The Keeping Place – Chapter 16

Chapter Sixteen

As Elspeth made her way back through the maze to Obernwetyn, fears about the whereabouts of Rushton flooded in, but she had to stay strong, she didn’t know the story, and wallowing would do no good. She went to check in on Dragon to make sure Angina was there ready to sing, so her dreams were safe and dragon free. She also went to the Healer Hall to check on Kella who did not come to the moonfair at all, even though she said she would. And when Elspeth found her, she was sitting alone, with her owlet on her shoulder, and Maruman at her feet. Elspeth tells her that she missed a spectacular performance, and Kella already knows, and tells her that Angina is not back yet, which means Elspeth can’t risk going to sleep yet.

Kella brings up Rushton’s absence, and even though Elspeth says something could have just held him up, Kella asks a question plucked straight from Elspeth’s fears, what if he doesn’t come back? Elspeth has already thought of this, and has organised Jakoby to look on her way back to one of the Land’s ports and onto Sador, and if she has any news she will send a bird. Kella asks, what happens if she finds no trace of Rushton, which isn’t really the most sensitive of things to say to Elspeth, but I guess she is being realistic, and her experience with Domick, has probably hardened herself to having the one you love in danger, and possibly never returning home. Elspeth changes topic, and says that Kella will be going on the first expedition out of here, with or without Rushton’s return.

They both fell into their own thoughts, and soon the twins and Roland arrived. With Angina now ready to calm Dragon, Elspeth can safely go to sleep, so she prods an awake Maruman, and leaves to go to her bed. The only thing I worry about, is whether having a calm Dragon, will mean an end to all the dreams Elspeth has been having. I know, very selfish of me, putting Elspeth in danger just to get information, just like a Tecknoguilder, but the dreams were always so tantalising, even if they did raise more questions than answers. Once Elspeth gets in bed, she is so tired she could drift off asleep standing up, but putting her head to the pillow, her brain kicks into action, and forces her to think of all the horrible situations Rushton could be in, something I am sure we have all been through. Brain’s can really be your worst nightmare when you don’t want to think about something, or want to sleep, because you’ll just end up obsessing over this one thing, and you will never get to sleep when you want it to. Though it really is more our thoughts that make this happen, we just can’t stop thinking!

Elspeth even thought about finding him on the dreamtrails, but that suggestion is shot down by Maruman, I mean how could they figure out where to look? And she even sounds out a probe saying his name, but of course there is no response (I wonder if someone else, who is Talented, heard it?). She starts planning what she would do, if he did not return (straight after thinking of all the terrible things that could have befallen him) and how she would have to wait to hear from Brydda or Jakoby, and remain strong for Obernewtyn, even when she would want to go and search for him, herself. She doesn’t even know what has happened to him, and yet she is planning for it. Again something our brains love to do; think out complicated and detailed plans about scenarios both in the future and what we would have done differently in the past.

As Elspeth’s mind progressively starts to think of more and more horrific things, Elspeth wonders what if Rushton will never come back, because he is dead? And once she has thought this, it cannot be unthought. And instead of dwelling on it, she planned what would happen if he was dead, and how she would have to take his place as leader. I think this passage is a great reminder of what devastation our brains can do when left to their own devicies, as she plans who would replace her, when she would have to go on her dark quest. It is almost horrifying, and definitely saddening, to read Elspeth acknowledging that she has hardened herself off from emotions, and started back when she saw her parents burned alive.

Eventually exhaustion took over, and she fell asleep, and into a memory of travelling to Sutrium for the first time with her father. Her father (whose name I wish we were given, but I guess Elspeth would refer to him as father, not by first name) gives her a talk on minding her manners in the big city, where people don’t know one another, and are hard and cold. Elspeth asks if that is why they live in Rangorn, and her father says partly (I wonder what the other reason/s are), but tells her to stop talking, as the city is a place where she should not talk. They are travelling during the moonfair, and are on business, but her father assures her that they will see a few puppet shows, and hear some tunes, and eat her fill of lollies. But her father warns her to never wander off, because people in the city, have a habit of reporting things, and making them up even when nothing happened.

I find it very interesting, that at a young age, Elspeth had already mastered the skill of listening to her father’s thoughts. Though I guess she hadn’t figured out it wasn’t nice to eavesdrop of a person’s private musings (though she did figure that out a bit later). Apparently Jes was ill with a fever, and Lynna (is that their mother??) was tending him, but she would be furious if she found out that Mr. Gordie (I had nearly forgotten Elspeth’s last name) still fed information to the rebels in the city. Just as she figures out that listening to her dad’s thoughts is bad, Ariel appears out of nowhere! And he says that sometimes you have to eavesdrop (what, exactly like what he is doing? And invading her dreams?). He was a first a child, but then morphed into a man. He even greets her with Elspethelf, exactly what Jes would call her, but without the same endearment. How did he find that out, or has he been pilfering through Elspeth’s mind. WHAT IF HE JES AND IS USING HIM TO FIND OUT ABOUT ELSPETH! That is a really out there theory, but he could be.

Elspeth asks what he wants, and he says to ‘come down’ and they will ‘talk’. But Elspeth doesn’t want to go anywhere near him (who can blame her) so the scene becomes very dark, and Ariel morphs into a child, and then into a large monster or something. Then Elspeth could see a tentacle creeping towards her father who was still in the dream, down by a stream. The carriage Elspeth was in, was attacked by something huge, and Elspeth was thrown into the air, and she woke up.

Elspeth was very afraid when she woke up, and with that nightmare, who wouldn’t be? What was with the tentacle? It took her a while to remember and to calm down enough to remember, that the Sadorians were departing at dawn, so she programmed her brain to wake up early (how many people wish they could do that perfectly???? I know I do!). It is quite cold, though Roland’s prediction of snow didn’t quite eventuate. Elspeth seeks out Alad, and finds that Straaka is STILL unconscious (Miryum really knocks a person out cold!), and the other Sadorians are set to still depart, even without him. Also Alad informs Elspeth that Avra has had her foal, and she is as dark as her father. So Gahltha is tied up with his family, so Zidon is going to carry her to the pass.

Elspeth hurried to reach the front of Obernewtyn to meet the Sadorians as they depart. Fian was with them, riding Faraf, and he is going back to the Tecknoguild caves, though to my mind that is in the opposite direction, though he is going with them to the pass (unless he is just going for a ride?). They quickly depart, and Elspeth and Jakoby get a chance to talk. Elspeth tells her that Obernewtyn is sending an empath and two beastspeakers to replace Dameon. Jakoby also mentions Straaka and how unusual it is that he fainted when talking to Miryum (how odd indeed…). Jakoby gives Elspeth some bad news however, no matter what happens Straaka will not return to Sador without Miryum, he will either stay in the Land (or Obernewtyn) or kill himself, rather than face the humiliation of returning home without a wife. Elspeth’s ‘foolproof’ plan seems to have a slight flaw, and looks like Straaka will be waiting for Miryum to fulfil her duty to Obernewtyn, with her at Obernwetyn.

Fian soon left the party, and Rasial was with them, though she gave no reason for her presence. Elspeth asks around to find out if Alad remembered to give the Sadorians some homing pigeons so they can send news of Rushton, and if they have no news, to ask Brydda to tell them everything that Rushton did when they met. Bruna said that surely Obernewtyn’s seers would have foresaw anything that would happen to Rushton. They soon reach the end of the pass, and the Sadorians are farewelled. Elspeth wished to see Rushton riding up the road, towards them, but there was nobody on that road, all the way down to Guanette. The party begin to turn around and head back to Obernewtyn.

Just like to thank everyone, because we’ve passed 2,500 views, and have started to average around 100 views a week! This is more than I could imagine, and I am very pleased. So thank you!

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