Children of the Dragon Ch12-13

Today, the many faces of filler.

The twelfth chapter is just a few paragraphs of unnecessary explanation about how Wren decided to sell the horses and blah blah made him a target blah could totally take them of course but blah blah blah anyway. Even if we assume the question of what happens to the horses he never needed was particularly important, he could’ve just sold them back when he entered the first town given nothing’s changed since then.

They were sold to a redheaded, tattooed horse merchant who was all teeth and no chin, and who spent more of the transaction talking to the horses than to their owner, continuing my attempt to keep track of descriptions. For some reason Wren implies she treats horses badly by being surprised his horses didn’t come running after him, and come on, anybody who’s cooing at the horses is someone who takes great care of them. There’s a mention of the stable being overcrowded, so I guess the idea is she’s like a crazy cat lady, except not really how it works for horses/agrarian societies. From the sounds of it, Wren never even unloaded the poor animals. He should be grateful they didn’t run off and try to find someone else before this.

My guess is this pointless chapter is so that Yuyu can get his chapter set as the thirteenth one. Weirdly, though, it’ll turn out to be precisely as pointless.

It wasn’t the constant growth of brambles across the trail that disturbed Yushuv. It was the sense that something had hurriedly planted them there.

Really, the fact they’re apparently growing in front of you should be pretty disturbing!

Yeah, I know, “growth” can just mean “a pile of”, but just because something’s technically allowed doesn’t mean it’s a good choice. In a setting with magic where brambles can grow fast enough to engulf you, we can’t rely on context to tell which kind of growth is meant.

Several times, he stopped and checked the offending stalks for signs of Fair Folk-induced modification, but none of the vines dripped blood, sprouted tumors or sang off key hymns to elemental chaos. They were annoying and omnipresent, but strictly mundane.

Also in a setting with magic WHY THE FUCK AREN’T THEY SHOWING ANY SIGNS OF MODIFICATION. Why aren’t they dripping blood with hairy toothed tumor-fruit that chant chaos hymns? How is that not in every way an improvement?

I’m not going to say the fae aren’t allowed to be subtle, but Yushuv knows it’s happening and he has no choice but to keep going this way anyway. If dripping blood with hairy toothed tumor-fruit chanting chaos hymns wouldn’t alter plot events, why not have them?

Or at least make them made out of metal, especially if you’re going to claim Yushuv has to spend half an hour hacking enough space to barely squeeze through. The metal can still bleed, such fuck you they’re fairies.

At any rate, it’s now time to camp. Unlike, say, the last WWZ chapter, there’s the sense the author is at least broadly familiar with the whole business, as he’s not camping because it’s dark but because it’ll be dark in an hour.

He could see ahead to where a small but energetic waterfall burst from the cliff face to his right, to tumble into a small pool on the valley floor. That, he decided, was a good enough spot, and he picked his way downhill with something approaching great care. The pool, it turned out, was where the game trail ended. It opened to a grassy shelf overlooking the clear water, and a plethora of animal tracks were in evidence.

Oh you fool. You foolish fool.

Never pick the scenic camping site when dealing with LARPer cthulhoids.

We’re told he actually runs into a bit of trouble getting the fire actually going due to all the spray from the scenic falls, and he was finally forced to indulge in the use of a touch of power to kindle a flame. Not sure why that’s something you have to be forced into, but hey, casual magic use! No longer just for antagonist characters!

Yushuv goes to sleep only to awake in the middle of the night. He knows something is wrong and macgyvers a torch by cramming a pinecone onto a stick.

The light cast long shadows among the trees and reflected off the still waters of the pool, and then Yushuv realized why he had awakened.

Do you?

It’s the waterfall. The water’s stopped, and the abrupt silence after getting used to it is what woke Yushuv.

Suddenly, the waters rushed forth from the cliff face, redoubled. The roar cut through the night, and underneath it all, Yushuv thought he heard a voice, bellowing his name. He stared out at the water, but saw nothing. After a moment, the water flowed normally once again, and the tormented voice-if voice there had been-faded to nothing. The night noises resumed, and Yushuv was left with the feeling that he had somehow missed something important.

This is a decent idea, but pretty underwhelming given we’re midway through the final book. Something is going on, someone was trying to contact Yushuv, and he doesn’t know what or how much is literal vs metaphorical fate echo. And he isn’t going to do anything different, like decide to follow the river up or downstream, without more info, so…this really changes nothing.

The strange events of the night before told him it was time to move on.

No, the fact he’s currently moving means he was going to move on regardless. You see? It didn’t actually accomplish even something so slight as that.

Anyway, at this point Shooth, the water spirit who behaves more like a dumb water elemental, appears.

“Yes,” he said, “you found me. Good thing, too. I was just about to use you to wash my hands.”
“Shooth will wash you,” it said, and before Yushuv could protest he was doused by the spirit’s attentions. A wave descended upon him, soaking both Yushuv himself and his bedroll, and putting out the last struggling bits of campfire.

So yeah.

Fantasy seems to really love having this sort of thing but I never see why.

Shooth explains it’s here to carry a message from Dace who somehow knows there’s danger from something in the woods and he needs to aim his travels westward to get out of their territory. I guess fae could have the ability to tell when someone’s talking about them, explaining why it wouldn’t just be “hey, fae are around, go west to avoid them” and has to be vague, but that’s rather stepping on the toes of sidereals. And there’s not even a point to the runabout! Yushuv works out there’s fae bullshit going on immediately.

So that’s this chapter – stuff happening that’s completely irrelevant and it’s not even happening in an entertaining way. The brambles are regular brambles and do nothing but pad both Yushuv’s day and the book itself. The waterfall has something going on but Yushuv doesn’t know what, so it doesn’t matter. And now we get a convoluted warning without it being any different than a direct one.

Sure, the warning means that Yushuv realizes Dace and Lilith are fighting brain-eating chaos fairies themselves and wants to go back…but he’s told that no, he shouldn’t. so instead he doesn’t.

The only thing actually accomplished this chapter is that apparently he’s changing his direction slightly, and there was no reason he couldn’t have been going in that direction from the start.

With a last look backward, Yushuv put his head down and walked off. This time, there were no thorns to bar his way.

See how pointless? When he’s trying to flee the fae, suddenly their ability to hamper him also evaporates. There might as well not have been brambles at all.

2 Comments

  1. illhousen says:

    Not sure why that’s something you have to be forced into

    GM: For fuck’s sake, it’s one mote to lit the flame!

    Yushuv: One more mote to spend on my Excellencies in a fight!

    GM: Fine, I’ll give you three more rolls. After that the wood would be too dump to catch fire without magic.

    When he’s trying to flee the fae, suddenly their ability to hamper him also evaporates.

    That’s really pointless. The hole thing with brambles felt like a Ring Shaping attack (admittedly pretty weak): get him stuck in place, lose direction, then demand a boon to release him.

    We could have a more fairy tale encounter with a fae than just murdergame in a fake ancient city!

  2. Dagurasu says:
    This books really runing in plot convenience, no logic, coherence, plot convenience.

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