Last time on Against the Tide, Meilin had an ominous Trippy Dream Sequence. Will disaster befall the party? Find out after the cut.
Dagger Point turned out to be a long, narrow peninsula ending in a chain of sharper and sharper rocks that jutted into the sea like it was knifing it. It was the northernmost point of the southernmost island in the Hundred Isles, and in places the cool blue sea was so calm and the reflections of the clouds so clear that it looked as if you’d be leaping right into the sky if you dove in.
Now that all the Plot Tokens have been collected, it’s time for the party to gather again at Dagger Point! Unfortunately, it’s not an entirely happy reunion, since Meilin is kind enough to remind everyone that someone in the party is a mole, and thus the asshole responsible for killing her father. And she doesn’t want any of that talk-about-your-feelings BS right now — no, she wants to get this quest over and done with so they can collect all those stupid McGuffins and defeat the Conquerors.
So Meilin and Conor play the black and white conchs, summoning a giant stingray. Unfortunately, the stingray isn’t big enough for the entire party to ride on its back, so Lenori and Tarik opt to stay behind while the kids visit Mulop. Tarik gets quite emotional when he sends the party off — it turns out that he actually takes his job as the Protagonists’ guardian seriously, and he breaks down when he realizes that something bad may happen to them when he’s not around. He offers to take someone’s place, but Lenori tells him that our heroes have to go without him because The Plot Demands It.
After the requisite “Don’t worry, we can totes handle this” exchange, the party ventures forth on the Kingray. They sail through tropical paradise until they reach an island with tall cliffs and no giant Godlike Octopus in sight. Thanks to Rollan’s bond with Essix, the party realizes that they have to scale the cliffs to reach Mulop. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it works: the party finds a secret entrance at the top of the cliff. Our heroes — with the Granite Ram’s help — climb into the hole, which leads into a hidden grotto.
And, of course, Mulop the Godlike Octopus is there, waiting for them. Finally.
Stuff I Forgot to Mention Above:
Rollan’s party burned their canoe on the beach at Dagger Point. In case you forgot, Rollan’s party and their canoe are now tapu because they made landfall at Nightshade Island.
Kalani doesn’t join the party for the last part of this quest, since Rollan is tainted from visiting Nightshade Island.
Meilin still thinks that Abeke is the mole.
“Hey, can’t Tarik and Lenori follow the Kingray in a canoe?” Well, they can’t. The Kingray swims faster than most ships.
Kinda spoilers: Isn’t it suspicious that Tarik is suddenly getting character development? Granted, his character is just “appointed guardian of the Protagonists who is genuinely concerned for them,” but it’s better than Generic Mentor Figure.
Remember how Barlow disagreed with the Greencloaks’ policy of recruiting new members as children? This argument is brought up again when Tarik considers joining the Four Fallen on the Kingray.
Tarik gives the party the Granite Ram before they venture forth.
The ride on the Kingray reminds Rollan of playing with Aidana when he was younger.
Remember when the party participated in a seal hunt with the Ardu in the last book? Rollan is reminded of it when the party rides by a group of seals. At least he realizes that the Ardu only hunt seals in order to eat.
“Hundred Isles” is not hyperbole: there are exactly a hundred isles in the archipelago.
I actually tried sketching out Mulop’s lair sometime after initially reading this chapter. I’d post it, but honestly, it looks like a bunch of scribbles.
Meilin asks the Kingray if it’s going to ditch the party:
“Are you going to wait for us?” Meilin asked the Kingray. “Float there unhelpfully like a wet piece of silk if the answer is yes.”
“So no, I don’t want to have a heartfelt conversation about our feelings,” Meilin went on. “I want to call this Kingray, get the Coral Octopus, and finish this stupid quest before the Conquerors catch up to us yet again.” She snatched the white conch out of Rollan’s hands and snapped her fingers twice at Conor. “Ready?”
Next time: Mulop chats with our Protagonists.