Ashling – Chapter 39

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Most of the group set about clearing their patch of land, and then erecting a tent that they bought in Sutrium (which they did on the advice of Jakoby). Daffyd and Freya were sent to get some water, and Elspeth and Fian were sent to exchange their small amount of coin for some Temple tokens. Dameon also decided to join them, and because the temple and the source of water are close by, they all walked together for a while. At least Elspeth did not have to be alone with Freya, though it seems that her presence does not annoy Elspeth as much as Rushton’s. Which is very odd, since ‘she is the one who stole ‘her’ man away’.

By the time they reached the shade of the cliffs they were all gasping for air, because of the intense heat and blinding light, things they are not used to. They quickly drank their fill in the spring of water, and sat down in the shade. The heat is so surprising to them, and Fian is not impressed that they will have to walk up the cliff to gain access to the Temple and exchange their coin. The shade is no longer providing much coolness, and they soon felt hot again. They sat for quite a while, regaining their energy. Elspeth noticed some half-breed Gypsies, and remembers that Powyrs said they were treated well here, and Elspeth thinks that if that is the case, more of them will escape persecution in the Land, and try to bare the heat.

Then Fian spotted soldierguards, high ranking ones at that. Are they still here? Sure both ‘countries’ need diplomacy, but the fanatical Herders and the power-hungry Councilmen will be looking to gain control of Sador. There were two Herders with them, and it looked like there were a number of Sadorians hanging around them, have they possibly been converted? Daffyd suggests that they may want to start their journey, and get away from the Herders and soldierguards, because who knows what would happen if one of them recognised them as fugitives, would they detain them? What would the Sadorians do about that action? Freya doesn’t think Dameon should go with them up the cliff, but he assures her that he is not ill and only blind, and Fian wants to have one final drink before beginning the ascent but Daffyd stops him, saying he will be sick if he has a stomach full of water and goes out in the heat.

It was a steep walk (predictably) to get up to the top of the cliffs, and they were beginning to doubt they would be back to the camp before dusk, as they appear to be half way to the Temple. Elspeth ponders how the Sadorians can survive in such an extreme environment. Templeport was actually a ‘spit’ and the spring was at the base of the cliffs, a road wound up to the top of the cliffs, and then a path cut wound away from the cliff into a deep fissure, this was the way to the Temple. In this fissure was the ‘second face’ of the Temple, the other facing the spit and the ocean, which was intricately carved and had windows. This face only had one doorway, which must serve as to the entrance of the Temple.

There were around 30 people lining up outside the doors in various queues. One line had elderly people, worried parents with sickly children, and others with rough bandages or terrible coughs. That line was for those sick looking for healing from the Temple. The next line had more animals than humans, and must be where they were brought to be checked for diseases (interesting that they still have a sort of ‘customs’ to check for disease). Though these were all smaller animals, the horses must be examined elsewhere. In the third line were Sadorians carrying bags of spices, to trade their tribe’s quota of spice of tokens. Elspeth was surprised that none of the lines were moving, but then saw that there were some barefooted men and women moving around the lines, who must be the Temple guardians, clearly the work is done outside the Temple rather than inside. I share Fian’s disappointment that we do not get to go inside and explore the interesting temple.

Elspeth moves closer to hear the exchange between on of the guardians and a Sadorian woman. The guardian asks her, “What do you seek of the earth?” Elspeth could not see the man’s face, as all the guardians were cloaked. The woman told him a great list of her ailments which he listened to intently, and then he gave her a stick, which he told to boil in water and then drink. Fian noted that it was just a relaxing herb that he gave her, and thinks that this makes the guardian a fake and is giving her something that isn’t really treating her. Elspeth paid little attention to Fian, and wondered what the fourth line was for, as people did not look ill or carrying spice or trade-wares. Elspeth heard another guardian speak to a person in that line, and found that it was for people seeking wisdom and guidance. Hearing what the guardian suggests for dealing with his worry about his son marrying, Fian thinks it just common sense, and I can see that he thinks this whole thing some sort of sham, but I think having someone say what you are thinking makes you a lot more confident that think is right, actually is right, and we just need to hear reassurances to get us over the line to act. Something Dameon agrees with.

On the fifth and final line, a guardian is holding a two bags, clearly exchanging coin. Elspeth tells the others to wait as she goes to join the end of that line. The guardian approaches Elspeth, and she asks again what she is seeking of the earth, and Elspeth responds that she is paying respect to the earth-goddess and here to exchange tokens. She exchanges the coin for the earth tokens, she lifts Elspeth’s arm and makes a sign, but whatever she says is drowned out by a scream. A youth that Elspeth saw earlier in some sort of fit, has come running towards Elspeth, and she thinks he is going to attack. But instead he asks her whether she has brought the Moonwatcher. The women with the youth, rush over to take him away and tell Elspeth that when such fits come over him, it looks like he is possessed by demons. The guardian asks, when the women have left, who she is in a strange tense voice. Elspeth tells her that she is a visitor from the Land, and the guardian wants to know who. Elspeth tells the truth and mentions Jakoby, an answer which seems to calm the guardian and she bades her to find harmony and nurture the earth. What just happened? Why did the guardian get so odd, is the Moonwatcher some sort of evil thing? What is the moonwatcher or who is it? I have no idea.

Just as they thought it was dusk by the time they returned to Templeport and the spit. The moon had already risen, and people were starting to light fires and cook their dinners. Fian suggests that they buy some food to take to the camp, and the trade area was one part of Sador that felt familiar to Elspeth. All the traders jostle for their attention, and ask them if the have things to sell or want to buy this or that. Even here, one person commented ‘Filthy Gypsies’ which is just disgusting that this prejudice has spread to here, all they did was refuse to buy something. Some people. Then a woman asks Fian if he would like a pretty girl, which is just something not right. Fian backs away and crashes into one of the kamuli, which snorts at him. Elspeth tries to speak to the kamuli, but either it could not or didn’t really want to understand her. They continue through the market, and Fian still comments on how hot it is even though it is dusk, Dameon however predicts that the night will be cold, and I’m sure it will be.

Fian thinks the Sadorians mad to live in such a place, and a familiar voice agrees with him. It is Jakoby, newly arrived from her journey. Literally out of nowhere Rushton appears and bows and says how honoured he is to meet Jakoby (where did he come from?). Jakoby was lucky not to get becalmed like they were, and (somehow now at the camp) she inspects everyone, who in return is staring at her in wonder. Jakoby comments that everyone looks quite young, but she acknowledges that that may not be a bad thing. She asks Rushton and Elspeth to go with her and Elspeth tries to decline, but Rushton accepts for the both of them. They are going to see Bram, the judge of the Battlegames, and he will explain the rules of the games which will start tomorrow. Rushton asks if all the rebels are here, but all are not, those who were coming are now here though. There are more rebels than Brydda expected though, and the last of them arrived at the same time as Jakoby, who was lucky to have strong winds, as they were a day late in their departure.

They were just about to leave when they heard Miryum’s voice call out angrily, and also the sound of a blow. They hurried back and found Miryum standing over a Sadorian man holding a bloody nose sitting on the ground. They try to find out what happened, and Miryum says that he was trying to make fun of her. The man tries to explain that she is mistaken, and that he was speaking ‘ravek’ and is sorry for causing offence as it was not intended. He enquires whether he should kill himself. Well that’s very extreme. Miryum is shocked, and Jakoby prompts her, asking again whether she wants him to kill himself for insulting her. Clearly this is some sort of custom, I wonder how many people have committed suicide because of insulting someone? Miryum of course doesn’t want him to kill himself, and doesn’t believe that he even would, especially for a joke. Jakoby dismisses him, and Miryum refuses to elaborate as to what he said to her. Jakoby asks them whether they can go and see Bram now, he is only a short walk away.

Again I’m going to leave it there, as there are still a large amount of pages to go, and this is one of the longer posts, I don’t know how I will be able to complete the next book which has even longer chapters, without breaking them into two. So either I need to cut down on what I write or split up chapters, any suggestions would be appreciated.




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