The Stone Key – Chapter 16 – Part Two

With the holiday season nearly upon us (and another doomsday behind us) I thought now would be an appropriate time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season, for whatever you are going to do over the coming days. Now is also a good time to just let you know what I’ll be doing in terms of posting over the next few days. Today and tomorrow, will be regular posts, but on Christmas Eve, I have a different post lined up. There will be no post on Christmas, I’ll be spending time with family, and I hope everyone will be enjoying themselves too, and celebrating humanity. Then on what we call ‘Boxing Day’ there will be another ‘off topic’ post, relating to The Hobbit (but not the movie, that will come once I get around to seeing it, and since it is only released on the 26th here in Australia, I just can’t yet), before we continue head first into The Stone Key.

Chapter Sixteen – Part Two

Right now Elspeth is onboard a Herder ship, filled with Hedra, and they are travelling back to Herder Isle, which just having looked at the map at the front of the book, is quite far away. Norseland is much closer. She just had a dream about Matthew and this white-faced lord who wants thousands of slaves within a year (I forgot to really emphasise yesterday, WHY DOES HE NEED THOUSANDS OF SLAVES?). Now she has woken up with Lark in front of her, and a new day. He wishes to speak to her in his mind, so Elspeth obliges, and provides a picture of the two of them in his mind, so he can communicate easier. That is an interesting idea, something we haven’t seen before. So where did Elspeth come up with this method of communication with those who aren’t farseekers? Because visualising themselves talking, to assist in the talking, is a good idea, but where did it come from?

Lark asks whether Elspeth used him to get Kevlar to remove his demonband, but there is something else that he wants to speak about, something that has happened. As you can imagine, Kaga is furious that the Hedra retreated, without actually doing any fighting. The captain who lead the invasion, said they had to retreat, as all the Hedra he had sent in were either dead or captured by the Misfits, who were working with beasts, and ‘entranced’ regular folk. Kaga proceeded to kill that captain, and wanted to turn around and send another attack. But the Nine refused, and ordered them return to Herder Isle. Apparently half of the Hedra are onboard, but the ships are full since The Black Ship is no longer with them. As for what will happen when they reach Herder Isle, it seems that they have been making plans on how to get Elspeth out. It seems that they only way for her to leave the vessel undetected is to go into the water when the guards are being changed, and then she can swim to some boulders at the end of a beach, and hide there. The next day, Hevlar and the others will return to repair the ship, and it is then that Elspeth can hide in one of their ship boats, as long as all goes well.

Lark has to leave, and Elspeth quickly becomes lonely and anxious in his absence. She eventually hides herself in a locker cupboard, ready to close the door in case someone enters. She has a lot of time to think, and think she does. She wonders just what everyone back on the Land will be wondering about her, and that surely they will find the tunnel and then join the dots to assume Elspeth has been captured. Of course, no body would think Elspeth would be foolish enough to voluntarily go onboard! Elspeth decided to coercer herself into a deep sleep, so her body could heal itself. I wish I had that ability, sometimes all you want is to go to sleep, but that is the last thing you seem able to do, why don’t these powers exist here?

Elspeth woke to a loud crash, and immediately went out to the pothole to investigate. The other Herder ship, Orizon, was being attacked by a larger ship, possibly The Black Ship. Why on earth is Salamander attacking what are supposed to be his enemies? I mean, I don’t care about the Herders, but what has happened? And then Orizon explodes in a fireball! Is Salamander using Beforetime weapons on the ship? What happened for him to do this? Elspeth goes into Lark’s mind to find out what is going on around him. Nobody had any idea why the Black Ship had attacked, but then a message comes in from Salamander. Apparently, the Orizon had been sunk because it had been boarded by mutants! What? Did some other people foolishly decide to hop onto a Herder vessel? Was this Zarak’s plan? What did they hope to achieve? And that means someone or a few someones have died. Who was on board?

Then comes a bigger question, how did Salamander know this? Someone suggests one of Ariel’s nulls was on board with Salamander, but they are supposed to be only interpreted by Ariel. Does that mean Ariel is also on board? Did Salamander go and pick him up, or has he been there the whole time? Or is Salamander a Misfit also, and could interpret the null. Actually Elspeth doesn’t believe nulls do anything, and thinks it is just all Ariel, so I guess that means he must be on board. But then Elspeth asks a question I didn’t even think of! That must mean that Ariel knows SHE IS ON BOARD!

I’m just struck at how ruthless Salamander is. He just killed a whole bunch of Hedra and Herder priests, all because there were mutants on board. I get that they would be almost impossible to find individually (though surely someone would be able to say, who the hell are you, and where did you come from), and they had no idea how many there were, but still, a tad extreme. Actually, a whole lot extreme. And will Salamander blast them out because Elspeth is on board? And would he care that there is a Nine and Hedra captains on board this vessel? I mean he doesn’t care about the Faction any more than I do, he just wants slaves and money, but doesn’t this hurt his interests. I’m sure the Herders aren’t going to be happy that Hedra were killed, or will they?

Lark comes down later to give Elspeth some food, and to discuss. It seems Salamander has two of Ariel’s nulls always on hand, and it is said that he can interpret them just as good as Ariel, which makes me believe he must be a Misfit. Apparently they began screaming about mutants on board the Orizon, on their way back to Herder Isle to make a report about the invasion. I guess luckily, Elspeth won’t be revealed by the nulls, because they died confirming the vision. It is a sad thing that probably Talented novices are created into these fragile, worthless creatures, who just look into the future. Elspeth asks more about Ariel, and his residence, but Lark doesn’t know to much, just that he has a residence far away from anywhere else.

But what interests me, is the history of Norseland, and how it was invaded by the Herders. And Lark enlightens us. As with most things, it was treachery that handed over Norseland. The Norse king once ruled over obviously Norseland, and Herder Isle, which does make me wonder about their relationship with the Council. I can hardly imagine a time BEFORE the Herders! But they appeared out of nowhere after a storm, claiming that their homeland was destroyed. Being a kind and generous man, the king offered them land and women, but the Herders rejected the women, and built a Compound, where they worshipped Lud. A year later, the priests came to the king and told him to reject the three goddesses that were worshipped by the Norselanders, and of course, he refused. But still he gave them more land to expand, as they had started going to the Land, and were bringing back ‘converts’. Nobody ever asked if the boys were truly converts, or slaves, as they were ‘cleansed’. And it seems that Norseland didn’t have much to do with the Land, since the king didn’t know how bad things may have been getting.

Over time, the Faction ended up taking over an entire section of Herder Isle, even though most of it was Blacklands. They soon built a big wall around it, though they claimed it was to protect their farms from the ocean and its winds. Around that time, the Council would have been making an alliance with the Faction to build cloisters all over the Land. I do find it interesting that those on the Council saw having a fanatical religion get involved would only make their power stronger. Did they not think that sharing power was dangerous, and that the Herders would have their own motives, and that they weren’t concerned with the Council at all? I think the Council would have been alright, if it hadn’t been for the Herders, and hearing about their history is interesting. Where did they come from?

The King became curious in the Faction, and liked how hard working its members were, so he sent his ‘lazy’ son away to become educated. Once the king had died, the son was a devout follower of the Faction. Now with a believer as king, the Herders took control. There was fierce opposition but the Herders used their Beforetime weapons to destroy the cities of Hevon and Fallo, and divide Herder Isle. Quickly they took control of Norseland, simply because people were afraid of their terrible power. The Pers (who were the leaders) refused, and the Herders attacked with something like a missile, and after that, nobody put up a fight. Where on earth did they get these weapons? They were supposedly from a land that was now destroyed, and they brought nothing with them. Did they find them on the Island in the Blacklands? Or did they somehow get a shipment from their ‘destroyed’ home?

Elspeth slept on and off for the next few days as the journey continued. Soon enough they arrived at Herder Isle, and Elspeth caught some glimpses through Lark. She could only see the high wall surrounding the Compound, not much else was visible. Elspeth wonders why they built such a wall, unless they were afraid of attack. That is one thing, but walls keep prying eyes out, and who knows what they have been doing inside the compound. But Lark suggests they were copying ruins of a Beforetime wall they found, which is interesting.

It is time for anchor, now things get serious. The Black Ship is on its way to Norseland, so Ariel and his nulls won’t be a problem. Elspeth was locked into the locker, and was forced to listen to the crew disembarking. Eventually everyone was off, and then the first inspection occurred. Elspeth’s heart was in her mouth as Oma’s cabin door was opened, but quickly they left. Elspeth decided to get out, and take a look at the Compound for herself, now that the watch had left. But soon enough more footsteps were coming, and Elspeth had to hide again. But this time, they aren’t inspecting, they are looking for Elspeth. Someone gave her away, and they know where she is. And they are about to break down the locker! Who betrayed her? Is Lark and Hevlar and Oma okay? What on earth will they do to her?????????????????????????

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