Chapter Sixty-Nine – Follow the Tracks
Big Bertha flies around looking for clues. At first she doesn’t find anything, which is odd, considering the underground tunnels only lead out to one location and that location would be trampled by 1,000 stampeding unicorns. But what do I know? Eventually she finds the tracks and realizes they’re heading along a path that will take them towards King Apollyon. Naturally, she thinks this is odd. She tries to decide whether to follow the tracks or fly to King Apollyon with a report. Bertha decides to follow the tracks because she’s afraid of what Apollyon will say when she gets to him. She does so, and realizes that they’re all planning on crossing a mountain pass and traveling into the land of Maradonia. Holy shit! Apparently nobody ever realized there was an entire pass available between the countries that is easily crossed by a herd of unicorns.
Bertha launches into a monologue where she talks to herself for a page and a half. It’s one of the most boring monologues in the history of monologues and it reveals absolutely nothing of value about the story. In the end, Bertha decides to follow the trail of the unicorns for a little while longer.
Cut over to the unicorns. Joey has Fayina slow everyone down – because it’s really easy to slow a stampede of 1,000 unicorns – since they have arrived at the camp where our crying captains are staying. They drop the mermaids off into the water because their skin is drying out and then Maya and Joey reunite with the captains:
When Captain Armstrong and Captain Goran saw that Maya and Joey were back with the mermaids and the unicorns they did not trust their own eyes and did not know if they should laugh or cry. They were deeply moved and bowed down to the ground and greeted Maya and Joey with tears in their eyes and with the words, “Maya and Joey…the heavens had great mercy with you! Nobody can deny that you are indeed ‘The Encouragers’ of our land.” (page 553).
On the contrary, I can deny it. I also think that this paragraph abuses the word ‘and’ to a horrific extent. I also think – and this just might be a pet peeve of mind – that it’s not possible for two people to say the exact same thing. Both captains cannot greet them with the exact same words. It’s not possible, unless it’s been rehearsed, and that’s just stupid.
Big Bertha is eavesdropping, and launches into yet another monologue. Tesch really needs to learn that when characters are thinking something, she should just write ‘ thought’ and then move on. People very rarely talk out loud to themselves, and when they do, it doesn’t last for half of a page. At any rate, Bertha realizes that they are The Encouragers and knows this is information that will please Apollyon, so she takes off.
Captain Armstrong suggests to Queen Aquamarisha that all the unicorns should just swim downriver until it dumps into the Lake Lagoon where the mermaids live. Right. Mermaids who are used to a reasonably warm lagoon can just leap into an ice-cold mountain river and survive with no side effects. That makes perfect sense. The mermaids, of course, think this is a brilliant idea.
Maya hugs all the mermaids goodbye, and notices something.
Morgana, one of the mermaids, looked at Joey with her beautiful and lovely eyes and she really tried to find an opportunity to talk to him because she wanted to tell him something very special and very, very personal…but she was too shy and when she could not find a chance to talk to Joey, she followed Queen Aquamarisha quietly into the river (pages 554-555).
Wait. Did Tesch just insinuate – is she saying that –
Only Maya could read the thoughts of Morgana and she saw that there was something more between them. Maya knew that Morgana liked Joey very much and she had already observed in the water park that Joey was staring at Morgana with wide eyes (page 555).
This is…well, words don’t fail me, but they probably should.
Okay, let me get this straight. Joey shows up at the castle. Let’s keep in mind that Joey is fourteen. Speaking as someone who was one, fourteen-year-old boys are unattractive and disgusting. Just throwing this out there. But a mermaid finds him attractive. Interspecies love and all that. Even though they haven’t really seen each other, or talked to each other. She has briefly glimpsed Joey once or twice. But okay, maybe she’s shallow and she knows Joey’s a big deal so she has some sort of random crush on him. I don’t find that likely, but let’s assume that it is. Why, then, is this the first we’ve heard of this? Morgana hasn’t been mentioned by name ONCE in this entire goddamn book. If this was the case, why wasn’t there a scene back at the water-park where Maya noticed Joey visually molesting one of the mermaids, and vice versa? I think it’s pretty clear that Tesch just came up with this scene and didn’t bother to add scenes retroactively.
On the other hand….suddenly this one picture makes a lot more sense.
It turns out that Imperator and Fayina have the hots for each other as well [???] and so they’re immediately all over each other like ugly on Rosie O’Donnell. Okay, I really don’t care about unicorn romance. Really. I don’t care. Let’s move on.
After a brief rest Captain Goran takes all the unicorns and gallops off towards the estate of AstroJesus, and Captain Armstrong takes some men and Maya and Joey to his village, which is at the ‘Glacier River’.
Drinks: 29, plus a bottle for the interspecies love.
Big Bertha flies along until she sees Apollyon’s enormous army marching.
The powers, principalities rulers had also other weapons… ‘smart weapons’ and fast airships, however, King Ruach forbid the use of these ‘super natural weapons’ in an armed conflict with flesh and blood and so the war against King Astrodoulos and the ‘Land of Maradonia’ had to be settled with conventional weapons to avoid an intrusion or a straight intervention by the powers of light (page 558).
Who the fuck is this King Roach guy? Is he supposed to be God? And if so, why does he pick completely arbitrary times to lay down the law? For example, why did he send Sagitta and Co. to rescue Maya and Joey when they were being burnt on the grill? The powers and principalities (enough is enough, Tesch, stop using that fucking word) weren’t using any magical powers then. Why did he step in?
Also… ‘smart weapons’? Really, Tesch. Really?
Anyway, apparently Apollyon has made his son Abaddon king of Terra Mili (the country next to Selinka and Maradonia) and also commander in chief over all his armed forces. So he’s given Abaddon his own job then?
Bertha flies around for a bit and finally finds the rest of the ravens. She explains that she needs to see Apollyon immediately. They take her to Apollyon’s tent and he asks her what news she brings.
Bertha ruffled her feathers again and said, “Your majesty, I might have news for you which will not make your day!” (page 561)
No shit? Bertha explains that the mermaids and unicorns have all escaped and Apollyon starts laughing hysterically like it’s a big joke. I really don’t understand this, and that’s because it’s completely unbelievable. People don’t just burst out into laughter when someone delivers horrible news. At the most, they might give a short bark of a laugh before stopping and recognizing that the other person’s face is deadly serious and there’s no way that someone would joke about something that could get you sent to Hell. On the other hand, maybe Tesch is insinuating that it’s difficult to pick up cues from the facial expressions of ravens. On the other hand, it’s been firmly established that Apollyon frequently kills the messenger, so none of his subjects in their right mind would come up and crack a joke about all the unicorns escaping.
Bertha explains that no, she is not kidding, and how that the unicorns and mermaids have escaped and already reached the land of Maradonia. Apollyon leaps up and grabs her in a choke-hold and screams at her. Bertha points out that if he kills her he’ll never find out what she knows, so Apollyon lets go. Bertha then says that it’s high time the ravens got the recognition they deserve and demands that he put her in charge over the rest of the ravens and give her authority and stuff.
Apollyon splutters about how that’s blackmail but he eventually agrees that if Bertha explains how it all happened he’ll make a supervisor and in charge of the ravens and so on. Bertha launches into a long explanation of everything that happened which isn’t very interesting until Apollyon realizes Joey must have stolen….THE KEY TO THE UNDERWORLD. Which is kind of a big deal. Sounds like you should have guarded it a little better instead of leaving it out where anyone who is willing to reach quickly into a fire and scorch a couple hairs could steal it.
Apollyon pops a vein:
“This key us the foundation of our power! But this key is not only the foundation of our power. It holds our kingdom together because it is for us the only access to the underworld and by losing this key to the underworld… I, the great King Apollyon have no access any more to the underworld.” (pages 565-566).
Sounds like…you shouldn’t have left it out where anyone could steal it, you fucking moron! Hilariously, Apollyon reveals that he can’t make any more keys because he killed Remmilos (the guy he fried in the prologue and in the council chapter) and Remmilos was the only person who was talented enough to make more. I guess you shouldn’t have killed him, then.
Anyway, Apollyon, for some reason, decides to fly back to the castle in one of his airships. I don’t know why. Abbadon promises he’ll kill Maya and Joey and recover the key. So there’s really no reason for Apollyon to go back. But he does. Maybe he needs to sulk.
Abbadon and Bertha talk for a bit. Bertha reveals that the culprits are Maya and Joey, otherwise known as ‘The Encouragers’. The conversation turns to the fact that they are now untouchable by supernatural powers. Abbadon asks Ceara what she thinks.
“I’m totally convinced that these teenagers stole the key to the underworld after all we have heard about them… but what about poison?” (page 569)
That is a horribly written sentence. I guess the point is that they might be immune to otherworldy powers, but they’ll be susceptible to poison. You know what else they will be susceptible to? Being stabbed in the face with a sword. Also, the sword is generally more reliable. Just throwing this out there.
Next, Abbadon’s brother Plouton walks out and heads over to the tent of the Titans. Apparently they aren’t happy with Abbadon’s leadership.
Sheer enmity was their motive and made them partners in a planned assassination of King Abbadon because the Titans wanted revenge for the death of their brother Remmilos and Plouton wanted Abbadon also out of the picture because he hated his brother (page 570).
Here’s a tip, Tesch. Learn how to write. Then publish a novel.
Bertha starts giving orders to the other ravens who reluctantly agree. Bertha gloats, and the chapter finally comes to an end.