Critique of Chapter XVIII
By: Dhalgren99

Evenin' all, you fine bunch of people. It's good to finally pick the pace up after so many days of dickering around and fiddling about...I hope the plottings between the writers are going good, with more time in between the chapters I'm going to expect stuff that's even better than this...and this stuff is pretty darn good. Not that you have to prove anything to me, but hey. Aren't I worth it?

Geez, another short chapter, what's gotten into you folks? Is the same group that I would spend three commenting sessions on the same chapter. I know, and I complained then too, I'm never really happy it seems. The last few chapters have been rather quick though, this one is very much to the point and it does indeed move A plot forward a bit but not the main plot all that much and in fact repeats (verbatim!) some of the stuff from a previous chapter...I do like the attention paid to the overlap and continuity is tightening up, there's still some kinks to be worked out, some of which are unavoidable due to time constraints and some writers getting more done than others's a start. It does seem to pick up after Kenicy's last chapter and incorporates parts of both Hensbane and FragmentFour as well, which is what I like to see. One of the things about colloborative writing that is always sort of unpleasant for a control freak like myself is that I like to write the beginning, middle and end of a plot (those being subjected to my wacky ideas in the informal plotting sessions that have been tossed around are probably seeing what a good idea it is to keep me as far away from the Realms as possible, since I would probably wind up reducing it to a smoking ruin and laugh while I do it) and to start something, and give it away to another writer without me standing over them crosschecking it (I ain't crossing the country, I'm a freak, not mental!)...well, all I have to say is you guys have a lot of trust in each other. Not that anyone is going to be like "Up yours!" and just start madly writing their own thing but still...I like to finish what I start.

Enough about me, Kenicy is no doubt waiting for me to get to her chapter. Craven is again absent, probably because DanO is handling him at the moment, but that means we get to see more of Tri-Nova. Actually we don't really learn that much about her other than she can indeed cast spells, if perhaps in a limited fashion. And she can flirt. Boy, can she. Apparently the imminent meeting has not started yet (heck, Karnak might set the Inn on fire while they're still sitting around a table waiting for Odan) and Tri-Nova is merely biding her time until said meeting starts (or Karl kicked her out because she talks to horses, you know, magic is okay but talking to horses, that's just...weird). The handsome stranger feels like someone I should know, unless it's just Expendable Expositional Character #3 designed to give Tri-Nova someone to talk to while Karl is busy and Odan is probably out humping a tree due to sexual frustration (or looking very suggestively at Craven, who is getting more and more nervous as the trip wears on).

The attack is mentioned again (see, Hellbore, Tri-Nova told Karl) and it's apparently getting more common. Frankly, I'm wondering what the hell Karnak is doing out there, he's certainly dicking around way too much for a man who hates Karl's guts...he's only sent like two or three creatures out at a time and they just seem to be wandering around. How hard is it to just storm the Inn, worst case scenario is everyone teleports out (can they do that, even Ricore had to travel manually) and the Inn gets burned down, best case (for Karnak) he slaughters everyone inside and probably gets a stranglehold on the valley to boot. Even the farmers that are around, hell the gem can change matter, let's just turn all that corn into something out of Day of the the dragons, this has the potential to be a very short fight if not handled right...but it's even weirder that nobody is doing anything about it. Karnak's spawn might on the move? Karnak's spawn are attacking people on the roads, people! I think we passed the point of "on the move" a while back. You'd think Darvon might be able to cast that mental net out (maybe with a boost from Ricore or Tri-Nova) and find Karnak (provided he doesn't find Darvon first and turn him into a slowly spreading cloud of mildew) and let them take the battle to him. He's probably so obsessed with killing Karl that he might forget to change everyone into freshly seeded grass before someone gets to mess him up. But then there is that spawn thing. Anyone got a "teleport object" spell, if he fails his saving throw, you kids are in business. But first you gotta find him.

The short reprise of Hensbane's (?) chapter was interesting, I probably would have preferred it simply rewritten from her point of view (perhaps with only the dialogue fading in and out, since Tri-Nova seems to be only standing outside the door least I don't remember her in the room when Karl and Peter had the chat, even though Mistress T-N was mentioned) instead of just pasted in...but hey, whatever works for you folks. I was saying to DanO before that it would be really funny if sweet stablehand supreme Peter turned out to be Karnak in disguise, I mean everyone trusts him, nobody pays attention to him so they say important stuff when he's around and...well, has anyone seen Karnak lately? Hm? Perhaps someone might want to start watching that boy, in a world where you can't throw a stick without hitting a shapeshifter...the irony would be delicious at any rate.

But back to the lady and her horse. I take it that the horse and Tri-Nova are talking might be a good idea to have the mental conversations in italics or something to set them off from normal gives the reader that Tri-Nova is chatting with Mister Ed and anyone who walks in can hear them talk (plus the horse might be speaking mentally but is Tri-Nova speaking outloud or not, some people are more comfortable that way, I know when Tristian gets excited he tends to forget that he and Ranos can talk mentally and just shouts at it's creepy having someone speak in your head). I may have made this comment last time, so if I did I do apologize but I think it's still valid. You may agree or disagree but I think it deserves a second look at least, even if you want to go tell me to sod off. Which is just dandy, if someone is going to give me the verbal extended middle finger, it migt as well be someone as kind hearted as yourself. It takes the sting away.

How old are Karl and Karnak, I mean this rivalry seems to go back a ways, I thought that clearing Karnak out of the valley was what prompted Karl to build the Inn...hundreds of years ago...geez. Karnak is probably definitely ready to give another beatdown. I always wondered at the rationale of only sending two or three creatures out at a time, I'd still pile them up and let them all loose at once. Then cackle over the wreckage like any mad scientist. It'd be really funny if Karnak snuck into the water supply and laced it with that crap he gave Ms. V and turned everyone into hideous monsters. Odan finally gets there and he's like, "Boy, guys sorry I took so long but you just aren't going to believe who I ran...oh crap." I'm putting in a vote for a look at Karnak, how are we going to cheer his demise if we can't see what he's doing? Come on, suspense! Foreboding! I know it's out there!

And so is Rockaway Beach. In fact, it's not far, it's not hard to reach. We can hitch a ride. I think that needed to be said.

The "Who's on First?" type dialogue between Majesty and Tri-Nova was all sorts of funny and you didn't run the joke into the ground like I would have done. Good show! Funny how the horse knows about the discretely irritating Aulofu and not Tri-Nova. Mages should keep up on such things. Maybe she remembers the last Keeper of Eternity, who was named Percival and had a tendancy to wear bad suits and lousy aftershave. You don't forget people like Percival any time soon. At least he didn't do the rat bastard thing of turning people into horses, which the good Tri-Nova appears to rectify here (really easily too...Ricore could have done that, boy that woman is stone cold...she's a mother? if she were mine I'd have slit my wrists a long time ago just to end the frigid torment). Also, how the heck did the horse hear the conversation, it was mentally done, if I recall...are telepathic communications "open channel" so to speak. If so, then I'm definitely going to remember that. There's no point in using it if anyone around can tune in and listen.

And the dream thing with Aulofu is still fuzzy...Trey certainly wasn't dreaming when he saw her and I'm not sure if this chapter suggests that Darvon thought he was in the stable but was dreaming about being in the stable and so Aulofu made him think that he had been turned into a horse when he was actually dreaming about turned into a horse (but then how did Tri-Nova figure it out?)...wasn't Darvon wide awake and Ricore moved his body to his bed after Aulofu shifted him? Anybody still following along with that? Because either all the characters are mistaken and Aulofu can very much appear out of dreams (probably needs a visit from the glowing ones, they'd set her straight) or something screwy is going on here. Anyone?

Aulofu is still interesting, she appears to know everything but reveals absolutely nothing (at least she told me nothing at all in her last appearance), she can cast spells but has no physical form (wonder if you try one of those reflecting spells on her what happens) or physical anything. Legends speak of her, Ricore appears to be on a first name basis with her and she's allowed to irritate you as much as she wants but if you try to give her lip she comes down on you like a ton of bricks. Typical immortal, all high and mighty.

Spell of illusion? Whoa, Mrs. B's oldest son is fairly confused now. Illusion suggests that the effect isn't real...i.e., I cast an illusion spell and you see a horrible monster, or think there's a lake of cool, inviting water when there's actually a giant cliff...this suggests that Darvon was never in the horse but only thought he was. And for a man who's big on the mental stuff, he should have caught that, it shouldn't have felt the same as when he shifted the other guy into the horse for real. So is Darvon really in the horse or does he just think he's in the horse. I dunno and geez, Tri-Nova can break one of Aulofu's spells? And here I was thinking she was all powerful and stuff...go figure. Probably that nifty rhyme that does it..."If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended..." and so on...Ricore could have done that. Actually there was a neat wizard who cast all his spells by speaking the effect backwards. Tri-Nova's approach does have its limitations, I mean what if she needs to rhyme with the word "orange", frankly, she's screwed. And does she have to make him a brandy new rhyme with each spell...or can she just use the handy Wizard Mad Libs and just fill in the words where she needs them? It'll be interesting to see, especially since shouting the verses out like that takes a while, not too useful in combat. Or when someone casts a lovely silence spell. Talk fast, girlfriend.

But Darvon is back. A little too quick if you ask me (but who did?) since barely anyone even noticed he was gone, I mean seriously Ricore could have done that, it was like our witchy friend was setting it up so that Tri-Nova would do it. That's just dirty pool. I don't know, it was sorta silly so I'm glad it's resolved but at the same could have had real fun with it.

However, we're getting closer to having the main plot start and we can't have our only mind wizard being ridden by Sir Scat...can we now? A fun chapter, if short and seeming to exist only to get Darvon out of that horse...but you know how to keep things moving at a good clip, there are snatches of really fun dialogue and while I would really like a glimpse into Tri-Nova's head a bit more (who is she? why is a mage? why did Karl call her? why? why why?) and definitely some insight into Karnak (but in all fairness that probably isn't your territory)...but when all is said and done, there's nothing to complain about here and it does show off both the burgeoning plot and the tighter continuity (it's getting there!) between the various threads. It fits in well with the surrounding chapters and I was entertained, which is still what it boils down to. All that other crap I babble about is just to make it seem like I'm doing something constructive, else this just turns into a writer lovefest.

Ah well, another one down, still going strong. Both of us.

Oh geez, DanO's next. Where are my pills?

All I can say for tonight, everyone out there take care!

- Michael

"And boy will you learn, that you haven't a clue...I even asked my best friend and he could not explain, it hit me when I left him, I felt the rain and called it genius..."
- Aztec Camera, "The Boy Wonders"

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