The Keeping Place – Chapter 27

Chapter Twenty-Seven

SUCKED IN MALIK! The Misfits weren’t wiped out, and your plan FAILED (well, it didn’t work completely). Somehow he seems oblivious to the suffering of the injured, and the sight of the dead Misfits and horses. I guess when you don’t care, you really don’t notice things. Malik, shut up! Nobody cares if you kept your oath, there will be so much outrage at what you did! Lies! All lies! Maybe your cronies will believe you Malik, but there will be retribution! OH, come on Malik, are you that brainwashed by the Herders to believe that Misfits are different to humans, and that is reason enough to do everything in your power to put them into harm, and not care what happens to them? See Elspeth, why couldn’t we kill him?

Good to see that not every rebel is proud of what has happened. But too many either don’t care, or are just desensitised to death to care. Malik leaves with his men, and those uninjured soldierguards, leaving the Misfits to deal with their own injured, and those soldierguards, with the aid of the Gypsies. Miky runs into the cul-de-sac and is horrified by the scene. Gevan and Duria were close behind, and came over to explain what happened with Malik’s men. Apparently Malik convinced them to go further away with some of his men, just in case some of the soldierguards tried to escape, Miky sensed something was wrong, and then they took out the rebels, and came to them, but they were so far away to help.

Immediately Elspeth blames herself, for not foreseeing Malik’s treachery. But could you really foresee exactly what happened? You have people who were devoted to foreseeing things that could not foresee anything more than treachery itself. Malik is devious, and it is his fault. Yes nothing will bring back the dead, but making sure that Malik is punished severely will help a little. Gotta love Swallow, so practical. Sending for a beasthealer and having wagons, so helpful. Oh, the D’rekta has died, making Swallow the King of the Twentyfamilies! The others set about moving the wounded, but Elspeth is in so much shock and grief that she cannot do anything. At least a dozen horses were dead, and twice as many wounded, and some of those would not survive.

Elspeth found Kella working on Straaka, who was just hanging on to his life, but he was almost too far gone to be saved, no matter what Kella does to stop the bleeding. Elspeth had been using her mind to see Kella work, but even this, with contact, was too much. Has she permanently damaged her own mind? Or will it recover in time? It didn’t take long until Kella could tell that there was nothing more she could do. Miryum was by Straaka’s side, with an arrow in her shoulder, but all she can focus on is Straaka, who saved her life. Miryum is distraught, but Kella and Elspeth move on, and find Angina, who was also very near to death, with Miky by his side.

Swallow drags Elspeth away, asking her to move one of the wounded with him. He takes her to where a soldierguard is lying, it is the soldierguard who shot Straaka. Swallow mentions that if he is not moved, he will die. Should they let him die though? But Elspeth doesn’t want more death on her hands, and they summon help to move the massive man. More gypsies took him once out of the cul-de-sac, among them Iriny. Maire is there too, and she will treat the soldierguard, though I wish she would treat one of Obernewtyn’s people before their enemy.

In the end, 23 horses died, 9 people died, 17 wounded horses and the same number of wounded people. Three people were still seriously hurt, and just before dawn, a coercer and several horses had die from their wounds. The beasthealer Darius, was so vital in keeping the horses alive, and many more would have died without him. Only 7 of the 9 dead people, were from Obernewtyn, the other two were soldierguards. Actually one of those 9 was Straaka, making their count 10, and Miryum was still by his side, trying to will him to come back to her. Angina was unconscious, and it was not known if he would ever wake up. An arrow grazed his head, which is not serious, but it caused internal injuries, that could only really be repaired by his own body.

Malik could do this, because he is a terrible human being, and he talks of Misfits being inhuman, yet he is the one who shows no humility, and if he is a ‘human’, who would want to be human. Swallow and his Gypsy friends were the only reason any of them were alive. The Gypsies did have some trouble finding their way into the Valley, which delayed their arrival.  Elspeth tried to go and comfort Miky, who was, like Miryum, still with their loved one, but Swallow told her that she was in too much shock to move. Elspeth didn’t even care if her powers were lost, since what use where they if those around her died. She does seem to have terrible luck with her friends and loved ones being killed or taken from her.

Right now in Sutrium, the rebels would be taking over, but who could care right now. Elspeth would have gone down there with them, but Malik’s treachery changed everything. Soon they would light funeral fires for the beasts and beastspeakers, who preferred to be ‘disposed’ as beasts were, and then they would bury the remaining dead. The two soldierguards would be buried also, probably away from the others. The only thing that made Elspeth feel something, what the thought that there were other Misfits out there, who were being betrayed and in danger, because of the rebels or whoever. Would any of the other Misfits know what has transpired? Would Domick have seen Malik without the rebels and found out what happened? Elspeth vows to ride to Sutrium to warn the others of treachery once the bodies have been buried and cremated.

Aras asks Swallow how he came to be in the White Valley, which is such a good question. He says it was ‘luck’. Elspeth doubts that immediately and tells him as much, once Aras moves. Swallow simply reminds her that he did have a vision that they would be standing in battle the next time they met. Apparently ‘a voice’ told him to go to the highlands immediately lest Elspeth would die, and that would break the ancient promises. It was the same one that sent him to find her to prevent her being whipped to death. No doubt these voices were the Agyllians, working their magic, protecting Elspeth. And Elspeth believes that Atthis must have made these ancient promises connect with Elspeth, just like Innle for the beasts, to make sure that they would do ‘their’ bidding. But thinking of Kasanda, and those gypsies who went to Obernewtyn with the door panels, makes Elspeth believe that maybe their lives are connected.

Speaking of the ancient promises, Swallow tells us, that he had a vision of Elspeth speaking the words of the ancient promises in the place that they were first made, and that he, Swallow, would be there. These promises were made to the first D’rekta who lead the Gypsy people from their home lands which were destroyed by the Great White, and they were made to the Country of the Red Queen! Coincidence? I think not. The first D’rekta took them to The Red Queen’s land who gave them refuge, but then the D’rekta had another vision and took them all to the Land, with her. Some didn’t leave, since they had made lives, and only those who agreed to go, were told of what the vision entailed. The Red Queen helped them build a boat, and the secret of what the vision contained was kept to those who knew, not even their children were ever told. The D’rekta and the Red Queen became very close, and the D’rekta had bonded with the Red Queen’s brother. He died before she had her vision, which some attributed to her grief.

The Red Queen’s brother was killed by sea raiders. Once the boat was ready, they departed, and the Queen wept. Some claimed it was just from grief of losing a friend, others said that she was told of the vision. Others still, said that it was because she found out that the D’rekta was pregnant with royal blood. Elspeth can’t understand why the vision lead them to the Land, and Swallow refuses to elaborate. The reason why Elspeth speaking the ancient promises is so strange, is that nobody but the D’rekta knows them, so how Elspeth comes to know of them is a mystery.

That is where I will end this post. All this talk of ancient promises is very alluring, but as we know, this is probably as much as we will learn, until probably the next book, or the one after!

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