Today, the cavalry arrives!
When we last left our tertiary hero Susan, she was about to be sacrificed to the dark god-demon her master serves as punishment for her betrayal of him. Guilo has been holding back for better prayer-cover, but now that the horde of demons are laughing themselves silly, he realizes they have to move now.
Tal, Triskal, Kroni, and Mota (who?) are fighting demons in Ashton; this is difficult for Tal, because he’s so powerful but he has to hide so he can’t unleash his full strength. Finally, however, he gets an opening to slip away and rescue Susan.
[Kaseph] took one look at [Susan] and then gave her the back of his hand.
“Stop that!” he shouted. “Stop that praying!”
This just seems so absurd to me. These seeming pagans are not only worshipping neo-Jesus, but they also are terrified of Christian prayer, because they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it does work and can screw up their plans. Only, if they know that, then why aren’t they Christian themselves? Because of this weird concept where some Christians believe that all non-Christians know that Christianity is the One True Religion but they’ve intentionally turned their back on God for some unknown reason and thus are worshipping false gods knowingly just to piss him off.
She heard herself screaming.
I’m kind of tired of that particular construction. Usually, when I scream, it’s an intentional act. This sort of passive construction can work, when someone’s injured or drugged or otherwise not fully in control of their actions, but Susan has been slapped and handcuffed here, yet this phrase is used. In fact, this whole passage is from Kaseph’s point of view except for this one sentence, removing Susan entirely from what’s happening to her. I wonder if that’s intentional?
This passage (bottom of page 261 to top of page 262) is just not a well written passage, though, so maybe it’s unintentional. I mean, there’s so much bland reptition:
“Prepare the alter,” said Kaseph […]
The little priest left quickly. Kaseph returned his attention to Susan.
He took one look at her and then gave her the back of his hand.[…]
Kaseph, like a conqueror, stood above her […]
Then he said, almost kindly, […]
Then he spoke to the guards. […]
They grabbed her wrists and held them behind her; she heard a click and felt the cold steel of the manacles. She heard herself screaming.
Short, to the point, narrative sentences. No real art or craft, just “and then he said, and then he did, and then he said”. And then, out of nowhere, Susan’s perspective, then back to Kaseph as we follow his motions instead of hers. Huh?
Chapter 28 ends with Tal and Guilo resolving to get Susan out. OMG the suspense! Seriously, though, I wish they’d move instad of just talking about moving again and again.
Guilo was sensing some prayer cover; surely the demons would have noticed them by now, but their eyes were strangely unseeing.
Prayer cover is Stealth Mode?
Chapter 29 begins in the same spot: Kaseph talks to the Strongman, who is pleased with his offering. Susan prays. Tal climbs the mountains and notices the cloud of demons Guilo’s been staring at for ages. Guilo tells the warriors to get ready. Kaseph mutters a mantra and stands near knives. Susan prays more and then… enters a fugue state?
And then– as if she were no longer in that room, as if she were slowly waking up from a nightmare — the agonizing, heart-twisting fear began to ebb from her mind like a fading thought, like the slow, steady calming of a storm. Her heart was at rest. The room seemed strangely quiet. All she could do was look around with very curious eyes. What had happened? Had she died already? Was she asleep, or dreaming?
That’s… certainly one way to interpret “I shall fear no evil, for thou art with me”. Jesus apparently hands out some pretty potent anti-anxiety drugs.
The manacles undo themselves. The window opens on its own. Susan makes a break for it, grabbing her suitcase. None of the guards notice anything wrong at all.
Guilo leaped from his hiding lace and bellowed, “YA-HAAA!” as his little troupe of three and twenty popped into the air like fireworks and trailed after the van. “Cover yourselves, warriors!”
Snicker. Are the angels naked? Lol.
On a more serious note, apparently the big risky maneuver was… opening some locks? I’m just not feeling the might of the angels here.
The little priest reached Susan’s bedroom, and his bony hand opened the door.
“We are ready,” he declared, and suddenly realized that he was talking to a pair of very dedicated guards making very sure an empty chair would not get away.
The little pagan had a first-class fit; the guards had no explanation.
Is this priest 3 years old or something? Or is this meant to read as condescending and smarmy as it comes off, deriding him for not being a real (by which the text means Christian) priest.
Four security guards and a small contingent of demons give chase after the van. The van is driving amazingly fast:
“How many horses does that thing have?”
chugging up the steep grade at more than sixty miles an hour
Sixty! That’s unheard of!
Also, “chugging” implies “slowly”. Just saying.
23 angels are guarding the van, four pushing it to make it go faster while the other nineteen fend off demon attacks. Against all logical sense, the van avoids wrecking despite dancing on two or three wheels at a time. This, of course, is fine, because angels. I’m having trouble with the scene, because the number of demons is described as both a “legion” and “a small contingent”, but they’re apparently stronger than the angels, because the angels are losing ground. Guilo struggles to keep the van on the road and defended, but caught in a swordfight, he lets it go over the guardrail and wreck;
The fall was so far, so very long and extended, that the van seemed to float for an eternity before folding and crushing on the rocks below, twisting, turning, bouncing like a po can as chairs, desks, and cabinets tumbled out the back and papers upon papers fluttered through the air like snowflakes. […]After turning and rolling over and over, the van, no longer recognizable as anything, finally came to rest in a heap of scrap and glass at the base of the mountain.
Bye-bye Susan! Good news is, you found Jesus first, so you’re going to Heaven, yay.
(I’m expecting this to be a fake-out, but skimming ahead the next chapter or so, I see no sign of Susan, so I’ll leave it on this note.)