Ashling – Chapter 38

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Elspeth made the decision to not go and see Rushton, she could not face him. She is just making things worse for herself, and Rushton’s going to be so confused that she did not turn up, and then she will have to answer why she didn’t go. Her thoughts on what Rushton wanted to talk about ran wild, which wouldn’t have happened if she just went and dealt with him. Your own mind, is your own worst enemy, you can spend forever imagining all the possible scenarios and situations and explanations, but you won’t know what is real, until you face it. And now she has to find some weak excuse as to why she didn’t show. She decided to go to Fian, and show him the tattoo she got from Swallow. She thinks that because Fian is in Powyrs’ room studying all the books, no one will think to look for her there, and if Rushton asks, she has an excuse, and he will be angry, but will be intrigued by the mark. But, she thinks vindictively, and sees this as an opportunity to show him ‘how little he means to me’. Really, that attitude is just petty and disgraceful. And she thinks of how she will tell him about it, and she will ‘casually’ mention Swallow’s kiss. I really expected more from Elspeth, and I hope this behaviour doesn’t continue for long, because it is fast approaching whiny and annoying.

She is so overworked by emotions that she storms into Powyrs’ cabin, surprising Fian. The room was tiny, and there was hardly enough room for the both of them to occupy it. Fian is happy she is here, because he found some Beforetime maps in amongst the things, and then he realises that Elspeth probably came here to talk to him for a reason. Elspeth mentions the Govamen mark they found in the Clinic, and asks whether anyone else would have used such a mark. He doesn’t think so, as the mark is on every piece of Govamen created object, and must have been created just for them. He also mentions the spy they believe was working in the Govamen, was not a Misfit, but a scientist (an ‘old name’ for a Tecknoguilder). They think that the spy was helping Misfits to escape the Govamen and find the Clinic.

Attention is drawn back to the reason Elspeth is asking about this, and she asks whether Fian knows that Gypsies now, are not like the Beforetime Gypsies. And he of course knows, that the real Gypsies, were Romans who lost their territory and were ‘swallowed’ up into other races (is this actually true, is this the origin of Gypsies?) and that ‘their Gypsies’ just took up the philosophy of nomad-ism. Elspeth asks him what he thinks ‘our Gypsies’ were before the Great White, which begins to make Fian suspicious, but Elspeth doesn’t elaborate instead asking if he knows of the Twentyfamilies. And he was not entirely sure, so Elspeth explained, and after he wanted her to retell her story, so he could record it. Eventually they get to the mark, and Elspeth tells Fian that the Twentyfamilies wear it, which as we know, is very odd. They try to understand why the Gypsies would have such a mark as their own, and Fian questions if it was really the Govamen symbol and not something similar.

So that made Elspeth decide to remove the bandages, and show him the mark. She explained the procedure for the tattoo, and Fian was horrified. She makes him get her mind of the tattoo, as she starts to remove the bandages. Talk turns to Jakoby, and Elspeth’s impression of the fierce, capable woman. She lifted away the final bandage, and Fian was outraged, accusing Elspeth of making a joke. Elspeth looked at her arm, and there WAS NOTHING. There was no tattoo, or any sign of a tattoo AT ALL. What happened? Did Swallow dupe Elspeth, and just prick her arms? Did it not work for some strange reason? Fian suggested that she had been tricked into thinking she was given the tattoo, but she was sure that Swallow would not do that. Elspeth left Fian to his study, reflecting on what exactly might have happened to the tattoo. She would have to ask Swallow what happened.

Elspeth decided to go and sit with Dragon, and relieve Miky who was with her. Maruman was in the room, and moved into Elspeth’s lap. Elspeth held Dragon’s hand, and almost at once fell asleep, dreaming. She was walking along a black road and Rushton was behind her, calling to her to wait for him. She walked faster, thinking of Freya. She then fell into a chaotic dream, with images that made no sense. There was a red chair, and then a woman saying ‘All women in my family have it’. The woman had hair like Dragon, but was sitting in a chair, and had been stabbed in the chest, and was bleeding. There was a bald man, standing above her, happy with glee at having killed her, and that no one would ever know he had done it. It changed and she was in the water, and it was red with the woman’s blood. She was trying to keep the woman afloat, but she could not. The woman rasped about her daughter, and that Elspeth is, and Elspeth must, but then it ended. What a strange dream, was it a real, true dream. Or just a random, imaginative jumble?

Elspeth woke to a voice yelling that Templeport was in sight. It was already hot, and Elspeth’s head hurt. Miky comes into the room and announces that they are finally here. Elspeth was sore and groggy, and got up ignoring Maruman’s annoyance at being moved. On the deck, everyone was already there watching Sador advance towards them. It was already midday, and outside the air was dry and hot. The high sea cliffs were visible for as far as the eye could see, except in one spot, where the cliff was open, and sand spilled out from the desert into the ocean, forming Templeport. As they approached they could see the tents, and noticed there was no plants, surely nothing can survive on the barren desert. Already the heat was stifling for some, and it would only get worse when on the land. They cannot even comprehend how something can be so hot, especially when back in the Land, it is nearly winter. Fian tries to think of something about the lack of vegetation, and the reflection of the sun, but even he is not sure.

Powyrs points out the Earthtemple, and Daffyd is the first to spot it in the cliff, and the name is obviously inspired by its location, as it is carved into the cliff. Rushton comes next to Elspeth and reminds her that he wanted to see her last night in his cabin, and Elspeth stammers out something about Fian, but Rushton is not happy at all. His eyes were furious, and he turned away to stand with the others. I thought it would only be worse for Elspeth to avoid him.

Angina spots a group of great, shaggy, dun-coloured beasts, with humps, which can only be camels, but are called kamuli. The Sadorians use them as the Landfolk use horses. Powyrs says they were called Desertships in the Beforetime, because of their capability of travelling through the desert so easily. Sadorians only use horses inland where the spice groves are, otherwise the kamuli are only suitable for the desert. The Sadorians have been buying Land horses to breed into their stock and make them hardier. And Powyrs tells them that all trade takes place at the Templeport, and only Earthtokens can be used as coin. Rushton tells them that they better make camp, as Jakoby will not arrive for a while, and if she never arrives, the Battlegames must not be why they are here. Powyrs sends them to a spot to make their camp, and tells them that around they will be able to get food, but only if they exchange some coin at the Earthtemple. Water can be collected from the cliff, and is free. As he leaves he gives a strange look to Elspeth with Maruman hanging off her neck, even though Elspeth had wiped his and the crew’s memory of the cat, clearly something had remained.

We are finally in Sador, and the Battlegames are around the corner. But first they must explore what Sador has to offer first, I want to see what the Earth Temple is all about, because it sounds really interesting.

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