Andine, being the Character In The Wrong for this story, takes issue with Gher being a dirty little orphan, because...uh, Andine is rich. And this means she has to be a horrible person by default.
Of course, she must be educated. They let Gher give her a beat down:
“All right, lady, I’m woodsy. So what? If you don’t like the way I look, don’t look at me. I don’t have any parents, and I wear rags because that’s all I can find to wear. I don’t see where that’s any of your business, though. I’m too busy staying alive to worry about how I look, and if you don’t like it that way, well, that’s just too bad.”And of course Andine, who is supposed to be the Greatest Orator of her Generation (Seriously. THIS CHICK IS CE'NEDRA) flees in tears because of how horribly she has misjudged the poor little woodsy boy. Because it's not like a princess raised in a cespit of political intrigue (AKA every castle ever) wouldn't know how to dish her own arguments and mic drop like a motherfucker. Nope. We gotta let a little boy take her down a couple notches.
They hang around Hule until Andine decides that she has to fix things--the things being her classist rantings against the Poor Little Orphan Boy--by giving him a haircut.
Yep. She's insulted Gher--and been insulted back--and shown herself to be a classist and probably racist twit with a spine made of wet toilet paper, but giving him a haircut ought to fix everything. And it does.
And all the other characters are amazed by her kindness. I'm not even remotely kidding.
So Emmy the Cat Goddess then sends them all off to Kweon, where the person they came to retrieve is about to be burned at the stake for being a witch.
...Eddings, you do realize this amalgamation of pagan believes and Middle-age Christian dogma and practices doesn't make any fucking sense, right? I mean...the general public don't know about Daeva, all of Dewios's many names are accepted under the blanket of "All Gods Are One" because in this universe they actually are, and nobody outside of Althalus's little group know that Dweia even exists, so why the fuck would they be burning women for being witches?
And of course, we can't just march in and save her. Althalus has to swindle the sick-as-fuck priest trying to set the girl on fire.
It can make Earthquakes. The book can make Earthquakes.
“There’s no such thing as coincidence, my Brother. Everything that happens, happens by design. Choose, Ambho, choose, and know that the life or death of every living soul in Peteleya hangs on your choice.” Althalus nudged the earth again, a bit more firmly this time. The cracking that came from beneath their feet was much like the sound that frozen trees in the far north make when the sundering frost explodes them, and the very earth shuddered. Some fairly large rocks came bouncing down the steep mountainside.
“The next one should probably do it,” Althalus said calmly, squinting up at the mountain. “Farewell, Master Bheid. It’s been a pleasure serving you. If we’re lucky, the rock slide will kill us all instantly. I hate the notion of being buried alive, don’t you?”
“Take her!” Ambho almost screamed. “Take the witch to Awes, but make it stop!”
Anyhoo, the woman they came for is Leitha. She's a white chick. The book goes out of its way to make sure we do not forget that Leitha is freaking Wonderbread. Every. Single. Time somebody has to describe Leitha she has "pale, blond" dangling in front of her name like a cat toy.
And she can read minds. Because, you know, Team Althalus isn't overpowered enough. We've only got a book that can do literally anything, a magic hole full of money, a knife that can steal free will and a goddess in the hood of his cloak. Nope. We need a mind reader too.
At least we know Al's safe.
Leitha tells everyone her sad, sad story, which of freaking course involves the preist who tried to burn her alive lusting after her and lots of other girls. Yeah, apparently this dude sets any girl who attracts his attention on fire, because those lustful thoughts can't possibly be his own. He runs away in tears aaaaaannd that's the last we see of Mr. Flaming Mass Murderer. Fuck me, Al, the least you could do is drop half a mountain on him. Even Gher wants to know why they didn't kill the guy.
Anyway, now it's time for everyone to head back to the house. On the way there we have another of those "We're changing the past" dreams, in which we are introduced to Gelta, the Queen of the Knight--who is not scary. Not at all scary. The book is trying really hard though, and it deserves a cookie.
Ghend tries to impress Althalus, who basically tells him to go fuck himself as lyrically and repetatively as possible.
Emmy reacts accordingly:
Are you mad? Emmy almost shrieked at him, her voice reverberating inside his head.
That’s a little hard for me to know, Em, he replied calmly. Crazy people don’t know that they’re crazy, do they? I think we talked about that back in the House a few times. I just thought it might be sort of interesting to turn the tables on Ghend. He’s trying to play with reality, but I’m a master at that. I know all sorts of ways to change the rules of any game he can devise.
You shouldn’t be so surprised, Dweia, Leitha’s soft voice murmured. Isn’t this why you hired him in the first place?
You’re not supposed to be in here, Leitha! Emmy said sharply.
Just curious, Dweia, Leitha replied. You can’t really keep me out, you know.
“Do you ladies suppose you could go someplace else to discuss this?” Althalus asked. “I’d like to get some sleep, and you’re making a great deal of noise in there.”Boundaries? What boundaries.
The next morning they show Leitha the knife. Her Magic Word is "Listen", but before Eliar can put the knife away she puts her hand on the blade and basically reads the rest of the plot for this novel. She doesn't like her role much.
Althalus also sets up Bheid with the Northern Lights. You know, because he's still trying to draw up astrology charts every night:
“Which astrological house would you say that’s in, Bheid?” Althalus asked slyly.
“I . . . I couldn’t say.” Bheid faltered. “It keeps moving.”
“Do you suppose it might be a portent of some kind?”Bheid is having a crisis of faith. Althalus is an asshole. Bheid will eventually get better. Althalus is cursed for life.
They're most of the way there when Gelta, Queen of the Night, shows up again. This time she's an illusion on an illusory horse up in the clouds. Althalus decides the very best way to respond to this is to make the illusion of woman and horse fall, and this works somehow. So now we've introduced all the bad guys, and hey, there's one for every member of Althalus's team! Which means we're going to defeat them one by one because Video Game Levels. I think.
They all pile into the House at the End of the World. Socializing happens. Everyone goes to bed in gender-divided dorms because fuck if I know, we've got to make a big deal out of relationships and sex.
And this would probably be more understandable if the chapter didn't close with Althalus heading up to Dweia's room for a little divine intervention. A close encounter of the biblical kind. Carnal knowledge of the divine.
Yeah. Althalus gets to bed a goddess. And she's not a cat. She's the perfectly gorgeous woman from the dream.
End of chapter.