Wow, they are really pulling out all the stops for these riders! The coercers are located on the roof, and they are armed and ready! Honestly I’ve never seen this sort of reaction before from Obernewtyn, I know that the coercers who are posted on the pass would have usually dealt/identified riders but it does seem excessive, especially when this is supposed to be a ‘safe time’. I mean they aren’t even sure who they are, it is usually good to be ‘better safe than sorry’, but maybe there is a slight overreaction. There is also suggestion Elspeth go out and meet them with coercer-knights as an escort. Also love the word ameliorate, never heard/seen it before, but it’s really cool, thanks Isobelle!
As the group start to approach further, I realise that maybe it is more serious than I had thought, it is a group of 30, so no wonder they are getting prepared. I thought it was like 5! I guess all we can do is hope it is just a group from Dardelan, with Rushton among them, or just visitors coming up for Moonfair a little early. And if they are the Hedra, then they would know that rain is a good time to strike since Misfit abilities are defunct. Just a thought maybe it is Bergold and Analivia coming up to live? And a completely random piece of info is thrown at us, the taint eating insects are getting a workout with all the demonbands, which I guess is a good use for them! But there is a number of Hedra and Malik’s men who are out on the loose, and who knows what they have!
I just realised that Malik’s mind had been tampered with, and would collapse/trap whoever tried to enter it. Obviously it is just mentioned here, but I had never thought of that. Someone, with Misfit abilities played around in there, so who was it? Was it Ariel, could the two worst people ever have met and discussed their hatred of Elspeth? Or was it just a captive Misfit? Or are there other ‘evil’ Misfits working with Salamander/Herders, because if there is Ariel, there could easily be more.
I have a feeling that they are just about to realise that they are worrying for nothing (though that would be really anti-climatic!). I mean they have discussed getting Elspeth and the guildleaders ‘evacuated’ with coercer-knights as escorts, to the ‘wintergarden’, so they can plot there and be useful if Obernewtyn is taken. It all seems a little alarmist. That is, until Gevan arrives saying that there are about 20 brigands, but Radost, the ex-Council leader is LEADING THEM! He was thought to be dead! I did not see this coming! If this is who is coming, there could be some trouble. And Analivia’s brother is with them, Moss, and maybe they have already been ‘dealt’ with by this gang, oh dear!
It is really confusing as it seems that some of the people among the gang are wearing colours of Dardelan, a ruse? Then the anticlimax, it is just Brydda and a host of Dardelan’s men, just as I really suspected. Where did this talk of Radost come from? Honestly! Or is it just a hint for something to come in the future? And there seem to be some of Gwynedd’s men as well, maybe the troupe has come up for Moonfair a tad early? Or with some news of the Red Land expedition. But whatever it is Elspeth is curious to find out why they came up so early and through the driving rain? In any case the second, smaller group arrive carrying books for the Tecknoguild from the Herders, which shall be interesting.
More surprising for Elspeth is that Cinda, the shadow who helped her a lot on Herder Isle, is among them! Cinda cannot believe that Elspeth is the same woman, after seeing her in her worst state on the Isle, and now in her most grand. Elspeth had sent a letter to her, but Cinda wanted to come to her, and make sure she was real, and wasn’t a Norse Goddess, which was a plausible explanation since Elspeth rode off on a shipfish out into the ocean last she saw her. Elkar has also come with her, and he too has changed, looking much ‘bigger’ in both character and physical sense. There have been big changes on Herder Isle, and they invite Elspeth to go with them to look at it at some stage, but I doubt we’ll be going there again.
Elkar and Cinda won’t be able to stay too long though, the Stormdancer is going to return to Herder Isle, and then that will be it before the Red Lands expedition, so they have to go then, or never really (well they can try in a smaller boat once the seas calm down). Somewhat awkwardly Elspeth reveals to Cinda that she won’t be around Obernewtyn next time they come, or at least that is what she thinks is most likely, and privately Elspeth tells her that it has been foretold that she will leave Obernewtyn and not return. She is the first person Elspeth has told, and she isn’t going to share it! Sadly there is no trace of Cinda’s family who she was taken away from, they have all died, or are ‘uneasy’ about her being mute. So she is happy to stay on Herder Isle, but not in the Herder Compound, since that is not a happy place for them all, but with Elkar the two of them can make Fallo their home.
The books that they have brought are mostly those that were from the original Herders, which will provide the Tecknoguilders with endless intrigue. The Herders in the cloister on Norseland surrendered after they grew hungry, and most of them were old Herders anyway, not much of a threat to Norseland. And there are two books with maps, which might be helpful for their journey, or Elspeth’s. Speaking of the journey Oma is going to captain the Stormdancer as the Pers have said it cannot be Helvar, who has been named the king’s hand, much to Gutred (his wife)’s disgust! Lark is working hard to be ready to go on the journey also, so we may see him again.
The Hedra who surrendered on Norseland and Herder Isle have been put to work building a new library, and other buildings, like a teaching centre. They are under close scrutiny, and are still probed to make sure they aren’t plotting anything against them, and the Talented Norselanders are helping out with that task too. The penalty for plotting against the king is now being sent to the Blacklands, which is a death sentence, so they are taking things very seriously. Elspeth thinks they are being too lenient, since they are all guilty of what has unfolded, but Elkar says that most of them were taken as boys too, and ultimately aren’t the worst of the Herders, they have been sent elsewhere.
As for the poor mine shadows, many of them have already died, and most are in the healing centres, but with freedom they are enjoying their final days. And in the healing centres, they have started using empathy to heal, which is something news, so Dameon and Roland may both be interested in Sover’s development. This new technique is working best for those whose minds have been damaged by torture and the like. It sounds like Sover is teaching empathic ability to coercers, which is something revolutionary. I have always wondered if Talent can be taught and developed, and maybe a slight one can over time. I think Elspeth might like some empathy sometimes, but she needs to lack it, because it is her flaw, emotions are NOT her strong suit. It was always thought empathy and coercion were too different to coexist inside someone, but it seems that isn’t the case.
The news from Herder Isle is mostly good, change has happened and the shadows are free. Mouse is happy, but will never grow up into a man because of all the radiation, but that doesn’t seem to phase him, he is with his father and with Terka and Sabatien. I do like that the shadows now inhabit the cottages for the inner-cadre, it seems only fitting. And there is someone else who has made the journey, but since it isn’t revealed in this chapter, we’ll have to wait to find out who!