Day: November 23, 2011

Trial by Fire, Chapter 16: Places We’ve Been Before

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 14.)

Kara arrives at a very foggy place the Gates of Avalon again. We know it’s the Gates of Avalon because a) the sexy fairy wraiths from All That Glitters show up, b) the wraiths tell Kara that she is at the Gates (new edition only), and c) Kara can see the Gates — an island encircled by three stone rings — just offshore (new edition only).

The fairy wraiths give Kara the same test as before: can she see the Gates of Avalon or not? This time, Kara passes with flying colors. In the original edition, the fog lifts and Kara sees the aforementioned island. The revised edition gives Kara a rather trippy vision of Avalon:

The waters fell away into stars. Golden lines spiraled and looped into the distance — the magic web.

Mesmerized by the intricate beauty of the web, Kara stared as images turned like pages from an ancient book. Deep, rich forests, sun-kissed fairy meadows, crystal-peaked mountains, glittering lakes of blue — she was looking at Aldenmor! It was so beautiful she could barely contain herself.

[…]

Suddenly the image zoomed across the web to another place, a place untouched by time. A glorious city appeared like something out of a dream. Crystalline spires rose against skies of blue and white. Magic sparkled like city lights — a city of magic!

The wraiths explain (in the new edition) that Kara saw Avalon “as it once was” and “as it will be again”. Hooray! Unfortunately, Kara still hasn’t met all the requirements for entering the Very Definitely Final Dungeon:

“The Gates of Avalon are locked.” The wraith pointed to the mysterious island.

“Only three mages together may enter the Gates,” another wraith said. “With the key.”

Kara still needs magic to save Aldenmor, though, so the wraiths give Kara the Unicorn Jewel she returned the last time they met. With Sparkly Rock in hand, Kara summons magic from the island — but not before asking the wraiths what the hell a Blazing Star is. They don’t give much of an answer beyond “you guide magic along the right path”.

Whatever, Kara calls forth magic, and is suddenly sucked into the Otherworlds.

Meanwhile, the Dark Sorceress is pissed. Instead of opening a portal to the Gates of Avalon, the Fairy Maps that Kara activated summoned that damn unicorn. The original edition explains that this was a fail-safe built into the maps. The Sorceress isn’t too worried about this turn of events in the old edition: she realizes that there are other sources of magic she can find on the web. (Remember, in the original edition, the Sorceress failed the test at the Gates of Avalon, so she doesn’t believe Avalon exists.)

Moments later, the Sorceress senses strong magic heading straight for her crystals! There’s something odd about this magic, though, in the new edition:

Gripping the stone pedestal, she reached out, but it was not the magic of Avalon she felt. It was familiar, magic she had never thought to touch again. The sorceress laughed aloud. Here she was trying to build a new key, and the blazing star had just found the original key to the Gates of Avalon!

Wait … so the Key was at the Gates of Avalon all this time? What kind of idiot just left it there?

Anyway, the Sorceress tries to tap into her crystals, but is locked out by Stormbringer somehow. While she’s distracted, Adriane and Lyra show up for a boss battle!

Boss: Dark Sorceress (again!)
Formerly a Warrior mage. This should be interesting.
Attacks: Fireball, Confuse, Force Push

After lots of taunting and the usual “You Suck, Party!” phrases, the Sorceress calls for reinforcements. However, Adriane does the same! Drake shows up outside and totally pwns whatever reinforcements the Sorceress summoned. Now the boss battle can commence properly.

Adriane fires some Magic Missiles, and even throws a few Fireballs (which is just Adriane spamming Wolf Whirl). However, the Sorceress is utterly unfazed by all of Adriane’s attacks, and just casts Confuse and Force Push. She then taunts Adriane some more, saying that she’ll build a crystal to harvest the party’s magic.

Status Update!
Kara obtained: Unicorn Jewel!
Adriane learned: Fireball!

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • Kara arrives at the Gates of Avalon, instead of an island just offshore:

    Kara stood in a ring of stone. Mist rose from the glittering mosaic floor. The tiles were pristine, ageless, untouched by sand, undamaged by wind and sun. Giant pillars surrounded the pattern of interlocking stones, their towering surfaces sparkling with colorful gems. In the distance, palms swayed in the breeze as the roiling sound of waves lapped upon the shore. She was on an island somewhere.

  • Kara doesn’t realize that she’s been to the Gates of Avalon before.
  • Kara asks the wraiths how to reach Avalon, instead of asking if the city she saw in her vision is Avalon.
  • The fairy wraiths freely give Kara the Unicorn Jewel:

    “And now we give to the one who can truly wield it. Make it yours.”

  • Kara summons the magic of the Power Crystals differently:

    Suddenly, the entire island seemed to melt away as waves of energy swirled around her. Golden hair flowing, Kara threw her arms open wide.

  • The Dark Sorceress doesn’t wonder if Kara opened the last portal in the sequence. Instead:

    Had the blazing star changed the portal path? No, impossible! The mage was too inexperienced.

Next time: Kara fights a boss by making him answer questions in the most absurd way possible while wearing a towel on his head.

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Trial by Fire, Chapter 15: In Which a Lot of Stuff Happens

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 13.)

I might be super-nice today and do two chapters, since Thanksgiving is coming up for me and all my American readers. Expect Chapter 16/14 later tonight.

So after the party (Adriane, Emily, Lyra, Ozzie, and Zach) finish laughing about Ozzie’s addiction to banana milkshakes, they get back to backtracking through the lower levels of the Dark Circle. Eventually Adriane and Zach detect something … which turns out to be Dreamer. Thanks to his one ability (Detect Magic), Dreamer was able to find the party. The party decides to exploit Dreamer’s one skill in making their way back to the crystal chamber of doom.

Meanwhile, Kara’s riding on that mysterious white unicorn again, following the path Kara opened with the Fairy Map. (Originally, the unicorn recreates the path Kara revealed on the Map.) All the unicorn tells Kara is that they’re going “home”.

Back in the dungeons, the party finally finds a familiar room: the crystal foundry Adriane passed by on her initial escape all the way back in Cry of the Wolf. There’s not much there now but broken crystals covered with Black Fire residue. The party realizes that this is the source of all that magical nuclear fallout. They decide not to enter the room, but their rationale differs between editions. Originally, Zach says that there isn’t much to do in there. In the new edition, there’s actually something hazardous in the room (you would think so, with the radioactive crystals and all):

“Careful.” Lyra pushed Ozzie aside as he almost stepped in a puddle of glowing poison. Sections of the stone floor had been eaten away where the toxic substance had settled.

“Stay in the tunnel and keep moving,” Adriane ordered.

Eventually the party reaches the crystal chamber. They don’t see Stormbringer, but there’s a bunch of imps guarding the place now. The crystals have changed, too: they’re pulsating and generating energy! Adriane fights off some imps so that the rest of the party can enter the chamber. However, Emily starts Detecting Magic and realizes that barrage of magical energy is headed straight for the crystals. Adriane decides to distract the Sorceress along with Lyra, while Zach covers Emily and Ozzie as they cast Heal on the mistwolves.

As Adriane leaves, she hears Stormbringer again, and knows deep down that this is the last time she’ll ever hear her wolf. Aww.

Status Update!
Dreamer rejoins the party!
Adriane and Lyra leave the party!
Zach learned: Detect Magic and Detect Evil!

Next time: Kara finds the Very Definitely Final Dungeon again, and Adriane fights a boss.