Welcome back to Fantasyland
, brave adventurers! Don't worry; we're not in any danger just yet! Unless you count this book as a pressing danger.
Chapter 3: Magic Bag
Is it yellow and covered in little black Xs?
As we open up this chapter, Alex is schmoozing with Andy. Andy thinks Alex is lucky, because for a first-timer, he gets to go on a really exciting adventure!
Well, I suppose that's one way to look at things.
Alex looks at Andy and realizes he's pretty young, too—no older than 25. On a whim, Alex makes the decision that he's going to like Andy.
Translation: "You're my new best friend, whether you like it or not!"
So what better way to celebrate their Plug-'N'-Play-Friendship
than with a shopping montage!
OMG SHOES! And a lot of adventuring gear. What kind of gear? Well, some pots and... I dunno; the book won't tell me! Just... gear, apparently. It says they went around to a lot of shops, and got lots of "other camping gear," but doesn't specify.
Hmm. Well, I'll just fill in the blanks myself, then. They picked up some Potions and Elixirs
, a heaping helping of POW Blocks
, plenty of Pokeballs
, some WorldLeaves
, and—of course—rope. Lots and lots of rope.
Alex wonders about money, but Andy tells him not to worry about it. It's all on Dwarfbeard's tab. More specifically, Dwarfbeard has offered to "stand good" for Alex. Having lived above a bar most of his life, Alex knows that just because it's on the house doesn't mean you drink all you can. But, nope—Dwarfbeard is determined
to "stand good" (there's that phrase again), and if you don't
get exactly everything you need
when a dwarf is "standing good" for you (what happens if he "stands bad" for you?), you gon' make Dwarfbeard cry, boy. You don' wanna make a grown dwarf cry, do ya?
Alex is mystified by fantasy money! I'm guessing he's never played an RPG before, otherwise the fact that thirteen silver coins
equals one gold coin
wouldn't come as such a shock. Wait a minute—wasn't it 13 Sickles to the Galleon in Harry Potter, too? Let's hope that's
another Shout Out
Andy's reaction to Alex's monetary not-knowledge is bafflement, considering how he's not sure he ended up adventuring otherwise. "Badgered by an insane shopkeeper" not a good enough explanation for you? (Also, the fact that he doesn't know about money
is the most confounding thing to you?) Alex explains about the sign.
Andy is surprised he saw it! After all, no one's seen it for a long time, though he knows a few people a few years ago who—
...Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
Hold the phone!
Just two chapters ago,
Mr. Clutter was saying how no one had seen it for a couple hundred years!
Lord, we're only three chapters in, and we have our first plot hole. Unless Andy is waaay older than he appears to be.
Just... move on. Let's just move on. I don't need the headache. Let's go on. NEXT SHOP!
Oooh. We actually get to see what they're buying this time. They're visiting a master bag maker for a magic bag!
Poor little Andy is so confused!
Luckily, the Master Bag Maker (...that's a hard title to take seriously) has a nice "Try before you buy" model for display. Standard passwords. Speak "Enter" and friend!
...It's a Bag Of Holding
There's rooms inside this one, but it's a Bag Of Holding
. The page moves on. Yep, it's still a Bag Of Holding
! Oh, look, we're learning about passwords. ...Still a Bag Of Holding
. Yes, you can go inside it. Still a Bag Of Holding
...Hold on a second, how long does this go on for? I mean, it is the thing that titles the chapter, so—
...OK, look. Remember how I took issue with the whole "We've gotta kill him 'cuz he's evil!
" thing? And I took some time to ruminate on the nature of fantasy and all that? Yeah. Allow me to do that again.
Here's the Thing About Fantasy:
Even if you are writing your book mindful of the hypothetical person who has never read another fantasy novel before, you have to remember something. Some concepts are so
famous, and so
well-known, you can expect Joe and Jane Ignorant to have a reasonable understanding of them via Popcultural Osmosis
. You don't have
to spend years describing them for us. Oh—a cursory explanation is still nice. Just to refresh our memory and to help us paint a picture of what your
[insert concept here] is like. Quick appearances and such. But if you are going to spend this much time
on something, you need to show us why your take on it is novel.
Save long explanations for things that you know
you're doing entirely differently.
This is not a unique take on a Bag Of Holding
. The only sort of different thing about it is that you structure it sort of like a computer, with the rooms acting like file folders and the passwords needed to get in. And even then, six pages is a lot.
If you were introducing a new character, that'd be fine. This is just padding
Continuing the illogic, Alex wants to know why it is unacceptable to sleep in your magic bag. Andy posits, "What if you climbed out in the morning and were surrounded by goblins? You couldn't warn us!"
To which I add, wouldn't you be much safer inside the password-protected bag?
Warning seems like it'd be pretty irrelevent—unless you're one of those people who makes your password "Password," the goblins couldn't get at you or
Bother this nonsense; let's go to the next store. Dwarfbeard's good-standing is gonna buy Alex a weapon next. Mr. Blackburn can "measure" anybody and find them the perfect weapon, so let's go see him!
Calling it right now:
They go to Mr. Blackburn's marvelous smithy. He takes some vague measurements of Alex, all the while muttering and going "Interesting." Why am I reminded of Mr. Ollivander's from Harry Potter?
I'm sort of glad now that there's only about three-ish fantasies the average person
is familiar with, because I'd hate to see what else
this story would rip off if there were more.
Mr. Blackburn finishes sizing up Alex like a show dog, and the "Interestings" continue. It appears Alex would be most suited to a sword
(I Knew It
) or... a staff.
HUBIDAH-WAAAA? But... but... staves are a wizard's weapon!
And wizards are super-rare!
Damn. I'm not sure if I called both of those correctly, or just the first, since I'm not sure if the wizard thing counts.
In yet another
Potter-esque scene, Alex fiercely denies being a
wizard, and just asks for the sword. He shops around and picks a "blue-black blade" just hanging out on the wall. Hey, guess what? Mr. Blackburn didn't actually make it! Some random adventurer brought it to him from some hoard! And Alex thinks he sees words in the gold swirls on the hilt! But in a land full of magic, why, that's crazy talk.
...*sigh* And I called them both right after all.
Let's see if I can predict the rest
of the party's weapons with the same accuracy:
- Arconn: Bow
- Dwarfbeard: Axe
- Dwarfaxe Jr.: Another axe
- Andy: Maybe a lighter sword of some kind
- Olaf Leaderson, Tayo, and Scald: Spears and WTF ever
Whatever; let's just get back to dinner. "Now we are eight," Olaf says. (What, like you weren't eight before?
) Blah blah formally welcoming last member everyone hears he could be a wizard
both Dwarfbeard and Mc Playboy
look smug. Everyone then thinks it'll be hilarious
to get Alex wasted on honey beer. Typical obfuscating Dwarfbeard says it's not strong enough to "muddle your wizardly senses," but Tayo still says it'll give you a doozy of a hangover. Well, which is it?
Oh, never mind. It's just enchanted so you temporarily become Immune To Alcohol
. You know, considering that many alcohols, meads, grogs, etc. were less about taste and more about preservability and drunkenness, it seems kinda pointless to take away half of that.
Scald wants to die in battle! But he doesn't want to die; only if he has to. I'm guessing he's going to be our Proud Warrior Race Guy
. Tayo says some incredibly generic things. He's more talkative than alleged. Not one pithy truth has come out of his mouth so far. If he even has a personality, I haven't yet found it.
Before-Bed talk with Scald and Alex! More talk of "not keeping secrets," which I have a feeling is going to be some kind of theme here. Scald also reveals that he, Tayo, and Olaf are from "Norsland."
Since they're all drifting off to sleep now, I'll leave them be until Chapter 4. But I will leave with this one last comment on our group's national background:
I come from the land of the ice and snow, where the midnight sun and the hot springs glow...