The Keeping Place – Chapter 18 – Part Two

Chapter Eighteen – Part Two

So with the arrival of the note about Rushton’s life hanging in the balance. The rebellion has become something more important, and more personal, than the previous day. Instead of thinking of evacuating Obernewtyn, it now looks like Obernewtyn will have to help the rebels lead the rebellion.

Elspeth was writing the letter to the rebels to ask for a meeting, when Kella came in to ask Elspeth whether she can go with Linnet and the knights to Sutrium now, instead of waiting to go with the magi. She suggests that Domick may have some idea about what has happened to Rushton, but that is wishful thinking. Elspeth doesn’t really want Kella to go, and suggests sending a note, but Kella knows that that would just send him into a suspicious mood, and who knows what he might think. Kella leaves, and then Gevan, Alad and Merret, take her place.

The three have been thinking about this meeting with the rebels, and they suggest that it takes place is Salwney, when the bonding ceremony is to take place. It sounds dangerous to have a meeting with so many soldierguards and councilmen around. Though nobody makes that point, Elspeth just doesn’t want the magi connected with the rebels, but they are suggesting in at Salwney, so they don’t have to travel all the way to Sutrium, and with the large number of visitors, the rebels could blend in, without drawing suspicion. Elspeth and Gevan will attend the meeting, and they will be able to detect any foul play. The worrying thing is that Jakoby hasn’t sent anything yet, maybe she has forgotten? Maybe something more sinister has happened to her too? But Elspeth snaps at that suggestion, saying that it is enough to think about one person’s disappearance, and not imagine others.

The three of them left, and they were replaced by Ceirwan. Elspeth wasn’t impressed with all the interrupts, as she is trying to finish the note for the meeting, but he was just bringing her a hot drink. He reminds her that Fian was looking for her, but with everything that has happened today, it is forgivable that she hasn’t gotten around to seeing him. And anyway, Garth has sent him and some other tecknoguilders to inspect some caves higher in the mountains, to see if they are suitable for habitation, if they need to evacuate. So Elspeth will have to wait for her gadi until he returns in a few days. He leaves, and Elspeth is able to finish the letter. She summons Linnet, and hands it over, and reminds him that if Rushton is drugged, it will be all but impossible to find him.

Elspeth resounded herself to go to the kitchen, to make sure people didn’t think she was falling to pieces. With so much going on in Obernewtyn, Elspeth was reminded of why Rushton loves the place, and knew that he would want Elspeth to put Obernewtyn first. Elspeth overheard Javo and Alad discussing provisions for an evacuation. They had enough food, with strict rationing, to last a whole year, but if the siege continued, they would have no way of getting any further supplies. They couldn’t continue to harvest or tend the farms, as that would be obvious that they were there, which is exactly what they don’t want people to think. They then discussed what would happen if they evacuated to Sador, it was the same issue, but there was the problem of deciding what would survive the journey, and what would spoil. And they only have limited wagon space for things. Everyone has been busying calculating how much food they would have before a month is up, and I think it is inspiring to see Obernewtyn working hard, and all focused on surviving.

But the journey to Sador with so many people, and beasts, will be a challenge. They have to feed everyone, and all the beasts, take water and wood, as there is only one well along the way, and no wood, and bring all their belongings that they need, like clothing. Javo has produced a list of things a party of 10 would need to get to Sador, and that would be without getting anything along the way, and surviving on starvation rations. It is still a large list, and if they didn’t take that amount, they would die. Lina suggests that if it looks like they have left, there will be no one following them, and no siege, but someone says that Obernewtyn will just be taken over, which is basically a siege anyway, as they couldn’t return. But I think she is on the right track. Who is really going to come and live at Obernewtyn? Even though Lina’s suggestion is shot down by those around her, Elspeth catches onto the idea, and thinks it could be viable. But it is a difficult ask to appear that they have left, and yet remain. Though Obernewtyn could be seen as a prize, since it’s grand scale, and may be claimed.

They could of course make it appear tainted, which would match up with the last reports from Obernewtyn by the soldierguards. But without Dragon’s ability that would be a challenge. All the coercers working together could produce an illusion on some of the buildings (which goes to show just how unique and powerful Dragon is), and they could destroy other parts to add to the effect. If they made it look like nobody was there, and Obernewtyn was destroyed, there would be no confrontation. And if Jakoby spread word that the Misfits were in Obernewtyn, nobody would really know.

Tomash comes over to Elspeth to ask her whether she would like to find out what his talk with Seely was able to produce, otherwise she can read his notes later. He sits, and tells Elspeth that it appears the Council are aware of the forthcoming rebellion, because of a few traitorous rebels. Elspeth seems to see this news, as confirmation that the Council are aware of Obernewtyn, but that is unlikely. Seely however would have no idea about that, and her memories were confined to the Western Coast. But it is likely that the Council know that the rebels were offered help by Half-breed Gypsy Misfits, but were refused. The process of gaining this information from the scraps Seely overheard, wasn’t all that difficult, but only if you knew the entire context of things. Cassell and Serba, the two rebels who are going to bond, and hopefully unite the western bloc, are actually marrying out of love, and not just for show, and the Council know this, and yet they do not act.

Another interesting tidbit, is that soldierguards and Herders on the west coast have been meeting together at odd hours of the night. Tomash checked Seely’s mind for word of Ariel, but there was nothing to be found. Knowing him, he keeps a low profile, and only those that need to know him, do. It would be interesting to find out if other soldierguards are in contact with the Herders, but Seely doesn’t know about the entire Land, though Wila will be talking to her tomorrow to find out more about the Herders. Tomash suspects that these traitors, are the reason the rebels want the Misfits in the rebellion, so they can weed out those men who are in the pockets of the Council or Faction.

Elspeth decides that she has given a good enough public showing, and goes to leave the kitchen, but is caught by Ceirwan. He tells her that Freya wants to go with the magi to the lowlands, and Ceirwan wants Elspeth to make sure Gevan allows her to go. She wants to help them find Rushton, and in fact Ceirwan wants to go with her, as well as Kella to look for Rushton in Sutrium. Even though Elspeth doesn’t want people leaving Obernewtyn, the idea of the three of them travelling together, rather than just Kella travelling alone, sounds much more plausible and more inconspicuous. And that way they can make sure Kella comes back, if she finds out bad news about Domick.

Gevan’s mind suddenly comes clear, and he warns that there are riders approaching at a gallop. Elspeth wonders if it is the soldierguards, but it is too early to tell. It could just be some of the knights riding back to tell them some news. Elspeth even hopes that maybe Rushton is with them, but maybe that is too optimistic. Ceirwan wonders why it is only a few knights and not entire group. Though if they are just coming back with some news, they might want to leave others in town to keep searching around.

Ashling

Ashling

The third book in the Obernewtyn Chronicles, and what a book it was. So much happened. Thinking back to the beginning, I hardly remember that the first thing that we saw was the finding of the Reichler Clinic, and then the interruption by Maryon’s futuretelling (it was that long ago, that what I just said is actually wrong, and the first thing is the Herder trying to burn Iriny to the stake and then Elspeth stepping up to save her). That of course sent Elspeth and Matthew (and without their knowledge Dragon) to Sutrium. Sutrium was filled with fast paced action, with event after event. Not really in the right order because things have started to blur together, but just a quick overview. Matthew was being unnecessarily harsh to Dragon, which sent her to run away, where Elspeth was forced to knock her out. In doing so, the good news for Elspeth was it sent her to Swallow (even after getting whipped for TOUCHING some guys cloth!). Bad news though, Dragon was sent into a coma. Having found Swallow, Elspeth organised to get Iriny to him, in exchange for information and a tattoo that would allow her safe passage. But even though Swallow applies the tattoo it later vanishes. Elspeth is also caught up in another prophesy this time with the Gypsies and Swallow. Then there is the whole issue with slavers, and Idris is killed, and then we meet Daffyd again. Then their plans to outsmart Salamander fails miserably, and Matthew is sent away as a slave, to a far unknown land.

Even after all that Elspeth had no time to rest, as she had to go and meet the rebels to discuss their alliance. The outcome of the meeting was a call from Jakoby to settle the disagreement in the Sadorian fashion of The Battlegames. And we find out that there could be a person worse than Ariel (who appears again briefly) in the world, called Malik. Coincidentally (well sent by Maryon’s predictions) Rushton and co are waiting for Elspeth ready to journey to Sador and find the right path to follow. They get to Sador and find out just how hot the place is, and then the next day it is time for the Battlegames. Where there is so much action I had to split chapters up into two, just to fit everything in. The Misfits are compelled by their compassionate natures while the rebels are compelled by their barbaric, animalistic, violent natures. The two are polar opposites, but in the end it is the rebels that lose two of their peers, and not the Misfits (despite the constant attempts by the rebels). Bram announces the rebels as the winners, but makes a good point that the rebels have shown themselves to be more monstrous than the ‘un-human Misfits’.

Once again, things reach a climax, as Elspeth suddenly collapses and is sent into a dream state. She is venturing too close to the mind-stream which means death, and for the first time Atthis contacts her directly. Coming out of this state, she realises some of the importance of her journey, but this is compounded when the overguardian of the Earth Temple shows her the carvings done by Kasanda. She also learns that there are five signs she must find, and it is then that the overguardian will help her. Returning to her friends, she finds Rushton depressed and uninspired. Elspeth finally understands that her journey in the future should not impact her life, and she FINALLY communicates with Rushton on how she feels. And FINALLY Rushton and Elspeth share their love for one another and it looks like they will be together!!! Obernewtyn now understands that violence is not the answer, and they must teach everyone they are not inhuman, and not monsters, and they move away from war into empathy.

There you have it, an overview of Ashling and there is so much still to come. The Obernewtyn Chronicles only continue to improve, and as the storyline thickens and heats up there will be much more to discuss and enjoy. I think Ashling is the first book that is actually the ‘meat’ of the storyline, instead of introducing the world. But yet, there is so much that is new information and new locations, that the world continues to develop, as it will for the remaining books because it is such a detailed and rich world that there is always something new to find. The next book will be interesting as Obernewtyn have moved away from the rebels in their alliance, and have started to try to win over the public and convince them they are not monsters and can be trusted. There are so many loose ends at the end of this book, and I know that we will not get all the answers in ‘The Keeping Place’ but I look forward to finding out more. Especially about Sador and Dragon. How will Dragon do now back at Obernewtyn, and will she remain in a coma forever? And the rebellion is looming, even if they are not in an alliance, big changes are going to happen around them. And we can’t forget the Gypsies and Elspeth connection to them, and of course Elspeth’s fate which is slowly being pieced together (though we still know very little).

No matter how amazing prediction skills could ever get, I could never figure out everything that will happen in the next book and that’s a good thing. I will still be surprised at what is going to happen and what new things we will learn about! I can’t wait.

Tomorrow will be a post on a different book by Isobelle Carmody, and let me tell you that book is AMAZING!

Ashling – Epilogue

Epilogue

As per usual, the epilogue is not quite connected to the previous chapter, as it is sometime into the future, and (I’m just trying to remember, and probably am wrong) all epilogues contain just Elspeth and Maruman, and this one is no different.

Elspeth is back in Obernewtyn, and it is snowing. Maruman is asking Elspeth what her answer will be. She is not sure, but they have begun to find it, both Rushton and herself and the guildmerge and beasts. Maruman says that Elspeth will never make the funaga-li accept them. Maruman and Elspeth seem to be having a debate on their change in tactics away from fighting, to accepting. Elspeth thinks that maybe they shouldn’t be trying to get people to accept them, and making them, is not what they can do.

Elspeth remembers back to when they left Sador, Jakoby and Brydda had come to the ship. Miryum’s Sadorian suitor had also come with them, with Faraf and the horse that Malik rode, Zidon. He offered them to Miryum, and Jakoby explains that they are a gift. Miryum takes them, and the man was burning with desire for Miryum, and then just turned and walked away. But what Miryum doesn’t know is that they were a gift for bonding, since she has accepted this means she has accepted to be his ravek. When he is ready, he will come for her. Now Miryum is so surprised her mouth falls open.

Jakoby then asks something of Rushton. She and Bram would like one of the empaths to remain in Sador as a guest of the Earthtemple. They have much to talk about, and the Misfits have shown the Sadorians things they never expected. The Misfits go to discuss this offer, and Dameon says that he will stay without any hesitation. He believes that this is why he was sent along, after-all he did nothing in the Battlegames. Miky and Angina are horrified, and want to offer themselves, though they don’t understand, when it is not a sacrifice, and it is actually an honour to stay here. Dameon wants to learn about these people, and maybe teach them some things too. So it is decided, Dameon will stay for one season, and when winter is over, they will come and collect him. The two horses Miryum’s suitor has given her will also remain here, because they aren’t too interested in going on the boat.

Rushton doesn’t want to leave Dameon alone, so he asks for someone to stay and be his eyes and guard him (from what exactly, I am not sure, especially when the Sadorians are honourable and would fear hurting Dameon). Fian offers himself, and not only will he protect Dameon, but he has much to learn and report back to Garth. Hannay suggests he could protect Dameon best, but there is no need for guarding him.

Saying goodbye to Dameon was harder than Elspeth had expected. She has already lost Matthew, and now it feels like she is losing Dameon as well (basically her only two friends). But she has gained Rushton and I think they will be spending much time together. Elspeth thinks she will not survive without him, but he reminds her that somehow he was able to cope when she was long gone from Obernewtyn. Elspeth tries to tell him that Rushton needs him, especially now, alluding to the new emapthic regime, but Dameon says that Rushton now has everything he wanted.

The twins also say their goodbyes to Dameon, quite tearfully, and reminding him that they will be in charge of the Empath guild, but only until he returns. He and Fian depart, and Rushton comes to Elspeth and tells her that Dameon needs to do this, and it isn’t forever. Then Brydda comes to wish them farewell, and he expresses his regret that things had ended differently. But Rushton (now understanding) says it is for the best, and that an alliance is no longer the best thing for them (and never was) as the two parties want completely different things. Elspeth offers Brydda their everlasting friendship regardless of the alliance, and he accepts.

He now had his rebellion to plan, and they back to Obernewtyn. Safely in Sutrium, they found that Domick had not returned from his Council expedition, so they continued on to Obernewtyn. Dragon was still in her coma, and Elspeth thinks that one day Matthew may return, but it is still home. Maruman asks her what she will do if Atthis calls her away from Obernewtyn, before they solve their problems of acceptance. Elspeth says that she has promised and will follow the call, but she has five secrets to uncover and must return to Sador and see Swallow again. All this will take much time, so Elspeth is not too concerned. She thinks that maybe the call will not be for many years, until she is old and grey (unlikely) but she has finally learnt that this shouldn’t mean she must live in fear of the journey. And that she must take her life now, as it is, and enjoy it, while she can.

Three books down, and three (that are published) remain! So halfway through the series (though the next three books are increasingly longer). Tomorrow will be my summary, and then something else, also connected to Isobelle Carmody, and then onto ‘The Keeping Place’!!!

Ashling – Chapter 44

Chapter Forty-Four

Elspeth found Rushton sitting on a rock, gazing out to sea. She tries to comfort him, saying that he didn’t fail them, and specifically that Obernewtyn hasn’t failed. He dully responds by saying how glad he is that she is well now, but he doesn’t move or have any emotion in his voice. He sounds 100% defeated and dejected. Elspeth continues to try and console him, but he interrupts trying to explain how he feels. He thought to lead them all to battle, because he thought their powers could be used in war, and that he, as a leader, would be able to direct them. But clearly, the Misfits are not suited to war. He thinks he did not see this, because he really isn’t one of them. But Elspeth is having any of this, she tells him that they are all equally to blame.

Rushton doesn’t agree, and asks her what will happen to them if the Council sends soldierguards to Obernewtyn to wipe them out, or if Malik (or another Malik-type person) comes to Obernewtyn to kill them all? He wanted to protect them. Elspeth corrects him and says ‘us’, but he is determined to see himself as an outside, because he cannot use his talent. Elspeth counters him, and says that he is descended from Hannah Seraphim, and is one of them, and besides he was the one who started Obernewtyn as a safe-haven, and who freed them all. He continues to think he was wrong, but Elspeth says that it was she who thought they needed to show the rebels their strength (afterall she agreed to the Battlegames) and should she throw herself off a boat and die? And what about Maryon, who sent them all to Sador?

The issue for Rushton, is that he still sees himself as different to them, even though they have used his powers before in the past. But this was with help, and he (to be honest a typical male thing) sees needing help as a weakness. Elspeth tells him that he sounds like Malik, who would never need help from anyone else, but suggests there is a bit of Malik in all of them, and if they truly wanted to, they could be like him, despite what Bram said. What makes them different to Malik, is their need for one another. This makes Rushton turn around, and accuse Elspeth that she has never needed anyone. And she accepts this, she has been rejecting everyone, but  she now understands the importance of one another. The conversation has taken an interesting turn, to finally try to sort out their relationship.

Elspeth tries to turn it back to the Battlegames, by telling him that they have learnt a lot from this experience. They needed to find out what they couldn’t do, and what they could, and that they have no found the right road to continue on, just like Maryon foretold. He doesn’t seemed convinced, and Elspeth reminds him of what Dameon said about their problem was not knowing what they were, and now they do. Even if Rushton accepts this, he still can’t see how this will help them. Elspeth suggests that everyone fears them, and the Council and Herders fuel that fear, and maybe instead of fighting for acceptance they need to show the public that they are just like them, and shouldn’t be feared. She thinks their purposes should be reshaped around emapthy, and trying to get the public to see the true them. Even though she is not an empath, she will learn to teach the ‘unTalents’ (I would start by not using that name for them) as anyone can.

Rushton plays the ‘you don’t understand, how could you?’ card, which is just annoying and a weak excuse. Elspeth is angry now, and asks how he could know how she feels, and whether he thinks she is a Beforetime machine, with no emotions. Rushton says he could not know, because she never let him near her. The saddest thing of all, is that he thinks this is because he is unTalented, and that Elspeth would never go for someone without Talent. Elspeth doesn’t understand, she is too surprised. He says then why else does she reject him, and ignore his every look and every word. Elspeth tries to say something about Freya (and I hope that she is feeling guilty about pushing him away). He says that Freya has been trying to teach him to use his powers (after all she has powers to amplify another’s powers) but it is too little, especially when Elspeth is so powerful, and he isn’t sure how she knew of that.

Elspeth tries to figure out if all of this is happening. That he actually believes she pushes him away because of his lack of Talent and that Freya was trying to help him access his powers, so he would be ‘worthy’. See! This is what happens when people DON’T COMMUNICATE! Major, major, misunderstanding happen, and everyone gets upset, so talk to each other! She now sees that both Obernewtyn and her, are bound in Rushton’s mind. She feels guilty because of his undying love for both things, whereas she has acted bitterly, especially with Freya. She now sees that this moment, is a once in a lifetime opportunity, if she was ever to have a life with Rushton, this was the time to make it.

She asks him, what exactly she is. He stands up, and tells her that she is everything (which is very endearing). Freya was telling him to give Elspeth time (and Elspeth was so harsh to her, when she was helping her, when Elspeth was being a fool) and he tried, but she continued to move further away from him (because she was silly and thought Freya was now his focus). He thinks himself a fool for ever loving her, and that he doesn’t deserve her or Obernewtyn. Elspeth says he is a fool, and that he will continue to lead Obernewtyn as they try to find another way to fit into the world.

AND FINALLY! Finally, she admits that she loves him, and has done so since she first saw him carrying that pig. And that she had to grow up to admit it and not be frightened of what she felt. She opened her mind to him, and he was able to whisper to her, “Ravek, my Elspethlove”. FINALLY! So much could have been avoided, if they just communicated, there is a lesson there! At least they were able to make things better before everything fell apart. There is only the epilogue remaining, and then after that, three books (‘Red Queen’ is still not out yet, and won’t be until sometime next year, so there will likely be some sort of gap inbetween ‘Obernewtyn’ reviews until the FINAL book, but that is a long way away, then again, time flies).

Ashling – Chapter 43

Chapter Forty-Three

The Temple guardian (a he, but not the overguardian) makes Elspeth follow him through the network of tunnels that is the Earthtemple. Elspeth demands to know where she is being taken, and when she can see her friends. The overguardian says soon, but apparently he has been saying the same thing for days. Elspeth snaps at him saying that she is no longer sick and doesn’t want to be kept as a prisoner, and that she knows they were here earlier, so why can’t she see them now. He doesn’t respond. What exactly is going on? Why is he keeping Elspeth away from everyone else? Elspeth resigns herself and wonders whether everyone has just left to go back to Sutrium, because it has been 8 days since the Battlegames ended (5 days she was asleep, and now 3 days awake). Elspeth had been weak when she first woke up, and the guardians cared for her, but now she was fine, and wanted to leave. And she has no chance of finding her own way out in this labyrinth of tunnels, so she must wait until the overguardian allows someone to show her the way out.

Elspeth was about to ask the guardian again why she was being kept, when they rounded a corner and found themselves looking at carved panels which Elspeth had not seen previously. I’m sure it would be an impressive sight in itself, but, Elspeth recognised the style, it was done by the same person who did Obernewtyn’s doors. The guardian prompts her to continue, but she wants to know who did the carvings, he tells her that Kasanda did them, and asks her to keep moving. Who is Kasanda? And how did she carve things that ended up in Sador and Obernewtyn? Does this mean she travelled by boat, many years ago between the two lands? So many questions, and Elspeth has another, when will she see the overguardian?

He does not respond, giving rise to Elspeth internal challenge of keeping control of her temper. Before she could say something rude enough to crack the guardian, he stops infront of a stone doorway. He asks her to go in, and the overguardian will be with her soon. Just like that? Was she going to the overguardian to begin with, or has her reaction changed things? Inside the doorway, was a cavern. Apparently the Temple is a natural labyrinth and only a small portion of the entire thing is used. Inside this cavern (unlike any other) the walls were covered with stone carvings, clearly also done by Kasanda (whoever she is, she was skilled at both wood and stone carving, that is impressive!).

The guardian shows her the first panel in the sequence, and tells her that she starts there and then should go around the room. Looking at the first carving, Elspeth could tell it was not all stone, part of it was mud and fibre to make some shapes, and some of it was tinted for different tones. The panel shows one of the Beforetime cities, Elspeth thinks of Tor, but this one was alive. The buildings reached up into the sky, and seemed to praise the Beforetimers. With such detail, it must mean that Kasanda must have been alive to witness these buildings first-hand.

A while later, Elspeth tore herself from the first panel to look at the second carving, again with Beforetime structures, but subtly different. She could see that the buildings were being shown to crush the earth and smother live. This panel was not speaking of the greatness of the Beforetimers but of their oppression of the earth and other life forms. At the third panel, the Beforetime structures were still present but this time there was a blackness above them, showing how the Beforetimers choked the air with their poisons. Panel after panel depicted similar scenes, of rivers, forests and mountains destroyed and poisoned by the Beforetimers who mastered the earth and built ignoring all costs.

At the next panel, there were scenes of the Great White, and Elspeth thought their fate was inevitable given what she saw beforehand. After the Great White faded (in the panels) the panels showed utter desolation, the Blacklands. A boy speaks to her, saying that this is a place of sorrows, and Elspeth turns to see the overguardian. He lifts away his hood, and Elspeth recoils involuntarily. His face was grossly deformed, and Elspeth apologises for her unkind reaction. He does not seem to mind, and says the same thing that poisoned the earth poisoned his mother, which is true of all guardians here. Elspeth was surprised by his age, and that he is a Misfit (whether he and others have Talent, remains unknown). Elspeth tells him that she is thankful of his healing, but he tells her that he nor any other guardian healed her, she did that herself.

Elspeth is reminded of her strange dreams, where Atthis told her that her body knew how to heal itself, which does explain a lot. She also remembered that Atthis told her of the world’s need for her, but looking around the room at the panels, Elspeth cannot help but wonder if the earth would be better without humanity. Especially since the Holocaust hasn’t changed anything, people like Malik still exist. The overguardian tells Elspeth of a story, about one who comes across the ocean searching for the fifth sign of Kasanda. Elspeth asks if this is the same person who carved everything, but he does not respond. Instead he speaks to tell her that there are many born with Kasanda’s gift both in Sador and ‘The Land’, but the story says that the one who comes seeking the signs, will have three companions, one of whom shall be of true Kasanda blood. How mysterious.

Elspeth asks him why he telling her all of this. He replies that he may have dreamed of her coming here, and that he must tell her this, as he has Kasanda’s gift of true dreaming. The first Kasanda was the one who dreamed of the Seeker. Elspeth can hardly believe it, she is the Seeker. Kasanda told his people that the Seeker would bear the Moonwatcher (who has daylight eyes) and be borne by the Daywatcher (who is the colour of shadows), who are complementary to one another. No information was given about the Seeker, maybe it was too dangerous to leave any (especially incase the Destroyer found out). But the Moonwatcher sounds a lot like Maruman, and the Daywatcher could easily be Gahltha. Elspeth cannot believe that her destiny is linked to Sador.

The overguardian continues and tells her that Kasanda dreamed of the signs and spread them across the lands, so only the Seeker could find them. Elspeth asks if he knows what the signs are, but he says he knows many things, like the Herders who come bearing lethal gifts and must be watched to stop them harming the earth. He also knows that the Seeker, with her three companions, will come to Sador to find the last sign, and it is then that the overguardian can help them. Elspeth pretends that this has nothing to do with her, and asks to be let out. He says her friends will be here tomorrow to collect her. Back outside, the overguardian vanishes, and Elspeth is left to follow the guardian back to her chamber.

Left alone, Elspeth tried to catch up with all that just happened and how the Beforetimers could possibly screw up the earth so greatly (her answer, is power, which is true). She decides to relax and sends out her mind out into the desert. Elspeth is longing for the mountains of Obernewtyn and Maruman’s voice comes into her mind and tells her to seek them, if she needs them. He is flying on the dreamtrails, and continues to push her to seek the mountains, even though they are across the Blacklands, which Elspeth’s mind cannot cross. He tells her that she can, if she seek the dreamtrails, and he tells her to follow him.

She let him take hold of her, but then she felt claws, and Maruman yelled at her to flee, and then Gahltha was there telling her to ride him. Was that the H’yraka? Somehow she is now back in the turrets of Obernewtyn. How can this be possible? She spots Gahltha outside her window and runs to ride with him. Gahltha tells her that this has happened and anything that has happened can happen again, because life is full of circles (interesting…). Whether this is real or not, is a hard question, because both of them are far from here, and yet here. They rode far reaching the feet of the highest mountain. He told her that he would eat some grass, and she would nourish herself on the mountains (okay…). She was faced with a question, could anything humans do, really matter, when compared to the immovable mountains? But even mountains could be killed.

She felt as though she felt the lifeforce of the earth. She realised that if the Destroyer reached the weapons and used them, it was not just humanity that would be wiped out, but so would everything, even the earth itself, which could be killed, just like a mountain. She was now resolved as ever to fight for the earth, and to go when the Agyllians called her. She would complete her quest, no matter what, even if it meant giving up her own life. She slept then, and awoke, more refreshed than ever before, and without a worry.

The guardian led her outside, where she was greeted by Kella and Dameon. Kella tells her (after a greeting) that the rebellion has been decided for the winter, but Elspeth was not interested. She asks about Maruman, who has been making himself at home with Powyrs, and Dragon, who has remained unchanged. Elspeth wonders if she even had to leave Sador, because Atthis could call her just the same here as Obernewtyn, but she will return. They reach the tents, where everyone wants to ask her many questions. Elspeth asks where Rushton is, and an uncomfortable silence falls. Kella tells him that because they lost, he blamed himself for their defeat, and has been cold ever since. He walks alone, and hardly eats, and has decided to give up leading them. He thinks they should be led by a true Misfit, not just one with a latent Talent.

Elspeth remembers that Rushton had said they would learn about themselves because of the Battlegames, and they had found the price of being warriors was too high. She realises that the empath’s song was better this time, because they finally knew what it was like to be a warrior. Elspeth remembers that Atthis had told her to join the Misfits, because their cause was worthy, and Elspeth worked, but was always waiting for the call to whisk her away. Now she saw that the Misfts’ cause and the quest, were one in the same. She needs to make sure the world is not full of Maliks and Herders, otherwise they will only build them again in the future. Maybe Obernewtyn can start a revolution, one where they do not need destruction. She began to grin like a fool, and looked at everyone. Rushton might no love her anymore, but her emotions were not important in the context of everything. She finally understands that she could never lose Obernewtyn, even for the quest. And she must tell Rushton that the Battlegames have been the best thing for them, and it has shown them their true nature.

Ashling – Chapter 42 Part Two

Chapter Forty-Two Part Two

It is time for Bram to roll for the final battlegame. The game was titled ‘Song’ and if it literally means sing a song, the Misfits CANNOT lose because of their awesome talent. The number of players is two, and that suits the Misfits perfectly, with the two twins being the best singers ever. I just can’t help but laugh at the thought of Malik’s reaction to this (partially that he thinks this is a joke, but he would look so mad) and what the rebels will possibly sing at all. Bram tells Malik that that Battlegames test many qualities, and that unless he wishes to forfeit he must choose the two rebels that will sign.

The two rebels that Malik chose, sang a ‘bawdy battle song’ which was probably the only song they sung. I feel slightly bad for them having to do something they likely were not comfortable with doing and compared to what the twins are about to sing, they look like fools.

Speaking of the twins, it instead of the battle song, deals with not the glory of war, but with the tragedy of it. It is an old song song that told of two boys, who were brothers separated at birth and sent to war against one another. Only when one had killed the other, did they understand what had come to pass. A tragedy indeed. The song was a dirge, apparently sung by the surviving brother over the dead brother’s body. Elspeth had heard this song before, but never like it was preformed there. This rendition had pure rending sorrow, and now empathised it was a song that went greater and deeper than just a song about two brothers. Elspeth wept at the song, and wept for the two brothers, but she also wept for her brother, Jes, who she lost back in Obernewtyn, and Jik, Matthew, Dragon, the gypsy Caldeko (Iriny’s bondmate) and even the nameless rebel who died here today. She cried for all the victims of hatred and war.

She was not the only one who wept, Kella, Dameon and Freya and many of the Sadorians also wept. Even a few of the rebels wiped their eyes by the final line, which I will quote. “Will there ever be a time when war does not kill the babes and the dreams of the world?” A question I do wonder, and I assume Isobelle Carmody wonders also. As the final notes faded away, the sun set, as if paying homage to the twins and their wondrous song.

Malik was dry-eyed (of course) as Bram stepped up to speak (he was wiping his eyes). He says that the rebels offered a song with humour, which can raise the hopes of warriors and boost their courage. But he acknowledges that the Mifits sang a song that ran much deeper, and reached into the souls of warriors and made them question themselves about what they are about to do. Malik is very rude and didn’t understand the meaning of the song or see the beauty, and questions how this would help warriors win a battle, and how can a song that brings tears to the ‘weak and the womanish’ help? Complete sexism there, you can’t just say that only women cry, and that crying makes you feminine, I think that Malik doesn’t even have a heart, and is really a robot sent into the future from the Beforetime, and he is the Destroyer, because robots will revel in a world without life (yep… that’s my theory….).

Bram deals with him well, and tells him that though a song may not wield a sword of metal, it can put a sword into the heart that will never rust or blunt. A song can make warriors who are close to surrender get up and fight, it can raise an army, or quell the tears of a baby. He announces that win the setting of the sun, the Battlegames are over! Immediately, Malik demands to know who won, and Bram just stares at him and then tells him that impatience is the least of his faults, and that it is a kind of greed and one day will be his undoing.

He then speaks to everyone. He has been asked to judge these Battlegames, but would like to tell everyone that the games are not a matter of tallying up points, but examining how all the games were played. This makes judging difficult, and can mean that those awarded less points, can end up winning (good news for the Misfits). Elspeth is heartened by this news. But it is short lived. For this Battlegame, the decision is easy. The games were played to find out who were the better warriors, and whether the Misfits with their unusual Talents were worthy of an alliance. The answer is of course that the rebels are more suited to battle than the Misfits. The rebels are aggressive and turn to violence immediately, and if these men are representative of the full army, are ready for battle. No instict, mercy, compassion or love of beauty would restrain them from their destruction (not necessarily a good thing). They are swift, ruthless, decisive and resourceful. They are filled with desire to dominate and abuse (maybe good values for a warrior, but not a human). Remember that these men will have to live with what they do in any war, and they may be all gung-ho now, but how will they feel with their ruthless actions later, or will they be filled with no regrets because of their cold-hearted nature?

As for the Misfits, Bram continues, that if they are representative of their fellows, they are no warriors. They care too much about life and one another to be ruthless killers. And they are not inspired by the glories of war, and are filled with sorrow at the death of friend or foe, whether that be beast or human. Their powers are used for defence, making them ‘useless’. They are not weak or cowardly, but seem incapable of using their minds as weapons. He uses their song as an example, which instead of putting fear into the hearts of their enemies, made everyone cry. He believes that they will never have the rebel’s single-mindedness because for the Misfits they cannot see things in terms of simple goals, there is a bigger picture.

He continues to talk now speaking about Sador, where they value the earth above all life (including beasts and humans, so I guess animal rights aren’t their main concern) because of the short and unimportant nature of life. The Sadorians had thought that all Landfolk had valued their lives too much, and that they thought themselves as the most important person/thing on the planet. But the Misfits seem to value all life, and to the Sadorians this is a hard thing to contemplate. He gives them one final thing to think about. They opposed the alliance with the Misfits because they were seen as inhuman and monsters, but he asks them, which team today has shown humanity and which has shown itself to be monstrous. In the end, he announces the rebels as the winners of the Battlegames, but he does so with no pride or happiness. The rebels cheered, but there was some confusion to that cheering, and Malik was happy to move to the rebel leaders and receive their congratulations.

Rushton faces all of them, and says that Bram’s judgements were fair. Elspeth went to tell Rushton that if she had to be like Malik to be a warrior, she would not want to be a warrior, but oddly her legs buckled and Rushton had to move to catch her. However, it says she slipped through and fell into the abyss, but I don’t know if that actually happened (that she was somehow really close to a cliff in this isis pool and she fell down it) or if this is just referring to her falling into unconsciousness.

Elspeth dreamed of being strapped to the Zebkrahn machine, and her legs were on fire. She dreamed of the Agyllian healer, Nerat, who taught her body to heal itself. She dreamed of the red-haired lady drowning in the ocean, bleeding, of Swallow raising a sword to salute her and of Ariel searching down tunnels to find her. She dreamed of Maruman telling her she would lead the beasts to freedom and of seeing the dolphins out in the ocean. She dreamed (she saw quite a lot) of Rushton standing at the doors of Obernewtyn, with Freya in his arms. She dreamed of a shining river, that called her name, the Mindstream, that if she went into it, she would die.

But, Atthis speaks to her, and warns her not to go into the Mindstream. Elspeth is relieved that Atthis has finally spoken to her, and not through someone else (like Maruman or Mayron). She asks why she never spoke directly to her and Atthis tells her that the H’rayka would hear, because he flies the dreamtrails, and listens to find out what she would tell Elspeth, so he can thwart them. But right now, he cannot hear (interesting that it is a he) them now, because they are too close to the ‘death/dreaming river’ because he would fear being swallow. Elspeth might share that fate, because she is perilously close, and she must move away. Atthis is holding her but her strength is fading. But Elspeth doesn’t want to leave here, where there is no pain, and she says that if she leaves, Atthis will not speak to her again. Atthis tells her that now is not her time to ‘hear this song’ and die, but Elspeth wants to why she is here then. Atthis explains that a small artery in her leg was severed during the Battlegames, and she nearly bled to death, and they (probably Kella) stopped the blood, but right now she is too close to death. Her body has learned to heal itself (which explains why she miraculously healed all the time, is that why the tattoo did not work?) but being so close to the stream she cannot heal herself, and she must draw away if she is to live.

Elspeth fell a pull to return and live, but she fought against it, because she was not sure she wanted to live. Atthis tells her that the pull she feels back to the world, is because someone wants her alive. She tells her to go and heal, because the world needs her, and that otherwise the H’rayka wins and the beasts will never be free. She felt the pulling again, and wondered who it was that she was connected to, and drawn by curiosity she was drawn away. She tries to call out to the person, but there was nothing.

She opened her eyes, and she saw a monster, and she fled. Again she opened her eyes and saw Kella, and then Dameon. Then she was lying in a dark, cold room, sitting beside her was the Temple overguardian. The overguardian tells her that she is in the Earthtemple and she has slept for a long time.

What a dramatic turn of events, I did not expect Elspeth to nearly die, especially when she seemed fine. Who was holding her to the earth, was it Rushton? Dameon? Matthew? Could it be in some perverse way the H’rayka (who may or may not be the Destroyer who may or may not be Ariel) want Elspeth alive, so they can have a showdown and a real challenge, or that he needs Elspeth to find the weaponmachines faster? I have no idea how we would find out for sure, but it is good to know Elspeth is well. I wonder if we will find out more about this overguardian, and how they are, and more about the Temple in general! Even though there is not a lot left, I think there will be a lot to talk about! (Have I ever gone over 2000 words before? Now I have.)

Ashling – Chapter 42

Chapter Forty-Two

The game has been announced as ‘The Ride’ and Elspeth puts up her hand to be involved. She bent the rules a little, and had sensed that there were indeed horses nearby, and ‘The Ride’ does sound like horses are involved. Rushton acknowledges her nominations but tells her that she can’t just be good on the horse, she has to show aggression, as that is what the Sadorians are looking for. When Rushton names Elspeth as their (single) member, Malik names himself. It is the showdown we have been waiting for!

The two were brought to the small herd of beasts that Elspeth had already farsensed and they had to choose their mounts. Malik chose a huge horse, obviously looking for the most powerful beast, but in a race (though we don’t know what they will be doing) strength is not enough, you need endurance. Elspeth takes her time and talks to the horses finding out who is fastest and stronger than the rest. Then she spots the little mare, Faraf, who she aided at the city gate when she arrived in Sutrium. Wow, even the horses end up coming back into the storyline somehow, seriously is there nobody who is seen once and actually disappears?

Faraf greets Elspeth and tells her that clearly she did not make it to Obernewtyn. She was captured and sold to the Sadorians, who are better than most when it comes to animal rights, but she still dreams of being free. Malik is growing impatient and tells her to choose already, which Elspeth just ignores. Faraf tells her that Malik has indeed chosen the strongest horse among them, but that Elspeth should choose her because she is small and NOT strong. Elspeth asks her why, and asks if the other horse would let them win, because she is Innle. She says that the horse would, BUT they are going to be fed a leaf, called pickleberry (this too has already been introduced to us, has it not, when Dragon was in the market and Gahltha was rearing). Because of this, it is better to ride a weaker horse, so Elspeth is not thrown off. Elspeth chooses Faraf and leads her out, with an almost smug look on her face. Malik seeing the horse she has picked cannot believe his eyes. Next they are told to choose their saddles, and Malik chooses a great solid armour piece, that has sharp metal spurs, Elspeth on the other hand (on the advice of Faraf) chooses the lightest and deepest seated saddle, and the simplest bridle, without the metal bit.

They return back to the isis pool, and an area of which had been cleared for them. Jakoby repeated what Faraf had already told her (how exactly did she know? Did she hear them talking – and for that matter can they understand human speech – probably not. So does this mean she has done this before, or did she learn from the other horses what exactly would happen?). They would ride their horses who would be fed the pickleberry and be maddened. Their aim was to last the longest on the horses. Elspeth asks if the horses would die from this pickleberry, like the bear from the drug. Jakoby tells her that the bear did not die from the ‘gurrug’ but had a weak heart and died from the stress of the battle. The day was drawing to an end, which means this may be the final battle, and if Elspeth wins, they would probably be equal in terms of the games.

Faraf sends to Elspeth ‘Courage’ as Elspeth mounts her and she feels unnatural in the saddle and with a bridle. Faraf then ate from a bag a servitor gave her, and Elspeth wonders how she could impress the rebels. Elspeth asks Faraf to open her mind so she can block some of the effects of the drug. Faraf agrees but warns that the drug is already taking hold, and her whole body is already twitching. The drug moved quickly through Faraf’s mind, but Elspeth was able to move faster, blocking nerve paths and sending the effects to the bowel where it wouldn’t make Faraf mad. Still there were some traces of the drug, so Elspeth took control of Faraf’s body and immobilised her senses. Eventually, Faraf stood still. Malik’s horse was already pacing about and shuddering, and he looked pale trying to keep in control.

The horse without warning, bucked and reared, and Elspeth even tried to get into the mind of the horse to assist him (you can see that the Misfits are kind and compassionate enough to try to help the rebels, though I think she was more concerned about the horse rather than Malik). But the drug had taken hold. Malik was a skilled rider though, and was able to remain in his seat. Malik saw that Faraf was not moving at all, and decides to become aggressive and make the horse charge straight at her. And the worst thing is, that Elspeth cannot move Faraf out of the way, as she shut down all of her nerves.

Malik’s sharp spikes cut into Faraf’s neck and Elspeth’s leg quite deeply, and he goes around for another attack. Elspeth screams at him to stop, as she frantically tries to get Faraf’s muscles to work again, but the drug stopped her from doing so. Malik strikes again, and he is clearly trying to kill Elspeth or at the very least kill Faraf. The next time, the spikes missed, but he was able to strike Faraf in the head with his feet. How can he control the horse so well, as it is still under the control of the drugs? Faraf was in a bad state and blood was streaming down her face. Malik turns for the next attack, but Elspeth jumps off of Faraf and yells that she forfeits.

Elspeth has a strange ‘roaring’ sound in her ears, and her legs were oddly numb. She strokes Faraf’s bloody head, and the mare sends that she is sorry to have failed her. But Elspeth says, that she hasn’t, and the two limb back to the pens. Elspeth did not even glance at Malik who had jumped clear of his horse, who is still affected by the drugs.

Now all assembled, Bram says that there is nothing to say as the game was forfeited (though I think a lot can be said about the game). The others try to comfort Elspeth for doing the right thing, but she (now out of pressure, and with time to think) cannot believe she didn’t try to coerce Malik to stop him from attacking. Elspeth cannot look at Rushton who had trusted her to win this game. Even if they won the next game, they would not win overall, as (in their opinion) the rebels have won three games, whereas the Misfits have only won a single game (and was that because the rebel was killed before getting to the other side?) and there is not nearly enough time for more than one last game. Elspeth is tired and all she can do is sit, Freya notes that there is blood on her trews.

The next game is set to be announced. But I’d like to continue breaking up each post for one single game. I find it unfortunate that Bram did not comment on the events that were able to happen before the forfeiture because there was a lot of interesting things. Elspeth clearly had the right idea to stop the drug and then she wouldn’t have to try and stay on a bucking horse. But she forgot to incorporate Malik into her decision, and forgot that she would be vulnerable as movement was not an option. I think she neglected to consider that Malik was a powerful rider and would take any opportunity he got to harm Elspeth, and he would do anything to win, including kill Faraf and Elspeth. Overwhelmingly the rebels have shown aggression, and a lack of compassion towards their fellow warriors. Conversely, the Misfits have shown compassion to themselves and animals, but a lack of aggression. Both have their uses, but since this is about battle-readiness, the aggression will likely win out, but of course just because the Misfits lose does not mean they have lost everything. I think this is a learning experience and it is showing them that they are not capable of aggression in a large sense and that they are much more defensive than they are offensive. Sure some among them would be suited to war, but their talents lie elsewhere and the rebels may realise from these games that they are lacking in some qualities that the Misfits have aplenty. No matter what the outcome, the Battlegames is a turning point in the story, as I think the Misfits will know who they are and what they are trying to create in a world. Bring on what is likely to be the final battlegame!