Heart of Avalon, Chapter 1: Tasha’s Got an App for That

original edition Aldenmor map

If you’re reading the original edition, you finally get a map of Aldenmor. Behold!

Emily and Ozzie arrive at the Garden, which was originally the Dark Circle Dark Sorceress’s lair. It looks like the Fairimentals and the locals were busy, because now it’s a bustling place full of shops and an impromptu fighting ring.

Speaking of fighting, Adriane is battling a troll. Adriane casts Shield to deflect the troll’s attacks, then casts Create Lasso and trips the troll. The troll quickly yields. Adriane then thanks the troll for the friendly battle. Meanwhile, all the spectators exchange money and trinkets, proving that gambling exists on Aldenmor.

Also while this fight is going on, Emily feels severely under-leveled, since she’s the only party member who hasn’t leveled up yet. She attributes her failure to level up to not having a bonded animal. And no, Ozzie is not her bonded animal because he’s actually an elf mage in a ferret’s body. In the new edition, Emily also wonders how she can level up if the only spell she can cast is Heal:

As a healer she couldn’t practice her magic unless an animal was hurt — and that was the last thing she wanted. How was she supposed to catch up to her friends? Wait around for some poor animal to get injured?

Deep down, Emily knew what she was missing: a bonded animal. Even though she’d worked with all different kinds of animals, she hadn’t bonded with one the way Adriane and Kara had. Ozzie helped her, but he’d turned out to be a unique mage with his own jewel.

How was she supposed to do her part with no bonded animal to help her?

For those of you wondering about continuity: Emily states that she and the rest of the party are now thirteen years old. Which doesn’t make sense, once you remember that Emily turned fourteen in the new edition of Song of the Unicorns. Argh, please make up your mind how old the party is!

After the battle, Kara, Lyra, and Emily join Adriane. A scene is added here in the new edition, explaining why Kara and Adriane arrived at Aldenmor before Emily:

“Hey,” Kara greeted them. “Emily, we thought you got lost.”

“You guys left us in the blazing stardust,” Ozzie complained.

“And we won,” Kara smiled brilliantly.

“Says who?” Adriane disputed. “Tell them, Dreamer.”

“We won by a nose,” the mistwolf smirked.

“We won by a whisker,” Lyra countered.

Ozzie shook his fuzzy head. “Everything with you two is a contest.”

“Yeah…” Kara started.

“So?” Adriane finished.”

Horrible screeching suddenly blared across the courtyard. Kara grabbed her unicorn jewel, Lyra immediately at her side. Adriane raised her silver wolf stone, Dreamer howling at the sudden blast. Dwarves, elves, and spriggans raced about, covering their ears.

“Arg!” A troll dropped a stone with a huge thud!

“She’s at it again!” an over excited spirggan yelled.

Tasha then joins the party, showing off her new magitech device: a jewel locator, which looks like a Sidekick iPhone. (For those of you who don’t know what a Sidekick is — and I certainly didn’t when I first read the original edition — it’s one of these things.) The magitech iPhone has an app that records the musical frequencies of magic jewels. When Tasha uses the app to record the Wolf Stone and Unicorn Jewel’s frequencies, the jewels create horrible feedback. Apparently, Kara and Adriane’s Sparkly Rocks have exact opposite frequencies.

(It’s here in the original edition that Emily explains how the party arrived at the Garden. Apparently, Tasha transported them here. Hmm, why didn’t they just use the portal?)

Emily wonders if Tasha can use her jewel frequency app to locate the remaining Power Crystals. Tasha thinks it’s possible, but the remaining Power Crystals are filled with wild magic, making them hard to trace. Speaking of Power Crystals, they’re being held in the Crystal Keep, which is located in the ruins of the Dark Sorceress’s lair. (The fact that Tasha or the Fairimentals haven’t removed the giant crystals from the lair pisses off Dreamer in the original edition. In the new edition, the Fairimentals have constructed a crystal dome over the ruins, making the place look just like the Crystal Palace from Jewel Riders.)

Tasha wonders why the Dark Sorceress gave the party a free Power Crystal in the last book. Adriane thinks that the Sorceress couldn’t control the crystal’s magic. Tasha then theorizes that the Power Crystals are tied to certain types of magic. Her jewel frequency app can’t locate Power Crystals unless something balances them, like unicorn, mistwolf, or fairy magic. (Originally, the party members who found the crystals balanced their magic; it is suggested that magical animals balance the party’s magic.)

At this point in the new edition, we get a quick quest status update:

The mages were on a quest to find nine missing crystals of powerful magic before the evil sorceress and her ally, the Spider Witch, got them first. They had found four, but Kara accidently destroyed one in the Fairy Realms. That left five power Crystals to find and no idea where they might be. Together, the nine crystals formed a key to the Gates of Avalon. To make matters worse, nobody could tell the mages where the mysterious gate was.

The party then gets a tour of the rest of the Garden. The grounds around the Crystal Keep are now a flourishing forest, which the Fairimentals use as an animal sanctuary. A few kittens come out and decide to play with Kara. This makes Emily envious of the rest of the party: they have bonded animals, and are obviously more powerful than she is.

Tasha then leads the party to a replica of the Fairy Ring, which was gifted to the Fairimentals by Selinda. Lorren and Zach are setting up a traveling mirror there. After Kara and Adriane spend too much time staring at their love interests, the boys share a little misadventure they had with the mirror (new edition only):

“As you can see, you can see them,” Lorren continued.

“I had to install a visible edge,” the goblin girl explained, polishing a smudge off the mirror’s surface.

Lorren laughed. “Otherwise, you’d go out for a nice stroll, bonk into one of these babies, and end up in the frozen tundra.”

“Yeah,” Zach said, still feeling the icy chill. “That wasn’t funny.”

Gwigg and Ambia then show up, and tell the party that the Garden was created immediately after the Dark Sorceress’s defeat. However, since the Magic Web is unraveling and magic is fading away, the party must find the Power Crystals. This leads to a very long status update in the original edition:

Gwigg rumbled in agreement. “Even now, the Spider Witch is attempting to reweave the magic web. If enough of her web is completed, all the magic will be attracted to the new weaving. The magic of Avalon will be hers to control.”

“You must save the home of all magic,” Ambia concluded.

“But we don’t know where Avalon is, exactly,” Kara pointed out.

“We believe the nine power crystals will lead you to Avalon,” Gwigg explained. “You must find them or all we have fought for will be lost.”

“Once we get the rest of the crystals, what do we do with them?” Emily wondered.

“And what about the crystal that you-know-who?” — Adriane nodded at the blazing star — “lost?”

Kara bristled. She had accidentally destroyed one of the crystals in the Fairy Realms.

“You must trust in the magic,” Ambia said gently.

Emily stepped close to the Fairimentals. “How do I get to Level Two so I can better help my friends? I don’t want to be left behind.

“Magic is all around you, young mage. Let it evolve in its own way,” Gwigg said, as if that explained everything.

But what if mine never does?” Emily wanted to wail.

The new edition forgoes the long status update, but Emily still asks how she’s supposed to level up. All the Fairimentals tell her is to find the Power Crystal and “trust in the magic”.

The Fairimentals then tell the party that Marina found a Power Crystal on Aldenmor, but she hasn’t been heard from since. Hmm, I wonder what happened?

Suddenly, someone contacts the party via the traveling mirror! It’s Marlin, the prince of the merfolk, and he’s complaining about sea dragons ruining something called the Wave Fest. Zach explains that the Wave Fest, which is held at Aquatania, was supposed to reconcile the differences between the sea dragon riders and the merfolk royalty, since they don’t really like each other. The royal merfolk think that the age of magic is over, and don’t like the dragon riders because they use magic and bond with sea dragons. Obviously, Zach doesn’t like Marlin because he’s been using the traveling mirrors as his own personal communications network.

Emily volunteers to help the merfolk in Aquatania, and enters the traveling mirror. The rest of the party decides to follow her later, after Tasha records their jewel frequencies with her magitech phone.

Emily arrives at Aquatania, and immediately gets Detect Wounded Animals and Detect Magic overload….

Obvious Jewel Riders References:
The Garden is obviously New Camelot. The Crystal Keep is the Crystal Palace (made painfully obvious in the new edition), and the Fairy Ring is the Friendship Circle.

Next time: Emily meets her love interest, and some characters we haven’t seen in a while.

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