Chapter Eighty-Five – Awanata
They’re at the lagoon. Tesch spends some time describing enormous corals that grow in the lagoon.
“The mermaids had told me that nobody really knows what these coral circles were used for, but they said that it might be some kind of temples for worshipping the sun, with big flat altars in the middle of the circles.” (page 738)
That seems oddly specific for something they admittedly know nothing about.
Joey asks why Maya has never told him about this before. Maya says that she has, but he never paid attention. She goes on to say that the mermaids told her a lot of their history. I don’t recall that ever happening. Just to be certain, I flipped back in the book and re-read chapter thirty-one, where Maya is frolicking with the mermaids. Absolutely no mention of any of this. Nor has she ever tried to tell Joey about it.
Maya continues to tell Joey about the perfect rings of coral:
“It seems that they had been carefully placed by astronomical orders and secret knowledge.”
“You sound like a scientist but man… this is cool. ‘The corals are carefully placed… by astronomical orders and secret knowledge’? I don’t know what that means but it sounds awesome!” (page 739)
I’ll let you write your own response to this quote, shall I?
Maya spends another two pages relating mermaid history. There’s an amusing bit about how they would test accused sorcerers and witches by having them wash themselves in moonlight, smear holy oil on their heads, and then stand in front of the coral. If the coral shook, it meant they were guilty and were executed on the spot. I have no idea if this will ever become relevant to the plot, and I suspect it won’t, but I’m holding out hope that Maya and Joey will be accused of witchcraft because of their Deus Ex Machina hats and be executed.
After another page some mermaids show up. And they’ve brought a gift – a couple of seashells. Queen Aquamarisha explains that the shells contain enough air to keep them alive for a very long time underwater. All they need to do is keep some heavy rocks in their pockets to weigh them down. Um. Okay. How, exactly, are they pressurizing the air inside these shells? Shells that, unless I’m mistaken, are not designed to have pressurized air inside them? How are they keeping the pressurized air from just coming out, especially since there isn’t even a mouthpiece for this thing? They just hold the shell up to their mouths and it magically gives them oxygen. I guess that is the explanation – Magic™.
So the Encouragers grab their shells and head into the lagoon. Maya hangs on to Queen Aquamarisha, and she notices that Joey puts his arm around Morgana, the mermaid who has the hots for him [!].
They swim around. It’s not interesting. The underwater city is about 150 feet down. Aquamarisha explains there are dangerous animals around, but they’re safe with their dolphin bodyguards. I wonder how Maya and Joey understand her, considering she’s talking underwater.
Joey asks where all the mermen are. Aquamarisha explains that the mermen only come by twice a year for a couple of parties:
“The ‘Odin October Fest’ is a wild festivity because the ‘Odin Fruits’ in the underwater fruit gardens are ripe. And… when the mermen and the mermaids eat too many of them it gets real wild around here.” (page 746)
If you know what I mean. Maybe next book we’ll get to see one of those wild mermaid orgies. Incidentally, I find it a little odd that the mermaids just happen to have a month called October. Weird, huh?
Anyway, apparently the mermen are lazy and loners and basically goof off all year while the mermaids run the show and protect themselves from wild creatures and fishermen who come and try to capture mermaids to sell them to water parks and aquariums.
Um. Okay. Isn’t this…I dunno, illegal? Maradonia isn’t really that big of a continent, and most of it seems to ruled by Genarius, who respects the mermaids and recognizes them as sentient beings, and the rest is pretty much ruled by Apollyon, who likes the unicorns and at the very least would probably prevent them from being to sold to anyone but him.
Aquamarisha explains that when they see the fisherman, they grab their equipment, disable the rudder of the ship, drill holes into the bottom, and sink it. She then points out the eighty-nine boats that are lying on the bottom of the lagoon. You’d think that would be enough to tip people off that they shouldn’t try to fuck with the mermaids, but apparently not. Because, by a truly amazing coincidence, a fishing boat comes along just then.
Maya and Joey watch as the mermaids do a number on the boat and it starts to sink. The fishermen pile into lifeboats, but Aquamarisha isn’t having any of that. She orders the mermaids to finish them. Except this is Tesch, so it’s actually ‘Finish Them’.
“Finish them?” repeated Maya, “My sweet, little mermaids… oh no… you cannot do something like that.” (page 751).
I don’t think it ever crossed Tesch’s mind that Maya is a teenager talking to adults here.
Aquamarisha correctly points out that if they let the fishermen go, they’d just come back with three ships the next time. The mermaids sink the lifeboats and the sea monsters show up and make mincemeat out of the fishermen in a gruesome and bloody scene that I desperately hope makes it into the movie.
Maya feels bad for the fishermen. I feel no sympathy. They’re kidnappers and slave traders, that’s what they are, and they deserved a watery grave filled with razor-sharp teeth.
Joey says they live in a rather unforgiving world and he’s not sure how they’ll practice the last words of AstroJesus, which were to love their enemies and bless the people who cursed them.
Maya and Joey head back to shore and spent the night with the unicorns, probably soaking wet because they walked into the ocean with all their clothes on.
The next morning nothing happens for awhile. Then a bunch of their men show up. Although only 120 out of the original 317 appear. I really have no idea why these men are suddenly Maya and Joey’s men, or why they’re here with them considering that Maya and Joey are planning on heading back to their own world, but logic really isn’t one of Tesch’s strong suits.
Imperator tells Joey that he has the hots for Fayina. Um. Okay. Unicorn love?
They get ready to leave. Maya meets Morgana and tells her that she thinks Joey is in love with her. That’s terribly romantic. Interspecies love between a mermaid woman and a fourteen-year-old boy. Surprisingly, Tesch actually addresses this. Morgana calls Joey a very handsome man and Maya jumps in and points out that he’s really only a boy. And then we get this gem:
“Who cares….I see him as a man. I see him strong. I see him powerful. He has saved me from the hands of Apollyon and that is all what matters. I owe him and I love Joey dearly and I hope he will never ever leave the lagoon!”
Maya rolled her eyes, “Wait, wait, wait…Morgana… Please!”
“He is my man… Maya, I feel it and knowing now that he loves me I will wait for him forever.” (page 758)
Why did the song Crazy Bitch just come to mind?
Morgana comes back with a pearl necklace with a tiger shark tooth on it. She asks Joey to kneel down [!!!] and look into her eyes [!] because she has a confession to make. Joey doesn’t get it. Morgana explains that she’s in love with Joey. Joey asks Maya what she told Morgana. Maya explains that she thought Morgana should know what Joey’s feelings were. That gossipy bitch. Anyway, Maya tells him to give Morgana a hug and a kiss [!!].
Joey sank into Morgana’s arms and she fell into his arms. She was holding Joey with her strong arms around his neck and kissed him on his cheek.
It seemed that both of them forgot who they were and where they were because they did not stop hugging and kissing each other until Maya said, “That’s enough! We have to go!”
Joey looked at his pearl necklace. “They are so cool!” (pages 759-760)
Propriety forbids me from making any jokes about pearl necklaces – dammit.
Morgana wants to take Joey out and show him an oyster reef, but Joey says he can’t swim that far out. Morgana says he can ride on her back [!!!]. Okay, seriously, Tesch?
Finally they leave. Maya says that she thinks Morgana really likes him. No shit, Sherlock. What tipped you off, the pearl necklace or the ten minutes of making out?
Joey nodded but said with a heavy heart, “Yes…I like her too but the meaning pearls is always a symbol for tears.” (page 761)
The quote is in italics and a huge font, so you know that Tesch is trying for some Subtle Foreshadowing here. Also, pearls symbolize tears? Not according to Google, they don’t.
Everyone rides along towards the Nissan Falls. Some ravens are stalking them, but Joey doesn’t notice them, of course, because he’s thinking about the beautiful ride on Morgana’s back. Seriously. Not making that up.
It starts raining. There’s some vague talk about how maybe Apollyon conjured up the storm. The raindrops are as big as golf balls. I’m pretty sure that’s not physically possible. Then it stops raining. Everyone dries out. Well that was exciting.
We cut back to Bertha and her sisters, who have arrived back at Apollyon’s pad. Apollyon rants and raves about how he feels, but it can be distilled down to one quote:
“I am so angry about this whole situation.” (page 766)
He calls Maya and Joey ‘Monster Creepers’ and says that he’s had enough and needs to kill them himself. I concur. You know what might have been a good idea, Apollyon? Killing them back when you had their city completely surrounded and had just reduced a tenth of it to rubble.
Abbadon says that the Encouragers must have special powers to have survived for so long. He suspects they have something which makes them invisible. Apollyon and Abbadon walk around and talk and decide that yes, Maya and Joey must indeed have something that makes them invisible. Apollyon orders Abbadon to finish them off, because that worked so well last time. Abbadon heads off, finds Bertha, and orders her to recruit more ravens. How having more ravens will help them, I don’t know. As we know, it’s very easy for Joey to set birds on fire.
Then the chapter ends. So I don’t really know what the magical hand was referring to.
Genarius and Ruchi are chilling and talking. Their dialogue is laced with double entendres.
“My dear… if General Felipe would know what kind of powerful equipment Joey has in his backpack… Maya and Joey would never arrive anywhere!”
“My love.. I don’t know what you are talking about and I am not too interested in anybody’s equipment” (page 771).
I mean, yeah this might have flown over a 13-year-old Gloria’s head, but surely one of her editors noticed this? Her parents? Anyone?
Apparently Ruchi’s girlfriends are talking about gold in their letters. Genarius realizes they need to follow the money. Genarius finally explains to Ruchi that Felipe’s a traitor. They spend some time arguing about how much a talent of gold weighs. Genarius says it’s ninety-one pounds, which doesn’t sound like any talents Earth has ever had, but whatever.
Ruchi tells Genarius he needs to get his shit together and start using his Tarnkappe and Henrietta’s Miracle Mirror to spy on people. She even has one of Tesch’s witty little maxims to throw in there
“Sometimes… my great king… if you have to watch the dogs, you have to lay down with the dogs, even if you will pick up some fleas.” (page 774)
We cut back to Maya and Joey. They arrive at the Valley of Imma and party it up for three days. It’s not very interesting. Eventually Joey gets sick of it and says he’s going to go find an empty field and put the Key to the Underworld out into the sunshine. And…that’s all. No explanation of why he would do something that nonsensical and fucking retarded.
The ravens are watching them. They see Joey waltz off and follow him and see him pull Defender out. It starts glowing. The ravens realize it’s the Key. So they swoop down to see if they can steel the key. Yeah. Steel, not steal. But Joey realizes there’s some ravens swooping at him so he hits the button…and sets the entire goddamn forest on fire for a second time. And…he doesn’t even manage to kill a single one of the ravens.
Give me a second.
Okay, I’m back. Let me get this straight. Some ravens are flying at you. They’re ravens. They’re birds. You have a sword. You can pull your sword out and chop them into bits, easily. Hell, you could kill them with your bare hands…they aren’t that big. Instead, you pull out a fucking flamethrower and proceed to incinerate an entire forest…and you can’t even hit a single fucking raven?
So some villagers and Maya come and find Joey sitting on a rock.
Maya said, “I don’t believe it! Joey…You did it again!” (page 778)
Yes. Yes he did. This is why you shouldn’t given idiotic fourteen-year-olds incredibly powerful weapons.
Joey explains that it was an accident. Not an excuse. But, uh…
Joey was not really unhappy about the ‘wild fire’ because he wanted to find out if the key to the underworld was still working (page 779).
If someone put me in a room with Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Joey, and gave me a gun with two bullets in it, I’d shoot Joey in both kneecaps and then beat him to death with the butt of the gun. That’s how much I hate this little shit.
Anyway. Sagitta shows up and they get on her back.