13 days till the Sending!
Part Three – Heart Song (I think I can see that we Elspeth is going to deal with emotions, finally!)
Chapter Thirty-One – Part One
Elspeth was too late to stop Rushton from seeing Domick, but so far, nothing bad has come of it. Of course by now Domick is a terrible sight, and there is nothing Jak or Pavo can do for him now, the Beforetimers didn’t have a cure for this strain of illness because it seems to be a very fast evolving virus/bacteria which changes just as Pavo figures out what to do with it. There is the added issue, that Domick seems to be content with dying, he doesn’t want to be saved. And can you really fight against his wishes?
I have to say I cannot believe that only a week has passed since Elspeth entered Saithwood with the help of Brydda! So much has happened, and to think that about 700 pages of text has passed and it’s only been a week! A lot has happened, and not just to Elspeth, but to everyone. It seems that people (once again) thought that Elspeth had died, but Rushton was convinced that she was still alive (that’s a good sign surely). It was not until Iriny came back to Sutrium that they knew Elspeth was alive, and had gone to Herder Isle on a shipfish. It is not just Elspeth who has a fascinating tale to tell, Brydda and Dardelan have some explaining to do.
Of course in the shadow of Domick, it isn’t exactly the place to swap tales, so they plan to have a celebration back on the surface, in honour of the freed west coast. Everyone seems willing to leave, apart from Rushton, who strongly wants to speak to Domick when he wakes up, even though Elspeth tells him it is unlikely that he will. Elspeth announces that she must go and wash up since she has spent the day lost, but makes sure Jak gets everyone to leave, insisting he will be here ready to tell them of any developments. Obviously this is a very delicate situation, Rushton seems to be drawn towards Domick, possibly he is wanting to ask him what happened to him, since his own memories are repressed. But if these memories are unleashed, he may become mad with the pain and suffering, but at some point they must address what has happened to him, or he will end up like Iriny or Dragon. Elspeth is key to this, but given her very poor track record with emotions, it will be a challenge for her to succeed, but if she does so, it will be an important step for her to open herself up to emotion and learn to deal with it.
The feast ended up becoming a funeral supper, for Domick died an hour earlier, never regaining consciousness. They buried him in the ruins (after getting Pavo to make sure they weren’t at risk of infection), and Rushton and Brydda dug his grave. The tradition of telling stories about the deceased is what I think, a very good way to remember the person in the best light and to solidify the good memories that everyone has. Funerals are a celebration of a person’s life, and sharing stories about the person is the best way to do that. And so we say goodbye to Domick, the beloved coercer, and remember that he was free of Mika in his final moments, and his love for Kella never ended.
After Elspeth gives a rundown of all that happened to her, the conversation turns to Norseland, and what might lie there in terms of Beforetime weapons, so that they can start to plan the final stage of the rebellion, and free the land of the Herders. Right now they must secure the west coast, and they can’t really do anything until they get together a fleet of ships, after all Norseland is an island! The conversation turns to the events in Sutrium, which were spurred on by the arrival of Iriny and the news of the downfall on Herder Isle. The Hedra in Saithwood had been ‘easily’ (as far as we know) contained, so it was time to capture the west coast. Even now, the illusion that nothing has changed continues. They will still have to fight to keep control away from the soldierguards and Hedra, but their reign of terror is over.
Then, another group of riders is heard to approach, and it must be one of the Misfits, because nobody knows that they are here, even Gwynedd. But it is Merret with a few of Gwynedd’s people, who want to speak with Dardelan and Rushton. Basically they are just inviting them to go and speak with Gwynedd, which they were going to do anyway! But they tell them that Gwynedd is in Aborium and they have a safehouse set up for this meeting. They want to choose the chieftains for each city, even before they have won them! He is doing that since there isn’t really a network of rebels set up, and those that are around are too young for such responsibility (awkard for Dardelan and even Rushton who are young and managed to do just fine). But the west coast needs help from the ‘east’ rebels and even Obernewtyn to make sure they stay in control. Once they have leaders, it is their duty to expel the soldierguards from their town, and keep them prisoners, as well as dealing with the Hedra.
This slightly different system of operation has come about because Dell had a futuretelling about the rebellion on the west coast, and knew that they couldn’t just go from town to town freeing it, because it would create a huge force of Hedra and soldierguards who would be lead by a man called Aspidak, and it would become a bloody battle, and he would lead the army back over the Suggredoon! Right now they have Aspidak in a cell, and with that, major bloodshed has been avoided, since Gwynned is acting as he is. Apparently after this, Gwynned with become a king, something that Dell has foreseen, but the details are not known (well Dell knows), like who is going to crown him. And do they even mean king of the west coast? After all he is a Norselander. So they set about to ride to Aborium, Blyss and Merret included. Elspeth is going to stay and speak with Dell for a while, but will come to Aborium before crossing the river.
Then things get slightly bizzare, as more of Gwynned’s men who came with Merret but were too scared of the rumours come and meet Elspeth. Because, one of them recognises Elspeth as Elaria, and it is Gilbert, one of the Druid’s armsmen. What a strange, chance meeting (see, basically every character we meet somehow pops up again!). They speak of their first meeting, and of Daffyd and his plans to find those sold to Salamander, a mission that Gilbert thinks is madness. Of course the two of them haven’t seen each other for ages, and Gilbert didn’t know Daffyd was a Misfit. And there meeting is short lived as they prepare to leave for Aborium. There is another tense moment with Rushton, as he tries to tell Gilbert that Elspeth doesn’t need an escort (which is true), but his tone and eyes deceive his words. Elspeth actually feels fear for a moment around him, and she realises that Rushton is not safe now that Domick is gone, nothing has really changed.
Elspeth is once again left alone to think, and think she does. She realises that Domick was left to die because it would hurt Elspeth, but still Ariel has made more hurt with Rushton, and that isn’t over. I wonder how Kella will take the news that Domick has died, will it allow her to close that chapter of her life, and ‘move on’ (not at all saying she’ll be with someone else)? Or will she continue to be ‘tainted’ (remember the red streak in her aura) by Domick? But Elspeth looks hopefully towards their meeting in Sutrium, and being reunited with Maruman, Gahltha and Dameon. And Dragon will be there too, maybe with some more memories, and less hostility towards Elspeth, at least Elspeth is being positive. She goes back into the complex and falls asleep, after staying awake for the whole night. There is another 20 pages to go for this chapter, so this will be continued tomorrow!