The Keeping Place – Chapter 3

Chapter Three

As Elspeth follows Ceirwan to sort out a disagreement between Roland and Miryum, he fills her in on what is going on. Apparently Roland was the one who started it, when he said that Miryum was being selfish and accused her of being paid by the Council to do whatever she is doing to the detriment of Obernewtyn. She asked if he was calling her a traitor but he said she was a fool, and too stupid to realise. Miryum thinks she is pursuing glory in order to make unTalented folk revere the Misfits. Ever since they had arrived from Sador, Obernewtyn has worked to make themselves look less monstrous and more human to the folk in the Land. Each guild had found a different way to go about this. The Empaths, will whenever they travel, spread emotions for people to feel compassion for and accept everyone else (there could be a slight ethical issue with playing with the emotions of other people, but the empaths are normally good people, so I don’t think they will abuse their powers). They and the coercers worked to alter people’s dreams to make some unTalents temporarily experience what it is like to live as a hunted Misfit.

Alright, that is stepping over the line of ethical operation. They are altering people’s dreams. Now I know it is for a good cause, and has good intentions, but I can’t help but feel, uncomfortable, imagining the Misfits playing around with an innocent person’s dreams. But the good thing is, that in the last guildmerge there was a long discussion about the morality of such a thing, and was still unresolved, and everyone had an opinion. They had to decide was altering dreams any different to playing a song and enhancing it to evoke a reaction?

The Coercers set about to perform puppet shows to children, using songs, jokes, acrobatics, etc to disguise their real message of examining the audience’s own prejudices. The troupe had disguised themselves as half-breed gypsies on the few times they had performed, and they had been well received and garnered praise from the audiences. Nearby towns looked with excitement for the arrival of the gypsies. It was not only the children that were interested, the adults too were enthusiastic about the performances, which is good news for the Misfits.

Miryum has also devised her own way of improving the ‘Misfit image’. She recently read in an Beforetime book about knights and chivalry, and she has devised her own code to abide by. She has also been riding out to local towns, disguised of course, doing ‘good deeds’ and preaching her chivalrous code. Soon she had started to grow a following of other, young (and more ‘volatile’) coercers (many of whom were struggling under the new pacifistic regime) who had begun to ride out with her doing deeds. No one had intervened hoping that Miryum would lose interest, but before long gossip reached Sutrium, and Domick issued a warning. The Council had decided to wait for more information before sending out soldierguards to investigate. At the last guildmerge Rushton had spoken out against the ‘coercer-knights’.

So the argument between Roland and Miryum is because of these coercer-knights, and Roland is not impressed with their actions, and believes they will ‘see us all dead’ with their actions. They near the two, continuing to argue, and Miryum just said something about Roland’s healers, and comparing them to the coercer-knights (not something that Roland takes too kindly too). A crowd has started to gather around the two (with some young children who must have been playing in the area – which makes me think that there are actual children, not even teenagers, who are at Obernewtyn, I forgot how young they all were). Elspeth demands to know what is going on, and Roland says that Miryum claims that his healers are doing as much damage to Obernewtyn as her coercer-knights. Elspeth steps in as the two start to argue again, and reminds Miryum of her the guildmerge’s decision to limit any coercer-knight activity given the Council’s interest in setting up a soldierguard post in the area. Miryum says that Gevan agreed to that decision and not the coercer-knights themselves (clearly the coercer guild is breaking into factions), and that the knights believe the Council is too busy with the rebels and Sador to worry about them (which might be true, but the Council are already taking notice of them).

Roland presses her to ask if she wishes to take Gevan’s place if she is not going to abide by his decisions. Miryum counters that the knight’s philosophy differs from the coercer’s, and the knight’s think more needs to be done than just performing plays. Miryum’s philosophy includes, ‘showing the unTalents that even though they have more power than them, the Misfits will use their powers for all the Land and not just themselves’ (which is basically making them fearful of the misfits all over again). Elspeth uses Miryum’s own chivalry against her, calling on her to keep her promise to the Coercer guild, and that she must stop all knight activity until the matter is resolved, once again proving that Elspeth is quite the diplomat, and quick on her feet.

Roland and Miryum both walk away, and Elspeth tries to figure out how it started this time. Apparently Roland had been in Darthnor and had been questioned by some miners to whether he had seen these knights sent out by Henry Druid. He has been dead for some time, but people seem to think the knights are his men, and not only that, are terrible ‘Misfit monsters’. Elspeth is left to consider the possibility of Miryum’s knights forming a ‘splinter group’ away from the coercers and starting such division will work against the much fought for unity of Obernewtyn. Elspeth tells Ceirwan that she wants to go and see Garth about rumours they want to go to the lowland library again, but Ceirwan reminds her that she is booked to practise the new mindmeld technique that was theorised in the previous book.

Elspeth then muses that she hasn’t been to the Healer Hall in a while, probably to avoid awkward questions from Roland (who is determined to find out how she is able to heal herself) but mainly to avoid the sad sight of Dragon remaining in her coma. Her story is recapped (again if you forgot) but new subtle details are added that someone could go into her mind, but Dragon’s strength would render them trapped there until Dragon got better, or she died of old age, so nobody would try.

Elspeth and Ceirwan sit down with Hannay, Miky, Angina and Freya for their lunch, and Elspeth asks the twins if it is true they are planning something special for Dameon’s return. They admit they have created a play, much like the coercers, to perform when he returns, and some of Gevan’s ‘magi’ are to be involved. These ‘magi’ are coercer-performers (part of the coercer troupe that perform to the Land) and the word is the plural of mage. Even the tecknoguilders are involved in the production, but the details are to remain a secret. Talk turns to the coercer-knights, and the group are that their efforts don’t deal with the root of their problems and aren’t really a solution, whereas teaching children (whose brains are still open and their prejudices are not so strong) will slowly elicit change.

Elspeth spots a tecknoguilder, and she calls him over to tell him to warn Garth of her arrival the next day. But he tells her that he is not at the tecknoguild cave, but in the city under Tor, which is a shock to Elspeth (as Garth rarely leaves the caves). The tecknoguilder tells her that they have learnt that the Reichler Clinic kept their most important records in a basement under the building. They have also found out that the base of the building has broken away and now sits some distance from the actual building, it is under water like many of the buildings. Though to Ceirwan and Elspeth, this is not help, as nobody can swim underwater, and the tecknoguilder doesn’t respond though an image of people swimming underwater comes to his mind. Something is going on, and Garth knows that the guildmerge would object to it. The tecknoguilder says that Garth may be back tomorrow, but will certainly be back by their moonfair.

Talk turned to Rasial, and then Elspeth grew tired of talking and decided to leave. Her move to leave shocked the others, but she pretends to have remembered something she needed to do. She asks Ceirwan to try and find out what was troubling Freya and that she will be there for their practise. This issue with the coercer-knights is not going away anytime soon, and it could cause big divisions in Obernewtyn, in a time where they need to stand as one more than ever. And this news about the Reichler Clinic is intriguing (it doesn’t seem to go away) but how can they breathe underwater, they don’t have scuba gear?

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