Elspeth has just been informed that there are riders approaching Obernewtyn, and nobody knows who they are. Elspeth’s first instinct is to go and find out who they are, but Elspeth had to tell herself that it would be a while until they came approached Obernewtyn proper. So Elspeth sets about preparing her room for the night, when Maruman enters. Elspeth asks if he knew about Rushton’s kidnap, and he says with quite a mysterious air, that he knows many things. Elspeth can’t help but remember all the people that have either died, or been lost to her since she came to Obernewtyn, Cameo, Pavo, Jik, Dragon, Matthew, Selmar, Jes, and now Rushton. Maruman says that he will not leave her, which is probably one of the nicest things he will ever say.
Trying to keep her mind of the rider, Elspeth asks what Maruman thinks of Gavyn. Already Gavyn has a beast name, and it is Adantar, and Maruman describes him as a beastspeaker-enthraller. Adantar has no human word equivalent, but Elspeth gets the feeling it might mean joined or linked. Elspeth asks why Rasial follows Gavyn around everywhere, apparently she sees Gavyn in her future. What she seeks (which she has told Elspeth is death) she sees in Gavyn. That is peculiar, I wonder if Gavyn has a destiny of his own, and to be honest out of everyone who would lead the beasts to freedom, it looks like Gavyn is the best with animals, and could be him, even if everyone is convinced it is Elspeth.
Elspeth goes on to tell Maruman about her nightmares with Ariel. Maruman already knows of her nightmares, and has been protecting her in them from Ariel, through the dreamtrails. These dreams aren’t actually dreams, but somehow Elspeth has moved onto the dreamtrails, where Ariel has been following. Which is quite spooky if that means that he is consciously (or even unconsciously) going on the dreamtrails to find her. Maruman doesn’t say any more, and Elspeth doesn’t get a chance to ask him anymore, as Gevan tells Elspeth that the riders are approaching, and she might want to be out the front to meet them.
As Elspeth goes to meet them, Gevan sends to her that it is Brydda who is riding back with some of the coercer-knights. Brydda, looks like they won’t need to go and find him and have a meeting. Finally we might have some answers about Rushton, and the rebellion! Apparently Brydda left Sutrium as soon as he heard Rushton hadn’t come back to Obernewtyn, and he met Miryum on the way here. As the knights do not know about the kidnap note, they will be able to get the chance to see how Brydda reacts to the news, even though I really, really doubt he has anything to do with it. Why else would he ride up here when he heard? But Gevan thinks that Brydda may know of the kidnap and who is behind it, but will want to keep it a secret, to protect the Misfits, and so he can save Rushton himself, because he feels responsible.
Elspeth quickly finds Gevan in an antechamber close to the front of Obernewtyn, and they decide that they should see what Brydda has to say before mentioning the kidnap note, or the futuretelling. Reuvan, Brydda, Miryum and Straaka arrive, as Gevan and Elspeth open the doors to meet them. They move into the antechamber, while Ceirwan gathers some dry clothes and towels for the riders, who have been riding through the rain. Brydda announces that they will not be staying the night, and Elspeth protests that he cannot leave without seeing his parents, but he says that he will see them when he leaves. He tells them that they rode out as soon as they heard from Jakoby that Rushton had not returned, and along the way were asking around to see if he had been caught by the Council and needed freeing. And then they came across Miryum, and came here.
Brydda tells them that Rushton released the first note from the outskirts of Sutrium, and then rode of safely not long after that. Miryum says that so far they haven’t found anyone who has seen him riding up the road at all. They suggest that he was riding at night, so nobody would see him, but Elspeth can’t imagine why he would do that. Gevan suggests that maybe something happened at his meeting with the rebels to cause him to be fearful. But Brydda says he doesn’t know what that would be since they just asked for the misfits to help them in the rebellion, to which Rushton declined. The rebels changed their mind, and Malik was outvoted on the matter, and decided that each rebel group should be able to accept rebel help if they want it. Most of the rebels believed that using the misfits would mean a less bloody rebellion with less chaos afterwards. In return for the help, the groups that received help would offer an immunity for the Misfts so they were not persecuted. When they refused, Malik was glad, but also said that it was a grave insult for the Misfits to reject anything to ‘true humans’. Elspeth sends to Gevan that Brydda isn’t showing any signs of motive for kidnapping Rushton, but Gevan replies that there may be no obvious signs of motive, but suggests that there is something hidden.
Most of the other rebels were confused that the Misfits rejected their offer. Considering the Misfits tried so hard earlier on to join the rebels, rejecting this offer didn’t make sense to them. He picks up their suggestion that one of the rebels attacked Rushton to get back at him for rejecting their offer, but Brydda suggests that there are many people that would mug somebody, even slavers that could have attacked him. But he does want to get back to Sutrium to make sure no rebel is involved. It is now that they decide to tell Brydda they have had news of Rushton. And they tell him that he has been captured, and that he will be killed if the misfits do no help the rebels. Gevan says that that is proof the rebels are involved. Such a orchestrated kidnap would have to have been planned before the meeting ever began. And for Brydda that makes no sense, because nobody expected him to reject their offer. Which makes perfect sense.
But who else would want the Misfits to help the rebels? Before Brydda can respond to that, Ceirwan enters with the clothes and some food. After they had eaten a bit, and were sitting around drinking, Brydda told them why the rebels made the offer to the Misfits. At the Battlegames, the Misfits had impressed the rebels, much more than the rebels realised at the time. They had not thought about the cost of winning previously, and were beginning to question what they really wanted. And many found out that they just wanted peace in the land, and not revenge against the Council (probably Malik excluded). They then began to discuss how they could keep the death toll to a minimum, and how they could maintain the organisational structures that control and govern the cities around the Land, whilst removing the corruption and oppression. They decided to introduce a popular vote to establish leaders in each town, and the creation of a peace-keeping force, which leaders could drawn on when needed. They decided that rather than having a constant body of these peace-keepers it would be made up of men and women for a small period of their lives, who would be continuously replaced to ensure corruption never gained a foothold. Another suggestion was to create a charter of laws that would be voted upon and discussed before enacting them. Now the rebels don’t seem themselves as the ultimate rulers of the land, but rather as temporary custodians who are keeping the peace and planting the foundations of a better future.
Malik of course is 10000000000% against such a suggestion, and there are others too who oppose these ‘radical’ ideas. But there are enough rebels who feel in favour of these changes, and Malik was outvoted. Malik would have never seen coming the change a win at the Battlegames would have had for him, and how nobody but his ‘loyal’ men would want him as a ruler. Which is true, he would have seen a win as a victory, and that everyone would see him as the ultimate leader and warrior, but the Misfits have destroyed that. And for that, I’m guessing he hopes that they pay dearly.