The Stone Key – Chapter 8

Chapter Eight

So Elspeth is in a bit of a pickle, as usual. She is currently at Vos’ home inside a hidden compartment of her wagon, preparing herself to try and rescue Zarak, Noviny and Khuria from inside Vos’ home, which has his men who are wearing demonbands, making it impossible for Elspeth to use her abilities on them (unless she wears herself out and tries to use her killing power). Okay, correction, she was just somewhere as Malik’s men spoke to Malik, but now she is at Vos’ home. At least Elspeth has a vague idea of what the place looks like and with her abilities she can make out where someone wearing a demonband is based on the buzzing.

Elspeth gets to overhear some interesting discussions hiding in her secret compartment. Malik is certainly devious, because, he knows that Vos will be charged with blackmailing his people to vote for him and trapping them in Saithwood, he knows that this will happen. And he believes he has no connection to Vos’ actions, if his plan should fail, and that the Herders do not invade, and he will have to answer to what has happened. Vos is such a sheep, all he does is follow whatever someone tells him that Malik would do. He would like to think he is such a good leader, but he can’t actually lead at all, and is just a pawn for Malik and because he likes power so much, he doesn’t seem to realise what is going on.

Vos soon comes out to see the wagon, and picks on every little thing including its size and carvings, which usually would have been held in high esteem. Again the suggestion that the wagon was burned was made, but Vos wanted (not at all because what ‘Malik would do’) the prisoners to be in isolation for a while and if they were to burn it, making them watch would be demoralising. Elspeth, after a long period where she made sure nobody was around, opened the top of the hatch, and climbed out. Frustratingly, just as she got out, someone approached, and Elspeth’s boots were now in the carriage, and a clear patch where the door came up, marking her presence. Hopefully whoever is coming doesn’t go into the carriage or is just too stupid to notice or care. It seems a crafty servant or possibly a lowly armsman was looking for some goods to plunder from the carriage, so they didn’t care about her boots being there, which was lucky, but it shook Elspeth up and made her reluctant to try again.

She opened the bottom hatch, and found that the wagon was on the grass, and most likely in the full view of all the home’s windows, making climbing out dangerous. But there was cover to an open door, making her escape easy. She decided that it was best to wait until night to do something about getting into the house, but wanted to talk to Gahltha so she could find out a bit more, and whether he knew where Zarak was being held or where Maruman is. Unfortunately, Vos’ men have placed a demonband onto Gahltha preventing Elspeth from communicating him via beastspeaking, and he is out in the open, making physical contact a challenge. Gahltha would be so furious to be wearing this, that I don’t know how he hasn’t gone on a rampage, but I guess his focus on protecting Elspeth is holding him back.

But Gahltha has more than beastspeaking to work with, and smells out Elspeth and makes his way towards her. Elspeth ran out to him, and hid herself in the masses of horses. But Gahltha was different, he was barring his teeth at her! Does the demonband make horses fundamentally different? Is he not in control of his actions? Or is he just trying to warn Elspeth in the only way he can? Thankfully it is a warning, but now, what is he warning us about? Elspeth couldn’t see anyone or anything for alarm, but Gahltha continues to show warning. Elspeth wonders if he is in pain, which almost makes her go into uncontrollable rage which would unleash her killing power. She composed herself, when she was met with a voice.

It was Kevrik, standing in a doorway that Elspeth had neglected to even notice, and he was holding a dagger. He believes that the demonbands are dangerous, but he knows better to not wear one, and is even smart enough to realise that Misfits can have more than one ability. Somehow his honour has been destroyed, and I’m not sure why, but maybe being in contact with Elspeth is cause for alarm because they fear Misfits controlling everyone. But now, he is looking to ‘restore his honour’ and he thinks capturing her is the only way to do so. Elspeth is clever to try and glean information about Zarak’s and the others’ whereabouts from the man, but he is pretty clever too, and doesn’t give away too much just that they are well guarded. He has some great admiration for Elspeth trying to show courage and determination even when things look bad, because everyone was told that Misfits were cowards. I hope that maybe that is enough for him to not kill her.

Elspeth makes a gamble and decides that he of all armsmen is most likely to listen to her, so she goes all out, and tells him about Malik’s traitorous ways. And Kevrik is not stupid enough to think Malik just wants to help Vos or wants Saithwood for himself, he knows that Malik would stop at nothing to be in full control of the Land. Though I don’t know how that would work even with the Herders, because surely they would just stab him in the back as soon as they could, because that’s just the way they are, but I guess Malik thinks he is pretty safe with them. I do guess he would understand them more than most, since he is just like them. Elspeth lays it all out about the invasion, and Kevrik doesn’t really question her and quickly comes to terms with the idea of Malik’s true intentions. Elspeth puts great trust in Kevrik in telling him just how much Malik hates her, because he could easily just betray her and give her into Malik himself and earn great reward, but he knows that now, Malik needs to be stopped.

Elspeth wins over Kevrik’s trust enough that he removes his demonband, opening himself up for coercion. But since they are now allies, Elspeth isn’t that immoral. Now with Kevrik on her side, Elspeth has a way in to save her friends and stop Malik. If Kevrik gets everyone, one by one, to remove their demonbands, Elspeth can coerce them to not see her or the others. And of course, Elspeth can open the locks on the doors herself. Kevrik reminds her that Gahltha would probably like to get rid of the demonband, and as soon as he is free, he launches a tirade at her. And once Elspeth explains, he still is furious since he as always, thinks it is too risky. Luckily, Maruman should be safe, since he got away before the armsmen arrived, so that is one piece of good news. She gives him a mission of his own, and tells him that if everything fails, he must get word out to stop the invasion, whatever the cost.

Kevrik wanted to wait until nightfall but Elspeth didn’t want to wait, and was filled with urgency to get the plan underway. Kevrik gives her a lowdown of the house, and it is at nightmeal that they strike, since most of the men will be busy eating, which is a perfect time to strike. It is interesting hearing his perspective about the events that are questionable to the highest degree, but they are forced to just go with it, which must be challenging for such an intelligent man.

They made their way into the house, and soon encountered the first person, to which Kevrik said he was told to inspect the demonbands, giving Elspeth an opportunity to do her stuff. Kevrik obviously thought it would take Elspeth longer, but I do wonder what will happen when Elspeth comes across a naturally shielded or mind sensitive person, it would all be over then. Plus, if an alarm is raised, the coercive block would likely crumble, if they were nearby at the time, but that isn’t too much to worry about since Elspeth is pretty good at coercion. What Elspeth gets the men to do is pretty strange (making them look at the wall when she creeps past) and I do wonder what would happen if someone walked past and saw the man (after Elspeth vanished) looking blankly, but I guess there is more danger of someone seeing Elspeth than seeing these men being weird.

There was a group of five that Elspeth had to coerce, which was dangerous since a group that large creates its own mind that needs to be coerced. So Elspeth took a risk and made them hand over their demonbands without remembering doing so, and that way Elspeth could touch up the block if need be. The plan became risky when they climbed down to the cells, as it only has one way out, meaning they could get trapped if the alarm was raised. Unfortunately, the man guarding the cells wasn’t so keen on giving up his demonband, whilst in the presence of the Misfits, so Kevrik had no choice but to knock the man out. So Elspeth had to make sure the man didn’t remember what happened as well as stop him seeing them or the empty cells.

Elspeth worked on the lock to one of the cells, and it was more complex than anticipated so it took some time. When she was done, Kevrik opened the door before Elspeth stopped him. And that meant that someone on the other side, probably Zarak, decided to knock him out, in an attempt to escape. Causing more problems for Elspeth, since Kevrik was their one chance out! But, I’m sure they’ll be fine, she can just wake him up, and how was Zarak to know?


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