Leaving behind the azure glow reflected off cold stone walls, Kale entered a kaleidoscope of colors shot through with tiny explosions of light.
No, I'm not sorry. I'll put this clip up as many times as Paul rips off the Stargate.
... so THERE.
So Kale shoots through the Stargate and... we get a really weird scene where the descriptions have nothing to do with what's going on.
Her body pushed through the lights and colors and sticky air and emerged under a sunny sky, surrounded by trees and the fragrance of fresh rain and sweet flowers. A soft breeze brushed against her cheeks and tousled her short curls.
“Breathe!” shouted Dar. She barely heard him over a thunderous rushing noise in her ears.
Pressure built in her chest, and her lungs felt coated with fire. Her eyes stung, tearing up, blurring her vision.
... yeah, that doesn't work for two reasons.
- Again, total ripoff of the scene in Stargate where people stagger out, disoriented and breathless, after their first time.
- Also, there's a weird disconnect in this scene. Oh, look at the pretty trees and flowers, smell that lovely rainwashed hair and feel that soft breeze OH SHIT HELP CAN'T BREATHE! What the hell is up with that?
- And why the hell is this dumbass even DOING this? So, she can't hear anything, can't breathe, can barely see... and she stops to notice the scenery?!
- And for that matter, how can she smell anything if she CAN'T EVEN BREATHE?
So Dar whacks her on the back, which shouldn't work because she's not choking on food, she's just having a random attack of RipOffItis. People whack you on the back when you're having breathing because you're CHOKING. But for some reason, this randomly causes Kale to start breathing again.
And is this explained to Kale? Of course not! She just sits down, and the whole subject is dropped completely. And oh look, the alleged heroes didn't even bother to tell her that she might end up SUFFOCATING after going through the gate. And yes, these are our heroes! Such Christian generosity and kindness!
“We’ll eat our noonday meal here,” said Leetu, lowering her pack to the ground. “After a little rest, we’ll begin our trek to The Bogs.”
Onward, Christian douchebags! Marching as to assholery!
So it turns out that this forest they're in is about five miles from the bog they're supposed to go into... and doesn't bother to tell us how far we are from our destination. Swamps can be VERY large.
"Granny Noon wouldn’t put us down in the swamp. Too easy to step right out of the gateway into something nasty.” Dar chortled. “Or even someone nasty.”
So... they're afraid of stepping into someone?
“What kind of creatures live there?”
“Not as many flesh-eaters as you would think.”
"Anita Blake does turn up there sometimes, so hide all your penises."
This pisses off Kale, who seems to have put on her megabitch hat for this story.
"Well, it isn’t completely terror-free. But there’s a good chance we won’t be accosted by gruesome bisonbecks or odious mordakleeps.”
“Dar...” Leetu glared at the little doneel.
"How dare you tell Kale about the minions of the evil wizard we're going off to stop! She should be totally in the dark about the things that'll try to kill her!"
In fact, that seems to be what Leetu WANTS. Dar wasn't kidding there - there are actual minions of evil that will be in the swamps, who we have NEVER heard of and there's no sign that Kale has either. So yeah, Leetu actually is pissed off and sulking because Dar wants to warn the noob of danger, and she gets even ANGRIER when Dar points out the idiocy of this! Either she's trying to get Kale killed, or she thinks Kale is too stupid to know any of the stuff ahead.
“Actually, I agree with you. Worrying now over an encounter that might occur later would only ruin our digestion.”
"Which is obviously more important than avoiding a gruesome death!"
“Just eat,” she commanded. “We have a long way to go. It isn’t necessary to conjure up visions of disaster. Paladin has equipped us to handle whatever comes.”
- That's right: Leetu is seriously suggesting that a member of their team actually go into the swamp completely uninformed about its dangers.... because obviously D&D Jesus will fix everything for them.
- There's faith, and then there's fucking stupid. Guess which one this is.
- You know, it doesn't seem like a very Christian attitude to just... take God for granted. Going bungee-jumping and notice that your cord is fraying? Don't bother bringing it up to the supervisor! Jesus will fix everything so that you won't end up as a red smear on the canyon floor!
- Ms. Paul seems to be a big opponent of "God helps those who help themselves." I mean, her characters don't give each other BASIC INFORMATION because they just figure God will fix everything for them, instead of assuming that hey, God might help them... but he probably won't if they stupidly blunder in without knowing their ass from their elbow.
- "I'm going into a warzone, but I'm not going to wear basic protective gear." "Why not?" "Because Jesus gives me everything I need to survive!"
So Leetu continues sulking because Dar DARED to mention the dangers ahead, and Kale sits there drooling on herself through this whole conversation. Then she has lunch.
When she opened the bundle wrapped in a gauzy cloth, she found a sandwich made of tasty jimmin poultry. The lettuce popped with freshness when she bit into it, and tomato juice ran down her chin.
- So, tomatoes and lettuce don't require any fantasy names, but "chicken" is too mundane?
- I have never heard lettuce "pop." Well, except maybe that one time I put bubble wrap in my tossed salad.
- Also.... they just LEFT Granny's place. They should have had breakfast not too long ago, and they're ALREADY eating lunch? Does the Stargate make you hungry?
So what does Kale think about after this? Does she think about the fact that the swamp ahead is REALLY DANGEROUS and nobody is telling her how to survive? Does she think about how her asshole companions are deliberately keeping her in the dark because Leetu is a huge nasty bitch? Does she think about how she is totally going to die?
Hell no! She thinks for a few paragraphs about how she can eavesdrop on other people's mindspeaking, and wonders if she can violate Leetu's mind too!
Granny Noon said my talent would develop by being around Leetu. I guess this is the kind of thing she meant would happen.
... so now we're copying Bleach, where the main cast develops spiritual superpowers by hanging around Ichigo?
... the hell?
So Kale starts reading Leetu's mind, and eavesdrops on EPIC BATTLE SCENE:
Kale saw Leetu’s thoughts, images of mighty urohm soldiers mounted on gigantic horses moving in formation across a plain. In the distance, a dozen dragons flew in a line with one shimmering silver beast in the lead. Their destination was a bleak mountain range of obsidian black and ash gray. Storms shrouded the crater tops. The roiling clouds sent jagged bolts of green and purple lightning across the sky in all directions, accompanied by a menacing rumble of thunder.
... IN TECHNICOLOR!
Kale knew this was the ancient legend of the Battle of Ordray. She had heard the tale once in the tavern and had no idea what the army looked like. Nor could she imagine the landscape of the great conflict on her own.
Here's the funny thing about battles - they don't tend to have defined characteristics just by LOOKING at them, with no idea where you are or who was fighting. I mean, if you saw Neo fighting a battle in front of Mount Rushmore against an army of evil alien robots, you would probably be able to identify whatever battle that was.
In this one... we have soldiers on horses, and we have dragons... both of which have probably been in a lot of battles in the past. So how can she identify this?!
And yes, I know she is able to read Leetu's thoughts, and thus might be able to hear what battle it was. But since the author didn't specify that, I am not gonna assume that.
Leetu’s imagination, fed by her knowledge of the race of urohms, formed the pictures Kale viewed.
Tragically, we readers are still hopelessly lost.
Leetu had also seen the Valley of Collumna. The beauty of the flowered meadows ended abruptly at the foot of the dark ridge of mountains.
THAT ISN'T HOW PLANT LIFE WORKS.
So because this whole chapter has been ass-numbingly boring so far, Paul tries to spice it up by telling us about the BATTLE OF EPIC EPICNESS.... which is told entirely in dry you-are-NOT-there historical facts. If this were ANY more boring, it would be performed with sock puppets.
The leader of the urohm forces, Corne, sat with the diminutive kimen, Ezthra, before him on the neck of his war-horse.
- His last name was "Overhere."
- Okay, I know the name is C-o-r-n-e, not C-o-m-e, but that's how I initially read it.
- Also, I don't think it's good for a horse to have someone sitting on its NECK.
A few days before, Ezthra had arrived with an urgent plea.
"We've run out of iPods! Our population is going through digital withdrawal!"
This was one of the most exciting accounts of Wulder’s directly intervening on behalf of His people.
If this is the EXCITING one, I would hate to see a dull-as-socks one.
The kimens’ request and the urohms’ response had earned Wulder’s pleasure, and His reward was astonishing.
Because THAT is how God works! Reject a single temptation, and he gives you whatever the hell you want! Also, I'm not sure why asking for help would please God.
So what was going on? Well, the kimens - whoever the hell they are - had had a three-year drought, and were approached by one of Pretender's slaves, who told them that he was controlling the weather. So basically it goes:
"Pretender has control of the weather! You should totally believe this even though his name basically means he's a liar!"
"We don't believe you!"
"He'll totally rain fire and burn up your lands!"
"Did you not hear what we said?"
The kimens doubted Pretender’s claim. Wulder commanded wind and rain and sun. They sent back a defiant reply.
The wind, sun and rain sent back a defiant reply?
So apparently Pretender lied. WHAT A SURPRISE. He's actually got an army of bisonbecks (these names are so STUPID) ready to wipe them out.
He’d crept into the field tent of a commander and listened to their plans to capture and enslave the kimens, destroy their homes, and stamp out their culture.
- Nooooo! Not the famous kimen musicals! We can't live without those!
- Actually, I don't like most musicals. Stamp them out!
- Also, the Forces of Evil have really, really sucky security. I mean, a member of the race they are ABOUT TO WIPE OUT just wanders through their camp and they don't notice?
- And into the tent of their COMMANDER?
Bisonbecks, the most intelligent of the seven low races brought forth from Pretender’s evil mind,
Okay, I'm going to stop and rant for a moment. This is allegedly a Christian fantasy even though we haven't been told who the hell Wulder and Pretender are.
Now, according to Christian doctrine, God is the only one who can actually create things. Angels can't. Humans can't. Demons can't. Animals can't. We can reshape things, but we need something to start with. We don't CREATE the clay for a pot, we just take clay that already existed and make it into a pot. You can see this sort of belief in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, where evil creatures like orcs, trolls etc are not actually new races, but are elves and Ents who have been horribly twisted by Sauron and Morgoth.
So why the hell is "Pretender" able to actually MAKE his own creatures? Doesn't that mean that Pretender ISN'T a pretender, but is actually a god in his own right? A lesser one, sure, but.... dude!
Rock-hard of muscle, thick-skinned like a crocodile melon, known for strength and endurance, the bisonbecks added an unholy rage in battle to their formidable ability to wipe out anyone who opposed them.
Cave Troll Steve resents that remark!
Now he will kill you, your family and your pets!
What chance did the gentle, peace-loving kimen people have against them?
A pretty good one, I think. The forces of Generic Evil are obviously all morons, so eluding them shouldn't be hard.
We're told a few details about kimens, which are about two feet tall and so lightweight that they ACTUALLY GET BLOWN AWAY BY WIND. Not even strong wind. Just breezes. Natural selection, do your duty! Obliterate the kimens! Which is what is going to happen until they don't receive help from some other species the side of Generic Good.
If Pretender did rain fire upon them, the kimens would most certainly perish.
... why are they assuming that Generic Dark Lord/Satan Substitute is telling the truth about ANY of this? I mean, we've already established that his threat is partly made up of lies. Why do they think that he's telling the truth at ALL?
So for... no real reason, the urohms are instantly convinced to go help the kimens, even though failure would doom their own people to starvation, poverty, and probably horrible retribution by Satan. Yeah, that seems totally likely. I have shocking news for Ms. Paul: going to war on behalf of someone else is a BIG DEAL, especially when you have nothing to gain by it. Yes, even devout people don't just prance off to war because OOOOOO the forces of evil are attacking someone! It's a little more complicated than hat!
Corne stood up and spoke for his people.
He spoke FOR his people? Shouldn' that be, "spoke TO his people?"
His compassionate response to the plight of the kimens provided the lyrics to many tavern songs.
... which is why Paul won't tell us what he said. We're just told that it was compassionate.
The urohms would not stand by in safety behind the black ridges of Dormanscz.
In the ancient land of Cat-on-a-Keyboard!
The urohms would not allow one of the seven high races to suffer and expire.
- Is the word "die" not allowed in this book?
- So this whole war is some kind of weird racial thing?
- And again, I'm not sure why they're going to war. I mean, do they have a political alliance with the kimens? Do they have some vested interest in them? IS THERE ANY ACTUAL REASON BEYOND SAINTLINESS THAT THEY'RE GOING TO WAR?
And the kicker is: the urohms don't even have any armor or suitable weapons. And lest you think there's any kind of gender equality in this series, the girls and women get to sit at home and sew armor so the menfolk can tramp off to battle.
As the men slept a final night in their homes with their families, Wulder came among them and increased the size of these valiant people to match the compassion of their hearts.
Because nothing says "compassion" like fighting a doomed war that will leave your families starving and vulnerable when you inevitably die.
Oh wait, that's being stupid.
Also, if these seven high races care so much about each other, why didn't anyone ELSE come rushing to the rescue? Were they too busy buffing their actual armor and weapons?! Maybe they figured, "Hey, the kimens suck. I mean, they're always getting blown into trees and getting sat on, and they don't actually do anything except get in trouble. Let 'em all burn!"
And yes, Wulder - whoever he is - caused the urohms to grow to 12 to 14 feet tall, and gives them Epic New Fighting Skills! Sort of like in Surf Ninjas. Of course, the growth would mean more if we had any idea what their ORIGINAL height was.
Their clothing, livestock, and weapons had increased in size as well,
... so great, now they have ten-foot-tall cows. Just what we needed.
Even today, the urohms build all but their beds on a smaller scale to remind themselves of the mighty gift bestowed upon them.
Which is EFFING STUPID. Ever tried to sit down on a little kid's furniture? It isn't pleasant, and you wouldn't be able to actually do anything on it.
In the air, Wizard Dayen rode a regal dragon. He and eleven other wizards under the authority of Paladin had been summoned to flank the ground warriors.
SO WHY DIDN'T PALADIN SEND A FUCKING ARMY?!
And in case you're wondering, no, we don't get to hear anything about the battle. That is perilously close to having something INTERESTING happen! No, Leetu notices that Kale is staring at her and drooling. And she's justifiably pissed off.
I’m sorry! Shame washed over Kale. She’d been eavesdropping. Sneaky. Stealing Leetu’s pleasure. It wasn’t sharing; it was trespassing. Despicable. “I’m sorry.”
"Waaaaaaaahhhhh I'm sorry I totally mind-raped you! Can we still be besties?"
“I have offended her. She is justly angry with me.”
"My dialogue is stilted."
Like me, Dar doesn't give a shit about this, and Kale starts going emo because Dar doesn't give a shit. And as usual, she makes it all about her and her horrible life and how pathetic she is.
Dar cleared his throat, looked speculatively at Leetu, and then addressed Kale in a voice that could be heard by both of the girls.
"I wish I were having a threesome."
“It is hard to win back the trust of a friend. But we live by the code of Paladin, and Leetu, although young, is well versed in his way.”
Because the best way to resolve a conflict is to try to guilt the victim into apologizing. A minute after the offense. Thank God he's not a cop.
Also, we've already seen that Leetu is actually trying to get Kale KILLED, but Dar insists that Leetu sticks to the Christian rules if she FORGIVES someone?
So the whole thing stays very awkward, and Leetu is basically just staring off into space being offended. I think we're supposed to be pissed at her. I'm not. HELLO, SHE'S THE VICTIM!
What should I do?
“You’ve said you are sorry. Wait.”
They said ONE CHAPTER ago that doneels are hard to read! And now Kale can, with no effort?!
So eventually Leetu comes over, and Kale was relieved to see the ominous, cold expression had relaxed on the emerlindian’s face. Yeah, that expression she's had for the whole fucking book so far.
“Yes, it is I who must apologize, though I will wrest one from you, as well."
How about you let the MIND-RAPIST apologize first, bitch?
“Granny Noon reprimanded me on being lax in my obligation to you. She is right, as usual.”
"And then she went off on a rant about us kids today with our metal swords and our dragons and our invisibility cloaks and... well, I stopped paying attention."
“I’ve never seen myself as an instructor, and when given this assignment, I agreed with my lips but not with my heart.”
... possibly because it's REALLY FUCKING STUPID to instruct someone IN THE FIELD?
“Just now I was angry because you experimented with your untrained talent and intruded on my privacy. Had I taken the time to guide you, this would not have happened. I apologize.”
THIS IS FUCKING STUPID. In a person with any morals and ethics, it would be pretty much STANDARD to not intrude on someone else's privacy. HighFantasyBella should already know that invading someone's mind is WRONG without needing to be TOLD that. I can't read minds, and I know this is wrong!
Then again, this IS a series that has "I mind-rape in the name of God!"
Dar tugged at Kale’s sleeve. She jumped a little. She had not seen him come close.
“Accept,” he urged her.
She really is a Bella Swan isn't she? A man (or rather, a male) has to even tell her to accept an apology. She can't do it herself!
“Now for the intrusion. You have realized, have you not, the error of seeking the thoughts of a comrade to idle the time away?”
"The error"? You just got your mind violated by a stupid little shit who didn't even think about what she was doing. And the worst thing you can say is "you know this was an error, right?"
“Yes,” said Kale. “It made me feel awful when I realized what I’d done. Iam sorry, Leetu.”
SO WHY DID YOU DO IT? Do you ever bother to actually THINK before you do stuff, or do you just run around doing shit purely on instinct?
"You and I will discuss etiquette, among other fine points of your talent."
Because MIND-RAPE is such an impolite thing to do at parties, like using the wrong fork or slurping your soup.
"Dar, keep an eye out for mordakleeps. Rumor has it they’ve been spotted near waterways farther and farther from the swamps.”
"But don't mention how to avoid them. We want to make sure that Kale gets in as much potentially fatal trouble as possible!"