EDIT: This is THE SENDING, Not the Stone Key!, like I mistakenly posted
Elspeth pulls herself together, and I marvel somewhat that she has agreed to merge minds with Rushton, simply now because she knows she can keep her quest secret from him, even with such an intimate connection. I know she wasn’t supposed to tell someone, but sometimes I feel that she is going to slip up, heck she nearly told Cinda about it! But if she’s going to tell anyone it will be Rushton, at the same time I hope she doesn’t because the consequences could be dire. I do like that she thinks about that very thought, if she had merged and he had found out earlier, Ariel would have known everything when he kidnapped him. I do feel uncomfortable that she has decided to use Rushton’s deepest mind as a secret storage place for her secrets, where she will fortify it from attack, it feels weird and wrong to hear her think to use someone else’s mind without telling them about it! The only consoling part is that he would eventually know everything that was in there, as it broke down, so if Elspeth never returned, he would know. But I don’t know how useful that would be given, the Destroyer would just ruin everything, but I’m guessing if she dies having saved the world, it will be very useful for him, and then he can spread word of her heroic actions.
What I don’t really get is why Elspeth is hiding the fact that she and Rushton are together and things are good from Ceirwan? I know it would be awkward talking about it, but he deserves to know that things are good again. Anyway Elspeth meets with Wila, Sarn and Tomash to discuss their intel gathering efforts from the dreambooks and from sailors. The briefly discuss Dragon and Matthew, who obviously knows about her real identity, and might even know that they are going to come soon enough. And Dragon will be there, since two futuretellers have said so, but I’m beginning to question whether either of them will be ON the ships though. Elspeth however starts thinking about trying to reach Matthew again, but I doubt she’ll get it to work, last time was a fluke.
Sarn arrives and starts recounting their information. Starting with the fact the journey shouldn’t take more than three months, if they found a way through the open ocean though that would be quicker. Because of the constant taint beyond Murmroth, they need to take basically everything they need for three months, if not more, they will only be able to get some fish away from the coast. Fresh water is also a great issue, since that is hard to bring enough of on a journey. Their only salvation is the fact that it will be raining, so they could capture the water and use that, which is a smart idea, since they need to hold out till ‘The Spit’. Most of the coast is actually darklands, which are just Blacklands that now support some life which has been mutated. What I find interesting though, is that The Red Queen’s Land is actually on a whole separate continent than the Land, that has been hinted at, but it’s only now I’ve realised that they are going on to a whole new continent! And it is said to be a long journey to the Red Land from the Spit, one that is going to really test them!
It will be most certainly interesting to see what they find at The Spit, where they will be some other people most likely, it is a place to get water and trade, but come nightfall everyone is back onboard. This strange location is of course home to the ‘black market’ of the world, where people trade away from the prying eyes and regulations of the various lands. People have also started selling food there at the Spit for those who want some more room for slaves, or want to restock for the return journey, this comes from the ‘closer lands’, whoever they might be. The Spit was likely used by the Gadfians even before the Red Land’s became their slave capital, so I’m excited to see what lies there, and I hope we do.
They also discuss the White-faced Lords, who seem to want two thousands slaves, which is a huge number. What could they possibly want with that many people? And I agree that maybe the Red Land’s slavemasters thought that Salamander would be able to bring in a huge crowd from the Land, and maybe his news will push them into thinking invading the Land. For some reason Elspeth actually starts to think that Cassy has left instructions to get to the Red Land, and it is on the statue marking the safe passage agreement, I think that’s a little far-fetched. It seems that the Lords have had dealings with the slavemasters for a while, collecting rare ore (from the Entina pit I guess) once a year, but slowly becoming interested in Beforetime books and maps, and slaves that were good at maths or building. I’m starting to get worried that they are trying to build a Beforetime weapon or maybe a ship or airplane or something. I don’t see how those who are good musicians relates, but this is quite interesting. The latest order of slaves, is the third time only the Lord has come directly, usually envoys are sent. And payment for the slaves is machines, this is starting to get scary. Will we have to deal with this lot of people as well, to stop them plunging us into the Great White v2?
Already there is evidence these White Faced Lords have machines and are using them, but what are they aiming to build? This prospect is terrifying! Maybe these are from Chinon then, because it was rumoured they weren’t really affected, so maybe this is where they are from? They have already given weapons to the slavemasters, and have a machine to refine the ore in Red Land. And maybe Salamander got some of his ‘toys’ from these people as well. But the weapons they have given are not the top of the line, they keep those themselves, just to make sure the slavers don’t try something. They have weapons that cause the sea to boil, which is an interesting image. What is interesting is that the slave army is to be a gift to one of the white faced lord’s brothers, who is using them to protect his border from some ‘pesky’ people, I wonder who THEY are?
They certainly have a lot of information, straight from Matthew’s own investigations. It seems that the white-face is just face paint to prevent people seeing their facial expressions. Usually masks are used, but if you are skilled at facial control, you use paint, and for some reason that is preventing Talent, slightly Tainted perhaps? Though this seems to be a coincidence, and that they are ignorant of Talents. It is very interesting to slowly develop an understanding of just how many peoples are left in the world. There were other settlements of people who visited the Red Land, but that stopped when the slavers started taking them as easy slaves. The white-faced lords are very strict, and don’t be fooled that the slavers are allies, their ships were threatened, when the ore supply was halted, only a ‘boy’ the lords wanted stopped them. What was so special about the slaver’s son?
Another thing they must consider is since they are so violent, what will happen once the Red Land is free? Will they try to wipe it out? Gosh, we get the Land free, we might get the Red Land free, and everyone still has to deal with MORE people! Tomash has an interesting idea that Ariel coerced a slavermaster to help Salamander get ‘in’ at the Red Land, and who knows what else he could have done with his powers? But this of course means why won’t our Misfits use their powers to help them get to the Red Land once at the Spit? And if they use one of the slaver’s own ships, Dragon can get aboard without suspicion.
Now onto the Red Land itself, they have actually made a few maps about it! The main city is The Red City and it is a complex, sprawling place, that is going to be hard to navigate if they need to. Beyond it is mostly the mines, and beyond that deserts and then mountains. The Red City has springs which give them fresh water, every where else is pretty dry. It is certainly an odd set up, the slaves are free to move around, so really they aren’t slaves, just oppressed people ruled by the slavemasters.
Sarn has done a fantastic job as always, the amount of information that they can collect is staggering. She is interested in going to Sador and Norseland to collect more information, but I doubt that will be useful for the current expedition, it will just be interesting for future reference. Elspeth suggests she goes with Cinda and Elkar to Herder Isle in a day or so, which excites her greatly.
Elspeth gets some time to think about her dream about Cassy and Doktaruth, it had certainly answered some questions. There were two Sentinels, and Elspeth might be looking for the one that was never woken up, which does explain a lot. I do think though that Elspeth is right to think that Cassy and Hannah would have had such gaps in their knowledge too, just imagine trying to plan for the future years down the track, without all the information. Somehow they’ve done a good job, and have been mostly right!