The Keeping Place

Let’s try this again!

We started The Keeping Place with Rushton off with the rebels, who are trying to convince him to join the rebellion, even though Obernewtyn have rejected this course of action and have turned their attention to what they can do best, which isn’t fighting. Dameon is still in Sador, and we learn more about the Earthtemple and overguardian. Eventually we find out that women voluntarily go into a tainted pool of water after having their first baby, causing any second child they have to become defective, and end up working at the Earthtemple, and this is a practise that will continue until the Sadorians can heal the earth (cue Jak’s taint eating bugs). Dragon is still in her coma, and Matthew is still over the seas somewhere as a slave.

We quickly find out that Rushton has been kidnapped, and someone wants Obernewtyn to join the rebellion, the question is, who? The Herders appear to be the ones who kidnapped Rushton, but why would they want the rebellion to occur, something that hopefully we get more of an answer to later on. With Rushton away, Elspeth has to take on responsibility for Obernewtyn, and is forced into joining the rebellion.

At the same time, we experience our first moonfair, and hear an emotional tale of sleeping beauty from the magi. The magi, who are coercers who use their talents to create illusions for audiences (as well as plain old illusions), are subversively reforming the attitudes of the general public towards Misfits. They even get called up for a Councilman’s daughter’s wedding, which is a high honour for ‘gypsies’. The magi are Obernewtyn’s first line of attack, against prejudice, but there is another group who are trying to do the same thing. However, they (the Coercerknights) are lead by Miryum, who creates a set of moral guidelines which she calls chivalry (and yes she was inspired by the mythological knights). The group consists of people who weren’t too happy about the shift towards non-violence, and take an practical approach to improving treatment of Misfits. They think that if the Misfits are seen to do good, then people will come to accept and almost worship them. Eventually, the coercerknights split from the coercers, and come under the control of Elspeth. Now the interesting thing will be to see how Rushton reacts to them, and whether he is so accepting of their actions. Whether or not they become a permanent guild remains to be seen, especially since, guilds are based on talents not ideological beliefs. I think they will continue to be a pain in the arse for Roland, who hates them.

Dragon still in her coma, begins to influence the dreams of the inhabitants of Obernewtyn, with Elspeth being the worst affected. This leads to Elspeth having dreams about Cassy Duprey, who later turns out to be Kasanda, the seer from Sador. Not only that, but she has dreams about Ariel (who Elspeth is convinced is the Destroyer), her quest and Rushton, all of which have varying degrees of importance. The dreams about Cassy though, were very interesting, as it was the first time we got to see what the Beforetime looked like, and the politics of what was going on (with some help by the Tecknoguild and Dameon). Further to this the Tecknoguild have been hard at work and have found what appears to be Jacob Obernewtyn’s grave, though they have been banned from touching it, until an agreement can be made between all parties, since there is opposition to desecrating a grave, something that Rushton will be opposed to. Not only that, but they have started diving in the city under Tor, and that eventually leads to Elspeth also diving, and finding a glass statue of herself in the Reichler Clinic reception! Sadly, that is all destroyed now, and Elspeth was under the impression that that was a sign, but it appears that it wasn’t.

Back onto dreams, and Elspeth with the help of Maruman, ventured on the dreamtrails. Her first time, was so she could find the message Cassy/Kasanda left for her on the old doors of Obernewtyn, which were brought to Obernewtyn by Gypsies. She finds, with the help of Fian who translates the gadi to urolish, clues to lead her to the signs that Kasanda left for her so she can complete her quest. Also on dreams, Elspeth and others dream of Matthew, who is now in a place called the Red Queen’s Land. Unfortunately, he is a slave, and there is this weird, scary thing that lives under the ground.

Having agreed to the rebellion, Malik decides to use the Misfits in a ruse to make the soldierguards follow them before finding themselves in a trap. Sounded like a great plan, but if only they could have seen what Malik was really planning, but wearing a demonband (which prevents Misfits using their abilities, and was created by the Herders from tainted material) stopped them from being able to. In the end, the Misfits lost many human and beast lives, including Straaka (Miryum’s suitor, which caused her to go missing) and possibly Angina’s life as well (whose battle remains, as we don’t know whether he lives or dies). Only the ‘chance’ arrival of Swallow and some Gypsies, saved their lives. Malik’s betrayal will not go without justice. But the rest of the rebellion went off without a hitch, except of course that the west coast remains council territory, as more betrayal occurred, and there is a high chance that the Herders were involved.

In the Herder cloisters they found Rushton (Domick who disappeared at the same time, is still missing), but he was crazed after being heavily drugged. Elspeth was told to return to Obernewtyn by the Agyllians via Maruman because a sign was in danger of being lost. Eventually through the dreamtrails, enters Dragon’s mind to help her and Rushton, whose mind was absorbed by hers. Inside, a lot happens, and we learn that Dragon is the daughter of the Red Queen! Sadly the Red Queen is overthrown by a trusted advisor, and then sold off to traders. The Red Queen, who eventually dies, reveals to Dragon that she must remember where the first Red Queen’s brother died, because it is the location of a sign, one of those for Elspeth.

In the end, Elspeth saves Dragon and Rushton, who both recover. Dragon has no memory of her time at Obernewtyn, and so she has essentially returned as a ‘savage’, and Rushton is still recovering. Elspeth wasn’t helping things, but the two of them, seem to be heading in the right direction.

A lot has happened, and the pieces have started to come together, but there is still a long way to go. The west coast needs to be won, with Misfits still in danger. The Herders, they could easily be an issue. Dragon’s recovery, will she ever like Elspeth again? The Gypsies, and Elspeth involvement with the ancient promises. The signs, and Elspeth’s quest. MALIK! Making sure that the rebels maintain their hold on this side of the suggredoon is going to be a big issue. Bigger still is how the Misfits will be treated by the populace, and whether life will get easier for them. And what about Ariel, and Domick, and Matthew. What are they up to? We’ll have to find out.

I said I had ‘news’ about The Red Queen the forthcoming and final book in the Obernewtyn Chronicles. Well, thanks to twitter I was able to ask Isobelle Carmody when it might be released. And she very quickly replied that it will come out either late 2013 or early 2014. Now I’m not going to hold her to this, because things happen, and I know with Isobelle Carmody that she can change her mind (it has happened before,many times, and it is not a criticism) and work on other things (she has many ongoing projects, including a new website http://theslipstream.com.au/ ). We’ll see, but since there is no indication that we’ll be getting The Red Queen in time for me to read it immediately after The Sending (because The Stone Key could take up to 80 days, again with splitting of the chapters, but we’ll see about that, and then The Sending could take 60+ days again splitting the chapters). This could easily take us into the middle of next year (hopefully earlier). After that, I believe I have mentioned a desire to read ‘the classics’. I’ll reveal more about that when we actually get much closer to the date. Tomorrow we shall take a look at The Stone Key!

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The Keeping Place – Epilogue!

Epilogue

Wow, we’ve made it to the end of The Keeping Place. Something that began at the end of August, yes we’ve had a few distractions, namely The Casual Vacancy, and a few occasions where I haven’t been able to blog, but we’ve made it!

Now that Elspeth, is a very good point. But, nobody wants to know the answer to that. Once the story is over, we aren’t too interested in what happens next (unless we are heavily invested in the story and want to know every little detail about their remaining lives … *cough*Harry Potter*cough*). Especially for fairytales, we just want to know that the princess and prince are together and that they live ‘happily ever after’. Exactly, we want the events not the what happens after as the prince and princess settle down and have kids. But the story here, is still ongoing. Rushton is still recovering, but is finally back as Master of Obernewtyn, and has been meeting with the rebels, presumably so that they can do something about the west coast.

Unfortunately, Elspeth and Rushton haven’t made amends. Rushton appears to be avoiding Elspeth. Whether that is because of his torture and drug-addled time with the Herders, or the repressed memory saga, is not known. Dameon seems to think that Rushton is fearing Elspeth’s contempt. And that is an interesting concept. Because Rushton is not as he was. And Elspeth wants him to be exactly who is was, and she wants him to be open with what happened, but he isn’t ready.

As for Dragon, she is awake, but she remembers nothing about Obernewtyn or Elspeth. Dameon doesn’t understand that Elspeth was counting on Dragon remembering the location of the sign, but so far, she seems to remember nothing. The rebellion on the other hand, is under control, though Vos is in danger of losing his control, since he is more ruthless than the councilman he replaced. It is interesting that nobody has joined the dots and figured out that Elspeth was involved in Dragon’s as well as Rushton’s recovery. She isn’t too sure how much of the dream was real, and how much was a tapestry. But it is clear that Matthew saw a carving of the Red Queen, and was convinced that it was Dragon. I wonder if he thinks that Dragon is from this land?

When Dragon woke she seemed only to recall her time on the west coast in the ruins, and only Dameon had been able to approach her with his empathy. Upon seeing Elspeth, she barred her teeth, which is not the best sign. Elspeth does a quick roundup of all the things that have happened recently. Apparently Domick is still nowhere to be found, and Miryum, did not go to Sador. Daffyd is also missing. The rebels were optimistic that their ships will be ready the following spring, which is a year away. That is quite a long time for both sides to get ready. A lot could happen.

Elspeth thought over her quest, and all the different signs. She was a lot more confident that she would be able to find them all. Hannah Seraphim’s grave, she believes the Tecknoguild will eventually find. As for the monument for Kasanda’s son, that is on the west coast where ever the pact between the Gypsies and Council occurred. And then there is also the one over the seas in the Red Land. Elspeth is still coming to terms with the revelation that Cassy is Kasanda. Honestly it doesn’t seem so shocking, but since I already knew that, that is probably why. And Elspeth is convinced that Ariel is the Destroyer, but I’m not so sure.

Maruman tells Elspeth that time waits for nobody, and asks her if she is so eager to walk towards her journey where the Destroyer, H’rayka and glarsh await. She really does need to enjoy the time she has, before venturing out on her lifetime quest. Patience is a virtue, but one that is hard to remember. Elspeth decides that maybe she’ll ease up on Rushton and Dragon. And sends to Rushton that she wants to go for a walk together, and then go for a swim.

That’s it, The Keeping Place is over. I’ll do a wrap up post tomorrow, with some ‘news’ about the final book in the series, before launching into The Stone Key.

The Keeping Place – Chapter 34 – Part Two

Chapter Thirty-Four – Part Two

Elspeth and Maruman are inside Dragon’s repressed memory. They have just witnessed The Red Queen, who happens to be Dragon’s mother, being stabbed by her trusted gatekeeper. They are now on a slave ship, with a bear, being sent who knows where. Elspeth has just realised that Cassy/Casandra from her dreams is Kasanda, and has been piecing together all these little fragments to finally start to understand. The Red Queen has told Dragon that she must remember where the Red Queen’s brother’s grave is, because that is the location of a sign for Elspeth.

Elspeth is trying to figure out what Cassy and the Agyllians have been telling her to do. Will she be able to save Dragon and get her out of this cycle, and then use her to find the sign in the Red Queen’s Land? Or is Elspeth supposed to figure this out now, before breaking herself out of this cycle, in the process, probably killing Dragon and Rushton, and possibly Maruman. Elspeth however is set on the idea that she can get everyone out, and that it is everyone, or noone.

Elspeth used her mental abilities to work at the bindings for Maruman, so he could be free when he chose. She then worked on the bear’s ropes. It took a lot out of her, since using mental energy to create a physical reaction would require a lot of effort. Elspeth was so tired that she actually fell asleep. Well, maybe she did, or maybe the cycle skipped forward because Dragon had fallen asleep or unconscious. When she woke however, it was now close to dusk. Now reenergised she was able to remove her own bonds easily. Maruman tells Elspeth that the Red Queen has told him to get ready so that they can act when the slavers are distracted. As cliqued as it is, Elspeth asks what the distraction is going to be, when the distraction starts. The boat begins to rock, and the slavers believe they have hit a shoal. But, it is actually whales! Yes, whales are attacking the ship, I guess we have the Queen to thank for that.

Elspeth quickly loosens Dragon’s bonds. Dragon goes straight to her mother, who tells her to jump overboard, while the men are still busy. Dragon doesn’t want to leave her mother, but the Queen is coming too. They don’t have to worry about swimming though, since the Queen has summoned other friends, ship fish/dolphins/valr-rei. Elspeth is concerned that the Queen has lost too much blood, which she probably has, but the Queen’s focus is on Dragon, and getting her safe. So Elspeth lifts up the Queen, and starts to take her to the edge of the boat, but she drops her, and the wound reopens. Then the slavers notice them trying to escape. The bear however deals with some of the men, as Elspeth tells Dragon that she must keep her mother afloat until the shipfish come. Elspeth shakes away Dragon’s fears, and sends them overboard.

Elspeth sees the bear and Maruman stopping the men from advancing, and Maruman urges Elspeth go over too. Soon Maruman and the bear were in the water too. The Queen then ordered the whales to destroy the ship, and destroy it they did. None of the seamen survived. The whales vanished, and the five of them were now alone, as night began to fall. Elspeth goes to find Dragon struggling to keep her mother afloat. Her billowing clothes are weighing her down. The Queen is dying, she knew this would happen, but just wants Dragon to survive. Elspeth farsent to see where this shipfish was, and there was only one of them, who was too far away for the Queen.

The Queen began to fade away, and Dragon clambered to be near her mothered, pushing Elspeth dangerously close to being drowned herself. Elspeth dropped the Queen, who quickly sunk into the water. Elspeth began to feel faint, and Maruman warned that unless they break the dream, the cycle will continue. Elspeth has to not only figure out what to do, but keep herself and Dragon afloat, who also sank beneath the water. Unfortunately Dragon wants to die in place of the Queen, feeling guilty for her death. Elspeth gets serious and reminds Dragon that she must live otherwise her mother died for nothing.

Dragon slipped under again, just as the shipfish arrived. There is only one, and it can only save one. Clearly it is Dragon that must be saved. Elspeth yells after Dragon, to remember who she is, for all of their sakes. No sure what that will achieve, but, they still have to get out of this dream. Maruman is struggling to keep the bear afloat. Going over to help him, Elspeth sees the bears eyes, unmistakably green. The bear, is Rushton! Unfortunately, he too sinks into the water. Elspeth struggles to try and save him from the depths of the water. He is too heavy, and starts to drag Elspeth down with him. Elspeth is so close to death, it is then that she sees that the cord linking back to her real body is fading. She released the cord, and rose back to consciousness.

Kella was so surprised and relieved to find Elspeth alive. So far, both Rushton and Dragon are unchanged, but Elspeth wants to see Rushton immediately. Did he make it out? Is he alive? He was the same as ever, but not awake. In an ironic turn of events, Elspeth decides to kiss him, to which he wakes up instantly. Just like the story. He immediately had another fit, but Elspeth did not let go of him. It seems he has regained his mind and spirit, as he tries to tell Elspeth what the Herders did to him. But Elspeth just promises to never leave him, and to let him heal. And that, is the end of the story. Well, there is still the epilogue.

Is Dragon awake now? Does she remember anything, and if so, what? What will that do for Dragon and Elspeth’s friendship? And what damage will there be? How about Maruman? And how on earth is Elspeth going to make it to the Red Queen’s Land? And what about the west coast and all the other rebels? So many unanswered questions, so little time!

The Keeping Place – Chapter 34

Chapter Thirty-Four

Maruman and Elspeth are now inside Dragon’s mind. They know that Rushton has been taken into her mind as well, and they have just found out that Dragon is the Red Queen’s daughter! Dragon was coming to her mother to talk about the bear that the Queen had just released into her garden. Dragon seems to believe that since the bear has been whipped and beaten, that is proof that the ‘arena’ exists. The Queen denies such a myth, but after hearing from the trio, I think this arena does exist, and either the Queen is just feigning ignorance for her daughter, or she really is clueless. It makes me wonder how much the Queen knows about what goes on in her city, let alone what happens outside her garden. Once Dragon is sent away to make peace with the bear (which really, is that a safe thing to do?), Elspeth asks about the arena. The Queen again says that the arena is a myth, and hints that the gatekeeper knows this town better than anyone, and yet he does not know of the arena. I hate to break it to you, but the gatekeeper might be lying. He doesn’t seem to share your love of animals.

Elspeth asks if they can wander in the garden, and the Queen allows them, though warns that the gatekeeper will again disapprove. As soon as they are out of earshot, Elspeth shares my concern that the gatekeeper is not as innocent as the Queen believes. Maruman suggests that they find Dragon. The garden is a strange one, and somehow goes down into a valley, even though the wall that surrounded it, did not. So again we must assume that Dragon’s brain has merged various things together to make illogical surroundings.

They find Dragon talking to the bear, and she is trying to talk the bear into opening its mind, and showing the Queen about the arena. Dragon soon spots them, and thinks that they are spying on her. It seems that Dragon (or the Dragon in this dream) thinks that her mother is too accepting of people, and that she doesn’t realise that some people in this world are bad. Which is interesting, for such a young girl to think, which makes me wonder whether this is just the dream Dragon talking. Dragon finds Elspeth familiar, which again points to Dragon not being the Dragon of the memory. Elspeth tries to figure out the underlying story which is what Dragon has been repressing. There is some danger that Dragon can see clearly, but her mother is blind to.

Elspeth offers her help in proving the existence of the arena. But she goes a little too far in questioning why Dragon believes in the arena without proof, it almost breaks the illusion. Elspeth tires to divert before it collapses, and Dragon tells her that the bear must be from the arena, otherwise why would he be so injured. Suddenly Dragon stands and runs to find the Queen, she is in danger. Elspeth follows Dragon to find the Queen struggling with the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper draws out a dagger, and stabs the Queen. Maruman tries to pounce, but a net traps him. Another traps something else, and then Elspeth is caught by a man. Elspeth tries to coerce the men, but she remembers that they are just apart of Dragon’s mind, so that would be futile, since Dragon is stronger than her. She contemplates using her killing power, but honestly, that would do more harm than good. Anyway, somehow Dragon escapes and ends up in the Land, so there must be more to this story.

The gatekeeper tells Elspeth that it sad that they are caught up in this, and that he really wanted Maruman to end up in the arena, but there are other beastspeakers who would see this event, so that would be foolish. The bear from earlier arrives at attacks one of the men, but is quickly shot with an arrow. Dragon and Elspeth where taken inside a shed, where a carriage awaited. It was a strange carriage, and looked like a train or tram of some sort, and would go underground. Now apart from Maruman, Elspeth is fearful for his safety. The carriage begins to move, and Elspeth was thrown around the carriage unable to brace herself anywhere.

Eventually the carriage stopped, and Elspeth tried to speak to Dragon, but the door opened, and they were near the ocean. For some reason Elspeth was deaf, but I think that would be because Dragon would be in so much shock that she could not hear what was being said at the time. The two of them were herded onto a ship. The ship was a slave ship, and the gatekeeper has done some sort of deal with them, to send Dragon away. I am surprised that he doesn’t kill them all, but I guess he could earn some coin for them. Elspeth finds that the bear and Maruman have both been brought along too, both are injured, but still alive. Elspeth wonders why the bear got involved in the first place. Did it make a connection with the Queen, or did the sounds enrage it? Strange.

Elspeth also finds that Dragon is fighting against the men, because her mother, who is still alive, is within reach. The whole reason for this treachery, is that the gatekeeper wanted to be king, but the Queen refused. He thought that the queen was stuck in the past, and living in a fantasy. What’s more, he thought she wasn’t taking advantage of what this land could be used for. It’s a wonderful plan actually, because he will pretend that he is merely guarding the throne until the Queen returns. Nobody knows anything about his betrayal, and they have no reason to be suspicious.

The slaver is ready to go, and the gatekeeper tells him to either throw the beasts overboard, or sell them if they can be bothered. Dragon and Elspeth are tied up, and Elspeth makes physical contact with Maruman, which allows a mental connection. The issue is they don’t know what is going on. Elspeth isn’t even sure that this is what happened to Dragon, or whether this is just a fabrication. Maruman warns that the cycle is not over, and that they are now apart of Dragon’s dream. If they do not end the cycle this time around, it will reset, and they will be stuck in it. Unfortunately, the next time, they will have less freedom, as they start to be worked into the narrative. So the longer they stay, the harder it is going to be. Elspeth does think about contingencies, and believes that if it came to it, she could destroy the illusion. But what that would do to Dragon, is anyone’s guess.

Elspeth turns her attention to Dragon, who has begun to cry. Somewhat surprisingly, the Queen opens her eyes and talks to Dragon. She tells Dragon that she was a fool, but she will be different. Dragon must return to claim the throne one day, and it is most important, so that they can do it for Cassandra and the promise made to her by their ancestor, the first Red Queen. It is a shocking revelation, which proves that Dragon is the Red Queen’s Daughter, and this is not some dream narrative. The Queen continues, and tells her to remember the location of the Red Queen’s grave, and that next to it, is the grave of her brother (the first Red Queen that is). It is an important location, and Dragon must remember it, and it must be the location of a sign, because otherwise, the world will fall into darkness. The Queen is about to die, and Elspeth suddenly realises that Dragon came from the Red Queen’s Land.

The real question is, how did Dragon make it to the west coast of the Land? Did something happen to the ship? Clearly the slavers wouldn’t take her there, because she wasn’t sold to anyone. But it is clear that the Red Queen, is going to die. It is in this moment, that Elspeth pieces everything together. Cassy/Cassandra is Kasanda. Now it doesn’t take a genius to see the similarities, but it is something that unless you were observant you wouldn’t notice. I would have mentioned it, but I already knew about it. And Cassy knew Hannah Seraphim, and then somehow became the leader of the Gypsies. These Gypsies came to the Red Queen’s Land, and then she married the Red Queen’s brother. She left a sign there for Elspeth, and then went to the Land, where she gave birth. She was taken away to New Gadifa, where she was saved by the Sadorians, and then she became Kasanda, the seer. I think it is more than a complexly interwoven puzzle, because it is a story. All these pieces are slowly coming together. And yet we know so very little.

Elspeth continues to chew threw her thoughts, and imagines Cassy giving the Red Queen a key, which she promised to keep hidden forever, and in fact, she buried it with her brother. The Red Queen passed down knowledge of this key, and probably of Elspeth. What is interesting, is that Cassy must have foreseen that the Red Queen would be betrayed. Possibly after she left the Red Land, and so she tried to steer Elspeth towards Dragon, without making it easy for the Destroyer. Who, I must add, has to be conveniently be around Elspeth’s age. Because, otherwise why didn’t he come earlier, or later. But of course, the two must be together. Which honestly gives rise to the theory that Jes is actually alive, and is the Destroyer. But that is wild. Elspeth tries to figure out why Cassy would lead her here, and how they can get out. And that, is what I’ll leave for tomorrow’s post. After that, there is only the epilogue! We are getting so close!

The Keeping Place – Chapter 33 – Part Two

Chapter Thirty-Three – Part Two

The story is reaching its finale, as Elspeth and Maruman go into the dreamtrails and enter Dragon’s mind. Now flying on the dragon above the wall, it is interesting to note that inside the wall there appears to be just fog. Once the dragon entered the fog, Elspeth and Maruman were alone and standing on a road and the dragon was no where to be seen. It was very hot, and the fog seemed to be here too. Maruman tells her that inside her own mind Dragon does not take the form of the dragon. Instinctively Elspeth tries to reach out to her with a probe, but she finds nothing, which is hardly surprising, considering everything is Dragon. She remembers that Rushton is here, and tries to find him, but it is hard to make anything out. Rushton will lead them to the sign, that much is certain.

It is a bit of a dilemma for Elspeth since the purpose of this expedition is not to save Dragon, not to save Rushton, but to find a sign for her own quest. It sounds selfish, but we all know that this quest is important for humanity. I did just have a slightly disturbing thought. What if Elspeth is just insane, and she isn’t the Seeker, and in fact there is no Seeker. It is a strange idea to harbour, what if Elspeth never met the Agyllians, and she just happened to be in a daze. Okay, there would be too many questions and instances, where Elspeth wouldn’t survive without some sort of help. But maybe, Elspeth is actually still in that daze after the firestorm, and this has all just been happening in her head. Not the best thought for a story, so I’m guessing that isn’t true.

As Elspeth and Maruman walk down this path towards a possible settlement, it is clear that everything around them is constantly changing. Nothing is constant, but I wonder why would this town be constant. Is it because that is the focus of Dragon and her memory, and this is just emptiness, filled in by random scenes? For a while they see or hear nothing living, until they stumble upon two men and one woman. They seem to have stumbled upon a beast, and are trying to decide what to do with it. One suggests they sell it, another suggests they train it and make it dance, but the woman suggests that they should offer it to the Queen. As Elspeth approaches the group, she wonders whether they will be able to see her, and whether they will question her for having a tyger. They don’t question her about Maruman, but since they have a bear with them, maybe animals aren’t such a surprise. The bear is in terrible shape, whipped and drugged.

One of the men even asks Elspeth if she will sell Maruman, but obviously she wouldn’t. The three people lead the bear away into the town, frightened by the tyger. As they leave Elspeth wonders whether they should have tried to let the bear go, and also finds that she cannot access its mind, whether that is because it has been drugged, or it is part of Dragon’s mind is unclear. Maruman says that everything here is a symbol part of Dragon’s mind. As they enter the town, they find it a strange mix of buildings that look like they come from the Red Queen’s Land, and others that are from Sutrium and even Obernewtyn. I guess Dragon’s mind has just mixed everything together. But then that would mean that Dragon has been in the Red Queen’s Land, unless it symbolises her connection with Matthew, who is in that place. The town is full of life, and we find that strange beasts are all the rage, and even some of them are unrestrained like Maruman. There are hints that Elspeth sees a zebra and a giraffe, but interestingly their minds remain closed to her. Maruman seems interested in this town, just as much as Elspeth is, but he thinks there is ‘something rotten’ about it.

Elspeth could reach a few beasts, but they weren’t much help, and asked if she was a friend of the Queen’s. This might mean that the Queen is a beastspeaker, which would explain her love of animals and why they are so free in this area. Maruman suggests that Dragon is the Queen, but that would be odd, since the one thing she couldn’t do was beastspeak. But Elspeth has a feeling that Dragon will be close to this Queen. Elspeth soon finds out that this Queen is in fact The Red Queen from her dreams. To find her, they need to go to the centre, where they are sure to find Dragon. Eventually they found themselves near a park surrounded by a wall. They walked around it until they found a gate, which was open. But they could not see inside.

There was a guard of sorts at the gate, and he was busy talking with the three with the bear that they had seen earlier. Elspeth doesn’t think this to be a coincidence, even though the three had said they were going to be there. Kella had said that Dragon was reliving something over and over, that might be true, but her mind has distorted things and made a jumble of everything. The presence of this trio makes Elspeth believe that they are somehow important to the larger narrative of Dragon’s memory, and therefore they are important to Elspeth. The guard was just about to send away the bear, because of its scars, but a bell tolled, and it signalled that the Queen wanted to see them. Which is interesting, so the Queen could somehow see them? Is she a farseeker?

The guard turns his attention to Elspeth, who tells him they want to pay their respects to the Queen, so the guard rings a bell of his own to summon an escort for them. I along with Elspeth wonder why they have an escort, and yet those with the bear did not. Was it because Elspeth looked like an outsider? Or is this some sort of illogical sequence that the dream has conjured? So they enter the park and walk along a path to a pavilion where a throne was occupied by a woman with red hair. I’d say that that was the Red Queen. Elspeth thought that the Queen could easily be Dragon in thirty years, and curiously, it looks like the princess that the coercers had conjured for their story. I wonder if they have seen the Red Queen in their own dreams.

The three offer the bear to the Queen, who accepts it, and says that the gatekeeper doesn’t understand that she loves more than beauty. She tells the bear that he is safe now, and that he is now welcome in her garden. She even went and removed the muzzle from the bear. She thanks the trio and sends them away with the escort. The Queen focuses on Elspeth now, and immediately she knows that they are not from around here. The Queen is very interested when Elspeth says that Maruman is free, as if it is one of her lifelong goals in life. Something that her gatekeeper does not approve of.

The Queen reaches out with her mind to talk to Maruman. But that is not the shocking thing. What is shocking comes next. A small girl runs up to the Queen, crying ‘Mami!’. And who else could it be, but Dragon! Dragon is the daughter of The Red Queen? If that is true, then how come she is in the Land? What happened? Clearly something terrible happened since this is the memory Dragon has repressed, and has been reliving for quite some time.

The Keeping Place – Chapter 33 – Part One

Chapter Thirty-Three – Part One

What a shocking way to start the chapter! Darius is back at Obernewtyn with Elspeth, examining Rushton. Sadly, he says that he can do nothing for Rushton. He says that his mind is gone. He is not mad, but his spirit has left him. Roland who is with them, says that back in Sutrium he was raving, which means he was still with his mind. Darius concurs, but says that something has obviously changed, and he now has no spirit. Kella, who is also in the room, says that he only came out of the sleepseal last night, and has been sleeping ever since, just like Dragon. Is he in a coma then? Darius says there is nothing he can do for Rushton, but seems interested in Dragon, and wants to take a look.

Apparently also last night, she went into a passive state, after being in a state of agitation. Does this mean things are getting better or worse? Kella and Darius leave to inspect Dragon, while Roland tries to comfort Elspeth a bit. Clearly the news that your mate has literally lost his mind, is hard to hear, but Elspeth tries to sound positive, and optimistic that while Rushton is alive, he can be healed. Elspeth stays with Rushton, pleading with him to return to her. Later, and rather foolishly, right outside the door, Roland says that Kella should let her stay with Rushton, ‘until it is over’. Apparently Darius believes that a body cannot survive for very long without a mind. Why would they say that within earshot of Elspeth? Elspeth tells Rushton all the things she was too afraid or ashamed of when he was awake, and eventually falls asleep by his side.

Once again she was under Tor, this time swimming and looking for Rushton. She knew that he was trapped under the rubble, and only she could save him. The harder she tried, the slower she moved. Then she was brought up to the surface by a current, and was actually in a cave. She chose one of the tunnels leading out of the cave, and went inside it. This transported her to her old dream of wandering in stone tunnels and dripping water. Elspeth is upset, since she has to find Rushton, not deal with her quest. She tries to leave, but finds a stuffed Agyllian blocking where she came from. Elspeth ends up being alone in the darkness, when a voice whispers to her, telling her that she is the promise, and the end of all the promises. Then Maruman asks her to come, as there is not much time.

Elspeth wakes up to find herself in Rushton’s room, with Maruman staring at her. Maruman knows that Rushton’s mind was hurt, and has fled to the dreamtrails. Elspeth immediately thinks that she will go and find him on the dreamtrails, but Maruman tells her that Rushton’s mind isn’t on the dreamtrails, but is with Dragon. Apparently, the dragon took him over the grey walls of her mind fortress. This is an interesting turn of events, as Maruman says she must follow Rushton. Last time she said that, Maruman was so opposed to the mere suggestion of that. This time however, the Agyllians have told him that she must go, so he accepts their wisdom. He tells her that this was why she was called from Sutrium, and not the glass monument. Well, maybe there were two signs she was called to find.

The same phrase that Elspeth had assumed referred to the statue, could also refer to Dragon’s mind. She has never been there, but it could contain something that she would need. This line of thought makes Elspeth wonder if Maryon foresaw this back when she allowed Dragon to go and follow Elspeth? Was it possible that she foresaw that Dragon needed to go into a coma so Elspeth could go inside her mind, and find something for her quest? This would also mean that it was Rushton the Agyllians demanded return to Obernewtyn, so that his mind could be taken into Dragon’s. Elspeth got angry about that, that she was being used, and others around her were in danger as well. But then she remembered Swallow’s words, and accepted her fate.

Maruman tells her that they must go now, and that he is going to come with her. For some reason she refuses, but honestly, without Maruman, she would be clueless. She wouldn’t even know to go into Dragon’s mind, let alone what to do, and how to get out. He is invaluable. He tells her to get comfortable, since they’ll be a long while, and tells her to prepare to get into the dreamtrails.

Maruman immediately was able to get into his spirit form, and Elspeth took some time. Though I’m sure she was much faster now she knew what she was doing. In her spirit form, she could see that Rushton’s aura was dangerously faint. The two of them rose into the air, and arrived at the highest peaks of the mountains. Once again they landed on the cloud paths, and Elspeth was naked. But that was quickly fixed as she visualises some clothes. Maruman tells Elspeth that Dragon was draw to Rushton’s madness, just as he was draw to her madness. He reminds her that this will be a difficult and dangerous task, and they may not succeed.

They approach the wall and find that it has turned black, instead of grey. Apparently it is becoming more solid, soon even dragon will not be able to leave. Dragon was nearly lost to them, and Elspeth wonders why the Agyllians didn’t let her do this earlier. But apparently, this is their last hope, all the other plans have failed or not come to fruition. Maruman tells Elspeth to call dragon out of the wall, and to use whatever means possible to do so. She has to use her mind, but even that is not strong enough. So she must call upon the darkest power she has, and use that. Even though that is probably the last thing she wants to do, especially after last time, when she nearly lost everything. But this time she is able to control it, just. And she calls dragon, and she comes. She uses the same dark power to coerce Dragon, forcing her to take them over the wall. Gahltha sends encouragment, just before they plunge over the wall.

Such suspense, must be left for tomorrow! What will they find on the other side of the wall? What has Dragon been blocking from her mind? And will Elspeth be able to save her and Rushton?

The Keeping Place – Chapter 32

Chapter Thirty-Two

Elspeth was so relieved to see the stars once more after her close-call with death and her unique experience of diving through the submerged city under Tor. The question remains, did she get what she was looking for? Back on the surface, Elspeth and the others spot a huge bonfire, the Gypsies have accepted their invitation. The Gypsies accepted the invitation immediately, and they even have cooked up a feast. But Swallow made everyone wait until Elspeth was among them before eating, so everyone is very hungry. Marie spots Elspeth and greets her like an old friend, even though she was very suspicious of Elspeth to begin with. Elspeth also sees Iriny, and Iriny thanks her for saving her life, but Elspeth must thank her for saving theirs.

Then Swallow spots Elspeth, and she is called to him. They talk of the rebellion, and discuss just how much change for Misfits and Gypsies will really occur. After all such ingrained oppression and hatred doesn’t vanish over generations, let alone overnight. There is also the issue of the West Coast, which still remains in control of the West Coast Council and possibly the Herders. The rebels have been all but quashed, and the Misfits may or may not be safe, possibly in the Beforetime ruin complex. Who knows whether they will be able to uprise from within, or whether they will just have to wait until those back on this side are able to save them.

Food is served, yet the conversation continues. Apparently Gavyn was quite attracted to Darius, clearly their connection with beasts is obvious to one another. They have gone to see the horses. Even Dameon finds the boy a mystery, his empathy which is very strong, has trouble distinguishing him from Rasial. Swallow is quite interested in Misfit talents, and also shares that they have futuretelling but call it seering. Gypsies can also scry out lies, but this is more ‘a trick’, since they observe ‘patterns of energy’ to see if someone is lying. I believe that he is talking about auras, which would also explain why the Gypsies seem to gaze past Elspeth when looking at her, because they are looking around her. Swallow was very intrigued when he learnt of the fingerspeak for the beasts, and eagerly wants to learn more about it. He wants to learn the language, but announces that they will be leaving soon to deal with matters on the west coast. Elspeth believes this to be the ancient promises, but everyone is confused. How does he expect to get there, with both sides guarded, and the boats burnt? Even if you found a boat, it would be an easy target.

But Garth suggests that maybe they could swim across. Now this might sound like an innocent suggestion, but the river is strongly tainted, which is why the Misfits can’t farseek across it. Which means that it would be poisonous for anyone who tried to swim across. He suggests that they could use a diving suit to avoid the taint, so long as the person kept their head out of the water. The suits would protect the person from the taint for a limited amount of time. Swallow is so interested in these suits, that he immediately suggests that as a payment for their services at the White Valley, he would accept one of these suits. Garth tells him that such a suit would have to be built and tested, which would both take time. Swallow doesn’t care, and says he will send someone up in two weeks (the time Garth suggests). The Gypsy musicians prevent any further talking as they play up a storm.

Elspeth does not get up to dance like the others, and suggests that she and Swallow take a walk together to see the monument that they have been making. Now alone the two can talk of things that aren’t for others and their ears such as the Red Queen’s Land. Apparently there are no maps and no written diary, which would have helped Elspeth to find this place. The two talk of fate, which seems to control both of their lives. Elspeth has struggled with accepting her fate, and going with the flow, sometimes she tries to go against it, but then other times she submits to it. Swallow on the other hand knows that trying to fight fate is idiotic.

They speak of the future, and from the sounds of things, Elspeth is going to do a lot of waiting. Waiting for news about the west, waiting for Rushton to get better, waiting for Swallow to come and get the suits. Swallow suggests that Darius stay with Obernewtyn until he returns, that way he can learn the fingerspeak and also try to help with Rushton. The two of them arrive at the monument, and it is beautiful as ever. The names of each of the dead were inscribed on the wood carving. They soon returned to the camp, and Elspeth fell asleep. As always, she dreamed.

She was back in the foyer of the clinic, but this time the monument had the faces of all those she had lost. Pavo, Jik, Dragon, Matthew, Cameo and Selmar. Rushton’s head was the one that was severed off from the monument. Elspeth tried to put his head back onto the statue, but then it became sharp, and she cut herself on it. The water then rushed into the building, and Elspeth tried to grab the head, knowing that unless she put it back on the monument, Rushton would be lost from them forever.