The Keeping Place – Chapter 34 – Part Two

Chapter Thirty-Four – Part Two

Elspeth and Maruman are inside Dragon’s repressed memory. They have just witnessed The Red Queen, who happens to be Dragon’s mother, being stabbed by her trusted gatekeeper. They are now on a slave ship, with a bear, being sent who knows where. Elspeth has just realised that Cassy/Casandra from her dreams is Kasanda, and has been piecing together all these little fragments to finally start to understand. The Red Queen has told Dragon that she must remember where the Red Queen’s brother’s grave is, because that is the location of a sign for Elspeth.

Elspeth is trying to figure out what Cassy and the Agyllians have been telling her to do. Will she be able to save Dragon and get her out of this cycle, and then use her to find the sign in the Red Queen’s Land? Or is Elspeth supposed to figure this out now, before breaking herself out of this cycle, in the process, probably killing Dragon and Rushton, and possibly Maruman. Elspeth however is set on the idea that she can get everyone out, and that it is everyone, or noone.

Elspeth used her mental abilities to work at the bindings for Maruman, so he could be free when he chose. She then worked on the bear’s ropes. It took a lot out of her, since using mental energy to create a physical reaction would require a lot of effort. Elspeth was so tired that she actually fell asleep. Well, maybe she did, or maybe the cycle skipped forward because Dragon had fallen asleep or unconscious. When she woke however, it was now close to dusk. Now reenergised she was able to remove her own bonds easily. Maruman tells Elspeth that the Red Queen has told him to get ready so that they can act when the slavers are distracted. As cliqued as it is, Elspeth asks what the distraction is going to be, when the distraction starts. The boat begins to rock, and the slavers believe they have hit a shoal. But, it is actually whales! Yes, whales are attacking the ship, I guess we have the Queen to thank for that.

Elspeth quickly loosens Dragon’s bonds. Dragon goes straight to her mother, who tells her to jump overboard, while the men are still busy. Dragon doesn’t want to leave her mother, but the Queen is coming too. They don’t have to worry about swimming though, since the Queen has summoned other friends, ship fish/dolphins/valr-rei. Elspeth is concerned that the Queen has lost too much blood, which she probably has, but the Queen’s focus is on Dragon, and getting her safe. So Elspeth lifts up the Queen, and starts to take her to the edge of the boat, but she drops her, and the wound reopens. Then the slavers notice them trying to escape. The bear however deals with some of the men, as Elspeth tells Dragon that she must keep her mother afloat until the shipfish come. Elspeth shakes away Dragon’s fears, and sends them overboard.

Elspeth sees the bear and Maruman stopping the men from advancing, and Maruman urges Elspeth go over too. Soon Maruman and the bear were in the water too. The Queen then ordered the whales to destroy the ship, and destroy it they did. None of the seamen survived. The whales vanished, and the five of them were now alone, as night began to fall. Elspeth goes to find Dragon struggling to keep her mother afloat. Her billowing clothes are weighing her down. The Queen is dying, she knew this would happen, but just wants Dragon to survive. Elspeth farsent to see where this shipfish was, and there was only one of them, who was too far away for the Queen.

The Queen began to fade away, and Dragon clambered to be near her mothered, pushing Elspeth dangerously close to being drowned herself. Elspeth dropped the Queen, who quickly sunk into the water. Elspeth began to feel faint, and Maruman warned that unless they break the dream, the cycle will continue. Elspeth has to not only figure out what to do, but keep herself and Dragon afloat, who also sank beneath the water. Unfortunately Dragon wants to die in place of the Queen, feeling guilty for her death. Elspeth gets serious and reminds Dragon that she must live otherwise her mother died for nothing.

Dragon slipped under again, just as the shipfish arrived. There is only one, and it can only save one. Clearly it is Dragon that must be saved. Elspeth yells after Dragon, to remember who she is, for all of their sakes. No sure what that will achieve, but, they still have to get out of this dream. Maruman is struggling to keep the bear afloat. Going over to help him, Elspeth sees the bears eyes, unmistakably green. The bear, is Rushton! Unfortunately, he too sinks into the water. Elspeth struggles to try and save him from the depths of the water. He is too heavy, and starts to drag Elspeth down with him. Elspeth is so close to death, it is then that she sees that the cord linking back to her real body is fading. She released the cord, and rose back to consciousness.

Kella was so surprised and relieved to find Elspeth alive. So far, both Rushton and Dragon are unchanged, but Elspeth wants to see Rushton immediately. Did he make it out? Is he alive? He was the same as ever, but not awake. In an ironic turn of events, Elspeth decides to kiss him, to which he wakes up instantly. Just like the story. He immediately had another fit, but Elspeth did not let go of him. It seems he has regained his mind and spirit, as he tries to tell Elspeth what the Herders did to him. But Elspeth just promises to never leave him, and to let him heal. And that, is the end of the story. Well, there is still the epilogue.

Is Dragon awake now? Does she remember anything, and if so, what? What will that do for Dragon and Elspeth’s friendship? And what damage will there be? How about Maruman? And how on earth is Elspeth going to make it to the Red Queen’s Land? And what about the west coast and all the other rebels? So many unanswered questions, so little time!

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