The Keeping Place – Chapter 22

Chapter Twenty-Two

The suspenseful ending of the previous chapter is a let down, it is just Gahltha who was approaching Elspeth. No Gypsy, not Swallow, not Iriny, not Ariel or someone else much more interesting and who would have made a much more interesting turn of events, just Gahltha. I am a little disappointed it isn’t Swallow, and I feel that it was built up for me to imagine it was Swallow, but maybe we’ll see him later. Gahltha has just come over to tell Elspeth to go to sleep, and they walk back to the campsite together. Poor Gahltha, he feels inadequate because he was never a free horse, but Elspeth makes a touchy point that he is freer than they are because he had to fight for his freedom, which makes it more meaningful to him, since he knows what having no freedom is like. Elspeth does have a way with words sometimes, and she knows just what to say in tough situations. Remembering her thoughts about whether Gahltha was made to protect Elspeth by the Agyllians, Elspeth realises that without that purpose, Gahltha wouldn’t really have found any purpose, and would have had nothing, so it can’t be all bad if the Agyllians did make Elspeth, Innle.

Gevan, Merret and another coercer were arguing about using a volunteer from the audience, it would be risky, but then again it would make the performance even better. But we aren’t here to listen to them argue, Elspeth finds her bed, in Hannay’s wagon (because he snores and was alone), and immediately falls asleep. And once again, she dreams of Cassy (good to see that we still get to find out about Cassy and it wasn’t just Dragon causing these dreams). Cassy was going into a library and she was followed by an Asian man (given the description I can only assume that it is an Asian man, but I don’t know how I feel about the description, but since Elspeth probably doesn’t know what an Asian looks like and the name for them, Isobelle Carmody had to describe the man, and since it is a description that is true, it has no malicious intention, so I’ll ignore it). Cassy collects a pile of books as the man comes over and says that it is dangerous enough that she marches with them, but this will get her killed.

Cassy is collecting books about paranormal abilities, but the man warns her that every book she touches is recording her fingerprint and that it is a tad suspicious that she is doing so after returning from a visit to a secret facility. That is actually really creepy that the books are recording who reads them so Governments can use that information to track people and find out what they are doing. Such an invasion of privacy, information should be free to everyone who wants it, but this man is right in saying this is dangerous. The Asian man is from Tiba, and Cassy thinks his paranoia is because he is from there, and in Tiba probably everyone is watched. But he is probably right, but Cassy needs to find this woman the Agyllian wants her to, and how else could she do that. The Tiban man asks why she couldn’t ask this person (the Agyllian) for more information, but Cassy explains that was not possible, and suddenly gets up to grab ‘Powers of the Mind’ a book Elspeth is familiar with.

The man says that the Reichler Clinic was connected with falsification of records, which the clinic probably did to protect itself and the true Talents. Cassy finds their discreditation slightly suspicious. The Tiban continues to say that one of the Clinic’s buildings were completely destroyed in Inva, and a lot of people died, but they were only ‘Trashers’, so nobody was charged. Who are the Trashers? Are they just people the Government don’t care about because they are poor? The Clinic now has a low profile, but is still asking for people to come to them if they think they have paranormal abilities, which doesn’t add up for Cassy, when the Clinic said it was all fake, and why would they continue with the same name if it were a scam? She is making considerably strong arguments.

Cassy makes the jump to assume the woman she is looking for is at the Clinic, and there, the few credible people from the old organisation are working properly now. The man says it is all so farfetched that it could be on television in a drama series (which is probably true), and says that they should go, since he is going back to Chinon in a few days and he wants to spend time with her. Cassy can’t believe he is going, ‘after what happened last time’. But the man says that they need evidence of what is going on in Tiba and he wants to get it, but right now he wants to eat with her. The dream ended, and it was replaced by a nightmare where Elspeth was basically drowning and Rushton was just out of reach, being pulled away from her.

Hannay woke Elspeth up, with a worried look, so Elspeth must have been mumbling and moving in her sleep, he didn’t say anything but offered her some porridge. Some of the magi have decided to go into the town and perform, but not a magi performance, since the magi as a whole were not performing until later. Gevan expresses his disappointment that they have found no word of Rushton, and he regretfully has to start a conversation about what they are going to do if they find no word of him from the rebels. Will they still go into the forced alliance, even though they made an oath against it? They think they should pretend as much as they can, but they don’t really have time to pretend for too long before they will be expected to help out. Gevan suggests that they don’t actually tell the rebels of Rushton’s kidnap, and instead lie and say that he is unwell, and that was why it took him so long to get back to Obernewtyn. And they would tell the rebels that they would offer limited help after talking it over with Rushton, and that they are offering to scry out the traitors and to help with communication, and that they will help out in battle only if their assistance will cause less bloodshed.

It is a good idea, the terms of their alliance isn’t actually about true battle, but just helping them out so they can communicate and don’t have massive bloodshed. But it will mean they will have to send people out across the Land to help the rebels. Gevan says this will give them not only a chance to keep an eye on the rebels but look for Rushton everywhere. They would have to send coercers, and maybe a multi talented emapth, but it will mean some people will have to go far from home. There will be no pretending that way, and they will be kept away from Obernewtyn for the duration of the rebellion.

Gevan suddenly remembers that the Herders have been selling a thing they call a ‘demon band’ which they claim will protect people from demons and the black arts, which doesn’t sound too concerning. But, the things actually work, and the Misfits cannot get through them. The material must be slightly tainted, so they cannot use their abilities. The Faction have found a way to block the Misfits. Very interesting to see what the impact of this will be. How many people will wear them? What if the people the Misfits need to read are wearing them, what if the Misfits need to attack? Is it just an accident, or did someone like Ariel hint that they worked? The only consolation is that the bands are very expensive so people won’t really be able to afford to buy them, and the Herders won’t give out too many, as that would mean they would lose money. They will have to keep this development from the rebels, lest they think that their powers are now useless.

Elspeth asks about the other Gypsy camp, and Gevan says that they are harmless, and he told them about the new Councilmen in the Highlands. One of their girls were abused by Jude and she had to drag herself half dead back home. They agreed to let each other mind their own business, but he was interested in the whole magi performance, and when Gevan said it brought in a lot of coin, he looked very interested. Gevan hopes that there will be more magi starting to pop up, and so the Halfbreeds aren’t cursed to live a terrible life. He feels very sorry for them, and isn’t too supportive of the Twentyfamily Gypsies, but really what more can he do about it?

Hoof beats announced the arrival of Brydda. It is nearly time for them to meet with the rebels! I wonder if they will find news of Rushton, any traitors, and what the rebels will say about their new proposal for alliance!

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