Ashling – Chapter 19

Chapter Nineteen

After a heated discussion they all agreed that they shouldn’t abandon the safehouse immediately, rather wait until the next morning to see if Idris is found. Still Domick insisted that they pack up all their belongings, including Kella’s supply of herbs, so they can leave on a moments notice if need be. Kella goes to wake Dragon so she can have dye applied to her to disguise her, while Domick shows Elspeth the location of the nearest city green. Domick wants them to immediately leave the city and go to Obernewtyn to warn Rushton about a possible breach in security, but Elspeth refuses and believes that if they were in danger Brydda would have sent word, and they still have the futuretelling to complete. So they agree that they will go to the nearest green, and wait there, and if something happens to the safehouse they will send word to Rushton, otherwise they will return to the safehouse as if nothing happened. Though no matter what, Domick will remain in Sutrium, and will go to an inn under the name Mika, so he can keep collecting information.

Elspeth suggests that maybe Idris has disappeared, as so many people do, and that Domick’s last report said that the Council aren’t involved. But Domick admits he doesn’t hear everything so it is still possible that the Council are involved in the slave trade. We again hear of Salamander, the main player in the slave industry, who buys all the people who disappear, and when there are more disappearances, that means there is a high demand for slaves. Where do these slaves work? In some place across the seas? Why do they need more people, don’t they have their own people to use? Salamander is a mysterious figure, and no one knows who he is and what he looks like, he is fanatical about his secrecy. He delegates nearly all duties, and rarely appears. There are rumours that he is actually a high ranking Councilman or official. But until he arrived, the slave trade was isolated to the odd ship who stole people from the land, and now it is a highly organised business. Salamander attacked all other slave ships, and took control of the industry. One member of the crew would be kept alive and sent ashore to tell people of the ship that had beforetimeweapons that shot out fire.

Not only does Salamander trade in people, but also information. So if Idris is with Salamander, he will be tortured for all useful information, so he can use it to blackmail others. The conversation ends, and they all sit there for a moment, until Domick gets angry and basically starts shouting at them all for doing nothing but talk when someone could be on their way here. He does have a point, that they could be in danger, and talking isn’t helping, but it was over the top, though better be safe than sorry. So they start packing the wagon. Elspeth questions Domick if Idris is compromised than won’t his identity in the Council also be at risk, but apparently Idris does not know of Mika, and his physical description is not unique so he will be able to get away before they come to get him. He is willing to risk himself, because to him, his position is too valuable to lose. And if Idris is being held by the Council he could easily wipe his memory, so Obernewtyn was never exposed.

Domick continues to implore them to leave the city, but Elspeth quite rightly says that the gates will be well guarded, and they still have to return the Gypsy. But still Domick is not convinced of the Gypsy’s importance, and thinks that getting out of the gates, where they can coerce the guards is a lot safer than being out in the open, where they do not know who the enemies are. But Kella adds that the Gypsy is not able to go on a journey back to the highlands, and in response Domick snaps back at her, saying the Gypsy would much rather be uncomfortable than burn at the stake with the rest of them. And he continues to snap at her saying that everyone should be packed now unless she wants to bring the bathing barrels with her. I feel really sorry for Kella, she loves Domick so much, and yet he has changed into a different man, who is cold and harsh. Elspeth tries to comfort Kella, and even though he is right, he has no reason to be so cruel. Elspeth has no intention of bringing the Gypsy all the way back to Obernewtyn, and she will be returned to her people, just as planned.But what will she do with Kella and Matthew whilst returning Iriny?

Domick leaves for the Councilcourt and Dragon walks into the kitchen in the Gypsy disguise. She is a bit drowsy still, and comments that her head hurts, and with Elspeth’s attack on her, I’m not surprised, I didn’t think she would even wake up. Kella tells Elspeth that the sleepseal on Iriny won’t last for long, so they only have a matter of hours until she wakes up. They are just about to leave to go to the green, when they are greeted with a familiar voice, it is Brydda! What a surprise. He immediately tells them that across the city the soldierguards are looking for the Gypsies from Guanette, and are taking Gypsies off the street to question them. They have very good descriptions of Matthew and Elspeth, and there still is word of the market incident with a description of Dragon.

Idris has still not been found, so Elspeth wants to leave immediately. But Brydda says otherwise, and he knows there will be no soldierguards coming to the safehouse because he knows Idris will not talk. Brydda doesn’t elaborate immediately, and stares into the fire, as Dragon starts to display the emotions going on inside him. There is guilt, grief, anger, frustration and despair. Brydda is so certain that Idris will not talk, and explains that he sent Idris out to investigate something when he disappeared, Idris wanted to be used, but Brydda believes he should never have sent the boy. They had had word that Salamander was in town, and a man in an inn claimed to know him, but then it turned out his master knew of him. So Idris kept watch on this guy, while Brydda organised others to keep watch. Idris was told to stay there, but the guy left, so Idris followed. Brydda neglected to realise that Idris was personally invested in bringing down Salamander, and he would do anything. Dragon started to cry from Brydda’s emotions, and then Elspeth and Kella realise that Brydda believes Idris to already be dead. That is why he will not talk, because he is not able to.

Idris’ body was found washed up this morning on the banks of the Suggredoon. Matthew vows to find whoever did it to him, and goes to unload the carriage, as does Kella and Dragon. Brydda alone with Elspeth, tells her that it was Salamander who killed him, and he would bring down Salamander, if it was the last thing he did, all for Idris. Elspeth asks him whether he would have talked before being killed, but there were no marks on his body, and Idris wouldn’t talk unless he was forced to, so Obernewtyn is safe. Idris must have followed the man to his master, a slave supplier, and must have seen Salamander’s face, so in turn he was killed. If Salamander had thought him a spy, he would have been tortured. It was Salamander, because his trademark kill sign, of a lizard was carved into Idris.

Brydda believes that he has no time for grief, while Salamander lives, and wants to kill him personally, but I doubt it will be that easy. He wants to use Elspeth’s powers to trap him, and he wants to do it, now! Is this a good idea, Brydda surely isn’t thinking straight, so won’t this lead to bad decisions? And bad decisions, will lead to people getting hurt. But we will have to wait and see what happens.

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