The Keeping Place – Chapter 18 – Part Two

Chapter Eighteen – Part Two

So with the arrival of the note about Rushton’s life hanging in the balance. The rebellion has become something more important, and more personal, than the previous day. Instead of thinking of evacuating Obernewtyn, it now looks like Obernewtyn will have to help the rebels lead the rebellion.

Elspeth was writing the letter to the rebels to ask for a meeting, when Kella came in to ask Elspeth whether she can go with Linnet and the knights to Sutrium now, instead of waiting to go with the magi. She suggests that Domick may have some idea about what has happened to Rushton, but that is wishful thinking. Elspeth doesn’t really want Kella to go, and suggests sending a note, but Kella knows that that would just send him into a suspicious mood, and who knows what he might think. Kella leaves, and then Gevan, Alad and Merret, take her place.

The three have been thinking about this meeting with the rebels, and they suggest that it takes place is Salwney, when the bonding ceremony is to take place. It sounds dangerous to have a meeting with so many soldierguards and councilmen around. Though nobody makes that point, Elspeth just doesn’t want the magi connected with the rebels, but they are suggesting in at Salwney, so they don’t have to travel all the way to Sutrium, and with the large number of visitors, the rebels could blend in, without drawing suspicion. Elspeth and Gevan will attend the meeting, and they will be able to detect any foul play. The worrying thing is that Jakoby hasn’t sent anything yet, maybe she has forgotten? Maybe something more sinister has happened to her too? But Elspeth snaps at that suggestion, saying that it is enough to think about one person’s disappearance, and not imagine others.

The three of them left, and they were replaced by Ceirwan. Elspeth wasn’t impressed with all the interrupts, as she is trying to finish the note for the meeting, but he was just bringing her a hot drink. He reminds her that Fian was looking for her, but with everything that has happened today, it is forgivable that she hasn’t gotten around to seeing him. And anyway, Garth has sent him and some other tecknoguilders to inspect some caves higher in the mountains, to see if they are suitable for habitation, if they need to evacuate. So Elspeth will have to wait for her gadi until he returns in a few days. He leaves, and Elspeth is able to finish the letter. She summons Linnet, and hands it over, and reminds him that if Rushton is drugged, it will be all but impossible to find him.

Elspeth resounded herself to go to the kitchen, to make sure people didn’t think she was falling to pieces. With so much going on in Obernewtyn, Elspeth was reminded of why Rushton loves the place, and knew that he would want Elspeth to put Obernewtyn first. Elspeth overheard Javo and Alad discussing provisions for an evacuation. They had enough food, with strict rationing, to last a whole year, but if the siege continued, they would have no way of getting any further supplies. They couldn’t continue to harvest or tend the farms, as that would be obvious that they were there, which is exactly what they don’t want people to think. They then discussed what would happen if they evacuated to Sador, it was the same issue, but there was the problem of deciding what would survive the journey, and what would spoil. And they only have limited wagon space for things. Everyone has been busying calculating how much food they would have before a month is up, and I think it is inspiring to see Obernewtyn working hard, and all focused on surviving.

But the journey to Sador with so many people, and beasts, will be a challenge. They have to feed everyone, and all the beasts, take water and wood, as there is only one well along the way, and no wood, and bring all their belongings that they need, like clothing. Javo has produced a list of things a party of 10 would need to get to Sador, and that would be without getting anything along the way, and surviving on starvation rations. It is still a large list, and if they didn’t take that amount, they would die. Lina suggests that if it looks like they have left, there will be no one following them, and no siege, but someone says that Obernewtyn will just be taken over, which is basically a siege anyway, as they couldn’t return. But I think she is on the right track. Who is really going to come and live at Obernewtyn? Even though Lina’s suggestion is shot down by those around her, Elspeth catches onto the idea, and thinks it could be viable. But it is a difficult ask to appear that they have left, and yet remain. Though Obernewtyn could be seen as a prize, since it’s grand scale, and may be claimed.

They could of course make it appear tainted, which would match up with the last reports from Obernewtyn by the soldierguards. But without Dragon’s ability that would be a challenge. All the coercers working together could produce an illusion on some of the buildings (which goes to show just how unique and powerful Dragon is), and they could destroy other parts to add to the effect. If they made it look like nobody was there, and Obernewtyn was destroyed, there would be no confrontation. And if Jakoby spread word that the Misfits were in Obernewtyn, nobody would really know.

Tomash comes over to Elspeth to ask her whether she would like to find out what his talk with Seely was able to produce, otherwise she can read his notes later. He sits, and tells Elspeth that it appears the Council are aware of the forthcoming rebellion, because of a few traitorous rebels. Elspeth seems to see this news, as confirmation that the Council are aware of Obernewtyn, but that is unlikely. Seely however would have no idea about that, and her memories were confined to the Western Coast. But it is likely that the Council know that the rebels were offered help by Half-breed Gypsy Misfits, but were refused. The process of gaining this information from the scraps Seely overheard, wasn’t all that difficult, but only if you knew the entire context of things. Cassell and Serba, the two rebels who are going to bond, and hopefully unite the western bloc, are actually marrying out of love, and not just for show, and the Council know this, and yet they do not act.

Another interesting tidbit, is that soldierguards and Herders on the west coast have been meeting together at odd hours of the night. Tomash checked Seely’s mind for word of Ariel, but there was nothing to be found. Knowing him, he keeps a low profile, and only those that need to know him, do. It would be interesting to find out if other soldierguards are in contact with the Herders, but Seely doesn’t know about the entire Land, though Wila will be talking to her tomorrow to find out more about the Herders. Tomash suspects that these traitors, are the reason the rebels want the Misfits in the rebellion, so they can weed out those men who are in the pockets of the Council or Faction.

Elspeth decides that she has given a good enough public showing, and goes to leave the kitchen, but is caught by Ceirwan. He tells her that Freya wants to go with the magi to the lowlands, and Ceirwan wants Elspeth to make sure Gevan allows her to go. She wants to help them find Rushton, and in fact Ceirwan wants to go with her, as well as Kella to look for Rushton in Sutrium. Even though Elspeth doesn’t want people leaving Obernewtyn, the idea of the three of them travelling together, rather than just Kella travelling alone, sounds much more plausible and more inconspicuous. And that way they can make sure Kella comes back, if she finds out bad news about Domick.

Gevan’s mind suddenly comes clear, and he warns that there are riders approaching at a gallop. Elspeth wonders if it is the soldierguards, but it is too early to tell. It could just be some of the knights riding back to tell them some news. Elspeth even hopes that maybe Rushton is with them, but maybe that is too optimistic. Ceirwan wonders why it is only a few knights and not entire group. Though if they are just coming back with some news, they might want to leave others in town to keep searching around.

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