DOAT Book II, Chapter 12: The parable of the gem. Traitor revealed. Tas’s dilemma.

Greetings Dragonscouts! When last we met, our bold heroes were about to be betrayed by a traitorous traitor, Tasslehoff and Fizban were off being useless, and we found out that dragons can transform into humans for some reason. If the title chapters are as spoilery as ever (and I’m sure they are), we’re gonna find out who that traitor is, at least! Let’s dive in.

We start out with Caramon, in drag, getting sexually harassed by Eben.

brule shock

Apparently they are “doing comedy” for the woman captives down the mine. The women, held apart from the society of their children for so long, are so deprived of amusement that they find this hilarious for some reason. Tanis, in another rare moment of good judgment, has located the natural leader of the women, Maritta. In a move of astonishing stupidity on Maritta’s part, she has agreed to Tanis’s plan to potentially endanger their children who, lest we have forgotten the last chapter are: 1) being held in an undisclosed location; and 2) being guarded by a fucking dragon. So maybe Tanis was being an idiot all along!

makes sense

Maritta tells Tanis that the Highseekers are also being held prisoner, but are being treated better than the rest (aka, they are not being forced into slave labor), and thus will cause some problems during the planned revolt.

Maritta also reveals that she is not an idiot by telling Tanis that his plan is contingent on their children coming to no harm during the process. Tanis reminds here that there is a fucking dragon guarding them, and Maritta laughs.

brule shock

Apparently the dragon is old and feeble, and the children love her. Not only this, but the dragon thinks the children are her children. And anyway, she sleeps late, so they can just sneak the kids past her before breakfast. THAT WAS LUCK, TANIS. THAT WAS LUCK. DON’T YOU DARE THINK THIS WAS AT ALL DUE TO YOUR DUBIOUS INTELLECT.

Anyway, the women set to work on the plan by sewing some clothes to disguise the men as women. However, Sturm starts to make trouble when they insist that he shave off his mustaches in order to pass. Which, Jesus Christ Sturm, we’re talking about rescuing literally hundreds of people, including children, from a life of slave labor. You could  maybe sacrifice a few hair follicles, which may I remind you, FUCKING GROW BACK for such a worthy cause, right?

…no. Tanis just has him cover his face with a scarf.

cher yuk

Then Riverwind starts to make a fuss, saying that his tribe punishes cowardly warriors by making them dress up as women, so he won’t do it.

ron swanson 2

The solution to this is wrap him in a cloak and have him lean on a stick like an old woman which… how is this any different than having him dress up as a woman? IDK at least he buys it which is good enough for now.

Meanwhile, Tanis is preparing his genius disguise by wrapping his face in a scarf instead of shaving

malcolm transpo

and Laurana calls him out on it, proving once again that she is better for this group than Tanis. Further, when Tanis tries to apologize for snapping at her, she insists that he was right, but that she’s going to prove her worth somehow. This apparently makes Tanis’s “soul [stand] breathless,” which I assume means it gives him a half chub.

Finally, when everyone’s about ready to go, Raistlin makes trouble by saying that he’s too tired to go along with him. I have to hope that he said this before making the women go through the trouble of sewing him a costume. They decide to leave him there, which after all, was not too hard.

The draconian (ugh) guards come in, apparently after having enjoyed happy hour, and completely buy that all these dudes with obvious facial hair are, in fact, women. So the idiotic plan is now in motion. Let’s hope nobody fucks up, my dudes!

Meantime, Tasslehoff and Fizban are finding extremely convenient secret doors and trying to make their way around the fort. Fizban engages in some artistic appreciation, and shows Tasslehoff a battle scene in which good gold and silver dragons battle the evil red and black ones. Then Fizban spells Tasselhoff to forget this information, and they go traipsing off to find the dragon’s lair, which seems like an incredibly terrible plan.

pointless

Our heroes in drag are in shock as their plan begins to go surprisingly well, up to the point where they find the menfolk in the mine. However, the men are skeptical of Goldmoon’s claims that a goddess gave her some metal discs so they should risk their lives for reasons. The Highseeker, as predicted, starts the trouble, and it seems like the men are going to start a days-long argument. And even worse, they hurt Goldmoon’s feelings!

63_sad-crying-full-house-michelle-tanner

this is my new favorite gif btw

They come across a super old and dying dude, one of the Highseekers who actually spoke up against Lord Verminaard and his minions. He apparently has whatever the fantasy equivalent of cancer is, which makes him saintly and philosophical, as cancer tends to do. He asks Goldmoon that if she’s really the emissary of the old gods, why the hell did they wait so long to come back to Krynn?

Goldmoon thinks about this, then says that it’s basically like if you drop a jewel in the forest and are afraid to go back to get it, she guesses. This apparently makes complete sense to the man and he is INSTANTLY CONVERTED from his previously strongly held beliefs. Good job, Goldmoon!

But then, Tanis gives the group some disturbing news – BOTH Eben and Gilthanas are nowhere to be found. Womp womp! Guess we’ll have to wait for the traitor to be revealed for at least a couple more pages.

We’re taken back to dragon Pyros’s POV, in a tiny (for a dragon) chamber, where bad boss Sestun is being offered as the dragon’s dinner. Pyros is so gully dwarf racist that he won’t even eat Sestun, which I would be mad at if it didn’t mean that Sestun would live to see another day. Hooray for Sestun!

whoo whoo

The traitor then enters the room to rat on our bold companions. When the individual throws back their hood to reveal their face, there’s a barely audible gasp as Tasslehoff, hiding somewhere near the ceiling, recognizes who they are. The audience, on the other hand, is left in the dark, in a gambit that is getting increasingly irritating.

Pyros is as unimpressed by the plan to free the saves as I am, and moves to more important things, namely that the unnamed prisoner brought to Lord Verminaard during the last chapter is HIM whom they’ve been searching for all this time. Given that there has been literally no foreshadowing about this apparently insanely important individual, the import of this statement is kind of lost on me. Anyway, Pyros thinks that the guy is fine where he is for now, considering the coming attack on Qualenesti. Once that’s over with, Pyros will take the man to the Dark Queen. Great plan, Pyros! What could possibly go wrong?

Anyway, Pyros tells the traitor that he has to keep this dude safe until he can get back from deep fat frying the elves. The traitor agrees, and fucks right out.

Tasslehoff starts crying with the realization of who has betrayed them, but still won’t say who it was, which is getting REALLY ANNOYING. But then he says that even though they can’t warn Tanis, given that they have no idea where he is, they’re going to do the next best thing and rescue Seston.

My god, this is enough to get me to start liking Tasslehoff again.

And here ends the chapter, and I’m sorry to say that our chapter titles are goddamn liars.

Asshole count: If not the chapter titles, then for sure any dude whose masculinity is so fragile that he can’t shave his facial hair or dress in drag in order to rescue hundreds of people, including children, from a lifetime of slave labor.

DOAT Book II, Chapter 11: Lost. The plan. Betrayed!

Well it’s time for another chapter of Dragons of Autumn Twilight, and it looks like the betrayal that I’ve been predicting for, oh, the last MILLION OR SO CHAPTERS is finally going to come to fruition. Let’s get started!

We begin with… aw freaking Tasslehoff. I thought he was lost and never to be found again! Don’t tease me like this, book. Anycrap, his narrative starts back when we meet our dark

lav7

elf. When everything goes back, someone grabs him, hoists him onto one of the chains, and tells him to climb. He does, as everybody else escapes thanks to Raistlin AND NO FREAKING ONE ELSE.

Tasslehoff and the person, who he realizes is Fizban, climb the chain until Tassheloff feels comfortable to make a pun about the chain LINKing to the mechanism, and honestly, I want to punch him about 75% more than I once did.

They decide to follow the chain over the mechanism and into a tunnel, so Fizban conjures a puffball of light to guide the way. The puffball, of course, turns out to be HILARIOUSLY disobedient and afraid of the dark.

kanye laugh

As they crawl across the chain, over a yawning chasm, Tasslehoff begins to fantasize about what it would be like if he fell and splattered on the ground. ME FUCKING TOO, TASSLEHOFF. Fortunately for them and not us, they make it to the tunnel, belatedly realizing that they have left their staffs behind.

Meantime, the rest of our brave warriors are defying my expectations by being upset that Tasslehoff and Fizban have gone missing. Tanis, in a freak instance of doing something that I actually agree with, tells everyone that they absolutely cannot go back to fetch them. Good on you, Tanis. Raistlin also takes the news of the two missing companions by shrugging then falling asleep, confirming his status as the best character in this book.

Anyway, Tanis and Sturm sit down with Gilthanas in an attempt to figure out where the fuck they are, which turns out to be in the lowest cellar of Pax Tharkas. Nearby is the prison where the women are being kept, and also nearby is A FUCKING DRAGON – a red one, named Ember. The children are being held separately, on the first floor, and are guarded by yet another dragon. This is clever of the captors, the book explains, because the women would never leave without their children and the men would never leave without their wives/children, thus meaning that the women would have absolutely no problem leaving the men. Good move, ladies.

scarjo misandry

pictured: the women escaping Pax Tharkas without those pesky men.

Also, there’s a bunch of gully dwarves working the mines alongside the men, but this is evidently an afterthought.

MIA

Eben joins the group to say that Gilthanas knows a VERY SUSPICIOUS amount about Pax Tharkas. When Tanis asks what the point would be in betraying them all at this stage, Goldmoon replies that the betrayer wants to get her, and the disks, to Lord Verminaard. Somehow this helps Tanis stop the bickering, and Gilthanas goes on to reveal EVEN MORE stuff about Pax Tharkas that there’s no reason he should know.

Apparently, every day, 10 to 12 women are allowed to bring food to the men, and then to visit their children. Gilthanas’s plan was always to have his dudes disguised as women to relay their plan of freeing the female hostages in order to alert the men that they’d be free to incite a revolt. However, according to Gilthanas, they hadn’t worked out how to free the children, because they can’t figure out what the deal is with the dragon guarding them. Oh well! No big deal, right?

nazi shrug

Despite this glaring issue, everyone agrees that this plan is A Good Plan, and they decide to strike in the morning, because Lord Verminaard and Ember will be off joining the invasion on Qualinesti.

We turn back to Tasslehoff and Fizban in the mechanism room as they try to figure out an exit plan. Just then, in an astonishing coincidence, Fizban points out that just below them is a crack in the wall that leads to Lord Verminaard’s private chambers. Even more coincidentally, they find themselves spying on both Lord Verminaard and his dragon, Ember! Willickers!

We then go into one of our confounding dragon POVs. We learn that Ember, secretly named Pyros (so original you guys) has been sent to Lord Verminaard ostensibly as a gift, but really to spy on Lord Verminaard on behalf of the Queen of Darkness (who might be a goddess I guess???). But he also has another, even secreter mission, to find a guy named Everman… or maybe Green Gemstone Man… or maybe Beren? Guys this is getting needlessly complex.

jerri 2

Anyway, Ember is in Lord Verminaard’s room, like, knocking shit over with his tail and stuff, when Lord Verminaard complains. So Ember like, transforms himself into a human which is something I guess dragons can do, but they don’t seem to like it too much. He’s apparently here to see some new prisoners brought in by Fewmaster Toede, in an effort to soothe Lord Verminaard’s wrath from letting Goldmoon escape his clutches. One of those prisoners is none other than bad bitch gully dwarf Sestun! I’m so glad he’s not dead! And then there’s another mysterious unidentified guy who is apparently deaf and mute, and who I’m sure will not be in any way important.

Lord Verminaard makes short shrift of these prisoners, telling Setsun to “feed the dragon” (nothing ominous there), and the unidentified unimportant man to go work in the mines. Ember seems to think this is a pretty idiotic idea, but doesn’t say anything. Lord Verminaard confirms that he and Ember are to join the attack on Qualinesti first thing in the morning, then leaves Ember to pace the room in evident consternation.

It isn’t long before a draconian (ugh) enters the room to give a clandestine report to Ember. Apparently their traitor (WHO COULD IT BE????) has brought Goldmoon into Pax Tharkas. Ember is apparently not too impressed by this, but orders the draconian (ugh) to bring the traitor to him tonight, without telling Lord Verminaard. And here the chapter ends.

I’m actually really impressed with this chapter in that Tanis is actually making some good decisions.

Asshole count: I wasn’t really sure, but I guess it’s going to have to be Gilthanas again, for deciding that the child captives, and by extension the woman captives, are expendable so long as there’s a revolt against the army holding Pax Tharkas. Pretty cold shit, bruh.

 

 

DOAT Book One, Chapter 17: Paths of the Dead. Raistlin’s new friends.

Oh my god you guys oh my god oh my godddd we’re getting to the gully dwarf chapter you guysssssssssss! I vaguely remember gully dwarves as being liiike… the “special” dwarves? The ones with the hilarious speech impediments and low intelligence levels that are nonetheless somehow charming and full of innate wisdom that the smarter characters so sorely need? Like… this is so ableist. Really embarrassingly so, actually. And the thing is, there’s not one Gully Dwarf who’s like, the special Gully Dwarf who teaches too-smart-for-his-own-good Raistlin about friendship and the simple things in life. The entire race of gully dwarves are written as being sub-intelligent and worthy of scorn.

And this really gets into the whole race-essentialism that I think plagues fantasy, particularly fantasy since Tolkien because so many are still writing under his shadow. Like, there’s no goblins who just want to hang out, raise a family, maybe start up a farm or business venture. Nope, they’re all eeevil and want to destroy shit because why the fuck not. As an entire race, they’re given extremely sketchy motivation, and their race is used as shorthanded coding for whether we’re supposed to like them or not. All jokes about goblin-racism aside, the worlds that are being set up here are so black and white. All goblins are evil. All gully dwarves are idiots. Frankly, it’s lazy, and I’m happy to see in recent years writers starting to peel away from it, because even your fantasy worlds need to be more complex and less, y’know, fucking racist, even if it is toward a magical group instead of a real one.

Okay, serious diatribes about writing aside, I wrote all of this before digging into the chapter, so it’s informed by my memories about reading these things twenty years ago. Let’s start reading and see if my outrage holds up, and pepper my swears with comedic gifs!

When we last left our heroes, they were having a kip in the temple of the goddess who had just healed all of them, including Riverwind, who had basically melted, but who they’re not… too…sure… they want to believe in… just yet.

makes sense

Tanis has apparently slept in, and after waking up, spends some time musing over the nature of life and death instead of being useful in any way. I don’t know why I keep being surprised at Tanis’s utter uselessness, but I don’t know, optimism is part of the human condition I guess. Anyway, Tanis starts thinking about how they have no chance to fight against any dragons who decide to, y’know, fight them instead of running down wells, and starts getting pretty depressed. This is an understandable reaction, but everyone else is actually doing stuff right now – putting on their armor, studying their magics, polishing their swords. So get it together, Tanis.

We get an inventory of the weaponry used by the group which is actually quite interes- NO IT’S SO BORING OH MY GOD. Tasslehoff skips off, eager at the prospect of seeing a real live dragon… which… Tasslehoff did you not see the dragon yesterday? The one who melted your pal? I actually looked back in the book and there’s no description of Tasslehoff seeing or reacting to the dragon attack, but honestly, I think a dragon flying into the sky and setting shit (people) on fire has to be pretty fucking hard to miss.

I'M RIGHT HERE BRO

I’M RIGHT HERE BRO

They start traveling through Xak Tsaroth, where they find a room with a spiral staircase. Raistlin informs the group that these are called “the paths of the dead,” which causes the others to VERY SENSIBLY ask him why the fuck he knows the names of specific staircases in this city that’s supposed to have been lost for… what is it, years? centuries? His answer that he read about it somewheres is also, understandably, a little frustrating. Of course, Sturm takes things too far, suggesting that Raistlin has sold his soul to obtain his ARCANE KNOWLEDGE (which raises the question – if there are no gods, good or evil, left on Krynn, to whom did he sell his soul?).

Caramon rushes to Raistlin’s defense, but is prevented from explaining too much by Raist who’s all like ‘I have to keep my mysterious persona up bro, don’t be explaining my shit!’ Caramon listens, but then says that Raist is totes cool, bro, and may both the brothers die if that’s not the case. Tanis notices Raistlin getting mysteriously pissy about this, but hey, maybe he’s just trying to keep up his mysterious wizard persona (ladies love it).

wizards are so hot

wizards are so hot

Anyway, Sturm apologizes (which is pretty big for a guy who was actively upset that Raistlin hadn’t died a couple of chapters back), and they decide to move on down the “paths of the dead” staircase. Good decision, guys.

jlaw okay

As they move, they start hearing mysterious sounds. They grow louder until, with a rumble, a horde of small figures rushes past a nearby doorway. Flint claims that he smells something familiar and, with a face that grows “red with rage and anger,” reveals what it is – gully dwarves!

Oh my god, Flint. You’re so gully dwarf racist that you can smell them.

cher yuk

Also he threatens to kill all of them based on smell alone, apparently. Oh no, wait, he reveals that gully dwarves held him prisoner for three years, and has therefore sworn to kill all gully dwarves on sight.

kanye laugh

Still pretty racist, Flint.

Tanis posits that the Draconians (ugh) have enslaved the gully dwarves, and that they might therefore be willing to help the group out. Good thinking, Tanis! And I’m being serious about this for once, this is a really good idea!

Tanis then goes on to say “[w]e cannot trust them, of course…. As long as we don’t ask them to do anything that might endanger their own dirty skins, we might be able to buy their aid.”

lav7

The heroic (?) band hides in the shadows ready to jump the gully dwarves, but when Caramon leaps into their path and orders them to halt, they pay him absolutely no mind, but only run past him down the corridor. That seems… a pretty smart strategy, actually. Caramon 0, gully dwarves 1.

The group follows the dwarves into a series of crypts. Raistlin decides that it’s his time to take charge, so he steps forward to the group of dwarves, and starts doing some motherfucking magic, flipping gold coins in the air and making them disappear and shit. The dwarves seem to love this, and they cluster around Raist to watch his impeccable wizardry.

magic bitches
Here the book divagates into an explanation of what gully dwarves actually are… oh boy! They are the “lowest caste” of dwarves, they “live in squalor,” look “ugly” and “wretched” but nonetheless live “a cheerful existence.”

brule shock

I don’t know how much more of this I can take. Fortunately the book seems to have realized this, as it goes back to Raistlin’s fantastic magic show. Once all the gully dwarves are entranced by his sleight of hand, he casts a spell that turns them all into his friends. Too bad you didn’t cast that one on Sturm, like, four days ago, Raist.

Anyway, the spell seems to work, as all the dwarves are now enthralled by Raist, “jabbering away in their shapeless language.”

marilyn-monroe-yuck-

Actually, Sturm just had the same thought I did – that Raist could have cast the same spell on them. Considering your clear disgust and alarm, Sturm, I don’t think you have anything to worry about just now.

Anyway, the dwarves start to make a commotion when Raist ask them where the corridor leads, but one lady dwarf takes charge, grabbing Raistlin by the robes and leading him, and the rest of the band, to the Highbulp of the gully dwarves as the distant sounds of whips crack in the distance. The dwarf, whose name is Bupu, gets extra-spelled I guess, as she is SUPER INTO Raistlin all of the sudden. It’s not clear where their path goes before Tasslehoff gets back from investigating the strange sound they heard earlier – it’s a lift made of lard pots that allow draconians (ugh) and dwarves to move up or down in the underground shafts. But the problem remains – if our band of heroes goes down in the pots, how will they deal with the draconians (ugh) who are coming up? Our heroes decide to go with beating them the fuck up, and here the chapter ends.

Ugh, you guys, I can’t even with all of this weirdness. Developing an entire race of sub-intelligent beings and then going on to describe them as “filthy,” “jabbering,” yet “cheerful” is just a little bit much. It’s basically as embarrassing as I remember it being. Someday there’s gonna be like a Che Guevara of the gully dwarves to lead them all from bondage. At least there is in the book I want to be reading.

Asshole count: whoever came up with this horrible idea.

 

 

DOAT Book One, Chapter 8: Search for truth. Unexpected answers.

When we last left our fearless band of heroes, half of them were cowering in a ditch to hide from a bunch of priests based on their sociopathic kender’s (redundant) “eerie feeling.” The other half consists of two large fighters with swords, one of whom has already declared his intention to “take care” of said priests, and two fugitives from pretty much all the authority in the area who have run out into the road in an effort to test the healing powers of their staff.

Goldmoon is in the lead of those running from the bushes, and the book takes pains to tell us that “this was not the act of a foolish, hysterical woman.” Oh, thank goodness you said something, book, because that is what I TOTALLY would have thought.

ohhh noWe go into a little backstory about Goldmoon, and how she’s had to rule her people ever since her father got debilitatingly sick, ten years ago. Buuut… wait a sec. In the very last chapter, we had a story about how Goldmoon’s father was the one to have sent Riverwind out on this impossible quest. And even if that had happened before her father had taken ill – so ill that he couldn’t speak clearly, or move his right arm and leg (so a stroke, I guess), according to Goldmoon’s story, Riverwind had gotten back only two days prior to the current events of the book. He’d presented the staff to Goldmoon’s father – not to her – and her father had declared him a fraud and ordered the tribe to stone him to death. And… how did he do this? Even if we accept that he was able to be propped up, and his speech interpreted, it was Goldmoon who “ruled the tribe in all but name.” As their leader, why couldn’t she just overrule her father, declare that the staff was cool, and order everyone to, I don’t know, not stone her boyfriend?

Logic

Ucchhhh okay, fine, book, I will take your word on this one and move on. This part doesn’t have nearly enough Raistlin in it anyway.

Anyway, Goldmoon offers to help the sick priest, but declares that she is the staff’s rightful owner until she learns definitively otherwise. Tanis, watching this exchange, gets nervous as he notes that the priests keep feinting towards their belts, under which lie strange bulges that can’t be prayer books!

Sooo is that a prayer book in your pocket or just an obvious joke?

Sooo is that a prayer book in your pocket or just an obvious joke?

Neither Sturm nor Caramon apparently share Tanis’s homoerotic musings, as although Sturm stayed in the road to kill the priests, and Caramon ran into the road to protect Goldmoon, they have both let their guard down and are now “completely relaxed.”

loki facepalm

I just assume this is Raistlin’s reaction, and I’m probably not wrong.

The priest gratefully accepts Goldmoon’s help, and invites her to travel to Haven with his group, in order to convince her that the staff really belongs to them. So generous! He leads Goldmoon to the cart, and inside she finds… an ambush!

Not only that, but Tanis – still hiding in the bushes – is jumped upon from above. Fortunately, Flint smacks the attacker with a log, and Tanis is in for another surprise – it isn’t a man, but a lizard man.

The most dangerous game.

The most dangerous game.

Goldmoon and Riverwind, meanwhile, have been attacked by lizard men disguised as priests. Fortunately, unlike Riverwind who is paralyzed in terror, and Caramon and Sturm, who I assume are still relaxing, Goldmoon proves herself to be a pretty badass fighter with her staff.

Sturm apparently snaps out of his stupor and sticks one of the lizard men with his sword. At this, he gets a nasty surprise – the thing turns to stone, leaving Sturm’s sword stuck inside it. Raistlin sees this, and appears in time to warn Caramon against stabbing the dudes. Caramon attempts to fight them by… flexing somehow, and Raistlin puts them to sleep…

LIKE A B – oh, shit, it doesn’t work, because the lizard men are magic resistant! Caramon employs his head-smashing technique (most recently exhibited on goblins) and decimates the lot.

Oh shit, I did something right!

I did something right!

Raistlin, not to be outdone by his own brother, sets the remaining lizard men on fucking fire.

like a boss

Tanis, meanwhile runs up to Sturm who is lying in the road and crying like a little child about his sword, like he’s wounded or something.

No, I'm not above using this joke.

No, I’m not above using this joke.

Tanis leaves Flint and Tasslehoff to guard Sturm while he gets the rest of the group together. But Tasslehoff traipses of to grab Sturm’s sword some…how?

Like this, if King Arthur were a kender?

Like this, if King Arthur were a kender?

There’s some hilarious slapstick high jinks that I’m just too exhausted to recap here – let’s just say that Tasslehoff pounds the lizard man with pretty much no effort because that’s just what kenders do.

Anyway, more fighting, then Tanis manages to get everyone rallied into one group. Tanis decides that they have to head south into the woods where the misogyny zombies live.

HISSSSSSSSSSSSSS WOMEN ARE WEAKER THAN MEN IT'S JUST BIOLOGY

HISSSSSSSSSSSSSS WOMEN ARE WEAKER THAN MEN IT’S JUST BIOLOGY

And that’s the end of another chapter. It’s action heavy, and apart from the extremely contradictory storyline we get about Goldmoon’s past, and a little background about how well Caramon and Raistlin are able to fight together (even if they don’t get along), not much character development. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, guys! We can do both!

Idiot count: This one is clearly Sturm and Caramon for apparently letting their guard down pretty much immediately after they were already primed to, you know, kill some fucking priests. As you do.

DOAT Book One, Chapter 7: The story of the staff. Strange clerics. Eerie feelings.

Our group of travelers is now making their way through Solace Vale, the woods outside the town of Solace. These woods are unexpectedly dangerous, as they are apparently populated with tangleshoot vines, which have a… taste for human blood.

baby-audrey-2

Like that ever happens.

When they finally get to the road, it’s quiet. Too quiet. everyone in the group is suddenly nervous about walking along the road, even Cauldron Caramon, who is supposed to be all big and tough and strong. So they decide to send Tasslehoff to scout things out by himself, because when your giant, brawny dudes who may or may not be wearing full plate armor and have swords and shit are scared to walk along the road, the best thing to do is send the tiniest, scrawniest member of your party in front of you.

fucking seriously?

So Tasslehoff wanders off down the road singing… a… well, oh god. Let’s have some lyrics, shall we?

Your one true love’s a sailing ship/That anchors at our pier/We lift her sails, we man her decks,/We scrub the portholes clear

Uhh…

For all the sailors love her/And flock to where she’s moored/Each man hoping that he might/Go down, all hands on board.

Okay, ignoring the hideous meter of this new Oh Noetry it’s… my god, it’s basically a “your girlfriend’s a big ho” joke set to verse. And of course, the character presented as the most childish and innocent member of the group is the one who gets to sing it. I mean, we’ve established that Tasslehoff is a sociopath, but not, like, a sex one. Yet.

Until Rule 34 has its way.

Until Rule 34 has its way.

After Tasslehoff and his sex songs are safely out of earshot, the rest of the group decides to try its luck on the road. To Tanis’s surprise, Raistlin is making his way along the path pretty well, considering he has been coughing blood, and is now engaged in the time honored mistake of walking while reading.

To be fair, this is your Khaleesi's favorite mistake.

To be fair, this is your Khaleesi’s favorite mistake.

Tanis muses that it’s necessary for wizards to re-learn a spell every time they cast it, which I understand is, like, a D&D thing or something? I know very little about D&D, but it makes sense to put some limitations on your wizards’ ability to just go around casting insane spells with no consequences in order to make the game fair.

Unlike in real life where wizards always win.

Unlike in real life where wizards always win.

Tanis hangs with Goldmoon, who for no reason just starts telling him her life story. It’s pretty boring and cliched, really. She and Riverwind were in love, he was an outcast and she was a princess, blah blah. Goldmoon’s father sent him out on an impossible quest to keep him away from her, he came back with the blue crystal staff, the tribe tried to stone them to death, the staff teleported them to Solace. You know, just like all the fairy tales.

And like all fairy tales, PuppyCat told it better.

And like all fairy tales, PuppyCat told it better.

After Goldmoon tells her story, Riverwind finally opens up about his journey to find the staff, but not before being kind of elf-racist towards Tanis. He apparently found a strange, evil city that sounds sort of like a Lovecraftian fever dream. While he was there, dying from injuries, a woman appeared before him, healed him, and gave him the staff.

Tanis is a little incredulous, looking at the staff, as it seems so benign – he sees it as plain and ordinary, with a device carved at the top, and feathers, “such as the barbarians admire,”

pocahontistied around it.

Tanis’s racist musings are interrupted by Tasslehoff running back down the path with a warning. Tanis orders everyone to jump into the bushes. Everyone does – except Sturm, who decides to stand his ground like an asshole. Tasslehoff catches up to them and warns them that a party of clerics is coming down the road. This doesn’t sound incredibly dangerous, although Sturm claims that he can “handle” them. However, Tasshlehoff apparently has a weird feeling about them. Perhaps even… an eerie feeling?

Not that kind of feeling.

Not that kind of feeling.

The fact that even a sociopath like Tasslehoff has misgivings about these clerics convinces even Sturm that it’s time to withdraw, so the whole group hides in some bushes. They watch as the group of clerics come into view, wheeling a handcart behind them.

Tanis proposes that Sturm go up and talk to them, which… really, Tanis? I mean, these are a group of clerics, which are basically priests, and you decide to send out the guy who, with no other knowledge about them save that a kender is feeling a little weird about them, says that he is willing to “handle,” i.e. kill them, to negotiate? This is not a good plan, bro.

Tanis, in his time honored tradition of not listening to me, sends Sturm to wait along the road anyway, filling in the others about his master plan. Raistlin is not a fan of this either, but not for the same reasons as me. He connects the dots between the blue crystal staff randomly showing up near Solace with the strange clerics showing up – it’s a weird coincidence, he posits, and might indicate that the staff is theirs by right. Everyone worries about this except Flint, who bitches about the rain, and Sturm, who waits for the clerics, stroking his mustaches.

you know, Dragonscouts, I went on Google to find a good mustache stroking picture, and unexpectedly found a video of my ex boyfriend stroking his mustache on Fox News. No, every single word of that sentence is absolutely true. So I am just going to post a picture of Freddie Mercury here, drink a bottle of wine, and hope for the best.

Do I make you feel better, Khaleesi?

Does my mustache make you feel better, Khaleesi?

Yes it does, Freddie. And also, wine.

ANYWAY. The clerics come into view, and true to Tasslehoff’s feelings, are pretty damn weird looking. They are all tall and shrouded in cloaks and bandages. They chat a bit with Sturm, who references the rumors of a war to the north, which the clerics deny. They tell him that they’re in search of a blue crystal staff (of course). Evidently, one of their order is very ill and in need of its healing powers. Further (they claim), it was stolen from their sacred order by a barbarian

pocahontis

who they traced to the plains, but who then vanished.

Goldmoon, on hearing this, runs out into the road to help the sick cleric. Everyone else follows, except for Raistlin, Flint, Tasslehoff and Tanis, who is showing an uncharacteristic canniness.

And the chapter ends on this cliffhanger. It’s a bit more exciting than the last chapter, and doesn’t rely so much on telling not showing, so I feel that it’s superior in all ways. Except for racism, which is a real problem in this book, I’m seeing. At the same time, it’s all action and very little character exploration or growth, which makes me wonder if we’re going to see any chapters like chapter 5, where we got both at the same time. Well, here’s hoping we discover the mystery of the clerics in our next chapter, am I right?

Asshole count: Tough to pick a winner for the chapter, but I’m voting for Sturm. It is just weird that his first thought on coming across a bevy of clerics is “hey, I can take them out!” Tasslehoff takes second place for his inappropriate sex songs.