We begin with a guildmerge, which of course given the circumstances went for hours. First, they discuss Dragon and her destiny as the Red Queen. There is some opposition that Dragon’s arrival will miraculously empower the slaves and they will uprise, and I somewhat agree. Garth is being somewhat of a pessimist, but he is also being a realist, this has been become a legend and when people finally see that the legend is coming true, it won’t mean they will be so inspired. They have grown use to their way of life, and even though they don’t want to be slaves, change is hard. Of course they can just interpret the legend differently, just like some of the Sadorians have done with the taint-eating bugs, people tend to disbelieve. Even if Maryon has seen that the slavers won’t try to invade the Land, it doesn’t mean they were overthrown.
Of course they still need to find her, but because Maryon and Dell have foreseen it people aren’t too concerned, which just shows how much faith everyone has in the futuretellings. And Elspeth’s involvement in the journey is also revealed, but it brings up a perfect question, if Rushton and Elspeth are going on this expedition, who is going to run Obernewtyn? Why did I not think of this? Rushton has thought of this though, and intends to make Dameon the Chieftain of Obernewtyn Shire, with Roland, Linnet and Gevan as his counsellors. This means that Dameon won’t be joining them on the expedition which means we won’t be seeing him much more in this series, which is sad. I think we haven’t had enough of Dameon in the series, he has always been absent! As a little tidbit, the Moonfair will continue as planned, Dardelan wants to formalise Obernewtyn as a Shire, and he wants to do it at Moonfair so as many people are witness to it as possible. It will also empower those Misfits still fearful of their Talents to show themselves and come to Obernewtyn, so if we do return back after Elspeth’s quest, things will be very different.
After a short break, where Cierwan and Elspeth discuss the merits of spying, the merge reconvenes and turns their attention to the expedition itself and the information Sarn has gathered. Sarn also proposes her expedition to Norseland and it is approved, even if it won’t be of help for the forthcoming expedition. Rushton briefly deals with talk about Moonfair continuing, and his points are valid. This is the first time the folk of the Land have been invited to Obernewtyn and to see just how normal Misfits are, and that they aren’t monsters! They can’t back out of it, and it will do the image of Misfits a lot of good. It will also allow Rushton to be Chieftain before departing, and he can be involved in making Oldhaven another shire, with Dell as their chieftain, which will be exciting! Three Mifsit chieftains, I wonder how Malik and his supporters feel about that (speaking of him, WHERE IS HE, I don’t trust him, and he’s going to pop up and ruin everything!). Another tidbit of information that ties off some plot from The Stone Key (Unless I’ve forgotten it being mentioned in the last book), Rolf has become chieftain of Halfmoon Bay, and he is going to come up for the ‘investiture’ to witness it. I just love how humble he is, and he even argued against being chieftain, but now Halfmoon Bay is probably on the way up.
Another good reason for Dardelan coming up is that all the provisions Obernewtyn will be sending for the expedition will be properly guarded against the rogue gangs that are delighting in attacking the Misfits at any chance, somehow Malik might be behind this, but Radost could be too, or even Jude. There will be armsmen patrolling the roads during Moonfair to make sure they don’t try to strike during this important day. Jude who was the monster who constantly beat his wives, escaped any charge because everyone was too scared of retribution to accuse him of anything! Elspeth thinks about Analivia, and Elspeth’s missive did not reach her as she seems to be out wandering as she does, she has promised to come to Moonfair, but Bergold hasn’t seen her in a while. I hope Radost isn’t involved. But the good news is that Elspeth is going to meet Iriny tomorrow!
The guildmerge continues as they start to list the supplies and potential Misfits that will be going on the expedition. It seems that the people are made up of coercers, healers and empaths, with no beastspeakers, tecknoguilders or futuretellers. They are only represented by those who have secondary abilities, I guess because they aren’t considered as necessary, but I’d argue that they should take a tecknoguilder and futureteller with strong ability since those two might be needed for something, even if others with secondary abilities are there. Sadly no beast will be able to go, but what about Gahltha and Maruman? Elspeth doesn’t raise them as exceptions, since what good reason does she have, so until she does, they aren’t on the list. I’m somewhat glad Garth makes a point about no tecknoguilders going, since it is unfair that they are excluded when they could be valuable with the machinery in the Red Land. He pushes it though when he suggests one of them is to go and take a look at the white-faced lords land, when that has never been discussed and they can’t really plan for such an occasion if they don’t even know if they will win, or if they could make it there! But it is such a rare opportunity, they must concede that they should be able to take more tecknoguilders as long as they have a secondary talent.
The list was debated before it was finally decided who should go on the journey, and that they need to be kitted out with some clothes and some weapons. It was nearly at an end as Avra arrived to speak for the Beastguild, she has finally returned! I wonder how Gahltha feels about this, and their foal is called Theral, or fleet. Avra agrees that no horses should go, but wants a dog, a goat and a cow to accompany them. The cow will provide some milk for them on the journey, as could the goat. And the dog will be able to help them if they need extra protection. Avra wants them to go to tell the beasts of the Red Land about freedom, and how things are different in Sador and the Land, and inspire them to become free too. They decide that a cow will stand out since there aren’t any in the Red Land, but agree that two goats and the dog will accompany them.
Elspeth wonders what Avra’s arrival means for Gahltha, are they are pair for life, and has she arrived to say goodbye to the horse who will not return when he leaves with Elspeth. We might find out soon enough, but for now the merge is over, though Rushton is still occupied with Brydda who wants to know everything that has been decided, and that means Elspeth can’t talk to him privately. Elspeth decides to go to sleep instead, since she has a dawn meeting with Iriny, she had thought she would try the dreamtrails tonight, but Cinda is in her room, and she wants to say goodbye since she will be leaving tomorrow. Cinda is one of the few people Elspeth is comfortable with, Cinda doesn’t idolise Elspeth in the way everyone else does, and the two can talk like really good friends. Cinda is wise beyond her years though, and I like what she brings to the story, and I’ll miss it.
Cinda certainly understands Dragon more than Elspeth seems to, and for someone who has never met her it is quite impressive. Elspeth never imagined what being told you have forgotten large chunks of your life would actually be like, and what you would want to do to get them back. Hopefully she has gone to Oldhaven, and that Dameon will able to get her back to Obernewtyn. Elkar arrives and it is another goodbye that Elspeth has to do, and soon enough she will be saying goodbye to everyone, possibly forever. But who knows if they may in fact meet again.