2 weeks till The Sending!
Chapter Thirty – Part Two (It’s nearly Part Three of The Stone Key!)
Elspeth wakes up to Rawen nuzzling her, she was sent to keep watch of Elspeth, and right now Orys wants to talk to Elspeth. Rawen has already begun to identify herself as a freerunning horse, and she won’t be going back to her master. Most alarmingly for Elspeth is that she has slept for an entire day, so much could have happened since then, what’s happening in Sutrium, and in Followtown? Elspeth even feels slightly annoyed that she slept through all the goings on, but thinks that maybe the west coast Misfits were reliant on themselves, and didn’t think Elspeth needed to get invovled (even if she was in no place to help them). Luckily the other Misfits were able to find out what was going on before Orys fell asleep as well, so there was no big disadvantage to the two of them nodding off. News has come from Merret, and the Herders and soldierguards went across the river an hour after they spoke with Merret. Rolf was preparing a force, and Merret had gotten a few Hedra and soldierguards under coercion, ready to use them in a fight.
In Sutrium, the fighting seems to have continued, and now there were even a few explosions, which finally prompted the Council and Herders to cross the river. The Freerunning herd of horses had also sent a force to the river, so they have a good chance of taking this side of the river, at least for a while. Gwynedd is preparing a force to retain the riverbank, once Merret has everything under control, since they need more time to rouse up a larger force. The Misfits are going to try and get more information soon through another pooled farseeking. Speaking of which, they have really gotten the hang of the whiplash method (if it is the same method), and it is so handy.
Elspeth goes down to check on Domick again, and to find out where Jana was, who is about to set off to the riverbank. But Elspeth, unfamiliar with the complex, quickly gets lost somewhere on the 17th floor. She tries to find Jak or Seely with a probe, but then she realises that she has come off on the wrong level after all, she must have pressed the wrong button in the elevator (because it wouldn’t have stopped too early, because nobody would have hailed it). Actually that is a slightly creepy thought, maybe she got off early because something hailed the elevator, but where is that thing? It gets worse for Elspeth as she realises that the others haven’t really explored all that much of the complex (which is exactly what I’d be doing if I was there, honestly, this place is like my dream place, I wouldn’t have to even leave the library, there’d be that much to look at), and only regularly use three of its floors (honestly, can we have like a floor-by-floor analysis of what is on there, please Isobelle Carmody, now!). Elspeth really starts to panic, as she gets her self further lost in the labyrinth of identical passageways. Sure the others will look for her soon enough (they just need to go on each level and send out a probe), so there is no need to really start to get panicky.
Wandering around the passageways for what felt like hours (didn’t she go into the rooms to explore what this level actually is for? Or did she just wander the corridors? Where is her sense of adventure?). Okay she did explore, and seems to have found a basketball court, and I love how she has no idea what the heck it could be used for! Soon enough, Elspeth actually realises how to get out of this mess. Ines! The computer could easily tell her how to get back to where she needs to be, or tell the others about her adventure. Ines quickly starts to guide Elspeth back to the elevator, and I am struck that it takes her so long to return, this place is HUGE! I know we just saw a basketball court, so how large is this place to have it’s own basketball court and sanctuary? Just makes me want to be there so much more!
As Elspeth is guided back to the elevator, Ines actually asks what to call her, which is an interesting gesture, because she would already know who she is from hearing the others. So maybe computers aren’t so ‘evil’, and Elspeth realises quite awkwardly that Ines would have heard Elspeth talk about her with the others. Which is why I mentioned earlier how weird I feel about the idea of having a computer listen to everything, even if it doesn’t have emotions, it’s just a strange idea. But now I start to love Ines, as she answers Elspeth’s questions with such frank, honest courtesy and kindness.
Quickly becoming a favourite scene of mine, Elspeth ask Ines about the Beforetime, and Ines asks for a definition. Elspeth realises that Ines must know what Elspeth is talking about, the others would have asked, so Ines is seeking further definitions from different people to create a more thorough understanding of these new terms. And as Elspeth tries to explain, she comes across a slight problem, because how would Ines know about The Great White, which marks the end of the Beforetime. But she comes up with a good definition, that it was when Ines was made. Ines doesn’t respond as she is updating her knowledge, by comparing the definitions, and then refining them, which is so clever. But as Elspeth remembers a conversation with a tecknoguilder about computers, it is clear that even though computers can ask questions and learn, they still lack human curiosity and intuition that allows them to ‘leap’ from one conclusion to another. With two very different forms of thinking, in humans and computers, the ‘best’ thinking happens. Which is true, if you look at interaction between two different people, the best ideas tend to come from two people with differing ways of thinking, that supplement one another. But Elspeth realises that even computers must have some sort of emotions, especially if the definition of a tecknoguilder is some sort of alignment with machines, and Ines just, at least, tried to show emotion earlier. As a side note, I just realised that I’m typing on a computer thoughts about computers, which though I’m sure my computer is nothing like Ines, does make me feel slightly weird.
Ines is certainly unique, as she comes back to Elspeth and asks her a question (even using a recording of Elspeth’s definition in the process, which creeps Elspeth out) about her definition. Because Elspeth said ‘when Ines was made’, but Ines doesn’t understand that, does Elspeth mean when this Ines was made, or the program itself? Elspeth was referring to when Ines was cut off from the other computers, which is as far as we know around the time of the Great White. Elspeth asks Ines about the last sentence Ines was told before Dell (as she in fact remembers everything told to her), and a ‘Dr Cooper’ was asking about some information, but Ines could not provide it because the government had shut down the link between her and the other Ines units. He then proceeded to initiate the automatic emergency program, and sent her to sleep.
Almost sadly, Elspeth’s time with Ines has come to an end as they reach the elevator (wait, I just said they, Elspeth is alone) and go to see Domick. Seely quickly tells her that she was missing for hours, and it took that long for Jak to realise that they should ask Ines (even when they are familiar with her, they don’t think about using her to the full capability). Orys had come to say that riders were approaching, which is when they realised Elspeth was missing. But the riders are good news, the rebels have won both sides of the Suggredoon, something a little unexpected. But it all is clear as Seely explains that everything was a careful ruse by the rebels in Sutrium, the burning didn’t happen, it was a trick! The rebels had built facades of the city, and burnt a lot of hay, and even put on performances by Hedra killing people. The rebels were waiting for the Hedra to come across, and quickly got them under their control wave by wave. Then they came across in disguise ready to take the west side, only to find themselves under attack by Merret and Rolf’s force!
The riders are in fact Dardelan, Gevan, Brydda and Rushton, who have come as fast as possible after hearing about Domick. Elspeth gets very concerned, the possible meeting between Rushton and Domick could be dangerous, what if Domick says something that triggers memories in Rushton? She wants to go and meet them, but forgets that she has been out for hours, they are already here, and they are on their way to meet Domick. And so Part Two ends with Elspeth wanting to stop Rushton from seeing Domick. And what a way to end, the rebellion is finally Land-wide, only Norseland is still plagued with Herders, and I’m sure that that won’t be for very long. I am impressed by the rebels, it was a very clever ploy, and I’m sure we’ll hear more about it soon enough. But I like this section because of the talk with Ines, something I wish we get more of, I think we probably won’t since Elspeth won’t be staying too much longer, so it saddens me. And I know that Dell has said she won’t come back here, so we will never get to see what is on the rest of the levels! But there isn’t all that much left in the story, well actually, anything could happen in Part Three!