We rejoin our fearless group of heroes as they huddle together in a boat, as a rainstorm rolls in. Sturm and
Cerulean Caramon are at the oars, with Sturm pointedly not speaking to Caramon, probably because he has realized that Caramon is kind of an asshole. Tanis is navigating and manages to find the group a convenient cave that’s large enough to house them all. I have no idea how he did this, but it probably has something to do with being an elf, or some crap like that. Elves are supposed to be able to do pretty much anything, at least according to Lord of the Rings movies, right?
Tasslehoff in particular is pleased with these developments, since in the… I don’t know, four or five? hours since he met Tanis on the road to town, he thought that Tanis was being “moody and indecisive,” which is apparently very different from Tanis’s usually strong-leadery self. To this I say… really? Indecisive? Moody I get, if only because he’s been tuning his friends out to think about how upset he is about not getting to fuck, but indecisive, absolutely not. Let’s take a look back at the last five chapters to see where Tanis has and hasn’t made decisions, shall we?
Chapter one: he declares that it’s time to go up to the inn instead of chilling on the road when presented with this decision by Flint.
Chapter three: After, admittedly, getting prodded by Tika, who mostly just filled him in on the general tenor of the townsfolk since he left Solace, Tanis decides that the group has to escape through the kitchen, and he’s forced to convince Sturm not to stand his ground in the meantime. Then he decides that they’ll hide at Tika’s for the night, allow the Plainsfolk to rest up at his house, then send the “barbarians”
Chapter four: Lest we all forget, it was Tanis’s decision to WRECK TIKA’S HOUSE in order to allow the group some getaway time. Everyone else went along with it like the destructive assholes they are, but this brilliant plan was Tanis’s from the start. Once Sturm asks where they’re going to go, Tanis does hesitate, but only to consider the options before them. Then he decides that they’re all going north, at least to the crossroads, and possibly further.
Chapter five: It’s Tasslehoff’s idea to go by boat rather than Tanis’s, this is true. But when sent to reason with Flint as “the diplomat” of the group, he decides it’s better to let Flint go his own way than to drag him into the boat.
Basically, Tanis has been making almost all the calls during this adventure, with everyone else not only following his lead, but turning to him for guidance – Sturm asking where they’re going, and Tasslehoff running the idea of taking the boat across the lake by Tanis before he goes
thieving borrowing. The one time he shows hesitation is when he’s considering his options. If this is indecisive for Tanis, he must have been a real dictator beforehand. Tasslehoff’s thinking that he’s glad for the adventure which indicates to me that kender are kind of sociopathic, which is obviously part of their charm.
The group huddles down in the cave, with special attention being paid to Raistlin, who can’t get his feet wet and has to be carried around by his brother.
This is getting very romantic.
It’s been hinted that Raistlin is in very poor health what with his not being able to walk very far, and lingering cough of doom, but this is the first indication that it’s serious – he starts coughing up blood, which seems to be kind of a liability for a traveling wizard. Tanis is now struck with a memory of having to save Raist (and I think it is totes adorbs that Caramon calls Raistlin “Raist”) from a mob that was trying to burn him at the stake for exposing a false cleric. Tanis ponders about how people need to believe in something and hate those who expose their false idols, but as for myself, I feel like Raistlin probably exposed the cleric in the most assholeish way possible.
Either way, everyone starts feeling sorry for the guy and ineffectual attempts at making him feel better commence. Caramon first puts his own cloak around Raistlin’s shoulders – ignoring the fact that not only was he rowing in a rainstorm, but he’s the one who got in the water and shoved the boat off in the first place, meaning the thing is probably soaked. So, thanks bro.
Goldmoon then attempts to help by giving him some wine (which, may I add, is stolen from Tika) that Raistlin can’t drink, then offers to heal him with her staff. Apparently over the course of two chapters, she has forgotten that last time Raistlin attempted to touch the thing, it shocked him so badly that his brother nearly beat her up. Raistlin, you are surrounded by idiots. Of course, Raistlin’s response to these ministrations is not to point out any of these obvious facts, but to make dramatic pronouncements about how his body is a permanent sacrifice for his magic. So… yeah, I think you are bringing this on yourself there, Raist.
Sturm walks into the cave, dragging Flint along with him, and acting generally pissy, I assume because his moustaches are frizzy from the humidity. He starts getting into a spat with Riverwind over some bullshit about his word being his honor and protecting ladies and other such nonsense, and before long, the two have glove-slapped their way into a duel.
The two square off into what promises to be an epic cave battle. Their oiled muscles are clad in tiny bikini armor undies and glistening in the firelight, their lips trembling in lustful hate. And as their limbs meet in a sweaty, musky embrace of rage and desire, their grimacing faces only centimeters from each other – oh wait, none of that happens. Riverwind apologizes to Sturm and then collapses. Tease.
There had better be some homoerotic wrestling in this book, is all I’m saying.
Well, everyone starts to fall asleep, leaving Tanis and Tasslehoff to try to plan their route. Well, Tanis does, while Tasslehoff sorts through his bag of
stolen mysteriously acquired trinkets. Among them, Tanis recognizes a gold ivy-leaf ring, which he recognizes as his, “given Tanis long ago by someone he kept on the borders of his mind.” So I’m sure now that he has his ring back, we will never hear more about it, or this unnamed person ever again, right?
Oh, and Tasslehoff insists that Tanis must have dropped the ring on the floor of the inn, and it sure was a good thing he picked it up, proving once again that he’s a goddamn sociopath. I’m meant to love this, and oh, I do. They confer over Tasslehoff’s maps, and are concerned that there are no ways to Haven apart from the obvious main roads. Well, Tanis is concerned. Tasslehoff thinks this all will be great fun, and falls fast asleep.
The group spends the night in the cave as a ferocious storm rages outside, which is in no way any kind of foreshadowing of conflict to come. And the wind is bitter, and comes from the north, which are surely only atmospheric coincidences, meaning nothing.
In the morning, the group cooks up a little of the meager supplies they were able to steal from Tika, which turn out to be not a whole lot. Tasslehoff remarks that Tika must eat her meals out, which, what a fucking relief, am I right? Poor Tika. At least she has some spicy potatoes to console her, which reminds me, I’m’a try to do a recipe post one of these days. Spicy potatoes for everyone!
When the time comes to figure out what to do, everybody stares at Tanis, apparently because he is so indecisive am I right? Their first plan is to go to Haven, but if that doesn’t work, Tanis proposes to go to the elven lands, known as Qualinesti. Only problem is, nobody has any idea how to get there… except Raistlin of course. And… how do you know about that, Raistlin? You know, since you are pretty clearly not an elf, and Tanis is?
Ohhhh I have my ways.
Well, apparently the paths to the wood are suitably Raistlin-y, as they are filled with hoards of the living dead.
MEN HUNT, WOMEN DO LAUNDRY HISSSSSSSSS
Ugh, misogyny zombies, apparently. I want to go to the forest with the misandry zombies. Both Sturm and Caramon seem to agree with me, because they freak right the fuck out about going into the Darken Wood, which was probably what Raistlin intended in the first place. Ass.
Tanis shuts this shit down immediately, which I have to admit is a good idea. Sturm even has a moment of quiet contemplation about how he’ll follow Tanis to the ends of the earth because of his, I don’t know, natural leadership or some crap. Sure is a change from the indecisive and moody dude from the past few chapters, am I right guys?
Anyway, Tanis decides to ask Goldmoon what she wants to do, and although Riverwind grumbles, she decides to go with the rest of the group and take the staff to Haven, instead of leaving the group to take the staff to… also Haven. Some decision Goldmoon, who do you think you are, Tanis or something?
With much grumbling from Flint and much passive aggressive stonewalling from Riverwind, the group makes their way out of the cave and along their journey.
So, this chapter was more satisfying than the last one in terms of character development. Although we don’t exactly get into new territory with our characters, we do get a little deeper into what’s making them tick, so it doesn’t feel so much like we’re rehashing old territory. As for action, all we get is huddling in caves, which isn’t nearly as satisfying as battling hobgoblins. Even our promised fight scene between Riverwind and Sturm fizzles out. But I’m sure we’ll have more epic battles on our journey, so never fear, Dragonscouts!
Asshole count: So many in this chapter you guys, but I think this time it’s Tasslehoff who wins the prize, what with his being an utter sociopath. However, Raistlin, Riverwind and Sturm all have their moments of nastiness this time around, and I’m going to give Riverwind a close second, for both being a jerk to the guys who are pretty much saving his ass at every turn, and then fainting and denying me my erotic wrestling scene.
Homoeroticism count: Again, loads of this in this chapter! We have our twincestuous pair, Caramon and Raistlin, our homoerotic wrestling pair, Sturm and Riverwind, and our homo-fantasizing pair, Sturm and Tanis. This chapter, I will have to go with Caramon and Raistlin, as the two have actual physical contact over the course of the chapter. But I’m holding out for future wrestling. Don’t disappoint me, Sturm!
Don’t worry, Khaleesi!