Last time on The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Elisa and Ximena stabbed some weak tutorial-land enemies. Will the caravan ever reach its destination? Find out after the cut.
TRIGGER WARNING: There’s a graphic description of a gangrenous wound, and a brief mention of beating. You’ve been warned.
Part 1: In Memoriam
After the failed interrogation, the entire caravan gets together to hold a memorial service for everyone who died during the tutorial battle. Elisa didn’t know any of those who died, but she prays for them anyway because that’s the nice thing to do. However, she’s more concerned about her Godstone not reacting to her prayers anymore. Apparently, when a Godstone doesn’t respond to its bearer’s prayers, it means that the bearer totally screwed up their service to God. For a Chosen One, that’s not a Good Thing. Thankfully, Elisa’s stone still reacts, so she hasn’t screwed up yet.
After the service, Alejandro thanks Elisa for saving him. Elisa wonders if saving him was her service to God, but the way her stone reacts proves that it wasn’t. (And we’re only on Chapter 4 of 30-something, so obviously she hasn’t completed her Chosen One duties yet.) Ximena then shows up, and Elisa leaves because she doesn’t want to face her after the whole stabbing-the-guy-she-was-interrogating incident.
Part 2: Joya d’Arena. Jewel of the Sands. Desert Nation.
Five days later, the caravan finally reaches Joya d’Arena. It’s exactly as advertised: there’s dunes everywhere. The caravan then heads west for the capitol of Brisadulce.
During a pit stop, Elisa realizes that she knows absolutely nothing about Ximena and Aneaxi. You know what that means…
Part 3: My Name Is Ximena, and This Is My Story
Ximena used to be an orphan working in a refectory in Amalur. A priest named Father Donatzine took her in and taught her how to read and write. Eventually, Ximena was sent to the palace to serve Elisa’s father sometime before he became king. She still visits Father Donatzine on occasion – or at least, she used to before moving to Joya d’Arena.
Ximena refuses to explain why she killed the Perdito in the last chapter, though. And she hints that she’s hiding other stuff from Elisa, too.
Part 4: My Name Is Aneaxi, and This Is My Story
Aneaxi was the bastard daughter of Conde Sirvano. She wasn’t suitable marriage material, and she was too high-born to enter a monastery, so she ended up living a craptacular life at her father’s castle. Aneaxi spent her days working in the palace laundry to keep herself busy, but her father found out and beat her. Then he realized that hey, maybe Aneaxi is good for something, so he made her attend to his latest wife. Aneaxi and her father’s new wife became good friends – so good, in fact, that she eventually recommended Aneaxi to attend to Elisa’s mother when she was pregnant with Alodia.
Aneaxi loves working for the royal family because the food is good, and because Elisa treats her well. She also thinks that Elisa will be an excellent Chosen One.
Part 5: That’s Kind of a Dick Move There, Alejandro
At another pit stop, Elisa gives Alejandro a status update on Aneaxi (she says she’s doing fine, but she obviously doesn’t look it), and Alejandro reveals that Hector already recapped Elisa’s deeds from the tutorial battle to him.
What’s more important, though, is that Alejandro suspects an alliance between the Perditos and Invierne. After the tutorial battle, his men noticed that the Perditos were armed with steel weapons, arrows made from non-native wood, and icepicks – all obvious signs that Invierne is supplying weapons. Also, nobody has been using the land route to Joya d’Arena other than this caravan, so everyone must be avoiding the jungle because the Perditos have improved their weaponry.
(Tiny spoiler: in one of the prequels, it’s revealed that this Perdito-Invierne alliance extends beyond just supplying weapons.)
Alejandro is more shocked about the caravan being attacked because he kept his return to Joya d’Arena a secret. He told his people he was leaving, but they don’t expect him to return for a month. And they also have no idea that he got married to Elisa.
Part 6: Eww, Gross!
Two days before the caravan reaches Brisadulce, Elisa smells something rotten in her carriage. It turns out that Aneaxi cut her leg pretty bad when Elisa and Ximena dragged her to safety during the tutorial battle, and she didn’t tell anyone about it. Now the wound is infected, and it’s too late to amputate her leg. And by infected, I mean really infected:
I recoil, hand over mouth. Purple and green streak pasty skin. Something black and viscous oozes from the gash; the skin at the edges peels back into a terrible sneer.
This sounds a lot like gas gangrene, which is the kind of gangrene you get when cuts are infected with bacteria from soil. It’s also the kind of medical emergency that should have been attended to ASAP.
Anyway, Elisa goes, “Oh crap! This is all my fault!” and spends the rest of the night praying over Aneaxi.
Part 7: Okay, I Guess We Saw This Coming
The next day, Aneaxi tells Elisa that she has a “great destiny” to fulfill, and to not lose faith in God. And then she dies.
Stuff I Forgot to Mention Above:
Instead of saying “amen” during prayer services, the people in this setting say “selah”. Don’t bother looking it up – it’s a made-up word.
All the foodstuffs mentioned in this chapter:
- Coconut pudding
It’s Translation Time!
Translations of Spanish (or Spanish-influenced) words in this chapter:
- Brisadulce = Fresh Breeze (it’s by the coast, so it must get cool ocean breezes.)
Next time: Elisa chooses a burial site. The caravan reaches its destination. A trippy dream sequence. Another future party member is introduced.