Ashling – Chapter 41

Chapter Forty-One

‘Interesting’ Bram says. I think the Sadorians would have never seen a Battlegames like this. And they would have never seen competitors like the Misfits, who didn’t want to harm the bears (I assume every single other competitor harmed the bears or used them to attack their ‘enemy’). They had returned to the side of the isis pool, and the light was streaming in from above them. Miryum was lying near Bram, and Kella was tending to her. Jakoby warns them that if Miryum does not wake up by the third game, she will be disqualified from the remaining games, and their team will only have 9 competitors. Kella could of course heal her quickly, but that would use up her own energy, so they decide to wait until the last minute in the hope she wakes up naturally. Malik seems confident that his team has won (I’m not sure why though, I don’t have evidence that they did anything better, they RAN AWAY, and to me that makes them lose, even if they were allowed to leave, the Misfits didn’t).

Bram comments that he finds interesting that both teams went about the Battlegame differently and identified a different objective. The rebels (in his mind) sought to kill the bears, and if possible, use them to kill the Misfits. If they couldn’t kill the Misfits, they would just kill the bears and let the Misfits live, and Jakoby concurs. He notes that they were swift, aggressive and sure, and they worked well but weren’t afraid to ‘cut their losses’ if need be (and I guess they sometimes would have to leave a man behind in battle, for the good of the group). The Misfits on the other hand acted defensively, protecting both themselves and the bears. To Bram, since the female bear was trying to kill them, this was a confusing and ill-suited (but sentimental) approach (well sorry that they didn’t want to kill everything!). He notes that the Misfits clearly have considerable power, but they didn’t use them effectively in battle. If they could control the bears, why not have them attack the rebels (they are too pacifistic, and that is something I think is a good quality, they will defend themselves when need be, but will not just attack for the sake of attacking, and in an alliance, you can’t just have everyone bloodthirsty, you need balance) or have the rebels attack each other. Bram considers everything for a moment, as if deciding the winner, and announces that the second game will begin.

The dice were thrown again, and the numbers indicate that two players will tackle ‘The Wall’. We speed things up a bit and skip some of the process (it would be boring and repetitive, to outline everything six times), as Angina is chosen for his speed and the wall will probably have to be scaled, and Hannay because of his strength and coercive ability, in case the wall needed to be moved or broken. They were all still confident, despite what had happened, as now they have some idea of what the games entail, and what Bram is looking for. A crucial thing they have learnt is that they must decide what the objective is, even when no objective is given explicitly. With the two competitors taking their place, Rushton says that he hopes they can do better in this second task. Miky asks if they should have killed the bear (is that what he was implying?) but he says that he is not sure what they could have done, but is cautious and suspicious of Malik’s men and wonders if he told them to try and kill the Misfits, or whether they were acting instinctively. Knowing Malik, he wants them all dead, and Elspeth thinks that as well.

Angina and Hannay return, now clad in loin cloths and boots, and were arguing with the rebel pair. The servitors then chained one Misfit to one of the rebels. What are they going to have to do when chained to their opponent? Hannay however, is dressed in a leather jerkin (close fitting jacket) and their limbs were wrapped in bandages. Jakoby announces that the climber must scale the wall, and a strong cord will bind them to the ‘burden’. One person has to scale the wall while the other is being dragged up the wall below them. The climbers had the bandages on to protect them from the wall, which was tainted by Holocaust poisons, but the burden was bare, and needed to rely on the skill of the climbers to keep them safe. Miky reminds (well more us, and points out the obvious to the group) that coercers cannot bare heights (I wonder if this is anyone with coercive ability i.e. Elspeth, or just pure coercers, like Hannay?). But Hannay has to be the climber as Angina could never hold Hannay’s weight, it seems they had chosen the wrong pair for this task. Kella tries to remain upbeat, and says that Hannay should not be as affected as Miryum would have been, but it is a dangerous task, and Angina’s life was in the hands of someone who doesn’t like heights.

The task would be over when both climbers rose to the desert above. Bram shouts ‘Climb’ and it begins. At the start, the rebels were at a disadvantage, as both were of similar height and weight, making it hard for them to scale the wall. But Hannay’s fear of heights soon made him very slow, and the rebels had a good lead. Then he started climbing faster, and Miky tells them that Angina is helping him not feel afraid, and the gap started to close on the two teams. The pairs were now level, but the rebel climber had reached a small ledge and was able to free his hands. He then decided to start throwing rocks at the Misfits, trying to make them fall. Hannay was not affected, by the rebel soon knocked out Angina, and Hannay slowed back down to a snail’s pace. I have to remember that they do not have any safety harnesses or nets, and if they fall, the will die.

For a long time, Hannay did not move, but at last he starts to climb again. This time without Angina’s help. Still it was slow going, the rebel climber on the other hand was speeding up the cliff, seemingly unconcerned with his partner who is being battered by the rocks. He soon reached the top, and pulled up his partner, and gives a shout (which is echoed by the other rebels below) of joy, as they clearly see this as a test of their speed to get to the top, and hence have won. But, he disregarded his partner’s safety, and I would much rather have Hannay life me up the wall than the rebel, as Hannay would save my life (if I was in some way already injured) the rebel would just make me worse, and also I would be exposed to the taint of the rock. It took Hannay another half an hour, before he too reached the top and dragged up Angina. The two teams were brought back to the isis pool by the kamuli.

Angina had regained consciousness, but had a nasty lump on the side of his head, and was claiming to see double. Kella draws out the slight concussion from him, and Hannay goes to sit down and is comforted by Miky, telling him how brave he was. Hannay says that it was the hardest thing he had ever done, but it was not bravery, but blind terror that had made him move. Miryum had awakened, as Jakoby calls them to the dais, and Bram agrees that Miryum is fit to continue. They were now 10 again, but Malik had lost a player, the burden was seriously ill after being exposed to the wall, and would not return in time.

Again Bram makes his commentary of the game. The rebels were clearly going for speed, but also tried to inhibit or injure their opponents. They have been single-minded about harming the Misfits, but as yet, have been unable to do any harm. He notes that this aggression has not seemed to stir a response of retaliation from the Misfits, which he finds odd. And says they have only used their powers to protect themselves when under attack. But he finds it odd they did not use their powers to inhibit the climbers, and says they could have made the climber jump from the wall by some delusion, but they did not (well they don’t want to kill the rebels, despite what the rebels might want to do to them). He notes that the Misfits seem incapable of using their powers for aggression and only for defence or to assist themselves. And since this is a test to see their battle-readiness, aggression is something Bram is probably looking for. But I would rather the Misfits remain pacifistic.

I will leave it there, with the third game just around the corner. The Battlegames are very interesting and the performances of both the Misfits and the rebels are significant. I wonder what Bram will make of the events, but we must not forget that the other rebels are all witness to the events, and will make their own judgements of both teams. Let’s hope that they see the value of the Misfits, and see other battle qualities that the rebels may be lacking, and see that the Misfits, are courageous and will fight when needed.



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