Chapter Five – Part One
Bruna hung around Obernewtyn for a day, tending to her mare, who was injured during the journey from Sador. Plus Bruna has been brushing up on her finger-speech with the help of Louis Larkin who has become proficient in the speech, probably more so than Brydda who invented the thing. His natural empathy with beasts has enabled him to have proficient finger-speech skills, since after all if you love beasts, you would want to communicate with them as often and as richly as possible. As Bruna departs, Elspeth meets for the first time Ahmedri, who, I first thought would constantly shadow Elspeth until Straaka’s bones were found, but I think they meant just will stay with Elspeth, and go where she goes, so she might have a companion when she tries to go and see the Gypsies.
Ahmedri is an interesting person (plus a new character like I predicted!), he is a half-brother to Straaka, and will be maintaining a ‘ruse’ that he is searching for Straaka, but in fact he will be waiting for Elspeth to find out everything. He seems quite brusque, and I wonder if he actually wants to be here. Sure he might, at least a little part of him, care about Straaka’s spirit, but right now it doesn’t seem that way. But it might also be in part because of Miryum who essentially took him away from Sador and his family. Ahmedri doesn’t even wait to talk to Elspeth after Bruna has left, but maybe that’s just his nature that he doesn’t want to talk, he wants action. Maryon and her guild haven’t been able to find anything about her, but there was an interesting dream about Miryum. She was lying on a white table, utterly still like she was dead. Elspeth is reminded of her dream of Cassy in a similar situation, and she brushes it off as a coincidence, but really? I think she should know better, so whatever happened to Cassy is going on with Miryum. As for what exactly that is, I’m not really sure. And Maruman hasn’t been located either.
As for the moonfair which is approaching, it looks like it will be somewhat of a washout, the visitors who are coming up, and who were going to stay in tents, but now they would have to be housed in the barns because of the intense rain, might not be so happy living here if they knew they would be stuck here in the winter, and would have to deal with these storms. But anyway, the cows sound like great creatures! The weather leads to the inhabitants to rug up and avoid leaving their cosy rooms too much. Elspeth spends the time wrapped up in the dream books from all the guilds, but nothing much pops out as important.
They also spend the time planning and preparing for both the wintertime for those remaining here, and the expedition, of which many of them will be involved in. Plus they must ration food so that those left behind can survive, as they need to send supplies for the expedition. There is a lot to discuss, but right now it isn’t our main focus, so we don’t see the results of their discussions, yet. The rain has certainly delayed Elspeth’s plan to go and see the Gypsies, and Dameon have gone to the west coast, instead of returning like we had thought. But apparently Dell has summoned Dameon, as to why, who knows. So now Dameon is not going to return to help with Angina, since he didn’t get the message Elspeth sent to him. If you think about it Elspeth has so much on her plate before the Red Land’s adventure. Angina/Miky, Miryum/Straaka, preparation, her quest, Maruman, Moonfair, running of Obernewtyn, Gypsies, she has no time to relax.
Throughout the dream books there is very few mentions of Straaka, and no mention of Miryum at all, which is bizarre since there should have been mentions of her, but Elspeth realises that they aren’t reading the dreams of the coercer-knights who would have had the tendency to dream of her, much greater than anyone else. So the next morning she gets Linnet, who informs Elspeth that they have their own dream book, but weren’t sure about everything since they are a de facto guild, and Elspeth didn’t ask for the book, and they just assume Maryon would ask for it when she needed it for the dreamscape. But how would Maryon know, without a futuretelling of course, that they weren’t recording their dreams with the coercers, whose guild they are officially still with. Anyway, the confusion is now cleared up, and we should be seeing some dreams about Miryum and Straaka. The matter of this sub-guild will have to be dealt with soon. It hasn’t gone away, and the group has become more and more independent, I think everyone was just waiting for Rushton to return and make a decision, but that hasn’t happened yet.
But it is clear that Linnet has taken the role of leader of the coercer-knights seriously now, and has accepted Miryum might not return. All the coercer-knights had found about her disappearance was a trail leading to the mountains from the White Valley, but who knows where it went, and if it was Miryum. As for the dreams, there is another one where it looks like Miryum is lying as if dreaming, plus a few about a ‘dark man’ moving across desert lands, who must be Straaka. Then there was a dream about a strong, dark haired woman dragging a man on a ‘travois’, which would make sense if it was Miryum and Straaka. Then there were more mentions of the two of them travelling, but Straaka ‘made of smoke’ and with a clear link to Miryum, a spirit link. Later the same Straaka was leaning over Miryum who had grown ill, maybe from the taint? But all these snippets are tantalising, yet offer no real information or leads to follow.
Thinking about how Miryum could be captured, and Elspeth suggested that she couldn’t put up a fight against her captors, gives me some thoughts. What if she isn’t captured per se, but if her injuries were severe enough to warrant these other people to help her, and this has her now trapped in some sort of ‘stasis’. I’m kinda thinking of this because of the mention of cryogenics in the previous book, and now we have Cassy and Miryum in chambers, looking like they are dead. Which to me says cryogenics. OH MY WHAT IF CASSY IS ALIVE AND IS DESTROYER! Okay both are far-fetched, the latter more so, but still, nothing can be ruled out! And this could be her ‘third’ (or first) way of cheating time? And if Maruman was frozen with her, because he is clearly somehow from the Beforetime, then maybe these people unfroze him, and he wandered the Blacklands to Elspeth, and sometimes tries to get back to them, or maybe succeeds. This all makes me very excited, even though it is probably all wrong, but theories are good!
Elspeth goes to sleep and remembers the harrowing time in the White Valley cul-de-sac where Malik betrayed them (still waiting for him to be punished!). Honestly living through that again must be though, it was tough enough for me, just a reader! Then the dream changes into darkness with wolves (again!), and leads Elspeth into another memory. It is back when Obernewtyn was not free, Elspeth had asked Sharna, the dog that died saving Elspeth, what the wolves were saying when they howled. Apparently it is a song of madness, but it is still beautiful and full of wisdom. Elspeth says that she wants to free them, and Sharna says that his ‘dam’, his mother, once freed some of them, before Sharna was born. Only two escaped in the end, and his mother was hurt badly, but was not punished by Ariel or the others. Sharna was raised wild, and came back for a reason we don’t know as the dream dissolves, into a memory of him being killed by the wolves.
Elspeth finally thinks that maybe if she saves the world from the Destroyer, that she can free the beasts, just by having enough time to teach humans how to live with animals. Elspeth is taken into a ‘nightmare’ before she can put up a shield, and she is walking in boggy ground, where she eventually gets stuck, sinking into the ground. Elspeth escapes the dream, and sinks to the mindstream where she wonders if this is where Straaka will find her. A bubble rises up from the stream, and Elspeth hopes it is from Straaka, but we shall have to wait and see, since I have to end it here! See you tomorrow!