The Keeping Place – Chapter 2

Chapter Two (Again 20 pages long)

Elspeth and Freya walk through the greenthorn maze back to Obernewtyn, and this is the first time we have had mention of this maze since ‘Obernewtyn’, but I guess Elspeth hasn’t really had time to just relax at Obernewtyn she’s been busy all over the place. For a while the two girls/women (hard to know about the ages) don’t talk, and then Freya asks if Elspeth misses Rushton. Which is a huge shock, and sounds as if he could have either died or has gone somewhere else (okay maybe not that shocking, but it is a surprise because I didn’t expect it). Apparently he has only just left, and of course Elspeth will be missing him, but she also has to take on the role of Master of Obernewtyn in his absence. Maybe that is why she was at the beastmerge, I can understand Alad’s presence but what of Freya’s or even Elspeth’s?

Interestingly, we find that Elspeth has begun to pay more attention to other people’s, and her own, emotions, and try to hone on in on them, even though she finds them awkward and annoying. She senses that Freya is not happy, and at first the girl says that if she can’t be happy here then where else could she be happy. But (always a but), Avra was asking about her father and the business that they undertook with beasts, obviously to gain further intelligence on the horrors of animals rights, and she can’t help but wonder what her father is doing. Elspeth doesn’t understand, and I guess not having a father for a long time, and not having one who was abusive, makes her very naive to the pain Freya must go through. Yes he did sell her, because of her Talent, which had earned him a living, but to her, she is still her father, and that is something that doesn’t go away. Freya is very conflicted in her emotions, and she thinks herself a coward for not leaving earlier, but at the same time she was happy when he beat her and sold her, because then it would be over. It cannot be easy, but Freya has nothing to be ashamed about and she is no coward.

The two parted as they came to the end of the maze, and Elspeth made her way to her turret room, and as soon as she lay her head down, she fell asleep. Though this time, she did not have any dreams, and it was a restless sleep, that seemed over only minutes after it began. Ceirwan was there with a list of things she has to do for the day, and she is left alone to eat some breakfast and add anything to the list from the Beastmerge. Maruman enters the room, and Elspeth has a burning desire to ask him about the strange winged beast in the dreamtrails, but knowing Maruman, any attempt to question him would end up resulting in nothing. Alone with her thoughts, she remembers Dameon’s letter, and his request for Alad to send a beastspeaker to Sador so the locals and the beasts can be taught the fingerspeech, he only knows a little of it, because he is unable to use such a means of communication. Elspeth should have raised it at the Beastmerge, but will ask Avra about it after her Farseeker meeting. Elspeth can’t help but feel that life is just going between one meeting to the next, and in between, there is thinking about what to discuss in the next meeting. I think she now understands what it is like for Rushton.

Apparently it is nearly spring, which I am confused about because I thought they were planning to launch the rebellion in winter (which is ending now) or did they mean next winter (or do I have it all wrong)? The pass to Obernewtyn had now thawed, and this meant that Dameon was to return at any moment, which is good news for everyone. Rushton has gone to meet with the rebels in Sutrium. I thought they wanted nothing to do with the misfits? Gevan cannot understand it either, but Rushton says that he has been summoned by Brydda, so he will go. I am curious what Brydda wants, and why he did not just put it in writing. But we do learn that the rebels did not launch their rebellion as planned, and that maybe Rushton will be able to find that out when he goes to meet with them. But journeying to Sutrium will also allow Rushton to check on Domick, who had sent word that he renounced himself of the Coercer guild and of Obernewtyn, because he cannot agree with their new pacifist ‘ideology’ he sees it like a lamb telling a pack of wolves he is a pacifist, but what would the wolves care. Interesting analogy, but I don’t think Obernewtyn is a lamb, and the Council a pack of wolves. Obernewtyn can defend themselves when the time arises, and they have already sent a brigade of soldierguards away by playing it smart and disguising Obernewtyn (though Dragon remains in her coma).

Even though Domick has cut all ties with Obernewtyn, he still sends in reports of what he has gathered in his spying. He is likely to give the same reports to Brydda, but as of late, the reports are growing more and more cryptic. Is this a sign that he is in danger and asking for help? Or has he started to become unstable (even more so than previously)? Rushton wants to bring Domick back to Obernewtyn, but will he come? Thinking of Rushton makes her long for him, like one would long for food or water when they were hungry or thirsty (is that kind of love sustainable or even good?).

Elspeth decides to re-read Dameon’s letter for the umpteenth time, but this time we get to read a bit of it with her. He tells her that the Sadorians have memories which go back to before the Great White, and they are passed down through chants. Though the Sadorians do not want to dwell on the past too much (so any loss of history is not important) as they see doing this as making the present less important. He has learnt that their ancestors came from a place called Gadfia, where they worshipped a strange and violent Lud, and anyone who did not bow down to him, would be killed. And if a warrior was killed fighting, they believed that they would be taken straight into Lud’s arms with splendour (a sort of heaven). There were many Gadfians, and they were all poor. It gets worse, the only reason for people existing was to worship Lud, which meant that men (who are the only sex who can be warriors, apparently) were counted important. And women, were seen as a way of getting more warriors, which is barbaric and so wrong. Women were treated like beasts, and they were given by their father’s to a man and then they were his property. Daughters were seen as worthless, and were only used to trade or seal alliances, so many were killed. And so a rebellion began (because that sort of treatment is just too barbaric to be allowed to continue). They did not want to overthrow the regime, but instead escape and help the women who were abused. So they escaped to Sador, and remained as nomads so nobody could track them incase they were pursued. So their ‘earth loving’ philosophy developed in response to the fear of being followed by the evil Gadfians.

Nobody knows if they were ever pursued, but it is likely that the Great White put an end to any chance of that happening. The deserts were untouched but the surrounds were turned to Blacklands. Does Gadfia still exist? No, it was destroyed, how they know this, is another mystery. Good riddance, but I’m sure there are still some civilisations in the world that are just as bad, if not worse. Unlike the Land, Sador was completely cut off from any of the surrounds, so they did not get any refugees. For the Sadorians it was a good time, but the violent Gadfian blood still flowed through them, and internal struggles began to grow. They split into tribes who were at war with one another, and many died. But there was worse to come, someone had a Beforetime weapon, maybe they found it, maybe they already had it, but it was devastating. If the Sadorians were left alone, they could have gone the way of the Gadfians but three things stopped that. And those three things, will be covered tomorrow. Sorry, I know it is annoying!

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