The Keeping Place – Chapter 6

Chapter Six

Only Kella, Gevan, Ceirwan and Elspeth were waiting for the Sadorian riders to arrive. Ceirwan had the forethought to shield his farseeking, ensuring that pandemonium did not break out at the news of Dameon’s return. After some time they could distinguish Jakoby and Bram as the riders, there were another two Sadorian men with them also. Once they had arrived, Fian jumped eagerly off the horse and ran over to greet everyone. But there was no Dameon. Fian comments how good it is to be home, and how much he has missed Obernewtyn and its mountains. Jakoby tells Kella that Dameon did not come, it was his own choosing to stay, but she will allow Fian to convey his wishes. But first she wishes to take the horses away so they can drink before they begin to talk. Awkwardly Gevan tells Jakoby that horses are not thought as property to humans, and he wishes to offer them asylum if they wish it. Jakoby just laughs and ensures him that these beasts will want to remain with the Sadorians. She also reminds them of her request for a beastspeaker, who knows the fingerspeech to come with them, so Sador can learn to use it. However, since they have been to Sador much has changed, and Dameon (or the asura, as he is known is Sador) had no time to tell them of these changes.

The group venture inside to continue the conversation, but not after their guests eat and drink. They have to find a quiet spot because if anyone sees Fian they will assume Dameon is home, and all hell would break loose, just showing how much he is loved. Elspeth tells the travellers that Rushton is in Sutrium talking to the rebels, and Jakoby might be able to explain some of that. Apparently amongst the rebels there was much discussion about the Misfits after the Battlegames, and once they had departed. The rebels had become to see what a rebellion led by Malik would look like, and no one wanted him to rule after they were victorious. The offer from the Misfits for a ‘democratic’ rebellion and new state, was enticing, and their morally superior behaviour in the games was fuel for the fire. Even though Malik won, he showed just how malicious and violent his nature is, which has worked against him. But as to why the rebellion was postponed, they will have to find out from Rushton.

Instead, the real news is why Dameon has stayed in Sador. In the letter Elspeth received it was hinted at (or maybe more explicitly, we are not sure) that Dameon would become an honorary tribesman. And this is something that is rarely done, but the ceremonies to undertake this position are yet to be completed. After the ceremonies, he will be privy to their own council and all their knowledge (maybe he will learn more about the Temple guardians and how they are still being born, and some more about Kasanda, two topics which the Sadorians kept secret). Dameon basically sent Fian home, as his role as his ‘guardian’ was not really necessary as the Sadorians are very protective of him. The ceremonies take a month, so he will not return, at least, until then. Fian also has two new letters from Dameon, one for Elspeth and the other for the twins.

Apparently Dameon was instrumental in making the Council uninterested in Sador, like they once were, hence his honorary position. Even though Sador is safe for now, they will continue their alliance with the rebels, and will help remove them. Dameon told the Sadorians that the Council were just interested in their spice, and if they found out how hard it was to harvest, then they would lose interest. So they took the Herders and the soldierguards out on a tour of the spice groves, and days later they all left. Another big change, has been the Sadorians opinion of beasts. The fingerspeech has been instrumental in the Sadorians new understanding that beasts are of equal intelligence to humans. Ownership of beasts is now considered slavery, which as we know, Sadorians detest passionately. Any horse and their rider are now seen as allies and comrades. None of the horses have rejected this new arrangement, as they can see that to survive both of them need to work together, so long as the horses are free to come and go as they please. However, some horses have decided to form packs and travel the desert, fighting off the wild animals that live there.

The leader of this wild pack has requested discussion regarding new foals. He suggests that they be brought up as a free horse, and then come to the humans for some work, and then allow them to choose which option they would like to do. The Sadorians vowed to stop buying horses from the Land, but the leader of the pack requests, as a payment to their services, that Sador buy a certain number of horses so that they can be freed. They wish to create a treaty with the horses, so they really need a strong beastspeaker, to ensure that both parties are understood. As for the other animals, it is varied. The kamuli are like the horses and see the need for unity, but only request they do not whip them or take away their calves. They have decided to continue hunting wild animals, but only those who themselves hunt humans, and eat meat, which is a fair tradeoff, and they will not hunt children or pregnant females. I am actually really glad this is happening, because the Sadorian treatment of animals, though better than the Land, was still an issue, but the Sadorians are smart and humble enough to change their attitudes when they learn new information. Too many of us, when presented with evidence that what we are doing is wrong, become defensive, and try to protect our doings, when the Sadorians consider the new evidence and act on it. Wish we were like that.

Some other animals, like chickens who have tiny brains, or snakes and big cats which don’t respond, as to the Sadorian opinion of these animals it isn’t clear. The talk is disrupted by the arrival of Kella and Katlyn with mountains of food. Kella also went to the futuretellers (who must be in charge of these things) to tell them to make up some more beds, but of course, they had already foresaw them arriving, and had prepared. A small owl, which Elspeth had seen earlier in the Healer Hall, flew through the window and crashed against one of the walls. It seems that Kella has a new friend, that follows her wherever she goes. Apparently a nest full of the birds had fallen, and Kella saved them all. The others have flown away, but this one is just too attached.

After everyone had eaten, and some toasts to Sador and Obernewtyn were made, talk started again. Most notably, Jakoby told them that the Battlegames have been changed in response to their new animal friendly ethos. Only those who volunteered for the games were used, and they could request payment. They also talked of Dameon, and Jakoby admits that he has taken a liking of the desert, much faster than others who just see endless sand. It may make his departure difficult for him, even though Obernewtyn need him. There will be much disappointment throughout Obernewtyn the news of Dameon’s continued absence. Elspeth mentions their moon fair, and we get an explanation from her (which I don’t think we have had previously) so that the Jakoby can understand. Interestingly, Bruna understands and tells her mother that it is a celebration where there is food and competitions, much like Sador’s own bazaar week once the Battlegames have concluded. Obernewtyn have their own, as they cannot travel anywhere to participate, so they do their own thing.

Jakoby asks if they can remain for the moonfair and Elspeth says that of course they can, unless they are needed by Brydda. Apparently they are in no haste, Bruna however, Jakoby cannot speak for. It was Bruna’s suggestion that Jakoby go in person to tell Brydda that only a small number of troops would be involved in the rebellion now, and of course Dameon’s decision to remain in Sador, and that it would be offensive to send just any Sadorian. Bruna also wanted to learn more of the ways of the Landfolk, and she couldn’t resist coming and seeing Obernewtyn with her own eyes. Jakoby continues, quite bluntly and without concern about Bruna’s own feelings (the Sadorian way, not a criticism) that in reality she wanted to come to see Dardelan once more. Bruna has fallen for him, despite her haughtiness. Jakoby however is concerned as to where the two would live if such a bonding would occur, as both have strong ties to their respective homes. It is in this moment that Elspeth sees Jakoby as a mother, and not as a tribesleader. Elspeth asks what happened to Bruna’s father, but all Jakoby says is that he left them. She then requests to be shown her sleeping quarters, clearly she wants to avoid that topic.

I will leave my post there. The arrival of the Sadorians has brought much information. It is a pity that Dameon stays in Sador, but he will be able to learn everything there is about the place, which is a good thing, unless he is bound to secrecy. What I am interested in seeing soon, is the moonfair, which is not far away. I doubt we will see it this chapter, and it is likely that Elspeth will travel to Tor to sort out Garth, but that will be just as interesting. So much is happening, and yet there is a huge amount still to come!

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