Chapter Twenty-Eight – Part One
And so our group headed towards the Blacklands, towards the Beforetime city, and towards the Sentinel (perhaps). It wasn’t exactly the happiest of journeys, with not a glimpse of green, or life to be seen. Dragon is yet to wake, but hopefully that will change soon. Analivia continues to seem different after her encounter with Moss, she hasn’t smiled since, and with the scenery like this, there isn’t really much to smile about. Their long, winding passage through these unchanging landscape makes them all a bit tired, the fact they didn’t sleep last night while they could isn’t lost on them, they know better now. They come to a spot of clean ground, and rest for a little while, but nobody was really in the mood for a meal in this environment. Already Elspeth is fretting over where they will get water, for they don’t have that large a supply, but she has to trust they’ll find some eventually.
Looking at Gavyn, who seems so content, just like a beast, in this land, Elspeth wonders where his owl, Fey, has gotten to. Will he follow them later, or has Gavyn let him go? What is concerning is the storm they can see up ahead, it may be one of those weird taint caused weather systems, that sometimes just hang in one spot. They find a spot here where the wolves were drinking from, so they assume it was clean water. No thanks to the wolves for alerting them to this fact! So there goes on worry for Elspeth. But already they are starting to fear what effect the radiation will have on all of them, and how sick they might get. Analivia is already complaining of being sick, but whether that is the sight of the Blacklands, Moss or the taint who knows.
They begin to set off again, and Elspeth thinks she should ask Maruman what he is doing sleeping so much, and if he is in Dragon’s mind, and also she should ask Rasial about what she and Gavyn were doing after Moss, next to Dragon. Elspeth is just being a tad nosy, she doesn’t really have to know everything, does she? The trip became more dreary, as they can’t even talk to one another, as the winds are spreading the tainted soil, so they have to wear masks to stop inhaling the dust. They continued to stop at the clean patches when they came on them, but they seemed to be smaller each time. Elspeth woke Maruman, who just seemed confused and disorientated, which is quite concerning, and he fell back asleep fairly quickly. And Rehagor continued his icy silence, refusing to answer any questions Elspeth has, instead reminding her of their deadline.
The group stops for a while, without any explanation. The wolves just consult among themselves, and then start moving again. But soon it comes clear, ahead there is a very tainted patch, the distinctive glow visible from far away. And they seemed to be heading straight for it, with Rheagor’s insistence that the graag is ahead. They come to the source of the glow, which seems to be a large pool of water, in a Beforetime made crater, maybe a reservoir. They followed the wolves around the lake, when they come to a huge pipe that heads into the water. Apparently this is the graag that Rheagor saw in his seliga state. Apparently it goes under the Blacklands, and there is no taint inside, since it can’t seep through its walls. The water in the lake isn’t actually tainted, the taint-eating insects have done their job yet again. It was just the reflection of the taint glow in the distance that made the water look tainted. The wolves averted their eyes from the lake, apparently the glow hurts their eyes, and that might be why they had to come before dawn.
For once Rheagor answers Elspeth’s questions, and tells her that the pipe is shallow under the earth, and it will take two days and one night to reach the other side, if they rest for the night. Elspeth says they don’t need to rest the whole night, she wants to push on and come to the end and see the Beforetime city. But the city is far away, and they must follow the stone trees to come to it. Elspeth wants to enter at once, but apparently they aren’t allowed to until morning, Rheagor suggests they build a fire. But when they start to cook some food, he becomes angry, suggesting they are fools. I’m guessing there are beasts around here that will be attracted to the food. Apparently some animals come at sunrise to drink here, and now they will come faster. Rheagor was suggesting they build some fire to take through the graag, since it is dark and rhenlings live in there. Since rhenlings fear light, that is why they need some torches to clear the way. Or maybe. Rheagor is saying that inside the graag there is a place where the ‘dryka’ or taint insects, dwell, where the rhenlings obviously don’t live, and they have to make it there before the rhenlings wake up. The rhenlings sleep in the off shoots of pipe that connect to the main graag. They should only move in the sunlight, for that is what the rhenlings truly fear, other light they can bear if they have reason to. Even in the sunlight, if one of them is touched, they will wake and rouse up the others, unless they are safe in sunlight.
And Elspeth can’t beastspeak them, otherwise they’ll latch onto her mind and track her, meaning they’ll never be safe. Rheagor tells us that it wasn’t just his ancestor that went through the graag, but three female wolves, who all died either during or just after their journey. The fire is actually for the other animals that will come at dawn, to make sure they do not enter the graag, for they too fear the rhenlings. It’s all a little confusing. They have to wait for dawn, so the rhenlings go asleep, but if they touch them, they’ll still wake up and swarm them, unless they are in light. Well this sounds pleasant, don’t think we’ll be getting too close to that city before the book is over, but it’s exciting. We’ll have to continue on Wednesday, after that there really is only a few posts left!