Last time on Dark Mage, Kara’s party arrived at the Unicorn Academy and discovered that all the unicorns jumped through a random portal. Whose scenario will we look into this time? Find out after the cut.
(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 15.)
Oh noes, Raelda and Selinda are fighting again!
… Over interior decorating options for the Castle Garthwyn ballroom.
Luckily, Kara steps in and chooses a decor combination that pleases them both. Phew.
Unfortunately, Lorren tells Kara that the monarchs outside are still arguing over who will mentor the party. I’m rather glad someone is thinking about helping the party with magic, since Henry Gardener totally dropped the ball on that. Kara insists that the party is doing fine on their own, but Raelda wants the party to have a mentor figure anyway.
Oh, and Raelda also hints that Lorren has a crush on Kara. I guess someone has a love interest!
Outside at the party, Musso and Sparky are selling cheese to all the guests. Adriane and Emily are also there, since the Ravenswood portal works again now. The girls all have pimped-out outfits that they procured from Kara’s magic wardrobe. No, I’m not going to start Pimped-Out Outfit Counts for the rest of the party, because they don’t get a whole lot of costume descriptions for the remainder of the series. We’ll just stick to what Kara’s wearing today: cream-colored linen drawstring capris with flowers embroidered on the hems, a pink tank top, and strappy off-white sandals. Hmm, more conservative than usual, I see.
Pimped-Out Kara Outfit Count: 8
Kara introduces the rest of the party to Lorren. Emily, being the other girly-girl of the group, comments on how cute Lorren is. Lorren reveals that he’s abandoned his Forest Prince persona, realizing that he could do more to help the Fairy Realms as the goblin prince. Tasha then shows up and is officially promoted to Tangoo’s old position.
Then, after a well-deserved “What the Hell, Heroine?” from all the monarchs, everyone starts arguing over who will appoint a mentor for the party. Ozzie says that he was chosen by the Fairimentals to mentor the party, but the monarchs say that Ozzie doesn’t know enough about magic to help the party. So the monarchs decide to ask Kara what she knows about magic. Kara says that magic comes from friendship and the heart, and to prove this she gives the monarchs of each kingdom one of the talismans she
found made. The trolls get the bunny slippers, the elves get the air harp, the dwarves get the Heart of the Mountain quicksilver heart, and the goblins get the Sun Stone.
But wait, what about the fairies? Well, Kara and Tasha made them an elemental rose that combines the magic of all four elements. So yay, everyone’s happy.
Selinda is impressed by this, so she decides that everyone in the Fairy Realms will help the party on their quest. She gives the party access to all their resources, and presents Kara with the enchanted accessories. Kara apologizes for breaking a Power Crystal, and Lorren reassures her that the party will still find Avalon somehow.
And then everybody dances! And while everyone dances, Kara realizes that her Unicorn Jewel has changed: Starfire’s magic has mixed with hers.
Kara obtains: Unicorn Jewel +3!
Kara levels up!
Next time: Kettle chips — the best side dish … for REVENGE!
(If you’re reading the original edition, this is the first half of Chapter 12.)
The rulers of the Fairy Realms are meeting at the Fairy Ring, debating the fate of their world. Raelda proposes to seal off the Fairy Realms, which Selinda does not want. Tangoo says that only Avalon’s magic can save their world.
Luckily, Kara and Starfire crash the meeting and say that they’ll go forth and find the Power Crystal. This impresses everybody present, because Kara’s riding a horse made of freaking fire.
Tangoo explains the quest to Kara: she has to ride through four mirrors, all located in places full of strong elemental magic. In each place, she must craft a magical talisman. This should be easy for Kara, because she has a freaking fire horse. The new edition explains more:
“Don’t I need a spell?”
“That is why you ride the fire stallion,” Tangoo grinned proudly. “Your magic combined with the Firemental’s should be more than enough to form each talisman.”
Kara must then put these talismans in a special bag, which Tangoo so kindly gives her, and ride through the final mirror back to the Fairy Ring. This will somehow attract the Power Crystal to Kara, since the Power Crystal was made from the elemental magic of the place Kara will ride through.
Before Kara leaves, she tries to find Lorren in the crowd. Unfortunately, she can’t find him. Kara hopes that Lorren somehow escaped from the Spider Witch’s lair.
And then Kara and Starfire ride off.
Next time: Jewel Power!
(If you’re reading the original edition, this is the first half of Chapter 9.)
The next day, Kara is walking through the Fairy Gardens with Goldie. As always, Kara has a pimped-out outfit for the occasion: a dark blue jacket trimmed with white fleece, tan suede riding pants, knee-high leather boots, a white silk blouse, and her hair done up in a ponytail. Looks like someone wants to go riding!
Pimped-Out Kara Outfit Count: 7
Goldie spots a flock of dragonflies pollinating some flowers and decides to join them. Selinda then shows up and comments on Kara’s bond with Goldie. It’s been mentioned a few times before: dragonflies don’t usually bond with people.
Kara then notices that some plants in the garden aren’t doing so well. Selinda thinks this is the perfect opportunity to give Kara a much-needed infodump. It’s not much of an infodump in the original edition:
“[…] Avalon’s magic should flow here first, then to the web, and then to all other worlds. But now that’s not happening.”
Kara looked at the gardens. “Then this is all my fault, too.”
If you’re wondering why Avalon’s magic flows to the Fairy Realms first, it’s because the Fairy Realms are closest to Avalon. Anyway, we got a mighty proper infodump in the new edition:
“[…] Magic is our most precious resource, part of a delicate ecosystem connecting us to the web. In ancient times, Avalon’s magic would flow here first, then to all other worlds. When Avalon vanished, the Fairy Realms became the center of magic. But now even we are running out of magic.”
“What happened to Avalon?” Kara asked.
“You know that long ago humans and animals worked together, sharing magic between Aldenmor and Earth.”
“Yes, our friends at Ravenswood have told us the stories.”
“Some humans turned on their bonded,” Selinda continued grimly. “They became dark mages, stealing magic from the animals and twisting themselves into unrecognizable forms.”
Kara shivered. “Like the Dark Sorceress.”
“Yes, and worse,” Selinda continued. “Human wizards waged a long war with the dark mages. And in the end, the only way to save Aldenmor and its creatures was to close the portals forever. It was during the separation of worlds that Avalon was lost. The Fairy Realms have maintained what magic we could, but when the Dark Sorceress rose to power, it was not enough. Now the web is unraveling and with it — our worlds.”
Kara looked at the gardens. “So why close off the Fairy Realms rather than open the Gates of Avalon?”
“There are some who believe that the gates should remain closed — not to keep the mages out but to keep whatever is inside locked away.”
“But Avalon is the home of all magic,” Kara protested.
“The legends say in Avalon, magic flows from a place called ‘The Well of Tears’.”
“That sounds sad.”
“Indeed it does, Princess. Great magic can bring great loss.”
“Yes.” Kara thought of brave Stormbringer and how much the mages loved and missed her. And now Lyra. If anything happened to her — “What do you think?” she asked quickly.
“I think we need to open the gates. And trust in the magic to guide us, no matter what we find.”
“Well, I used the magic — and messed up, as usual.”
Wow, talk about an infodump! We get the backstory that was only available in supplementary materials in the original edition, we learn about a new character class, and we find out what exactly is in Avalon! This is all stuff the party should have learned about much earlier, so they would know exactly what to do!
Kara still thinks she’s going to have yet another Nice Job Breaking It Heroine moment, but Selinda reassures Kara that releasing all that magic from Avalon back in Trial by Fire was a good thing. She believes that Kara will do fine since, like all humans, Kara’s bond with a magical animal makes her a formidable magic user. Selinda also hints that Kara might not have been the one who turned Lyra into quicksilver. Dun-dun-DUN!
Selinda then goes on about how the Dark Sorceress manipulated the goblins to work with her. The fairy queen really wants to be friends with Raelda that goblin queen, but she’s willing to wage war against her if things come to that.
And finally, Selinda explains why Kara has fairy blood. Kara is a descendant of Queen Lucinda, which we already knew. What we didn’t know was that a) fairy blood skips generations in humans, and b) Lucinda was a Blazing Star mage. So … I guess we have our third member of the Original Party. And from everything the Dark Sorceress and Spider Witch said about her, I guess Lucinda is pretty much dead.
But I wonder … is Selinda also a descendant of Lucinda? If she is, then Selinda is also Kara’s great-aunt! Unfortunately, we get no confirmation on Selinda’s relationship to Kara.
After that infodumping session, Selinda escorts Kara and Goldie to the Fairy Ring. Kara uses the magic mirror there to travel to the goblin palace.
(If you’re reading the original edition, this is the last half of Chapter 4 and the first half of Chapter 5 all smushed together.)
Kara, Queen Selinda, King Oriel, and Tangoo head for the Fairy Stables, where Kara’s new horse is housed. These stables are so awesome that they get a description in the new edition:
It was a large rectangular building created from living trees. What looked like giant oaks stood at each corner of the stable, their branches interweaving like logs to form the walls. Inside, rows of stalls lined the corridor, each gleaming with golden bark and lush leaves in countless shades of green.
Inside, Kara is introduced to two Elemental Horses: a green one with flowers sprouting out of its mane, and a silvery-blue one. Unfortunately, these are bonded to Selinda and Oriel respectively, so they won’t let Kara ride them. Instead, Kara is herded to an ominous
glass stall metal cage, which contains something that breathes fire. Kara feels some sort of magical connection to it … because whatever’s inside is her horse.
But enough about badass fire horses. Let’s see what the rest of the party is up to!
Adriane and Emily finally reach the school auditorium, where everything is in chaos. In the new edition, they bring the dragonflies along to detect magic for them:
Offering magical assistance, Fred and Fiona popped their little heads out of Emily’s backpack, scanning the scene with brightly swirling jeweled eyes.
“Anything?” the red-haired mage asked the minis.
Wait … when did the dragonflies start talking in complete sentences?
Rae, the play’s director, is pissed that Kara is “sick” and Joey isn’t in costume yet. Joey ducks out, and just in time, because Kyle and Musso show up. All the other students are idiots and think that Musso is Joey in costume as Puck.
Musso, of course, has no idea that he’s at a play rehearsal. He sees the Fairy Ring set — which conveniently looks like the real Fairy Ring in the Fairy Realms — and thinks that it’s the real thing until he discovers that there’s no magic mirror present. Rae makes Musso recite Titania’s lines in Kara’s place, but he refuses and instead tries to curry favor with Adam, who’s playing Oberon. Naturally, Rae tells Musso to shut the hell up. Musso now thinks that the Fairy Ring has been compromised, so he takes a spell vial from his utility belt and lobs it at Adam.
Luckily, Adriane was detecting magic, so she and Emily cast Shield on Adam. Musso’s spell is deflected offstage, creating a bunch of lighting effects that Adriane attributes to the stage crew. Of course, the kids all buy this explanation.
Unfortunately, the spell hit Marcus … and now he’s an anthropomorphic donkey. Makes sense, I guess, because he’s playing Nick Bottom. But still … anthropomorphic donkey. I wonder how the party’s going to explain this?
Emily learned: Shield!
Next time: this very NSFW video.
All the fairy creatures in the
Friendship Circle Fairy Ring settle down when Kara enters, and the Fairy Queen introduces herself to Kara. Everything seems to be going fine until one of the fake wings on Kara’s costume falls off. Then all the fairy creatures get pissed again, because they thought Kara was actually a fairy. But not to worry, the Fairy Queen reassures everyone that Kara is special. In the original edition, Kara also learns about the party’s fame in the Fairy Realms:
“Temperance, Rolok,” the Elf King interjected, speaking evenly but firmly to the Dwarf King. The short, kindly elf smiled warmly at Kara, but spoke to the crowds. “The blazing star is a friend to the elves, as are the other two mages, the healer and the warrior.”
They knew about Emily and Adriane? Kara thought wildly. What else did they know? And what did they want?
Looks like the elves on Aldenmor told their distant monarchs about the party’s achievements. (Remember, in the revision, Kara discovers in Trial by Fire that the party is famous in the Fairy Realms.)
Luckily for Kara, Tangoo, a goblin who seems to be a mix of Fu Manchu and Merlin, confirms that she is the Blazing Star. Lorren the Goblin Prince agrees, and reminds the audience of Kara and the party’s quest. Kara recaps her adventures with the Forest Prince, which doesn’t please her audience, since they consider the Forest Prince to be some sort of magic thief. This leads to a quick explanation as to why Kara was summoned: she needs to help find the Power Crystal in the Fairy Realms. If Kara doesn’t find it, the Fairy Realms will shut themselves off from the Magic Web. This is not a Good Thing: if the Fairy Realms are sealed away, the Magic Web will unravel, and all the worlds connected to it will die. Yes, this includes Earth, too.
So … why don’t Kara and the rest of the party tell everyone on Earth about magic, and get them to help out on their quest? That would be a smart idea.
Anyway, there’s lots of arguing, which differs between editions. Originally, the rulers of the Fairy Realms debate whether they should find the Power Crystal or not:
“Sacrifices must be made. We can reconstruct the web,” Voraxx insisted stubbornly.
“You don’t know if that will work,” the Elf King argued.
“We must save ourselves while there is still time!” the Troll Queen shouted in agreement with the Goblin King.
“It is our sworn duty to use Avalon’s magic to enrich all worlds,” the Fairy King interjected.
“The magic runs wild,” the Troll King growled.
“Precisely why we need the power crystal to stabilize the Five Kingdoms,” Queen Selinda said, keeping her voice calm. “The Fairy Realms depend on magic more than any other place.”
So we learn that a) the fairy creatures believe that the Magic Web can be remade, and b) the Power Crystals stabilize magic in certain areas. Yep, more confirmation that the Power Crystals in the original editions are basically the Jewel Riders Crown Jewels.
In the new edition, the arguing isn’t about the Power Crystals, but about something more important: what lies beyond the Gates of Avalon!
“It is only a matter of time before the web unravels completely,” King Voraxx continued. “We need to keep what magic we have.”
“We must save ourselves while there is still time!” the Troll Queen shouted in agreement with the Goblin King.
“But if the mages open the Gates of Avalon there will be enough magic for everybody,” Selinda countered. “We can restore the web to what it was meant to be.”
“We don’t know what’s inside Avalon,” Troll King Ragnar warned. “Whomever sealed the gates must have done so for a good reason.”
“You speak of myth and legends,” Fairy King Oriel shouted. “The gates must be opened!”
“We are not here to debate what lies inside Avalon,” Selinda stated. “We are here to save our kingdoms.”
“I refuse to put the fate of the Fairy Realms in the hands of a girl!” the Dwarf Queen scoffed.
“Then you will see our armies march on Ironhold!” King Oriel vowed.
How does nobody know what’s inside Avalon? Why do they all assume that there’s a massive source of magic in there that will help everyone? And it appears that fairy creatures have been debating what’s inside Avalon for god knows how long. You would think there are records of Avalon and whatever’s inside just lying around. Also, I love that the rulers of the Fairy Realms don’t agree on trusting Kara to save them … and that their distrust of her could lead to war. The conflict in the new edition is certainly palpable.
Eventually the rulers of the Five Kingdoms agree to listen to Tangoo’s plan. If it fails, then they will consider sealing off the Fairy Realms. However, the fairies and elves refuse to seal away the Fairy Realms, and plan on going to war. Thankfully, Selinda the Fairy Queen interrupts all this talk of war with a well-timed infodump on the Power Crystals:
“I don’t understand,” Kara said. “The power crystals are dangerous?”
“Very.” Selinda’s face was grim. “The crystal of the Fairy Realms is composed of elemental fairy magic. But it is now wild, destroying the very magic it was created from. The Fairy Realms are in great danger unless it can be found.”
Kara thought of the wild magic whirlwinds she and her friends had seen in the deserts of New Mexico. They were created by a power crystal; the magic warped and twisted whatever it touched, and had even switched Emily’s and Adriane’s powers.
Nice to see that all the magical mayhem in New Mexico and the destruction in the Fairy Realms is linked.
Selinda reminds her people that the party already found one Power Crystal. Since Kara is a Blazing Star, she can attract the Power Crystal in the Fairy Realms to her. However, the audience doubts that Kara is a Blazing Star. Also, Kara wonders why the monarchs can’t do the work themselves. Originally:
“Why can’t you find the power crystal yourself?” Kara asked quietly.
“We’ve tried,” the queen explained. “But without the magic of Avalon, we grow weaker every day. You are the blazing star.”
Okay, so without magic, fairy creatures can’t do anything. Good to know.
In the new edition, things get a little more tense:
“But I can’t find this power crystal by myself, I need my–” Kara began.
“Exactly my young celebutant mage,” Tangoo interjected. “That is why I have created a creature of magnificent power to aid you.”
“Ooo!” Goldie looked around expectantly.
“Only the blazing star can tame this wondrous beast.” Tangoo bowed to Kara.
“If she really is the blazing star,” Dwarf King Rolok grumbled.
“Prove it!” someone in the crowd yelled.
Yep … the only way Kara can prove she can handle the creature — and quell the audience’s doubts — is to use magic.
Kara casts Improved Magic Missile, but can’t control where she fires it! It bounces off a magic mirror and hits Lyra … turning her into quicksilver. And even worse, Kara doesn’t know how to dispel quicksilver! Luckily the Power Crystal has the ability to change Lyra back, but Kara has only one day to find it before Lyra melts and dies. So Kara agrees to tame the elemental horse to save her bonded animal….
Next time: I wonder what the rest of the party’s up to….