Thursday, February 11, 2010

Part 6, Chapter 9 - The Riddle of Numph: Phantom Scotsman

Jonnie arrives at Loch Shin, on the shore of which is a temporary village that nonetheless features a stone house for its chieftain. There our hero meets the Chief of the Clan, Fearghus...

...a big black-haired, black-bearded power of a man. He had a short skirt that showed the bony knees of strong legs. He wore a pair of white crossbelts, pinned together at the center of the X with a large silver badge. A bonnet sat squarely on his head and he held a large, ancient sword across his knees.

...which is more description than Chrissie got.

Jonnie doesn't answer the chief's question of exactly who he's a messenger for, and asks if the Scots have "had any trouble with the monsters," which Fearghus takes to mean the "demons." Despite Jonnie not saying anything about himself, Fearghus answers his question and relates the myths of a great cloud that killed all but a few people, adding "I am sure you know these myths since they are religious and you appear to be a properly, politely religious man."


Last chapter Jonnie exchanged his Psychlo uniform for his old buckskin. How does this translate into appearing religious? Do their priests dress up like frontiersmen? Do Scots have a genetic tendency to trust people wearing leather? Or is it Jonnie's beard that makes him trustworthy?

Fearghus, welcome to the cast of idiots, I'm sure you'll fit right in.

Anyway, chiefie goes on to say how they fish as much as they can before retreating back to the Highlands, before the demon fortress five hundred miles southwest sends out another man-hunting expedition.

Which is strange. The U.S. minesite didn't send out random kill-teams, did it? It looked more like company policy was to mine and just ignore the rest of the area. So why are the British miners taking time off to blow up some Scots? Plus, these humans have maintained a population despite sporadic culling at the hands of the Psychlos. Makes the Village of the Idiots look a bit silly for hiding in a radioactive valley.

Anyway, Jonnie says he's here to recruit fifty "young, valiant men" to work for him and face danger and death. "But in the end, should God grant us fortune and we are true to our task, we may defeat the demons and drive them from this world."

Which totally blows the Scots' minds. A council member named Angus relates a myth that long ago a "crusade of thousands" tried and failed to drive the demons out, while another argues that "Nobody has ever fought the demons!" Which is frankly baffling. These red-blooded Scottish stereotypes haven't tried fighting the Psychlos yet?

Another guy named Robert the Fox says that they're starving up in the Highlands due to lack of grazing land for the sheepies and poor farmland.

"But I also tell you," he continued, "that this stranger, clothed in what I take to be buckskin, signifying a hunter, speaking a strangely accented speech, smiling and courteous and no Argyll, has voiced an idea that in all my long life, I have never heard before. His words cause the mind to flare with sudden vision. That he can propose such a vision of daring and boldness proves that in some way he must be a Scot! I recommend we listen." He sat down.

Good Lord, I don't know where to start.

There's the buckskin = trustworthiness mental defect Fearghus shares. There's the jaw-dropping suggestion that what is obviously a warrior culture has never thought to attack the biggest threat menacing them. There's the intuitive leap that even though Jonnie dresses differently from them and talks differently from them, he must be a Scot. But mostly, there's the fact that Foxy's having this reaction to a man who has said exactly six sentences since meeting with the Chief. Jonnie hasn't said anything about himself. He hasn't said where the men he's asking for would be going, or what they would be doing. He hasn't said how he plans to fight the demons. But his words are nevertheless enough to get this passionate speech of approval from Robert.

What. The. Hell.

Fearghus is already musing about how to gather the manpower, before belatedly remembering to ask Jonnie his name and where he's from.

My brain.

After Jonnie tells them he's from America, Robert cites legends about such a place where many Scots went, which proves to a council member that he must be a Scot. Then Jonnie says that he's a messenger from "mankind--before we become extinct forever."

Extinct implies forever, Jonnie/Hubbard. You can't go extinct but get better later. Well, not unless cloning is involved, or time travel.

When asked how he came to Scotland, Jonnie tells them that he flew.

The chief and the others digested this. The chief frowned then. "In these times only the demons can fly. How did you get here from America?"

"I own a demon," said Jonnie.

Yeeeah. The latest mental assault mercifully comes to an end right at the bottom of page 202. Next chapter, Jonnie checks on his demon.

Back to Chapter Eight

1 comment:

  1. *Why* is Fearghus in its original Gaelic form, but Angus is anglicized?

    Silly things to be annoyed over, I suppose, but I have to focus on the little things that annoy me or else the sheer idiocy of the big things will fry my brain, I'm sure of it.