Chapter 10 – In the Tower
Chapter 10 opens in Sarah’s POV, which is delightful, considering how boring Josh’s POV is. Admittedly, I have no hopes of really enjoying this one either, but it’s refreshing to switch things up.
Sarah watches Josh go into the drink and feels sick. There’s this weird bit where she’s about to scream, but is stopped when a priest grabs her arm. I guess it must have distracted her from screaming, because arms aren’t actually attached to the mouth and you can still scream while you’re being dragged somewhere.
A guard taunts her, saying that after the Questioning (yes, it’s capitalized) she’ll be wishing she’d jumped as well. A head priest snaps at him to shut up and instantly he turns pale. See, they’re Evil, and even the guards are terrified of their superiors, because Evil leaders kill their underlings whenever they mess up. Because they’re Evil, and that’s what Evil people do.
There is a very long walk to the Tower which is summed up on one sentence. They’re all pushed into a common-dungeon which doesn’t really make sense: this would give them time to corroborate all their stories and make sure everyone’s lies were matching up. A clever interrogator would keep everyone from talking to each other until they’re Questioned, and could thus pick apart their stories at his leisure. Admittedly, Elmas isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. Then again, none of the Sociopaths bother to try getting their stories to match up with the extensive time they’ve been given, so maybe the Sanhedrin were counting on their stupidity.
Jake appears from the shadows, in the spirit of health. Sarah immediately hugs him and says that they thought he was dead. Um…no, they didn’t, at least not on-screen. This touching reunion is interrupted by Crusoe fainting, and Hamar tries to get him hooked up with a blanket. Yeah, Hamar’s in there with them. Sorry, I’m still not buying it. He’s evil.
There’s six other prisoners in there, and they start helping out Crusoe – lay him down in a bunk, give him a blanket, and some soup. This is by far the nicest dungeon I’ve ever heard of. Sarah starts checking out the other prisoners – there’s another set of female Gemini twins, a gnome, and three creatures that look extremely weird and make Sarah start clutching at Dave and Jake, and muttering about how awful they look. I guess her missionary parents never taught her anything about tact. But apparently these three creature look reasonably human, except one has huge eyes, one has huge ears, and one has a huge nose.
The gnome can conveniently speak Oldworld – English, basically, and introduces himself as Kybus. He explains that the three creatures are Hunter – they can see, smell, and hear excellently, and thus catch anything. I wonder how the radiation came up with this one. He asks them if they’re in the House (yes, it’s capitalized), and they have no idea what he means. He blows them off and tells them they need to eat and rest, which they do, because apparently there’s a lot of soup in this dungeon. Awesome. Later, they wake up and start asking about this House. Kybus gets up and explains that people throughout Nuworld believe that One is coming, and He’s going to build House. And then there’s this really strange bit where Sarah is noticing how his speech pattern is really weird, and spends awhile puzzling over this, before suddenly it dawns on her that Kybus is preaching. It’s extremely awkward and unbelievable and I’m guessing that it’s just there for Morris to pound it into our skulls that this Goel chap is Jesus and the people who believe in him are like prophets and/or pastors. Kybus finishes with the quote about how this Deliverer is going to come when the Seven Sociopaths awake. And immediately everyone freaks out and is astonished again. Because they totally have not gotten used to hearing this by now.
Then the doors bang open and the guards toss someone inside and grab Sarah. But before they can drag her off, Crusoe touches her hand and mutters something. And instantly Sarah feels completely calm and relaxed. The guards take her off to the inquisition room and dump her in a chair. She starts having an out-of-body experience again, and sees herself from across the room. There’s a sorcerer there, and he starts his incantations, and Morris leaves no doubt here about whether the Sanhedrin employ black magic:
There was a sense of evil in the room. Sarah knew that if she had not been wrapped in some sort of protective spell, she would have been totally at the mercy of this sorcerer (page 109).
Either Crusoe is a wizard, or he’s a believer and has called upon the power of
GodGoel. I’m going for the latter. Still, it’s yet another example of Morris refusing to let his heroes face any trials. At the very least, you’d think he would have Sarah call upon Goel herself. That would actually make sense in the context: Sarah is there, about to undergo Questioning, she’s terrified, but then decides that she’ll call upon Goel and see if he’ll help her. Instead, it’s all done by Crusoe, and Sarah just notices it happening.
This actually brings up another related point. Judging by the first chapter, it seems pretty likely that both Josh and Sarah, at least, are Christians. However, despite this, they never mention – or even think of – God or Jesus, in those terms. Or the Bible, or Christianity. It’s as if it never even existed. Rather like their parents and their friends and their previous lives, come to think of it.
Elmas asks if Sarah’s ready, and the sorcerer says that something’s interfering with the spell. Elmas points out that if he can’t manage to hex a kid, they might need a new sorcerer. The sorcerer immediately says that she’s ready. If I was Elmas, this would naturally make me a little suspicious and wonder if something was going on. But then again, if I was Elmas, I would have the same IQ as a cabbage.
They all start questioning her, and the out-of-body experience continues, and she hears herself saying things and answering all their questions. Morris doesn’t actually tell us anything that she says, because that would require some real creativity. Finally Elmas decides that she knows nothing and orders her taken back to the cell. As they take her out, someone mentions that this Uprising (yes, it’s capitalized) is getting out of hand. And Elmas proves his cabbage-level IQ:
“When I am through, there will be no Uprising – if there ever has been. I think it is a tale made up by children and idiots!” (page 110).
You’re the Chief Interrogator, are looking for the Seven Sociopaths, and have been dragging in people who believe in the Deliverer and the House of Goel. But you don’t actually believe that any of it is real. I can’t make this stuff up.
Another interrogator asks what they should do with the prisoners. Elmas says to split them up, and work them to death in the mines. It’s a very dramatic end to the chapter, although it makes me wonder why Elmas has said this after only questioning one person.
Chapter 11 – The Visitation of Goel
They all spend the next three days waiting to get dragged off to the mines. Except they don’t, because Elmas is still interrogating everyone else. I bet he feels stupid.
Happily, everyone is getting similar out-of-body experiences, and this leads to the first stupid quote of the chapter, in the second paragraph:
“You know,” Jake mused, “I think there must be something to this.” He looked a little embarrassed but continued. “I mean, when I go to the Questioning, it’s – it’s like it isn’t even me” (page 111).
You’re having an out-of-body experience where someone takes control of you and answers questions for you, and you think that there might be something about that? I bet you are embarrassed.
They talk for a bit, and Dave says that they should talk to everyone about escaping. Clever, that. What you were doing that was so important for the past three days while you were expecting to be dragged off to the mines, that you couldn’t have already discussed this?
Later that day, Happy appears on the scene, and starts jokingly accusing Grumpy of romancing the other Gemini twins, whose names are Rama and Amar. However, they have no personality and no real bearing on the plot, so I’ll just call them Thing 1 and Thing 2. And then Hamar drops a bombshell. Really.
“…Hamar dropped a bombshell” (page 112).
He tells them that he’s been making friends and bribing the guard on night duty (with what money? Didn’t the guards relieve them of their cash?), and the guard says that they’re getting shipped out tomorrow. Everyone is shocked at this. Because they haven’t spent the last three days terrified of getting sent to the mines. It’s a total surprise.
They start talking about escape and Hamar says that there’s something horrible outside at night, in the courtyard, that even the guard is afraid of. And everyone argues some more and finally Crusoe speaks up and says that he thinks they should all wait until there’s a Word.
And it’s Dave, astonishingly, who actually says something that’s marginally intelligent:
“I know you believe in that business – and I do too. But we’ve been given common sense. Mine tells me we’d better try to break out of here” (page 113).
Well, they actually haven’t been given any common sense, but Dave has a point. A good one. Crusoe, being the manipulative bastard that he is, instantly shoots him down:
“My son, without a hand to lead you, how could you find your way?” (page 113).
Crusoe, evidently, has never heard of the proverb God helps those who help themselves. Apparently, his method for solving problems is sitting back and waiting for Goel to fix things, instead of actually taking the initiative. And instead of pointing all of this out, Dave gets ashamed and knuckles down. Great. One of our Sociopaths actually shows a moment of promise and then Crusoe crushed it.
Everyone goes to sleep, but Sarah hears someone telling her to wake up in the middle of the night. She wakes up and sees a figure in a robe standing a few feet away. But she feels safe around this guy, so I guess that means he’s Good.
They talk for a little bit, and none of the conversation is particularly important, even though it sounds like it is. In Morrisland, characters constantly make promises and references to things that sound important but will never actually come up again.
The guy introduces himself as Goel. He tells her that tomorrow the Sanhedrin plan to take them off to die in the mines. Sarah’s character would be improved a thousandfold if she flippantly remarked that they’d already discovered that from the guard, but instead she just freaks out a little bit. Goel goes on to explain that he’s come to open a door for her, but she’s going to have to convince everyone else of what happened and what they have to do. And that he’ll be waiting on the other side of the door. And then he disappears.
She shouts a bit, and everyone wakes up and gathers around. She explains what happened – and immediately Dave disbelieves her, verbally pats her on the head, and says she just had a nightmare. I guess Dave doesn’t really “believe in that business”. Dave points out that they can’t even get out of their cell. Crusoe interrupts that getting out of their cell has never been a problem. But in daylight, the guards would see them, and by night, there’s the monster.
Everyone sort’ve agrees, and they go to the door. Volka rips the bars off the window, reaches through, opens the steel bar, and pushes the door open.
They all stand there waiting for Sarah to take the lead, and she starts panicking, and having doubts. And everyone just waits…“until she heard Dave saying spitefully, “What will you do, Sarah, if you look back and nobody’s following you?” (page 117)
You’re a real douchebag, Dave, you know that?
Sarah tells him that she’s not going to look back to see if anyone’s following her. I guess she doesn’t care about them. I certainly wouldn’t. Maybe Volka, he seems nice enough. And possibly Happy. Everyone else is pretty much worthless.
Sarah walks out. She can’t see anything, but she recalls that the gate that leads out of the prison is about fifty yards away. I do wonder why someone would build a dungeon that has a door that opens in a straight line to the exit. But she keeps going, even though she can feel something horrible lurking nearby. It’s Evil and very much like a Nazgul-presence. So Sarah starts to sing, even though she usually sings off-key. But it sounds beautiful because she’s singing about Goel, and everyone starts feeling better. She finds the gate, and pushes through, and someone is standing there.
So she jumps into his/her/its arms.
I wonder who it is?