The Keeping Place – Chapter 8 Part Two

Chapter Eight – Part Two

Elspeth and Miryum continue their descent under the mountain Tor, to find out what Garth is doing. Fian and the others have caught up as well. They arrive at a newly created section, home to rafts to allow a faster way to the city, and Elspeth, Miryum and Fian decided to take one of those down, but the coercers decided to walk the rest of the way. Miryum took the lead, having done this all before, and directed their raft down the strong river. It didn’t take them long for the skyscrapers to come into view, and Elspeth was still awe-inspired by the sight. Elspeth’s anger rises again, as she gets closer to confronting Garth.

They approached the Reichler Clinic Reception, where the Tecknoguild located themselves in the underground city, both because of the buildings interest, and the good location. Fian and Miryum directed the raft down a side street, to ensure they don’t descend into the depths of Tor, and recreate the very first journey down the Suggredoon. Elspeth could not help but imagine Hannah Seraphim walking down the street or in one of the buildings, and I can’t image what it is like to be in such ruins. I have been in ruins of old buildings (well maybe a hundred or two years old), but I don’t think I’ve ever really imagined the people who once lived there and what their lives were like, and they definitely haven’t been awe-inspiring.

As they neared the Reception, Elspeth spotted a cluster of lights on a patch of rubble, and directed Miryum towards it. On the little rubble island, there was some Tecknoguild equipment, but also somethings that looked as if they had been found in the city itself. Several tecknoguilders were working very hard to keep some machines working, whilst the others were peering into the water where some tubes and rope trailed into the water. Looks like to me, the Tecknoguild have started experimenting with scuba diving.

Garth was basically facing Elspeth, but did not notice her, as he was too focused on the water. The crowd become very relieved when they spot a light, indicating that someone is about to surface. Elspeth stood behind Garth, as the girl surfaced, but she was very pale, glowing and bloated, which shocked Elspeth, and that gave Garth a fright. She saw that the girl wasn’t injured, but covered in a strange material that was being peeled off of her by Louis Larking and others. The girl was blue and shaking violently like the others Elspeth had seen earlier. Elspeth demanded to know what was going on.

The young tecknoguilder fresh from her dive, told her to not blame Garth for her actions, apparently she stayed down there too long, even after warnings for Garth. But she was so amazed by what she could see, that she didn’t realise she was getting cold. Garth sends her away to get warmed up, and tells everyone that they’ve done enough for today and they should all go and eat. Elspeth was so speechless that her anger subsided. Elspeth is led back onto a raft, with Garth, Miryum, Fian and others, and Garth asks quite calmly why she is here.

She tells him, that she was concerned that he was sending people underwater to look at the cellar of the Reichler Clinic, which is exactly what he is doing. And she can’t understand why he is endangering his people like this. Garth defends his actions by saying that it is not very dangerous at all. The divers are well protected by their suits and if they keep to the time limits, the divers don’t even get very cold. They tested the air pumps extensively, to ensure the safety, and he offers to show it to Elspeth tomorrow to calm her fears. They reached the small bay where they had to begin their ascent to the surface. Elspeth couldn’t be mad at him, she would let Rushton do that. On their walk, Garth spoke to Fian about Sador, and he hoped that Fian made detailed notes. Even though she is no longer angry, she is not convinced of the safety, and still wants to send them all back to Obernewtyn if she is not convinced.

An hour later it was night, and they were all sitting around a roaring campfire. Elspeth had calmed down, especially after hearing the Beforetimers had done diving in their day (not sure why this calms her, maybe just hearing that Garth is not the first idiot to try this..?). Obviously the Misfits have none of the fancy technology to make metal canisters and fill them with pressurised air, instead they have to use long tubes and pumps to allow people to breathe underwater, crude but effective. There was of course the limitations of such a system, like the range of mobility, and the more worrying, what happens if the tube breaks, but these are worked around, by sending multiple tubes for safety, and divining in pairs.

The ‘suit’ that Elspeth had seen, was a material designed to keep the divers warm, and was made from melted plast that they had found in the reception. Fortunately the bottom of city was not too far down, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to dive at all. They had an impressive set up, of using rocks to weigh them down, and even use glowing insects as lamps. The tecknoguilders were required to come back after a certain time period, but many stayed down longer than they were told to. The three diver’s attested to the beauty of the underwater city, and how it was hard to leave and keep track of time. Elspeth even got a tad jealous of the divers and their experience, but saw no chance that she would ever visit the murky depths.

She called over Louis Larkin to enquire about the carved doors that once adorned Obernewtyn. He remembers when they arrived (how old is he?) and how they were brought to Obernewtyn, in fact there were many other carved panels that were part of a collection that these traders brought with them. It was Marisa Seraphim who suggested they be made into doors, and she had something special carved as the border. The Gypsies who brought the panels, were not pleased to be kept in one place for so long, but agreed. They were Twentyfamily Gypsies, which should be no surprise given the families skill in carving. The Gypsies (a boy and his grandfather) came up uninvited, saying they heard of work for carpenters and carvers, and the old man was roused by the sight of Marissa, to which he offered to sell the carvings. They were kept busy for a long time, doing general chores, and carving a specific border that Marissa demanded. It is strange for Louis to think of a troupe of just two Gypsies, but Elspeth interprets this as them being sent for a specific ‘mission’. Neither of the gypsies ever claimed ownership for the work, and the panels were much more complex than any of their other wares.

Elspeth was giddy with excitement at this news, and she tried to wonder whether it was Kasanda who carved the panels, but how were the Gypsies connected? Maybe the Gypsies and Kasanda originated from the same place? But each progressive thought becomes more and more far-fetched. All Elspeth could do was theorise when and where the panels were given to the Gypsies, and whether Kasanda ever came to the Land or whether the Gypsies were tasked with spreading the signs for the Seeker. Elspeth will try to ask Jakoby whether the Gypsies have ever visited Sador, but given Kasanda’s possible connection, she is likely to be secretive. Of course she could ask Swallow, but when would she see him again (all this talk of Gypsies, makes me think, that we will definitely be seeing them sometime soon).

It then dawns on Elspeth that if the panels are indeed from Kasanda, their origins are irrelevant, because they must be one of the signs that the Seeker is supposed to find. I guess Elspeth will have to take up Maruman’s offer of going on the dreamtrails to see the doors, even if it is fraught with danger. But Elspeth has to find these signs!

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