Even though Elspeth wants to hang around, she leaves the Observatory, wondering if the people here saw the missiles being launched and realised what they meant. Maruman tells Elspeth that Hannah came here, carrying Hannah’s bones and following her mother’s dream. Which is complete nonsense, what is he talking about? Hannah could never have come here, could she? She couldn’t possibly because she wouldn’t have survived all the taint, which was still only years old! Swallow comes to Elspeth to say that there really isn’t anything of value here, because they have no idea how to work most of this stuff. So, they close the door on the place, and Elspeth wonders if it will be ever opened again. Which is a good question, will this place be opened up to people when the taint recedes enough? Or will it have eroded first? Swallow makes the interesting discovery of running water, but it is more interesting than that, because, it is coming from a Beforetime pipe!
The pipe is actually enormous, and it makes Swallow question why they needed such a huge pipe for the Observatory, it wasn’t that big, so why would it need that much water? Swallow fills up his bottle with the water, making sure he doesn’t touch any of it, at least not until Darga makes sure it’s alright. It’s time for them to return to the group, the wolves will be arriving shortly, I wonder if they will wait for them, or just continue regardless. The descent was actually worse than the ascent, with the failing light, it make it more daunting. Elspeth reaches solid ground, except, for some reason or other, the ground actually shifts under her, and a small landslide means that Elspeth is headed towards the dark abyss that is between the mountains, one which they don’t even know has a bottom. Elspeth could do nothing to stop herself, she is going down.
Elspeth dreams of Freya and Ceirwan discussing her, and the news that Maryon has said she will never return to Obernewtyn or the Land. Once again Elspeth is actually Rushton, so we are in one of his dream memories, pity we aren’t seeing them at sea or something, but I’m sure that will happen later. Freya is the only one who seems to understand that Elspeth didn’t realise that she wouldn’t be able to set sail with the rest of them, she sticks up for Elspeth, and says that Elspeth isn’t a liar. Rushton really isn’t taking Elspeth leaving well, he is coping by just being angry with Elspeth, but he has been hurt, so what else can he do. Freya sorts him out thought, and makes sure that he will do what he must do for the Red Land. He seems comforted by Freya and Ceirwan, and has remembered the love he had with Elspeth, even if it was taken away, still I don’t think its over for them.
The memory ends, and Elspeth drifts down towards the mindstream, so she makes herself into her spirit self, and wants to take a look at Rasial and Gavyn and see them through her spirit eyes. She finds that her body is surrounded by earth and stone, but she is still alive for now, she finds something calling her, so she rises up into the dreamtrails. She meets Maruman there, who immediately warns her to wake up now, for the H’rayka will sense her and seek her. Elspeth tries to suggest that she could fight the H’rayka, confident of her new control of her killing power, but Maruman says that won’t work, because the H’rayka is stronger than her. Elspeth agrees to try to wake, but for some reason, she cannot. Something is preventing her waking, my guess it is Straaka. Maruman suggests it is the oldOnes calling her up, but warns her that she shouldn’t go too high or she will lose herself.
Maruman comes with her into the strange world above the dreamtrails, and explains that this is the realm of pure spirit, and living things don’t usually come here. The higher they go up, the less Elspeth will feel her body, keeping her spirit-form intact is essential, as this realm with ‘eat you’. This sounds like the perfect place to find Straaka’s spirit. Maruman believes that the oldOnes could be trying to contact Elspeth, and since they do not have an Elder yet, they cannot summon Elspeth directly. The oldOnes have no link to flesh, so they cannot reach any of the lower realms, without a messenger that is. For a moment Elspeth and Maruman’s spirits started to overlap, showing just how dangerous it is up here. Elspeth uses her black sword for extra strength, but Maruman cannot stay here, he vanishes from sight.
Then Elspeth is transported to a stone ledge, and that is where Straaka talks to Elspeth. It was Straaka that first saved Elspeth from the Destroyer when she was previously here, and this time Straaka is here to talk to her. So this is how Elspeth was to seek out Straaka, his body is dead, but his spirit remains because of Miryumn’s link to it. The pair of them (Miryum and Straaka) communicated through Miryum’s dreams, and at first they were happy, once Miryum accepted what had happened. The pair discovered the dreamtrails, and Straaka realised that they could not do this forever, Miryum had to let go, and his bones had to be taken to the spice groves. So Miryum cleaned his bones as he asked, but didn’t take them to Sador, she went into the high mountains. Partly she did this to oppose him, but also, it was because she had dreamt of the Beforetime city that our group is heading to, as a child. Sadly, Miryum believed that this was a sign that the Beforetimers that dwelt there had the ability to restore life, and make Straaka live again. And as for Miryum, she is at that city now, and Straaka does not know how she managed the journey, but she had fallen ill. She started seeing strange visions and imaginings.
Then one day Miryum came to Straaka in spirit form to tell her that she was taken prisoner by those who dwelt in the city, she hadn’t reached the city when she was caught, and she was forced into a sleep from which she couldn’t wake. This lasted for days, she wasn’t dying, but she was just trapped, and recently she wished to die. Straaka brought her up to this high realm, thinking her spirit would be released, but instead, it went to sleep. Which isn’t something I think any of us expected was possible. So now her spirit is trapped in this high realm. This does fit in with what we have been told earlier, Miryum was looking like she slept in some chamber, as if she was in a coma.
Straaka wandered around this strange realm, only to find the oldOnes summoning him, their combined spirits talking to him and explaining what Elspeth had to do, and until an Agyllian arrives to ‘take’ these combined old Elder spirits, they won’t be able to help Elspeth. And if one doesn’t come soon, they will drift up in this realm and be lost forever. The spirits of the oldOnes remain to help Elspeth. Straaka was told to explain about Miryum, and then one day she will be freed by Elspeth from the endless sleep. But what is interesting is that the h’yraka to follow her up into this higher realm last time, must have been ill, so Ariel could be ill, but from what? Last time a different spirit-form also helped Elspeth, but we don’t find out exactly who that was, Straak doesn’t know. But, this time we are safe from the Destroyer, it is much too high for it. The big news though, is that when the new Elder is found, he will be joining Elspeth on the quest to give her something she needs, but what could that be? The key?
But there is no time to ask anything else, the spirit-dream is weakening, so it is time for Elspeth to go. She must save Miryum, for she too has a part to play in the quest. Elspeth coerces herself to wake up as the Destroyer approaches in the Dreamtrails, so violently that she is quite ill when she wakes. She falls back into sleep after seeing Analivia, this time she was free from dreams. Waking up for good this time, Elspeth has been out for some time, and the only trouble for her efforts is a chipped tooth, even her healing power can’t fix that. She has been out for a day and night, the wolves had come, but left again after speaking to Darga, they will return tomorrow. We shall see if Elspeth is healthy enough for it, but her healing power should make it happen, plus Analivia is able to heal her with her spirit-power, or so it seems.
Waking up again, the next morning, Elspeth wonders whether she was actually so close to death that she could reach the high realm, or whether it was her spirit power, possibly both. Rasial and Gavyn have been roaming since yesterday, and the wolves have shown them the way on, they will reach more of the Beforetime road, down a track that is hardly noticeable. But in that direction, lies taint according to Darga, but we have to hope the wolves can find a ‘safe’ way. Maruman was not injured by the whole affair, and Elspeth shares what happened with the group, giving her an opportunity to explain about the dreamtrails and mindstream. Elspeth also takes this opportunity to apologise to Ahmedri for how she has treated him, and wanted him to leave, since now she realises that everything is true.
Now with other speculating minds, Analivia wonders whether the efari have captured Miryum, but for what purpose? Dameon takes another angle and suggests that they are healing her, and they aren’t keeping her captive, which could be true. But why does she keep sleeping? Answers to those questions, will not come for a while yet.