''Chapter Eight''
===   Summary   ===

Washed up on the beach of Alais, April begins exploring the island. On the beach she finds a Orlowol, struggling to escape from its shell. It seems to be talking to her, but she can't understand it. Walking in the other direction, she finds some ruins with a huge hole nearby and climbs down into it, finding a cave that's open to the ocean. In the waters below is an abandoned Maerum city, and hanging from the cave roof are empty nests that must belong to the Alatien. April realises this is where the two races once lived in close harmony. Amongst some rubble that has fallen into the cave from the ruins above, she finds a strange key.

Going back to the beach, she decides to keep exploring and asks Crow to scout for her. She heads up to the volcano on the island, realising that the ground keeps shaking. At the volcano she finds a huge carved face with a gaping mouth. Climbing inside, she finds a telescope with a mechanism which fits the key she found. It points to some odd looking statues in various locations on the island, including one beneath a Mother Tree.

April goes down to the tree, and encounters three bizarre creatures, the Stickmen. She asks them about the Alatien, and they tell her that they live at the top of the volcano - though the road has long since collapsed. Then she asks why the ground keeps shaking and the Stickmen start complaining about someone called Q'aman, the Quiet Giant. Apparently, he used to live with the Orlowol - the crab-like people on the beach - but he was banished from their village. He was so depressed he went to sleep on the far side of the island, and he's now been sleeping for a month.

April doesn't get what this has to do with the rumbling noise. The Stickmen point out the statues scattered all over the island and say they are 'speaking statues', built by the ancient Dolmari. They function like telephones and can be set to 'listen' or to 'speak'. Q'aman is sleeping next to a statue's 'ear', and his snoring is being broadcast all over the island. It's driving everyone crazy, especially the Stickmen. They're trying to build a 'Lunar Cannon' (actually an enormous crossbow) in the branches of their Mother Tree to 'blast off to Luna', and they can't concentrate because of the noise. Unfortunately, they don't know exactly where Q'aman is sleeping, and they can't send a message straight to his statue to wake him up because some of the statues in the network are broken.

Using her key and aligning all the statues so she can bounce the signal between them, April manages to get a message to Q'aman's statue. He's unhappy at being woken up because he is so lonely, but April persuades him that she wants to help. She meets Q'aman in the ruins of an old temple on the island, and hears his story. As the Stickmen said, he used to live in the Orlowol village, which he liked because he could fish nearby. But one day he trod on a young Orlowol by accident and injured it. After that the Orlowol asked him to leave. April remembers the Orlowol she met on the beach, trapped in its shell, and suggests Q'aman go to help it.

The two of them go to the beach, where Q'aman uses his strength to break open the shell. The Orlowol chatters away to him before leaving. Q'aman says that the Orlowol have given him permission to live on the cliff above the village where he can fish, but not be lonely. Happily, April gives him a candy wrapper as a fishing lure, before returning to the Stickmen and telling them they can work on their Lunar Cannon once more. The Stickmen tell her that's all very well, but they're still missing a bowstring for their cannon.

Back on the cliff, Q'aman has caught a huge fish. April borrows his Fishing Line and gives it to the Stickmen for a bowstring. Together with a rope and a big fish bone from Q'aman's leftovers, she makes a grapple that fires across to the other side of the chasm, onto the path leading to the volcano. April heads up to the Alatien village, Tama'a. More of the path has crumbled away between her and the road to the village, which is guarded by an Alatien named Isaam. He's not impressed by April's attempts to convince him she's a chosen one until she uses Roper Klacks' potions to 'fly' across the chasm. He calls her the Windbringer and suggests she go and see the Teller.

Once in the village, April tries to see the Teller but is stopped by the Alatien Watchman. She must learn four Alatien stories and answer questions on them before she can pass. April hears stories from the Alatien in the village - doing a little matchmaking between Isaam and a female Alatien called Neema on the way - and returns to the Watchman, answering all his questions perfectly. Finally she is admitted to see the Teller.

The Teller is an elderly female Alatien living in the ruins of the tower. She beckons April closer, and talks to her kindly. She tells April about Alatien culture, and their devotion to storytelling. Unfortunately, she says, the Alatien are currently in decline. Their wings are becoming brittle, and they can no longer fly as high or as far as they once could. April asks questions about the Draic Kin, but unfortunately the Teller knows little. She says the Kin are secretive, and they keep to themselves, but she has heard tales that one day the Kin will return to whence they came when a Great Wind blows. Hence the name 'Windbringer' - the coming of this chosen one is supposed to be the first harbinger of this wind.

April mentions the cave near the ruins, and the Teller agrees that it will be to the mutual benefit of both the Maerum and the Alatien to make peace and return there. Along with the Alatien Watchman as an ambassador for the Alatien, April meets the Maerum Queen at the bottom of the cave and finishes negotiating the peace between them. As a sign of their accord, the Queen and the Watchman reunite the two pieces of the Stone Disk and give the fragment to April. The Queen then tells April she has proved she is the Waterstiller, and she will take April to see their 'Old God'.

Back underwater, April stands on the edge of an abyss, holding a luminous flower. Bravely, she jumps into the dark, clinging onto the flower. She sinks all the way to the bottom of the ocean, landing beside an enormous sand-covered rock. Cleaning off some of the sand, she finds an organic sensor. She talks to it, hesitantly, and an orifice opens. She swims inside, only to find herself in a warm, dry space with air. Beside her, an enormous blue eye opens and she hears the voice of the Blue of the Kin. He speaks slowly and with authority.

April asks him about the Dragon's Eye jewels, and he gives her the Blue Jewel. He tells April he is sleeping at the bottom of the ocean, waiting for the Day of Ascension when the Kin will return to their home amongst the stars. She asks if he knows the location of the entrance to the Guardian's Realm, and he says that, as April has been told, it has moved over the centuries. It is now "in the sky - amongst the stars". He is served by the mysterious Dark People and he has ordered them to make a Star Map for April, showing where the entrance is. April, having been greeted as a chosen one and saviour by the various races, asks him, "Who am I?" The Ancient Dragon tells her that her journey began with an answer, and it is only now that she knows the question.

Their conversation over, the Old God rises out of the ocean to take April to the surface, where one of the Dark People's Shadow Ships is waiting. She meets an emissary of the Dark People, who refuses to accept her insistence that she is just an ordinary girl. When April reluctantly uses the names the magical races gave her, the emissary tells her she is a 'Wave' that affects the entire universe. Without further ado he gives April the Star Map and the Dark People's Stone, and tells her that they are en route to Marcuria. They should be there by morning. In the meantime, April can rest on board...and it might not be wise to speak to the other Dark People. April curls up on the deck and goes to sleep.

A Deep Blue MirrorShadows

===  Themes & References  ===

The chapter title is a clear reference to the reconciliation of the Maerum and the Alatien, and the reunion of the two halves of the Disk fragment they carry. It also sees completion for April when she speaks to the Old God as she now has the 'question' to go with her 'answer'. It may also be significant that - as we discover later - April is Kin to the Blue, and here they are 'reunited'.

The tales April learns from the Alatien are those of Tale of Winds, Tale of Sea, Tale of Stars and Tale of Homecoming. These could be seen as relating to stages of April's journey - freeing the winds from Roper Klacks, travelling beneath the oceans of Arcadia, voyaging to the Morning Star space station, and returning to the kitchen of her childhood during her Trial of Spirit in the Guardian's Realm.

We can offer no explanation as to why the Stickmen would want to blast off to Luna, although it must be said that Tornquist missed a prime opportunity for a joke. When April says "You guys are loonies", Wick replies "If by 'loonies', you mean 'visionaries', then yes, yes we are." Clearly it would have been funnier for him to say "If by 'loonies', you mean 'those of Luna', then yes, yes we are."

{{TLJ Chapters‎}}

ruГлава восьмая Надёжная связь
CategoryThe Longest Journey