Circles in the Stream

Circles in the Stream: Illustrations

Circles in the Stream, Chapter 16 and Epilogue: Two Weeks Later…

A couple of weeks after the party saved Phel and fought that manticore, the CDC — represented by Dr. Allison, a one-off character — finally conducts its inspection of the Ravenswood Preserve.  Emily, Adriane, Gran, Dr. Fletcher, and the entire town council show up as well.  Of course, Ravenswood passes the inspection with flying colors.  I’ve got to assume that Dr. Allison walked over the entire preserve with a Geiger counter because he states there’s no trace of toxins or radiation anywhere.  The attacks on animals had ceased, too — probably because the irradiated manticore isn’t around anymore — so the preserve is markedly “safer”.

Despite passing the inspection, Mrs. Windor still wants Ravenswood bulldozed and turned into a golf course.  She’s a real bitch during the entire inspection, commenting on what parts of the preserve would make great locations for the clubhouse and the back nine.  Luckily for our heroes, Kara arrives and tells the party that she convinced her dad to reopen the preserve for tours and create the Ravenswood Wildlife Preservation Society to maintain the preserve.  Oh, and Gran and the mayor agree to lobby for national landmark and wildlife sanctuary status for Ravenswood, too.  (Spoiler: Ravenswood does get landmark and sanctuary status within a year, which seems kind of quick, especially when looking up the application procedures.)

Hooray, the Aldenmorish animals have a place to live, and the party now has a cover for their magical adventures.  Now all that’s left is to figure out where that Fairy Map leads to.  Emily assumes it’s Avalon, a wonderful paradise where everyone’s safe.

And that’s where the original edition ends.  If you have the revised edition, there’s an epilogue from Lyra’s point of view.  She’s hanging out in the preserve during the tour, noticing that Emily has a better grasp of magic.  Unfortunately, Lyra’s not meant to be with her, but with “the other one”.  If you’ve been following this blog (or read ahead), you already know who that is.  But hey, Lyra and the others are safe from some “Dark Sorceress”, who’s draining Aldenmor’s magic and irradiating that world on her quest to find Avalon.

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • Adriane doesn’t tell Stormbringer that she loves her during the tour.
  • Lyra calls the party “the three”.

Next time: a quick overview of the next book, All That Glitters.

Circles in the Stream, Chapter 15: Boss Time!

Last we left the party, they were flying on Phel back towards Ravenswood.  Ozzie says that Phel has to return home, and that the party needs to find a portal that will take them there.  Luckily, there’s a convenient natural marker for this portal: the Rocking Stone, which points right to a clearing near the hidden glade.  The party heads for the portal, but wait!  A gigantic, scary, winged monster appears!

Boss: Manticore
A winged half-lion, half-simian creature from another world. Magic tracker. Heavily irradiated by Black Fire.
Abilities: spits Black Fire (causes Poison status)

The manticore shoots Black Fire at the party, and they go crashing down into the clearing.  Phel is badly poisoned, and Emily alone can’t Heal him, so Adriane and Kara amplify the spell.  Now healed, Phel attempts to give the party the Fairy Map again … but the manticore swoops down and steals it.

Then the manticore demands that the party hand over their Sparkly Rocks.  Just one problem — the girls can’t unequip them.  I guess that means it’s time for a boss battle!

Stormbringer’s attacks aren’t very effective; the manticore is far stronger than the wolf.  Kara amplifies Adriane’s and Emily’s Sparkly Rocks while they cast Magic Missile, but that just creates beams of magic that shoot out everywhere.  The party eventually learns how to control their powers and knock out the manticore.

And then the portal opens.

Phel escapes safely with the girls’ help.  Ozzie leaves the party to follow him.  The manticore comes to its senses and gives the You’ll-Never-Amount-To-Anything-Hero speech to the party.  In the new edition, Emily’s rock glows a dark color during the demotivational spiel.  Of course, the party will have none of that, so they fire a coordinated amplified Magic Missile at the manticore and knock it into the portal before it closes.

Boss Defeated!
Adriane learned Magic Missile!
Emily learned Neutralize Poison and Detect Alignment!
Party learned Triple Tech: Improved Magic Missile!
Ozzie rejoins the party, because he didn’t really go after Phel!
… and whatever experience and loot the party gained.

Yes, that’s right, there’s combination attacks in the Avalon universe, just like in Phantasy Star or Chrono Trigger.

Notice that the party didn’t kill the manticore.  This obviously means it’ll come back as a more powerful (and possibly annoying) boss later.

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • Emily is sprawled over Phel after the crash landing instead of Adriane.
  • Adriane rolls off of Phel and helps Emily after the crash landing; their roles are reversed in the revised print edition.
  • Emily’s magic + Adriane’s magic = a blast of green healing magic. (Same thing happens in the print edition, but the e-book clarifies things.)
  • Adriane’s Sparkly Rock is referred to as a “wolf stone” instead of a tiger’s eye.
  • Adriane doesn’t cry when Stormbringer fights the manticore.

Next time: the CDC inspection!

Circles in the Stream, Chapter 14: Metal Gear, Avalon Edition

So the party — Emily, Adriane, Kara, and Ozzie — take the bus to  Miller’s Point Industrial Park, where Phel is being held in a warehouse.  But one problem: there’s guards all over the place!  What’s a trio of 12-year-old girls and a talking ferret to do?

Well, they could sneak in like Snake in the Metal Gear games…

…but all the girls have are two Sparkly Rocks and a StarTac cell phone.  And the only person that contacts them is Heather from the Catty Girl Posse, who isn’t much help.  Adriane even hangs up on her.

Hmm … they could do it like Link in Ocarina of Time

…but there’s no convenient structures the girls could climb to reach their destination, or free money they could potentially pick up.

So the girls summon Stormbringer, who arrives as a ghostly mist and materializes before them.  Apparently, mistwolves can turn into mist and cloak people and objects.  The girls take advantage of this and sneak in under mist cover.  Eventually the girls reach the warehouse where Phel is being held in.  Ozzie enters through a window, but he can’t reach the locks on the door, so the girls levitate him with their jewels.  Kara learns that touching the Sparkly Rocks amplifies whatever spell the girls are casting.

So that’s what a Blazing Star’s power is: they’re walking Amplifier Artifacts.

Anyway, the girls make it inside the warehouse — well, after Adriane and Kara argue over who enters first (new edition only):

“You first, Princess.”  Adriane bowed to Kara.

“Oh, no, after you,” Kara said, bowing back.

“No, no, I insist.”  Adriane swept her arm toward the hall.

“Just come on!”  Emily barged her way past the others and strode ahead.

Nice to see Emily take charge here.  I wish she’d do it more often.

After Kara does her best reenactment of that scene in My Neighbor Totoro where Mei lands on Totoro’s belly, the girls get Phel on his feet and get him out of the warehouse through a loading door.  But wait — there’s an alarm on the door, and it goes off!  And guards and Dobermans are coming!  And Emily doesn’t want Adriane to attack them!  What’s the party to do?

Well, Emily, in a panic, manages to blast all the searchlights with her Sparkly Rock +1.  Ozzie distracts the Dobermans by talking to them.  And Phel starts flying, with the party in tow.

Yay, the party escaped their first dungeon!  Adriane learned Levitate!  Emily learned Levitate and Magic Missile!  And Kara learned how to amplify spells!  And I guess everyone gets experience points or something.

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • Adriane is now 13 years old.

Next time: The inevitable First Boss Battle!  Oh noes!

Circles in the Stream, Chapter 13: Kara Rejoins the Party

Again, not much happens here — but it’s all important stuff, so I get to go over it in detail.

Adriane and Emily decide it’s up to them to convince the mayor to keep Ravenswood open.  So they march bike over to the town hall for a meeting.  Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned (the unusually overcast day totally makes this obvious).

You see, the purple bear-thing was captured the night before.  The girls figure that Kara must have told her father, so they run over to the Davies’ residence to beat Phel’s location out of her ask Kara where Phel is.  Kara, who was sunbathing (on a cloudy day?) and listening to her Walkman iPod, doesn’t take too kindly to the girls’ intrusion.  Emily convinces Kara that she has some magic ability by holding her Sparkly Rock +1 in front of her.  This causes the Sparkly Rock to flash brightly (and Kara to wonder where Emily got the upgrade).  Once Kara learns that Sparkly Rocks react in her presence, she gives up Phel’s location and agrees to rejoin the party.

Couple notes here: this chapter has one of the few “technology marches on” changes that occur between editions.  I can guarantee you that back when Avalon was originally released (2002-ish), I was more likely to listen to custom mix CDs on my CD player than tote around an iPod.

Also, we learn that Blazing Stars … uh … make Sparkly Rocks glow brighter.  How that is useful, we don’t know yet.

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • Ozzie doesn’t study Kara when Stormbringer speaks to her.

Next time: the party sneaks into a warehouse compound in cardboard boxes.

Circles in the Stream, Chapter 12: Nothing to See Here

There’s no differences between the original and new editions in this chapter.  None.  And it’s hella short, too.  Quick run-down:

  • Emily tells Adriane over the phone that she learned Heal.
  • Adriane tells Emily that Kara thinks Ravenswood should be shut down.
  • Party wonders where Phel’s Plot Advancement Trinket (aka the Fairy Map) was supposed to lead them.
  • Emily spends night wondering why Kara was offered the Trinket of Plot Advancement.
  • Lyra, now fully healed, leaves the Fletcher residence.

Damn, I hate days when there’s nothing to comment on in a chapter.

Next time: Kara tries to get a tan on a cloudy day.

Circles in the Stream, Chapter 11: A Magical Mystery Forest Tour

This chapter has the first instance of a scene deleted from the original edition — and I think it’s a glaring omission, since it’s the first time Emily consciously uses magic in the series.  We’ll get to that later.

Also, I’ll admit I was mistaken in an earlier post when I said that Emily’s eye color is never mentioned in the series.  This chapter states that Emily has hazel eyes.  Yay, another physical feature recorded for Emily the Rarely-Described.

So, the chapter starts with Emily and Adriane meeting Kara at Arrowhead Park for the promised tour of Ravenswood Preserve.  As with almost every Kara appearance, her outfit is described in precise detail: she’s wearing a “silver silk jacket over a pink T-shirt that said ROCK STAR in fake silver gems”, along with “light green shorts and strappy sandals”.  Don’t worry, Adriane’s outfit is mentioned, also, but it’s just black jeans, shirt, and boots.  And, as usual, Emily’s clothes are never mentioned.

I think it’s pretty obvious that a) Kara and Adriane are set up to be opposites, and b) they have the most dominant personalities.

Anyway, the party ventures into the preserve.  In the new edition, Adriane gives Kara a tour of the topiary gardens:

“First designed in 1920, each of the hedge sculptures is supposed to represent an animal that was on the preserve at that time.”

“I thought we were in a ‘no lectures’ zone,” Kara commented.

“Oh, yeah.”  Adriane and Kara actually smiled at each other.

Nice to know that in the new edition, there’s hope that Adriane and Kara can get along this early in the series.

“And another thing,” Kara continued, “these hedge sculptures can’t possibly represent the animals that were on the preserve.”

“What do you mean?” Adriane asked.

“Hellloo!  That’s a unicorn, and that’s … like, a dinosaur!  I’m pretty sure the hedge-a-saurus has been extinct for like a billion years.”

When not questioning the existence of unicorn topiaries, Kara’s looking for sparkly rocks and browsing through her book on gemstones.  She even looks up Emily’s jewel in her book.  Emily’s rock is apparently an aventurine, which has “protection, comfort, and healing” properties.  I’m surprised the comfort part was deleted from the original, since Emily later gets an ability similar to a Remove Fear spell that … well … comforts others.

Kara utterly fails at finding a sparkly rock, and leaves the party … but rejoins when she finds a wounded owl.  Emily recognizes the owl as Ariel from a few chapters back.  The party decides to take Ariel to Phel, despite having Kara in tow.  Adriane makes Kara promise not to tell anyone about what she’ll see next.

And, of course, Kara freaks out when she discovers Ozzie the talking ferret, a group of unearthly animals, and a giant purple Totoro thing in the secret glade.  To make matters worse, Phel tries to give Kara a golden glowing ball of magic — a fairy map, according to Ozzie.  Kara swats away the Plot-Important Item and leaves the party.

Yeah, nice job breaking it, new party member.

While Adriane takes off to help Kara out of the woods, Emily stays behind to have Phel heal Ariel.  Unfortunately, Phel is too weak to help the owl, but has enough power to upgrade Emily’s jewel.  Now Emily rock looks like a crystallized sparkletastic dandelion: a Sparkly Rock +1 with bonuses to healing, I guess.  And with her new rock, Emily attempts to heal Ariel.  The new edition ends this chapter with Emily almost failing to heal the owl.  In the original, the scene continues as thus:

The feeling of loss engulfed her, threatening to pull her into the dark chasm of despair.  It was overwhelming.  She’d lost so much already — her dad, her friends, her home.  Then she thought of the cat, how she had failed when she needed her most.

“No!” Emily cried out.  She reached deep inside.  All her emotions seemed to rise up at once, and the jewel erupted with jagged blue light.  It swirled around her wrist, spreading up and down to cover her arm and her hand.  Concentrating hard, she willed the light to flow over the owl.  Focus … focus on the heartbeat.  Pulse … pulse … pulse … steady, strong…  And then she felt the owl’s heartbeat lock with her own.  The jewel and both hearts began to beat as one.  Steady, strong…  The light faded….  The owl stirred and opened her eyes.

Emily threw herself into Phel’s arms, crying and laughing at the same time.

“I can’t believe it.  We did it!” she said through her tears.

“I think that counts as magic,” Ozzie commented.

Yay.  Emily learned Heal, and the readers learn that magic in the Avalon universe is powered by emotions.

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • The scene in which Emily heals Ariel is restored.

Next time: a short chapter on partings.