Chapter Eighteen – Part One
It wasn’t long until the rift began to narrow, forcing Elspeth to get off Gahltha and start walking herself. Honestly, where is this going to take them, I can’t for the life of me think of what they are going to find. Is there actually going to be anything, because who would think to wander through here? Unless there is another city like Tor that is under the mountain, but that is kinda unlikely, why have two cities the same? Poor Gahltha though, there is water, which he fears so much, and he can hardly turn these sharp bends. Like Elspeth, I have to wonder, what happens if there is a dead end? I was struggling to picture this, and then I realised just what they were in, basically a crack in the earth, with the sky only visible directly above them!
The animals have always been so nonchalant about everything, they just get on with their business, and I guess that’s one of the defining differences between humans and animals. We love analysing, speculating and questioning (just look at this blog!), it’s so ingrained into human nature that I wonder what we would be like if we didn’t do these things. Darga again shows how trusting beasts are in the present, he doesn’t care where they are going, because what does it matter, the Agyllians have saved all of them and helped all of them for a reason, so why not trust them? And I think that’s a good point, but there is a reason that Elspeth is the Seeker, and I’m beginning to think that her insatiable questioning and speculating is part of it, Cassy left cryptic clues that needed to be mulled over. The Agyllians don’t know everything, and clearly need a human to go to the Sentinel and destroy it, a beast couldn’t do that, and not just because of the practical reasons like how would they use all the things humans have made. And Elspeth is beginning to understand this too, that she is ultimately going to make some decisions on her own, and she has to do that, the Agyllians and even Maruman won’t always be there for her.
And right on cue, Elspeth begins to speculate again. Clearly Jacob Obernewtyn didn’t go through here, otherwise he would have had to give up his vehicle a lot quicker (unless it flew, but would he really have been able to use a plane?). She also wonders about the Red Land and Dragon, Cassy, Maryon and Dell could not all possibly be wrong, so Elspeth is going to have to accept that somehow she is going to get there, we just don’t know how yet.
The rift closes up above them, and now they are basically walking in a very thin cave, and then Elspeth makes such a witty comeback to Maruman that I just love her. Maruman questions why she needs to know where she is going, and she quickly replies that “I am the Seeker, how am I to seek without thinking of what is ahead of me?” Excellent question Elspeth, how would you be the Seeker without seeking? Maruman just replies by saying what ElspethInnle must do (seek what is to be sought) and that he must guide her to where she must go. And Elspeth that’s a bit of imagery there, your path forwards is literally dark and cold, because that’s what it is going to be, and you have to prepare for that.
Continuing down the ravine, Elspeth finds that there are a few taint-eating insects down here, which is slightly concerning, since that means there must be some taint, but Darga doesn’t seem concerned and he will let them know if they need to be worried. But down here, this is the most insects she has seen, the conditions perfect for them, I can only hope the ones Jak has created do as well in Sador. Even though it is ironic that wanting to heal the Earth is stemming from the same belief that humanity owns the Earth and can do what we think best for it. Quite possibly this is connected to our obsession with the past and future, for if we lived in the present, why would we want to change things, since we’d just accept them as how they are.
Continuing on in the darkness actually scares me a little, not because it’s dark, but because they have no idea what they are heading into, is there a cliff and they’ll all just fall off and IC maliciously will be laughing at us for the rest of the book saying ‘fooled you all’, is there going to be a huge spider (sorry, Harry Potter and LoTR have made me assume there has to be a huge spider somewhere in the story) or like who knows. I know the beasts will sense another beast, and Elspeth could sense another person, and Darga can sense taint, and I doubt Gahltha wouldn’t be able to tell there was a cliff ahead, but still I’m allowed to worry.
Well, it ends well, as the sky becomes visible again, and the path angles up, the way out? Gahltha decides to canter, and build up speed to reach the opening with all the weight he is carrying. Elspeth spots a shelf of stone nearby, and decides to jump onto it, to make sure Gahltha can get clear, since she is certainly a considerably weight on Gahltha, and it sounds like this opening wasn’t easy for him to reach. When Elspeth says she could not see Darga, I immediately begin to worry, because she just assumes he went ahead. But what if he didn’t? Alright he was fine, but all the things I have read and seen, just make me assume that at some point someone is going to be snatched, especially in the dark!
Coming up out of the ravine, Elspeth finds herself on a plateau, ‘remarkably level, as if it had been chiselled and sanded’. Have we just found that Beforetime building that Jacob referred to? Or can we see it in the distance? Or is this just a random place that isn’t really anything? At the moment the mountains are blocking all views around the place, and where there were gaps, there were just more mountains in the distance. There is obvious taint in these mountains, and nothing else looks flat apart from the plateau, so where are they headed? Elspeth wonders that if Jacob did go this way, he wouldn’t have been able to get very far, so maybe the key is nearby? Elspeth tries to spot Obernewtyn, but the valley is covered in mist, and honestly, she needs to move on and look forward.
Maruman says it is time to rest, and luckily nearby there is a source of some clean water. At the edge of the plateau, it is sheer cliff, so no going down that way. Already Elspeth feels a little cool, and if they are staying in the high mountains, it’s going to get frigid pretty quickly, which really explains Maryon’s gifts! Try as Elspeth might, she still is pondering where they are going, and I’m with her, where are they headed! Just saying I had no idea what a ‘marten’ was, but I think everyone should take a look at them, they are just the coolest looking animals, plus really cute.
This well be continued in part two, in two days time, for reasons which well be revealed tomorrow (the categories on the side may help…). Anyway I’m really excited to continue this chapter, so much to come!!