The Stone Key – Chapter 30 – Part One

Chapter Thirty – Part One

So we are in another dream (actually Elspeth is in a dream, on the dreamtrails), where what seems to be either Hannah Serpahim, or her daughter, is calling out for ‘Merimyn’, who turns out to be a cat. But not just any cat, Maruman himself! Huh? A young Maruman, without his scarred eye. Soon he seems to notice Elspeth, and asks who she is. He is called away, just after he says that he has dreamed of her face. I just can’t figure out how Maruman can be with this other person. Obviously he was once young, but if this is Hannah, is this before the Great White? How old is Maruman? I’ve never really thought about it. Very interesting. Elspeth’s surroundings change, and she is now in the maze at Obernewtyn, but the hedges are different plants. Cassy and Hannah are there, and Elspeth realises that this is the old Obernewtyn, that existed in the Beforetime, the one that our Obernewtyn was built upon.

In terms of the timeline of things, this conversation is happening before a previous dream where Hannah was talking with her mother in a plane about returning to her father’s compound and sometime after the pair’s first meeting. She is going back to help break out the Misfits and the Agyllian birds, and I think that this is probably the beginning of the Agyllian eyrie, before their release, I doubt there was that many of them around. And since Hannah wants them to come to Obernewtyn, it makes sense that they would then settle somewhat nearby.

The pair discuss the Sentinel Project, which as we know will put all the power of the weapons in the hands of one master computer, and which ultimately ended up causing the Great White. The motives of the 5 governments is a little odd, since they are all working together for ‘safety’ sake, and yet, the company behind the project is closely linked with weapon manufacturers! For a project that is supposed to end warfare, why do they need more weapons? That is a very interesting question, and hopefully we will find out more, but maybe not (though we could always find out when Isobelle Carmody finally writes the Beforetime Chronicles, which she has signed up to do, and it is apparently from Cassy’s perspective, so that will make things interesting, but that will be a LONG WAY AWAY!).

Elspeth is woken up to the news that Domick is awake again, and he appears to be in the final stage of the plague, with buboes (which make me think of The Plague, aka The Black Death, so maybe it is a strain of that) so unfortunately he doesn’t have very long left. As for other news, Iriny has made it back across the river. As for the soldierguards and Hedra, they are arguing about going across the river, the Hedra want to, but the soldierguards do not. Clearly something is giving them the impression that the other side is ripe for the taking, I’m guessing the soldierguards aren’t so sure. Elspeth’s arrival has certainly brought about change, but it isn’t directly because of her, some of it is, but not all of it. I still want to know what is going on in Sutrium.

Seeing Domick is a unpleasant experience, his condition has rapidly worsened (it has only been about a day or a little more since we last saw him, I think), buboes are everywhere, and he is struggling to breath. The only ‘good news’ is that Mika has given up and ‘run away’ (however that works) and left Domick to deal with the pain of death. There is nothing more that they can do for him, he has already been given plenty of pain killers, and Domick wants to be awake, and face death. To take his mind of the pain, Elspeth speaks of Obernewtyn, and all the new things that have happened since Domick has been away, and then went on to tell her own tale when she was on Ari-roth travelling to Herder Isle. Domick says his ‘goodbye’ and tries to explain to Elspeth his actions with Kella, how he was afraid of Mika coming out around her, as he hated everything Domick loved. And that included Rushton. Not long after, he falls unconscious, and will never wake up. He will die probably within a day, and there is nothing more they can do. It is sad to see Domick go, but at least he was able to answer a few questions, and redeem himself, and he died free.

Elspeth cannot bear to wait for Domick’s death, and goes up to the surface to try to reach Merret. The fire seems to be still raging, and something I missed earlier, was a report that there were Hedra on the opposite bank fighting and killing rebels or innocent people (hence the reason why the Hedra on this side wanted to go across to help their compatriots). And this makes me more concerned for Sutrium and the rebels, but we don’t know what is going on there. Did the Hedra overrun Saithwood, and now have deadly weapons at their disposal, we have no clue.

Using Orys as additional energy, Elspeth reaches Merret who is in Followtown (the camp on the edge of the river), but there isn’t any more real information (so far) and there are just more soldierguards and more Hedra around. There are some outer-cadre priests and Councilmen, who are both arguing about whether they should cross the river. The outer-cadre priests are opposed to crossing the river (even though the Hedra support it) since they are concerned about the lack of Herder ships for the last few days (as they should be), the Hedra want to go across, and some of the soldierguards do too (but they are mostly the ones who became stranded here after the rebellion) and the Councilmen are afraid of both paths, because they could anger the other party. The outlook for the other side, is grim, the Hedra there are continuing their skirmishes and so far Merret hasn’t seen anyone she can recognise. It will only be a matter of time for the forces to join the Hedra on the other side, so Merret wants to take this opportunity to capture THIS side of the river, with the aid of the rebels. Since there won’t be a large force left guarding this side, it is the perfect time to act. They need to contact Gwynedd to get him to organise a force (which luckily they can do easily with Alun who has gone to meet him), but Merret has also taken the initiative to contact Rolf, and to get him to organise another force ready to fight. They also have the element of surprise (a very handy thing) and if they play their cards right, the Herders and Council won’t know what is happening.

Elspeth, fatigued from a probe which was disconnected quickly, stumbles around and finds a spot in the ruins to fall asleep in. As usual, she dreams, this time of walking across a plain in immense heat. She saw a signal in the distance, a light flashing, and then reached the signal, and found a tunnel. It was where the water dripped from her previous dreams. A voice commanded her to stop, saying she must not enter, since it is forbidden. The voice is coming from INES. Have we just seen what Elspeth is going to have to face in the future? Is this the location of the weaponmachines? I think that this is probably what Elspeth will be facing, and it makes sense since Elspeth has codewords and passwords to use, and if she says them INES will let her deeper and deeper into the compound, until Elspeth will be able to access the right machine to destroy the weapons. I really wonder how she will be able to do it, I mean she hardly knows how to use computers (even if they are voice commands), and I think it would be a complex protocol to destroy the weapons (but really what does that even mean? Are they literally destroyed, or just impossible to use?). But then at the same time, I know that Hannah and Cassy set about to make it easy enough for Elspeth to do it, in fact, ensured that Elspeth was the only one able to do it, otherwise what would be the point. I just really want to find out how this will all play out, I mean, this is fantasy, and good always triumphs, right?


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