Chapter Seventy-One – The Letter from the General
The Encouragers arrive at the village of ‘Kamali’. The entire village turns out to greet them and they’ve covered the streets with flowers and decorated the entire village especially for their arrival. Definitely a good use of their money.
Tesch glosses over the welcoming committee and jumps straight into summary. Maya spends her time watching the river, thinking about mermaids, and having garlands put around her neck by village girls. Joey spends his time a little more wisely (frightening thought, having Joey as the more mature of the two), turning himself into a younger, dumber version of Legolas.
Joey was very interested to learn about the art of using bow and arrow and he was trained by the best archers in the area. The archers were astonished how fast Joey learned and how precise he could shoot the arrows into the artificial targets (page 572).
But of course. Joey is a Stu, and Stus can learn anything – even complex skills that take years and years to truly master – in a matter of days, if not hours.
We skip over to Captain Goran, who meets up with General Genarius. Apparently Marabou, the talkative mermaid, told them pretty much everything. Apparently, moronic metaphors have a way of catching on and turning into proper names:
“The other mermaids said that Marabou had a ‘Diarrhea of Words’ and this is why they call her ‘chatterbox’ and she is just too much for everybody.” (page 574)
Yes. It’s Capitalized now. Also, this isn’t relevant to the story, at all. I have no idea why it’s even here – oh wait, yes I do. Tesch probably thought it sounded ‘cool’.
Eventually the conversation turns to the glowing key that Joey nicked and this intrigues Genarius. He writes a letter and gives it to Goran with orders to deliver it to Maya and Joey. He also tells Goran to divide the 300 invincible warriors into three groups of 100 men each (just in case Goran wasn’t good at math) and put them on the three sides of the city where they can expect the heaviest attacks. Apparently the armies of darkness are afraid of water [???] so they won’t attack from the east, where the lake is. Okay then.
A couple typos later – seriously, Tesch, PROOFREAD – Goran rides his horse all day and all night and arrives very tired. I wonder how the poor horse feels. After another typo, Goran finds Maya and Joey and gives them the letter.
The letter is written, for some reason, in a completely different and very bizarre font which randomly switches the size of the text and only uses capital Ls.
After the obligatory congratulations the letter moves on to talking about the Key to the Underworld. It explains that the Key is very powerful and is a supernatural weapon.
“if you hold this instrument against any living creature or object a Lightning comes out if this weapon and burns everything to ashes.” (page 579)
That’s right. A Lightning comes out. And burns everything to ashes, apparently, instead of just that creature or object. It actually sounds a little dangerous, to tell the truth.
The letter goes on to advise Joey to throw the key into the ‘Glacier River’, but barring that, he needs to know that the entire kingdom of darkness will stop at nothing to get the key back and they will follow Maya and Joey wherever they go. Which sounds terrible, until you realize that the kingdom of darkness has been trying to kill them for a while now and are so incompetent that they haven’t managed a thing.
The letter ends on a P.S.:
“One more thing! You cannot use this instrument in the fight to help Selinka because that would allow Apollyon to use his supernatural powers against us.” (page 580)
Why? No real reason. It’s Magic, that’s why. The rules that govern it don’t have to make any sense.
Maya was very concerned when she read the letter and said, “Joey, maybe we should really think about throwing this dangerous weapon into the Glacier River for good!”
“Hmm… maybe you are right Maya but before we do, I want to try it out on some flying birds or running animals, like rabbits and then we can make our final decision later.” (581).
Huh. Our Hero gets a powerful weapon that can burn living things to ashes and his first thought is to go out and use it to slaughter woodland creatures. This is probably a bad sign.
Joey leaves camp and strolls along for awhile, finally sitting down next to the river and taking out the Key. He thinks about it for awhile, and there’s half a set of quotation marks thrown in here for no apparent reason.
Meanwhile, Bertha’s six raven sisters are flying along. They see Joey sitting there, think he’s just a normal kid, and keep flying. However, Joey sees the ravens as a nice target. So he aims the key and hits the button that happens to be there that he has never hit before out of curiosity or by accident during the entire team he has had the key.
Joey was certainly not ready for the result of this action because a fine line of fire flung out of the mouth of the stick like a ‘laser beam’. Joey could point this fire beam into all directions. When he tried to aim the ultra violet fire line at one of the birds and the fire line touched it, the bird exploded like a fireball in mid air and only a rain of ashes fell to the ground. Joey tried again… and again… and again… always with the same result. Three more ravens had exploded in the air like huge fireballs and the hunting fever had grabbed Joeys mind. The two remaining ravens nosedived from the sky because they realized that the boy was the reason for their trouble. Joey pointed the glowing stick toward the pine forest and pushed the button of the key as before. Now the whole forest exploded in a fireball and burned totally down to ashes (page 583).
I would break down the grammatical errors and typos in that paragraph, but to be honest, I’m already pretty drunk. Suffice to say that this type of idiotic action is precisely what I expect from a kid like Joey.
Naturally, Maya and the rest of the villagers notice there’s a forest fire and so they come running and find Joey sitting there with the key stored away in his backpack and a huge burned patch that used to be a magnificent forest is now ashes and barren ground.
Captain Armstrong and Captain Goran were astonished when they saw the place but they did not ask any questions because they thought that Joey had set the forest on fire by accident (page 584).
He DID set the forest on fire by accident. What difference does that make? He’s a fourteen-year-old fucking idiot with a Deus ex Machina hat and a flamethrower. Take away his godlike weapons until he learns how to control them…or better yet, just take them away.
Later, Maya and Joey have a talk.
“We call that in our world ‘supernatural fire powers’.” Maya said (page 584).
No, I’m pretty sure we call that a flamethrower.
Joey thinks about things for awhile and finally walks down to the river. When he arrives he looks at this fancy new weapon of mass destruction (Tesch’s words, not mine) and does what any other fourteen-year-old boy would do: he decides to keep it. Unlike any other fourteen-year-old boy, however, he launches into a page-and-a-half speech, which of course he delivers aloud, even though he’s by himself.
“This instrument possesses the power of incredible potency.” (page 586).
Uh…brilliant, Joey. Potency means power. So this instrument possesses the power of incredible power? That’s telling us a lot.
Anyway, Joey decides to keep it, because….
“I’m under the impression that I grew through this experience tremendously since I have left Oceanside.” (page 586).
I don’t doubt that you are under that impression, Joey. I really don’t.
The two surviving ravens fly back to Bertha to tell her that the rest of their sisters were flamethrowered to death by a teenager. When they arrive, Bertha accepts the news stoically, and is even rather excited to have good news to tell Abbadon. Odd, I thought she actually cared about her sisters. My mistake.
Of course, Tesch tries to tell us that Bertha cares about her sisters’ death, but for some reason it rings hollow. See if you can tell why from these two quotes:
“It is very sad that our sisters died on duty”, Bertha replied, “You are back and it is good to see you alive. You are my only family.”
And then this:
Bertha flew up, still very upset about the death of her four sisters but she had at least the news and the information the king had waited for (page 589).
I’m tempted to make a joke about Gloria Tesch being a sociopath, but I know that in this instance, at least, it’s not the case…she simply has no idea how to write.
Abbadon is delighted to hear the news and asks Bertha to see if her sisters are willing to carry a message back to Apollyon who is still sulking in his castle. Bertha agrees.
The Captains Armstrong and Goran meet up with General Genarius, who asks them if there was any reply to the letter he sent Maya and Joey. They reply to the negative. Genarius then asks if they saw anything unusual. The Captains look at each other and finally Armstrong fesses up:
“Basically, we did not see anything unusual or anything strange except for a big mushroom cloud of smoke.” (page 592).
Wait. A mushroom cloud? What, Joey has a nuclear device now? And come on, Armstrong, who are you fooling? ‘Basically, I didn’t see anything weird except for a nuclear bomb go off. Pretty normal day, overall!’
The captains explain the situation and how they found Joey surrounded by a patch of black smoldering ashes. Genarius is affected by this – yes, affected – but moves on to talking about their defense. He tells the captains they will both command the north flank of the city. Then we get an interesting line:
“I will defend the west flank, the center of the city and Brody the man with the unusual beard, one of the best and oldest friends of the elders in the City Hall and a very close friend of King Astrodoulos will hold the south flank.” (page 594).
This fascinates me. He’s friends with elders in ‘the’ City Hall and buddies with AstroJesus, and yet Genarius introduces him as ‘the man with the unusual beard’. Just how unusual is this beard? Has he braided it into a cage for his head, complete with a door that unlocks?
Tesch rambles for a bit about how war has come to the lands and the air smells like burnt rubber, which is cool because I wasn’t aware that rubber had been discovered yet.
We cut back to Maya and Joey who are still goofing off and being unencouraging to the residents of Maradonia and Selinka. Joey finally makes up his mind to not throw the WMD into the Glacier River. Maya, for some reason, tells him that she supports his decision, but only if he agrees to never use the WMD for his own personal profit, purpose, etc. Joey agrees and says that he has named the WMD ‘Defender’.
Maya nodded and said “Joey, I have watched you over time and I am proud of you because you grew so much during this journey. You matured from the inside out and now you have a better understanding of things.” (page 597)
Joey tells Maya that she has changed as well, and they talk for a bit. Maya tells him that he’s very special. He is. In a eats-the-paste-and-rides-the-short-bus-to-school kind of way. Anyway, she wants to tell him something:
“Please, Joey, listen… I know that you are fourteen years old…but it does not matter how old you are or how young you are… just like it does not matter what size the bottle is. ‘Cream always reaches the top’.” (page 598).
So, if there’s nothing else, I guess what we can take from this chapter is that Joey is made out of cream.