Chapter Nineteen – Part Two
So Elspeth has just had to leave Gahltha behind, Maruman has sent him away to Skylake, while he, Elspeth and Darga are continuing into this rift, which may be where Jacob Obernewtyn’s remains are. The rift is a strange enough thing in itself, and it reminds me of the isis pool rifts in Sador, except of course they aren’t quite underground. Elspeth wonders if these are actually a natural formation, or remnants of some sort of Beforetime weapon, I doubt in the future we decide to use plants as a weapon, so if it is Beforetime related, then it’s probably once where there was a garden/botanical park, or more likely, some sort of plant research facility. The good news is that it isn’t tainted, and it is warm because of a hot spring, heating up the area. And that’s some relief, because moments ago they were fearful of freezing to death, poor Gahltha, he can’t enjoy the warmth.
It takes Elspeth and Darga some time to catch up to Maruman, who was impatiently waiting for them. Behind him is the tell-tale sign of some badly tainted material (it’s even glowing) but Maruman just commands them to follow. Is this why Gahltha was sent away, because he couldn’t survive the tainted material? But moving closer, the greenish-yellow glow strengthens, and they find that it’s source is a pool of water! And apparently, it isn’t tainted after all, the pool is just yellow, so maybe it is the lovely compound sulphur. In the pool, it appears like there are more insects, possibly other taint-eating ones, Elspeth goes to get one to examine, but is stopped by Maruman who warns that the water would burn off her hand. What would Elspeth do without Maruman, she didn’t even notice that the ‘mist’ was steam, and why else would the area be so hot?
Elspeth decides to ask Maruman where they are going to find Cassy’s key, but he answers that he doesn’t know anything about that. And I think he is speaking the truth, the weird thing is, that he actually answered. And he continues to answer, and tells her that she doesn’t have to go any further, or anywhere, she just has to wait. And it gets a lot more interesting, as he says that they are going to wait for ‘the ones who come’! WHAT? We are going to meet more people? Who are they? Are they descendants of Jacob Obernewtyn? Do they have the key? Elspeth doesn’t even consider this, she just assumes again that the Agyllian’s are going to send ‘fliers’ to come and collect them. But why on earth would they come all the way here, doesn’t she find that strange? She reasons that they are going to fly her up to some place that is inaccessible where the key is, but why would the key be in such a hard place to get, because how did Jacob get there?
Elspeth decides to ask how they will know that they are here (that makes no sense, but how will the fliers know that Elspeth has arrived), and Maruman just replies that ‘they know’. I think he has had enough of questions. Elspeth starts thinking about lighting a fire, so she could finally dry off her clothes, but Maruman stops her yet again, because ‘it will anger them’. Still she convinces herself that the Agyllians are coming! I mean consider the irony that they are also known as flamebirds, that they wouldn’t like fire! Elspeth was just about to fall asleep, before she was woken up by a howl. It was the gehdra, beasts Elspeth has encountered before, when she returned from the ken with Gahltha, it was the wolves, who Darga says are also known as ‘spirits of the ice’ (ithlinn).
Let’s hope that these wolves don’t mean bad news for our group, and they just leave them alone. Unless of course, the wolves are the ‘they’ Maruman was talking about, I hadn’t considered they would be beasts. And we just have to hope that Gahltha isn’t going to become a meal for them! Soon enough Elspeth falls asleep and dreams of the first time she encountered the ghedra/Brildane. But this dream doesn’t last long, just long enough for Gahltha to remind her that with the Brildane it is better not to do anything, they are unlike any other beast. It transitions to a dream about Cassy, who is a room with rows of machines, and she is meeting one of the Beforetime Misfits that were imprisoned in Scotia. It is clear the pair have some important, secret business,because they are perfectly located to prevent anyone from eavesdropping, as the machines are making one heck of a racket.
The noise stops for a moment, and Elspeth hears the other woman mention that a key has been made, and if they could get it, if they were brave (or maybe, foolish) enough. Is it, THE key? I wouldn’t be surprised, but what does it do? A Gadfian man had been speaking with a Govamen official, and this Gadfian man decided to bribe him, to make a key, even this was dangerous. It was a key to access the Sentinel, and the official wasn’t just going to give it away. We don’t hear any more about it, as the sounds resume, just before someone enters, and notices the girls, they had been sprung. The dream then ends. But Elspeth doesn’t wake just yet, she sees herself back at Obernewtyn, looking at Dameon, who had just returned home. Dameon seemed to sense him, but, went he turned, his face was filled with hostility, something that we’ve never seen from him. His expression return to affection, as the pair greet each other. It is then that Elspeth realises that she isn’t there, this is Rushton greeting Dameon! She must be able to use their golden cord to see what he is seeing! But this means they haven’t departed for the Red Land yet.
Rushton tells Dameon about Elspeth’s disappearance, which Rushton only became worried about when she didn’t turn up for the Moonfair ceremony. There is some good news, Jude and his group have been taken, Dardelan’s skirmish was successful (Rushton even took part). Rushton, as predicted, had thought she went to see Swallow, and he would have tried to find her earlier, if it wasn’t for his offer of bonding, which he thought she needed to consider. There is further good news, Miky has improved enough to actually be conscious and awake! Miky even ‘dreamed’ of Angina telling her goodbye, and to live a long full life, and have plenty of children to make up for his passing! Which is just so sweet.
Rushton is going to see Maryon about Elspeth, who he now thinks is after Dragon. Apparently she was on the west coast, but nobody was able to find it, and now, it is thought she has returned to this side of the river, but she is using her powers to hide herself. It’s going to shatter Rushton, when Elspeth doesn’t appear for the ride to The Red Land, unless I am mistaken, and she somehow makes it. But hopefully Dragon will make it, she has to! And they don’t have long, they are departing (from Obernewtyn) tomorrow, but of course, this is actually a memory of Rushton’s, for he must be long gone, and out to sea. I think their golden spirit-bond was responsible.
Waking up, Elspeth hears another wolf howl, it is getting closer. Not at all comfortingly, Maruman says that the wolves love the taste of horse meat, so smelling it, would drive them mad with greed! And he says that no wolf will ever eat him, I wonder what he would think he would do if faced with a wolf! I don’t know if it is comforting, but they don’t eat humans, simply because they think that they are full of corruption, that doesn’t mean they won’t kill them though.
Finally Elspeth is pulled out of her delusion that Agyllian fliers would be coming for them, Darga tells her straight up, after she suggests they leave the crevice. And then he confirms a concern I had, they aren’t waiting for the Agyllians, they are waiting for the wolves! I guess that’s why Gahltha wasn’t allowed to come any further, he’d been too tempting. But how on earth is this going to actually go well? Apparently, Elspeth needs to convince the wolves to go with them, otherwise the quest will fail, that is what the Agyllians told him. And it seems that Darga’s purpose is to find a way to get them here, and ask the wolves to listen to Elspeth, since they only listen to those close to their kind, which means dogs.
Elspeth asks a very good question, why on earth would the wolves help her, if they hate humanity so much? Maruman tells her that the Agyllians are capable of ‘bending beasts to do their will’ (something we had all but confirmed ourselves, so does that mean Innle is fake?) but they can’t with the wolves. Apparently, Elspeth can though, and through Darga (who they will hate because he is a human dog), he will make them hear her. She needs to find the words to get them to come with her, that’s not Darga’s job. And now it is time for just that, as the wolves arrive!
Oh dear, is this going to go well? And what are the wolves needed for? Are they able to scent out Jacob Obernewtyn, or do they know the way to the Sentinel? GAH, every single chapter just raises more questions!