The Keeping Place – Chapter 23

Chapter Twenty-Three

We’ve basically just been given a bombshell. Malik has suggested that the Misfits get involved in his diversion tactic to draw out, and ultimately kill many soldierguards. It is quite a dilemma, the Misfits have just offered limited support, and yet, this seems to go beyond their terms, but denying this, what seems to be a sound plan, would be difficult. And it is Malik, who doesn’t hate him, and how can we trust him?

As soon as Malik has proposed the idea, Serba, asks how he can propose the Misfits become bait after just accepting an alliance. And that’s what the Misfits will be, bait. But Malik says that no harm will come to them, because the Misfits could slow the horses, and confuse the riders, to protect themselves. And with their aid, he sees loss of life as potentially nil. Elii the sound of the plan, because his (and a few other leaders) and their forces were to overrun the camp, and a major issue was that maybe there would be too many still remaining in the camp. The whole issue is that though they don’t like using people as bait, they need to take over this camp, otherwise the rebellion will go on for months and will be full scale war. It took the rebels a while to actually realise they need to ask the Misfits first before conferring over the ethics and logistics themselves, the Misfits are new allies, not slaves.

So Gevan and Elspeth conferred, which they can do in their heads, so they can say anything and nobody would hear. Gevan says that they should do it, they will be able to do it without violating their oath, and they will have such compelling evidence to make sure the rebels leave them alone after the rebellion. Elspeth agrees, even though she doesn’t trust Malik. Elspeth makes Malik promise that the soldierguards won’t be slaughtered when the are surrounded. Elspeth isn’t reassured by his oath, and asks what would happen if he broke it. The penalty would be death or exile (can I almost wish he does break it, just so we can kill him?). The Misfits will make their own plans of attracting the soldierguards and they just need to find out where they are taking them, and that will be all sorted.

Gevan says that he doesn’t trust Malik, and asks whether they should question him on why he wears a demon band. But doing so would be admitting that they were trying to enter his mind, and would reveal to him that they actually work. Which is something they don’t want getting around. Elspeth wants to get her hands on a band to get Garth to examine, and Gevan tells her that empathy is not affected by the band (I guess saying that emotions aren’t really from the mind…) so an empath should be able to work their talent into making Malik think they are useless, and so will remove it.

The meeting continues, as Serba outlines that once they secure the camp, they will move onto phase two, which deals with Sutrium. Once everyone is in position, simultaneous attacks will be carried out on the other soldierguard camps, the Herder cloister, the Councilcourt and the private holdings of the Sutrium Councilmen. They want to do this with as little bloodshed and noise as possible to keep the citizens of Sutrium unaware. They will also guard the ferry to make sure word doesn’t slip across the river. Phase 2 of their plan is where this could go haywire, with so many chances for something to go wrong, but hopefully with the Misfits help, things will go smoothly. They will be taking everyone (Councilmen, soldierguards) as prisoner, and they are to be untouched, so they can be shown on trial that the rebels are not violent and cruel (smart tactic). The wives and children of the councilmen will have to be taken prisoner too, to ensure that word doesn’t spread and things don’t get out of hand, but they will be imprisoned only temporarily.

Once the rebels had taken over Sutrium, they will pretend that nothing has changed, and will dress as soldierguards and man all their posts and the gates. Word would be spread that someone with the plague had entered the town, and that they should remain indoors until word is given that everything is okay. The plague is fresh in people’s mind, so hopefully it will keep the citizens in their homes, not wanting to risk contamination. This part of the plan is new information to the other rebels, and they look impressed, and frankly it does sound impressive. Elspeth felt quite neutral about the whole thing, here they were agreeing to an alliance, and basically betraying Rushton, but it is the right thing to do.

Phase Three will begin at nightfall on the next day (so about 36 hours since the beginning of the rebellion), and that will be discussed in more detail once they have Sutrium. But they will be taking each city one by one, working from the outside and inside (by the local rebels). They will have quite a force on hand, and hopefully surprise, so it shouldn’t be too difficult (yeah overthrowing the government and militia, are easy…). Their plans have been kept secret to protect them from the traitors, and they have been circulating misinformation to keep the traitors off their tracks. But now, they have to start telling their people the real plans, and hopefully with the Misfits around, the plans will stay out of the Council’s knowledge.

Serba asks Elspeth whether the Misfits will be able to communicate across the Land. Elspeth explains the limitations of their abilities, and how they won’t be able to get across the Suggredoon, which means (a nice suggestion by Cassell) they will need to have Misfits go over the ferry to relay the messages on the other side. Elspeth asks about Herder and Norse Islands, but right now, the rebels have no plans for those islands. They have thought that they could allow the Herders to stay on Herder Isle if they would prefer to live in exile rather than ‘defrock’ (really that is a strange word to use). But they will ultimately have to be taken over, and that is the fourth part of their plan, and it does require boats, so it will be a while into the future yet.

The rebels finally decide on a day, hopefully there are no traitors among you, but it will be in a week. That’s it, the last meeting before the rebellion. It’s all a bit exciting, but how well will it go, will they succeed. Will there be much bloodshed? And how will the public take this rebellion? We will have to wait and see. But for now, the meeting is over, and slowly everyone is beginning to leave. Elspeth thanks Dardelan for defending the Misfits, and comments that he is making it a habit. He says that Malik is so disgusting, so he couldn’t help but defend them. He says they are going to do a great deal for the rebellion, and since they have caused the rebellion to turn less bloody, they have done a great service.

They all leave, and Brydda, Gevan and Elspeth walk back to the magi camp. Brydda asks if they found anything, and Gevan explains they didn’t, in those they could read, and tell him that the demon bands actually work. Hopefully Malik will be brewing on trying to work out if the damn things actually work! Elspeth thinks that he is probably hiding something, but nothing to do with Rushton. Right now, the Misfits can only send out their people across the Land and go on looking for Rushton. They can’t do anything about his disappearance until they find out where he is. Brydda tells them, that even though they came in giving limited aid, they have really become allies.

Let’s just hope that they can find Rushton, the rebellion goes smoothly, and Malik doesn’t ruin everything!

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