The Keeping Place – Chapter 30

Chapter Thirty

OMG Where is Rushton! What condition is he in?

This could either end really well, or badly. Knowing these sorts of reunions they don’t tend to end well, especially if the reunion between Peeta and Katniss in The Hunger Games is anything to go by… Surprisingly Rushton doesn’t seem to have chemical burns or any bruises like all the other prisoners. Why is that? Was he kept separate? Did he only just get caught before the Herders left? As expected when Rushton opens his eyes to see Elspeth, she is quite happy and relieved to see him, but he is not. He just laughs! Why is he laughing? It isn’t a pleasant laugh either, it is a deranged cackle. Kella comes over and shoves some cloth in Rushton’s mouth, and Elspeth realises that he is bound down to the bed with straps.

Kella works her magic, and calms him down and makes him still. She tells Elspeth that though there is nothing physically wrong with him, and he wasn’t even tortured, he has been given a lot of drugs. It is a very powerful drug, but Kella doesn’t recognise it, and knowing the Herders it is probably some whitestick derivative. Unfortuantly these drugs seem to have destroyed Rushton’s mind, and nothing is connecting. Kella puts it bluntly, he is literally insane.

Elspeth either faints in shock or falls asleep, since now we are in a dream scene. How did Elspeth manage to get on the dreamtrails with no effort? Maruman appears, and Elspeth fruitlessly tries to ask him a whole pile of questions, but he answers none of them. He doesn’t even tell her what seliga means. Ah, the Agyllians brought her to the dreamtrails after she became unconscious, probably from the shock. And they did this to let Maruman give her a message. He tellsher that Elspeth and all other Misfits must return to Obernewtyn. For ‘one is needed’ to fulfil Elspeth’s quest. The Agyllians have told Maruman that Elspeth must return so she can find the last sign, which is confusing since she hasn’t found any of the other ones. And if she doesn’t, it will be too late. Elspeth tries to question him, but he starts to fade away. He warns her to keep her promise, and to come soon.

Elspeth drops out of the dreamtrails but into a dream. Rushton is with her, and they are on the ‘Cutter’, the ship they used to get to Sador. They are watching the ‘ship fish’ (dolphins) frolick, and she feels very content. Rushton told her that the ship fish help those who fall overboard, and then fades. She then wakes up.

Dameon is with her, and Elspeth tries to tell him about her dreams. She is still in shock, as she asks if he is a dream too, and says that everyone disappears. Elspeth had fainted, and didn’t seem to remember Rushton, until now. It floods back to her, and she nearly faints again. Upon remembering Rushton, all her strength vanishes. It was unfortunate that Elspeth was unprepared to see Rushton. Speaking of Rushton, Bruna has taken a look at Rushton, and since she has knowledge with Sadorian drugs, she thinks it is a derivative of their spiceweed. Which is interesting since the Herders HATE the Sadorians so much, but why would they use their drugs? This particular drugs makes the person have vivid nightmares, until the drug wears off. So for days, Elspeth was in an endless nightmare, which means it is no wonder that his conscious mind has disappeared under the strain of it all.

Unfortunately the drug is addictive, which is why Rushton is tied down, since he is having withdrawal from it. His mental addiction is much worse, since his brain believes that the delusions are reality, which is not really good news. Elspeth tries to get up, though Dameon suggests she continue to rest. She then realises that she has slept for a while, and finds that Dardelan’s speech has already been done. Elspeth will be able to read a copy, and more are being sent around the Land with a list of temporary laws that citizens will have to abide by. The list also urges people to get involved and make suggestions about the laws, which is true democracy. Dardelan is a true leader, and during his speech Dameon could sense people’s hope, and longing for a better system.

Elspeth let’s Dameon know about her plan to take every Misfit back to Obernewtyn, under the ruse that Rushton will heal better in the mountains and not in Sutrium. Unemotional? Did that just happen, or is she referring to something Dameon said long ago? Unfortunately Elspeth that is what responsibility and leadership are all about, going on even when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and hide away. Brydda and Gevan come to see Elspeth, having just heard the news from Dameon. Elspeth isn’t going to change her mind, and tells Brydda and that they will be back for the trials, and they need time to figure out what they want to do next. I think the real question is, even though things have changed for regular land folk, what is going to happen for the Misfits. No matter of assurances by the Misfits themselves or praises from Dardelan and the other rebels would be able to dismantle such ingrained prejudices. Sure, some people will be convinced and understand that Misfits are not monsters, but most are too ignorant and bigoted to see the light, because for years that is what they were told by the Herders.

Elspeth and Brydda leave the cloister, and Elspeth goes to find the horses. Unfortunately the horses now have to be tied up since the general public are on the move, and they haven’t gotten used to seeing horses just wander around. So for now they have to return to the way things were. But Dardelan does wish to address the issue of animal rights, but that will take time, as people don’t like too much change at once. Unfortunately this will take a long time, and as Elspeth points out, waiting until people decide to care about one another and about beasts, will mean they will wait forever. But Dardelan is right and that if they introduce such things, people will resist and try and return to normal.

It will be good to go back to Obernewtyn and see how everyone is. Angina. Dragon. I’m sure just as much has happened there as has happened across the Land. And I am eager to return!

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