Chapter Fifty-Nine – Big Bertha On Patrol
Stop, if you will, and read through that chapter title again. It’s okay, I’ll wait.
Captains Armstrong and Goran look around waiting for Maya and Joey to show up, but of course they’re gone. Armstrong speculates that maybe they went to fetch some water. Leaving the buckets behind. Needless to say this is ridiculous, because Maya and Joey are the Heroes and they can’t do any normal, ordinary work. That’s reserved for the Red Shirts.
Armstrong takes off looking for them while everyone else remains behind. Four ravens show up and inspect the camp and then talk about what’s going on. All of the ravens are pretty relaxed except for Bertha, whose raven-sense is ticking madly. They discuss what a couple of men are doing with a few horses and a group of unicorns and all of the ravens except Bertha conclude that it isn’t really suspicious, which cements their stupidity in my mind. I think a group with those numbers embodies the word ‘suspicious’. Seriously, Apollyon’s minions are utterly retarded.
None of the ravens want to fly patrol with Bertha because of her ‘feelings’ – since she actually finds this group of travelers a bit suspicious. So the rest of the ravens take off and leave Bertha to fly her patrol alone.
We cut back to Captain Armstrong, who returns to camp empty-handed. Goran asks him if he found any signs.
Captain Armstrong shook his head and said, “I don’t understand this. I found nothing! I looked everywhere! I looked for broken branches. I searched the ground for footsteps. I even pricked my sword deep into the ground to listen to any sound but I heard nothing!” (page 462).
Wait, what? You pricked your sword deep into the ground? What good will that do? I guess Tesch thinks that you can press your ear against the sword and it will somehow act as a conduit that will allow you hear footsteps, but I’m pretty sure that will actually make it more difficult to hear than just putting your ear against the ground. Or maybe they have magic swords that you poke into the ground and then the sword tells you if anyone has walked on that ground recently.
Also, that’s ‘footprints’, not ‘footsteps’.
Armstrong realizes that they asked about Duanes Gate and are probably heading there now:
“I don’t believe that Maya and Joey would have gone alone and without us to ‘Duane Gate’. Basically they are teenagers and teenagers overestimate their own strength and power. Who knows what’s going on! Maybe they are already dead because they tripped on one of these rock walls and fell off a cliff.” (page 463)
That actually sounds exactly like something Maya and Joey would do. And that’s ‘Duanes Gate’, Tesch.
The captains don’t want to just give up, so Armstrong says he’ll ride back to his village and fetch some men and provisions which will enable them to do a proper search.
“That’s a considerable thought,” said Captain Goran (page 463).
I don’t think that word means what you think it means.
We go back to Maya and Joey. They leap along until they reach the snow line and it gets a little slippery. But they keep going, with the knowledge that they’re leaving footprints. And who should find those footprints but Bertha…but by then a snowstorm is just kicking up and Bertha realizes that by the time she finds the others the footprints will be covered and nobody will believe her. So she does nothing.
Eventually they arrive at the castle. It’s enormous. Four or five miles across. A hundred and twenty towers. It sounds like it would be really hard to sustain a castle that size and everyone who lives in it when you have to transport everything up a fucking mountain.
Behind the castle, they find an airfield:
“Whoa…Aliens…and their giant air ships! They look like the flying saucers which we have seen on pictures in our world!” Joey said dazzled (page 467).
There aren’t actually aliens there, Joey is just randomly saying that.
They talk about the airships for awhile and Joey thinks they’re totally awesome and wants to go check them out and actually starts running towards them before Maya grabs him and reminds him that they’re standing outside the stronghold of The Desolate One, the Dark Lord of the Sith, Ruler of all Evil, a mass-murdering megalomaniac who will have them flayed alive if he ever gets his hands on them.
A fact that actually has a way of gripping your mind, unless you’re a moron like Joey.
They wait next to the wall for awhile and eventually Bertha the raven shows up and knocks a password on the door and it opens up and they slip in after her because of course they’re invisible. Wow. That’s awfully lucky, picking the one door out of dozens that it just so happens the spies of Apollyon use frequently.
Bertha exposits to the Hoodman who opened the door that she thinks she’s having hallucinations because she senses someone else in the room. The Hoodman assures her that she just needs rest and they take off.
One of them wishes that there was a something like a mall directory to show them around. Awww. Poor little naïve kids.
They wander through the castle for awhile and eventually they happen upon a group of odd creatures who are taking about a relaxing trip to the water park. Convenient, that. So they follow them. One of them mentions having a weird feeling that they’re being followed, and another one concurs, but a third tells them they just need to relax. Maybe I’ve just read enough literature, but if I lived in a world where magic existed and there were people who wanted to kill me, if I had weird feelings like I was being followed I would immediately fire up my trusty flamethrower.
Tesch does a really poor job of describing this next part, so I’m not exactly sure what it looks like, but I think it’s a large open room with a water park in the middle that is covered by an enormous dome. I’m not certain if it’s open-air or not. Anyway, it’s full of creatures that look funny so Joey immediately calls it a freak show. Little racist bastard.
They sneak in to the water park and find an area that is thick with vegetation. Joey lets go of Maya’s hand so she is visible and she sits down to rest, while Joey slips off to look around. When he returns he finds Libertine sitting on Maya’s hand. Libertine rambles for a bit and heads off to find Queen Aquamarisha. They meet up behind the waterfall and Aquamarisha hugs Maya and they spend a couple pages talking about nothing. Maya explains that they have to find the secret entrance to the underworld and rescue the unicorns. Aquamarisha interrupts her to angst about not believing that they would ever be rescued.
“Queen Aquamarisha, dreams are the touch stones of our character.” (page 477)
I have no idea what the fuck that means.
There’s a moment where a guard sees something funny so Joey grabs them and they turn invisible and the guard wanders off. Aquamarisha explains that the giant stone waterfall is actually hollow and is therefore a perfect hiding spot. Convenient! Then she tells the mermaids to start chatting up the guards to gather intel. The mermaids do so, undoubtedly helped by their seashell pasties. Of course, if I was one of the mermaids I would have already been doing so for months so I would have an entire escape plan worked out just in case the opportunity arose, but that’s just me.
One of the mermaids chats with the guards and pretends to be insulted by the fact that Apollyon sometimes walks by without looking at them. It’s actually a pretty well-written scene. But the guard reveals that he’s pretty sure Apollyon is actually going in a special door to visit the unicorns. Unfortunately, Tesch loses all the goodwill she’s build up with this next scene:
The mermaid who spoke with the guards was a talker. Her name was ‘Marabou’ and when she started talking with somebody it was nearly impossible to stop her. She was suffering under the ‘diarrhea of words’ (page 482).
Worst. Metaphor. Ever. Seriously. What the fuck was Tesch thinking?
This is like reading My Immortal, except instead of being a brilliantly written trollfic, it’s actually serious.
Anyway. Marabou – it’s never a good thing when your name rhymes with Caribou – tells Aquamarisha and they decide that they’re going to carefully watch the next time Apollyon strolls by to see what’s happening. Yeah…apparently the secret door to the underworld is practically visible from the popular waterpark where the mermaids are being kept. Sounds like a moronic design choice, personally. And something else…oh, right. Convenient.
Later, they’re all waiting when Apollyon comes by. Maya and Joey are standing on top of the rock formation waterfall, invisible, which gives them a good angle to see what’s going on. Apollyon stops at something called the ‘eternal flame’. which seems to be a levitating chunk of magical fire. He warms his hands for a bit, and then suddenly his hand flashes out into the fire. Only Joey is Speshul enough to see what he did. Then he wanders off. Tesch notes that Apollyon also feels a little weird, like something is not quite right, but of course he brushes the feelings off. He walks over to a door and pulls a purple glowstick out of his sleeve and knocks on a door which opens up. Behind this door is another door. Apollyon knocks on it three times and it opens and he goes inside.
They all wait and watch and eventually Apollyon comes back out.
He went straight to the fireplace of the eternal flame and then again…. with lighting speed he dropped something into the ring of eternal fire. He spoke some kind of ‘swing words’, warmed his hands and vanished in the opposite direction (page 488).
No, I don’t know what swing words are.
Joey discusses things with Libertine. Joey wants to attempt the rescue that night but Libertine warns him to be careful and that they need to wait until the right time. Libertine suggests that he personally go, explore the path, and try to make contact with Fayina, so they’ll be ready to go when the time comes. Joey has a hilarious sarcastic response to this:
“Libertine, you are a great executive, because ‘good executives never put off until tomorrow what they can get someone else to do today’.” (page 489).
Although it would be a lot funnier if Libertine was actually capable of doing it herself.
Joey heads over to the eternal flame, psyches himself up, and reaches in and grabs the ‘glowing tool’, which burns the hair off his arm. It basically looks like a miniature purple lightsaber. And the Tarnkappe has no effect on it, so there’s a miniature lightsaber hovering in midair. Luckily, nobody sees it. Joey walks over to the door, taps on it, and heads inside.