Chapter Fifty-Nine – Big Bertha On Patrol

Stop, if you will, and read through that chapter title again. It’s okay, I’ll wait.

Captains Armstrong and Goran look around waiting for Maya and Joey to show up, but of course they’re gone. Armstrong speculates that maybe they went to fetch some water. Leaving the buckets behind. Needless to say this is ridiculous, because Maya and Joey are the Heroes and they can’t do any normal, ordinary work. That’s reserved for the Red Shirts.

Armstrong takes off looking for them while everyone else remains behind. Four ravens show up and inspect the camp and then talk about what’s going on. All of the ravens are pretty relaxed except for Bertha, whose raven-sense is ticking madly. They discuss what a couple of men are doing with a few horses and a group of unicorns and all of the ravens except Bertha conclude that it isn’t really suspicious, which cements their stupidity in my mind. I think a group with those numbers embodies the word ‘suspicious’. Seriously, Apollyon’s minions are utterly retarded.

None of the ravens want to fly patrol with Bertha because of her ‘feelings’ – since she actually finds this group of travelers a bit suspicious. So the rest of the ravens take off and leave Bertha to fly her patrol alone.

We cut back to Captain Armstrong, who returns to camp empty-handed. Goran asks him if he found any signs.

Captain Armstrong shook his head and said, “I don’t understand this. I found nothing! I looked everywhere! I looked for broken branches. I searched the ground for footsteps. I even pricked my sword deep into the ground to listen to any sound but I heard nothing!” (page 462).

Wait, what? You pricked your sword deep into the ground? What good will that do? I guess Tesch thinks that you can press your ear against the sword and it will somehow act as a conduit that will allow you hear footsteps, but I’m pretty sure that will actually make it more difficult to hear than just putting your ear against the ground. Or maybe they have magic swords that you poke into the ground and then the sword tells you if anyone has walked on that ground recently.

Also, that’s ‘footprints’, not ‘footsteps’.

Armstrong realizes that they asked about Duanes Gate and are probably heading there now:

“I don’t believe that Maya and Joey would have gone alone and without us to ‘Duane Gate’. Basically they are teenagers and teenagers overestimate their own strength and power. Who knows what’s going on! Maybe they are already dead because they tripped on one of these rock walls and fell off a cliff.” (page 463)

That actually sounds exactly like something Maya and Joey would do. And that’s ‘Duanes Gate’, Tesch.

The captains don’t want to just give up, so Armstrong says he’ll ride back to his village and fetch some men and provisions which will enable them to do a proper search.

“That’s a considerable thought,” said Captain Goran (page 463).

I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

We go back to Maya and Joey. They leap along until they reach the snow line and it gets a little slippery. But they keep going, with the knowledge that they’re leaving footprints. And who should find those footprints but Bertha…but by then a snowstorm is just kicking up and Bertha realizes that by the time she finds the others the footprints will be covered and nobody will believe her. So she does nothing.

Eventually they arrive at the castle. It’s enormous. Four or five miles across. A hundred and twenty towers. It sounds like it would be really hard to sustain a castle that size and everyone who lives in it when you have to transport everything up a fucking mountain.

Behind the castle, they find an airfield:

“Whoa…Aliens…and their giant air ships! They look like the flying saucers which we have seen on pictures in our world!” Joey said dazzled (page 467).

There aren’t actually aliens there, Joey is just randomly saying that.

They talk about the airships for awhile and Joey thinks they’re totally awesome and wants to go check them out and actually starts running towards them before Maya grabs him and reminds him that they’re standing outside the stronghold of The Desolate One, the Dark Lord of the Sith, Ruler of all Evil, a mass-murdering megalomaniac who will have them flayed alive if he ever gets his hands on them. A fact that actually has a way of gripping your mind, unless you’re a moron like Joey.

They wait next to the wall for awhile and eventually Bertha the raven shows up and knocks a password on the door and it opens up and they slip in after her because of course they’re invisible. Wow. That’s awfully lucky, picking the one door out of dozens that it just so happens the spies of Apollyon use frequently.

Bertha exposits to the Hoodman who opened the door that she thinks she’s having hallucinations because she senses someone else in the room. The Hoodman assures her that she just needs rest and they take off.

Drinks: 29

Chapter Sixty – Water Park in the Center of Darkness

One of them wishes that there was a something like a mall directory to show them around. Awww. Poor little naïve kids.

They wander through the castle for awhile and eventually they happen upon a group of odd creatures who are taking about a relaxing trip to the water park. Convenient, that. So they follow them. One of them mentions having a weird feeling that they’re being followed, and another one concurs, but a third tells them they just need to relax. Maybe I’ve just read enough literature, but if I lived in a world where magic existed and there were people who wanted to kill me, if I had weird feelings like I was being followed I would immediately fire up my trusty flamethrower.

Tesch does a really poor job of describing this next part, so I’m not exactly sure what it looks like, but I think it’s a large open room with a water park in the middle that is covered by an enormous dome. I’m not certain if it’s open-air or not. Anyway, it’s full of creatures that look funny so Joey immediately calls it a freak show. Little racist bastard.

They sneak in to the water park and find an area that is thick with vegetation. Joey lets go of Maya’s hand so she is visible and she sits down to rest, while Joey slips off to look around. When he returns he finds Libertine sitting on Maya’s hand. Libertine rambles for a bit and heads off to find Queen Aquamarisha. They meet up behind the waterfall and Aquamarisha hugs Maya and they spend a couple pages talking about nothing. Maya explains that they have to find the secret entrance to the underworld and rescue the unicorns. Aquamarisha interrupts her to angst about not believing that they would ever be rescued.

“Queen Aquamarisha, dreams are the touch stones of our character.” (page 477)

I have no idea what the fuck that means.

There’s a moment where a guard sees something funny so Joey grabs them and they turn invisible and the guard wanders off. Aquamarisha explains that the giant stone waterfall is actually hollow and is therefore a perfect hiding spot. Convenient! Then she tells the mermaids to start chatting up the guards to gather intel. The mermaids do so, undoubtedly helped by their seashell pasties. Of course, if I was one of the mermaids I would have already been doing so for months so I would have an entire escape plan worked out just in case the opportunity arose, but that’s just me.

One of the mermaids chats with the guards and pretends to be insulted by the fact that Apollyon sometimes walks by without looking at them. It’s actually a pretty well-written scene. But the guard reveals that he’s pretty sure Apollyon is actually going in a special door to visit the unicorns. Unfortunately, Tesch loses all the goodwill she’s build up with this next scene:

The mermaid who spoke with the guards was a talker. Her name was ‘Marabou’ and when she started talking with somebody it was nearly impossible to stop her. She was suffering under the ‘diarrhea of words’ (page 482).

Worst. Metaphor. Ever. Seriously. What the fuck was Tesch thinking?

This is like reading My Immortal except instead of being a brilliantly written trollfic, it’s actually serious.

Anyway. Marabou – it’s never a good thing when your name rhymes with Caribou – tells Aquamarisha and they decide that they’re going to carefully watch the next time Apollyon strolls by to see what’s happening. Yeah…apparently the secret door to the underworld is practically visible from the popular waterpark where the mermaids are being kept. Sounds like a moronic design choice, personally. And something else…oh, right. Convenient.

Drinks: 18

Chapter Sixty-One – The Key to the Underworld

Later, they’re all waiting when Apollyon comes by. Maya and Joey are standing on top of the rock formation waterfall, invisible, which gives them a good angle to see what’s going on. Apollyon stops at something called the ‘eternal flame’. which seems to be a levitating chunk of magical fire. He warms his hands for a bit, and then suddenly his hand flashes out into the fire. Only Joey is Speshul enough to see what he did. Then he wanders off. Tesch notes that Apollyon also feels a little weird, like something is not quite right, but of course he brushes the feelings off. He walks over to a door and pulls a purple glowstick out of his sleeve and knocks on a door which opens up. Behind this door is another door. Apollyon knocks on it three times and it opens and he goes inside.

They all wait and watch and eventually Apollyon comes back out.

He went straight to the fireplace of the eternal flame and then again…. with lighting speed he dropped something into the ring of eternal fire. He spoke some kind of ‘swing words’, warmed his hands and vanished in the opposite direction (page 488).

No, I don’t know what swing words are.

Joey discusses things with Libertine. Joey wants to attempt the rescue that night but Libertine warns him to be careful and that they need to wait until the right time. Libertine suggests that he personally go, explore the path, and try to make contact with Fayina, so they’ll be ready to go when the time comes. Joey has a hilarious sarcastic response to this:

“Libertine, you are a great executive, because ‘good executives never put off until tomorrow what they can get someone else to do today’.” (page 489).

Although it would be a lot funnier if Libertine was actually capable of doing it herself.

Joey heads over to the eternal flame, psyches himself up, and reaches in and grabs the ‘glowing tool’, which burns the hair off his arm. It basically looks like a miniature purple lightsaber. And the Tarnkappe has no effect on it, so there’s a miniature lightsaber hovering in midair. Luckily, nobody sees it. Joey walks over to the door, taps on it, and heads inside.

Drinks: 20

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  1. Deborah on 9 December 2010, 09:58 said:

    Oh, dear me, this gets worse and worse!

  2. Littlestar on 9 December 2010, 10:12 said:

    I laughed for minutes when I read ‘swing words’
    Why? I have no idea XD
    Where does she come up with this stuff?

  3. Barbeqed on 9 December 2010, 11:48 said:

    This would be a great book if at the end she said that it had been written as a joke. That would be hilarious because each chapter so far has gotten more absurd than the last. While it does do a dishonor to the English language it is a very amusing story to read so keep up the good work Rorschach.

  4. Charlotte on 9 December 2010, 12:48 said:

    So… why would a giant evil castle have a waterpark? Of course, with the whole teamwork/‘Club of Evil’ thing, I’m not surprised.

  5. Sweguy on 9 December 2010, 13:56 said:

    Did you know that Marabou is a delicious Swedish chocolate? 8) At least she does honor to the Scandinavian culture, gotta give her a thumb up for that!

  6. dragonarya on 9 December 2010, 15:33 said:

    I don’t get it. How is it possible that this thing keeps getting worse and worse? Isn’t there some kind of law of nature that prevents that?
    By the way, one of my neighbor’s names is Goran. I’m not sure how it’s spelled, by it’s pronounced exactly like it’s written. (Admittedly his family is from India. And his brother’s name is Parth, pronounced ‘part’, as in car part.) Now whenever I see him outside I’m reminded of this and can’t stop giggling.
    @ Charlotte: Exactly what I was thinking!

  7. Licht on 9 December 2010, 16:08 said:

    Big Bertha on Patrol reads like a cyber punk anime episode. That I read Big Bertha on Petrol first doesn’t make it any better.

    “They talk about the airships for awhile and Joey thinks they’re totally awesome and wants to go check them out and actually starts running towards them”
    Does someone remember Scary Movie 4? And that boy, the son of “Tom Cruise”, who runs towards the Alien ships?

    “diarrhea of words” Ah… A fault confessed is half redressed.


    “glowing tool’, which burns the hair off his arm. It basically looks like a miniature purple lightsaber.”
    I’ll just say… Terry Goodkind. Dirty mind. Dirty.

  8. swenson on 9 December 2010, 17:49 said:

    It’s enormous. Four or five miles across. A hundred and twenty towers.

    Ooo! Ooo! Math tiems!

    Let’s take the lower bound of that (four miles) and say that all 120 towers are along the same wall of the castle. This means there’s 30 towers per mile. A mile is, of course, 5280 feet long (I didn’t even have to look it up this time!), which puts the towers at…

    176 feet apart. So about half a football field’s length.

    Now, if this was a defensive wall, like the Great Wall of China, that might make sense. But even if we ignore the absurdity of a castle four miles long, the vast majority of castles with the stereotypical walls and towers have those stereotypical walls and towers so that attacking armies can be repelled, particularly from vulnerable areas like gates. So you want them a whooooole lot closer together than that! (and before you ask, this isn’t just speculation, I went and specifically looked it up.) And this is, again, assuming that the idiot architect put them all along one wall. If they’re evenly divided among the four sides of the castle (so 30 towers per side), that brings it down to just over 7 towers per mile, each over 750 feet apart.

    Not to mention, how do you even hope to maintain something that huge?! Continuously manning even half of those towers would be a logistical nightmare!

    Bertha the raven shows up and knocks a password on the door

    …how does a raven knock on a door?

    Also, glowing tool? I’ll say no more.

  9. Licht on 9 December 2010, 18:35 said:

    With its fists, silly.

    See? Ravens got hands.

  10. swenson on 9 December 2010, 20:03 said:

    :D Nice. OK, fine, if that’s what Bertha was supposed to look like, I suppose I can let it pass!

  11. Danielle on 9 December 2010, 20:21 said:

    “Queen Aquamarisha, dreams are the touch stones of our character.”

    I don’t know what it means, either, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with Inception.

  12. Pnikkis on 11 December 2010, 09:44 said:

    Funny, how Armstrong admits that Maya and Joey are teenagers that tend to do stupid things, and he also thinks they’re the best choise to lead their army. It’s really unbelievable how Maradonia hasn’t been taken over by the bad guys yet. Then again, villains here have also proven themselves as complete morons, so I quess that balances things out.

  13. swenson on 12 December 2010, 20:01 said:

    I’m more surprised they haven’t all accidentally killed themselves with their monumental stupidity yet… forget a war, they’re going to die from forgetting to look both ways before crossing the street!

  14. Deborah on 13 December 2010, 09:38 said:

    I think that term actually describes the entire Maradonia saga pretty well. As well as Worlds of the Crystal Moon.

  15. Puppet on 14 December 2010, 16:04 said:

    I wouldn’t notice half the mistakes if you didn’t point them out, Rorschach. My brain just sort of auto corrects.

  16. Thea on 16 December 2010, 21:14 said:

    I confess, as awful as this is I kind of want to find a copy of the books for myself (maximum price: free) and read them without even the editing of a spork. It’s just that bad.

  17. Kurt on 19 December 2010, 10:58 said:

    You should try to google some of the contrived sayings Joey and Mara say. It turns out some of them are actual quotes:

    “dreams are the touch stones of our character” is found by Google as a quote by Henry David Thoreau.

    “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader” is a quote by Margaret Fuller

    “A great man is always willing to serve and to be little” (chapter 42) is, sans “to serve and”, a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    Clearly, Tesch must own a book of quotes.

  18. BettyCross on 31 March 2011, 18:06 said:

    Not to mention, how do you even hope to maintain something that huge?! Continuously manning even half of those towers would be a logistical nightmare!

    Gloria should read military history, especially medieval military history (Crusades, War of Roses, 100 Years’ War, etc), to get some kind of grounding in how to write about war in the pre-gunpower era. This is in addition to the many other things she needs to research.

  19. Emy on 10 July 2013, 16:34 said:

    “diarrhea of words” actually is close to the real life (albeit outdated) euphemism, “diarrhea of the mouth.” It’s used to refer to stupid people who cannot shut up.

  20. CP on 17 June 2022, 00:04 said:

    Maybe the swing word is Brisingr…

  21. things to do on 7 September 2023, 06:13 said:

    I learned a lot from the insight you shared, this helps me a lot.