Elspeth and the Sadorians are on their way to the Tecknoguild cave. Straaka, can’t help but notice how beautiful it is at Obernewtyn, and Elspeth can’t help but notice that he is beautiful too. Jakoby however, is disgruntled by the amount of rain they are experiencing, which is something she never thought would occur. Just imagine what her reaction to snow would be. Gahltha and the Sadorians had been waiting for Elspeth as she reached the farms, which meant they would reach the caves before sunset. Elspeth had left Ceirwan to watch Maruman, who had not woken up yet, and Ceirwan asked whether he could bring Freya with him, a blossoming couple! The rain had stopped, just as Dell had predicted, which was good news for moonfair.
Riding Gahltha, the rocking motion, lulled Elspeth to sleep. Once again, she dreamed, and again it involved Ariel. He asks her why does she admired him, because she must, if she keeps dreaming of him. Again it gets creepy as he says that they belong together, and that he is waiting for her. And it is sickening to think that his voice is ‘seductive’ as he says it, this is Ariel we are talking about, the complete psychopath. Elspeth tried to back away, and he started to advance towards her, and Elspeth felt a sense of danger, and turned to ran.
Gahltha is shouting at Elspeth to wake up, as she started to fall out of the saddle. Elspeth had released some of her built up fatigue, but had not realised that it would send her to sleep. Elspeth wonders why she keeps dreaming of Ariel, and I don’t like her suggestion that he is coming back into their lives, the less of Ariel we see, the better! As they continue their journey, Elspeth takes the time to ask Jakoby’s horse how he is liking the land, and the other Sadorian horses join in too. They had an odd conversation about how this land is very wet/green/slippery and how it leads to the freerunning barud, but Bruna’s horse suggests that their home is the freerunning barud. One of them notes that the real freerunning barud will be free of funaga, and Gahltha says that not all beasts will go to the freerunning barud, which is why it is good that Sador is now ‘free’. I wonder where the freerunning barud will be, or whether it is just metaphoric. Maybe there is some part of the world where the animals are free, and organise themselves, blocked off from all humanity, but maybe there isn’t.
Elspeth was glad the conversation ended as they reached a stretch patch, where the horses desired to canter. They reached the caves just as the sun was setting, and Elspeth noticed that there was a decorative mosaic around the entrance, which is surprising since the Tecknoguild are more inclined for the functional, and not the decorative. They are greeted by Fian. As they enter the caves, Jakoby was intrigued by the lanterns of glowing insects. Fian explains that Jak has smeared the insides with a substance which attracts the bugs, and they are free to leave, but there is no reason for them to.
As they continue into the caves, Straaka comes and asks Elspeth about Miryum. Elspeth tells her that she is trouble because the oath she has with him, contradicts another oath she has made. Straaka thinks she means another man, but she means Obernewtyn. Elspeth tries to explain about the coercer knights, and how they are vital to the safety of Obernewtyn, and that Miryum fears leaving will break her promise to Obernewtyn. But Straaka counters that she agreed to marry her, so there should be no issue, and Elspeth tries to explain that in their (I nearly wrote our) land, a gift is just the first step towards bonding, and that Miryum did not realise that the gift meant something different in Sador. Elspeth is doing a good job, as she continues to say that Miryum did not expect her promise to Straaka would impact on her promise to Obernewtyn, and that in time both oaths would be fulfilled. He asks what Miryum’s oath is with Obernewtyn, but Elspeth tells him to ask Miryum that, she has laid a solid plan down, she doesn’t have to do all the work. Now Miryum just needs to come up with a believable oath that will take precedence over Straaka’s for the short to medium term, so their bonding either never happens or happens way into the future.
Fian takes them to a newly excavated section, and shows them a Beforetime wall, and explains that it once was a moving staircase. Apparently the cave network once was an impressive building, with 12 levels above the ground, and 12 below. But the building collapsed during the Great White. Fian leads them into the main cavern, and everyone is shocked by the glowing light, and Bruna comments that it is not natural. Jak appears and agrees, but Bruna doesn’t just dislike the light, she doesn’t like being underground. Jakoby agrees that there is something about the caves which doesn’t feel right. Well given some of the past events, it is no surprise that the Sadorians feel odd, but it has improved. Jak leads them to show them his museum.
Inside this new room, adorned with tapestries, the Sadorians relax, as Jak shows them the odd artefact. Elspeth is somewhat impressed at their collection, but Jak tells her that these are the least of their discoveries, and he doesn’t bother looking at them much. He sees it as a graveyard of the Beforetime, and Jakoby says that they shouldn’t spend too much time focusing on the past, as it is the past. But Tecknoguilders have other ideas, and Jak explains his point of view, saying that without understanding the past, each generation has to learn everything again. And Jakoby agrees that things shouldn’t be forgotten, but they need not be dwelled upon, and in Sador people remember what they need to, and forget what is useless.
Elspeth stops things before a full argument breaks out, and they go and enjoy a feast. Fian unveils a wonderful piece of art, comprising jars of glowing insects painted in different colours, and was based on something the Sadorians have, but they use candles. Jakoby laments that the insects require damp conditions, as she would have liked to take some back with her. As they dine, there is heated conversation between Jak and Jakoby about the past, which Elspeth controls by giving Jak a few jabs when things get out of hand, and plenty of conversation about the Tecknoguild’s various projects.
After all had been eaten, Jak demands to hear a promised tribe song from Jakoby, and she obliges. Elspeth was intrigued to hear the song, which was in gadi, and was about a man pondering the battle he would face the next day. She asks whether Jakoby can read gadi, but she can only speak it. At least she finally asked about it, but I guess the tribes aren’t concerned with writing gadi, just keeping their songs alive. Fian asks about Elspeth’s request, and she produces the page. Jakoby is interested in the page, and asks Fian what it says. He struggles, and says it is not very good scribing, and says there is something about a way, and need or must, and a name, Karada. That is enough to make Elspeth silence him, and ask him to translate it later, away from the feast. Wouldn’t want Jakoby to get too suspicious.
Though she still asks where Elspeth saw the words. Which she says in a dream, looking at a carving. Bruna almost accuses her of remembering words from the Earthtemple. Elspeth counters that she would not have seen anything she wasn’t supposed to. Elspeth asks Jak if they can see his workshop. Bruna complains that she is too full to move, which brings up the suggestion that they stay the night. Elspeth leaves them to discuss, as Jak takes her to his workshop which is covered by a tapestry, to keep the damp out of the museum. Inside are clusters of bottles filled with the glowing insects, Jak is trying to breed them. In some tanks the insects are climbing on lumps of metal, and Jak explains that they are feeding on the mildly tainted metal. Elspeth is alarmed by the word taint, but Jak assures her it will not harm her, and they are safer now than they were when he brought them in from Beforetime ruins. Though that is against rules, he wanted to try and breed hardier insects, that could live out in the open, so they could set about cleaning up the Blacklands. And what an idea that is! The problem is that the sun harms them, so they would have to be nocturnal, but if it works, that would be amazing! Jak dreamt of the Great White polluting the land, and has worked to fix it ever since.
Elspeth asks to see some plasts that mention the flamebirds, and Jak pulls them out, but says she will have to take them with her and search through them, and return them later. She really has a lot of reading to do! Jakoby finished singing, as Elspeth returned to the dining hall, and then Bruna sang a song. Elspeth stayed quite a while, and rose to leave later than expected, the Sadorians decided to stay the night. Fian leads her out, and goes to show her a model of the submerged city under Tor. It is an amazing replica, and Elspeth is intrigued by the blank spots which the guild think are parks (well some of the blank spots).
Elspeth leaves, and apologies to Gahltha, who has been kept from Avra, who is close to giving birth. Gahltha galloped home, silencing any thoughts Elspeth could have. Elspeth left Gahltha at the farm, and went to her room, disappointed to see Rushton had not arrived. Maruman was still asleep, as Elspeth also succumbed to sleep. Glad to finish a full chapter in just one review! I can’t wait to see all the material Elspeth has to study, and moonfair is tomorrow. But where is Rushton?