In the twenty-first part of Bloodhound, Beka’s kindness leads her to Pearl Skinner’s secret. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.
Trigger Warning: For brief description of physical abuse.
I think it’s pretty incredible that the final confirmation that Pearl is behind the colemongering has now happened, and WE STILL HAVE A TON OF PAGES TO GET THROUGH AND I AM STILL VERY NERVOUS ABOUT HOW THIS IS GOING TO END. I don’t know how Beka is going to nab Pearl and avoid Sir Lionel and meet back up with Goodwin and get home and it’s clear that Port Caynn could still slip into crisis because of what Pearl has done. So… wow, there really is a lot left to resolve. But lord, what a fantastic entry in Beka’s journal! Let’s discuss things:
Achoo in a sling on Beka’s back
I wasn’t kidding you. Where is the fanart? I have an innate need for this in my life.
I spent the entire last section waiting for everything to fall apart, and as it turns it, it happens here! WHOOPS. Ives – IVES?!?!?!?! – shows up to tell Pearl what had happened with Beka, which allows for the following beautiful line to be given to us:
“While you’ve fumbled your day down the sewer, she’s been here, eating my food and drinking my ale!” She pointed up at the gallery. At me.
Bless this book. I expected a long chase scene where Beka utilized the maps Okha had given her, and instead?
As it turns out, the girl (and her brother) who had been following Beka for over a week paid attention to all the food she’d left out. Though the young girl later insists that she only helped Beka because she owed her a debt, I think that Beka’s respect for those less well-off than she plays an integral part in this. Beka never forgets where she came from, which I admire of her. She also knows that Pearl is, simply put, a terrible Rogue, meaning that she isn’t feeding or paying those who work for her. Actually, that’s not all Pearl does:
“Pearl beat me her own self those times I lost you,” she said. She half turned toward me and lowered the collar of her too-large dress so I could see the edges of the whip marks. “She beat Elzie a’cos you caught her filchin’ that purse, even though Elzie got away and switched the purses. I’m sick o’ her fartin’ Majesty.”
Yeah, I don’t care that Pearl is nice to Achoo. NO. NOPE.
This is the impetus for these two kids (THEY’RE KIDS OH MY GOD) agreeing to give Beka the one thing she’s needed more than anything: undeniable evidence that Pearl is behind the coles leeching out into the Port Caynn money supply. Now, I must admit right here and now that I spent the remainder of this section terrified that they’d suddenly switch allegiances or that they’d get caught. Y’ALL HAVE TAUGHT ME WELL. But I’m glad that this happened as it did because it further supports the idea that you need to treat the people around you well. These two kids – who most likely are disposable to Pearl – are part of her downfall. Her treatment of them is what opened them to the possibility of betrayal, and here’s Beka, who feeds them, who IMMEDIATELY pays them more than Pearl has probably ever, and who then pays them a veritable fortune after they deliver on their agreement. It’s respectful. It’s how you should treat people, even if you’re breaking the law, and it’s something Pearl categorically doesn’t get.
So! With some of Pearl’s underclothes in her pack (for later tracking!), Beka, Achoo, and the spies head to Eagle Street court.
Okay, I wouldn’t say that I was surprised by the reveal that there’s a whole network of passages in the sewers, but I did want a novel worth of stories and tales about the people who use them to get around unnoticed in Port Caynn. WHO ARE THEY? Are they all Rats? Are there everyday citizens who figured out they were there? I AM INTRIGUED BY THIS. I suppose I’m kind of obsessed with this concept after I went to a literal underground grindcore show in San Diego years ago that was in the sewer. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my whole life! There were HUNDREDS of people there, they had methods of blocking the sound so it didn’t seep out into the neighborhood, and you had to hike for 20 minutes through old stormdrains that were eight feet high to get there. I’VE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO FIND THE ENTRANCE TO IT AGAIN, THOUGH.
Eagle Street Court
So, I was very nervous, y’all, when they snuck into Eagle Street court. But Pearl’s inability to be a good Rogue meant that Beka and the spies had a much easier time than I expected breaking into the storeroom with the hidden colemongering room. Still! So many hidden doors and stairways! What the hell are in those other rooms, y’all??? I mean… yes, probably nothing at all, since the gems said they were empty. But what if. PARALLEL UNIVERSE. No? Okay, someone else can go write a crossover fic if they want.
On topic: BEKA HAS PROOF. She has so much proof that there’s no way Pearl or her immediate group are going to survive this. Like, they’ll be straight up executed, right? I still don’t understand the why, though. Why do this? Is it really as simple as her own greed? And even if that’s the case, why wouldn’t anyone else warn her not to ruin things for everyone?
The Black God
I got a whiff of a romantic comedy where Beka is mistaken as a priest of the Black God, but must keep up the disguise in order to woo the one she loves!!! Staring Achoo as the dog who is strangle anthropomorphized throughout said film. Just kidding, that wouldn’t work because I anthropomorphize all dogs all of the time.
I’m jesting a lot because I’m still sad about Okha’s terror. Beka, clad in a Black God habit, waits in Okha’s room to ask for a place to hide, witnesses the SADDEST SINGLE DETAIL IN THIS WHOLE SECTION:
Okha covered his mouth. His bronze nails caught the lamplight. They were quivering. Suddenly I felt bad. He’d been naught but a friend to me. “Okha, I’ll go. You’re afraid with me here.”
You have to pair this with his reaction to see a priest of the Black God in his room in order to get why this is CRUSHING TO MY SOUL. How often does Okha worry about getting a visit from a priest to tell him that his beloved was killed on Duty? How many other people has Okha lost? How much more sadder can I make this for all of you?
Not much, I’m afraid. And yet, Okha still takes Beka in, hiding her in his secret room. I imagine this respite isn’t going to last very long, is it?
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