Ashling – Chapter 14

Chapter Fourteen

It took Elspeth a long time to get back to the safehouse, because she was afraid she would be followed, and that was something she couldn’t risk, so it was just before dusk that she arrived home. The building they chose for a safehouse, is very well designed, from the outside it looks normal, and no one would suspect that there is a house above it, and a secret grazing area, they did a good job! Dragon comes out from the shadows, and asks if Elspeth wants her to clean Gahltha, because she dirtied him, so she should clean him. Elspeth notes that she looks dirtier than usual, and her face is stained with tears, what exactly has happened? Dragon comments that Kella is really sad, and has been crying a lot, so much so she doesn’t notice Dragon’s absence. What’s worse, is that Matthew told Dragon to go away, but instead she stayed with Jaygar, who she loves. What was Matthew thinking, even if she is in some state of loving him, it doesn’t give him a right to tell her to leave.

To be honest Elspeth doesn’t have time to deal with Matthew’s childishness and his inability to just accept Dragon, she has more important matters, but clearly it is one that has to be sorted out, though Elspeth won’t intervene, and when it comes to relationships, butting in isn’t a good thing. So Elspeth tells Dragon to clean Gahltha and then come inside. Once inside, Matthew was relieved to see her. He had been trying to contact her, but it seems that Sutrium isn’t the best place for farseeking, and the static from taint or people or something else, quickly stops communication from too far away. Domick quickly makes Elspeth recount what happened at the market, and after, with the Gypsy. Matthew was adamant that it couldn’t be the same Gypsy from Guanette, but you know, Obernewtyners (this is a thing now) aren’t the only ones who can put on disguises, so it could be the same man.

Domick doesn’t seem to think it is too big of an issue, because he has more important news. But of course Elspeth already knows what he is going to share, the new security measures at the gates. Elspeth isn’t too concerned with the measures, because she believes it won’t last forever, so they will just wait until it blows over to leave. But Domick thinks it may never blow over, especially if Elspeth starts asking around the Gypsy camps looking for information. Because once Elspeth starts snooping around, the Gypsies are sure to share this news to the Council or Herders for money, and then they will wait as long as it takes to get her. And not only will the gates be checked, but soldierguards will be on the lookout all over the city, and they may start random street searches, so Elspeth shouldn’t downplay the threat too much.

Elspeth doesn’t really like being told by Domick that she will endanger everyone, and tells him that they can wake up the Gypsy so she can help find the right people, and surprisingly Kella agrees that this can be done without harm. But Domick thinks, if this can be done, why not send her out on her own to let her find her own people, surely she is more risk to them right now. Kella isn’t too happy with him suggesting this, because firstly she is too weak and secondly what if she were recognised. But Domick, once again being ‘self-centred’ shares that the Gypsy is not their concern and thinks her a risk to their safety. But of course, he doesn’t know of the furturetelling, so I think he would change his tune, and now would be a good time to share.

It is Kella that refutes Domick’s suggestion that she is a danger, because what is she going to say to the Council, that she was helped by lovely people in a building she won’t remember? And why would she do that, they saved her life, even if she wanted to die. It seems that there is great tension between the two! Elspeth breaks the tension by adding that she wants to find out more about the Gypsies, and adds offhand about Maryon’s prediction and then pretends to have forgotten about mentioning it, when Domick tells her he did not know. And Elspeth doesn’t feel like sharing to Domick who doesn’t care about the Gypsy, so she and Kella go to check on the Gypsy and wake her up.

The Gypsy wakes up as soon as the sleepseal is lifted, and understandably she is very confused. She seems to have forgotten when she woke up previously, but she seems to think Elspeth’s voice is familiar. The Gypsy wants to know where she is, and won’t accept just ‘a safehouse’ and finds Elspeth’s boy clothes very odd. So Elspeth explains that she is no Gypsy and she was the one who saved her from being burnt alive. The Gypsy is surprised that another Gypsy helped them, and finds it unbelievable that they brought her all the way to Sutrium. The Gypsy (why doesn’t she have a name yet!) is very cynical as to why Elspeth helped her, and why the other Gypsy left if he indeed was a friend. And she continues to be very ‘mopey’ and seems to find the fact that Elspeth helped her to be a nuisance, she did after all want to die. Now she questions why they are continuing to help her, even though they will get nothing from her.

So Elspeth decides to act annoyed at the Gypsy’s lack of appreciation and gratitude and tells her that she will return her to her people, no matter what. The Gypsy tells her to help her dress and show her the door, it seems she is more than a match for Elspeth’s quick instincts and wit. So Elspeth tells her that she would endanger them if she left because of her weakened state, and that cannot happen. The Gypsy does not want to help them at all, and when Elspeth suddenly asks what ‘swallow’ means, the Gypsy’s face tells it all, it is something she recognises, but tries to cover up her interest. Elspeth decides it is best to end this now, and let her return to sleep, because neither of them are getting any information.

Back outside, Elspeth is fuming at the woman, but Kella sees things differently and from the perspective of the Gypsy, because this is a very odd situation. Elspeth had not been her best, and she was indeed clumsy, now she has to explain what swallow is to Kella, or lie to another friend. Well there was a third option, feign stupidity, which Elspeth loves to do right now (and it is becoming annoying), but Elspeth just really wants to know why the woman reacted! And Elspeth thinks there is no point talking to her again, because she won’t share anything, if she didn’t when she was tortured and her bondmate killed, then why would she now. So Elspeth has to find her people in a much harder and more dangerous way, and hope that luck is on her side.

Elspeth thinks about giving up the whole quest, it all seems too hard, but of course she can’t risk Obernewtyn and her own safety just because things are getting too tough, I mean her real destiny is probably going to be a lot more difficult! So Elspeth decides to take action and asks Kella where the Gypsies stay when in town, and finds that most stay in a similar area as they are only permitted to stay on ‘the greens’, and that includes both half-breed and Twentyfamilies. Interestingly, Twentyfamilies Gypsies only come to Sutrium during The Days of Rain, so they can give the Council some of their wares, otherwise they avoid all cities. So as soon as possible, Elspeth is going to start looking.

Back in the kitchen, Dragon has returned from outside, and predictably, Matthew has disappeared, probably at the sight of Dragon (seriously he needs to grow up, this is not the way to act with a woman, even if he doesn’t fancy her back!). Domick again warns her of the dangers of wandering about through the Gypsies, and warns that they Gypsies themselves are prone to be ruthless, and she has to watch out for them too. Domick also asks her whether she will meet with the rebels, and she will, and it is an encounter I look forward to. Domick has to leave again, because a congregation from Sador have arrived in the city and he needs to be there. All we seem to hear about is Sador thesedays and for a place that was only known by a few seamen previously, it has become the talk of the town. Apparently the Council were first interested in a distant land incase the plague got too bad and they needed to evacuate themselves, but now they are lured by the spicegroves. The Sadorians are probably here to tell the Council to remove all members of the Faction, because they are interfering with their way of life and aren’t happy about it. The Herders aren’t going to be pleased, but the Sadorians have their own religion, with an Earthtemple who controls how much spice they harvest, so the Herders probably want to take control and increase the spice harvested. Always about greed and power!

Now Elspeth has to think about what she wants to look like when she goes out with the Gypsies, she suggests cutting her hair, but Kella tells her that both men and women Gypsies never cut their hair. So Elspeth considers being a fully grown woman or an old woman (these are the least likely disguises to be recognised and the ones with the least danger). Matthew returns and Elspeth thinks that he has changed a lot since she first saw him many years ago. But he still seems so childish with his treatment of Dragon especially when it was he who created Dragon’s feelings and used them to protect Obernewtyn, so it is his own fault! Then Dragon and Matthew collide and Matthew shouts at Dragon unnecessarily, and Dragon is visibly upset as she leaves the room. Quickly Matthew comes to his senses with help from Elspeth, and wants to apologise, but Kella is really harsh on him (with good reason) and tells him not to bother, because Dragon should not expect anything better from him. Kella continues to say that he doesn’t deserve her love, and she is worth 10 times as much as he is, which currently, looks about right. And she ends by saying that she is no savage, and that Matthew is the only savage here.

Everything has exploded, and now alone with Kella, Elspeth finds out that Kella’s outburst is really because of Domick. The relationships are causing the most problems at the moment, never mind the Gypsy. Kella admits that Domick has changed, and looks like he doesn’t love her anymore, and she just wants to go home. Right now, everyone just wants to be back at Obernewtyn, and who can blame them!


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