The Keeping Place – Chapter 8

Chapter Eight

I’m back, and I’m very happy to get reading Obernewtyn, I actually have missed it. I think it is fitting that this is my 300th post! This blog is nearly a year old, I don’t care how overused this saying is, it is definitely true, time does fly.

So before my little break, Elspeth was just about to leave Obernewtyn to go to the city under Tor, to investigate what on earth Garth is doing under water. With her, is Fian and Miryum (who has been taken on this journey so they can sort out something for her to say to her suitor).

By the time the group left Obernewtyn, it was later than they had set out to leave (well whose fault is that?). But it was in part due to some of the coercer-knights deciding to tag along with Miryum (four of them in fact) so they had to find some more horses (which is harder when you have to ask for them to take you, instead of just grabbing a horse and going). Miryum had not heard about Jakoby’s arrival, and Fian explained to her about Dameon, but she showed no reaction to this news. She had completely forgotten about Straaka’s ‘strange proposal’ many months ago (and I’m don’t think Fian mentioned it, even though he really was close to blurting it out). Elspeth’s plan to talk to Miryum privately about what she should do about the proposal, was in tatters as her knights will not leave her alone for a second.

The group travelled across the tainted section of the path, and then soon passed the road to Darthnor, which meant there was now danger of running into other travellers, and with seven people, the group seems suspicious. The entrances to White Valley were plentiful, but because of their rocky terrain, some of the previously used entrances were now unsafe for the horses, so they needed to ride nearly to Guanette to reach a safe spot, which meant more time on the main road. The group turned their conversation to the new Councilmen in the area, and the possible reasoning behind Radost’s decision. Elspeth notices that Faraf is lagging behind, and Gahltha tells her that he tripped in a pothole, and slightly injured himself. Elspeth sends one of the knights ahead to find a hidden spot for them to stop and rest.

They found a spot with a spring, and they lit a fire and made some tea, while Elspeth created a poultice of herbs for Faraf’s leg. As they wait for it to dry, Elspeth gets a chance to talk to Miryum about Straaka. She was unconcerned when Elspeth asked if she remembered him, but when she found out that he was actually here to claim her, she paled. Even though Jakoby told her that this was a serious thing, Miryum thought it a joke, and can’t believe that Straaka is serious about claiming her as his bondmate or killing himself. Elspeth assures her that he is serious, and that the Sadorian’s new view on animals, gives them a chance, because he wants to change his gift. Of course Miryum just wants to tell him that she doesn’t want to marry him, but we know, this will cause him to commit suicide.

There is of course another option, she could just marry him. But since she hardly knows him, she is not inclined to doing so though she is a bit intrigued by Straaka’s perseverance and adoration. Miryum focuses herself and says that she is a knight, which means she is bonded to chastity, but she will have to do something. I find it interesting, and slightly humerous, that Elspeth did not know what chastity was. All Elspeth can do is tell her to avoid going back to Obernewtyn until the last minute, and to talk to Jakoby to see what can be done.

Gahltha alerts Elspeth to approaching strangers, and she sends the horses away, and bids everyone act like Gypsies. They have plenty of coercive talent to deal with any trouble. Five men and one woman emerged from the trees. Three of the men were clearly soldierguards, and one man was emblazoned with the Council seals. This man, must be one of the new Councilmen, he demands to know what they are doing here. In the typical Gypsy fashion, Elspeth acts very cynically and ironically towards him. For some bizarre reason, he pretends to not understand what Elspeth said, and asks the woman to ‘translate’. After learning what Elspeth said, the councilman demands to know who gave Elspeth and co permission to drink tea, which makes the woman whisper to him something (clearly, something about how stupid that question is), so he alters the question to who gave them permission to drink tea here.

Elspeth tells him that there are no fences on this area, and it doesn’t seem to be claimed by any farmers. One of the soldierguards informs them that all land above Guanette is for Radost’s son, Bergold, and that anyone without permission to be there will have to answer questions. Elspeth knows her rights as a ‘Gypsy’ though, and tells them that as Gypsies they can camp anywhere that is not fenced for three days. One of the soldierguards was not impressed, and intended on attacking Elspeth to show her a lesson, but the councilman stops him, and asks the woman whether Elspeth is being insolent, because she is right. She says that it is in a Gypsy’s nature to be ‘saucy’ so she should not be punished, just warned that this area is now claimed. This Bergold tells the insolent soldierguard to put up some signs to ensure people know what is his land, and more importantly where his brother’s land ends and his begins. His brother, Moss, was not impressed sharing the highlands with Bergold, and wanted all of them.

Bergold then asks Elspeth whether they can perform for him, and sing and dance for him, as he has heard tale of such Gypsies. But Elspeth tells him they are called magi and ride around in a carriage, so alas they cannot do so. Bergold is very interested in these magi, and will actually pay for them to perform, and wonders whether they should do so when his father comes to visit. Which is good news for Obernewtyn, but how far should they push the limit when performing to basically the Head Councilman, when it comes to their message?

After the two parties went separate ways, the group was left to decide what they thought of the new councilman. He appears to be very young, and very indecisive, it seems his sister (the woman) is really pulling the strings. But how long before one of the soldierguards gets fed up with Bergold, or his brother Moss wants more land? Then Obernewtyn could be in trouble. Apparently Moss, is the complete opposite of Bergold, and even as a child in Sutrium, was cruel and violent. After a while, they arrived at the spot to turn into the White Valley.

They set a course for Tor, and after some time, evidence of wagon tracks appeared, from the previous passage by the tecknoguilders. Everyone made sure that they made no trace of their journeying, but this deep into the Valley it was thought safe enough to leave the tracks. It was late afternoon by the time they reached the base of Tor. The Tecknoguild had carved out of the mountain a passage into the mountain to the city, which would have taken some time indeed. They approached the small city of tents, and were welcomed by the coercer on guard. There was some talk of who would do what to unpack the camp, but this was interrupted when two tecknoguilders came out of the cavern blue and very pale. Elspeth immediately thought something terrible had happened, but the coercer merely gave them blankets. Both of them had wet hair, and Elspeth was reminded of the vision she saw in the tecknoguilder’s mind of a figure swimming.

Elspeth was outraged, and stormed into the tunnel. The track had been widened considerably since last time Elspeth was here, but she was not in the mood to admire any improvements. She was on a war path, and Garth was the focus of it, if he was endangering the lives of his guildmembers in the pursuit of knowledge, she would use her power as Master of Obernewtyn to send them all back home. Miryum caught up to Elspeth, and asked what was wrong, and that is exactly what Elspeth is trying to find out.

And I think it is a good time to stop there, we are getting tantalisingly close to finding out what Garth has been up to, and what all this swimming is about. I have enjoyed getting back into the swing of things!

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