Chapter Twenty-Three – Part One
The pack has arrived, and Elspeth helpfully tells us that there are 17 male wolves and 14 female wolves, and some of them aren’t very old at all. I guess this little fact is given to us to show just how many of them are going to die, when we make it to the Beforetime city, because of these 31, I’m not sure how many will survive. It doesn’t seem like all the wolves from the pack are here, maybe some decided to stay with Gobor One Ear, or maybe Rheagor spared the younger members this almost suicidal journey. Leaving the valley of Skylake back through the gorge, Elspeth takes one last look back, and notices that the mountains look a little like great horns, just as Jacob Obernewtyn’s journal had, so we are definitely on the right track. Nearing morning, they were looking into the valley, and then they started along a thin Beforetime road.
I do find it interesting that the others with Elspeth, found a different way to Skylake, and never travelled along the Beforetime roads, so I have to wonder how they went that way. And why, Elspeth had to go a separate way? When Dameon suggests that it is a road, the group starts to speculate just why there would be a road here, just like Elspeth did. It’s quite strange having other people on this journey, even though it was for a relatively short time, I was used to Elspeth being alone, and she too was used to this, and having these people with her, speculating, discussing, is strange. The road soon ends though, just as the sun is about to rise, so the path ahead was difficult before they came into a gorge. They came to a small stream, which Darga started to drink at, but the wolves just said it was time they rested, but the pack will be back at dusk. If they decided to go on, they should continue alone the ravine, and then head north, they would find them. Just before he leaves, Elspeth asks how long it will take them to reach the graag, and Rheagor says many days.
The group prepares a meal, and a draught with herbs that should help them sleep in the daytime. Becoming nocturnal is going to take some getting used to, at least at night, when it is going to be the coldest, they will keep warm from the exercise. The group once again starts speculating as they wonder how there could be a city of Beforetimers and nobody know about it. Swallow says that it is simple, that their world ended, and those they found replacing them, weren’t exactly inviting. And this brings about an interesting problem, if these Beforetimers decided to close themselves off, then, what are they going to do when they find a group of outsiders striding up to their home? They might not take it lightly, especially whatever the efari are. The group also wonders who would stay behind in a city when they are usually targets in war, so, why was this one spared, and who remained?
Dameon asks Elspeth what door Cassy’s key fits, meaning Elspeth has to explain a little that this key won’t open any doors, she already has something for that, so really she isn’t sure. In fact, because of the various meanings of key, we aren’t even sure what it will be. Analivia at first seems concerned at how Elspeth will be able to find it or use it, but then decides that the voice will visit her and explain everything, such hopefulness. This conversation starts Swallow and Dameon asking questions that for Elspeth to explain, would take a lot of time, so she might as well start soon. First though Analivia says that the key must have come from where the Beforetime Misfits were held captive, which is probably true. But it just shows that Analivia has certainly been paying attention to the Tecknoguild and has pieced together a lot of the information. Then, Elspeth explains about Cassandra and how she knew about Elspeth and how to stop the Second Great White. She takes the time to answer many of their questions, without bringing up too much that would just need more explanation, not only would it take time, she doesn’t feel ready to share these things that were supposed to be held in the utmost secrecy.
Elspeth finishes the discussion with the simple fact that this quest concerns the Sentinel, the weapons themselves and the BoT computers could be anywhere, but their concern is destroying the Sentinel, which isn’t really supposed to be possible, since it was designed to ensure that humans couldn’t tamper. But this is where the signs from Cassy come in, quite possibly the key. At least everyone can accept that Hannah and Cassy were mighty powerful futuretellers, plus they were pretty clever too, making signs that would last for years, and also making it just easy enough for Elspeth to understand the messages, but hard enough for the Destroyer to figure it out. Nothing seems to dampen Anvalivia’s thirst for knowledge, she really is a Tecknoguilder, so Elspeth suggests she reads Jacob’s journal to the others, while Elspeth decides to go to sleep.
At dusk the wolves returned, and they continued to follow Rheagor. Late into the night they made their way between two mountains, which were quite tainted, but even in the gully there was still taint, but Rheagor said it was just mild. So this means somehow they have the ability to discern the level of taint, unlike Darga who just senses it. They continue throughout the night, and reach the bottom of the final ascent to ‘the saddle’, where the wolves leave to go and hunt, and they will return at dusk on top of the saddle. Rheagor gave Elspeth no opportunity to ask any questions, and they pack quickly left.
They debate whether to climb up now or later, but end up waiting since Rasial and Gavyn have fallen behind, though nobody is really too concerned, since they are able to take care of themselves, but really they shouldn’t wander that far from the group. But can I say that Ahmedri is proving more than his worth, he is preparing herbal concoctions to strengthen them, and is doing most of the cooking of meals, so without him, they wouldn’t quite be as comfortable. So good thing he came. As for Rasial and Gavyn they aren’t too far away, just hidden from sight, Elspeth was able to farseek her, so that’s comforting.
Elspeth decides that they better climb to the saddle, for it looks like it might rain soon, and that could be dangerous. The wind itself made it harrowing, and only Gavyn seemed unhindered by it all. Elspeth realises that he and Rasial seem to lag behind when the wolves are around, I guess they want to avoid them. I think that because of Gavyn’s ability, the younger wolves are attracted to him, and like playing with him, but Rasial is a bit possessive, and wants him all for herself. Plus Rasial and the wolves don’t really get along. Elspeth could have asked Rheagor about it, but he is even worse than Maruman when it comes to questions. I guess a hatred of humans, just doesn’t disappear overnight. Well I’m going to end here, wondering just how long it’s going to take to get to the graag, but also, are we going to find something interesting along the way? Or is the rest of the book just them making their way there?