Chapter Thirty-One – Part One
Alright, let’s begin the final chapter (excluding the epilogue) of The Sending! And continuing on from the previous chapter, we now have to wonder what has happened to the wolves. Something must have gone wrong. Maybe they were attacked by the rhenlings. Maybe it was something else. Whatever has happened, it isn’t good news. And I guess the question is, not just what do they do now, but is our group actually safe? They’ve had a great run, with plenty of accidents and dangers, but still, all of them have survived. And though that’s a fantastic thing, I can’t help but feel that this is going to change soon, and that means, this chapter. Another interesting suggestion, is that the efari captured them, because the wolves were too close to the Beforetime city. But, why and how did they take all of the wolves? And if they did do that, things really don’t look good for our own group, who need to go there and save Miryum.
Elspeth makes a decision to wait another night, and see what happens at dusk. They can make sure the horses are well fed, and everyone is well rested. While they are at it, they might as well try to find some additional food. If the wolves don’t turn up, they’ll have to start on their own, and hope they find the path of stone trees, and make their way to the Beforetime city, without trouble. But finding a path of stone trees in a desert, isn’t going to be easy, but they can’t wait here forever. But they won’t survive in the desert without water for very long, three days at most.
Ahmedri is actually making notes to be used to update the Sadorian maps of the inner Land, since they aren’t at all accurate. But given the fact that nobody had any idea that inland wasn’t just all Blacklands, how could they possibly think otherwise, until someone went there? He is also going to note the observatory, the ancient roads, Skylake and places to find clean water, all of which he has already done. Clearly cartography is a joy of his. Elspeth realises that he alone, isn’t actually connected to her quest, and that he has his own destiny to follow, and is said to have to return to Sador with Straaka’s bones. So that makes me wonder, when they will have to part ways, I guess when they find his bones, but will he not stay with them? And after that, when will Elspeth have to head off alone, the others won’t really let her will they? Or will they have already died by that point?
Elspeth was left with Dragon, Maruman and Darga, who tells her that Maruman is still seliga. As to what he is doing, who knows, maybe the oldOnes told him to help, or maybe he just wants to. And now is a great time to explain to Dragon exactly where they are going and what they are doing. Apparently a red bird talked to her, and told her that she had to go with Elspeth, I guess it was an Agyllian, maybe Atthis. But maybe not, since the timeline is a little blurry. But whoever this bird was, she helped Dragon and showed her the way to Elspeth, and also to remember where she came from. And that she does, she knows she is the daughter of the Red Queen, and she still remembers how she came to Obernewtyn. She also remembers that in Sutrium, the whole event that made her lose her memory in the first place, she did because she remembered the soldierguard holding the two children. She had seen him before, he was at the place (I guess the Spit) where the Gadfian ship stopped after they were taken away from the Red Land, this man offered to buy her. It was the sight of him, that started making her head hurt, as her memory block started to dissolve, so really it was a good thing Elspeth knocked her out. Sadly she still remembers being hurt by Matthew after that time, when he was so cruel to her.
Atthis (indeed it was the Elder who spoke to Dragon) told her to take Moss to Elspeth, knowing no harm would come of Elspeth or Analivia. Dragon only told Moss the directions as they needed to be told, for otherwise he would have killed her, so instead, he continued to hurt her. At one point, she fainted, and now knowing how to travel the dreamtrails as a dragon, she found Maruman. He made her remember her made up Red Land, in which she retreated too in her coma. Upon waking up from that coma, she blamed Elspeth for her mother’s death, because that’s how she remembered it. Of course it was none of their faults, and Maruman told her to wake up, and be brave, for she was a queen.
After she ran away from the Healing Centre, she basically just travelled the Land, going to the Beforetime ruins, and trying to find Kella, and it was then that Moss caught her. Elspeth suggests Dragon try not to think about Moss anymore, but that’s going to be hard. So she changes the topic to ask if Atthis said why she needed her for the quest. Of course, we know that Dragon has something that Elspeth needs, but at the moment she can’t remember what that is. And I don’t think she will, I think we’ll have to travel the dreamtrails to find out, and I think there’s just enough pages left to do that. We’ll probably do so, when Maruman wakes up.
Ahmedri and Swallow return basically empty handed, with only some lichen for the horses, this place is truly barren. Gavyn and Rasial had a bit more luck, with more firenuts, and two purple tubers, which Ahmedri recognised, and said they were nutritious. Hopefully that means it’s not quite so barren after all. Once again Isobelle Carmody makes mention of Elspeth going to the ‘toilet’, and I am starting to wonder that maybe it isn’t just a careless reference to Elspeth actually just being a normal human being and needing to do so, and maybe it has some significance. But, I’m not so sure what that could be. Instead of focusing on this, Isobelle quickly changes subject to a possible thing lurking in the lake. But Elspeth can’t sense anything, though that doesn’t mean animals aren’t coming to drink the clean water.
Elspeth decides to leave when the moon rises, with or without the wolves. They are going to ride the horses, at their insistence, and it looks like the wolves won’t be joining them, at least not just yet. Ahmedri takes some control, since he is most used to travelling in the desert, and makes them walk parallel to one another, so they see more ground, than if they were in one line. With the dogs at both ends of the horizontal line, they should sense anything that is of interest. Having spent the last two days resting, Elspeth is nearly at full health, her bones probably well on their way to being mended.
When they started to reach the dunes, their journey became difficult. Not really used to walking on sand, which easily slips away underfoot, everyone struggled, except of course Falada and Ahmedri who were experienced with deserts, and Dameon and Faraf who had some experience with them. Their progress really deteriorated, the effort of trying to walk, meant that they were going to use up their water supplies a lot faster. Elspeth was concerned about the rhenlings, but hopefully there is enough distance between them and the graag for them to no longer be an issue.
By the time the moon had set, Swallow and Analivia had figured out how to walk on the sand, while Elspeth was still struggling. Gavyn too had no issue, but he seems to be troubled by nothing. The horses and dogs, didn’t really succeed at walking through the sand either, but they were less awkward than Elspeth. They rested at dawn, for a little while, before starting up again, with still no sign of the wolves. Eventually Elspeth got the hang of walking through the sand, and later Rasial was able to smell wolf, but it doesn’t sound like good news, since there is the smell of blood in the air too.
Somewhat confusingly, it is now nearly dusk (the previous resting must have been in the middle of the day), and ahead of them, was several dead wolves, half-buried in the sand. Only Descantra was still alive, but she was badly injured and unconscious. Ahmedri was sure it wasn’t the rhenlings, but something that has claws, and was bigger than the wolves. Which isn’t exactly pleasing. Whatever killed them, killed something else too, but, didn’t hang around to eat anything. This is weird. The thing that attacked them, must have flown, since there aren’t any tracks. There must still be surviving wolves, who maybe were chased away, but where are they now? They decide to stop here for the night, and hope that Descantra will wake and explain, or the wolves will return. There is of course a danger that whatever killed the wolves will return, but they have no choice.
And now is a perfect time to stop, and continue tomorrow! Whatever is going to happen next, is going to be huge.