The Keeping Place – Chapter 29 – Part Two

Chapter Twenty-Nine – Part Two

The rebels and Misfits have just stumbled upon the most horrific of scenes in the Herder Cloister in Sutrium. In the prisoner cells underground, hundreds upon hundreds of dead, rotting bodies were found, with only less than 40 survivors. Many of the bodies have been in the cells of months if not years. The Herders themselves have all escaped, presumably to Herder Isle, possibly there are still some on the west coast, which the Council or somebody still holds, and not the rebels. Elspeth has been awake for more than two nights, and is just about to go and get some rest.

Kella gives Elspeth a plant to chew and then spit out before going to bed, helping her to sleep. Kella herself will be kept busy, with not only the prisoners but the wounded rebels. On the way to Bodera’s house, Elspeth could tell that though the streets were deserted, people were growing restless, and sceptical of any notion of a plague outbreak. Apparently Dardelan will propose his plan to the rebels tonight at the rebel meeting, and then tomorrow he will announce it to the city. Speaking of Dardelan, Elspeth arrives at Bodera’s house, and is met by him. Elspeth suggests showing the towns folk the horrors of the cloister, and then they would be more than happy to execute all the Herders. Though that is a touch extreme, Dardelan doesn’t think it would work (even if they made people see it) since he understands that people are very sceptical, and if they don’t see things for themselves, they aren’t prone to believing. So they would probably just think that the rebels were behind it all, and that the Herders are still ‘almighty’, and that is to be expected with such profound brainwashing.

Dardelan suggests Elspeth go and bathe and then sleep. Later he will go and give his speech, but for now, the rebels will be discussing other matters, which he isn’t concerned with. He has many plans for the Land, and I think he will do a good job. He wants to create a charter of laws and regulations that govern how people live. I guess that is comparable to a constitution or Bill of Rights. But that will take some time, for now Dardelan and the other rebels have to make sure the people understand why the rebellion happened, and that things will go on as normal, well, apart from the burnings and totalitarian Governance, but life will go on as normal.

Dardelan urges Elspeth go and sleep, but she finds Dameon nearby, and the two talk a little. It is the first time the two have really been able to welcome each other back into their lives. It has been a long time since either of them have been near each other, and both are very glad of each other’s company. Of course their talk is of the rebellion, but Dameon is very hopeful for the future, and for Dardelan’s bold plans. Dameon tells Elspeth that the temple overguardian died, as was expected, but even with Dameon’s help, he died in terrible suffering. He announced his successor, and at the very end, told Dameon why the guardians had deformities, even after all this time. For once we don’t have to wait for an explanation, Dameon tells us that Sadorian women go into tainted isis pools one year after having their first child. The taint is only slight, so the women are unaffected, but if they have a second child in their womb, they become deformed, and end up a guardian.

It is a strange practise, that some women do not partake in. Even many husbands beg their wives against it, but many women still do, as a repentance. Dameon reminds Elspeth of his letter where he said that the Sadorians used a Beforetime weapon during their civil war, and as a result the isis pools became tainted. So it must have been a nuclear weapon of some description. The going into the pools, is a way for Sadorian women to share in the harm they did to the earth. It would go on until Sador had a way of healing the earth from its taint, which makes me think of Jak’s (I think) bugs who eat taint, and could possibly bring the end to this practise. The overguardian said that soon someone will come with that power, and I guess it could mean Jak, but knowing this tale, it’s probably Elspeth who takes the bugs over there.

Dameon asks when Elspeth will go back to Obernewtyn, and it is a good question. There isn’t much left to do in Sutrium, and I don’t think the Misfits are going to be too involved in the west coast issue, apart from attempting to get their own home safely. So Elspeth will wait until the rebels have decided what to do about the west coast, so that she can plan for the future. Hopefully those on the west coast are now in hiding, in the beforetime library ruins, which turned out to be some sort of shelter. Elspeth blames herself for those on the west coast, but Dameon reminds her that she couldn’t foresee everything, and also that she was not alone in her decision. She didn’t force anyone to do anything, everyone agreed with her, and volunteered to go and help the rebels. Of course, we can’t forget Rushton. He still hasn’t turned up. Does this mean he is dead? Who took him in the first place? And now that the rebellion is largely over, does the person who took him, intend to release him alive? Dameon suggests that he is on the west coast, trapped, or that the person doesn’t think with the west coast ‘unwon’, that the rebellion is over. Who knows. But right now, Elspeth needs to sleep.

As soon as Dameon closed the door and Elspeth was in the bed, she fell right to sleep. Elspeth dreamed of Dameon and he was leading her through the Earthtemple. Dameon tells her that Kasanda is here, and wants to tell her something. Elspeth tries to stop, she can’t see Kasanda now, she needs to find Rushton. Dameon turns into Domick, and he says that it is too late. They aren’t in the earthtemple, but still Domick leads her through the labyrinth. Domick tells her that he isn’t a torturer, and then he vanishes. Elspeth realises that this is the same place she has been in her dream before, but this time she hesitates. Atthis talks to her, and asks her why she does so. Elspeth doesn’t think that she is ready, but Atthis warns her, that if she does, all will be lost.

Then Domick became Ariel, and he pulls at her. Elspeth tries to summon Maruman, but Ariel laughs at her, and says that he won’t be around forever, and he is slowly weakening. But right now, he is too far away to help her. Ariel concedes that Maruman will never let him get to her in the dreamtrails, but he will try to get her in reality, and who will protect her then. He then tries to burn her, but he vanishes as Gahltha arrives. Elspeth finally says aloud that Ariel must be the Destroyer, something she has not admitted before. Gahltha says that Ariel is the H’rayka, which means the one who brings destruction. This seems to make Elspeth believe he has agreed with her, but the distinction makes me hesitant to say ‘that’s it, Ariel is the Destroyer’. Gahltha reminds her that the weaponmachines will be the final battle between the Seeker and Destroyer, not the dreamtrails. He tells her that he is not strong on the dreamtrails like Maruman, so tells her to wake. Maruman is ‘seliga’, so that is why Gahltha is here. Elspeth realises that Maruman is the Moonwatcher, and Gahltha is the Daywatcher, the same phrases the overguardian told her would accompany her to Sador for the final sign. As for what seliga means, Elspeth doesn’t really understand, it vaguely means ‘back’ or ‘behind’, but what on earth does that mean in such a context. But right now, Elspeth has to wake up.

What a strange dream. I know I say that a lot, and every dream Elspeth has is quite strange, especially with Ariel. But, as with all dreams, what was real, and was ‘just a dream’. Does Domick really mean that it is too late for Rushton? Was it really Atthis saying that she mustn’t hesitate? Was Ariel really there? I’m pretty sure Gahltha came there, and Maruman is seliga (whatever that is), but what does it all mean. Too many questions!

Elspeth wakes up, and it is the middle of the night. She realises that she didn’t bathe or change clothes, and now can smell just how bad her clothes reek. Now we have Elspeth reflecting on her dream, which she believes was her on the dreamtrails. Elspeth is certain that Ariel must be the Destroyer, but why has it taken her so long to come to such a conclusion? At least she realises that even the Destroyer cannot find the signs, only she can, and he needs her to have any chance at finding the weaponmachines. Which makes me wonder what would happen if Elspeth died? She has come close many times, and I think Atthis mentioned that it would mean the Destroyer would win. But if he needs Elspeth to find the weaponmachines and use them, what would her death mean? Would it just delay the inevitable? Or would it actually mean the Destroyer couldn’t do anything? I think it must mean that the Destroyer will just take longer, but, how could he do it without the signs? And more importantly, how did Kasanda know Elspeth needed these signs? Was she a worker at the weaponmachines? Otherwise how did she find out what must be codes to open a top secret facility?

Elspeth wonders whether Ariel has Rushton. I wouldn’t be surprised to be honest, Ariel is nasty. But why would he want the rebellion to take place? Or is that just a lie, so that he now has Rushton, and he will make Elspeth choose. But would Elspeth actually choose Rushton over helping Ariel? I know he is her bondmate, but if she chooses him, it will be short lived anyway. Elspeth can’t bear thinking about such things, so leaves her room. She finds many rebels up late, discussing. Brydda waves her over, and gives her some much needed food.

So even though Elspeth has been rocked by her dream, she has to come back to the real world and listen to what the rebels have decided at their meeting. We already know the town will be informed tomorrow of the rebel take over, and that Dardelan wants a charter of laws written, with the input of all people. The rebels weren’t overly happy that they would only lead for a year, and then subject to re-election. A yearly election is quite different to any electoral process I am aware of, were they are usually three to five year terms. One year terms would mean that fresh ideas and leaders come often, but how much can people do in a year?

Brydda tells Elspeth that he doesn’t think she should leave so quickly. He hopes that they can be involved in shaping the future Land, and ensuring that the Misfits aren’t persecuted like they have been. He thinks that she should stay here a week, and that Zarak will send word if need be. Speaking of Zarak, he and Lina were stuck ‘somewhere’ as Noviny’s people broke free of the rebel prisons, and had blocked the road. Noviny is trying to discuss with the rebels, but Vos isn’t pleased. Noviny is such a good man that he just wants the rebels to ensure that his men aren’t killed, and that Saithwood isn’t destroyed. It is a pity for the rebellion that Noviny is so liked, because the townsfolk aren’t happy that Noviny is overthrown. Dardelan is going to go to Saithwood after giving his speech to tell Saithwood what has happened, and his plans.

Malik and his betrayal on the other hand, is not disappearing, mostly because Jakoby isn’t letting the rebels forget it, as Straaka was killed. Nobody wants Sador being annoyed with the Land. Malik isn’t very happy, since he was planning to have no witnesses, and didn’t expect Jakoby to get involved, but he deserves it. They briefly talk about Swallow and the Gypsies, before Elspeth senses Tomash is trying to talk to her. He is still at the cloister, and suggests that she comes immediately. They have found Rushton! He was in the cloister, but nobody recognised him. Elspeth immediately gets up and leaves, with Brydda hot on her tail. She realises that Tomash wasn’t overjoyed by this discovery, and sees Rushton’s emaciated face, and realises that he has been tortured, and isn’t of sound mind. But the good news is, he is alive! And he will heal eventually. Right?

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