Chapter Thirty-One – Part Two
They start to set up came around Descantra, with Ahmedri taking the lead and directing them on how to successfully survive a night in the desert, by protecting them from the harsh wind and cold nights. Analivia and Ahmedri tried hard to tend to Descantra, but she is going to die, and it’s unlikely she will even wake. Elspeth puts her hope in Gavyn and Rasial, that maybe they will find a way to communicate with her, or to heal her spirit. Swallow suggests that they keep their weapons ready, just in case whatever attacked the wolves is looking for round two. And for the first time since Elspeth has left, she brings out her bow and arrow, which nobody else even knew she had! I guess there wasn’t that much need previously, but now, with possible flying targets, a bow and arrow makes perfect sense. And Analivia is very skilled in it, and tries to reject it, when Elspeth hands it to her, but she might just save their lives. She still feels obliged to try to find something of equal value to gift to Elspeth, but I think keeping them alive, is gift enough.
Elspeth tries to sleep, but doesn’t really do much but doze, so she just looks at Maruman and Dragon, who has truly changed since learning her past. What certainly is interesting is that Matthew once kissed Dragon after they saved Obernewtyn from the soldierguards, and I guess that’s why Matthew started being so cold to her, since he wasn’t ready to accept his feelings for her, as she fell in love with him. Elspeth tries to figure out whether they are literally needed in the Red Land, or whether they just need to find answers from Dragon’s memories. But if they aren’t going there, why did Ariel go there, unless he isn’t the Destroyer? Elspeth finds Dameon awake, tending to a concoction made by Ahmedri which has to be stirred, and will dull their thirst. The two talk a while, but clearly it isn’t of that much importance, since we aren’t privy to it.
Instead, Ahmedri returns to say that he is going to take Falada and scout ahead and look for some ground water and the start of the stone trees, and even the wolves. Elspeth is concerned with him being alone, in case something attacks him, but he isn’t going to go down without a fight, but will take Darga anyway. They should only be away for four hours, but something tells me maybe it won’t go to plan. He says that if he isn’t back after six hours, they better head off without him. Gavyn follows him, so Elspeth sends Rasial after him.
But importantly, Descantra is waking up, the pair have done their work. She isn’t happy, since she was saved by the ‘najulk’ and now she thinks that by default she too is now najulk, which is just ridiculous. She tells Elspeth that a beast just came out of the sand and took a wolf, but the other wolves killed it in the process. Two other wolves were injured, so Rheagor killed them, but he did not kill her. He told her “live and learn, tha sisterblood”, and then he and the pack left. Which is very weird, but I have to wonder if somehow he knew that she would tell the group what had happened. Descantra wants Elspeth to kill her, but first Elspeth wants to ask a few questions, about Sharna. Descantra’s brother was called Sharna, and the dog Sharna’s mother, obviously gave him that name as a tribute. Elspeth explains about her Sharna, that gave up his life to save Elspeth. Descantra’s Sharna was the first wolf that Ariel lured to a trap, and the other wolves just followed him. This is a moving moment, as Elspeth suggests she reconsider her wish to die, and to atone for abandoning Sharna’s mother.
Elspeth is called away by Swallow, who is struggling to keep the tents fixed, as the wind has picked up. It seems like they are almost about to be swept away by a sandstorm, and they are without their desert expert! Elspeth quickly goes to farsend to him, and he gives them vital advice, about surviving the storm. He isn’t going to come back, since the storm would have hit well before he could make it, so he too is bunkering down. And scarily, Gavyn and Rasial are missing, will they be able to weather the storm (no pun intended!). Elspeth informed the others of Ahmedri’s advice, and eventually they managed to secure the blankets, and get under them. As the storm hits them in full force, sand starts to pile up ontop of them, and the air starts to go foul, they are nearly being buried alive!
Eventually they had to open it up a fraction otherwise they’d asphyxiate, and when they did sand came in, like bullets in the wind. It was a truly terrifying experience, and not at all like the previous sand storm Elspeth experienced on the west coast, this one lasted for a long time. Elspeth even managed to sleep for a bit, and she dreamed of the H’rayka actually being the storm, but Maruman and Gahltha fought back, and drove it away. And I wouldn’t be surprised if that really did happen on the dreamtrails.
Waking up, the storm had ended, and somehow it was still night-time, so did a whole day pass by? Everyone is so thirsty, but most of the others are still asleep. Elspeth goes to farseek the others, but got no immediate connection. Elspeth even tried the wolves, to no avail. But in the corner of her eye, she saw something, it was one of the Beforetime stone poles rising up from the dune! Is this the start of the stone tree path? If they found another pole, they would know the direction the city lay in! And when Rheagor’s ancestor came here, the sand wouldn’t have covered them up! In the distance Elspeth could see another pole, uncovered by the storm. It seemed they needed to go north, and this is very exciting. But then of course, things get super interesting as the BOOK IS ABOUT TO END, “a tall, broad-shouldered man wearing a silver safesuit and some sort of large silver helmet that hid his face” was upon Elspeth. It must be an efari, and it is then that a flash of light came from his head, and something thudded into Elspeth’s body, and she fell into consciousness!
What’s going to happen next? And are Ahmedri, Rasial and Gavyn even alive? And where did all the wolves go? And who the heck are these efari anyway?
And it ends there, which is a pretty major cliffhanger. But we still have the epilogue left, and unless that ramps up a whole new bombshell, it doesn’t quite beat Newflesh!