Chapter Seven – A New Chance
Jake sits around for a couple days too sick to move. Lareen takes care of him. Finally he gets out of bed and walks around the house for a bit, and suddenly a young man comes in. His name is Swiftwind, son of the chief, and he’s looking for Lareen. Jakes says he doesn’t know where she is. Swiftwind is irritated by the way he says this so he pushes Jake in the chest and knocks him down and his head hits the stone floor and knocks him unconscious.
He wakes up a few seconds later with Lareen leaning over him and chewing Swiftwind out. Jake realizes that Swiftwind probably has some romantic interest in Lareen and so he tells Lareen that it wasn’t intentional and smoothes things over between them. It’s both the correct and the smart thing to do, because Swiftwind is immediately grateful, and it never hurts to have princes owing you a favor. I wonder where this Jake – the moderately intelligent one – has been hiding all this time.
Swiftwind sits and tells Lareen about what he’s been up to, and they ask Jake some questions about his country. Eventually Sure Flight returns and begins talking to Swiftwind. They discuss the Shadow Wings and Jake learns that they’re suspicious of the Dark Lord. And it’s been about a page and a half since something stupid happened, and so Morris gets back on track.
At once Jake thought of the conversation he had heard between Darkwind and the other raider. He thought to mention it but didn’t want to appear to be a spy (page 66).
Spies don’t tell their captors bits of information they’ve picked up. If you tell your master about a plot you’ve overheard to kill him, he might (possibly) think you’re not a spy. He might even be grateful. If, however, you don’t say anything until much later, the question is asked why you waited so long to present the information. Not to mention, if you’re one of Goel’s most trusted servants, called to spread the good news to the masses, not bothering to say or do anything about a nefarious plot to kill the chief and a guy who’s been quite decent to you and alliance with the Dark Lord…is a really stupid thing to do.
Sure Flight asks about Goel. Jake tells him a bit about him. Then Sure Flight says he has some good news. He told the chief about what Jake did, and said Jake deserved some sort of reward. So they’re going to let the Sociopaths learn how to fly. Swiftwind immediately points out that this can’t be done, since the Raiders start learning when they’re four years old, and none of the Sociopaths are muscular enough to control the wings. Which is pretty blatantly obvious. But somehow I have this feeling that they’ll learn how to fly anyway. Just Because. Sure Flight then says that if they learn how to fly, they may be admitted to the fellowship of the Raiders. Basically, earning their freedom. It sounds like a long shot. Jake, to his credit, immediately sees the possibilities of escape and thanks Sure Flight. Lareen is delighted and says she’ll teach them herself.
…Odd. You’d think there would be instructors specializing in teaching the art of flying, old, wise men with plenty of experience, rather than teenage girls. But what do I know?
The Sociopaths have gathered together to be trained. I’m still not entirely certain why all seven of them are given this honor when Jake was the only one who’s done anything, but that’s Morris for you.
Things have abruptly changed from the last chapter. Apparently, all they have to do to become full-fledged members of the tribe is learn how to fly. They learn to fly, that’s it, they’re in. There’s no explanation as to why this is different from last chapter.
Token asks what they’re going to use, the wings, and Josh replies with a stupid quote.
“Well, they’re not going to give us a Cherokee airplane” (page 70).
Any idea why a typical fourteen-year-old would know the exact name of a brand of private aircraft? And why he would insert it into his speech in a way that makes no sense whatsoever? Neither do I.
Lareen gets out the wings and puts them on and it still doesn’t make any sense. She flies around and does this and that and then lands and asks Swiftwind to show them some more complex maneuvers. He takes off and spends awhile defying the laws of gravity and physics, then tells Lareen to teach them the fundamentals and leaves.
They spend a couple days learning how to put on the wings. And then a couple days learning about updrafts and downdrafts. And then Jake and Josh talk. Josh sounds defeated. It’s not really keeping in character, not that any of the Sociopaths are even remotely consistent as characters. Jake tells Josh about the Shadow Wings and how he thinks they’re in league with the Dark Lord.
Josh grew excited. “Maybe that’s why we came,” he exclaimed, “- to do something to save these people from falling into the power of the Dark Lord!” (page 74).
No shit, Sherlock? Just like, I dunno, every single other place and mission you’ve been sent on?
A week later and they start to try flying. Token goes first. He eats dirt a couple times and finally manages to fly for a bit. They all start trying and by the end of the day all of them have succeeded and are getting better at it. Wow. So this is something that these people start preparing for when they’re four years old and have to be incredibly strong to master and the doughy Sociopaths manage to do it in a week and a half. Somehow, I’m not surprised. In fact, I’m willing to bet than in just a few more weeks they become quite good at flying and be capable of doing whatever the plot requires of them from here on out.
Jake and Lareen head back to their cave. They talk and their conversation is filled with hilarious innuendos:
“You think size is all that counts in a man?”
She smiled at him warmly and suddenly Jake felt good all over. The two of them enjoyed their meal (page 77).
I’ll bet they did.
The chapter title sounds very dramatic, but the Dark Lord doesn’t do any awakening. At all. Instead, we get to meet our old buddy Elmas, who is still clinging to life. As I recall, when we last saw Elmas in Book III, he was told in no uncertain terms that if he failed, he would be killed. He failed and he’s still alive. Of course, the same thing happened in Book II. So actually, I’m starting to have a bit of a grudging respect for the guy, as well as a lack of respect for the Dark Lord. See, the thing is, if you threaten your underlings with death for any failure, you actually have to follow through on your threats to instill the proper fear.
Morris describes how evil he looks, just in case the reader hasn’t been paying enough attention. Malon, Elmas’ lieutenant, talks to him. They share some expository dialogue about how the ‘forces’ of Goel seem to be surviving. I was unaware that Goel had any ‘forces’. But it’s not really important. A messenger pops in and tells Elmas he’s been summoned to the castle of the Dark Lord. Elmas turns pale.
He rides in his carriage to the castle. The moat is filled with horrible monsters. He goes inside and hears screams coming from behind certain doors and it’s very black and ominous and yes, the Dark Lord is still very Evil. Finally he reaches the door and thinks about how little power he has. And goes in. The Dark Lord is robed in black. Everything’s black, actually. Evilness. He falls down on his knees and calls the Dark Lord ‘Most Dread Lord’. And the Dark Lord is not happy with him.
“As usual, you have failed. I do not know why I have allowed you to live so long” (page 81).
Neither do we. Hilariously, Elmas demonstrates his incompetence in the very next sentence:
“If Your Majesty will be more specific – ” (page 81).
If I was the Dark Lord, I’d fry him right then and there. My underlings will know what I’m talking about when I refer to their failures. And if they have too many to easily differentiate, they’ll be fed to my moat-creatures.
The Dark Lord is referring, of course, to the Sociopaths. He shouts for a bit, and then does a Darth Vader Force-choke on Elmas. No, really. Finally he lets Elmas go and says that he’s had word of the Sociopaths. Elmas asks where they are. And if I was the Dark Lord, I’d fry him again right here. This guy is the Chief Interrogator for the Sanhedrin. It’s his job to figure out where our enemies are and tell me.
The Dark Lord says they’re at a place called the Citadel. And apparently there’s only one Citadel in all of Nuworld. Elmas says that he has a man there. The Dark Lord tells him not to fail again. Elmas leaves. When he gets home, he tells his underlings (who call him ‘Sire’ for some odd reason) to send for Jalor. Two days later, he arrives. They talk. Jalor, fortunately, already has a plan…