Ashling – Chapter 12

Chapter Twelve

Elspeth wakes with the strange feeling of someone else’s mind touching her own, but very lightly. Surprisingly Maruman’s mind is already wrapped around her own, so there is another person who was touching her’s (if I am not mistaken). Elspeth could not detect any other minds in the vicinity but outside her door Kella was rushing past. She comes in and informs Elspeth that the Gypsy woke had screamed and woken her up. Elspeth follows her to the Gypsy and she found her with her eyes open and unfocused, like Maruman in one of his states. Interestingly, one of her eyes was blue and the other brown. This isn’t good news, because it means she doesn’t have very long to live, she isn’t awake, she is stuck in her mind, and her body is close to shutting down. Elspeth needs to act fast and find the right Gypsy to return her to.

Kella tells Elspeth that as a Healer, she cannot enter the Gypsy’s mind because it is refusing her access, but it is possible that Elspeth can access her mind through her subconscious, and possibly wake her, and that way Kella can try to heal her. Elspeth again thinks about the ethics of the situation by casting back to a guildmerge where they decided that until unTalents regard them as equals, they don’t have to worry about any ethical concerns. It was a war, and they didn’t have time to play fair, especially against such persecution. But this is an innocent Gypsy and Elspeth is not happy about entering her subconscious, because she was no enemy. Her aversion to entering someone’s subconscious stems back to when she had to merge with Rushton to save her life, and it left them in an awkward position, and she was very exposed, something nobody likes. But Kella reassures her that this is the right thing to do, and as Healers they have to go into people’s minds, but they try to not abuse this position and distance themselves from what is inside.

So Elspeth agrees, and starts to send down a deep-probe. She has to slide down against the Gypsy’s mental shield until her subconscious where the shield should dissolve, but oddly, it doesn’t. It was like the natural mind shield’s unTalents randomly develop, but somehow it had come to the subconscious and it wasn’t in perfect condition. This allows Elspeth to test around a bit until she finds a spot where she can enter. As she enters, she is hit by a ‘wall of forgetting’ because in the subconscious there is an overwhelming desire to forget what you are doing and get caught up in the memories, which would trap you forever. But apparently this is not usually found in the subconscious. Well I was completely wrong, this has nothing to do with Elspeth forgetting, but is actually memories the Gypsy has suppressed and is trying to forget about. The thing is, that this wall is crumbling, so memories are trickling out, and the Gypsy is caught, reliving these terrible memories. So the Gypsy’s mind had tried to protect itself by shielding this wall, hence the shield in the subconscious, but this only could last for a short while, and this is why the Gypsy does not wake.

Curious as to what the wall is blocking, Elspeth goes against it, unfortunately it is very thin, which means she is drawn in, and unable to stop herself being draw into the memory. The font changes, which indicates we are now inside the memory, and it is an interesting experience, for us as a reader and for Elspeth. Elspeth is the Gypsy, so every pronoun is combined, eg I/we and My/our. We are in for a terrifying experience, because the Gypsy is bound and is witnessing her bondmate, Caldeko, screaming at the hands of the Herder. The Herder shows the Gypsy what he has done to Caledko’s face, and it is unrecognisable and inhuman. The Herder wants to know about the Twentyfamilies, the Gypsy knows something about them, but obviously doesn’t want to share, but how does the Herder know she knows something? The Herder is savage, and uses a heated brand on Caledko, and wants the Gypsy to ‘give his given name’. Then Caledko, goes silent, the boy with the Herder has been too brutal and has killed him. Now the Gypsy is awash with guilt.

We witness her resolve to forget it, and then she is tied to the stake. Of course she is rescued by Elspeth, but the Gypsy falls into her mind. Then she is slowed by the sleepseal Roland placed on her, and we witness her struggle against it to get to the bottom and die. Elspeth is still attached the the woman, as she is being pulled down to the mindstream to die. So Elspeth has to act, otherwise she too will die, but it is not easy, she is connected to the woman too tightly, and cannot escape. She is desperate, so she resorts to using her killing power to try to take them away from the mindstream.

Instead of being consumed by the mindstream, Elspeth has pulled them into a different memory. They are speaking to a deeply tanned man, who is wearing odd clothing. He speaks to Emma (not sure if this is Elspeth/Gypsy anymore, or something else) and tells her that they have to escape because of something people have set in motion. There is mention of Cassandra who seems to be able to foresee events, she must be a Misfit. Apparently one of the two will give in and give someone what they want, setting in motion events, but they should escape. Emma doesn’t know where to escape to, because ‘when it comes’ there will be radiation. Are they talking about the Great White? The man says that Cassandra has said that there will be places that will not be so badly effected, and if they go there they must not tell anyone what they can do (they must also be Misfits). Then the man says that they are going to the Reichler Clinic, and Hannah (Seraphim) and Jacob (Obernewtyn) believe the mountains will be safe. The ‘memory’ ends with the man saying Cassandra has communicated with Ines to say they are coming.

Again they are close to the mindstream, so maybe they were consumed by one of the ‘bubbles’ that come up from the stream. A familiar voice calls to Elspeth, it is Maruman, and he is reminding her that she has promised to complete her destiny, so she must stay alive. But they continue to get closer to the mindstream, and Maruman yells at her that she cannot go any further otherwise she will die. It is then Elspeth realises that she is about to share the Gypsy’s death. So Elspeth tries to rise out of the mindstream by herself, but Maruman tells her that the Gypsy must be taken as well, because ‘she is needed’. The Gypsy was not happy to rise away from the mindstream, and she struggled furiously. Again Elspeth had to use her killing power for additional strength to pull the Gypsy away, and once more their minds melded, and we witness the Gypsy’s confusion with the situation as she rises away from death.

Elspeth wakes up, and finds her hand bloody with claw marks. Kella tells her what was happening in the real world, and apparently Elspeth had started to convulse at one point, and it was terrifying. Maruman scratched her at one point, so Kella hit him so he would stop. But little did she know, that Maruman was helping Elspeth stay grounded, and not die. This revelation, makes Kella feel terrible. But the good news is the Gypsy is alive, and awake. Though she isn’t too happy that she didn’t die. She starts to get hysterical so Kella puts her back to sleep and is now able to help her body heal.

Elspeth retells the experience to Kella. Elspeth was foolish not to create a ‘separating shield’ to stop herself melding with the Gypsy in her memory. Elspeth remembers the strange memory with Emma and the Reichler Clinic, but already it is starting to fade away. Elspeth is quite exhausted from her effort. Kella and Elspeth head into the kitchen and chat a bit. When Elspeth and Domick returned last night, Domick seemed quite annoyed, and believes that Rushton no longer trusts him. It is true, but Rushton had reason to be concerned. Maruman enters the kitchen and tells Elspeth that he is glad she did not fall into the ‘longsleep’ (death) and that he guards the dreamtails. Kella (without knowing of Maruman’s words) thinks that maybe they do not have to rush to find the Gypsy’s people because surely once she is healed she can find them herself. So Elspeth shares Maryon’s prediction about the sevenday deadline, and Kella doesn’t think it will be possible because the Gypsy cannot be moved, she needs to rest for a long time. So Elspeth has to agree that she won’t be moved until she can, but first of course Elspeth has to find the right Gypsies.

Dragon enters the kitchen and shares that she is hungry, which Elspeth is too. Kella feeds Maruman some crumbs of toast, as an apology, he was not angry about being hit, but still he made sure Kella felt better about it so accepted the food enthusiastically. Dragon enquires to find out if Elspeth will allow her to stay, oh right, I forgot she came here without their knowledge, that was a while ago, and of course Elspeth isn’t going to kick her out. And Elspeth thinks of Domick, and is sure that he couldn’t be a torturer, only Ariel could stoop that low, but Domick didn’t share what he did, which makes us all very curious.

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