Moonshadow

Full Circle, Chapter 1: The Battle of a Thousand Shadow Creatures

Last time on Avalon: Web of Magic, the party got a game over screen. Hey, that’s what you get when you let the Big Bad into a Sealed Can of Evil, and one of your party members dual-classes to a dark mage and kills off the admittedly-useless mascot character. What happens after game over? Find out after the cut.

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Dark Mage, Chapter 24: Oh Look, Mistwolves

Last time on Dark Mage, Kara crashed Gwyx’s victory party and wished herself and Drake over to the Gates of Avalon. Will the rest of the party assemble in time to complete their quest? Find out after the cut.

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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.

Ghost Wolf, Chapter 13: Ride the Wild Magic Waves

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 10.)

Adriane and mistwolves prepare to find the Spirit Pack on the Spirit Trail. But first, the party needs to be infodumped:

Some more backstory on Chain:
Moonshadow reveals that Henry Gardener left Chain to die, which is why Chain hates all humans. Man, Gardener is starting to sound more and more like an asshole now: he abandoned Chain, didn’t teach the party anything about magic, and possibly has connections with the Original Party. Maybe it’s a good thing he’s not around.

How will Adriane and Dreamer run the Spirit Trail?
Moonshadow explains that he and his pack will create a Circle of Protection around Adriane and Dreamer while they world walk to the Spirit Trail. The Circle of Protection will keep Adriane and Dreamer anchored to the material plane. However, the spell can only protect them for a few minutes, and only if they stay on the trail.

With the infodump complete, Dawnrunner sings a Wolfsong, which I guess is how wolves cast Circle of Protection. In the new edition, the rest of the wolves join in:

Moonshadow threw his head back and howled. The pack joined in, their voices blending into one haunting cry.

Standing in the glade with her friends, Adriane lifted her face skyward and joined in with a high note that rose above the others.

“HOOWURRG!” Drake bellowed, rattling the glade.

Adriane and Dreamer suddenly find themselves on the Spirit Trail, where someone familiar calls out to them.

Oh, look! It’s Tweek again! And he’s telling Adriane and Dreamer to follow him off the trail, because it’s the only way to save the Spirit Pack! Dreamer thinks this is a Bad Idea. Adriane, who apparently forgot that Tweek was possessed by “unspeakable evil” several chapters ago, decides to follow Tweek off the trail.

Yeah, obviously this was a bad idea. Adriane finds herself on a rock in the middle of a sea of magic. Tweek, who is very obviously possessed, summons a flock of shadowy creatures and orders them to attack Adriane. Adriane casts Shield, but the creatures devour her magic. Eventually, Adriane lobs a Magic Missile at the creatures and escapes with Dreamer.

Just going to let you all know that these shadowy creatures — which are appropriately named “shadow creatures” — play a huge part in this last quarter of the series. I’m not going to spoil what they really are just yet, though.

So Adriane and Dreamer jump from rock to rock across the sea of magic, trying to find their way back to the material plane. Tweek and the shadow creatures pursue them and capture Dreamer. Adriane frees Dreamer with a Magic Missile and captures Tweek, but the three are suddenly swept away by a rogue wave of magic.

More magic waves surge toward the party, causing Dreamer to have Detect Magic overload. Adriane somehow makes a surfboard with her Wolf Stone and uses it to ride the magic waves. She realizes that she can ride these magic waves anywhere, so she locks on to Drake’s magic. Dreamer then finds the spirit realm’s version of the Rocking Stone, which has a portal that leads back to Ravenswood. The party jumps through the portal … and the flock of shadow creatures follows them.

Oh great, now the entire party has to deal with new, magic-eating enemies! Zach and Adriane fire Magic Missiles, Moonshadow sings a Wolfsong, and the rest of the party amplifies everyone’s spells. And voila, all the shadow creatures are defeated.

Adriane recaps her adventure, and tells the party that they have to fix Tweek because he’s under the Spider Witch’s spell. Kara casts Shield on Tweek because he starts firing Magic Missiles all over the place. Emily can’t cast Heal on Tweek, but Adriane can totally help because she’s tuned to earth magic.

Wait … how did the party figure out that Adriane was tuned to earth magic?

Whatever, Adriane casts Heal on Tweek, and he’s back to normal. The new edition explains why Adriane is suddenly able to cast Heal now, and how Adriane experiences casting the spell:

She concentrated on the magic she shared with Emily. Calm, soothing blues sparkled at the edge of her golden jewel. The healing magic was part of her now, tempering her warrior fire, making her stronger. Gold and blue swirled into glowing red.

Beneath the Spider Witch’s spell, she sensed the deep green of trees, the velvety brown of bark, the sparkling blue of spring flowers — all the vitality and strength of the forest.

Tweek then recaps what’s been going on with him since his absence. The spirit realm is really messed up right now because of the Power Crystal’s influence — so messed up, in fact, that a rogue magic wave may have swept the Spirit Pack off the Spirit Trail. Tweek was manipulated into summoning the shadow creatures so they could capture Dreamer. Now that he’s back to normal, Tweek is afraid of what the Spider Witch is doing to the Ravenswood sylph.

But enough about that! Let’s go decipher those ancient carvings that are mysteriously glowing on the Rocking Stone!

… Yes, the party is just as confused by this sudden topic shift as I am.

Status Update!
Adriane learns: a new version of Create Weapon that she never uses again!
Kara learns: Shield!

Next time: The entire party learns new spells.

Ghost Wolf, Chapter 10: Reinforcements!

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 7.)

The next day at school, Joey, the Catty Girl Posse, and a bunch of other students ask Adriane about Ravenswood. Now they’re all concerned about the preserve closing down, because they put so much work into organizing the tours and setting up that fundraiser. They decide to start a grassroots campaign to keep Ravenswood open.

Kara and Emily arrive to save Adriane from her sudden surge in popularity — and just in time, because Ozzie contacts them. The Ravenswood portal is opening, so the party has to get back quick!

Once back at the portal field, Ozzie explains that something is trying to break through the portal. The party attempts to strengthen the Protection from Evil dreamcatcher, but quickly realize that a spider’s web is blocking the portal. Adriane senses something trying to break through the web. Suddenly, the party hears howling from the other side of the portal! Adriane thinks that it’s a pack of ghost wolves, so she starts firing Magic Missiles. Unfortunately, she has no control of her magic, so she fires those missiles all over the place.

Eventually, the web covering the portal is completely destroyed, and out come Zach, Drake, Moonshadow, and a couple dozen mistwolves. Everyone gets reacquainted with one another, and Moonshadow introduces the party to Dawnrunner, his mate. Zach also shows off his new, pimped-out modern Earth outfit, which Kara apparently sent him via dragonfly — I mean, “Fred-Ex”. Argh, stupid pun.

Moonshadow explains that he brought some of his wolves to Ravenswood to protect the place from the field of dark magic that’s surrounding it. Drake was the only one able to break through the web blocking the portal, which explains why he and Zach are with them. And as if on cue, that web re-materializes over the portal, blocking their return route to Aldenmor.

Turns out that the mistwolves also have problems with missing wolves: the Spirit Pack is lost, and without them, the mistwolves will lose their magic and become normal wolves. Adriane promises that she’ll find the Spirit Pack for them.

Zach tells the party that the Dark Sorceress and Spider Witch have escaped from the Otherworlds, which they already know. The only new stuff they learn is that the Original Party located another Power Crystal, and that the guardian sylph of Ravenswood is being corrupted by dark magic.

Moonshadow reveals that the Spirit Trail, which the Spirit Pack follows, runs through Ravenswood. Adriane tells Moonshadow about her world walking abilities, and her misadventures with the David Bowie wolf. Turns out that Moonshadow knows this wolf: his name is Chain, and he refused to join the Spirit Pack when he died because he was betrayed by his human partner, Henry Gardener. Chain’s bad experiences with humanity is the reason Moonshadow originally forbade any contact with humans. (But wait, I thought Moonshadow hated humans because he thought Zach got his mother killed! Argh, continuity errors.)

Anyway, Adriane tells Moonshadow that she found Stormbringer while world walking. And while everyone is talking about wolves, Emily puts Ozzie in charge of finding places for their new guests.

Unfortunately, Adriane’s mom shows up, and she may have seen a giant dragon hanging out by Adriane’s house….

Next time: Adriane’s mother acts like a smart human and posts pictures of Drake online.

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”.

Trial by Fire, Chapter 1: A Tiny Net Is a Death Sentence

Today is not a good day for Moonshadow, leader of the mistwolves.

At the peak of Mount Hope, Moonshadow communes with the Spirit Pack, the ghosts of every single mistwolf that ever lived. They show him a vision of a gleaming city of crystal populated by humans and magical creatures. This, believe it or not, was Avalon in its heyday — a magical Crystal Spires and Togas utopia! The Spirit Pack tells Moonshadow to learn from the past and lead the pack into the future … and then the vision of Avalon morphs into an image of its current state (new edition only):

Lightning flashed — the broken city lay in pieces. And in the half-light, every tower was covered in webs. Spiders climbed over the ruins, weaving darkness onto the magic web itself.

You know … maybe the party shouldn’t try to find Avalon if it’s all abandoned and ruined and spider-infested.

Anyway, after the vision, Moonshadow muses about the Fairy Map that Adriane gave him, and thinks about the three crystals (wait — I thought there were four!) the Sorceress completed in the Shadowlands. His meditations are cut short when some random wolf runs up and warns Moonshadow that someone captured the entire mistwolf pack! Moonshadow’s all like, “Who dares?” and the new wolf goes, “Me, of course!”

And then a bunch of nightmare night stallion-mounted goblins throw a tiny net over Moonshadow. Moonshadow tries to reverse the capture method, but this net tightens with every movement he makes. Meanwhile, the not!wolf transforms into everyone’s favorite Skultum and does some Evil Laughter.

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • The Black Fire is caused by the Dark Sorceress’s difficulties in controlling large quantities of dark magic, not from storing animal magic in crystals.

Next time: Ozzie makes s’mores.