Chapter Nineteen – Extinction of the Emerald Kingdom
Maya and Joey take off through Maradonia, traveling quickly using their Tarnkappes.
It was a long way to reach the swamp of their good old friend Oraculus (page 144).
I could argue that it’s not possible to become good friends with someone you’ve only met twice, but I suppose, under certain circumstances, and if you spent a lot of time talking and getting to know each other, it might be theoretically possible. In this case, it’s not, because they didn’t. Both visits to Oraculus consisted of them standing there while Oraculus rambled for pages about things that were going to happen to them, they asked a few questions, and that was it. They aren’t friends. They’re barely acquaintances.
Tesch explains that the coastlines have changed dramatically since their last visit, and there are new exotic trees and strange-looking plants everywhere. Now, I know, since I flipped ahead in the book, that about four to six years have passed in Maradonia. I’m not really an expert but I’m pretty sure entire trees don’t grow and coastlines don’t change dramatically in the space of four to six years. I guess Tesch could handwave that via Magic, though.
As they get closer to Oraculus’ swamp, they see a yellow circle of light dancing over it. Maya and Joey talk about it. This light concerns them, especially Joey:
“Our outstretched experience with the powers of dark craft tells us to be alert.” (page 145).
Sorry. Outstretched experience? What the fuck does that even mean?
They continue through the swamp. There are snakes everywhere. Maya mentions that she hates snakes. You know, if she really hates snakes, shouldn’t there have been some mention of that back in the first book when Maya faced down an enormous snake (that Joey then murdered) without batting an eyelash?
They continue on. Tesch describes the scenery, the fish, the insects, the birds, and foliage. It’s not badly written, but it’s not well-written, either.
Suddenly Maya let out a short but blood-curdling scream (page 147).
Joey runs over. Turns out they can see, off in the distance, the fairies Gertrude, Lorris, and Ceara. However, the fairies are so far away they can’t see what they’re up to. But they’re near enough to be seen. Yet far enough away so they didn’t hear Maya’s scream. Yes.
The Encouragers creep forward, invisible, until they’re close enough to see the fairies talking to Oraculus.
The fairies, in a roundabout way, explain for Maya and Joey’s benefit that they have heard they’re in Maradonia and that Oraculus is hiding them in his swamp, and that they are here to make sure Oraculus doesn’t give them any more advice. Oraculus, to his credit, just smirks at them and doesn’t give a shit. He also refers to Gertrude as Terrible Trudy. Knowing Tesch, I’m pretty sure this is Gertrude’s actual nickname, intended seriously.
“You tried to trap and to kill Princess Maya and Prince Joey several times before…but…these teenagers were always a little smarter and faster than you.” (page 149)
Um…no. Sorry, Oraculus. They were never smarter and faster. In a couple cases they were lucky, and in the rest of the cases they were saved by the Powers of Light. The only time they were ever faster was when they had their magical Deus ex Machina hats.
Gertrude tells Oraculus she can sense Maya and Joey’s presence, and if he doesn’t spill the beans she’ll have Ceara torch the entire place. Oraculus says that Maya and Joey haven’t visited him. Then he shouts to his daughter, Ordelia, that she’s his successor.
“I give you my mantle of prophesy and my divine gift to contact the deity.” (page 151)
I’m pretty sure you can’t just give divine gifts away.
Oraculus and the fairies yell at each other for a few more pages but it’s not especially interesting or informative. Except for this bit:
“You can destroy and set my swamp on fire…but….what concerns Maya and Joey… you know very well that you cannot touch them. They are blood members of the kingdom of light and they are untouchable by your powers” (page 152).
I’ll come back to this quote in a minute. Maya and Joey realize what’s about to happen, so they turn and run for their lives. After a bit, they get to the edge and turn around in time to see a huge fireball shoot up and incinerate the entire Emerald Kingdom. They are both very sad.
Which makes me wonder: why didn’t they do something?
I could write up a detailed description of why this is moronic, but I don’t need to, because Joey is going to explain it for me:
“But I see another problem because somehow both of us have to consider again that we are invulnerable and untouchable by the fairies and we have forgotten about this important fact. [snip] Maya, this incident should teach us an unforgettable lesson. We cannot afford to run from danger anymore and I cannot forgive myself that it did not even come to my mind that we are untouchable…
“I should have taken Defender and I should have blown these fairies once and for all away. I should have pushed the trigger of Defender when we were hiding behind the cypress tree. I am so ashamed about myself that both of us, the Encouragers of the Land of Maradonia, ran away in panic, instead of moving forward and save the life of our good friend Oraculus! I ask myself… Why is it that this fact did not come earlier to our mind, especially after our experience with the airships?” (pages 156-157)
It’s rare that one of the characters in the book actually stops and points out the putrid, festering, unadulterated idiocy of a scene. So, I’m going to take a few seconds to bask in the moment and then rip it a new asshole anyway.
Ready? And I apologize for the angry all caps:
WHY THE FUCK WOULDN’T YOU REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE INVINCIBLE, WHEN A CHARACTER, IN THE SCENE, REMINDS YOU OF THAT TWENTY SECONDS BEFORE IT HAPPENS?
I could almost buy Maya and Joey not remembering they’re invincible when they get back to Maradonia. After all, it has been a few weeks, and Maya and Joey really aren’t that bright. But a character said it. They were sitting there carefully listening to every word. And apparently it didn’t take.
I’m really not sure how this scene came into existence. There are two possibilities:
1. Tesch was writing the scene and realized that Joey would be able to kill the fairies, which was a problem because she needed the fairies alive for a later scene in the book. So she added this scene to try and cover the plot hole. Which was a terrible idea, for the reasons I just outlined.
2. Tesch intended for this scene to go down the way it did all along in order to accomplish…well, something. Guilt? To try and throw in some character development? To demonstrate that her characters aren’t perfect? I don’t know. Regardless, it was a terrible idea, for the reasons I just outlined.
More importantly, this entire problem is completely avoidable. NOTHING in this scene was vital or even close to being vital. And (spoiler alert) Maya and Joey are about to meet Ordelia, Oraculus’ daughter. They could have simply arrived just after Oraculus was fried and Ordelia could have explained what happened.
I suppose this entire travesty of a scene will still work if this actually has long-lasting affects. After all, there’s nothing worse than the guilt you feel after a good friend dies and you could have prevented it. That’s the kind of horrible, soul-crushing guilt that lingers for years. Only a complete sociopath would be able to move on from something like this without having it affect them at all…
Yeah. I’m guessing this is forgotten within a chapter or two.
Chapter Twenty – Out of the Ashes
After they eat some fruit, Joey and Maya head back into the smoldering swamp. They wander around for a bit and find nothing. Eventually Joey whips out his gyrocompass and explains that the Garden City of Mundan is southwest from where they are. How he knows that without a map, I have no idea. Nor do I know why they’re going there.
But suddenly a voice pipes up and says that she feels their presence. It’s Ordelia. She asks them to take her with them and drop her off at the swamp where her father’s half brothers live, which coincidentally is on their way to Mundan. Ordelia was there during the entire scene with the fairies and survived it, I assume, by swimming to the bottom of the pond. Apparently Oraculus wasn’t able to do the same thing.
Ordelia talks about how much her father taught her and relates an abbreviated version of her life story and finally breaks down crying because her father is dead.
Neither of the Encouragers feels guilty or admits it’s their fault her father is dead.
Chapter Twenty-One – Words of Magic
They head southwest. The scenery is gorgeous. There are huge herds of wild horses and even some unicorns. Okay then.
Ordelia asks them if they have a king or queen where they come from. Maya explains that they have a democratic government, with a president, which isn’t exactly true. Ordelia asks how they get their president:
“Hmm, this is indeed difficult to explain but the truth is that you buy yourself more or less into the position of a president. One thing is that you need a lot of money to become president of our country. Money is like gold and…Gold rules! Yes. Gold rules our country. Let me give you an answer. ‘We have the best government, money can buy!’” (page 165).
It’s adorable, isn’t it, watching fourteen-year-olds try and sum up the government of the United States in a witty sentence or two?
Ordelia said in amazement, “Wow! I did not know that!” (page 165)
No shit, Sherlock? That couldn’t possibly be because Maya is talking about the government system from a completely different universe, could it?
After a bit they reach the swamp. They have to get past some spider webs first, which includes a boring scene where Joey teases Maya about hating spiders, and Ordelia talking about how delicious spiders are, despite their hairy legs. Eventually they reach a clearing and find Libertine there talking to Ordelia’s relatives, Castor and Pollox.
Ordelia explains that the fairies destroyed the Emerald Kingdom and killed Oraculus. Castor asks why. Maya pipes up and says that she and Joey are the reason. Ah, good. Finally some honesty and culpability. Maya is going to admit that she and Joey could have saved his life but didn’t because they’re pussies and idiots. They will finally public admit that – wait, never mind.
Maya says that the powers of darkness follow them because they freed a bunch of prisoners from the Empire of Evil. And that’s it.
Pollox is amazed, and politely asks them to leave before they attract attention. However, before they leave, they want to have a short fortunetelling session.
Ordelia thanks them for bring her here. Hey, it was the least they could do after they let the fairies murder your father and destroy your home!
“We are very grateful for what you did and as a thank you gift we will give you a word from the deity and maybe a Miracle Swing Word of Magic…” (page 171)
I still don’t know where ‘Swing Word’ comes from.
Ordelia goes into a trance, starts humming, and finally addresses them formally and says they have a new quest. Soon they will carry gold crowns, Maya will get treasure, they’ll fly on dragons, fight birds, their search for the Gold of Ophir will be unsuccessful for a long time, King Genarius makes a mistake, King Pergamon dies happy, there is sparkles of love in the air for both Maya and Joey, and Joey gets pulled underwater and somebody steals his personality and his body and his body changes into a water creature with scales [???]. It’s horrible.
Afterwards, Pollox has a bit of a prophecy about trusting their hearts instead of their eyes, and then there’s this gem:
“Not everything that shines like gold…is gold!” (page 174)
Never heard that before.
He gives them another Swingword of Magic:
“‘Not everything may seem to be…what you seem to see!’” (page 174)
Pollox explains that after wisdom and magic has filled their minds, this word will have a powerful healing effect. So I guess this is how Maya’s fingers eventually get healed.
Joey is worried and wants Ordelia to further explain his future, but Maya tells him to shut up because Ordelia can’t spend a long time staying in contact with the spiritual world, which is awfully convenient.