This part is hella significant. It’s here that we meet the next major antagonist of this series (two books before her appearance in the original edition!), and finally discover why the Sorceress was magically nuking Aldenmor.
The Dark Sorceress pulls out her scrying pool and contacts someone in the Otherworlds, which appears to be an even worse shithole than the magical nuclear wasteland the Sorceress lives in. This someone is the Spider Witch, a monstrous arachnid-like creature that seems to have known the Sorceress for a long time. Hell, she even calls the Sorceress by name: Miranda.
The Sorceress then describes her evil plan: she will open the Gates of Avalon, then free the Spider Witch from her prison in the Otherworlds so that she (it?) can reweave the Magic Web into a new pattern that they will jointly control. There’s just a few problems with this: the Sorceress can’t activate the Fairy Map, and even if the Sorceress did reach the Gates, there’s no way she can open them because she doesn’t have a Key. But not to worry, the new blazing star (Kara) activated the map, and the giant crystals the Sorceress made will act as the new Key. And the party, who has comparatively craptacular control of magic, won’t be able to stop her. Satisfied with the Sorceress’ contingency plans, the Spider Witch agrees to help out. The Witch gets control of half of the new Magic Web, and the Sorceress gets enough magic to become immortal.
This section raises some interesting questions:
- It’s suggested that the Dark Sorceress and the Spider Witch were members of an older party that attempted the same quest the current party is on. The Spider Witch was a healer (why else would she perk up when the Sorceress mentions that the party has a healbot?), someone else (who is apparently dead) was the blazing star, and the Sorceress was a warrior (yay, process of elimination). Since this group failed once (the Spider Witch alludes to an earlier attempt to open the Gates), is it possible that the current party could end up like them?
- What was the Spider Witch originally? The Sorceress’ inner monologue suggests that the Spider Witch wasn’t always the abomination she is now.
- Also, it’s hinted that whatever transformed the Spider Witch could affect the Sorceress, too. What triggered the change?
- If the Sorceress was a mage, where is her Sparkly Rock and bonded animal? Or do sorceresses not require them? (Half of that is answered in the supplemental materials: sorceresses don’t bond with magic animals.)
- Did the Sorceress have to magically nuke Aldenmor to create her new Key? Isn’t there a less harmful way of creating crystals?
- The Sorceress remembers creating another Key back when the original party was together. How did they make it? And did the original party magically nuke other worlds to do so?
- The Sorceress and the Spider Witch both know Henry Gardener, and they know that he was supposed to train the current party. Did Gardener train the original party, too? And is the Sorceress responsible for Gardener’s absence?
- The Spider Witch has the power to weave magic, and she asks if the new healer (Emily) can do the same. Will Emily gain this power? (It seems like it, since the last book mentioned that Emily can see patterns in magic.)
- After using the scrying pool, the Sorceress succumbs to some sort of sickness. Is she also affected by the magical radiation poisoning?
Most of the questions will be answered by the end of the series. But let’s pretend that we haven’t read the other books and do some Wild Mass Guessing in the comments. I have a soft spot for batshit crazy theories.
Another interesting point: the Magic Web is shown to be in a state of serious decay, on the verge of collapse. If the Sorceress and Spider Witch weave a new Web … wouldn’t they be saving it? Isn’t that a good thing? (Granted, they’d have control of it, but still … continued existence is better than not existing, right?)
Also, this chapter has some major Entomology Fail: the Spider Witch is described as having antennae, mandibles, and wings. Um, spiders don’t have antennae and wings, and they have chelicerae instead of mandibles.
Anyway, here’s hoping the new party does a better job of opening Avalon than the original one….
Next time: first impressions on the next book, Trial by Fire.
(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 14.)
This chapter has completely different tones, depending on which edition you’re reading. The original edition is optimistic as hell, while the revision places the party’s integrity in doubt.
Both editions start out the same way: Kara has finally confessed to stealing the unicorn horn, and Adriane is pissed that Kara almost fulfilled not!Johnny’s evil plan. Kara is dejected because
doing good is so much harder than being evil she has no control over her power and can’t make “good magic” like the rest of the party.
Here’s where things diverge. In the original edition, the party gives Kara a gift so she wouldn’t forget about the benefit concert:
“Okay, okay,” Adriane said. She reached into her backpack and lifted out a small box. “Face it, Barbie. You’re a star, whether you like it or not.” Kara stared at the dark-haired girl, then looked at the gift, a small smile appearing on her lips. “What’s that?”
“We all wanted to get you something,” Emily said. “So you would remember the concert and know that we will never forget what you have done.”
“Thanks … but I wish I could forget what I did. You shouldn’t have.”
“Yeah, but we did anyway,” Adriane said.
“I acted like such an idiot.” Kara opened the box and removed a silver and gold band. And in the center was a small clasp ready to hold a stone — or jewel. “Wow. This is really nice!” Kara admitted truthfully.
“Read the inscription,” Emily said, smiling.
Your star will always shine in our hearts.
Love, your friends at Ravenswood.
So wait … Kara gets a present, even though she treated everyone like crap throughout this book? That doesn’t make much sense. Also, it kinda seems like a dick move to give Kara something that reminds her of her mind-rape experience, especially when she says that she doesn’t want to remember it.
That scene is followed by one where the bonds between the party members are strengthened, because no matter what the hell Kara did with that Fairy Map, the party’s ready to face the Sorceress and thwart her plans!
“… whatever the Sorceress tries next, she’s got the three of us to deal with! Right, girls?” Kara held out her hand. Emily and Adriane stood strong and ready, jewels sparkling, hinting at concealed power.
“Right!” Emily put her hand on top of Kara’s.
“Right!” Adriane put her hand on her friends’ hands.
The new edition removes the above scenes and replaces them with one that explains why Adriane had resistance to Charm, while Kara didn’t:
Emily glanced at Adriane and nudged her. “You were also under the creature’s spell, Adriane.”
“Yeah,” Adriane signed. “And I’m really sorry about the way I acted. Really sorry, Kara.”
“I know.” Kara half smiled. “Thanks. But you broke your spell. I couldn’t.”
“Because of this.” Adriane held up her wrist. Her wolf stone sparkled with amber light. A stern look from Emily made the warrior quickly cover her jewel.”
“It’s okay, you can say it. We all know I don’t have a jewel.”
“And that’s why Johnny — whatever it was — was able to control you for so long,” Emily said. “That locket acted like a magic jewel, focusing your magic.”
“Only it wasn’t good magic,” Kara stated. “Just like the last jewel I didn’t have.”
And then, instead of the party deciding they’d best hang together, Kara suggests leaving the party because of her lack of control over her magic!
“…what about the next time? Am I going to turn against my friends when they need me? Or worse?” She hung her head, letting her long blond hair fall over her face.
“Kara, what are you saying?” Adriane asked.
“I … I’m just not good at magic and I hate being not good at anything! I’m not going to use magic anymore. I’ll help out with the Town Council, but you’re going to have to find another mage.”
“Kara, you’re our friend,” Emily pleaded. “You can’t leave.”
“Emily, that’s exactly why I have to.” Kara faced the other girls and animals. “You guys are my friends … and I can’t keep getting you in trouble. I just want to go back to being normal.”
While all this drama is going on in both editions, Ozzie is checking the Ravenswood e-mails. The Town Council wants someone to represent Stonehill in Washington because the preserve has been marked for landmark status. The party suggests Kara (in the original edition), but Kara decides to let Mrs. Windor go instead because she’s still all messed up about not being able to control her magic. Later, an odd shooting star-shaped icon appears on the magitech computer. Ozzie clicks it and discovers a message from Be*Tween
and Henry Gardener. I’m posting both letters from the original edition, because their contents are smushed together into a single e-mail in the revision. Here’s Be*Tween’s:
Your concert was wonderful. We’re sorry we could not be there. We hope that until we return, you will continue to spread good magic with music. There is so much to be done. Music to heal, music to fire our passions, and music to blaze forever as inspirations of goodness. Don’t give up on the Spirit of Avalon.
And here’s Gardener’s:
Your path has been opened, young mages. Now you must go forward, together as three, and alone as a healer, a warrior, and a blazing star. It is time to walk your path … and come home. The magic is with you, now and forever.
If you’ve read the entire series (either edition), you’ll quickly realize that there’s no way Gardener could’ve sent a message to the party. So how does it get sent? (Thank god his message was added to Be*Tween’s in the revision — it makes things less confusing.)
The original edition just ends there, while the new edition suggests that while Adriane, Emily, and Ozzie are all for going on with their quest, Kara is very hesitant. What will her decision be: stay with the party, or just hang out on the sidelines? Right now … it’s all up in the air.
Kara obtains: a bracelet or necklace for a Sparkly Rock! (original edition only)
Kara leaves the party! (new edition only)
Next time: a new-edition-only epilogue — and the only redeeming part of this book!
(If you’re reading the original edition, this is the last half of Chapter 13.)
*looks up at post title* It’s times like these that I wish the party actually had a bad-ass name. Do they even get one? I know the original edition calls them The Three, but that’s so … I don’t know … boring? (And kinda inaccurate, because Ozzie always tags along.)
Anyway, shit hits the fan.
Kara’s little magic show opens up the portal — which is quite a ways away from the concert, thankfully. This also exposes the Protection from Evil dreamcatcher, which also acts like an amplifier for Kara’s spellsong (wow, isn’t that convenient). Not!Johnny reveals the Fairy Map, which floats to Kara and activates. And by activate, I mean that a bunch of portals on the Magic Web realign themselves.
Kara, however, doesn’t want this to happen. Now realizing that not!Johnny is manipulating her, Kara reaches out to Lyra, which somehow weakens Johnny’s hold on her. (Okay, not “somehow”; I think I already explained that bonded animals give mages resistance to Charm.) With newfound strength, Kara tries to change the lyrics to the song:
A web of lies
spunspins so fast
I won’t listen anymoreI was blinded by your night
IWe can see through youthe truth at last
Close the door, close the door…Let’s all shine our light!
Not!Johnny gets really pissed and causes the Cursed Locket to flash so brightly that it burns Kara. The rest of the party finally notice what’s controlling Kara, and they bum rush the stage! And in the new edition, we finally get our Gotta Get Backstage beat-em-up scene:
Emily and Adriane raced to the stage. Security guards converged on them.
“You have to let us through!” Adriane demanded.
“We told you, no one’s allowed on stage during the show!”
“Perhaps you’d like to talk to the ones that run this place.” Emily stepped aside to reveal Stormbringer and Lyra.
The animals bared their teeth and growled fiercely.
“Whoa!” The guard jumped back at the sight of the huge silver wolf and the large spotted cat. “No problem!”
Adriane pulled the animals back. “Thanks, guys. We’ll take it from here.”
Aww, what? No actual beat-em-up sequence? That sucks.
Eventually Adriane reaches Kara, tears the locket from Kara’s neck, and crushes it under her boot. Yay, Kara’s been dispelled! But there’s still all this warped, dark magic in the air — the magic Kara generated from the spellsong she sang earlier. Kara wants to stop Johnny somehow, but she’s too weak to do it alone. Luckily, Adriane pulls out her guitar, and Emily has her flute. So you know what’s coming up next….
Boss: Johnny Conrad?
Okay, he’s actually a
Skrull Skultum with awesome spellsinging and shapeshifting powers. Good luck.
Attacks: Charm, Confuse, Summon Astral Beast
I’m not going to bother describing the battle in detail. Instead, you can watch this clip from Scott Pilgrim, which has better music. (You can turn off the 3D effect by clicking the 3D button.)
In case you’re wondering: yes, the party and not!Johnny do summon gigantic astral beasts with their singing in the book. Also, Emily plays Lorelei’s Song to dispel one of Johnny’s songs. (When did Lorelei’s Song start acting like a Mass Dispel instead of just summoning Lorelei?) Oh, and don’t forget that Ozzie’s trying to keep the Fairy Map away from not!Johnny during the entire battle.
For you Jewel Riders fans out there: a similar music battle takes place in the episode “Home Sweet Heartstone”. The Jewel Riders play the show’s theme song in order to turn a group of magical baby animals away from Kale’s pseudo-gothic-metal music. Unfortunately, there’s no bad-ass astral beasts (poo!).
Anyway, the party wins by singing “Spirit of Avalon”, which weakens not!Johnny and forces him to reveal his true form. Not!Johnny then shapeshifts into a bat, which the party promptly sends into the portal with a quick Improved Magic Missile. Notice that they didn’t kill him — this obviously means Not!Johnny is gonna come back as a more powerful and annoying boss later! (And yes, he does. This is one of the few times the trope does apply in the series.)
Of course, the audience thinks this entire magic battle was an awesome laser-light show, and they give the party a rousing round of applause. Kara then invites all the contest finalists to join the party in a chorus of
“Supernatural High” “Spirit of Avalon”:
Emily learns: Lorelei’s Song (Mass Dispel remix)!
Kara loses: Cursed Locket of Mind Raping!
The party obtains: Fairy Map!
Next time: the party cleans up the preserve, like good pre-teen girls with magic powers.
(If you’re reading the original edition, this is the first half of Chapter 13.)
While Johnny is performing his hit single “Take a Chance and Dance,” Kara is waiting nervously in the wings. She has to perform her song perfectly, and the only way she can do that is if she uses the unicorn horn she failed to return a few chapters back.
Meanwhile, Adriane, Emily, and Ozzie try to get backstage. There’s only a barrier stopping them in the original edition — which begs the question, why don’t they just jump over it? — while in the revision, Johnny upped the security, so there’s guards everywhere. This would be the perfect opportunity to squeeze in a Gotta Get Backstage beat-em-up sequence, but noooo, we don’t get anything that awesome. Instead, Adriane fires a couple of weak Magic Missiles to catch Kara’s attention. As soon as Kara faces the rest of the party, Emily holds up a couple of signs that explain everything: Lyra and Adriane didn’t attack Kara!
Kara then goes, “Oh damn!” but then the locket flares up again and Johnny flashes a sinister look at her. Now Kara’s mind is back to “OMG I get to sing with Johnny but I’m so nervous argh!”
After Johnny sings another song, he announces the winner of the singing contest: Kara (of course). All the finalists are pretty pissed off, because they were supposed to perform first. Anyway, Kara gets on stage and sings
“Open the Door” “Shine Your Light”:
In a world that spins so fast
Can’t keep your feet on the floorNothing real seems to last
WhereWhen the future has no pastfalls out of sight
Open the door, open the door, open the doorFind the path and shine your light Opportunity is just a window
So no matter what’s in store
Open it up and let it flow
Open the door, open the door
Kara initially sings this in her usual craptacular way, which garners some derisive laughter from the Catty Girl Posse. But then Kara harnesses the power of the unicorn horn, and she sings spectacularly. So amazingly, in fact, that the lights pulsate to the beat, and a magic aura forms around her….
Next time: BATTLE OF THE BANDS!
(If you’re reading the original edition, this is the last half of Chapter 12.)
Emily and Dr. Fletcher finally arrive at Ravenswood for the concert. Suddenly, Emily gets a telepathic message from Stormbringer that things are not right with Adriane. She runs over to Adriane’s cabin, where she meets up with Ozzie, Stormbringer, Lyra, and all the named refugees. There they discover that Adriane and her grandmother are under some sort of sleeping spell. Emily casts Dispel, which wakes them up.
Meanwhile, Kara notices something weird going down during her boss battle with not!Adriane. Adriane transforms into Johnny, and then shifts into some frightening reptilian creature before vanishing. Kara briefly wonders what the hell’s going on, but then is distracted by her Cursed Locket flaring up. And then Johnny suddenly appears in the room, asking Kara what’s wrong. Kara believes that she won her boss battle, and is all pumped for the concert. Yay?
Back at the cabin, Emily, Adriane, Ozzie, and the refugees finally realize that there’s a shapeshifter on the preserve. (It took them long enough!) There’s not a whole lot of discussion on the topic in the original edition; Ozzie only concludes that it’s a “demon-level” monster. (Wait … the monsters now have levels?) The conversation is a lot more lively in the new edition, and everyone’s favorite German tank commander-turned-magic koala chimes in, too:
“What’re we talking about here, banshee? Sylph? Brag? Dryad?” Ozzie asked.
“Worse,” Rommel answered.
“Keep going,” a pooxim sang out.
“A fairy creature then.” Ozzie paced, paws behind his back.
The animals followed him, nodding in agreement.
“I thought fairies were good,” Emily queried.
“Not the dark ones,” Eddie the brimbee said.
The pooxim agreed. “Dark fairy creatures are extremely dangerous.”
Ozzie turned to the girls. “This one is very cunning and proficient with spells.” The ferret waved his paws around.
Adriane flashed on the Fairimental’s warning. “Like spellsinging.”
“Skultum!” several animals said at once, their voices quivering.
“Blingo,” Balthazar said. “This fairy creature is rare and very, very evil.”
“A Skultum. That explains it. It must have disguised itself as me.” Lyra was wildly pacing now. “I thought she was ignoring me, but maybe she can’t hear me.”
And then all the refugees freak out and panic. But there’s no time for that: the concert’s starting!
Next time: BACKSTAGE BATTLE!
(If you’re reading the original edition, this is the first half of Chapter 12.)
I’d like to point out that this is the first chapter in this book where there’s no major changes between editions! Okay, there’s one minor change regarding the make of Kara’s pimped-out jacket, but that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Anyway, Kara finally makes it to the ballroom (I know, I said dining room in the last post — that’s an error on my part), where Adriane awaits. Adriane has decorated the room with posters of her jamming on a guitar, and she enters the spotlight in a very pimped-out outfit: “shiny silver pants, black crop top emblazoned with the words ROCK ‘N ROLL WARRIOR, silver boots, and sunglasses”. And somehow she’s managed to get Technicolor Dream Hair. Of course, us readers know that this isn’t Adriane, but a Skultum impersonator; but Kara doesn’t know that.
Not!Adriane proceeds to perform her own rock-and-roll version of “Anything You Can Do”. Sorry, no audio, but you do get lyrics:
One, two — take a look at you
You’re standing there, you think I care
But don’t you know
Anything you can do
I can do better
Three, four — you’re such a bore
It’s all about me, can’t you see
That in the end
Anything you can do
I can do better
And this devolves into some bickering and some arguing over semantics. Apparently singing in the concert — what Kara and not!Adriane plan on doing — is not the same as singing in the contest. Not!Adriane also accuses Kara of stealing the unicorn horn and cheating in the contest. Kara is shocked, but has no time to stand around like an idiot because it’s time for — you guessed it — a boss battle.
Oh damn! Seriously? Who saw that coming?
Attacks: Girl, she’s been in the party since the beginning. You know this.
But unlike regular Adriane, not!Adriane can shoot lightning and create shields by playing on her guitar! (Because whenever you fight a party member in an RPG, they suddenly gain new abilities they only use in THAT PARTICULAR BATTLE.) Thank goodness Kara brought that unicorn horn, because she’s able to deflect all those lightning bolts and magically throw food at not!Adriane. I’m not gonna bother describing the battle in much detail; just watch the clip below from the 5:30 mark (it’s from the Scott Pilgrim game) and pretend the last minute or so is the girls throwing food at each other:
Instead of not!Adriane exploding into veggies and Canadian coins, however, the chapter ends with Kara using the unicorn horn to change the images on the posters. Now they all sport Kara singing and looking generally attractive. This isn’t the end of the boss battle, though….
Next time: Emily reads a comic book and finally figures out what’s going on.