The Keeping Place – Chapter 26 – Part Two

Chapter Twenty-Six – Part Two (yes this should be a Casual Vacancy post, but the the last post was right in the middle of an exciting scene, so I want to continue with TKP and see how the chapter ends)

The rebellion has begun, and the Misfits have lured out the soldierguards from the camp, and are charging towards the White Valley. Unfortunately, it is firstly raining, which makes the roads slippery, but also plays with the Talents needed for such an operation, and secondly some of the soldierguards have demon bands on, preventing the Misfits from coercing them to stop whipping their horses and to not kill them.

Not only where those with demon bands, whipping their horses, but whipping those whose horses were nearby, causing them to gain speed and slowly advance on the Obernewtyners. Miryum is annoyed that she did not see this coming, and did not try to prevent this with coercion, but they couldn’t have a faultless plan! Elspeth urges Gahltha to increase their speed, to make sure the other horses don’t get whipped to death by their masters. Gahltha is sure that they have enough of a lead to reach the White Valley before them.

The turn-off to the White Valley was approaching, but so was a storm. Rain was pouring down, and as I said earlier, it plays havoc with their abilities. But to make things a billion times worse, the access track was rarely used, and had become very steep and very narrow. But with the rain, it made it go from a challenging path, to a very difficult and dangerous path. Normally the horses would go down without their riders, and then they would follow behind them, but there was no time, the soldierguards were charging towards them. Lina, a very adept rider, goes first, and if she can’t make it, well they better give up. Once she had made it, the horses followed, one after the other. Yes, the rebels would have to go through the same thing, but they won’t take heed and will charge through, without care of whether their horses die, or whether some of their soldiers die too.

Miryum and Straaka as well as three beastspeakers, were the last of the group to arrive, and Elspeth ordered them to go across, even with Miryum’s protests. Elspeth could tell someone had fallen further ahead, but they were not badly injured. Now, it was Elspeth that was in danger, as Straaka shouts that he can see the soldierguards coming. Elspeth urges Miryum and Straaka to go now, and then talks to the leading soldierguards horse, asking it to help them, and to lose its rider. The horse says that they would have thrown its master long ago, but he rides like a horse, and if they do throw their rider, he will kill it (the horse that is). Elspeth pleas with the horse, and tells it that this will be the last time it bears a rider. The horse obeys, but really only because she is Innle. The horse throws the soldierguard from it, and then the soldierguard unleashes his whip on it, and mercilessly attacks it. Elspeth feels terrible, and feels some of the horses pain, and it moves her to tears. While Gahltha tells her the way is clear.

The horse falls again, and the soldierguard intends to whip it to death. Elspeth gets super mad, and instinctively, she reaches for her killing ability. Everything slowed, as she prepared a coercive probe, before hurling it at the soldierguard captain. Elspeth thought she would just make an impact that would distract him, but it crashed through the demon band as if it never existed. Elspeth tried to keep it under control, as she doesn’t really want to kill the guy, but it refused to obey, having been created out of pure, uncontrollable fury. Trying to hold it back, drained Elspeth considerably. In the end, it was only partly tamed, but still it caused immense pain for the soldierguard, and though it did not kill, he was so close to death. Elspeth was taunted by part of her mind about her ‘vow of pacifism’ and how that is clearly meaningless now.

Other soldierguards were slowly arriving, and pointing at Elspeth, so Elspeth didn’t have time to stay and watch. Some soldierguards were helping their captain, as the mare slowly staggered into the tress. Elspeth had no energy to talk to the mare, so Gahltha tells her that he will send directions to Obernewtyn, but they must leave now. Elspeth had used so much mental energy, that she was basically unTalented, and it was even a struggle to stay on Gahltha. Elspeth struggles to comprehend her actions, that she almost killed someone. Not only had she vowed pacifism, but after killing Madam Vega, she vowed to never use her power again. Gahltha tries to console her by saying that she didn’t want to kill him, but part of Elspeth did. The question is, is that part of her, who she is?

Miryum and the others slowly appear, demanding to know what happened, but Elspeth just tells her to continue. They stop again, as they hear a scream, and then see a riderless horse. That soldierguard did not anticipate the steepness, and fell possibly to his death. Actually he just broke his leg, but the others won’t be far away, so they need to get moving again. One of the others had to link with Duria so they could be lead to the ambush point. The annoying, and quite ironic thing is that they can’t get too big a lead now, otherwise the soldierguards will have lost them, and the ambush won’t work at all.

The rain had stopped, and they were all drenched, and at this slower pace, the cold was beginning to seep through. The track eventually opened up to a clearing bordered by high walls, which must be their destination. Elspeth slip of Gahltha, as Kella handed out some fiery liquid to keep the cold away. Now with some time to look around, Elspeth can see why this is the perfect spot, and with Malik’s men presumably around out of view, the soldierguards would be foolish to try and fight. Elspeth asks Miryum if she can scry out Duria since she has no energy herself, but even Miryum is exhausted since she has spent all her energy trying to coerce the soldierguards to follow them. A terrible premonition sets in, as the soldierguards arrive.

Immediately the soldierguards realise that this is not Henry Druid’s camp. A leader of the group dismounts and says that there are clearly Seditioners here, who had hoped that they would give up. Where is Malik, now is the perfect time for him to show. But there was silence. The soldierguards soon spot them, but since they aren’t cowering or preparing to attack, they are confused, clearly something isn’t right. One of them says that these can’t be those armsmen who rescued Henry Druid, these are just Halfbreed Gypsies, and most of them are just young and women. Plus they have no weapons. One of the captains announces that these Gypsies must be here to decoy them from Henry Druid, and that they shouldn’t let their guard down, and reminds them of how their horses rode slow and how ‘Tarick’ fared. Where is Malik????

Miryum walks towards the captain, and Straaka follows like a shadow, and she announces that they have walked into a trap, and should put down their weapons. Good idea, take control into your own hands. The captain doesn’t believe her, and he tells her that it is her that is going to die, and lifts a cross bow, and fires. Miryum should have died, it would have gone straight through her head. But Straaka, moved quickly, and moved infront of Miryum, and the arrow struck him in the chest. Oh no! Straaka! Where the hell is Malik?

Miryum bends down to help Straaka, not remembering where she is, but clearly in shock, as the soldierguards ready themselves for battle. The captain orders them to leave a few of them alive, so they can be tortured for the Druid’s whereabouts. Elspeth tries to coerce him, but he talent doesn’t work. Instead, she walks up, just like Miryum did, ignoring Gahltha’s attempt to draw her back. Elspeth again says that they have walked into a trap, and they are surrounded by rebels. Now, I wonder what is going through the minds of the soldierguards. Why would they lie twice? Especially since one of their people just got shot for doing the same thing? They must think Elspeth crazy. Some of the soldierguards start to feel uneasy, and look around, to see if they can see these ‘rebels’. The captain however, asks for them to show themselves, but they don’t.

It was now that Elspeth realised. This was Malik’s plan along. He is here, listening to what is going on, waiting. It is a plan that is the most devious of all, because he is set to wipe out the Misfits. He is waiting for them to be killed, that’s why he wanted their help. Malik had sworn to not hurt the soldierguards, and he was not lying. He never said anything about making sure he revealed himself and his men. And he knew that the Misfits would be drained, and designed all of this, so they could not defend themselves. This is Maryon’s treachery, and it is the most foul. I want to kill Malik, and swear profusely at him, and I would write swear words now, but I think you can gather what I would say, and are feeling the same things I am, so you don’t need to be told. What does Malik think will happen once they are all dead, what will Obernewtyn do? What will all the other rebels do?

But really, most importantly, this cannot be it for Elspeth. She must survive, and maybe she is one of those they will torture. Malik must be sitting there is pure glee. Lina yells for Malik to reveal himself. But nothing happens. The horses can smell the rebels there, and Lina can’t understand what they are waiting for. Elspeth loudly announces that Malik must be waiting for them to die, just so she can get one final attack at Malik in, so they know, that she knows what is going on. Elspeth senses death, but is unafraid. She raises her hands to show that she is unarmed, and the rest of them do the same, and Elspeth pleas with them not to kill them all. One of the soldierguards lowers his bow a little, and says that he can’t kill people who are basically children.

The captain spews out lies, and says that they are ‘demon-spawn’ created by Henry Druid in experiments. What? What are you saying, you deranged man. I know you just want to kill, and you are furious about losing Henry Druid, but did you hear what you just said? He uses Tarick as an example yet again, and says how did they basically kill him, without being anywhere near him? I’m surprised they haven’t worked out that they are Misfits, but I guess they don’t know about what they can do. The soldierguards harden and ready themselves to attack.

But before they do, the horses move infront of the Misfits, in such an endearing show of support and love for the Misfits. It makes me cry! These horses are giving up their lives for the Misfits, even though they hate people, they want to protect them. But what makes me so angry, angry enough to produce my own killer strike is that the captain doesn’t care, and says that it is clear that the beasts are ‘possessed’ and must perish also. The Misfits can’t allow the horses to be killed, so Angina tries to stop the soldierguards, hopefully using some empathy, which they should have plenty of in their reserves, to stop them killing the horses.

But the captain yells fire, and there are human and beast screams. Gahltha wasn’t hit, nor those around him, and Elspeth thought that maybe nobody was hit, until she heard the screams. Elspeth tries to move forward, but Gahltha pushes her back, trying to protect her, and ensure that the Innle survives. All the horses, follow Gahltha’s lead, and try to protect Elspeth. Elspeth tries to stop them, and stop Gahltha from exposing himself, as the captain issues another command to fire. Elspeth could not see how she or Gahltha could not get shot, they were clear targets. Elspeth saw Rushton’s face, and Maruman’s too. Elspeth thought, that next to Gahltha, it was good to die, so close to someone you love. But none of the Misfits or horses died.

It was the soldierguards! They were falling! What? Did Malik attack? What is going on? The arrows had come from behind the soldierguards! Someone has come to save them? They came from halfbreed and pureblood Gypsies!!!!!! SWALLOW! SWALLOW IS LEADING THEM! He knocks an arrow, ready to send it at the captain, but Elspeth, yells at him, saying that they shouldn’t kill the soldierguards. He is shocked, but does as she wishes. Really Elspeth, what are you doing? They just killed your horses and friends, and were willing to kill everyone, and you want to spare them? Very noble, but come on! Do they deserve to live? No, the captain doesn’t at the least. Maybe some of the soldierguards were really ‘just following orders’ but they tried to kill you all! Why should they get mercy? Yes you want this as a bloodless rebellion, but this is not about the rebellion. This is Malik’s betrayal. Please Elspeth, allow Swallow to shoot Malik in the neck with 100 arrows! Please! That complete BASTARD! Plus, what are they doing here? And who has died? I would like to continue, but I just did that, so I have to wait until two days!!!!!!! This is so not over Malik!

 

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