The Keeping Place – Chapter 18

Chapter Eighteen

It didn’t take Elspeth long to overtake Ceirwan and the others. As she ran past she told Seely and Ceirwan that an important letter had arrived, and she was rushing to go and get it. Once Elspeth reached the end of the maze, Rori and Alad were there waiting. Alad declared that the bird was probably 2 days old, which meant that the message was 2 days out of date. The bird was hit by an arrow, and managed to get to Obernewtyn, but not back to the coop. Elspeth finally gets to read the message, as Alad takes Seely and Gavyn to see the farm. The message was this:

To who may care.

I have your precious Master. If Misfits do not aid the rebels in their fight against the Council, he dies

What a strange message, so somebody really wants the Misfits to help the rebels. Maybe Rushton rejected the rebels request in Sutrium, so one of them decided to take matters into their own hands, and turn to threats? The note came with a tuft of Rushton’s hair, so this is unlikely to be a fake. Especially considering, if Rushton turned up, he clearly wouldn’t be in danger, unless he has been killed, and this is just a lie to get the misfits to work with the rebels. Elspeth battles against the emotions, and succeeds, only because she rationalises that Rushton’s life hangs in the balance, and if she can’t think straight, then he might die.

It all sounds a bit suspicious, the rebels changed their minds about wanting the Misfits, that much we know from Rushton’s own letter. And then they take him by force, to make sure the Misfits help them. The note doesn’t sound like it is from a rebel, but who else would it be that wants the rebellion to occur? But then again, that might just be, to try and lead Obernewtyn away from accusing the rebels. Alad suggests that maybe Rushton did not even write the first note, and someone forced him to do it, as it was in his handwriting. And this could work to distort the Misfits sense of when the kidnapping occurred. Alad sees this message as one devoid of emotion, as if the writer, doesn’t really intend on killing Rushton, but is just making an empty threat. But that would be a huge gamble to get wrong. Elspeth tries to read the thoughts from the paper, but unusually there was nothing at all. If the rebels have kidnapped Rushton, is this the betrayal Maryon foresaw. I think they need to really find Brydda and talk to him and what on earth is going on.

Late in the afternoon, another guildmerge was called to discuss the kidnap letter. Elspeth had spent the time contemplating the note and the message. She even thought that maybe Ariel had somehow kidnapped Rushton, because of her dreams, but why would he want the rebellion to take place. Especially if that meant the Herders were overthrown too? Unless he knows the rebels will lose, even with the Misfits, and wants them all to die. Leaving her mind to think of increasingly more far-fetched ideas, was not the best thing for Elspeth to do. After all, this wasn’t a problem to be nutted out, and then once you have thought of the solution, that’s it. This is a real problem, and things have to be done, to solve it. Elspeth’s sense of urgency to do something, forced her to call the guildmerge.

Gevan was confident that Brydda would never betray them like this, after all, Obernewtyn was home to his parents. But if the rebels are involved, it doesn’t mean Brydda knows about it. Elspeth asks him what other theory do they have, but he counters that, yesterday Elspeth said that they should speculate without facts, and yet that was exactly what they were doing now. Angina suggests that maybe Brydda doesn’t see it as betrayal, but as making the Misfits do something for their own good, which is at least a reasonable suggestion. Garth chimes in to say that they clearly have minimal evidence to make a decision on who the culprit is, but what he would like to know, is what went on at the meeting between Rushton and the rebels. Only problem is, they would need to ask a rebel about that, and if they are connected to his disappearance, they would lie, even though they could just coerce it out of the person.

The perverse thing is that this whole situation is exactly something that Malik would probably do, but he is seriously the last person on the planet to want to get help from the Misfits. Unless he just wants them to send out the Misfits to die, and then turn around to a weakened Obernewtyn, and wipe them all out. Not a nice thought, but this is Malik we are talking about. But some argue that this sort of sly, cunning work, wouldn’t be Malik’s, he would have something much more direct and brutal, than just an anonymous note. To be honest, all this speculating is interesting, but it doesn’t solve anything, or change anything.

Elspeth has a few issues with the suggestion Malik is the kidnapper. Including Maryon’s prediction about betrayal, and kidnapping Rushton, would not be a betrayal for Malik. Then maybe it is neither of them, but another rebel who wants to win, but also doesn’t want Malik to be leader. A suggestion for the new leader of the western bloc, Serba, or Tardis, as possible suspects. It is all very well and good to come up with a list of suspects, but that still doesn’t narrow down who it is, with such limited evidence. Elspeth ends the meeting, as she realises that the speculation isn’t really doing them any good. Elspeth suggests that they send someone to Sutrium to stake things out, immediately. Even though Kella is going, but I guess Elspeth believes Kella is going for Domick, and not the rebellion and Rushton. Linnet, Miryum’s second for the knights, suggests he go, with some other knights, to check the city. Elspeth still doesn’t want them to make contact with the rebels, just in case something is amiss.

Even though Elspeth said to close the meeting, they still are discussing. They wonder if the person has to know where they actually are located, because Gevan seems to believe that the note indicates that the kidnapper knows Obernewtyn. But Aras, who seems to be the only logical thinker, says the person didn’t have to know Obernewtyn, as they just needed to release the bird, and in fact they didn’t even mention Obernewtyn or Rushton. Gevan suggests that Rushton has been tortured, and that is how they know he is the Master of Obernewtyn, but Maryon disagrees as she believes Elspeth or her guild would have seen Rushton being tortured. Even if the threats of killing Rushton are unfounded, they still have to act, because if the threat is real, then they lose Rushton.

It is decided that they will send a note requesting a meeting with the rebels, with Linnet and a few knights. They will take the note to Sutrium, and then investigate around. However, they won’t mention anything about any kidnapping. It is just unfortunate, that they now distrust the rebels, and it is a strange matter all of this. Hopefully they will be able to talk to Byrdda soon, to get things sorted out. Does he know Rushton was taken? Did he do it? Does he know who did? Do the rebels really want the Misfits in the rebellion? They need to start finding out some answers.

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