Just before we finish off this chapter, I’d just like to remind you that on the 10th of Feb, I’ll be starting The Sending!. But more importantly, since this concerns what is happening in the next few days, I’d like to say that this is the last post about The Stone Key for a couple of days. I’m going off to watch some tennis, and then I have a work placement at a research laboratory, so I’ll be quite busy and won’t be able to post. However, I have lined up posts about The Lord of the Rings (4 of them) and then a quick post about the size of the Obernewtyn Chronicle books, which I had said I would bring to you to show just how large they get. That last post will be on Sunday (Aus time), and then there will be at minimum two days of no posts (staring up on Wednesday), and at maximum four days of no posts (starting up on Friday). Where we shall continue The Stone Key, so I can ensure that I do actually start The Sending at the aforementioned time. Thanks and I hope you enjoy my LoTR posts!
Chapter Twenty-Eight – Part Two
So now we are in a place unlike anywhere in the Land, we are in a Beforetime refuge that actually works. Elspeth just had an experience of going down an elevator, and I want to explore it all! But right now we have to deal with Domick, and Jak has something up his sleeve. They go into what I guess is their ‘hospital’ or at least medical facilities, where Elspeth is so surprised to see that the walls are filled with Beforetime machines that are actually working. Elspeth tries to get out of Jak how he managed to turn them on, but he is busy.
Inside one of the rooms was some sort of contraption that turns out to be a robotic doctor. Who soon tends to Domick, and Jak informs Elspeth that this is a bio-hazard laboratory, though it looks like a hospital to me. But this is all very lucky because it means that the plague can be contained in the chamber, since it is completely sealed. Domick can be fed through drips into his veins, which of course shocks Elspeth. Jak and the others have some way to go before they remember that Elspeth isn’t used to all this technology, but even they have a long way to go before they can say they understand and can use everything.
They turn on ‘Pavo’, the machine next to Domick, named after the guildmaster that died of rotting sickness. Elspeth is shocked at what Pavo can do, as Jak commands it to wash Domick, the machine is so delicate that it is pretty human. Elspeth actually cries at the sight of Domick alone just with a machine, this is so foreign to her but Seely tries to comfort her. Domick is in better hands now than with any healer, the robot can do a better and more precise job than any human could, and Seely believes it after being treated for a broken leg. But still Elspeth sees it as an ugly thing, a reminder of the Beforetime, something that destroyed itself and of her destiny to fix what they broke. Jak sets about ordering Pavo to start some complex tests to see whether they can determine what the plague is. It is possible that the machine has a memory of this illness, and will know how to treat it. That will be the only thing that can save Domick.
And so we learn just how they found all these machines, and as we know, machines don’t forget, and they can teach you how to use them. You can ask it questions, as long as it understands, and it will answer you. For Jak it must have been a truly exciting time, travelling down the elevator for the first time, alone. They didn’t even need to turn on the machines, they were always on, waiting to be used again, just like the weaponmachines. And I think Elspeth’s experience here is crucial for her journey because now she will know what machines can do, how to operate them, I don’t think she would succeed if she didn’t come here, again hence Atthis’ command for her to go.
As all great discoveries, they are basically making accidents and finding things by chance. And of course, the computer could never answer questions they didn’t know to ask, so things remain hidden. For example, they used the stairs originally, but that became tiresome, and Jak realised that Beforetimers would never have been content with that, so he asked the computer hot to get to the surface, and so he learnt about elevators. In fact Jak didn’t know that the chambers could be sealed until he asked to prepare for Domick’s arrival. His knowledge about plagues makes me (and I think Elspeth) feel a little awkward, why would Beforetimers ‘wake’ lethal things just to study them. For Elspeth she is reminded of the weaponmachines, and for me, I can’t help but wonder if what we are doing is always a good thing, but I love science! Even Jak understands there is a limit to how much knowledge you should be willing to pursue and at what cost.
Jak seals up Domick’s room, and the computer puts Domick in straps to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself in his fever (which is lucky since he soon stirs, and the straps are all that keep him on the bed). Jak is interested in what happened to Domick during the time Elspeth had him, and of course he finds it interesting that he spoke as though he was Mika. They will also be able to remove the demonband shortly, when they get a key, something that I’m sure is doing some harm to Domick. But I’m not sure it will be a good idea for Elspeth to probe him, she knows what Ariel sets up in the minds he touches. Guilt creeps into Elspeth, as it often does, as she is left alone to think about Domick and what has happened to him. Honestly, becoming guilty is one of Elspeth’s biggest flaws, obviously you need to be guilty sometimes, but not everything is her fault, she isn’t perfect, and she can’t stop everything.
Elspeth really shouldn’t have declined that sleeping chamber, since she falls asleep anyway, but in a chair, which would be mighty uncomfortable. Elspeth gets to talk to Seely, who I think has changed the most out of all the group. She talks about fear and the effect it has on people. She also talks about her personal fear, and that when she came to Obernewtyn, she felt useless now that Gavyn was safe, she had always had something to do, but then she didn’t have a reason to exist anymore. And that is something really hard to overcome. Working with Jak allowed her to overcome her fear, and feel useful again. Coming to the west coast has allowed her to be happy again, and I wonder if anyone in Obernewtyn could imagine that being exiled would bring happiness, probably not. And what is more, love has blossomed, between Seely and Jak, something he didn’t want, but things change.
Then, Domick wakes up and questions who is there. Seely goes to get Jak, meaning Elspeth is left alone with Domick, or Mika. This could be interesting.