Chapter Thirty-Three – Two Survivors
There’s an awkward and nonsensical line about Joey blurring Maya’s view which doesn’t really make sense – I think Tesch got Joey confused with the rain that starts up. They meet up with Goran and tell him about the Lighthouse experience but not what happened at the bar. Goran explains that Henry and his associates got home drunk and will probably have ‘a big headache’ tomorrow because they ‘consumed too much rum’. It’s called a hangover, Gloria. I’m working on tomorrow’s right now.
The next day they hang out at the Spelunka bar (invisible) until the two assassins arrive and follow them to a dump. Apparently there are some survivors there. Why the survivors are hiding in the dump, and how the assassins learned they were there…don’t know. Anyway, the survivors take off running, the assassins follow…and Maya and Joey come up and grab the survivors’ hands, making them invisible. The two assassins are very irritated:
The two assassins were very irritated (page 298).
Eventually the assassins give up and head off to have a stiff drink at the bar. That’s not a joke. They actually decide, in the book, to quit and go to a bar for a stiff drink.
Maya and Joey take the men to a field, sit them down, tell them to close their eyes, and explain that soon, a couple kids named Maya and Joey will appear to help them out. Maya and Joey go away, take their Tarnkappes off, and head back to the men, who are shaking and terrified because they think they’ve been abducted by evil spirits. However, the men explain they’re the only survivors from the three gold freighters. Anyway, on their way back from the gold mines, apparently the freighters always stop in Karthago.
“Karthago is the capital of the Karthaginian Empire.” (page 299)
I wonder why that name sounds familiar. Probably because it’s one of the civilizations you can play as in Civilization II.
The men then launch into a very long infodump about the Karthaginians. It’s not remotely interesting, although there are a few bizarre bits:
“The Empire of Karthago has three times more warships than Maradonia, Gorgonia, and Tyronia together and they are using a unique technique.”
“A unique technique?”
“Yeah…They have real production streets to produce and maintain high numbers of trade and warships at moderate costs.” (page 301)
Well that explains everything!
Point is, Karthago is filthy rich and very powerful.
The men relate a page of backstory about the rulers. A chap named King Pygmalion rules Ophir. After Pygmalion tried to kill her husband, his sister, Elissa (but called Dido) fled to Karthago…and then apparently she became the ruler of the foreign country? How does that even make sense? And listen, Tesch, it’s nice that your daddy cracked open a couple books on mythology, but seriously, I’m getting sick of the names. Make your own fucking names up, or if you’re going to include them, give them some kind of purpose.
Anyway, on the most recent trips they stopped the ships in Karthago, unloaded all the gold in a warehouse, and then re-loaded the gold into some ships. At least, they loaded crates marked ‘Gold’ into the new ships. Which then sank. And then sharks ate everyone. And about fifty of them made it to shore but a bunch of soldiers rode up and slaughtered everyone. Except for these two, who were seen by the riders but floated away on some driftwood.
Maya and Joey take the men into the governor’s residence and place them in protective custody. Goran questions the men, then writes a letter to King Genarius and another letter to Judge Kingston. Afterwards, Goran discusses the case with Maya and Joey. Joey decides they have to go diving to figure out what was actually in the crates. Which is what I thought was going to happen in this chapter in the first place.
Chapter Thirty-Four – Diving Under
Maya and Joey are planning their diving expedition with the famous pearl-diver, Mr. Weintraub. Shortly before they leave for their dive, they sit him down and explain about the people who will try to kill him.
“We are not able to explain to you at this time the whole background concerning this action but you should be aware that at the moment you come back to the surface two assassins will be waiting for you. So…You better think about an escape strategy.” (page 313)
Wow. They really are a classy pair. I mean, they’re the indestructible ones with the flamethrower/lightsaber, and they’re just going to leave him to fend off the assassins that are there to kill THEM? You expect him to risk his life for you for no reason?
Weintraub, however, isn’t bothered by the fact that the Encouragers don’t care about his life. He’s successfully fended off pearl thieves before and figures he’ll have no problem disposing of a couple assassins.
We cut over to Candice and Ginger who are meeting the assassins. The assassins lie and say they successfully killed the two survivors.
Maya and Joey and Weintraub take off in their small boat, and the idiocy begins. Goran, Henry, and their officers watch them go and wish they could have sent armed guards with them…you know, since Maya and Joey are on Apollyon’s hit list and there are many, many people who want them dead. Henry explains that the boat wouldn’t be easy to maneuver with two extra men in it. So…take a larger boat? Or…wait for it…send TWO boats of the same size, and fill one full of armed guards?
Immediately after Maya and Joey’s boat gets well out and disappears behind the reef, they see another boat go after them. Without nets or fishing equipment. Goran starts to get suspicious and talk to himself.
“I have a bad feeling in my guts because these people are armed as if they are prepared for a fight. I wish I could do something but we have to wait and see.” (page 317).
Yeah. Instead of sounding a signal horn. Or finding another boat. Or SOMETHING. ANYTHING is better than just standing there to ‘wait and see’. Except for maybe going home and taking a nap.
Henry, at least, decides to ride down the beach a bit to take a look around.
Maya and Joey get out to the spot and Weintraub drops anchor. They jump in, weighed down with rocks, and start sinking. They’re using their magic sea shells that provide endless oxygen, so they’re fine.
Meanwhile, Captain Henry rides along the beach and finds a carriage. His suspicions are aroused when he sees there are two women inside. He walks up to the carriage and peeks inside and suddenly gets stabbed in the back!!!! Henry whips out his sword and spins around, flailing, and accidentally cuts Candice’s throat. How does Candice react to having her throat slashed open?
“Help me Ginger! I am bleeding to death! Pick up his sword and kill this monster!” (page 319)
Now, while I’ve never personally experienced having my throat slashed open with a sword, I’ve do know that if doesn’t immediately kill you, your first reaction is not to start shouting oddly specific directions at other people, it’s to gasp, grab your throat, and try to avoid bleeding out.
Henry has lost his sword. Apparently the pain of being stabbed wasn’t enough to keep him from drawing his sword and slashing her throat open, but it was enough to make him drop it immediately afterward and fall to the ground, unable to retrieve it.
Ginger calmly tells Candice that she’s doomed because her throat artery is cut. However, Candice should go to the water and cool the wound and hold her hand on the artery. Uh…okay. I really don’t think submerging a slashed jugular in sea water is going to help….
Ginger then turns and runs. Candice screams after her for a bit and finally goes into the ocean which is soothing.
Hang on, I need a drink.
Okay, I’m back.
Henry, meanwhile, drags himself over to his horse. Apparently there’s a leather rope attached to his saddle with a hook at the end. Which is trailing on the ground, at the moment. Doesn’t sound like any harness I’ve ever heard of, but hey, Narnia, okay. Henry attaches the hook to his belt because he’s too weak to climb on his horse and tells his horse to run. The horse is well-trained enough to obey and drags Henry all the way back to Goran and the other soldiers. Goran leaps into action, sending two soldiers to take care of Henry, two more to the scene of the crime. Goran himself takes off his armor and boots, puts his sword in his teeth, leaps into the ocean and starts swimming.
Here’s a test for any readers who own medieval broadswords. Put one in your teeth and try to hold it, and tell me how well it works. Then email Gloria Tesch and tell her how well it works.
When the soldiers arrive at the scene, they find no trace of Ginger, but Candice’s corpse is floating away in the drink. So maybe Ginger was just trying to get rid of her…
We go back to Weintraub. Turns out he’s just hanging out underwater, he didn’t actually go with Maya and Joey. Okay…if he wasn’t going to go with them, why is he even in the water? Why didn’t he just stay in the boat?
Anyway, apparently there’s a section of the reef that is just under the boat, so Weintraub is able to stand on the reef and push the boat over. The two assassins fall in, and Weintraub pushes the boat away, so they can’t reach it. And what do the assassins do, with the reef just a few feet away that they can stand on? Well, one of them drowns, and the other one makes it to the reef, where he is promptly stabbed in the arm by Goran, who just showed up with his sword in his teeth.
We cut back to Maya and Joey, who are walking along the ocean floor. They find a bunch of sunken ships and then see a lot of boxes on the ground. Joey, who happened to bring a spear along with him, uses the spear to pry open one of the crates. Tesch mentions that this was pretty difficult considering he was only using one arm (he had to use the other to hold the magic breathing shell on). I would also point out it’s pretty damn hard to get any leverage underwater, and it’s probably hard to for fourteen-year-old boys to break open solidly sealed crates. Anyway, it breaks open and it’s full of rocks. Joey thinks that this explains why the ships sank so fast. Actually, they’d sink even faster if they were loaded with actual gold.
They keep looking around, because Joey wants to see if they can find any human remains:
Maya and Joey walked further and saw a long, hollow hole (page 325).
A hollow hole. A hollow hole. Okay.
It’s filled with human remains. Joey thinks and wonders how all the bodies ended up in this one hole, and hits upon a solution: the current is pushing everything that floats around until it ends up inside this exact hollow. Now, I’m not an expert on underwater currents but I’m pretty sure they don’t work that way.
They then find a chest filled with gold. So they dive up to the surface to get some ropes. Yes, it actually says in the book that they dive up to the surface. Dove, technically, but the point remains. They get some ropes, swim back down, attach them to the treasure chest, and haul it up. About the time they have it safely on top of the reef, dozens of hammerhead sharks appear on the surface of the ocean. The wounded and bleeding assassin, being a fucking idiot, chooses this precise moment to leap into the water and make a swim for it, and the sharks make mincemeat out of him. And…we get a black-and-white version of the cover image, with the sharks swimming around and skulls on the ocean floor. I would have preferred a picture of the sharks eating the assassin, though.