The Stone Key – Chapter 34

Chapter Thirty-Four

Elspeth goes to sleep and decides that she doesn’t want to deal with dreams or memories so sinks past them to be just about the mindstream (which means we’ll probably get a memory from Cassy, which is fine by me). Honestly, I think so many people would wish to be able to do this, how cool would it be just to be like, I’ll just go to sleep now, and not have to worry about my constant thinking keeping me awake. I struggle to understand how all of this works, just because it is such a foreign concept. So Elspeth goes to ‘sleep’ by going down into her mind, to avoid dreams, but does that mean she is actually sleep (she has said before that she basically coerced herself to sleep or something) or is she just in a trance while she is in her mind?

Anyway Elspeth thinks about Domick and whether he is now apart of the mindstream. We get a nice little passage about perspective in terms of ‘good and bad deeds’, and that sometimes little things can have huge consequences, whereas big things can be inconsequential in the future. Elspeth actually seems to now realise her human urges, which make her want to know when things are ‘right and wrong’, which is impossible to do, and acknowledges that they exist. But I do like the message that Domick’s life was a gift, and to the mindstream his death neither lightens or darkens it, it just is, and it has returned the gift to he source.

As expected we get a Beforetime scene, with Cassy, sometime after her Tiban lover had died. She is inside the government facility, probably trying to help the Misfits escape (though Hannah didn’t want her to get suspicion cast on her, so I’m not sure how much she is going to do). Cassy is trying to find them, though is stopped by a scientist, who tells her that this part is offlimits, but Cassy just plays innocent, and says she was headed to the garden cafeteria. She plays it really well, and I honestly wonder if Cassy and Elspeth are related, because they both have this innate skill with these sorts of situations (but then Elspeth would be a Gyspy, so that doesn’t really work, does it?).

Things get interesting as the woman goes blank, and Cassy probes the woman, and finds that there is someone else coercing her! This mind wasn’t impressed with Cassy and her slip about her father forgetting her birthday, so has set about to fix up their encounter so ‘Ruth’ doesn’t become suspicious. Cassy seems to know this other mind, who is very controlling and assertive, as Cassy tries to find out what the woman was doing in this place, but this other mind just says it is irrelevant and Hannah wouldn’t be worrying about it. Cassy gets her way though, as she reminds this mind of her information about the Sentinel Project, which nobody else was interested in until she mentioned it. Apparently she was working in cryogenics, which is interesting, I wonder if she has gotten it to work. How weird would that be? Frozen for centuries, only to wake up and find yourself in the future. I wouldn’t want to do it.

The other mind has done their job, and leaves Cassy to talk with Ruth, who has been prodded to talk about the Sentinel Project. She doesn’t mention much just that there are a lot of people from different countries involved, including bureaucrat types who are reporting on the progress back to their respective governments. Her cryogenic research is another project which has inter-national collaboration, which is interesting, why is her project so interesting for everyone around the world?

Following the source of the probe, Elspeth finds a girl, no older than Cassy. With her are a number of Beforetime Misfits, all but this girl, look just like Cassy. I really do wonder who all these people are, and what their talents are. And what their fates will be, will they be able to escape? I don’t remember hearing about their escape, and what have they been put through in this place? And did any of them survive the Great White? It is just interesting that they are mostly the same as Cassy, in terms of race, but why is that? Is that what people in Uropa all look like, but then why are they dark-skinned, that isn’t what Europian (if indeed that is what Uropa is based on) people tend to look like? So are these all captives from a different country?

Waking up to Maruman, who scratched her, annoyed with her stomach, Elspeth tries to find Jakoby or Brydda to talk about Rushton, but instead finds herself faced with Gilbert. Who should know never to use the word ‘ravishing’ about a woman, it just sounds nasty. Hopefully with Elspeth’s cold, bitter exchanges with him, he’ll get the message, but I don’t think he will, he seems like one of those people who just find ‘hard to get’ more enticing, when it simply means, ‘GO AWAY’. At least Elspeth slips away from him and bumps into Gwynedd, though that means he drags her into the saloon, where Dardelan and Rushton are waiting. Not exactly the person Elspeth wanted to see, but she can’t avoid it now. Though it seems Rushton doesn’t want to be near her either, as he leaves as soon as she arrives, off to go and get Brydda.

Gwynedd is interested in the shadows of Herder Isle, so Elspeth has to tell him a great deal about them and her time on Herder Isle. Brydda arrives, and it gets more awkward for Elspeth, as she has to deal with everyone else slowly dawning that Rushton and Elspeth aren’t in a good place, and they try to give sympathy to her, but what can they do? Brydda takes her away from the others, as she finally cracks, and releases her pent up tears, something she needed to do. She is finally allowed to explain all she knows about Rushton and what has happened to him to Brydda. The enormity of the situation dawns on Brydda, Rushton is here with Elspeth, and no empath or healer, and travelling to the place where he was tortured, it would send anyone over the edge. Brydda knows more of Gwynedd’s plan than Elspeth, so he is able to see a way to keep Rushton on board the ship, away from Norseland, by making Elspeth take his place on one of the ship boats that will be going into the secret cove. Where he will then raise up the Norsleanders while the ship distracts the Hedra, with the help of Jakoby who will demand to see Ariel.

But what is more interesting is the revelation about Rushton’s request to the Sadorian tribes. Zarak had ridden in just before they set sail. He came with news of a futuretelling from Maryon, one that is terrifying. The slavemasters from the Red Queen’s Land want to INVADE the LAND! And all the forces of both sides of the river, Norseland and Sador, won’t be enough to drive them back, meaning everyone will either die, or be enslaved. I guess this is their way of getting the thousands of slaves the white faced lord wants. Maryon says their only hope is that a force be sent to stop them leaving in the first place, and that must be done before The Day’s of Rain, and they need four greatships. They will have (just) the four ships need, if they can get the two from the Sadorians, but even still they need to prepare for such a difficult journey. Of course these four ships won’t actually have enough fighters to stop the slavemasters. The whole point of the journey is to get the slaves to uprise, which means they need Dragon! And Gwynedd is hopeful that the Norselanders will have a few maps which will show them the way, because the Norse kings once had trading with the Red Land. Oh this is so exciting! And Elspeth wonders if all of this is just so the Seeker can go and find the sign, I don’t think so, it just means that multiple things can happen at once, and Elspeth must remember that even if she succeeds, the people left behind need to be ‘good’ people not slavers who will want to create weapons again.

After being left alone by Brydda, Elspeth finally has to face Gilbert and deal with him, so he stops his perusal. Honestly, he doesn’t seem to get the message, that she doesn’t like him any more, the Druid’s Camp was different. Elspeth lets him down, not exactly lightly, as she uses the fact he has left his wife and children against him. The tables are turned as Gilbert explains how he felt about Elspeth, and how he was trying to protect her from Erin’s and the Druid’s prejudices, and he was left believing she had died. After the camp was destroyed, and Elspeth, he had changed, and it wasn’t until he met Gwynedd that he was able to wake up and get over everything. He made a mistake bonding with Serra, apparently she looked like Elspeth, and the two started off well, but ended up not being able to fulfil one another. Thankfully the two of them are able to move on and accept one another in friendship. But as for Elspeth and Rushton things look to be worsening, as Rushton now regards Elspeth with intense rage, he is way too close to cracking, and I fear what is going to come of it. It will be unavoidable, but what will the consequences be?


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