Mark Reads ‘Deep Secret’: Chapter 22

In the twenty-second chapter of Deep Secret, Rupert and Will await the arrival of the Mallorys. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Deep Secret.

Chapter Twenty-Two

  • I really want to be relieved, but there are three more chapters after this. ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN. So I will cautiously pleased by what happens here. THAT SEEMS A LOT SAFER.
  • I suppose I don’t have have to be guarded about LEVELED-UP QUACK CHICKS. I’ve decided that this is precisely what happens when any creature survives Babylon: They reach their max XP level. They are perfectly evolved. HEADCANON ACCEPTED.
  • Plus, I also want highly intelligent Thule quacks as a pet. That sounds perfect.
  • Anyway, the first big event of this chapter is the return of Nick. I think my idea of max XP isn’t actually all that far off from the actual truth. The Babylon verses said that a person traveling to Babylon would cross seventy miles in seventy years. While time certainly passes differently in that realm, I think what we’re seeing is a lot more of a mental transformation in these people than a physical one. (Though the quacks clearly grew up!) Rupert doesn’t describe a physical aging when he sees Nick or Maree. He does mention in great detail how Maree is the same person, but more filled in.
  • It’s also clear that the path to Babylon was a period of emotional growth for these characters. One of the things that had worried Rupert about sending these two to Babylon is that he was convinced neither person would be able to defy their nature. He was certain that Nick was too selfish to do something that would only benefit another person; he was certain that Maree was too selfless and wouldn’t ask for something that only benefited herself. So it was initially very pleasing to learn that he was right about Maree – she asked to have her father cured of his cancer!!! – and wrong about Nick. Nick used up his solitary wish to give Maree back her other half.
  • !!!!!!
  • Well, sort of. They were traveling together, but she was behind him, and he dared not look back because… is he Lot??? Was he suddenly going to turn into a pillar of salt? Wait, did he have to go visit Sodom and Gomorrah in there or something???
  • I’M JOKING, he’s clearly Orpheus and Maree is Eurydice, and the more I type these things, the more I want to know what the hell was in Babylon and why Nick would think these things.
  • I also noticed that Rupert didn’t even express mild shock that THEY SAW ANDREW IN BABYLON.
  • And then, Rupert puts doubt in my mind: He believes that Nick didn’t actually help Maree, that he asked for what he wanted in Babylon and then left her there.
  • I swear, I was so disturbed. WAS THIS SERIOUSLY WHAT HAD HAPPENED?
  • NO
  • Can we talk about this? One of the most refreshing bits of this book is how Rupert fills himself up with hatred, and there’s nothing wrong with it. He despises absolutely everything about Gram, and the text validates him for expressing this. Because Gram White is an objectively awful person!!! And the fight that Rupert has with Gram shifts in Rupert’s favor once Rupert gives in to his hatred. It’s how he harms Gram enough to distract him so that Rupert can put a stasis on him.
  • AND THEN I FIND OUT THAT MAGIDS CAN ACTUALLY FORBID BEINGS FROM UTILIZING MAGIC. FOREVER. Holy shit, it’s like they’re magic cops! All right, that’s a terrible thought, but you get what I mean. Rupert lays a geas on Gram, which means that any use of magic, even indirectly through another party, will cause him instant death.
  • For what it’s worth, the aftermath of this action demonstrates how upsetting and physically taxing the act of laying a geas is for a Magid. At least, that’s what I got from the bit where Rupert went out to visit Stan. He was sweating and shaking after it, and I think that’s a pretty strong reaction. Actually, let’s contrast this with Odile and many of the other con-goers who witnessed it. I’m sure Odile is 100000% done with every goddamn person in that hotel, and the people at the convention were either very excited about the role playing going on, or they ASKED IF THEY COULD STEAL IT.
  • Look, I actually get why Dakros gives Rupert such an ultimatum. This is a very, very complicated story; it’s one of the most complicated novels I’ve ever written about for this site. So I can’t even imagine how Rupert has managed to navigate this convoluted disaster, but he’s done it. Barely. Taking this and viewing it all from Dakros’s point of view, it’s not difficult to surmise that he thinks he’s been disrespected. As the truth about the next heir was revealed to him, how else was he supposed to interpret Rupert’s actions with this new context? Nick and Maree, two of Timos IX’s heirs, were with Rupert the last time Dakros saw him.
  • Honestly, I just so feel so terrible for Rupert. He really has tried as best as he could to pull this off, and the universe just keeps dumping one more nightmare after another on top of him. Is this really what Them Up There Intend for the world? Why aren’t they more clear about this?
  • I love it, then, that Rupert thinks about the ramifications of what will happen if he hands Nick over to Dakros, and he decides against it. He says, “There was my decision, then. No matter what was Intended, or what was not, I was going to respect Maree’s wishes.” AHHH LOOK AT THAT CHARACTER GROWTH, LOOK AT IT.
  • Zinka for… see, I almost said “Zinka for President,” but I have a terrible track record of saying this about characters who end up dead. So “ZINKA FOR UNIVERSAL BEST FRIEND,” because she understands the importance of coffee and breakfast food.
  • But let’s not fool ourselves. The truly great moment in this chapter is at the very end: the return of Maree Mallory. It’s fantastic because it proves that Nick really did give up his wish for his sister. It’s a demonstration of how wrong Rupert was to dislike Maree and dismiss her. She’s truly the center of this story, even if it has mostly been told through Rupert’s words. Oh gosh, I would love a chapter about Maree’s experience in Babylon. I WANT TO KNOW SO MUCH MORE.

The original text contains the words “crazy” and “mad.”

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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