Chapter 9:

When we’d just left Romilly last chapter, she’d just left a bar brawl, and of course from that we know how horrible and oppressed her life has been because of what’s on her chest and between her legs, because playing darts, drinking and fighting are symbols of power carefully hoarded by men and totally not simply bad behaviour…uh…

Help! Help! I’m being oppressed by the evil Patriarchy™!

In any case, there’s some description of the midwinter celebration in Nevarsin, how wonderful the choir is and how everyone comes from afar to hear them sing. Romilly goes there to hear Caryl sing, and of course he does that wonderfully, which is another I AM TOTALLY NOT EVIL stamp right on his forehead. However, Dom Carlo’s still missing, and Orain’s worried about that matter. In any case, Romilly has a steaming hot dream involving her and him:

Still, she was uncomfortable at his touch, and pulled away as quickly as she could, remembering the dream she had had…in the dream he had held and caressed her as if she was the woman he did not know her to be…

She burrowed into the hay, still a little dizzied with the wine she had drunk, and after a time she slept. She dreamed, as she had dreamed before, that she was flying on the wings of a hawk or sentry-bird, that there was someone flying at her side, who spoke to her in Orain’s voice, and drowsily caressed her…she sank into the dream, never thinking to resist…(Pg. 571)

Okay, I am totally out of empathy for Romilly at the moment, so asking me to indulge in her sexual fantasies is a bit out of my reach for now. Anyways she’s awakened by Orain hammering at the stable door, demanding to know if Dom Carlo is in there with her. Of course, she doesn’t know what he means, and Orain’s exasperated when she says he’s not here.

The problem quickly becomes clear: Dom Carlo’s disappeared, and since he would never abandon his men Orain quickly surmises that the band has been betrayed and that he’s been taken. Immediate suspicion falls upon Caryl, who happens to be hanging around:

“That child of Lyondri’s—did he babble, do you think, to his playfellows? Lyondri’s son—like dog, like pup! I’d run the boy through with my skean and think the world a safer place lest the whelp grow up like his abominable father!” (Pg. 572)

Romilly’s all horrified when suddenly, she receives a telepathic message from whom but Dom Carlo! Why, you thought someone important wouldn’t have majeek?

It seemed suddenly as if Dom Carlo’s face swam in the air before her—but he was not there! Sill it seemed she could hear him saying to her, bring the birds, go trhough the monastery to the highest gate, to the secret pass above the hidden cells on the glaicer. (Pg. 572)

So Romilly bugs Orain about this, and Orain’s all gruff and skeptical. Dom Carlo, who is TOTALLY NOT THE REAL KING, appears to her again and tells her to tell Orain about a bloodied belt, and Orain’s finally believing of her, since it’s a code-word of some sort.

Maybe if they hadn’t wasted time, or hung around and made Orain’s face highly rememberable and recognisable in the bar, they might’ve gotten away with it. But oh well. In any case, they’re all packed and ready to go when Orain catches Caryl lingering around:

“Ah—it’s you, ye devil’s pup—”

Caryl cried out, a muffled squeak. “I won’t hurt you,” he said, gasping—Romilly could not see in the dark, but sensed, from the pain in the small voice, that Orain had grabbed him harshly. “No, I only—I meant to guide you on the secret path—I don’t want my father to find—find the vai dom—he will be angry, but—” (Pg. 574)

Of course, Romilly says he’s telling the truth, and as a Sue she is always right. The question here is why would Caryl do all this, over the father who by his own account hasn’t been too bad to him for his life? Oh wait, it’s because he’s been designated as Good, as most children are in traditional high fantasy, so bugger all realistic character motivation, he’s going to help these guys he’s known for a few weeks.

In any case, there’s some waffling for about a page as they pass through the dank dark secret passage of doom and despair, and here I have another Limyaael quote:

“No random secret passages just because. Secret passages that lead to the outside of the castle and were intended for escape or bringing in supplies during sieges at least make sense, even though I find them ridiculously overused. (What are the chances both that a spy would miss them and that the one or two people who always know where they are would survive the attack?) Passages that go between random rooms make no sense. Nor do passages that lead into libraries everyone knows about, or into attics where only junk is stored, or between bedrooms that could be reached by sneaking around in the open much more easily.

Think about it. It takes time and money to build secret passages, and most of them must have been built at the time the castle was constructed; surely someone would have noticed if, hundreds of years later, piles of rock were lying around in two bedrooms while a passage was built. (This is the problem I have with the “these two ancient people were lovers and built the passage between their rooms.” How, exactly?) They have to be fitted into the construction of the castle somehow, as well as kept secret. And that’s its own problem. Either the king murders the masons, or he pays them enough to shut up, or he constructs them himself—again, at enormous expense of time and money. They should have had a role to play, one that the readers can reason out even if they’re not exactly sure they’re right, and not just occur so that your character can escape when attacked in the library by Random Murderer #8.”

So lo and behold, Dom Carlo’s waiting for them on the other side of the passage. Everything’s happy and well, but the evvvvil Alaric gives Caryl a sock to the head, and the kid is knocked out:

“Are you mad, vai dom’yn?” he demanded, “Lyondri’s own son in our hands for hostage, and you’d let him free? With this whelp in our hands, we could bargain our way out of Rakhal’s very clutches, to say nothing of being secure against Lyondri Hastur!”

“And you would reward him like this for guiding us to safety?” Romilly cried in outrage, but Alaric’s face was hard and set. (Pg. 576)

So what’s to be done? Dom Carlo says they can’t leave the kid here, so they have to take him with them as far as the next safe haven. Conveniently, Romilly and her little band have gained the security of having the kid with them, without any of the moral culpability of kidnapping a kid, that so long as they don’t harm him, it’s fine?

Uh, no?

Remember all those diatribes we had on how so important freedom was to her stupid birds and women? Remember how she railed on about keeping things against their will, even when they were supposedly well-treated? Remember how she whined and bitched? Maybe if a certain someone was serious about all she’d said, she’d go back and put the kid where he belonged. But I guess kidnapping’s all right, so long as the good guys are doing it and it’s for the convenience of the Sue.

Don’t ask me, I don’t care anymore.

Anyways, they’re still not out of the woods. The whole area is home to banshee-birds, a species of large, carnivorous, flightless bird that is known to attack humans for noms and is known as such for its cry. Fair enough. The next four or five pages are spent with waffling through the bloody wilderness, Dom Carlo scolding Alaric for being EVIL and Caryl coming to and getting his own mount, and Dom Carlo telling him he’ll be sent back once they reach the next safe haven for teh rebels. Fine.

Then the banshee-birds start looking to them for noms. Alaric, being the designated evil and misogynistic bastard, wants to kill them:

As it died into silence, Alaric said, his hand on his dagger, “I have hunted banshees before this, vai dom, and slain them too.” (Pg. 582-583)

However, Dom Carlo, who is TOTALLY NOT THE REAL KING, has a better idea. He, Romilly and Caryl will LET THEIR POWERS COMBINE and persuade the birds not to attack them. So they do just that:

At first she was conscious only of tremendous pressures, a hunger so fierce that it cramped her belly, a restless cold driving toward warmth, that seemed like light and home and satisfaction, the touch of warmth driving inward and flooding her whole body with a hunger almost sexual, and she knew, with a tiny fragment that was stll Romilly, that she had reached the mind of the banshee. Poor hungy, cold thing…it is only seeking warmth and food, like the whole of creation…(Pg. 585)

And for a moment, in the great flooding awareness that she, and the horse she rode, and the child’s soft body in her arms, and the banshee’s wild hunger and seeking for warmth, were all one, a transcendent wave of joy spread through her, the red streaks of the rising sun filled her with heat and wonderful flooding happiness, Caryl’s warmth against her breast was an overflow of tenderness and love, and for a dangerous moment she through, even if the banshee takes me for its prey, I shall be even more one with the wonderful life-force. But I too want to live and rejoice in the sunlight. She had never known such happiness. She knew there were tears on his face, but it did not matter, she was part of everything that lived and had breath, part of the sun and the rocks, even the cold of the glaicer was somehow wonderful because it heightened her awareness of the heat of the rising sun. (Pg. 585-586)

Yes, my friends, Romilly now has the power of Heart. And I laugh and roll my eyes at this lovely romanticisation of nature. So the banshee-birds go away, and everyone’s happy and passes out noms, never mind that they’re supposedly being pursued:

He thrust dried meat, dried fruit, wafers of journey-bread at them. Romilly began to sink her teeth into the meat, and then somehow her gorge rose.

Once this was living, breathing flesh, how can I make it my prey? Or am I no better than the banshee. Once this dried flesh was the living breath of all my brothers. She gagged, thrust the meat from her and thrust a dried fruit into her mouth.

This too is the life of all things, but it had no breath and it does not sicken me with the consciousness of what once it was. The Bearer of Burdens created some life with no purpose but to give up its life that others might feed…and as she felt the sweetness of the fruit between her teeth, briefly, the ecstasy returned, that this fruit should give up its sweetness so that she might no longer hunger…

Caryl, too, was chewing ravenously at a hunk of the hard bread, but she noted that he, too, had put the meat away, though a piece had small sharp toothmarks in it. So he had shared her experience. Distantly, like something she might have dreamed a long time ago, she wondered how she could ever again eat meat.

Even when they made brief camp, with the sun high in the sky, to give grain to the horses and meat to the sentry-birds, she ate none of the dried meat, but only fruit and bread, and stirred some water into the dried porridge-powder, eating a bowlful. Yet, to her own surprise, it did not trouble her when the sentry-birds tore greedily at the somewhat gamy meat they carried for them; it was their nature, and they were as they were meant to be. (Pg. 586-587)

Oh hey, what’s this?


The ethical vegans are everywhere. In my university declaring I am a terrible monster for eating meat and that it is unnatural, that I am destorying the earth, and worst of all, in my books. It’s stupid, it’s retarded, and I don’t need a highly new and original author rubbing it into my face that eating meat is somehow unnatural and that I am an unfeeling, uncaring jerk for choosing to do so, and that vegans are so much more morally superior to us.

And of course, god forbid that her new obsession actually have some repercussions for her, such as making her unable to care for the bloody birds. And no, eating meat is not unnatural, shut up, human physiology is that of an omnivore and by the way did you know that high sugar concentrations inhibit pepsin?

Lenka’s response?

O_O i am truly horrified but lol men “thrusting” things damn I read too much Aisling Gray but do you think a hawk moralizes about shit like that when she hunts? and by the way, PLANTS DO BREATHE YOU FAIL AT COMMON SENSE

So Romilly has the amazing power of HEART, and I resist the urge to throw up like a Happy Tree Friend at the sheer cheesiness of it all.

Bearer of Burdens! I did not ask this power. Please, please, help me use it, not for wrong purposes, but only to try and be one with life…confusedly, she added, ad I was, for a little while, this morning, when I knew that I was one with all that lived. As you must be, Holy one. Help me decide how to use this power wisely. And after a moment she added, in a whisper. For now I know I am a part of life…but such a small part! (Pg. 589)

Chapter end. I don’t care. La dee da, I don’t care!

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  1. Danielle on 5 March 2010, 13:19 said:

    ‘Nuff said.

  2. Penny on 5 March 2010, 14:26 said:

    Gee, I hope Romilly finds some iron pills soon.

  3. sakuuya on 5 March 2010, 17:22 said:

    Or even some irony pills.

  4. fffan on 12 March 2010, 17:50 said:

    But wouldn’t they be saving lots other living humans and animals if they killed a few of the banshee birds? I don’t understand vegans.

  5. falconempress on 26 March 2010, 05:44 said:

    You know, if God did not intend us to kill and eat the animals, why did he make them out of meat?