The Stone Key – Chapter 38

Chapter Thirty-Eight

After such a climactic ending, where can this go? The group departs from Norseland and are off to Sador, and Elspeth just watches over Rushton, who for a long while just slept, after the torment he went through mentally, he has every right to rest for as long as possible. But when he awakes, it is pleasing to see that his rage and anger towards Elspeth has gone. We hear about how the rest of the mission on Norseland went, but as we know the outcome, it was all easy going, probably easier than they had hoped. Of course the Hedra didn’t go down without a fight, but the whole of Norseland was ready for a fight and ready to win back their home and their freedom. By the time Elspeth and the others had reached Covetown the fighting was over. The death toll was high though, with over three hundred dead, and many more wounded.

Rushton had come to Ariel’s residence, urged on by compulsion which had been placed there by Ariel, who had trained him and taught him the way. Ariel really did foresee a whole lot, but as Elspeth has pointed out, he hasn’t seen everything, and that is really the hope that Elspeth has and that everyone can take away from all of this. Ariel is not infallible, and he can be beaten, which is good news if he indeed is the Destroyer. I almost really want to see Ariel’s face when he finds out that Elspeth and Rushton are both alive and well, what sort of rage would that put him through. Because it is NOT possible that he foresaw all of this, surely, because if he did, what would be the point of it all?

It seems that for a lot of this series, there has been nothing but war. At least since the rebellion, of course before then there was no fighting, but still a lot of death. The fighting is still raging on Norseland and in Westland, and then even once that is all over and won, they have to leave the Land to wage another war. Maybe, finally after that, there will be peace for these people. But one thing I really appreciate is that Gwynedd is haunted by the faces of the young Hedra, and even though it looks like a sign of weakness, it is the mark of a true leader, that human life is worth a lot to him, and even his enemies’ and their lives, he doesn’t want to take. And he has been strongly reminded that this battle on Norseland was once what all battles were like, since it did not involve the Misfits, who strove to keep it as bloodless as possible. At least the future for Misfits in the Land is safe, with Dardelan and Gwynedd both avidly supportive of the Misfits after all they have done. And Gwynedd admits that a true victory is only one where the hearts and minds of your enemy is won, not when they are dead. A true progression in humanity! Indeed it was Gwynedd who stopped the Norselanders executing the captive Hedra, for they wanted to repay the Hedra with the kindness they gave them.

As for their Red Queen expedition, Gwynedd did not find any clear maps of the route to take, so the best information they have is the maps from Sador and hope for some from the cloisters. As for the force they are going to take with them, Gwynedd is thinking about taking coerced Hedra over there, which is an intelligent suggestion, since they are such skilful warriors, and that’s what they are going to need. Gwynedd is now the king of Norseland like his lineage demands, but of course he is still high chieftain, for at least a year, but the Norselanders are totally cool with him going off to the Red Queen’s Land and wherever he pleases, because that’s what Norse kings do. The Pers have been organising and running Norseland for ages anyway, but still, it was left up to them when they had a king, since he was usually off doing his own thing (I wonder if they had Queen’s, I mean they worship Goddess, so it only makes sense). Gwynedd was crowned, and Dell’s futuretelling came true, as we knew it would.

Continuing on towards Sador, after falling becalmed, Elspeth finally gets some time just to relax and not have to worry. Honestly for this entire book she has been busy off on expeditions and adventures, worrying about Malik, Herders, a plague and Ariel. Now, she can just relax and be calm with those she loves. The calm weather is mirroring Elspeth’s piece of mind, which for once is still. She was content, and fine with being insignificant in the enormity of the ocean and the world.

I really do love seeing the tecknoguilders try to explain this planet and our (Beforetimer) world. Though they really do a good job, it is interesting seeing them present their ideas to everyone, and most people finding it all inconceivable. Elspeth though, has become very wise, and is saying some profound stuff. Certainty is indeed a sort of blindness, because it eliminates the possibility of something else being true, and is very limiting. Being able to accept other opinions and be open to new suggestions is an important part of development and research, so being certain of something is probably not a good idea, if that means you will disregard any contradictory evidence.

Sador comes into view, and Elspeth and Rushton finally, finally, are together and both acknowledge that they love each other. So they can properly be together, I know they were for a little while, but now, there is no reason (forgetting about Elspeth’s quest for a moment) that they cannot be together. Ashore, Bram greets them, and they already know of the downfall of the Herders and Council, their own kasanda foreseeing it, but they still celebrate the victory and look forward to a life of freedom. Finally in Sador they can put forward their request to the tribes (even though they probably have some idea of the threat themselves) and Elspeth can go and see the overguardian.

I’m guessing that it has been two years since Elspeth and the others were in Sador, since they were here for the Battlegames before the rebellion. In two years a lot has been achieved, and freedom has been won. And yet it is still in need of more fighting. As for the request for the Sadorian ships, of course they aren’t willing to hand them over, so a full alliance and proposal for war is going to be examined. Rushton even has to make the request in gadi, which should be interesting, but this means they’ll be here for a week, but at least they have the time to plan and start to prepare for the long voyage. But still the majority of the preparation won’t be done in this book.

Rushton and Elspeth are in a jovial mood, and we get a rare glimpse into Rushton’s family. His grandmother was apparently a very eccentric woman, and people thought she was a witch, but since it didn’t take much for suspicion to be put on people, she probably wasn’t that odd. Well, she did like to up in the forest at full moon and glare at it, which is weird, but reminds me of Maruman. But as much as Rushton plays down her, the Twentyfamilies Gypsies would visit her everytime they passed through town, so obviously she was someone important. Curse you Isobelle Carmody for introducing new mysteries at the end of the book! And apparently one of Rushton’s other ancestors was obsessed with the mountains, but wasn’t one of his ancestors the person who found Obernewtyn, or is this another ancestor? I guess it is since this is on his mother’s side, not his father, never mind. Apparently his grandmother thought there was a settlement of people beyond the mountain, and one day disappeared, believed to have gone into the mountains. I wonder if these are the mountains where Newrome is, and that she was a futureteller and saw this settlement as it was in the past. Or was she just aware of something that we don’t yet know of?

That might not be that far off from the truth as Lukas Seraphim had these same ideas, when he went out looking for Obernewtyn, so maybe he had just seen Obernewtyn, but in the Beforetime. Elspeth has a theory that Hannah Seraphim herself was responsible for spreading such rumours after being cut off from Obernewtyn, it is an interesting suggestion, but who knows. But maybe it isn’t as ludicrous as it sounds, it does after all fit, but without really that much evidence it is still just speculation. But it is so refreshing to see Elspeth and Rushton together, talking freely, and both happy. Such a good change from their icy distance. Not that long to go now!


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