Ashling – Chapter 39 Part Two

Chapter Thirty-Nine Part Two

As they walk to Bram’s tent, Elspeth asks Jakoby what a ravek is. This is what the man was performing when Miryum decided to hit him from insulting her. Jakoby tells Elspeth that it is an endearment between two people who have ‘heartfasted’, and is literally saying that the other person has their heart beneath their foot (and could crush it at any moment). The man was offering Miryum to become his ravek, and this is a formal proposal to bond in Sador. Miryum must have misunderstood what he was saying to her, I mean if someone came up to you saying ‘You are my ravek’ or ‘You are a ravek’ you not think they were being polite. I wonder if Miryum actually knows what he was asking for, and what she will do and say when she finds out. Rushton began to question Jakoby about various aspects of Sador and Elspeth didn’t really pay attention, instead thinking of the strange events at the Earthtemple.

They arrive at a large tent, and Jakoby pulls back the flap, they can hear some talking and noises of people eating inside. There was a fire in the centre of the tent, and then there were tables laden with food surrounding it, with people sitting enjoying a meal. Some faces were familiar but many unfamiliar. There was a raised table at the centre of the arrangement and Elspeth could see a very old, wizened Sadorian, who can only be Bram. Elspeth could see Brocade, Gwynedd, Brydda, Cassell, Elii and Dardelan (wasn’t he supposed to be back in Sutrium with Jakoby’s daughter, Bruna?) There was a good gathering of rebels, and they are all here to make war plans, and not really find out if the Misfits are worthy of an alliance. Elspeth also spots Malik, who spots her back and decides to introduce them as ‘The Misfit and its Master’. He continues by discounting Rushton’s age, by saying that he is barely old enough to be master of himself. This man! I can already feel my anger levels rising at his presence.

Jakoby did nothing, and was seeing how Rushton would respond, all he did was stare at Malik, until he questioned what he was looking at. Then Rushton deals him a blow, saying that he is not sure what he is seeing, maybe it is a man, but maybe it is a performing ape (they have apes in the Land, where do they live, there aren’t any rainforests as far as I know) and he can’t be sure in this firelight. Malik is furious and stands cursing and clutching at his knife. Jakoby yells at them and intervenes, and tells them that the Battlegames do not start until tomorrow, and that destroying their feast with such behaviour is not acceptable and they should wait until then. Malik sat back down but was still furious.

Jakoby led them to Bram, and Elspeth noted that there was a Temple guardian sitting with him, remembering that the Battlegames would be overseen by the overguardian of the Temple (is the overguardian the leader of the guardians, or some sort of guardian of the guardians). Elspeth could not see who the overguardian was, not even what gender they were, as they were hooded, but assumed it was someone very old because of the size of them. Jakoby introduces Elspeth and Rushton, and Rushton piles on the niceties to Bram. Who replies that now is not the time to talk, and that he hopes that they don’t expect to win with just words alone. He asks Rushton that he has seen members of them younger than he is, and says that he is too young to be seasoned in battle, and how does he expect to win. They talk about fighting a hopeless battle, and Rushton says that a battle is not lost until it is lost, and Bram believes that he speaks very well. He acknowledges his sadness that he is not yet an ally and cannot sit on their table, and hopes that if they win, they can dine together and speak at length. Well, he also adds that if they survive, IF THEY SURVIVE! So someone could actually die? Rushton is shocked to hear this, and Bram tells him that the Battlegames are a ‘mini-war’ and the aim is not to kill or injure, but there has to be a chance of death, otherwise it would not be a true test. Malik takes Rushton’s slight unnerving as a chance to call him out as a coward for being afraid of death.

Rushton says that tomorrow will bring what tomorrow will bring, and he asks if he can know more about the Battlegames. Bram is slightly disappointed that Rushton is eager for the battle, and tells him the same thing he told Malik. There are many different Battlegames and which ones they do will be up to the Earthgoddess. He addresses everyone, and tells them of their history. After the Great White, there was massive amounts of war and bloodshed between the tribes and great harm done to the earth. Then there was one among them who had heard the voice of the earthgoddess, and commanded them build the Earthtemple, so that others could come and learn to hear the voice of the land. Her disciples (from the goddess) forbade war for ever. But of course, as is human nature, there were disputes both great and small which needed to be sorted out. That is why the Battlegames were created, so they could decide issues and to remove any violent urges that plague humanity. Each game is designed to test a specific quality of the competitors (courage, wit, charm, honesty, fitness) and in their case it will test their fitness for battle. The earthgoddess knows which of the games will be chosen, because they are selected at random using dice. He reveals two small cubes with different marks on each face, which are clearly dice.

Bram explains that they will be thrown, and they will show a number of marks to the sky, and all the games included in the games have their own number and that is how each game will be selected. Some are short, others are long, so there is no way to know how many games will take place, but it is always between 3 and 10. They begin at sunrise and end at sunset, as these are times of power. Rushton asks if all 10 will have to participate, and Bram says that the number of participants for each game will again be chosen by the dice. The leaders of the groups need to choose who to put into the game. For each game there is a verbal assessment of who is ‘victorious’ and at the end of the day the winner is announced. Malik questions whether they will actually fight one another (quite rudely in my mind) and Bram says that that is up to the earthgoddess. Some tasks will put both teams up against each other, and others will test the participants in a different way. Rushton asks what sort of things could be in the Battlegames, but Bram refuses to tell him. And his speech is over.

Rushton tells him one last thing, that they intend to use their full powers, but they would never do that outside of battle on allies. Bram dismisses him, and tells him to rest, and they will be collected before the games. Jakoby leads them out of the tent, and give them one last piece of advice. They should not dwell on what is to come, as that won’t help them win, they should relax and rest. She leaves and now Elspeth and Rushton are left alone. Now comes the awkward moment when either they are going to talk to each other and sort things out (probably not), talk and get angry at one another, or walk is silence. They just need to sort out their relationship, and actually COMMUNICATE with one another, and not just with their imaginations of what will happen.

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