Against the Tide, Chapter 8: Nightshade Island

Last time on Against the Tide, Abeke completed one sidequest, only to learn that the party needs to split up and complete two more sidequests in order to reach Mulop. Will they ever meet the Godlike Octopus? Find out after the cut.

Night had fallen. Glittering stars stretched across the dark southern sky in constellations that Meilin had studied in books, but had never seen before. She wished her father were here to see them too. He’d traveled all across Zhong, but she didn’t think he’d ever been to Oceanus.

Meilin, Rollan, and Tarik steal a canoe — because it’s forbidden to even mention Nightshade Island to Kalani’s tribe, or ask someone to lead them there — and venture forth. Of course, they’ll all be considered tapu after completing this sidequest, but they kinda need that Plot Trinket so they can meet Mulop.

Since Nightshade Island has been erased from world maps after the last global war, and the party can’t ask Kalani’s tribe for directions, they have to rely on Essix. Surprisingly, Essix actually knows about Nightshade Island, and isn’t very happy about leading our protagonists there. But she does it anyway, because she’s a nice bird.

Meilin was usually excellent at keeping track of time. She could make herself wake up at sunrise; she could calculate in her head the minutes it would take to do any task. Even with all the traveling they’d been doing lately, she was usually still quite certain when it was time for the night to be over and the sun to be up.

Great. Now the party is stuck in impenetrable fog, and they’re doubting if they’ve really been following Essix’s screeches. They assume they’re getting close to Nightshade Island because of the ominous fog and a general sense of Something’s Not Right. Luckily, the party hears waves crashing on shore, and eventually they arrive on a black sand beach.

Nightshade Island turns out to be a horrible place. Nobody in the party can sense their spirit animals when they’re summoned. The trees are all petrified. Oh, and the island gives off some serious evil vibes. The party makes their way to the heart of the island, where all the bad vibes are coming from, but Jhi ends up getting separated from the group. Meilin is certain that she’ll return eventually…

——————–

Stuff I Forgot to Mention Above:
Rollan explains his Thieves’ Code to Meilin: basically, he only steals from those who deserve it. This is why he doesn’t want to take one of the canoes belonging to Kalani’s tribe.

There’s apparently a ritual for cleansing a tapu person, but Tarik doesn’t know about it. Still, it’s cool of him to consider cultural repercussions for once. It’s better than dooming a town of immortals to eventual death and destroying an ice temple dedicated to a Godlike Polar Bear.

YES THE PARTY ACTUALLY REALIZES THAT THEY TOTALLY SCREWED OVER RELATIONS WITH THE ARDU AND THE VILLAGERS OF SAMIS IN THE LAST BOOK.

Tarik’s party can’t return the canoe to Kalani’s tribe: they have to burn it afterwards, since it will be tainted just by making landfall at Nightshade Island.

The Greencloaks sure have a habit of erasing any landmass related to the original Devourer from their maps. (Oh, I guess that’s a spoiler.)

You’ll find out what horrible thing happened at Nightshade Island later in the book, and in Tales of the Great Beasts.

Lots of Meilin / Rollan hand-holding in this. Since this is a children’s book, this is the extent of the romantic action.

Meilin mentions that she can control Jhi, which gets her a mild scolding from Tarik. Could this be a hint for the Epic Spoiler at the end of the book?

Meilin remembers MacDonnell’s and Finn’s strained relationships with their spirit animals while traveling across Nightshade Island.

Meilin notes that Tarik is a father figure to Rollan, and that physically they look very similar. I know that this is touched upon a little more in the next book, but I wish it was developed further. Honestly, Tarik doesn’t seem to have much of a character beyond Wise Mentor Figure Assigned to the Protagonists.

Title Drop!

“Do you know where we’re going?” Rollan asked once the island was out of sight. “Because I’m guessing we can’t ask anyone for directions.”

“Nightshade Island was erased from the maps of Erdas after the last war,” Tarik said.

——————–

Next time: Kalani reunites with her brother.

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