Ashling – Chapter 35

Chapter Thirty-Five

Kella has to help all the Misfits adjust to the rocking boat, and make them not nauseous. Bizarrely some of them respond to her treatment more than others. The empaths, were only mildly affected, Elspeth on the other hand, got it bad. Elspeth’s mind, which is primed to fend of intruders, needed to be help open by Elspeth to allow Kella to help her. And this is not an easy task, as I can imagine, but even after the treatment, she was still disorientated. She asked Powyrs if there was some remedy for her seasickness that they did not know of. He tells her that it is not a physical illness, but she is resisting the ocean, and it is causing her to feel nauseous. She must surrender to the ocean, it is too great a power to fight, and fighting only causes suffering. It was the coercers who were worst affected by the ocean, and they had expected this, as coercers aren’t happy when their sense and balanced were affected. The stronger the coercer the worse the response. Miryum was the worst, and Kella had to put her into a sleep to stop her being violently ill.

The days were going to be uncomfortable for Elspeth, and she found a room to herself to try to rest in. Over a light nightmeal, Kella (and Elspeth) are filled in on the events at Obernewtyn. The horses had suddenly decided to teach some of them to ride, and not all of them were beastspeakers. They had tried the new mindmerge, but there was little success. There was a confrontation between some miners (odd to think there are miners, something I had not considered) and the coercers, but it does not endanger Obernewtyn, as they think it was Henry Druid’s men. It does however mean that a soldierguard camp is sure to be set up soon.

Elspeth tries to figure out why she was so unsettled when she was relieved she did not have to rush to Obernewtyn and convince the others of the Battlegames. With the loss of Matthew and Dragon’s state, with the added fact that they could not find Maruman anywhere (and I guess Gahltha did not join them on the boat) she has reason to be upset. Maybe it was the strange stillness and lull of activity that was awarded to her on the boat, she did not have to do anything as they travelled, just enjoy the ride. She can’t just accept life as it comes, she needs to do things and try to figure out things, when she should just go with it.

But her real torment lies with fate, and Maryon’s dreams. She feels as if she is at the whim of Fate, and whatever she thinks is her own action and she is in control, the control is taken away back into the hands of Fate. She felt like a boat travelling along the ‘sea of Life’, but she did not know who the captain was, was it Maryon, or Atthis, or her? That would be the worst feeling, if there is one thing I like, it is being in control. I like things done how I want them done, and how I would do them, when things aren’t done this way, it doesn’t feel right. I’m not a control-freak, I don’t wrest control from others, and demand everyone do things as I would, but not being in control just feels wrong. Elspeth then considers what it would be like for Maryon, whose life is controlled by her dreams, which tell her what to do and who to tell what. It mustn’t be easy to know the future.

Rushton enters the salon, and out of all of them, Rushton was the fasted to adapt to the tilting deck of the ship. He is enjoying his sea journey, like a seasoned seaman. The cloaked beggar who talked his way onto the ship, also enters, but Hannay tells him that he can’t be here (why I’m not sure, that just sounds completely rude and discriminatory). But he throws off his hood, and who should it be, but Daffyd! He has had a bit of a beating, and he tells Elspeth that he escaped from Ayle. He tells them, that he wasn’t found out, but somehow Salamander had known he was a spy, and told Ayle to deal with him. How could he possibly know? Salamander had told Ayle of this, the day he took the slaves, and told him to lock him up until he returned. Thank goodness, Daffyd escaped, I would hate to think of what Salamander would have done to him. He escaped and then tried to flee the city, but found it guarded by Ayle’s people, so he went to the safehouse, where it was all locked up. He tried to locate Elspeth, and he used all his energy to find her near the ocean, but he had locked on her location. And he pushed Powyrs to allow him onboard. He now makes 12 of them (still one short of Maryon’s 13 though).

Rushton asks Daffyd about the possibility that Ariel was on the slaveship. This is shocking news for him, and Rushton can’t see any connection between the slavers and Ariel. But there is one, and Daffyd wished he had had time back at the safehouse to explain his story further. He starts back at the beginning (I did think we would hear the whole story eventually) when he left Obernewtyn with Kella and Domick. He travelled to the Druid’s old encampment, he wanted to see where any survivors would have gone, he found no hope and trekked through the Gelfort Ranges. He found a few old camps, but he did not know whose they were. He travelled around, and talked to people in small towns, posing as a Councilman or a Herder agent. Then he found one of the armsmen from the camp. He told him that a few days before the camp was destroyed, Ariel had come to speak to the Druid. He had advised the Druid that the Council had knowledge of his location, and prepare for a battle, and that the young, elderly and frail should leave the camp. He offered to lead those people away from the camp through the Gelfort Ranges, until it was safe again.

The Druid did as he suggested, and later sent out a small advanced party to see the soldierguards advancing, they were saved from the firestorm. Those three who had left, returned to find nothing, and there was no sign of Ariel and women and children. And in the coming days, no soldierguards came to attack them, Ariel had lied. It is likely that Ariel had dreamed of the firestorm, and saw it as an opportunity to eliminate the Druid, and made sure everyone was in the camp when it happened. Rushton was shocked by this news, as the Druid had once treated him like a son, and finding out he had been killed because of Ariel, was upsetting.

The three men split up to try and find the women and children. Two men went up the coast on a small lead, and the third, was the man Daffyd was talking to. The two, travelled together, but found no evidence of where their missing fellows went. They feared that Ariel had killed them and only took them as a ruse to leave the camp. Soon they parted, and it was Gilbert who was the other armsman, which is interesting news for Elspeth, that he should pop up again (I swear everyone keeps doing this, as long as we don’t see the Druid’s evil daughter again). Even Elspeth considers the odd coincidence of three people coming back into her focus long after they first met. Gilbert spoke of Elspeth, and thought she had died.

Daffyd went to Sutrium, and found a woman who claimed to be from the camp. But she was lying, she was once a slave and escaped because a seaman fell in love with her. She pretended to drown, and she could never speak of it to anyone in case they were found out and killed. Daffyd found out that she was not taken by the slavers, but given to them, tricked and betrayed by someone. She had escaped but those with her were sent over the seas. It clicks then for Kella, that Ariel must have sold the surviving people from the camp to the slavers. This woman had witnessed the camp burn, and there were men ready to take the women and children as prisoners and then sold as slaves to Salamander. He reflected how close he and the others were after the firestorm, and how he could have saved them, but of course Elspeth sent him to Obernewtyn.

So he tried to learn where the slaves were taken, and it was a tricky process to get into the slave business. He comments that no one, except maybe Ariel, has seen Salamander’s face, and it was after the Druid’s people were sold to him, that he took control of the business. What exactly does Ariel get out of a partnership? Is it just that they are similar evils, both who love to hurt and destroy people? Who knows? But Daffyd is not going to give up and will find Ariel and find Salamander, and find Gilaine and the others!

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