After that last boss battle, the Dark Sorceress returns to her brand spanking new, still under construction lair, which I hope ends up being a dungeon the party has to trudge through on their way to the Very Definitely Final Dungeon. Or maybe it’s the new Very Definitely Final Dungeon, and Avalon ends up being rather dull and uninteresting in comparison.
Anyway, the Dark Sorceress just got a new delivery at her new lair: cages full of invisible
phantom wraiths shadow creatures. Yep, she’s definitely populating the dungeon with crazy powerful invisible (unless you cast, like, True Sight or something) magic-devouring creatures that would only show up in the final third of a video game just to hike the difficulty level way up. And it’s all Emily’s fault, because the weaving she made during the tutorial trap attracted them.
The Dark Sorceress then enters the lair proper, the main attraction of which is a silver throne because the Sorceress wants to rule over the Magic Web, blah blah blah. She reveals in her inner monologue that she escaped from the boss battle so the party would think they defeated her. In the original edition, the sorceress muses on the risks of leveling up:
Entering the room at the end of the hallway, she moved to the seeing pool set in the polished black floor. Reflections from the water sent patterns of light dancing across the walls.
The mages were powerful — Level Two now. But she knew better than anyone that the more magic that one used, the more one needed to fill the hole left inside. That could be used against them.
So now that the party has leveled up, they could become addicted to magic? Does this also explain why the Dark Sorceress desires magic? And will the party end up like her?
The new edition suggests something even more sinister:
She had accomplished what she had set out to do: help the healer become a Level Two mage. Each mage had to be Level Two; it was required for what was about to happen. The remaining crystals were incredibly powerful, made even more so by the twisted dark forces unleashed on that fateful day long ago.
That’s right: the Sorceress wanted the party to level up! And the Sorceress knows exactly what will happen to the party next, probably because she already attempted this quest before. And it turns out that some of the Power Crystals were tainted somehow. But what dark forces did the Dark Sorceress unleash, and where did they come from?
The Sorceress then enters one of the rooms in her new lair, at last revealing the fate of a certain absent mentor figure. Originally, the Sorceress uses the scrying pool mentioned in the excerpt above:
She had touched the redheaded healer’s mind and tested her abilities to weave magic, with astounding results. It shouldn’t have been a surprise. After all, the Spider Witch had once been a healer herself.
If Avalon truly existed, as the Fairimentals believed, then she would not risk that power falling into the Spider Witch’s web. And if these mages were destined to open the gates of Avalon, she had to get the rest of the crystals into their hands, and fast.
With a long claw, she swirled the pool’s dark water thoughtfully.
It was unexpected that one of the power crystals had turned into a living creature. Even a magic master like her could not predict what such concentrations of animal magic would do.
One thing she knew for certain. When the mages discovered the secrets of the remaining crystals, they were going to wish they had never gotten involved with magic. Only the wizard that designed them would know how to control their powers.
With a sweep of her arm, she conjured her dark magic. The seeing pool shimmered in colors as the air warped. Reaching into the dream state, she lashed out, taking control of the one who would serve her.
Across time and space, in another world, Henry Gardener awoke with a start, eyes blazing red. Shackled in his prison of black ice, the wizard rose to his feet. Every joint in his body ached from his spellbound slumber.
“It is time,” a cold voice sliced through his mind. “I have need of you, old friend.”
So all healer mages can weave magic? And the Dark Sorceress still wants to help the party open the Gates of Avalon? (Note that she still says if Avalon exists: remember, she failed the test at the Gates in the original edition.) And Henry Gardener is trapped somewhere (possibly the Otherworlds) and is now being mind-controlled by the Sorceress? And he created the Power Crystals? And he used to know the Dark Sorceress? Was he a member of the Original Party, then?
For even more fun, check out Gardener’s fate in the new edition:
The mages knew nothing of the true nature of the prophecy. The Fairimentals would never risk telling them.
With a sweep of her arm, she opened the iron door at the end of the hallway, almost giddy with excitement.
Which one would it be? The blazing star’s appetite for magic was nearly as strong as her own. But the warrior’s anger could easily twist into hate. She had tested the red-headed healer’s abilities with astounding results, but emotions made her weak.
It could be any of them. But one thing she knew for certain.
One mage would betray her friends at the Gates of Avalon.
That was the real prophecy.
Striding into the dark chamber, the air seemed to shimmer with color. She smiled at the one who would serve her — help her enter Avalon and complete what she had started.
Sprawled across the bed, Henry Gardener awoke with a start, eyes blazing red. Every joint in his body ached from his spellbound slumber.
“It is time to complete our quest, old friend.” The Dark Sorceress’s cold voice sliced through stagnant air. “The dark mage must arise.”
So the Fairimentals have been very dishonest with the party! And one of the party members — it could be anyone at this point — will become a dark mage and somehow eff up everything! And the Dark Sorceress actually wants to complete the Original Party’s quest, which involves turning a current party member into a dark mage! And she had Henry Gardener sleeping in a bedroom here all this time? (Ack, I don’t want to know what she did to him while he was sleeping!) The new edition still suggests that Gardener was friends with the Original Party, though, which I find to be a very interesting twist.
It looks like bad things await the party in this final stretch of the series….
Next time: But first, my first impressions on Avalon: The Warlock Diaries.