Three chapters remain, plus the epilogue. Let’s do this.
Tecker and Hatchel see the hall in the sky that Error made. They call for the lord ley express jet so they can fly up and close the portal between worlds.
Mean and Parlay battle inside the cage as it flies away from Hardpan and towards the hall. Parlay reveals an amulet that houses vein, a magic-nullifying organism. The gelatinous substance reacts to his command: forming pillars, crossbows, and sharp projectiles. Mean busts out a hidden talent of her own and flies around the cage to dodge Parlay’s attacks. If she can damage him enough, his static magic will fail; but she can’t let him directly touch her or she’ll be at his mercy.
The chapter ends with Mean ensnared in a vein web and Parlay’s hand around her throat.
Will this be enough to impress Kim? I think you already know the answer to that….
For the first time ever, Kim decides to comment on the chapter title.
- 23 – Mile-High Cage Match
- Kim – Okay, so the whole reason for the flying cage was to have a flying cage match?
Close. The whole reason for the entire BOOK was to have a flying cage match. After all, I imagined the concept for this scene back in high school! That’s how I write. I think of the thrilling finale first, then work backwards to figure out how it all happens.
Tecker has called for an express jet from Ley Ledge. He’s going to fly up to the hall with Hatchel so they can close the breach.
- “You can stay here; I’m flying it back,” he yelled over the humming engines, motioning to helmeted pilot.
- Kim – Wait, what? Tecker is a licensed pilot? Thought he barely knew how to drive the harvester?
Yeah, who knew, right? Tecker figured he’d need a pilot’s licence if he ever wanted to make it into the space program. I’ll just have him mention it in the chapter.
The pilot that flew the plane down tells Tecker why he chose to respond to the request.
- “That’s why I answered the call––when I saw it was you,” the pilot said. “You’re the only Lord Ley that doesn’t call for the Express every five minutes.
- Kim – Oh, the pilots have a choice in the matter? So if they wanted to, they could just not obey the orders?
I was thinking it’s more of a choice. The pilots MUST obey the summon from a Lord Ley. But if a pilot receives two calls, they can choose which person to prioritize. I’ll change the dialog to make this more clear.
Hatchel and Tecker get into the express jet after the pilot leaves. I’m not really sure where that pilot is going, now that I think of it. It’s not like they can pick him back up after they collapse the hall, ha,ha.
- “I was talking to Vail while that medic looked at your arm: He said that the hex door up there leads to your world––where we constructed Hardpan.”
- Kim – Wait, what? He didn’t tell Hatchel this earlier? Then why did they decide to take a plane up there? Why would Hatchel agree to that if he didn’t know what was going on first? And wouldn’t both of know that just from looking up?
They can’t see the falling city from the angle they’re viewing it from on the ground. And Hatchel would want to close up the hall regardless of where it leads. He knows that massive patterns like the hall attract Hellzoo, which he hints at near the end of the scene.
I don’t see any mention of Hatchel mentioning that he CAN destroy the hall, though. Oops.
Back in the cage, Parlay removes one of his necklaces and holds it out to Mean.
- “Do you know what I have here?” he said. Mean leapt back as he held out his fist; the gold chain dangled and danced; the casing bulged outward with a squelch.
- Kim – Why is she leaping away from a necklace? Is jewelry her one weakness?
Mean just got a magic bracelet from Vornis, so maybe she thinks Parlay’s jewelry has some sort of power, too? But you’re probably right: you wrote a second note here telling me to put her backwards jump after it bulges. That would give her a reason to react. No need for her to back-step twice. Or… three times I see, reading further. Ha,ha.
The vein pops out of the amulet and starts to grow.
- The wriggling substance stretched up from his palm as he spoke, meeting the steel bars overhead.
- Kim – How much vein was there? Thought it was just a tiny bit in a locket? So now it’s stretching at least 4 feet up? So it’s just a thin thread now?
Uh oh. I forgot to tell you that its mass was growing? I guess it’s time for more bulging and flexing outward…
As the vein bulges and flexes, Mean recoils in disgust.
- “I never told anyone about this;” Parlay said, “I knew they would be disgusted. Although vein is used in every machine and magical device, mastery over it like this would appear quite grotesque.”
- Kim – Wait, what? Why? I mean, it just sounds like slime or flubber. Nothing that gross.
Kim, I know you love these sorts of adjectives, but they’re not for everyone.
And Flubber doesn’t exist in this fantasy world! Without Robin Williams’ charm to put the world at ease, everyone would cringe in disgust before gooey, pulsating vein!
I talked to Kim about this and came up with a better reason for Mean to be apprehensive: She’s been traumatized since her incident with the odd water, so anything blob-like and moving would sicken her.
In the next book I touch on this anyway, so I might as well start the character development now.
But I do want to keep Parlay’s lines the same. Past Parlay was very insecure.
Mean uses her magic to take Parlay’s remote. She can’t use it, so Parlay mocks her.
- “Why don’t you try sending that back, hm?” he purred. “I can show you how to work it; let’s see how you like being lectured like a child.”
- Kim – What is he even talking about? When did Mean lecture him? She hasn’t really been talking at all.
Parlay is referring to the government farewell party at the beginning of the book. What, you forgot about the prologue already!? Mean served Parlay a drink and told him how to use the magical kegs as if he didn’t know anything about magic. Parlay was playing dumb, though, so he’s just being a jerk about it now. I guess it’s a BIT too far back, even for people reading the book straight through.
Mean finally decides it’s time to reveal that she can fly.
- Mean bounced; she sprung from the wall––soaring at Parlay without touching the floor.
- Kim – Does something bad happen if she touches the floor? Is the floor lava?
It’s polished wood, Kim! Did I not mention that? I hate scuff marks on my clean floor.
No, I’m just being stupid here. Not sure why I put that in.
Mean knocks Parlay from the vein pillar in the center of the cage.
- Mean leapt away as his arm swooshed through the air, with several red globs still clinging to his white sleeve.
- Kim – No! Not his sleeve!
Hey! You know I had to clean up after kids at the daycare for years! Stains and messes are serious business for me! So when the battles in the book get serious, I add stains! What, it isn’t that way for everyone?
Parlay is caught off-guard by Mean’s maneuverability.
- Parlay tottered back, caught himself, and swung at her.
- Kim – Doesn’t he know any magic? Why is he reduced to punching?
Sorry, I don’t think I’ve explained this in the book at all: Parlay does know magic spells, but he can’t use them while he keeps his body static. That’s why he’s weaponized plants and vein to fight for him. I guess Mean can drop that exposition during the fight, since she knows that Trisk is bound by the same restriction.
Mean tosses Parlay into a wall.
- Parlay twirled at her, pressing a palm to his brow. He glared and he hissed, rubbing his flustered face.
- Kim – Could omit. Almost sounds like something the three stooges would do.
Sigh. Don’t remind me. There are so many legends of stage and film, taken from this world before they had a chance to play a part in the inevitable Abandonment Party movie.
Parlay takes a cord off his vest, because most vests have cords.
- He pulled the cord out of his vest and held it up by the middle.
- Kim – Not sure how a cord is on his vest. Google is not helpful at all. Only find a cord on a life-vest to pull.
Oh dear. You just don’t have much luck with this sort of thing, Kim. I suppose I’ll have to do all your work for you again. It’s such a hassle, searching for cute girls wearing vests:
See? Cords all over the place. In the vest’s description the cords are called ‘laces’ as in shoelaces. They’re usually on the sides, or sometimes the front is held together by them instead of buttons. Parlay uses stronger material, which is why I called them ‘cords’ in the book. I’ll improve the description so you know exactly where the cord is coming from.
Parlay uses he cord with the vein to make a mini crossbow. He fires vein bolts at Mean.
- Her shoes squealed as she landed, her eyes still focused on Parlay as he raced to load another projectile. Digging in her heels once again, she rocketed out of the way.
- Kim – This fight is a little repetitive. Just has him fire, her jump, him reload and repeat. What are the stakes? Possible to have him actually hit her once? And cause an injury that makes her slower? Or why doesn’t he try something different after this fails the first three times? The reader doesn’t feel any tension because she’s jumping out of the way so easily, there’s no concern about her at all.
Isn’t this the part where Parlay is trying to get Mean into a certain position so that his vein can grab her from the ceiling? The reader is supposed to feel at ease so then the trap is unexpected. I guess you fell for it too. 😉
This part COULD use some more improvements, though. I mean, Mackaba was also firing little spears at Mean earlier in the book. I should change Parlay’s projectiles into balls. Vein balls. Yeah that sounds okay. Nothing weird there. And Mean could get hit with one, too, like you suggested. Cause a nasty welt to slow her down.
Oh, yeah, this is that part. Parlay’s vein drops from the ceiling and catches Mean.
- “I had to distract you long enough so I could set up a snare. Even flying girls don’t bother to look up, do they?”
- He tipped his head, directing Mean’s gaze to the ceiling, where a path of vein ran over the cage: trailing from the pillar, snaking across the angular tops of the bars, and to the corner where they had enclosed her.
- Kim – Not sure what this means. Does he mean flying boys don’t have this problem? Still confused how this plan even worked and she didn’t notice the bright red vein moving above her on a see-through ceiling.
Do you seriously want Parlay to say ‘flying persons?’ C’mon. -_-
And I’m going to disagree with you on being able to see the vein on the top of the cage. Mean is dodging Parlay’s shots, so she has to stay focused on him. And when people are focused it’s very easy to lose sight of anything happening in their peripheral vision.
But hey, you’ve actually had martial arts experience so feel free to disagree with me. Comments are right down there. C’mon. Don’t let the book end without making a SINGLE comment on the blog to argue your points of view.
Either way, only a few chapters left! See you next time!