Marina

Heart of Avalon, Chapter 19: Unanswered Questions

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 17.)

The Wave Fest is back on at Aquatania, and Marlin has a couple important announcements to make. First, Marlin swears to protect the merfolk’s magic. Emily is helping him out with this by using her Aura Sight to match merfolk with sea dragon eggs. Second, Marlin reveals that he’s a dragon rider, and introduces the merfolk to Niva. Together with their dragons, the merfolk will spread magic over Aldenmor, just like they used to.

Marina then shows up and has a very long conversation with the party about the Power Crystals, the Original Party, the Gates of Avalon, and a bunch of other stuff. This conversation is different depending on which edition you’re reading, though. Originally, Kara asks Marina about the other Power Crystals, and if they’re still tainted:

Kara stepped forward. “What about the other crystals in the Jewel Keep?”

“Are they tainted?” Lorren asked.

“When the heart was awakened, the other crystals were healed as well,” the Fairimental explained.

Well, that sure was convenient. And it also proves that all the Power Crystals were tainted by dark magic somehow. The original edition also has this long section that explains what happened to the Power Crystals before the series began:

“Did you take the power crystals from her?” Emily asked.

“No. Beings more powerful than us, the Guardians of Avalon, took the crystals to a hidden island.”

“So it was the sorceress’s magic?” Adriane asked.

Marina continued. “The Dark Sorceress and her allies stored strong magic in nine crystals. The crystals were taken before they could be turned against us. The Guardians allowed you to release that magic to save Aldenmor but the power crystals were wiped clean. They could be tuned either way, for good or evil.”

Emily nodded. “That’s how you became twisted. The sorceress planned it all along.”

“Do the sorceress and Spider Witch know of these Guardians?” Adriane asked.

“They have remained hidden, protecting places of magic along the web.”

“Like the forest sylph of Ravenswood,” Adriane mused.

Marina nodded. “The Guardians wait for you to return the crystals.”

Emily thought of Neerie, the water sylph, waiting for her to bring back the heart. If the Dark Sorceress and Spider Witch didn’t know about these Guardians, maybe the mages had a chance after all.

“Who made the power crystals?” Kara asked.

“That remains a mystery,” Marina said.

Okay … so originally, the Dark Sorceress and her allies (the Original Party?) stored magic in the Power Crystals, but she didn’t create them. And the magic Kara used to purify Aldenmor was actually from the Power Crystals, and not from Avalon. And Orenda was one of the Guardians of Avalon, if Adriane’s guess about her is right.

The old edition’s conversation then goes on to explain what happened to the Original Party when they tried to open the Gates of Avalon. This is the very first mention of the Gates in the original edition:

Marina flowed over the water. “We know that, long ago, the sorceress and her allies tried to open the gates to Avalon. We believe that hidden island is the same gateway. It falls upon you, mages, to succeed where they failed.”

Emily and Marlin exchanged a startled glance. Had they really been at the gateway to Avalon?

“We’ll find the other crystals,” Tasha exclaimed, proudly displaying her magic meter.

Okay, that wasn’t quite as descriptive as I thought. Anyway, here’s how that same conversation goes in the new edition:

“The prophecy has foretold that three mages will find the home of all magic. Many have tried to find Avalon but none have succeeded.”

Adriane’s wolf stone flashed silver. “What makes us so different?”

“Even without a mentor, you have all learned what it means to be a mage.” Marina flowed over the water. “You must use nine power crystals to open the Gates of Avalon and reweave the web with Avalon’s magic.”

“What if we can’t?” Kara asked worriedly.

“The web is almost gone. You are the last hope, the last mages.”

Emily, Kara, and Adriane exchanged a startled glance.

“So it’s all up to us,” Emily said softly.

“What about the crystal that you-know-who,” Adriane nodded at the blazing star, “lost?”

Kara glared at the warrior. “I’ll find a way to get another one.”

Tasha stepped in. “I’m working on some ideas.”

So the party is the Magic Web’s last great hope for salvation. And at least Tasha’s thinking about how to replace that broken Power Crystal.

Afterwards, Cribby approaches the party and reveals that he bonded with a sea dragon pup of his very own. Kara now wants a dragon, too, so Emily decides to let her help distribute eggs to the merfolk. Jaaran and Kee-Lyn then show up, thank Marlin for saving the dragons, and pledge their allegiance to him.

Emily then notices that Adriane is standing off on her own. Adriane tells her that Zach ran off to ask Moonshadow some questions about his parents. She also seems to notice that Kara’s been acting differently. Oh, and she’s still pissed that Kara amplified Zach’s spells during the last boss battle. In the new edition, Adriane has even more stuff to be pissed about, like why the Fairimentals didn’t tell the party about the Original Party. She is now very suspicious of the Fairimentals because they haven’t been completely honest.

Meanwhile, Kara and Ozzie prove to be sucktastic at dispersing eggs, so Emily decides to ask Adriane to help them out. Adriane refuses and decides to go running with Dreamer instead. Emily casts Aura Sight, and notices that Adriane’s and Dreamer’s auras are the same. She also sees that Kara has a very sparkly aura. Suddenly, Emily starts to share the same concerns as Adriane.

But Emily did learn something today — it’s just different depending on what edition you’re reading. Originally:

And what about her own healing magic? Being a Level Two mage seemed to only offer more questions than answers. What did it really mean to weave magic? Was she really as powerful as the Spider Witch?

She thought of the mermaid’s dark predictions. The healer had experienced a darker side of her powers, just as Kara and Adriane had in the past. Maybe the mermaids had only sensed Emily’s fear — or maybe they were right.

One thing was certain: They had all been changed by the magic. Each of the mages was stronger than she’d ever been before. But using stronger magic meant greater risks, for all of them.

How much would they change in their quest for magic? Could the mages stand strong, together, to face the challenges ahead? Or would they be pulled apart?

Question: when did Adriane ever experience a darker side to her powers? I recall that Kara was confronted with a vision of a Bad Future where she used her powers for evil, and Emily just went through that tutorial trap in this book. Could someone answer this for me, please? Continuing on:

She smiled. Indi could never be a real animal. But, in the end, by choosing to be his true self, he had only become stronger. And in so doing, he had helped Emily choose to accept the truth about her magic.

She was a healer.

And if it hurt to love so much, that was the price she had to pay.

Here’s what Emily learns in the new edition:

The mages had to work together, now more than ever. But instead of bringing them closer, it seemed as if the magic was driving them apart.

[…]

Every animal she had ever touched shone from her heart jewel, reflecting from its gleaming rainbow facets.

Emily was a healer. She would have to deal with pain.

But her magic had the power to transform pain into something far stronger: love.

And where there was love, there was hope. No matter what might happen, she had found the true heart of Avalon.

Next time: We finally find out where Henry Gardener has been for the entire series.

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Heart of Avalon, Chapter 17: Hail, Hydra!

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 15.)

Every time is a good time for boss time!

Boss: Water Fairimental Hydra
This is what happens when you use a tainted Power Crystal to control a fairimental. Just don’t try to cut a head off. That ain’t a good thing.
Attacks: Consume Magic

So the party decides to start the battle by firing Magic Missiles at the hydra, cutting off two of its heads. Unfortunately, none of the characters have studied Greek mythology, read a comic book, or watched Captain America. I’ll let Red Skull do the explaining:

Sadly, Adriane doesn’t take Red Skull’s advice, and just keeps cutting off more heads with Magic Missiles. This causes the hydra to grow even more heads. As the hydra continues to consume the eggs’ magic, Emily tries to reach Marina, but discovers that the water fairimental has been completely corrupted.

Meanwhile, Lorren runs off to save Tasha from the Sorceress, and Marlin, Ozzie, Cribby, and Emily try to move the eggs out of harm’s way. Kara, Adriane, and Zach cast Shield on the eggs so the hydra can’t attack them. Unfortunately, the hydra decides to attack the shield instead.

So the party decides to focus on the Sorceress instead. Adriane stuns the Sorceress with a few well-placed Magic Missiles, making her drop Tasha’s phone. Dreamer then attacks the Sorceress, and shifts to his mist form to dodge some Magic Missiles. By this time, all the eggs have been moved under the shield.

Emily reasons that she can’t heal the water sickness unless she cures Marina first. Adriane finally realizes that the free Power Crystal she got at the end of the last book was filled with dark magic, which is probably why the Sorceress was able to gain control of Marina. In the original edition, the party even figures out that there may have been something wrong with all the Power Crystals:

“I bet it was tainted.”

“They all could have been tainted,” Ozzie said. “She claims they were her crystals to begin with.”

Emily can’t use the crystal’s power, anyway, because using such strong magic will make the eggs hatch. And we all know what happens when dragon eggs hatch: the dragons will imprint on the first thing they see.

Unfortunately, all the magic from the boss battle is making the eggs hatch anyway. Kara and Adriane want to summon Starfire and Stormbringer, but Emily stops them because the paladins would make all the eggs hatch. However, the party realizes that Zach can control time: he could cast some sort of spell to slow down the Sorceress and the hydra. So Zach casts Slow, but Kara thinks that Slow isn’t good enough, so she grabs Zach’s Dragon Stone and amplifies his spell.

The good news is that Zach cast Time Stop, temporarily freezing the hydra and the Sorceress. The bad news is that the entire party gets pissed at Kara for taking control of Zach’s magic without his permission. And while all this party infighting is going on, Lorren and Tasha suddenly rejoin the party.

Tasha reveals that she crashed downriver after the tutorial trap, and then got mind raped to forget everything that happened between then and entering the caves. Dreamer then shows up to return Tasha’s phone.

And while all that is going on, one of the dragon eggs hatch, and the dragon imprints on Marlin.

Anyway, Emily realizes that she has to weave the magic of all the aquatic creatures on Aldenmor so she can heal Marina. She needs the party’s help, but Kara and Adriane are convinced that their opposing magic frequencies will mess everything up. But not to worry: Tasha has an app for that, and Indi can help the girls balance their magic. So Emily reaches out to every aquatic creature on Aldenmor, weaves their magic together, and uses all that power to cast Empathic Transfer on the hydra. This causes the water sickness to transfer to Emily — but only for an instant, because it suddenly disappears.

And the boss is defeated, and the Sorceress has apparently escaped. Yay!

But of course there are severe consequences for the party’s victory. Indi ended up absorbing the water sickness, which is now consuming him. Emily casts Aura Sight, and discovers that Indi isn’t actually a unicorn. The new edition makes it clear that the water sickness isn’t corrupting Indi’s aura:

At first she thought it was the virus twisting his magic. But when she looked closer, his magical aura didn’t fit the pattern of a unicorn.

Tasha’s phone detects a Power Crystal in the room … and discovers that Indi is the Power Crystal.

And then Indi disintegrates.

Status Update!
Zach learned: Slow and Time Stop!
Emily learned: Empathic Transfer!

Next time: Emily returns to the island.

Heart of Avalon, Chapter 16: Why Is Everything a Trap in This Book?

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

So yeah … the party found dragon eggs. Good for them.

The good news is that a) the eggs are healthy, and b) they’re curing Marlin’s water sickness. Also, they’re sea dragon eggs, so I guess all the sea dragon riders can finally get dragons of their very own. The bad news is that Emily may need to use the eggs’ magic to cure the water sickness, but she doesn’t want to do that because killing unborn dragons is a Bad Thing.

However, someone else thinks that killing unborn dragons and taking their magic is a Good Thing. And by “someone else”, I mean Miranda, the new party member that just appeared out of nowhere. You see, Miranda mind raped everyone into forgetting that she was still a party member, and then followed the party into the Crystal Caves to get the eggs. Also, she has Tasha’s phone, which she obtained when she captured Tasha. Oh, and look — Tasha is with Miranda, too! How convenient.

Kara demands that Miranda let Tasha go, but Miranda decides to use Tasha as a human (goblin?) shield instead. Adriane fires a Magic Missile near Miranda, but this has the unintended effect of making one of the eggs crack! Turns out that sea dragon eggs are super sensitive to magic, and will hatch when they detect strong sources of magic.

Miranda then drops a major reveal on the party: she’s the Dark Sorceress, and she was once a member of a party similar to our heroes’ party. Okay, that’s not a major reveal if you’re reading the new edition, but this was hella shocking when I was reading the original edition. She claims that her friends betrayed her, and the Fairimentals left her with nothing. So she taught herself magic, and now takes whatever magic she wants. Also, she and the Original Party created the Power Crystals by collecting magic, but the Fairimentals hid the Power Crystals so that the current party would be the only ones who could find them.

Zach wonders what happened to the rest of the Original Party. This prompts the Dark Sorceress to drop yet another bombshell: Zach’s parents used to practice the dark arts! This really pisses off Zach.

The Sorceress then admits that she nearly turned Aldenmor into a magical nuclear wasteland because she tried to regain the magic the Fairimentals “stole” from her. In the new edition, she also challenges the party’s knowledge of magic:

“You think you know what using magic is about? Magic will change you and everything you touch. The only way forward is through darkness. But you know that, don’t you, healer?”

Emily flinched. One will see in darkness.

The Sorceress tries to convince the party that having the Spider Witch reweave the Magic Web is bad news for everyone, and then tells Emily that her magic weaving powers may be stronger than the Spider Witch’s.

Suddenly, water rushes into the cave! It turns out that the Sorceress used the tutorial trap to obtain enough magic to complete her own plan! The water then turns into a massive hydra. The Sorceress explains that she needed the Fairimentals to obtain three Power Crystals, and whatever magic Emily gathered, to control Marina, turn her into the water hydra, and corrupt the water elemental magic.

And then the hydra starts smashing eggs and absorbing magic.

Next time: Yep, you guessed it … boss time.

Trial by Fire, Chapter 20: Endings and Beginnings

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

The party, the mistwolves, some elves, and the refugees from Ravenswood gather together at the Fairy Glen to celebrate the defeat of the Dark Sorceress. It’s both a joyous and somber occasion: everyone’s happy that Aldenmor is healing, but Stormbringer is, for all intents and purposes, dead. Adriane gets to join the mistwolves in their mourning rites, which is just a Wolfsong performed by the entire pack. (Kinda hard to have a Fantasy Funeral Pyre when there’s no body.) Afterwards, Moonshadow and Silver Eyes tell Adriane that, yes, it hurts when a loved one dies. They then present Dreamer to her, and the two of them bond. Aww.

Later, the Fairimentals show up (originally, it’s only Gwigg and Ambia; they’re joined by Marina in the revision), and tell the party that they healed Aldenmor and fulfilled the Generic Fantasy Prophecy. Now they get to protect Earth and improve their magic skills. However, the new edition suggests that the party’s quest has only just begun:

The Fairimentals gathered at the portal. “It has been a long time since magic has flowed across the strands of the web.”

“Did I release Avalon’s magic?” Kara asked.

“We do not know,” Gwigg rustled.

“But the prophecy … didn’t we find Avalon?” Emily asked.

“The prophecy can only guide us,” the Earth Fairimental explained. “It can mean different things. You make it your own as you walk your path.”

“I was on this island,” Kara insisted. “There were the most beautiful fairy wraiths there.”

“There are wraiths and sylphs who guard the most special of magical places.” Ambia fluttered on a cool breeze.

“What the blazing star found was the Gates of Avalon,” Gwigg said.

The mages glanced at one another.

“The wraiths said we need a key,” Kara said.

“That is correct,” Gwigg replied.

“A key? What’s in Avalon?” Emily asked.

Ambia shook her head sadly. “Avalon has been lost to us for a very long time.”

Moonshadow stepped forward. “In my spirit vision, I saw the crystal city, broken and covered in webs. It was a dark place.”

Gwigg trembled, twigs and leaves falling to the ground. “We fear for Avalon.”

“I saw a different Avalon.” Kara stepped forward. “It was beautiful, an incredible city sparkling with lights.”

The animals gasped.

“It means the future is uncertain, in motion, constantly changing.” Ambia twinkled brightly.

Okay, so the party needs to find this Key, and open the Gates of Avalon. Too bad that Kara’s and Moonshadow’s visions contradict one another’s, and that nobody actually knows what’s in Avalon in the first place. That seems important. Also, the party can’t get to the Gates of Avalon on their own anymore, since the Fairy Maps were destroyed. (Wait … when were they destroyed, exactly? Did they self-destruct when Kara activated them, or were they lost when the Dark Circle collapsed? Also, can’t the Fairimentals just make new ones?)

The Fairimentals open a portal that shows the denizens of Aldenmor and the Fairy Realms pledging themselves to the party’s service. Yay, allies. When the portal opens upon the elf villages, the Fairimentals give Ozzie a Sparkly Rock and name him a Knight of the Circle. It’s not explained why he’s called a Knight of the Circle in the books beyond “yay, you’re a defender of Avalon”, but there’s some more information in the supplementary materials. But, yay, Ozzie may become more useful in the future! Too bad he has to remain in ferret form when he returns to Earth with the party, though. Ozzie is given a chance to return to his elven self, but he decides that being a ferret and hanging out with the party is preferable, for now.

And then the party goes home, and all is right with the universe, I guess.

Status Update!
Adriane bonds with Dreamer!
Ozzie obtains: Ferret Stone!

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • Emily doesn’t ask the Fairimentals about the Key or what’s in Avalon.
  • Emily waves at Phel when he appears in the portal.

Next time: A brief recap of “Dragonfly Wrangling 102”.

Cry of the Wolf, Chapter 9: The Fairy Glen

Adriane, Zach, Rocky, and Wind Dancer limp their way to the Anvil, which is kinda like Niagara Falls, except it’s bigger and not a tourist trap. Hidden within the waterfalls is a portal that leads to the Moorgroves, a major elf settlement. (Hmm … so the Anvil is better than Niagara Falls: instead of standing in two places at once, you can travel halfway across the world. That’s hella awesome.) Past the Moorgroves, the party flies through another nearby portal that spits them out in the Fairy Glen.

Unfortunately, not everyone makes it: Wind Dancer dies from his wounds (and possibly from severe radiation poisoning). Adriane tries to cast Heal, even though she’s a warrior mage and not a healer mage and thus can’t cast Heal. The sparkletastic rainbow flowers in the Glen aren’t effective, either.

So, RIP Wind Dancer: you were awesome for like 4 chapters.

Then the Fairimentals — Ambia the Air Fairimental, Marina the Water Fairimental, and Gwigg the Earth Fairimental — materialize and try to console the party. They tell Zach that Wind Dancer’s spirit is now a part of the magic now (so wait … magic in Avalon is like the Lifestream in Final Fantasy VII?), but not to worry — he succeeded in recovering the Drake! And the Drake is none other than Rocky, which is the egg of the amazingly-rare Red Crystal Dragon! Said dragon imprints on the first person it lays eyes on, so it’s a good thing the party got it and not the Sorceress.

Except Zach doesn’t like dragons, because they’re mean and scary. Oh, and he doesn’t like that the friend Adriane is searching for is a mistwolf, because he kinda had a falling out with the pack. Zach storms off, and Adriane follows….

Of note: when Zach learns that Adriane’s sparkly rock is a Wolf Stone, he says that it’s a Wolf Stone, implying that there’s probably other Wolf Stones out there. So are there only limited types of Sparkly Rocks?

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • The Fairimentals don’t apologize for Wind Dancer’s death.

Next time: Adriane learns a Typical RPG Prophecy.