The Stone Key – Chapter 24

Just a note, it is highly likely that within a month! That’s right a month, I will be reading The Sending! This is the tentative start date, put it in your diaries, 10th of February 2013, on that day there will be my predictions post, followed the next day with my usual cover/start bio thing that I do, before starting I guess on chapter 1 on the 12th of Feb!

Chapter Twenty-four

Elspeth just found out that it is Domick, the coercer who disappeared at the same time as Rushton, who is Ariel’s special null, and who carries the plague. Coming back to the real world, she struggles to make a plausible explanation for her behaviour to Aro, but the shock is just too great. Elspeth believes that it was Domick’s mind that she touched last night, I’m not so sure, would his mind even be capable of it? And why didn’t she feel Ariel’s mind? Unless he was already hidden in a room of some sort, or maybe he can block his mind being detected. I don’t know about Elspeth’s theory that Ariel tired to make Rushton a null but failed. Why would he fail?

Aro tells her to calm down, she is already drawing unwanted attention to herself as it is. She does so, but makes an error by calling him Rolf. Even her lie that Una, the shopkeeper who sold Elspeth some food, said that name, comes up short. His name is Arolfic Smithson (cool first name!), and only his sister calls him Rolf, and it now explains the weirdness of the previous section with the two names. Elspeth can’t explain her story, it would take too long, but Rolf is content with her saying little, and is actually more concerned with her plea to get Domick out of the city. Slowly the story is revealed to Rolf, that Domick is known to Elspeth, and that she is a rebel, but still, he is willing to help her. He sends her to Metta just as he was going to do, but this time, she we show Elspeth to another friend, Erit.

Actually Elspeth I really want to know how on earth Salamander is getting spiceweed from Sador. Is he getting it off of other traders who go there? Does he send out people to collect it, under a guise of being from the Land? Surely nobody in Sador helps him, because of his slaving ways. It is a mystery I want solved! But I guess we’ll have to wait, and see whether it is ever solved.

Metta shows her the way to Erit, and Elspeth is slightly shocked to find that Erit was actually a young boy. But her concerns about the boy are forgotten, as he quickly proves that he is smarter than most, as he picks up on the details of her story. He quickly sends out some of his friends to go and check the cloister and healing house, to ensure they didn’t go to the obvious places. Erit gives his word that if Domick is in Halfmoon Bay they will find him, but warns that they better not have trouble from Salamander because of it. He left her to rest and eat.

Spending time later with Erit, we get to learn a little more about Halfmoon Bay and its moon fair. Apparently it is a special one, as it lasts for three days instead of one, and it is a masked one, and whoever has the finest mask gets a gold crown and is called the king or queen of the fair. What is really interesting is that once the moon fair begins, if you aren’t wearing a mask, and someone finds you, you must be their slave for a day, or hand them a gold coin. I think Elspeth better find a mask, she doesn’t have time for being a slave, and doesn’t have money for the gold coin! It is without a doubt that Ariel knew about this moon fair, and chose Halfmoon Bay because of it, he is able to infect people from all over the west coast, and they will then return to their cities, and infect them! Elspeth decides that she must get him out of the city by tomorrow midnight, otherwise he might already have spread the plague.

Erit and his friends are most efficient, and soon track Domick down. He was inside a Faction house, not too far from the sea market. Ariel had left him several hours later, alone. The House is operated and guarded by Hedra, who are probably wearing demonbands, so getting Domick out from the house is going to be next to impossible. Obviously at some point Domick will have to leave the room to spread the infection, but would that be too late to take him away out of reach of other humans? Taking Elspeth to the house, it becomes clear that they won’t be able to get him out of the house, and will have to wait for him to leave, or somehow get him to leave the room. And even when he does, he might not take lightly to being taken elsewhere, and so might have to be kidnapped and bound. Erit creates a watch on the house to learn its routines, and to see whether they can find out when he is to leave.

Honestly Erit and his friends, are a Lud-send (yes, I used Lud here) because honestly Elspeth would have no hope of finding him on her own, and if she did, how would she have gotten him out of the city on her own? Even now, Erit warns her that a description matching hers, is being spread around from Morganna, and soldierguards will be on the lookout for her, so she cannot keep watch herself. So she decides to leave the city, and pretend to be a boy, and look after Rawen. She will return through the sea gate, after the revellers of the moon fair have left.

Now alone, Elspeth thinks of Obernewtyn and her homely comforts, something she hasn’t done for quite some time. But at least now she realises why Rushton wouldn’t want to talk of his time with the Herders, because he spent it with Ariel. She locates Rawen and tells her to meet her at sunset, at a location called Stonehill which Erit recommended Elspeth visit. It might also allow Elspeth to have a greater farseeking range, and could allow her to contact any Misfits nearby, especially those at the Beforetime library complex, where Jak might know how to treat Domick of the plague. Which is a thought I hadn’t entertained. Can he be treated? Surely not, it is a Beforetime virus (I assume, maybe bacteria) and their medicines are primitive, and herbal remedies probably won’t be effective. So my guess is that he won’t be able to be treated, so unfortunately, he’ll probably die.

Soon enough Elspeth caught a glimpse of Stonehill, which as its name suggests, looked like a hill made of lots of stones, but is actually a single ‘tor’ of stone. Which brings about a problem, maybe she won’t be able to climb it afterall. An hour later, Rawen arrived, after being guided by Elspeth, and what is better, Rawen seems to have found a way up the hill using scent. Even so it was a steep incline, and Rawen had to have a run up to get up the first section. Trying to picture what it looks like, I think it is almost like Uluru in Australia, but not so wide, and more steep. But Rawen is more than capable of making it up the steep path, and soon enough Elspeth can climb it herself.

Before getting to the top of Stonehill, Elspeth decides to try to farseek the Beforetime ruins, specifically Merret. Instead of being at the ruins, the probe locates Merret towards the coast, must to both of their surprise. She is on her way to Aborium, but she is more interested in news from the other side of the Suggredoon, though Dell has provided glimpses of things through her futuretelling. Elspeth sends over some memories, which is a cool way to tell someone what happened without having to actually speak, and soon Merret is briefed on the plague situation. Elspeth warns her to make sure they evacuate to the ruins quickly, and warn the rebels that they too must leave unless they can close the city entirely, or else face death.

Merret wants to come and help Elspeth, I mean of course she does, Elspeth would do the same. In fact she is on her way to speak with Gwynedd, the last of the rebels to have survived on the west coast, who is talking with some new rebel leaders. Of course Merret asks a very good question, what is Elspeth going to do with Domick after she has him? Elspeth is planning to take him out to a remote spot, and tend to him. She seems to think that her healing ability will protect her from the plague, but is she really that confident? Of course Merret objects to such a suicide mission, and again urges Elspeth to accept her help, this time, she does. They part minds with Merret giving some sort of cryptic clue about Stonehill, has she mentioned it previously? I don’t recall.

Elspeth recalls a vision she had of Domick in a cell, probably with Ariel, but there isn’t much to it. Soon she climbs to the top of Stonehill, where she finds that there are buildings on top of it! Well they are now ruins, but who lived up here? There were quite a few ruins, enough for a settlement. Interesting that nobody mentioned that, unless nobody knew. Elspeth realises that there must be an easier way up the tor since there was a settlement, but where was it? Elspeth found what she thought was an orchard of long dead trees, but it turns out that they were stone. Are they natural stone things or did someone carve them? Hmmm, curious!


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