The Stone Key – Chapter 23 – Part One

Chapter Twenty-Three – Part One

So Elspeth has made it to the west coast, exactly where she is, and whether she will actually be able to do anything at all, since she was so tired (but I guess her self healing is damn useful) remains to be seen. And gosh I wish we could go and see how Matthew is taking the news about Dragon, if that actually happened. And why can’t we see more about Cassy and Hannah???

Gosh I am loving Elspeth more and more, just how she talks to the seagull! Hilarious. But she soon finds out that she isn’t at Murmroth (or near it) instead she is at Morganna. I’m interested to know how Elspeth is so knowledgable about these west coast towns, she has only been here once (though I swear she once said she had never been on the west coast, where was she during The Farseekers then?) so how does she know so much about the towns? Maybe she just likes geography, and I guess with so few major towns, it isn’t hard to remember a few defining features about them. But Elspeth seems to believe that she let go of Ari-noor, though I don’t remember any indication that she did, how can she be sure that Ari-noor wasn’t fatigued and just brought her to this beach, reasonable enough suggestion I think. Looking at the map it is slightly confusing why Elspeth is so far from Herder Isle, Murmorth looks at least 4 times closer than Morganna, but I do remember something about shoals and currents, but still, I would have thought it easier for Ari-noor to get to Murmorth.

Slowly Elspeth regains movement in her limbs, and she actually does remember her set of dreams, which is good, and I am always surprised how much these Misfits remember about their dreams, I know I don’t remember my dreams that well! As she starts to walk towards Morganna, Elspeth realises that she is going to look like a beggar, she has no shoes, and she is crusted in sand, and that could be dangerous. She thinks she might be able to coerce, but I think she has forgotten about demonbands. And so she sets about collecting a ‘faggot’ of wood, it took me a while to remember that there are two meanings (at the very least) of this word, interesting to see how definitions have evolved over time, but I don’t quite understand how a word can be given two meanings, couldn’t people be bothered making a new word? Anyway, I do find it interesting, that Elspeth isn’t opposed to coercing business people out of shoes and clothes, I know she has no other choice, but at least feel regretful you are going to steal from, usually innocent people.

Elspeth tidies herself up a little before making her way to join the queue of people entering the city. There is such a diversity of people that are coming here, some criminals, another person with a faggot, a man with inedible fruit and some farmers who had their crops destroyed by winds from the Blacklands. It really serves to remind us that people on the west coast are finding things hard after the rebellion, and they don’t deserve it. It is no wonder there is resentment to the rebels, because their lives have turned sour, since the ferry has been blocked off, and trade ceased. Hopefully they will come to appreciate their freedom, but they still have to be saved from the plague first.

She soon notices the demonbands of the soldierguards, but she can’t try to leave now, that will be suspicious, but getting through isn’t a problem at all. A sidenote, what is a creel? Sounds like a crab and an eel! Moments after Elspeth enters the city, she already is targeted by men, trying to rob her of her goods. Is that because she is a defenceless woman? Nonetheless Elspeth deals with them, by making them jeer at her instead of actually robbing her. And seriously why is it so bad to ask for directions to the well? You would do it if anyone else asked, but not a beggar, seriously people! And then when she finds a fountain, people glare at her for using it, because she is a beggar. I doubt she is tainting your water! Elspeth learns that she must aquire a beggar’s coin fast, or face being beaten up and thrown out of the city, since this coin proves you are not a beggar, that makes no sense. How do you prove that, have nice clothes, pay for it?

Eventually Elspeth gets some coin, through her wood, and some coercion. By this time, her hunger was severe. But she cleaned herself up first, and got some new clothes, before getting some food. At the same time, she learned from the baker that Salamander had not been here, and that was unusual, since the Councilcourt’s cells were full, and needed to be emptied, and sent to Norseland before going to the Red Land. She also learnt that the null wouldn’t have been released oat Port Oran, since ships couldn’t get there easily, so that is another town down. But to move on, Elspeth will need a horse, and even with coercion, I think that will cause some trouble. She is looking to steal one, which is a method fraught with danger. She finds a horse, whose owner is unlikely to be sober enough to deal with a stolen horse, which is good news, so Elspeth sets about to steal the horse. She coercers witnesses to think an old man stole the horse, and lets Rawen lead her to the main gate.

It almost seems like good news when Elspeth gets there, only one soldierguard is watching outgoing traffic, but it seems that things are tightly controlled here. Elspeth needs horses papers to get out, and the soldierguard is demonbanded. What is worse, is that when Elspeth finds out more about Rawen’s owner, she is the daughter of an important trader! Elspeth doesn’t want to waste time in this city, and she might be locked in before she can find another horse, so she takes a risk, and walks out. Luckily, the soldierguard lets her through, warning her to be quick if she wants to exercise the horse for her mistress. The only problem is that he will remember Elspeth when the horse is reported stolen.

They make their way to Halfmoon Bay (didn’t intend on rhyming but what do you know), but it is further than Elspeth thought, so they can’t make it in to the city now, so decide to camp on the beach. I love imagining Rawen playing in the sand, and the ocean, just like a horse should. The two come quite close, and inevitably Elspeth thinks of Gahltha, and the question of beast ownership and freedom is raised. It seems that the father of her mistress, will be furious upon finding the horse missing, and that will end up creating a search for Elspeth, so sadly the two will have to part soon enough. Thankfully Elspeth has more sense than I do, and she tells Rawen to wait for her on the other side of Halfmoon Bay, so that Elspeth can then go to Aborium.

Elspeth remembers that she should send out a probe to see if one of the Misfits are nearby, she tried in Morganna, but nobody was there. But this time, Elspeth detects someone, but in her surprise, it seems to disappear, and Elspeth cannot locate it! Drat! It is a pity, but at least someone is alive, and possibly all of those Misfits on the west coast are, and soon enough Elspeth will find them.

I do really like Elspeth realisation that beasts are able to just live and be. Humans concern ourselves with what the future will bring us, and what happened in the past, but we tend to ignore the present. We know (sometimes) what is going on around us, but we don’t live in it. Our attention is elsewhere, whether it be in our thoughts, or on some device. Beasts (even in our own world) are so content with just living, that you can tell that they are happy in just doing whatever. What I am concerned about, is that people are forgetting how to just be alone. All the time people when faced with a moment of aloneness (even when surrounded by people) turn to their phones. If you are waiting in line for something, you’ll probably check your phone. I feel like people have forgotten how to just be, and have also forgotten what it is like to be bored, which can lead to contentment in the present (sometimes). Anyway, beasts seem to do a great job at living, and we on the other hand, don’t seem to share their ability.

Eventually Elspeth falls asleep and in the morning they depart for Halfmoon Bay. Actually it took me a while to figure out that Rawen goes separately to Elspeth. Since Elspeth is so close to the city, she doesn’t need Rawen, so the horse is able to make her own way around the other side of the city, ready to wait for Elspeth. Before we see what happens in Halfmoon Bay, I’ll end this post here. I can’t wait for the reunion of Elspeth and the west coast Misfits, what have they been doing and what is the news? They will have so much to tell us! I guess it won’t be exactly the happiest of reunions, since they have a plague to deal with, but still, can’t wait!


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