Ashling – Chapter 7

Chapter Seven

Well it seems that Dragon followed Matthew and Elspeth, and Matthew is not happy. Dragon can talk, but it is still ‘primitive’ and tells the pair that she won’t go back to Obernewtyn. It is clear that Dragon finds Matthew and Elspeth to be the most important people at Obernewtyn, and she cannot bare them leave. But she also loves Dameon, so when Elspeth plays this card, saying how worried he will be, she breaks down into tears, and tells them that she told Louis Larkin (seriously how old is this man?) that she was going to see some animal friends (not to say that average people don’t have animal friends, but Dragon isn’t a beastspeaker, so is she using Brydda’s sign-language to communicate, or no language?). Elspeth blames herself for the extent of this, because if she was paying attention she would have noticed Dragon’s mind tampering with her own, but to be honest Elspeth can see and do everything!

So they restart their journey to the safe-house, though Matthew is very disgruntled, and thinks that Dragon has gotten off lightly. Elspeth employs Maruman to try and keep Dragon quiet so they don’t draw any further attention to themselves. The beasts back at Obernewtyn refer to Dragon as mornir, which means brightmane (I first saw this as brightmare, which made me think of nightmare, and that puzzled me).

It took them a while, and night had fallen, before they found the safehouse. And at first they were not sure it was the right place, none of them had been here before, and it wouldn’t be wise to enter a stranger’s home. The safehouse is disguised as a wagon-repair shed, and when Elspeth first goes inside to see if this is indeed the right place, a youth tells her to leave, because they don’t service half-breed Gypsies. But just then, Kella walks out, and is surprised to see Elspeth, as they did not know of their sudden journey. Their greeting is very awkward, because Kella goes to hug Elspeth, but not being used to such affection, as everyone at Obernewtyn finds Elspeth to be an object of reverence, react badly.

Kella introduces Elspeth to the boy, who is called Balder, and is one of Brydda’s people. They have much to discuss, but they can’t quite leave Matthew and Dragon, and most importantly the Gypsy waiting, so Elspeth quickly alerts Kella to them. They send away Balder, because even if he is trusted with some information, there are some things that should not be shared, and they bring inside the Gypsy to the safehouse, which is above the wagon-repair garage. Kella is mystified why the brought the Gypsy to her if Roland could do nothing, and Elspeth neglects to tell her of the prophecy, instead electing to tell her that they are thinking of returning her to her people. And she warns Elspeth that the Gypsy does not have long left to live.

Kella shows Elspeth around her home, and they stop in the kitchen to chat. Kella shares with Elsepth that she hates Sutrium, because everyone is so sad, and there is no laughter, and it has only gotten worse since the plague. Matthew, Dragon and Maruman join them, and the place seems joyful, but from past experience, I can guess that this won’t last too long. But for now, Kella tries to clean up Dragon, and there is real evidence that Matthew and Dragon are having some sort of issue with each other, and I can only see Dragon running away and getting hurt from this. Moments later when Kella returns, having put Dragon to sleep, she comments that Dragon must be awfully attached to Elspeth to follow her all this way. And this sets Matthew off, leaving Elspeth to wonder if Dragon was really chasing Matthew, who she also thinks came to get away from her.

Elspeth leaves to get changed, and her thoughts turn to love. She finds it rather annoying to love someone, and it seems to cause more trouble than it is worth. Rushton’s love/feelings for her trap her in Obernewtyn. And Dragon’s feelings for Matthew, have caused her to travel all the way with them, which is rather inconvenient. And she seems to find love that was ‘uncalled for’ worst of all, if she didn’t ask for the love, she doesn’t want it. I think this is just because it confuses her, and makes her question whether she loves Rushton back. It is interesting to see this sort of romance played out, because for once it seems realistic.

All thought’s gone from her mind, she returns to the kitchen to find Kella and Matthew. Domick is yet to return home, and it is now that Elspeth can see that Kella is very worn down and looks strained. Kella faces a poor existence, waiting for her bondmate to return home from a dangerous line of work, and personally stuck in this house, away from a safe place. It wouldn’t be an easy life. Just as if their thoughts conjured up a response, footsteps could be heard coming up the stairs. But it was not Domick, it was a heavily clad stranger.

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