It seems that someone in the inn knows Domick, and Domick isn’t too happy that this man is here. Domick is known as Mika, and he tells this man that Elspeth is Elaria. There is actually a group of three men, who all seem to know ‘Mika’, and one introduces themselves as Kerry, Col and Oria. Correction Oria is a woman. This section is actually confusing for me and hurts my head, I’m not liking it. Maybe it is just hard to write something for it, or also because it had stopped suddenly and it seems a tad disjointed, hopefully the normal flow will continue, but this first page hurts. Some odd ‘banter’ goes on between these the now group of five and some random youth who seems to find Elspeth’s presence a bother and tries to start something by spreading Gypsy hate. This boy wants to join the soldierguards because he wants to ‘step on some necks’ so his own neck isn’t stepped upon, and frankly I don’t like this guy. I believe the old man, Col, (not sure if this is the correct character) tells the boy that the soldierguards will soon be sent to Sador to fight the tribesfolk, and he warns that they eat people (which is probably a lie)! The others disagree with the old man, and say that the Council are trying to find peace with them, but Col is cynical (as am I) and believes that they probably just want to control Sador to increase their power and land, and as for the Herders they probably want to rule over more people!
Elspeth realises quickly that all the others are behaving oddly and are trying to be civil to her, a Gypsy. It was because they were afraid of Domick! What on earth does he do to make people fear him? Is he still only a cleaner, or has he become something more? Domick leaves the table to get a drink, and Elspeth finds herself the focus of the three’s attention, and she plants a thought in their minds that she is defective, so they back off. Oria, who has visible scars from the plague keeps her attention on Elspeth, and once Elspeth takes a look inside her mind, she finds out that she believes Elspeth is a spy left by Domick to gather information. She opens up once Elspeth tweaks her mind (I don’t know if I condemn this practise, it is a real grey area, she is changing someone’s mind!) and she asks the others if they realised who they were just talking to (probably about Col’s comments about the Council) and that Domick works at the Council so they have to be careful. I wonder how they know him then, if they are afraid of him, know of him, talk to him, and yet have to make sure they realise who they are talking to (that probably made no sense, but it just seems like they know him, but at the same time don’t, so I don’t know why there is any interaction).
But it gets interesting because one of them says that he is only a cleaner and runs messages but Oria seems to think otherwise. A man called Jomas had spoken out about the Council and argued that they charged his father with Sedition only to get his farmland, and he was then charged with sedition himself and was so severely tortured that he never walked again. Oria seems to think that Domick was the one who told the Council about Jomas and his thoughts about the Council. But it gets more interesting, Oria went to see Jomas, and he told her that Domick was there when they tortured him. She believes that DOMICK IS A TORTURER! Elspeth was so shocked she nearly lost control of her coercion to change her appearance. After that they seem reluctant to speak of this because it is obvious that people tend to disappear when they talk badly of the Council. Elspeth couldn’t think of why Domick would allow people to think of him as a torturer, when he could easily destroy any idea of that (though, again ethics!).
The talk turns back to Sador and whether the Council are recruiting soldierguards to start a war with the Sador tribesfolk and gain control of the spice groves (we haven’t heard of these previously). Though that is Col’s opinion, Ruga seems to think that the Council is worried about Henry Druid (who I don’t think can be a threat anymore since basically everyone in his ‘organisation’ was killed in the firestorm). And this thought of Henry Druid being dead is repeated by Oria, but Col (who seems to love conspiracies) seems to think he was taken to Herder Isle. Oria thinks he is a fool for thinking that, but tells him that it is Brydda who controls the rebels in Sutrium (which is interesting, because it seems he is well known in the public, or at least this group of people, enough that is ‘real’ name is known, I seriously thought the Llewellyn, was a fake last name, but maybe not). Kerry disagrees and thinks it is Bodera who controls the rebels. Who is Bodera, or is this an alias for Brydda, or is there another rebel leader?
Domick returns with his obscure brew, which Oria questions why the inn-keeper doesn’t keep it on tap just for him, instead of having to leave to go and get it (well if they did that they wouldn’t be able to contact Brydda!). Domick just ignores that comment and instead decides to warn them about what they say in public (seems he was probably eavesdropping) because people are not what they seem (which probably sounds odd coming from him). He points to a man and plays out that it is possible he is just pretending to be drunk so Seditioners talk openly, which could easily be true. Col is annoyed at this remark and blows up and accuses Domick of being the torturer (though not explicitly). Which Domick brushes aside and warns him that he is only a cleaner and that if anyone says otherwise, they are wrong. And with that he takes Elspeth and they leave.
Outside, Elspeth is furious with Domick and seems to think that he has jeopardised everything because now everyone will remember him and herself. And she also questions why everyone seems to know he works at the Council. Domick tells her that employees at the Council are investigated to make sure they aren’t a security threat, so he needs to have a life to investigate otherwise that would be suspicious. Elspeth seems to understand this logic and instead tells him that he should have warned her incase she couldn’t improvise. Which is of course a lie, because she is skilled in improvisation, but Domick didn’t know they would be there so why warn her. He tells her that he is trying to teach those people that they can’t openly talk because there are real people who want to catch Seditioners.
We learn that Domick is no longer just a cleaner at the Council, and that the Council would do anything to protect an employee like him. This instantly makes Elspeth (and me) suspicious that Domick IS a torturer, and he says that he isn’t, but I don’t believe that. But he doesn’t tell us what he actually does, instead diverting to the arrival of Idris to take them to Brydda. Domick is a coercer, and he would be highly skilled in torture because he could get inside someone’s head and get the information out, but compared to all other ethically questionable things in the past, this could be an ethics nightmare. If he is a torture, that basically puts him in the same category as Ariel, as a despicable human being. So I hope that this is not true, because otherwise I have to hate him, torture is completely devastating and I hate it (that might sound a bit odd, because why would anyone like torture, but I’m just trying to state how much I dislike it, and I think Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera is the reason behind it, though obviously basically everyone would not want to be subject to torture for a reason!). I wonder whether Elspeth will pursue this immediately or she will hold off on her own interrogation of Domick and just enjoy Brydda’s company.