Monday, June 12, 2023

Keeper of the Lost Cities #8.5 Unlocked Kindle Notes

Most of this book is an encyclopedia for the series.  The book contains a novella that includes important plot developments.

These are the passages that I marked in my Kindle book.  The passages were marked either because I felt they contained significant information or because I simply found them interesting or amusing.  These passages contain MAJOR SERIES SPOILERS, so readers who haven't made it this far should avoid this post.  


Page 518   "This isn't about trust.  It's about risk.  Like you said, you've become quite valuable to the Council.  They've finally realized exactly how much they need you.  So to put you in danger this way—"

Page 519   "It can," Oralie whispered, wrapping her arms around her waist, "when that's the only way to have a daughter."  The last word sounded different than the others, and for a second, Sophie found herself meeting Oralie's stare and wishing the Black Swan had made her an Empath.  Then she would've been able to tell if the sadness and longing she could see in Oralie's eyes were actually real.

Page 521   Sophie jerked away when Oralie reached for her.  "Just stop it, okay?  You're wasting time."  "Actually… I'm not.  We needed my tears, didn't we?" Oralie blinked, showing how glassy her eyes had gotten.  "I knew the easiest way to trigger them was to remind myself of how much you hate me."  "Oh."

Page 523   "I knew Kenric would be a part of this," the real Oralie murmured.  "He always insisted on being involved in everything I did."

Page 523   "For once, would you please just trust that I know what's best?" he pleaded, knocking back his hood and tearing his hands through his vivid red hair.

Page 525   Kenric sighed. "I can't tell you that, either."

Page 525   "Stop trying to distract me!"  "But I'm so good at it!" Kenric flashed a smug grin as he stepped closer—so close, the toes of their shoes touched.  "I seem to remember you losing your train of thought twice the other day when I wore that gray jerkin with the emeralds on the collar.  The one you've always said brings out the flecks of green in my eyes."

Page 526   "I just wish I could find the source of the leak."

Page 526   "I suppose it's possible that Kenric washed it himself, but—"  "Kenric was a Washer?" Sophie interrupted.  "One of the best.  It was often his job to wash the minds of the other Washers, to make sure they hadn't inadvertently learned anything from their assignments—but he was under oath to never wash the mind of anyone on the Council, even if they asked him to.  And I can't see him breaking that vow—especially with me."  "I can, if he thought he was protecting you," Sophie argued.

Page 527   "Actually, now that I think about it, there was another time when my mind felt like it does right now.  I woke up in my sitting room, and Kenric was there with… someone.  I can't remember who—which is strange."

Page 527   "But… I do also remember thinking that something about his smile felt off."

Page 527   "This is such a classic Kenric move!" Oralie huffed, glaring at his projection.  "He always kept me out of anything he'd decided was 'too intense.'  That's why there's only one Forgotten Secret in my cache."  "Um… it sounds like the real reason for that might be because Kenric stole some of your other memories," Sophie had to point out, which made her want to throw a full-fledged tantrum—complete with kicking and flailing.

Page 528   But she still had to wonder if there'd been a lot more to Kenric than she'd originally realized.  She squinted at his face, wishing she knew more about him.  He'd always been her favorite Councillor—but that had mostly been because he tended to take her side.  And that didn't necessarily mean she should've trusted him.

Page 529   "I'm counting down the days until I can have the Washers clean this mess out of my brain."

Page 529   "Kenric pulled his hands away from her.  "Let's just say that sometimes I'm not particularly proud to call myself a Councillor."  "It's that bad?" she whispered.  He looked pale when he nodded. "Some days I dream about walking away."  "You mean resigning?" Oralie clarified.  He hesitated before stepping closer.  "I've done my share for my people, Ora.  I'd have zero problem letting someone else take over.  But… I won't go unless you resign with me."  Everyone sucked in a breath:  Sophie, Oralie, Oralie's projection—even Kenric, as if he couldn't believe he'd just said that.  But he didn't take it back.

Page 530   He leaned toward her, and her lips parted, like she might let him kiss her.  But at the last second she turned her face away.  "I can't do this."  He turned her chin back toward him.  "Can't?  Or won't?"  "Both."

Page 530   Kenric tilted his head.  "There's something you're not telling me."  "No—"  "There is.  I know you too well, Ora.  In fact… I might even know what it is."

Page 531   "That time when you were ill," he interrupted.  "When you wouldn't let me take you to see any physicians.  I stayed by your side the whole night, just to be safe.  And there were a few moments when I couldn't tell if you were asleep or awake.  You'd toss and turn and whisper something over and over.  Something that sounded… a lot like suldreen."

Page 531   "I saw how upset you were when Prentice was exiled.  And I saw the look on your face when Alden brought us that strand of DNA.  Everyone thought it was a hoax or a misunderstanding—but not you.  Don't try to deny it, Ora.  I saw you flinch when he used the phrase 'Project Moonlark.'  And you've tried harder than anyone to stop Alden's search.  You think I don't know that you're the one who convinced Bronte to place someone in Quinlin's office to keep an eye on things?"

Page 531  "So he knew," Sophie said as both Oralies let out a strangled sob.  "He knew you're my… "  "He must have," the real Oralie whispered.

Page 532   Oralie pressed her hand against her stomach.  "The process of giving the Black Swan what they needed for your genetics turned out to be more involved than I expected—physically and emotionally.  And Kenric stopped by right after I returned home from the procedure.  I tried to hide it from him, but I nearly fainted just answering the door.  So he insisted on taking care of me.  But… I woke up alone.  He told me he went home after I finally fell asleep.  Apparently not."

Page 534   "Still, it'll be hard for you to understand what you're feeling without the context, right?  So how about I help you with that?  I think it's time to put all of this behind us, don't you?"

Page 560   "You are?" a new voice interrupted.  A beautiful voice.  Keefe's favorite voice—even when it was all squeaky with worry.  But he'd barely caught a glimpse of a pair of gold-flecked brown eyes before he called out, " 'Bout time you got here, Foster!" before an emotional storm crashed against his senses.

Page 576   "Of course she told us," Alina said, adjusting her peridot circlet.  "I realize this is a difficult concept for you to grasp, but we're your leaders.  We expect to be apprised of all significant developments.  And it's a good thing Oralie hailed me, because this is an even bigger disaster than I feared."  Oralie sighed.  "There's no need to be so dramatic, Alina."

Page 581   "Yes, but most begin naturally," Alina argued.  "And there was nothing natural about this."  "There wasn't," Noland agreed, shifting his gaze to Sophie.  His eyes had a slight purplish tint, like the tanzanites in his circlet, and they seemed to twinkle as he added, "But I'm staring at someone else with unnatural abilities.  And she's proven to be quite a valuable asset.  Hopefully this boy will be the same."

Page 586   "Have there been any other developments?" Alina asked Elwin.  "Aside from Keefe's stronger emotions, becoming a Polyglot, and whatever this new ability is?"

Page 587   Oralie's cheeks flushed.  "I'm not certain.  It just seems significant that Keefe is now a Polyglot and an Empath, and used his voice to control emotion.  That almost sounds like the two abilities merged somehow—or synchronized.  Which would make sense, given that Keefe was exposed to shadowflux and quintessence.  Elements trigger change.  They rarely create something entirely new.  But I'd need to do more research to know for sure."

Page 587   "I suppose," Noland said slowly.  "But I think it's safe to assume that the majority of these changes are a part of her scheme—just as the majority of your genetics are in line with Project Moonlark's goals, which are still unclear, by the way.  But that is a conversation for another time.  For now, I think it's best if we treat each of these developments as though they're clues to what the Neverseen is planning, and see how much we can learn."

Page 609   It hit her then.  The contrast between her different mothers.  Her human mom never quite knew what to do with her.  Oralie had abandoned her and betrayed her.  But Edaline truly trusted her—even when she knew Sophie was hiding stuff.  Which made Sophie wish she could sit back down and unload everything—and made Sophie resent Oralie even more.  Especially since it was only a matter of time before she'd have to lie to Edaline to protect Oralie's secrets.

Page 664   She reached around him to pull the rope for the chimes, and a tinkling melody filled the air.  Sophie was stunned to realize she recognized it.  "Was that… the Beatles?"  she asked when Tiergan pulled open the door.  His lips curled into a smile as he stepped aside to let them in.  "No one's ever recognized it before.  But I suppose I should've known you would."

Page 706   "I'm thinking like the Neverseen," Sophie told her, glancing at Glimmer as she added, "and changing the game."  This is for Kenric! she thought as she swung the Archetype at one of the balefire sconces.  And Mr. Forkle!  And Keefe!  And all of the scars and tears and nightmares and threats and fear and pain!  She'd been fighting the Neverseen's fires since the moment she'd arrived in the Lost Cities.  Now it was time for them to burn.  She smashed the other sconce and held the pages of the Archetype in the shower of blue sparks until they caught fire—then flung the burning book into the pile of black cloaks.

Page 707   Sophie nodded, holding Tiergan's crystal up to the light—but before she stepped into the path, she scratched a few lines in the dirt with her heel.  It wasn't a perfect symbol, but it kinda looked like a moonlark with spread wings.  She hoped the mark survived the inferno.  She wanted the Neverseen to know she did this.  She wasn't scared.  She was strong.  And she was ready to start winning.

Page 723   No one said anything else as they made their way up a spiral staircase to an enormous oval room, which looked like the kind of office that Sophie kept imagining someone in the Black Swan would have—complete with a giant fireplace, shelves full of strange, whirling gadgets, and an imposing desk covered in meticulously arranged stacks of paperwork.  But the twisted tree sprouting from the center of the floor with flowering branches stretching toward the arched skylight was a bit of a surprise.

Page 726   "Yes, but those were their attacks," Tiergan reminded her.  "This was ours.  Well… yours.  And it was unprovoked."  "Unprovoked?" Sophie repeated.  "You're kidding, right?"  "No, Sophie—none of us think this is a joke," Grady said quietly.  "And I'm really hoping you don't either.  Because you just turned this into a war."

Page 726   "And you're accusing me of escalating this?"  "Yes," Tiergan said simply.  "Though 'accusing' is the wrong word.  'Informing' is better.  Making sure you understand that you haven't just changed the game for the Neverseen—you've changed it for everyone.  Up until now, we haven't attacked.  We've defended ourselves.  But raiding their hideout—and then destroying it—is an attack, Sophie.  And that means we're now officially at war."

Page 727   Sophie stood up taller.  "You think I did this for me?"  "No.  I think you acted alone.  And I realize you're going to argue that there wasn't time for a big debate or discussion—and I'm certain there wasn't.  But that doesn't change the fact that you made an enormous decision that will affect everyone entirely on your own."  "You even made sure the Neverseen knew it was you," Sandor said from the doorway.  "I saw the mark you left before we leaped away."  "What mark?" Grady asked.  Sandor held Sophie's stare when he answered.  "It looked like a flying moonlark."

Page 728   "But that wasn't the symbol you used," he reminded her.  "You made your own, positioning yourself as the threat and the victor.  Not the Black Swan.  Not your friends.  You."

Page 728   Sophie's mouth went dry, and it took her several seconds to find enough voice to tell him, "I'm not trying to be anyone's leader."  "And yet, it's what you were made for," a new voice said.  A voice that always managed to fill Sophie with hope and dread—and now there was also a healthy amount of wariness as Sandor stepped aside to let Mr. Forkle shuffle into the office.  He looked less swollen and wrinkled than usual—like he'd rushed there after finishing some other assignment.

Page 730   "I don't want to be the leader," Sophie insisted.  "I don't."  "I know," he agreed.  "And yet… it's rather interesting, isn't it?"  He stopped there, waiting for her to ask what he meant—and she really didn't feel like playing along.  But she finally rolled her eyes and said,  "What's interesting?"  His smile brightened.  "You kids can be so stubborn.  But I suppose that's also what makes you so strong.  And what's interesting is that you chose to leave your own symbol—which sounds like quite a powerful image, I might add—when no one has ever asked you or advised you to do that."

Page 730   "I just… wanted the Neverseen to know it was me—that I dealt that blow to them—after everything they've done to me. That's it, that’s all it was.  And maybe it was a bad idea.  I don't know. I didn't put much thought into it."  "And that's what I want to talk to you about," he told her, shifting his weight to lean closer.  "Whether or not you want to be a leader, Miss Foster, you are one—and I'm not saying that because I designed you to be that way.  The leadership simply comes from who you are.  You're a powerful, brilliant, determined, inspiring young lady.  People naturally look to you.  And they're going to do that more and more, the stronger you become.  Today was a huge part of that.  I'm proud of the stand you took.  And for the record, I think you made the right call."

Page 731   "You do?" Sophie whispered.  "Absolutely.  You saw the mistake we'd all made, and a path to correct it, and you did what needed to be done.  But," he had to add, right when she was starting to feel a little better, "you also made some fairly significant mistakes."

Page 731   "Well… for starters, did you warn the others about what you were doing, and make them all step back before you sparked the fire?"  "No," Sophie admitted.  "But they were already far enough away."  "Yes, but people do move, you know.  It's always best to communicate."

Page 731   "No," Sophie had to admit again.  "But I didn't need to—the storehouse was behind a giant waterfall!"  "Did you actually consider that, though?" he pressed.  "And what I mean is, did you have a conscious thought about there being an abundant water supply nearby that would safely extinguish the blaze before it could spread?  Because if you didn't, you don't get to take credit for the waterfall's safety.  That's what we call random luck."

Page 732   "Yes, well, Glimmer has much to learn as well.  There's a way to be bold and brave and stand up to your enemies without forgetting that actions have consequences." Sophie nodded, twisting a loose string on the edge of her sleeve as she worked up the courage to ask, "What consequences are going to come from what I did today?"  Mr. Forkle blew out a breath.  "I wish I knew.  But that's how it always goes with hard decisions.  I had no idea what would happen when I helped create a powerful young girl—a fearless moonlark.  I just knew she was going to change the game.  And now… she has.  You have.  And I'm proud of you.  I believe in you.  And I'm here to help you and guide you as much as I can."

Page 73   "I believe in you," he repeated.  "I believe in my moonlark.  In fact, I'd love to see the symbol you created.  Will you show it to me?" Sophie stood, making her way to Tiergan's desk and grabbing a pen and paper.  She wasn't an awesome artist like Keefe, but she sketched the simple lines she'd carved into the ground, adding a few extra curves and flourishes before she handed the page to Mr. Forkle.  His lips curled with another smile.  "Now, that's a symbol.  You should start using this."

Page 734   "You'll know when the time comes," he told her, which was such a cheating way to answer.  He laughed when she scowled.  "Just let it bring fear and hope to people, Miss Foster.  And let it remind you to be strong and smart.  Use it to change the game—but make sure you win the right way.  And never forget that moonlarks can't do everything on their own.  Not even you."

Page 734   "Good." He stuffed the paper into one of the pockets in his cape.  "I'm keeping this.  And I'm going to let you keep those caches—but don't think we're not going to talk about your plans for those very soon."

Page 734   "For now, how about you sit back down and tell me more about destroying this storehouse?"  "Why?" Sophie asked—but she still returned to one of the ottomans.  He smiled his widest smile yet.  "Because we need to celebrate the victories."

Page 739   Grady shook his head and dropped his hands. "You don't understand, Keefe.  Everything's about to get really messy.  Sophie burned down the Neverseen's storehouse today."  Keefe's eyebrows shot up so high, they felt like they were stretching his face.  "Yeah," Grady said quietly.  "Apparently she gets in even more trouble without you there.  Who knew?"

Page 744   And since this is the last time I'll ever talk to you, I just… I want to say that I'm really going to miss you. You mean a lot to me, Foster.  More than you'll ever know. 

Next, I give my thoughts about what some of this might mean.  Stop reading NOW if you have not read through all 9 books.


On page 526, we learn that Kenric was a Washer.  Mr. Forkle is a Washer as well, since he erased some of Sophie's memories.  I don't think many elves are Washers.  So this is another clue that Kenric is Forkle.

On page 527, Oralie remembers being with Kenric in her sitting room and that his smile was off.  She also remembers that someone else was there.  I suspect that both twin brothers were present and that the other one was wearing an addler so that she couldn't focus on his face. 

On page 529, Kenric mentions that he's thought about leaving the Council.  He's clearly tired of being a Councillor.  It's logical to assume that he did indeed fake his death in the Everblaze in book 3.

On page 531, Kenric informs Oralie that he knows about Project Moonlark.  Oralie then mentions to Sophie that Kenric arrived at her castle right after she got home from the procedure.  This is all strong circumstantial evidence that Kenric was deeply involved in Project Moonlark and the Black Swan.

Everyone is upset that Sophie burned the Neverseen's storeroom except for Mr. Forkle.  He seems delighted.  I feel that Mr. Forkle's behavior is beginning to subtly change during the scene in which he discusses the fire with Sophie.  He smiles widely at one point and even laughs.  He is beginning to act slightly more like Kenric.

He's also proud of Sophie's moonlark symbol and tells her that he's keeping the drawing.  He sounds just like a proud father, and I believe he actually is Sophie's father.

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