Chapter Thirty-Five – Tracks in the Sand
They decide that they need a bigger boat because there isn’t enough room in their boat for them and the box of treasure. Weintraub goes to fetch the assassin’s boat – you know, the one that he pushed away so the assassins could not reach it? Yeah, he goes swimming over to get it. Through shark-filled waters. Waters filled with blood of the assassin that was just torn to pieces. By the sharks. Tesch tries to handwave it by saying that Weintraub was used to sharks and that it was ‘very dangerous’ but seriously? Come on, Tesch.
As they row ashore they pass Candice’s corpse, floating along. Apparently the sharks haven’t found her yet. They reach the shore and it starts to rain.
General Goran stood on top of one of the sand dunes and was ready to curse the rain but he was a man from the Valley of Imma with great respect for nature (page 332).
So….uh…what, he doesn’t curse the rain? Because of his great respect for nature? And if he doesn’t, why not SAY that he doesn’t? For that matter, how does respecting nature and being pissed it’s raining on you correlate?
They find some tracks in the sand and Goran sends some soldiers to follow the tracks.
This search troop followed the wagon tracks for miles through the desert and found at a certain area two talents of gold sticking out of the sand. For them, that was a clear sign that the Gold of Ophir must have been hidden in the sand of the desert, somewhere in that area (page 334).
Okay. I’m reasonably certain Tesch doesn’t know what a talent is. It’s a unit of measurement. This is like writing that they found 116 kilograms of gold sticking up out of the sand. Which…okay, maybe that’s true. Maybe the people who stole the gold just dumped some gold coins or bars down on the ground, didn’t put them inside chests or anything. Plus, they buried them so shallowly that a tiny bit of wind could uncover them. That’s likely, right? I mean, who is careful when hiding something as worthless as gold?
Goran thinks the gold might have been accidentally dropped. Which I’m not really buying. Here’s why. Let’s assume she’s using the Old Testament talent, since Tesch is into Bible plagiarism. We’re talking about approximately two hundred and sixty pounds of gold here. In 2011 USD, that is $6,169,658.97. OVER SIX MILLION DOLLARS. You don’t just “accidentally drop” 260 pounds of gold that’s worth $6 million. That doesn’t ‘just happen’. You’re an idiot, Goran.
Joey has a theory, though, which he explains to Maya. He thinks that the gold in the desert is a decoy – the tracks are there to send people out into the desert to constantly search for the gold and throw them off the trail. He suspects that the gold is actually on other ships harbored somewhere. Credit where credit is due: this does kinda make sense. If you have a couple hundred million in gold, you might waste six of it in throwing your pursuers off the track.
Maya, however, is too tired to pay attention and tells Joey she can’t listen to him tonight. Which is fortunate, because none of this is particularly important or time-sensitive.
Chapter Thirty-Six – The Ambush
I wonder if someone is getting ambushed in this chapter.
The picture here is of a stone gate with an arch of plants and trees. It’s actually really well-drawn, so well done, Mrs. Tesch.
They meet up with Captain Henry and Maya takes his hand and tells him he did a great job. Well. Let’s see. He got stabbed by a woman. A civilian, no less, and he is supposedly a trained soldier. Then he slashed her throat open, leaving her dead, and unable to be questioned. Eh, maybe Maya’s just being comforting.
Coleman sends out the fuzz and they find Ginger hiding under the sofa, because Ginger was dumb enough to go HOME after being identified as a traitor. They bring her in and question her, and then send her to Selinka.
Everyone sits around and talks about the gold that they found in the desert and the best way to go out and find the rest of it, and nobody seems really interested in what Maya and Joey found or did or their opinions….despite the fact that they found an entire chest of gold. Okay, listen, Tesch. Have it one way, have it the other, you have to keep things consistent. You have spent PAGES telling us about how powerful, popular, prophetic, and pretty these two idiots are. How they’re the Prince and Princess of Maradonia, Genarius’ adopted family and potential heirs. Why the fuck don’t they…I dunno, SPEAK UP? They haven’t been this reticent about sharing their opinions in the past, why start now?
Turns out that someone is too talkative so it gets out to the public that gold was found and next thing they know hundreds of people are heading out into the desert with shovels. Meanwhile, Snowblitz meets up with Inspector Coleman. Snowblitz is nervous because Ginger was captured, but Coleman tells him to tell Joey to meet Coleman out in the garden by the fountain. Snowblitz does so. Joey is instantly suspicious, because he’s the Hero, and he never makes mistakes. He instantly realizes the area that Coleman is talking about is perfect for an ambush, because Joey has spent time wandering through the gardens growing familiar with all the nooks and crannies – oh wait, never mind, he hasn’t. Anyway. Ambush. Joey thinks:
“They are after the Key to the Underworld! Maya told me about their ambitions and I can smell the weasels.” (page 342)
Joey angsts about what he should do and wishes Libertine were there to tell him what to do. Eventually he decides to go and sticks the Key into the back of his pants. When he arrives, the omniscient narrator tell us that Joey wasn’t aware of the eyes watching him. Then someone starts talking. They talk for a page and a half, and Tesch never tells us who it is. It’s not until Joey finally responds that we realize Coleman has even entered the scene.
Anyway, Coleman says he needs to confiscate Joey’s backpack because he’s heard Joey has stolen property and a weapon that could harm the country. Joey laughs it off and reveals that he knows about Coleman’s desire to live on the sunny side of life [seriously?] and his deal with Snowblitz and that Coleman is just out for himself. He informs Coleman that he doesn’t stand a chance and that Coleman should go home, enjoy his life and family, smell the aroma of the honey bees…wait…what? Smell the aroma of BEES? Uh…bees don’t have an aroma…
Coleman isn’t buying it, and he orders his men to take Joey. Snowblitz and a cop leap out to grab him. Joey whips out the Key, presses the button, and fries all three of them. Their eyes and tongues melt in their sockets and then they vaporize leaving a black dust spot. And Joey suddenly realizes the full power of the Key to the Underworld. Which he didn’t realize those times he set the forest on fire. Or killed a bunch of birds. Or blew up THREE ENORMOUS SPACESHIPS.
Joey freaks out a bit. Meanwhile, three shadows look at him, and realize that Joey is the One, the coming ruler. Wonderful.
Joey cries for a bit, thinks about home, and thinks about what Oraculus said to him regarding the Key.
Chapter Thirty-Seven – Accused of Fraud
I wonder if someone will be accused of fraud in this chapter?
So apparently people are mad at King Genarius and accusing him of all the political assassinations, the theft of the Gold of Ophir, and various shenanigans. Judge Kingston is listening to complaints and says they’re invalid, but he’s going to give the accusers a chance to have their say before the Senate. This takes place. Meanwhile, Felipe (the traitor) and his cohorts are in the backs, smirking.
Tesch throws in a ‘And so it was…’ and suddenly some people arrive, under guard, to bear witness. Two of them are the survivors from the ships (that Maya and Joey met) and the last one is Ginger. Ginger is called up, and she confesses that she and Candice were working together to sink the fake ships filled with stones. Candice also assassinated some people and tried to have Maya and Joey poisoned. She also explains that Felipe is a traitor and is hoping to get Genarius’ crown and become the king.
Felipe jumps up, outraged, and demands that Ginger be silenced because she’s obviously a whore. Kingston overrules him and says they’re going to listen to what Ginger has to say. Ginger finishes up her story and then the two survivors come up and explain what happened to them. While this happens, all of Genarius’ accusers begin slipping out of the room, one by one, including Felipe and his friends, until they’re all gone…which is just what Judge Kingston expected.
Great. So let the traitor just walk free after someone fingers him. Brilliant plan.
Chapter Thirty-Eight – Message from the Dragons
Joey and Maya talk about where all the gold has gone. They can’t figure it out. It turns out that 1,500 talents of gold is missing. Which is…well, that’s a lot. That’s 195,000 pounds of gold. That’s $4.5 TRILLION worth in 2011 money.
The governor is annoyed because he can’t find Coleman or Snowblitz. Oh! So Joey didn’t bother telling anyone that they were traitors and he executed them via flamethrower? My, what an interesting turn of events!
They ask people about the dragons which are apparently flying around and learn that the dragons are from nearby Tyronia. But wouldn’t you know it, just as they’re talking about the dragons, three of them swoop down and land in the garden. Maya is excited because she thought that dragons were extinct. Uh…why? You’re in Maradonia. You have magical powers, unicorns, mermaids, and you ALREADY SAW THE FUCKING DRAGONS FLYING AROUND A FEW CHAPTERS AGO WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?
The dragons introduce themselves – Tarakann, Dasha, and Emoogie – and explain that Abbadon has attacked and killed a couple of their princess, destroyed a third of their dragon armies, and killed ten thousand soldiers. Anyway, blah blah, their king is dying and he wants to see Maya and Joey before he pops off and after they saw what Joey did in the garden they were all sounds good to us and now they want to take them to the Land of Tyronia. Whoo! Sounds like another pointless side quest! But this time, with dragons!
Joey turns them down, though, and explains that they have a job to do: they have to help Genarius squash the rebellion and stop the assassinations. Tarakann says he understands, however, the dragons are more than happy to fly them around so they can accomplish all of that much faster…if they’ll first come to Tyronia. The Encouragers agree, as long as they can take some people with them, who turn out to be Captain Henry, Danny, Goran, and Goran’s adviser, Edmund. The dragons agree. Tesch throws in a ‘And so it was…’, they climb aboard the dragons and take off.
Governor Fernando Dela Concho looks up at Maya and Joey and dramatically delivers a quote:
“I learned something from Maya and Joey… There is nothing in the world so great and powerful that you cannot turn it around.” (page 364)
I have no idea what that means.