Ashling – Chapter 27

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Brydda and Elspeth are alone in the kitchen, and Elspeth shares her view of Domick with Brydda (“He is too cold”). But Brydda says she is being hard on him, when he is doing a good job at the task that Obernewtyn has set him. And because he is spying, it changes a person into someone who has to be cold and detached, because he has to witness things that are abhorrent, and stand by and ‘agree’ with them, otherwise he will be exposed. Elspeth begins to understand him in a new light, and now realises that he has seen a lot of torture and death in his work, so he would know the lengths that the Council take to be in control and find out information on the rebels, so it should not be surprising that he reacts strongly to speak of torture. Elspeth wonders about human nature, and figures that people do evil things in the name of good, and do good things in the name of evil, so how can you decide what is good and what is evil?

Brydda tells Elspeth that he has received replies from nearly all rebels on whether they would attend a meeting to meet with Elspeth. Elspeth sees it quite dejectedly, and sees it as another thing that could go wrong. It is going to be held in Rangorn, which is surprising considering all the soldierguards are there looking for Elspeth. But to Brydda this makes perfect sense, and is the best place to hold a meeting, because once they meet, they will have all left and started searching elsewhere, and they would never suspect the rebels would dare meet there. The meeting will take place in 6 days. None of the rebels know of the location right now, and Brydda thinks it best for Elspeth to remain as a Gypsy, so they do not question where they are located. Brydda tells Elspeth that she should limit any explanation of her talents, to just farseeking, beastspeaking and empathy, and not speak of coercion or futuretelling which would likely scare and intimidate the rebels.

All the rebels, though they are allies, are not friends. They are all wondering when the Herders and Council have been overrun, who will rule the Land? This creates a lot of tension and mistrust between the rebel groups. Some people are already planning to come out on top and rule, so the powerful leaders are jostling between one another to win. He has not yet heard from Malik, a vicious rebel leader who wants to wipe out all Misfits, and it is unlikely he will respond until the last minute just so he can be a pain. Tardis, the other anti-Misfit rebel, is sending a proxy, which isn’t the best news. Many of the upper lowland rebels, have not responded as they follow Malik, and will do as he does. The rebels from Port Oran, Halfmoon Bay and Morganna are sending representatives, but they are a highly competitive group and are trying to amalgamate, but no one wants to step down, so if one comes, all will come. Brydda mentions Elii from Kinraide, and Elspeth wonders if it could possibly be the same boy that led the orphans to the whitestick, strange to think he will appear again. I guess you can never think a character has vanished or is unimportant just because they haven’t been around for a long time, or were just mentioned for a chapter.

Even a Sadorian contingent may be present. Though the Council are not ruling there, they dislike the Council and want them gone. Brydda has personally been to Sador, and remembers that it is a strange place, where they do not worship Lud, but instead worship the earth. They are a nomadic people, and consider human life as unimportant. The tribes of Sador are quite unified, and there are no power struggles, as no one believes they own a section of the land, instead they move about. They sound like interesting people, and a group that have actually sorted out how to live. Their presence is not quite known, but it would be interesting to meet them.

Elspeth farseeks Matthew several more times, each with no success. Reuvan came to give a progress report of the rebels own search of tainted areas, with no luck. By nightfall, Elspeth is tired and worn out, all day she has been talking to Brydda and searching for Matthew. Elspeth is clearly unwell, and starts to feel faint and go unconscious. We hear Kella mention a fever, as Brydda urges Elspeth to sleep.

Once again she dreams of the tunnel, this time she was being chased by something big. Gahltha saves her though, and stops the thing from chasing her. Then she was back infront of the flaming doors, this time Garth was standing with her. He comments that it is amazing how things can be hidden in plain sight, and then he says that Elspeth is a real Gypsy. A voice then tells her that the Gypsies keep the signs. She recognises the voice as Atthis, and tries to reach her, but she is pushed down and told to sleep and heal.

She woke feeling quite sluggish and goes to the bathroom to take a dip in a cold bath. She thinks of all that has happened, and she remembers that she has not seen Maruman for many days. Where has he gotten to? In the kitchen, Kella is surprised to see Elspeth awake, as last night she was delirious from a fever. Now she is completely fine, and she cannot believe that Elspeth healed so quickly. There has been no word of Matthew and no change from Dragon. Once again Elspeth searched for Matthew, but with no luck. Elspeth asks Kella to come back to Obernewtyn with her, when they can finally leave. She says that Domick will stay here because he is needed. And Kella isn’t too impressed Elspeth suggests splitting from him.

Elspeth weaves a story that she is becoming too well known, and they cannot afford to lose the safehouse by overusing it. And she must look after Dragon on their way back to Obernewtyn. Kella is won over by the Dragon suggestion, but still wants to stay here until Matthew is found. Kella breaks down as everything has been going wrong, and nothing has gone right. But Elspeth gets optimistic and says they still have hop and Matthew is counting on them to not give up. Kella admits that she knows something is wrong with Domick and he has been getting further and further away from her. Elspeth tells her that it is something he needs to work out, and it is all because of his spying, and that he still loves her. Kella starts to think she shouldn’t leave, but Elspeth becomes harsh and tells her that Domick keeps leaving because he wants to get away from her. Which is not true, and is very hurtful to say to Kella. But it works, and she says that she will return to Obernewtyn, and Domick will know where to find her when he wants her back.

Now they just need to find Matthew, and a familiar farseeking voice, tells her that they know where he is. What? Who is this? Where is Matthew? And how do they know? Is it Daffyd? Maybe all is not lost.

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