other times she felt nothing, it went on for a long time, until she felt like she was floating for ages.
Then she woke. Astyanax appeared and told her that she was well now and could move, unless she wanted to lie there for a little longer (which I find funny how kind, polite and patient he is). Elspeth could feel no pain, and when she looked at her feet, they were perfect, even scars she had as a child were gone (This is so reminiscent of ‘The Hunger Games’ when Katniss is made perfect after her victory). Now Elspeth is to meet Atthis, who is the Elder of the eldar. Atthis was very old, and her eyes were milky opaque, she was blind. It was then, looking at Atthis that Elspeth realised that she wasn’t dreaming. As soon as Atthis spoke, Elspeth realised that she knew her voice, it was the same one that spoke to her inside Maruman’s deepest mind. The Agyllians can forsee events, but even they do not know everything that is going to happen.
The two talk about Elspeth destiny, something that Elspeth denies, but things have been working around her, things no one can control. Long ago Atthis foresaw that the Oldtime weaponmachines responsible for the Great White had not been destroyed, and if they were ever used again it would be a complete destruction, it was only a matter of time before they were uncovered. And she dreamed of a funaga that would have the ability to destroy them. She also foresaw that Elspeth was in need of their help, as she was close to death so she sent out Agyllians to find her. Atthis has also foreseen that there is another funaga whose destiny is to discover and resurrect the machines, he is the Destroyer, and if Elspeth does not succeed, he will.
Of course such a burden is much to take in for Elspeth, who tries to deny her destiny. She has a choice but choosing against it would be devastating. ‘The future is a river whose course is long designed, but which a flood ro time of no rain might easily alter’, something I would agree with. But her destiny is in the future, now she just has to live and wait for destiny to reach her and take her on her journey. Atthis has not foreseen the outcome of her journey, nobody knows if Elspeth will succeed. But for now she must return to Obernewtyn, and help her friends. She gives some final advice that until she learns that ‘it is not always safest to be alone’ Elspeth will be unhappy, but maybe it is best to be alone for her difficult journey.
Elspeth sleeps and will be taken back home, carried by someone who is waiting to take her home. I think we have seen the beginning of the real Obernewtyn Chronicles, now Elspeth knows what is going on, and now the path is going to be laid for her journey but there is many pages in the rest of the series, so obviously we aren’t going anytime soon.