Part Three – The Perilous Dreamtrails
They followed the Beforetime road and the trail of the wolves, and it wasn’t long until they started winding around, avoiding the most tainted of areas. By dusk they got their first sight of the true Blacklands, the vast darkness spreading as far as the eye can see. And this is where they are headed! Elspeth cannot fathom a way that they are going to get safely through this, the others are all going to die, and she is going to be incapacitated by trying to heal herself. I think that’s an overly bleak way to see things, but seeing the vast desolation can’t be heartening. Up here, Elspeth wonders if they really are going to go to the Red Land, and now I’m beginning to think they might not, and instead Dragon and Elspeth are going to travel the dreamtrails and go to the Red Land that way, to find what they need to. And then they are going to tackle the Sentinel beyond the Beforetime city. That would make sense, and would fulfil most of the visions, except maybe Swallow’s.
The others with Elspeth are disturbed by what they are seeing, and Dameon too is concerned because of what he can feel from the others. Analivia tells Dameon what they can see, and it’s not all bleak, they themselves have witnessed that the mountains and life are trying to repair the damaged done to them. There is clean water and life in patches, and even in tainted areas life clings on. But of course, if it all happens again, nothing will be left. All of them with Elspeth reassert their willingness to go on, through these tainted lands to do what must be done. They have accepted their fates, and are more concerned with saving everyone and everything else, than themselves. Gavyn alone seems to be unaffected by the sight of the Blacklands. The only good news is that Darga says he smells clean earth and living things.
So they continued on to this clean area, since they don’t really want to rest too long on tainted ground, if they can avoid it. It was a tricky descent, especially with the travois, but they pushed on to safe ground. They walked through a canyon, with a strange plant, which Analivia took to be a good sign, but Elspeth was wary. Elspeth gets it into my head that maybe Moss’ body was taken away by plants, which after Life of Pi, I think could literally be a possibility. But whatever is going on in this canyon, it’s just spooky. They find a cave that is lit by taint eating insects, and Elspeth explains her previous encounter with them at the wolf pool. But the fact that they have been working for hundreds of years cleaning the land of taint, and it so happens to be the same path that Elspeth and co. have to take, is a little more than coincidence. My guess Beforetimers had something to do with it all.
Inside the cave they find a whole series of linked caves, all fed by springs, and with the taint insects. Clearly this area is less tainted than anywhere else, but they can stay in such a hot and humid environment, so Elspeth wants to explore deeper, but Swallow makes sure they don’t lose themselves in the caves, so urges them to mark a trail. Ahmedri goes off exploring to find another opening to this network, further along the canyon, wide enough for the horses to get in, as well as a dry cave, to wait for the wolves once again.
Dameon suggests that they immerse Dragon into one of the warm pools, to help her get over the shock of her ordeal. Elspeth is concerned that Dragon used to fear water, but Swallow counters saying that it might just trigger her memories. Even though such memories are traumatic, Elspeth is outvoted, and Dameon gets his way, it will also allow him to better empathise with her, which is quite interesting. Dameon has certainly changed since we first knew him, I always pictured him as a slightly chubby, ‘merry’ person, but he has become strong physically, and ‘filled out’. Elspeth can’t help but notice the change in the empath. Dragon makes no reaction in the pool, but that could be because Dameon was sending out calmness that was even making Elspeth and Analivia drowsy. Something about the water changes empathy, almost in an opposite way to other talents, which are inhibited. Dragon actually makes some movement, before settling back to sleep, which is somewhat encouraging. Elspeth though wonders whether she will once again have to enter Dragon’s mind to wake her, but what will happen then, she lost her memories last time?
This time though, instead of reliving her mother’s death, she might be reliving her time with Moss. Elspeth explains to the others about the last time she was in Dragon’s mind, and I think Elspeth must almost relish in being able to speak freely of things that she has had to keep secret for so long, for now it comes much easier for her. Swallow realises from this that this means he and Dragon are related, something I never really thought about. Swallow is descended from Luthen, the Red Queen’s brother. Swallow explains to the others, as Elspeth and Maruman go outside. The wolves have not arrived, and it has been past dusk. Maruman doesn’t like this place, and fears other beasts who might be out in the moonless night.
Returning to everyone else, Elspeth decides it is time for some storytelling, the wolves aren’t coming, so she might as well start to explain everything. Of course we know pretty much all of what Elspeth is saying, since we have been with her, but it is good to hear everything laid out again, just in case we’ve forgotten. And I guess for Dameon, it explains so much about his long-time friend. Elspeth even explains about the Destroyer, and why nobody else could know anything. Immediately Dameon believes it is Ariel, which I still am not so sure on, is the answer so obvious? They start to wonder how much he knows about everything, and Elspeth seems convinced he knows quite a lot, and that he knows about Elspeth and her role. It is because he needs Elspeth, that she could never tell anyone, just in case he found out about Cassandra and the signs. I hope that with Elspeth telling them now, that he doesn’t learn what he needs, but I guess it is too late, he can’t go and find the signs any more, Elspeth won’t tell them what they are. A good question is why did he go to the Red Land? If not because he knew that the Sentinel was there, so maybe that means it is there after all?
As for why he would want to Destroy the world, he is defective, and loves pain. But maybe he feels he can control the power, but if he does, he’s just kidding himself. Elspeth even tells them about Ariel’s unconscious attempts to destroy her on the Dreamtrails, if it is indeed him. Who knows if he even is aware of what he is doing, when consciously he knows he needs Elspeth. Ahmedri changes the subject back to how Elspeth knows of the clues, and Elspeth shows them the translation Fian did for her. She doesn’t explain about the stone sword and the Earthtemple part, that can be for another day. But Elspeth does answer whatever questions they have, and it seems they know as much about the clues as she does, which does worry me, for what if Ariel uses them and their knowledge? I guess he’ll still need Elspeth and Maruman to enter, but, I’m not so sure they should know everything. Their talk is interrupted when Rasial comes to tell them that the wolves are waiting for everyone outside. Apparently the sun isn’t going to rise today, they need to hurry. This reminds me of Lord of the Rings, but why won’t the sun rise?
There is a storm blocking the rising sun, but why do they want to walk through a storm? Rheagor informs then that they were attacked by rhenlings, and two wolves were killed. They notice Dragon is now with them, and Rheagor suggests they kill her now, so she isn’t a burden in the graag. Apparently they are on a time line, they must reach the graag by sunrise tomorrow. Why, we don’t know. But maybe it was the rhenlings took Moss’s body. They have little time for speculation, it’s time to go.