Two: Agent of Talona
Before we get started with the (no doubt gripping) events of this chapter, someone in the comments last time found a map of the specific location the story is currently taking place in. Let’s take a look:
Yes, the Snowflake Mountains. They couldn’t even go for something like the Frostspires? And the Forest of Shadows, I bet there’s fun stuff in there.
The element I found most baffling is the location on the left called Daoine Dun, which the map seems to be implying translates to Hill Of The Stars. Daoine Dun is actually Irish and translates to something like “person fort”, which doesn’t make any sense.
I’ve noticed a trend of epic fantasy authors hijacking words from the various branches of Gaelic languages to use in conlangs and place names, especially if fairies show up. I’m not sure why. I guess if you’re not familiar with it it sounds suitably Ye Old World or something.
From a distance, the rocky spur at the northeastern edge of the Snowflake Mountains seemed quite unremarkable: piles of strewn boulders covering tightly packed slopes of smaller stones. But so, too, to those who didn’t know better, might a wolverine seem an innocuous creature of the forest.
That might be one of the most tortuously constructed sentences I’ve ever read.
A dozen separate tunnels led under that rocky slope, and each of them promised only death to wayward adventurers seeking shelter from the night.
This is where this book being D&D tie-in fiction shows: the fact that the world contains things like mysterious tunnels and “adventurers” who go traipsing around dangerous places for the lulz.
This particular mountain spur, which was far from natural, housed Castle Trinity, a castle-in-mountain’s-clothing, a fortress for an evil brotherhood determined to gain in power.
Pfft showing is for dorks, it’s all about the telling here.
Wary must wanderers be in the Realms, for civilization often ends at a city wall.
I can’t figure out what this sentence has to do with anything that precedes or follows it.
It turns out Castle Trinity (a castle in mountain’s clothing, in case you didn’t know) is where our pal
Abblaster Allibaster Abillaster Abbalister is holed up. He’s about to put his nefarious scheme into action, having collected all the ingredients he needs.
“Quiesta bene tellemara,” he mumbled under his breath.
Wait isn’t “bene” Italian? Are all of these conlangs just constructed by mashing real languages together?
If Druzil’s claims for the chaos curse proved true, Aballister and his evil companions would soon realize more power than even he, an ambitious wizard, had ever hoped for.
We’re in Aballister’s POV here, he really shouldn’t be thinking of his allies as “his evil companions”.
Their plan is to conquer “the entire Snowflake Mountain region” which seems a bit lacking in ambition but whatever.
At around this point the book decides it’s time for a more in-depth description of our villain. How is this facilitated? If you guessed “by having him gaze around the room for no reason until he sees himself in a mirror” then congrats, you win. I’m going to say this is the fastest and easiest way to make yourself look like a total amateur short of using blatantly incorrect grammar.
At this point in his wretched life, the power seemed as hollow as his own face.
SHOW DON’T TELL
SHOW DON’T TELL
SHOW DON’T TELL
Aballister’s laughter trebled, with just a hint of unease in it. “Most Fatal Horror” was a title associated with Talona’s highest-ranking and most devout priests. Barjin, Castle Trinity’s clerical leader, had not yet attained that honor, being referred to only as a Most Debilitating Holiness.
Yes, our villains are a bunch of evil guys who worship an evil deity and unironically call themselves things like “Most Fatal Horror”.
Evil organisations in real life don’t do shit like this. They give themselves names that are supposed to sound grand, impressive and powerful, like Storm Brigade or ISIS or The United States Government.
After Aballister leaves there’s a Dramatic Reveal that Druzil the imp is actually just using him to carry out some sort of nefarious plan that isn’t interesting and which I don’t care about. Then a whole lot of squabbling and drama happens between Aballister and the other members of the Society of Evil, which I’m only going to hit in spots because seriously who gives a shit.
For some reason Aballister doesn’t actually know what the chaos curse is going to do even though he’s spent the last two years making it, so Druzil gets to exposit a bit:
It will invade the hearts of our targets,” the imp explained, “and exaggerate their desires. Simple impulses will become god-given commands. None will be affected in quite the same way, nor will the effects remain consistent to any one victim. Purely chaotic!
In order to test the chaos curse Aballister uses it on a “fighter” (as in he’s literally described by his character class), who then runs off and tries to murder his rival. It doesn’t work and he ends up dead, but the curse gives him incredible resilience and a berserker-like ability to keep fighting no matter how badly wounded he is.
“A worthy adversary,” one bold orc remarked, coming over to inspect the body.
Covered in Haverly’s blood, and with his own nose broken, Ragnor was in no mood to hear any praises for Haverly. “A stubborn fool!” he corrected, and he lopped off the orc’s head with a single strike.
I already couldn’t take these guys seriously, and that doesn’t improve when they go around decapitating each other at the drop of a hat.
I was planning on doing another chapter, but I’ve got a boat load of real-person work to get through over the next seven days so I think I’ll stop here.