The Keeping Place – Chapter 14 – Part Two

Chapter Fourteen – Part Two

Moonfair is just about to begin, and the guildleaders are walking down to the farm to start proceedings. Elspeth has just been pulled aside by Maryon, and was waiting for her to say something about a futuretelling, but instead she just complimented her on how she looked in the gifts that she gave her. Elspeth’s reaction to the compliment wasn’t the best, as she didn’t really say anything, but she was glad to arrive at the farm, with Alad, Rasial, Gahltha, Faraf and Louis Larkin there, representing the beastspeaking guild, the beasts and the non-Talents, respectively. The rest of Obernewtyn were arranged by the barns, and the sight of everyone brought a lump to Elspeth’s throat. Gahltha comes over to Elspeth and compliments that she looks ‘hot like a sunrise’ (which is hilarious given a recent ad for car insurance that said the same thing), and he even tells her that Avra is in labour. Elspeth sent him away immediately, so that he could be with her. And it really shows just how devoted Gahltha is to Elspeth, that he would leave while his bondmate is giving birth to his child.

Elspeth was led to a pear tree, where Rushton would usually make a speech, and in his steed, Elspeth also made a speech praising everyone for their work over the year, and to welcome them to the celebrations. Dell then retold the story of the Battlegames, and how losing gave them knowledge and understanding about themselves, that winning would never have given them. She then unveiled the tapestry, and it was met with a universal sigh, it was magnificent. Even though no futureteller was at the Battlegames or has even seen Sador (unless in their dreams they have), they were able to capture the desert wonderfully. Elspeth thanks her for the gift, and reaffirms Dell’s talk of a changed Obernewtyn, and then she realises that she should talk of Dameon, and how their Sadorian guests will tell him of this day so he can celebrate with them all.

After that, everyone spread themselves out on oiled rugs to enjoy a midmeal. The guildleaders and guests all dined together under the pear tree. Gevan shares some good news that the Councilman from Sawlney would like the magi to perform at his daughter’s bonding ceremony, and what higher honour could there be that being requested to play at a wedding for a councilman’s daughter? It is a brave move by the Councilman from Sawlney, because the magi are pretending to be half-blood gypsies who as we know are very despised in the community, and having them perform at such an important event, may ruffle some feathers, but shows that already the magi have been able to change, at least slight, the attitudes of some people.

Elspeth thanks Jakoby for being here, and Jakoby tells her that she will be writing a song for Dameon and the tribe leaders in honour of Obernewtyn and moonfair. As midmeal began to wind down, everyone was gearing up for the empath performance, a musical play. They explain to the Sadorians that each guild gives a gift to Obernewytn at moonfair, the tapestry was the Futuretellers, the emapths and coercers will perform, the tecknoguild have a display and the farseekers, well we don’t quite find out, as it is time for the performance to begin!

Their performance is not a story, but a created story, which underneath lies a great truth. The musicians organised themselves, and then began to play very quietly. They built up, and then Miky began to sing. Angina enhanced her voice, and made the audience feel the music in their hearts. The music was based on a story the twins had written about Dameon’s retelling of a Beforetime story about a sleeping princess (aka Sleeping beauty). The story had progressed and developed greatly since Elspeth had heard it last. All of a sudden, a beautiful young woman in a wonderful white dress appeared in front of Miky. It was a coerced imaged though, and Elspeth was struck that it looked exactly like what Dragon might look like in the future. The story continued as the woman was afraid of a Beforetime scientist and his machines, and what they might do with the world. The scientist went too far, and caused the woman to fall asleep forever.

A futureteller arose (in the story) to announce that she would wake, only when a person with knowledge about how to heal her arrived. Roses were placed around the princess, and soon these grew into a castle. The story changed to the perspective of a prince, and who should it be, but Dameon (would it be too predictable if Dameon came back in real life and Dragon woke up?). He was listening to a bard sing of a story about a sleeping princess, and he was so intrigued that he questioned the bard, and found out that there indeed was a sleeping princess, waiting for the right person to wake her. That night, he dreamed of the princess calling to him, and in the morning he crept away from him home (as his father forbade him to listen to music, and told him to grow up) with a servant to find the princess. As they travelled they heard that many had tried over the years to enter the thorny castle, but none of them, even some with great armies, could break through the thorny fortress. Many died, as the thorns were sharp and poisonous. One man thought of burning the fortress, though he would burn the princess, but the thorns did not burn. It gave of a poisonous smoke that killed the man and all around him.

Dameon was so disheartened by the time he reached the thorny palace, that he could not believe that he, a blind prince, could succeed where an entire army failed. He sent his servant and horses away, and ate an apple, and then slept. Again he dreamed of the princess. When he woke, he addressed the thorns, and asked if they were there to protect the princess from all the wrong princes that came for her. And so, how did they know that they were wrong for her, and he could feel the thorns listening. He continued by saying that all those who came brandishing swords, and seeing the forest as a barrier between them and the princess, were exactly like the Beforetimers, who smashed their way through everything to get to what they wanted. They (both the princes and the Beforetimers) cared for nothing but their wants and desires, and none of them tried to understand the forest. And what a deep message that is.

But he continues, saying that the thorns are there to protect the princess, and that maybe the thorns are apart of the princess, and so must be courted, just like the princess would. Once he finished, a bird sang, and it was the same tune the prince had heard in his dreams. He took out a reed pipe and harmonised the tune. There was a great rustling, and then silence. There was a sweet smell, and Dameon walked forward, not fearing the thorns (for of course he could not see if they had gone). Instead of thorns, he was met by blossoms. He continued to play, and slowly walked through the forest, overwhelmed by the scent of roses.

Only once he was in the open did he stop playing. He edged forward and found the princesses bed, and could feel her beauty. He kissed her, and she woke, asking for him to continue playing the tune, as she has been dreaming of it as she slept. The vision faded, as did the music, and Elspeth, and basically everyone else watching, wept. A beautiful story, and infinitely better than our version of Sleeping Beauty, with a fantastic message.

The Sadorians loved the song also, and Bruna did too, but she says it is just a story, and in the real world, the thorns wouldn’t move because of a song. Maryon counters that maybe not the song from one person, but if many sung a song they could blunt the thorns, if that is their desire, but most of the world sings a song of violence and hatred. The applause for the empaths when on for a time, before they agreed to sing again, but this time without enhancement and coercion. Once more, the applause was rapturous, but Miky declined any further encores, saying they needed to rest their voices, for performances later in the evening. Eventually everyone rose and meandered about, as various competitive guild games were set up.

These games, were the farseeker’s contribution to moonfair, as they ran and oversaw them. The games were not about winning, but about hard won skills, and some of the games were about entertainment and amusement more than competition. Elspeth’s emotions had become raw since the empath’s song, and soon drifted away from the crowds. She moved to the collection of stalls that each guild set up, showcasing the guilds works over winter. Things were traded, and the leftover wares, would be sold by the magi on tour, so Obernewtyn could have a supply of coin. Enoch, the only true outside of Obernewtyn, once was the only stall-holder, but now there were many. Elspeth traded three combs she had made over winter for a cloak pin, which reminded her of Maruman.

On impulse, Elspeth asks Enoch whether he was planning on meeting Rushton the night he brought her to Obernewtyn. He was startled to hear such a question, but he says he was, but since the guardian was sent packing, they couldn’t. Elspeth tells him that she dreamt of the night she arrived, to allay his own questions about why she asked about it, after such a long time. Elspeth saw Rosamunde and Valda talking together, and turned to give them privacy, when she saw Ceirwan and Freya holding hands. Jak came over, and jokingly suggested that they take a survey of the number of relationships formed on moonfair. Elspeth says that her own parents met in a moonfair at Berrioc.

Jak brings up Rushton, and Elspeth couldn’t help to start feeling anxious about the whereabouts of her Rushton. Jak asks if she is really concerned, and whether she should ask Maryon to see where Rushton is. Though a futureteller does not know everything, he says that since Rushton is so important to Obernewtyn, surely anything that would happen to him would be seen, just like the beginning of a war. Before Elspeth could respond, Miryum’s mental probe shrieked at Elspeth to come to her, that she had to leave immediately. Sad to see such a fantastic chapter of moonfair, end with such urgency.

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