Part Four

Chapter Eight – Beorn Faces Death

Cool chapter name. I wonder if Beorn is going to face death? Answer: not really.

The Sociopaths ride along on the backs of centaurs, who Aramore has commanded to take them to the edge of their land. Reb is discussing rodeos with his centaur, whose name is Bendi. This reminds me of Gumby. It’s not a very centaurlike name. Anyway. Bendi says that if he wanted to buck somebody off in ten seconds, there isn’t a person in the world who could stay on his back. Reb smirks and tells him that he’s on. Actually, it’s eight seconds, but I’d say the odds are good that Morris hasn’t seen many rodeos.

When they make camp Bendi and Reb square off. Bendi’s wearing a leather belt around his waist. Reb gets situated and says go, and Bendi sends him flying. After he gets up Reb complains that he wasn’t ready. Yeah. Try saying that in a rodeo and see where that gets you. Reb gets back on and Bendi begins to buck but Reb stays on for the ten seconds and Bendi congratulates him.

Later, the Sociopaths hold a council. Glori says that the Magicians are only a day away, and she knows this country well. They ask her about the magicians and she says they’re an odd group. She’s seen them pick up stones that weigh five hundred pounds, without touching them. So again – they’re not just wise men, they’re magicians. Glori says they’re very eccentric. Reb asks what eccentric means. You’d expect most sixteen-year-olds to have a better vocabulary than this.

A bit later the centaurs drop them off and they proceed on foot. After awhile Beorn says that he’s going ahead to scout. He takes off. Glori says she doesn’t like that and she doesn’t trust Beorn. After awhile Beorn comes back and says everything looks clear. So they camp and it gets dark and suddenly they hear a battle cry of the Dark Lord’s soldiers. It’s an ambush!! Oh no!

It appeared the Sleepers were nearly surrounded. They stumbled away from the ambush as best they could (page 88).

Yep. The enemy surrounded their campfire, they got up and ran, and successfully got away. Just like that, described in those two sentences. I get the feeling Morris isn’t even trying anymore. Dave does take an arrow in the arm, though, and it’s probably poisoned. Suddenly Glori turns to Beorn and says he’s a traitor. He went out scouting and then moments after he got back the Dark Lord attacked. Glori has a hilarious quote:

“How many times have we run into ambushes and traps – and always he’s been the one out in front!” (page 89)

Every single trap and ambush they’ve been in has come while Glori was leading them. Every single one. This particular instance looks quite suspicious, I’ll admit, but she really has no room to argue. Glori puts an arrow on her bow and aims it at Beorn and says they should execute him now. Abbey jumps over and shoves the bow and the arrow misses Beorn by a foot. She tells Glori that they can’t kill someone just because she’s suspicious.

Jake realizes that he brought some of the centaur’s athelas. So they make a poultice for Dave’s arm and everyone settles down for the night.

Chapter Nine – Sarah Has Doubts

Glori goes out scouting and figures out that actually they’re a lot farther from Celethorn than she thought. So that makes Glori what, 0 for 6?

Dave isn’t well enough to travel. Glori volunteers to go on ahead by herself, and when she arrives she’ll send a horse and wagon back for the rest of them. The Sociopaths agree. Glori says it’ll take her about two days to get there and one day to get back. She takes off. The Sociopaths sit around and take care of Dave. Reb manages to snatch a rabbit. The Sociopaths are actually pretty lucky when it comes to food. They can catch it everywhere they go. I think they’ve gone hungry a grand total of once, when they were in the middle of the desert.

The next day they get up and eat breakfast and sit around doing nothing. Suddenly they see someone walking out of the trees. The person looks vaguely familiar. Then he gets closer…and they realize it’s Josh! Everyone runs up asking him how he is. Josh says that he wasn’t that badly wounded and he managed to get away when the guards went to sleep.

Beorn came closer. “The guard went to sleep? That doesn’t sound like the Dark Lord’s guards!” (page 94).

Actually, it kinda does.

Beorn asks him how he got through the Caverns of Doom and traveled through lands he didn’t know and found them again. Josh says he’s been to the land of Magicians. The magicians told him that Beorn was the evil one. Josh pulls out his sword and starts at Beorn. Sarah stops him.

Beorn tells them to look at Josh’s chest. He has the smell of the Dark Lord, and if he works for the Dark Lord, there’ll be a “mark of doom” on his chest. Well, that’s a convenient and very easy way of telling who your enemies are. Josh charges Beorn, who knocks him down and rips open his shirt. The mark is there. Beorn stabs “Josh” in the throat, and Josh shrivels up into a bit of ash. Beorn says that this means the Dark Lord knows where they are. And why isn’t he attacking, then? For that matter, if the Dark Lord knows where they are, isn’t that an extremely compelling reason to leave? Beorn also says that they can’t trust anyone they see.

Of course, the next day, when Glori arrives in a wagon, they immediately assume that it’s her and don’t bother ripping her shirt open to check her chest. More’s the pity. Glori tells Beorn she still thinks he’s the traitor, and off they go. Reb and Jake discuss who could be the traitor.

Jake was a clever young man, smarter than most of the Sleepers. He said nothing for a while. Then he said “I think for sure we’ll find out who’s the traitor when we face Goel. No one could stand before him” (page 98).

Yes…except Goel personally picked both of these guides out for you. Clever? I think not.

Chapter Ten – Land of the Magicians

Dave worsens. They’re driving extremely fast and Dave moans in pain every time they hit a pothole. Beorn tells the driver to slow down. The driver yells back that he doesn’t take orders from dwarfs and if Beorn doesn’t sit down and shut up – so Beorn grabs him and puts a knife to his throat and says he is quite capable of driving a wagon himself so if the man wants, he’ll leave him to feed the buzzards. Ah, Beorn. I really like you. Why couldn’t this series feature you as a main character?

Glori comes back and bitches about the fact that they’ve slowed down, until Sarah points out that it was for Dave’s benefit, at which Glori is all apologetic, although she still glares at Beorn.

“You two really don’t get along, do you, Beorn? Are you a women hater?” Jake asked (page 101).

Oh yes. Because he has no actual reason for disliking a women who has constantly accused him of being a traitor, called him names to his face every chance he gets, openly mocks his entire race, and has tried to kill him. He has to be a women hater.

Reb then brings up an anecdote about his Uncle Seedy, who didn’t get along with his wife. Spend sixty miserable years together. Jake asks why they stayed married. Reb says it’s because they were married, and ‘Yankees’ have no idea what marriage is like, it’s till death do you part. Which, while I’m all for that idea, spending sixty years with a person you hate isn’t that exciting.

They reach Celethorn in a bit. All of the buildings are made of some smooth material and they can’t see any seams or joints or cracks anywhere. All of the windows are two-way mirrors so people passing by can’t see in. And the city sparkles. Yes. Sparkles.

They ride through, talking about how they won’t be able to trust everyone here. Finally they arrive at the palace and Glori introduces them to a chief priestess – whatever that is – named Deormi. Some servants carry Dave inside. Deormi looks at his wound and mixes up some paste and then gives Dave a potion to drink. Instantly he starts looking better, because in fantasy books the medicine always has an instantaneous effect.

The servants lead the Sociopaths away and they all bathe and get dressed in shiny clothing and then ride an elevator up to the banquet hall. They meet a chap named Yanto, who is the chief magician, and then they eat a lot of scrumptious food. Finally Deormi asks Sarah to tell them why they’ve come. Sarah relays Goel’s message, and she thinks she sees a shadow cross Yanto’s face, which means that Yanto is evil. Yanto says that it’s a matter for the entire council. Deormi agrees.