Chapter Thirty – Part One
Two hours later, they finally saw the plains, which Ahmedri is sure is actually a desert, and not just a weird white plain. But whatever it is, it is clear this is man-made, though who would argue with a Sadorian about what is a desert? In the distance what they assume is the body of clean water is visible, but right next to it is tainted ground, so how does that work? Surrounding the white plain seems to be Blacklands, so how on earth is that even possible. Why is this spot clean and nothing else? Coming to the lake itself, they find that it is fed by a spring (as everything is), but the whole thing just looks suspicious. Elspeth’s explanation makes me think it isn’t exactly a nature lake, it almost sounds like some sort of man-made structure, but maybe I’m picturing it wrong. Whatever it is, the wolves don’t seem fussed, and say it’s safe. Of course Elspeth still can’t really do that much with her broken arm, so she has to sit around idly, with people bringing water and food to her, not really something she likes.
The others start getting concerned with Elspeth’s condition, as she starts to feel sleepy. Little do they know, that that’s just a result of her body expending energy to trap her pain and to heal itself. How long will it take for her bones to heal, a few days I’d say. If she recovers overnight, that is some ability! So Elspeth explains about trapping the pain, and also her healing ability, which Ahmedri doesn’t seem surprised about, but he doesn’t realised that it’s so fast. Dameon finds it funny that this explains everything that Roland was so damn curious about, he even speculated she had such an ability, but just didn’t realise. The others don’t care that she has held off telling them, since after all this quest relies on Elspeth, and she needs to be in optimum condition, so it’s a good thing she can heal herself.
Elspeth is on a roll with explanations, so tells them that Atthis has died, which of course shocks everyone else. Swallow asks how she will know where Cassy’s key is, with Atthis gone. It’s like he gives Elspeth no credit for anything she has done! But we have to admit that without Atthis, Elspeth would know nothing, so we have to hope her successor will help. Though, we already know that he will, once he has got the oldOnes. Elspeth was going to explain more, but all she can do now, is sleep. First she releases her coercive net to ensure she doesn’t amplify the pain, to avoid her mind feeling the pain she ‘went above it’, which is really hard to think about. Releasing all of her pain, she thinks of Rushton and what’s happening with him and that storm, and unless she is knocked 0ut again, I don’t know if we’ll find out, which will be cruel. At least we know that he can’t be dead, otherwise Elspeth would know, wouldn’t she?
Sinking down to the mindstream, with the help of her dark power, she is absorbed into a bubble. Of course, we see Cassandra, but this time it seems to be her in Land clothes, walking down a black road, with white sand on either side of the road, and some more Beforetime poles at regular intervals. I’d say this was after the Great White. Actually, this might not be Cassandra, whoops, Elspeth thought it was Hannah, but now she isn’t sure. This person was old, and was carrying a bag of sticks over their shoulder. They had a Beforetime machine on ‘her’ waist, which Elspeth thinks is for checking the contamination levels, as described by Jacob Obernewtyn. So is it possible this is Hannah really aged? Going closer, the dream dissolves into an almost identical one, but with less sand on the sides, and a tall, thin, older man, with a hover-cart, and a small dog. I guess this is Jacob Obernewtyn himself, and that was Hannah following him on the same road. For some reason the dog with Jacob seems to see Elspeth and its eyes flared white, which shocked Elspeth and made her wake up. Is it a real dog, or a fake one? What just happened?
Waking up, it’s nearly dawn, and Elspeth can indeed see that there are sand dunes around them, like Ahmedri said. Already Elspeth’s body has healed a lot, but it’s still hurting. Apparently they had tried to feed her, but she refused to be woken last night, I guess that’s because she had made herself sink down. Ahmedri is up, and alone with him, Elspeth asks him why he doesn’t like Miryum. He has been wondering if she came this way with Straaka’s bones. He doesn’t want to leave Sador, and blamed his brother for leaving, and blamed Miryum for taking Straaka away. He fought with Straaka before he left to Obernewtyn to get Miryum. As in literally fought, as he insulted Miryum as being unworthy, so Straaka had to fight. And Straaka won, meaning he must retract what he said, but Ahmedri refused and said that he should be killed, but of course Straaka did not. To make things worse, he cursed him to go off and die with Miryum, which rather awkwardly for Ahmedri came true. So that meant that Ahmedri started hating himself for what he said, and he thought himself unworthy of going to get Straaka’s bones, and the overguardian said either he would become worthy or die.
Coming to the Land, he thought that nobody but Sadorians had courage and honour, and that Landfolk were deceitful, but after all this, that has changed. Straaka cared for Ahmedri, since their parents died and he was older, and in the end he was jealous of Straaka’s love of Miryum. And he even hated Elspeth for being able to talk to Straaka, when he is unable to. So now he must go and wake up Miryum, because Straaka loved her, so he needs to help her. Elspeth promises that next time, if there is one, with Straaka’s spirit, she will tell him everything. And that pleases Ahmedri greatly. Strangely, until then, he hasn’t used her name, I guess he didn’t think he had leave.
Analivia wakes up, and tells Elspeth a bit more about last night, the wolves left, and they all decided to eat and sleep, after the ordeal of the graag. The wolves will return at dusk, since they need to sleep away from the sun’s light. They can start their journey if they wish, but they should rest, since there is water and fodder here. Leaving without their guides would be a rash decision, even if Elspeth feels pressed for time, though there is no real time imperative is there? Rasial is off hunting, and so Gavyn is with her, but they will return by dusk. The horses are going to go and graze to the south there is something that grows and is edible, but not tasty. Ahmedri makes up a tisane for Elspeth to restore her energy, and it is very pleasant.
Almost straight away Swallow wants to pick up where they left, and get her to explain what she was going to, but was too tired to. And she is going to show them the stone sword. Swallow sees it and immediately knows it is the work of Cassandra. The words on there are Gadfian, and I don’t believe we’ve seen a translation. Swallow knows nothing of the doors of Obernewtyn, who had the same Gadfian script on them. So either Cassy leant Gadfian later or someone else wrote them. She may have sent them from Sador to her son with instructions, but how would that work when they all thought her a slave? The reveal for all the others that Cassandra is Kasandra is shocking.
Elspeth tells them of the futuretelling that she would return to the Earthtemple to get the last sign, but not the last sign of the quest, but the last sign she made. Which I hadn’t connected myself. She tells them of the other sign, the memory seed, but they are more interested in who the sword belongs to. And it seems they are just about to talk up a storm, so I’ll end here. Have to drag out these last few chapters!