Ashling – Chapter 25

Chapter Twenty-Five

It is not the best weather for a daring mission, because the thunder interferes with farseeking ability and if I’m not entirely mistaken, the rain might also be slightly tainted, making tracking a slave, all the more difficult. Sitting next to Matthew, Elspeth could pick up his thoughts seeping through his shield because of his emotions. He was very remorseful about Dragon, but Elspeth doesn’t really want to pick up his thoughts, and strengthens her own shield. She scolds him for not focusing on the task at hand, and makes sure he starts to become vigilant, as they near the warehouse. She sends him on foot the rest of the way, to be sure no one spots her with him, and she will follow in a bit. Matthew feels a bit of a premonition, and asks whether Elspeth should also come into the warehouse, lest she be spotted outside. But she is adamant, she needs to be able to get to the other rebels, and tell them where the slaves are going.

She mentally follows him to the warehouse, and then moves Gahltha into an alley, and Elspeth moves into the shadows invisible without coercion. She sets up a net to alert her if someone approaches her, and then tunes herself into Matthew’s mind. She now is able to see through his eyes, something that is a very interesting ability. Matthew was in control of his sight, which meant his thoughts would affect how Elspeth would see things, such as Brydda and how less battered he looked to Matthew compared to Elspeth’s own vision. A nice little mention about how people see things differently based on their own attitudes and beliefs, even when two people are looking at the same thing.

Brydda takes Matthew to see the slaves, and Matthew informs Elspeth that they have been drugged to be sure they did not reveal anything to ruin the plan. This is not good news for the plan though, it means Elspeth will struggle to get a hold on the slaves because the drugs inhibit her ability to pick up their minds. Brydda tells them that it will take 3 hours for them to wear off, I’m not sure if there is enough time for that to happen. Suddenly Gahltah nuzzles her and alerts her to the presence of people nearby, Elspeth had been too caught up in the warehouse, to remember her surroundings. Gahltha moved back into the shadows, as Elspeth sensed that there were two people, and at this time of the night, they are likely not be random, innocent people.

The two are walking towards the warehouse, and Elspeth finds out that one is a Misfit, though defective. In his brain, all Elspeth can find is some disturbing, desire to hurt people. I would guess he is the hired muscle! The other man, who is smaller, is neither a Misfit or a shielded person, allowing Elspeth into his mind. He had been hired by Salamander, but he does not have any memory of what the slaver looks like. He was approached in an inn by a beautiful woman, and she gave him a note from Salamander, and offered a lot of coin for a simple job. He was tasked with going to the warehouse at midnight and meeting a man called Bollange who was with five men. He will hand Bollange a bag of coin (provided by Salamander) to give to Bollange, once the slaves are cleared as not defective. He will then take the slaves outside and wait for a carriage to take them away. He is to kill anyone who follows the carriage.

So this man, does not know where the slaves are being taken either. Now, Elspeth seeks out the carriage, and locks onto a man sitting inside a carriage, who is waiting. This gives Elspeth the ability to just track the driver, and not the slaves, which is good news, unless of course the slaves are taken away from the driver. Elspeth tries to get inside the man’s mind to find out where they are going, but she is met with a buzzing sensation. She enters his mind through his subconscious, where that is only slightly distorted. She rises up and finds the mind chaotic and she finds that he has been chewing on the Sadorian mind altering spice. He had been given this spice from the same woman who gave the other man the note, straight from Salamander. It seems he is very methodical and paranoid about secrecy, if he wants to make sure this man is not in a normal state. Elspeth’s probe is lost to the mind, and then she cannot enter the mind again, even from the subconscious.

Apparently this means she will not be able to track him when he moves, but I don’t see why this is the case, if she was able to track him down while he was still, why can she not continue to track him? Elspeth decides to track the wagon physically, and she decides there is no time to alert the rebels. The two men approach Elspeth’s hiding spot, and actually stop infront of her. They haven’t seen her, but are stopping there to talk to one another. She listens in, and hears the smaller man tell the other man that nothing can go wrong otherwise they will be killed by Salamander. The man agrees, and says that Salamander is angry and bad. The small man tells him to wait outside, while he goes inside to do the exchange. He tells him to kill anyone who comes close to the warehouse. And then once the slaves are gone, he will continue to wait and keep watch. The small man is determined to make sure nothing goes wrong, and even believes he will get a bonus if Brydda tries to cross Salamander, and they catch and kill him. So even if Brydda goes outside while this brute is there, he is told to kill him.

The small man tells him to hide, and sends him down the alley, where Elspeth is! Elspeth forgets that the man is a defective, and her powers are useless on him, and it is too late to change the other man’s mind. Now Lill (the big man) is coming straight towards Elspeth, and she does not dare to move, even to go closer to Gahltha. He is only a few steps from Elspeth, but he does not spot her, and doesn’t look down the alley, instead positioning himself where Elspeth was only moments ago. Elspeth is in a precarious position, because Lill would surely be able to kill Elspeth in an instant. She sends a warning to Matthew telling him that she is trapped in an alley with no ability to do anything, lest she be killed or the man alert Salamander who would surely kill anyone involved in the shambles.

Elspeth wants Matthew to tell Brydda that they cannot give the slaves, because she won’t be able to track them, and so he should quibble over coin, and stop the transaction. Though he has no time to do this. Elspeth uses Matthew’s eyes and finds him standing near the slaves, what is he doing? Matthew reassures her that everything is fine and that she is the one who needs to be asked if everything is okay. Matthew seems to be okay with Elspeth’s inability to move or track the slaves, and we are told that it is because he has decided to take the place of one of the slaves, so Elspeth can track him. This is exactly what Elspeth forbade! He lied to Brydda, and told him that Elspeth changed her mind.

If I were Elspeth, I would be furious, even if it is now the only thing that would allow the slaves to be tracked. Something could easily go wrong, but Matthew is not concerned. There is no time to change the plan, and the had better hope everything was in their favour. Now the man was inspecting all the slaves, making sure they were in good condition. Elspeth is irritated that Matthew is not looking at the man, but he is pretending to be drugged. Elspeth cannot hear what is going on, they had not yet found a way of doing that, but Matthew explains that the man is arguing they are all defectives, when they have just been drugged. The slaver is angry that Brydda has done this, when they were going to be gagged and bound. And Brydda acts as if the man is a coward, and tells him he did not want them to run away, and the man believes him and gives him the coin.

Elspeth senses a carriage approaches the warehouse, the carriage driver was here to collect his passengers. There were no windows on the rig, so using Matthew’s eyes once inside would be useless. She returned to Matthew’s mind and finds him bound and gagged. The slaver tells Brydda to stay inside the warehouse until dawn, unless he wants to die. They are taken onto the carriage, and locked inside. The carriage starts to move away, as the other slaver wanders off. Now Lil, reminds himself to wait, and he relaxes. It seems Brydda has heeded the man’s warning and has remained inside.

Elspeth once again tests her connection with Matthew, which causes him to send back a protest. It seems they have stopped and the door is opened by the driver. For a moment they could see nothing as the light blinds them all. But once they could see again, Elspeth saw the man’s face. She knew him. It was the soldierguard captain that had recognised Dragon! What is he doing here?

But what is worse, Elspeth literally gasped, alerting Lill to her presence. He draws a long-bladed knife, and steps towards her. He is now a step away from her, but he was looking towards the end of the lane. Gahltha tells her to move, and he charges the thug. He stumbles and drops the knife, as Gahltha jumps over him. Gahltha gallops into the distance, and Elspeth runs to the end of the alley, and climbs up onto the roof, her noises drowned out by Gahltha’s galloping. Lill regains composure, and picks up his knife, and checks the alley, not thinking to look up. He ignores it, and returns to his post.

It took a few moments before Elspeth realised she had lost contact with Matthew. She sends out an attuned probe, but it would not connect. She tries again, and even checks the surrounding area. But there is nothing. He is gone, and is going to be taken to Salamander! Is this the last we will see of him? How on earth can we find him and save him?

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