So, Zal and Lila have just had their reunion and Lila is basically butter in his arms. Will they do the sensible thing and make good their escape or will they dick around? Well it’s been a few hours since Lila had her some elf so I’m guessing they’ll have to stop and bone. Because, again, characters should never feel rushed. Tension is for good books.
We start off with Zal’s private cell being rocked by the water dragon pushing against it. Zal says he thinks it likes her. Then he explains that it’s drawn to the “game magic” and that they must quickly discharge it before it’s too late.
This sounds like the worst line in all of elfland. ‘Quickly, we must have sex to discharge the magic. It’s the only way!’ What about the wild magic that’s tied to the game between Barry and the queen? Oh, I forgot, they’re not main characters. Only the magic between Lila and Zal would require them to have sex. One of them can see or hear the dragon’s thoughts and of course that means it’s hyphen time.
Elfheart machine-woman and demonheart elf-man. Walking four worlds inside the forfeit bond. Sing the two, eight, eighteen canticle, the shape of things, the weird of breaths, the soft hand in hand dance, and, as all water is one across the worlds and sings each to each unbroken the lowest notes of sweet lament, we shall bend our mind to thy curious measure.
Barry warns them that Arie has seen the dragon down there with them and that if they’re going to act they must do so quickly. Zal asks if Lila has a plan and she says to pretend to lose. Zal says some elvish mumbly jumbly which dissipates the magic.
Then some guards come take Zal away while Lila gets dressed. Then she decides to fret about their cover possibly being blown and how they haven’t had a chance to coordinate. Then she wonders about what the dragon was talking about. Barry says it was referring to the forfeit between Zal and Lila but not about the numbers. Lila know the numbers are references to atomic structure and this gives her a clue as to how magic and science are tied together.
Bad, Robson. You should think about what you write before you let it go off to the printers. If magic and science are one and the same then how the hell does magic interfere with technology? When they were two discrete schools of thought, you could have said that’s just because it’s magic. But now there’s really no reason for them to interfere with one another. And that also means magical beings like elves should be able to feel technology like they can magic, even if they don’t really understand it.
Lila is escorted to the elvish laboratory where there are sparking runes and odd smells and a single demon grinding something in a mortar with the pestle held in his tail. And not a single bit of that was hyperbole. Apparently elves also love the mad scientist archetype even if they can’t be one. Barry declares the demon to be Zal’s replacement and either hired, bullied or a traitor to his own kind. I guess no demon would see the value in helping the elves wall themselves off from everyone else.
‘Wait, you elves want to build a big magical fence around your realm and cut yourselves off from everyone?’ ‘Yeah. We’re getting sick of the kids walking on our lawn and skateboarding on the sidewalk.’ ‘Oh, I don’t know. I mean, we’ll all miss you guys too much. I don’t think I can help.’ ‘Your sarcasm is most appreciated.’
Then Arie calls Lila over and says it’s time for Barry to take on a more suitable form. So Lila holds hands with Astar and Arie says the magic words which don’t work and she realizes something is wrong. They’re all out of beef jerky! Arie mobilizes an entire army to run out and scour gas stations in the human world for packages of dried beef. Only through the power of salted meat can they transfer Barry’s spirit to his sister. Or she realizes the flower Astar gave her earlier must be just a garden variety blosson.
Arie demands to know what’s going on as she may be the smartest person in the room she still can’t put one and one together. Barry explains that the real flower was burned and he didn’t want to tell her because truth is uncomfortable. Surprisingly, Arie doesn’t seem to buy it and ask Dar to recount how he met Barry/Lila once again. I guess some people
So Dar mangles the actual story to make it sound like he tricked Lila into touching Barry’s dead body. And instead of just saying that Dar retold the story and Dar changed some details, Robson has Dar tell us and Arie his version. Arie says she can’t believe him so she hands Barry a knife and tells him to do it—what is debatable—or else she’ll order him to.
Barry and Lila argue for control for a moment. Barry says they must finish what they started. Yes, but now isn’t the time to sit down and write that novel you’ve been talking about, Barry. He tells Lila to leave it up to him unless she wants to join in and suddenly I’m wondering what Arie is demanding of Barry and Dar.
Lila decides not to chicken out and sticks with Barry as they charge Dar “faster than any eye could follow”. Which I must assume means Lila teleported over to Dar and stabbed him. Because we all know there’s nothing elves can’t do even if it’s outside the ability of a machine.
Why is it always in fantasy that they move ‘faster than the/an eye can/could follow’? Paolini used that too and I’ve seen it pop up all across fantasy. Do they all watch anime? Why must everyone flashstep from one place to the next? And if Lila can move that fast then how the hell was she ever threatened by that elvish assassin earlier? Maybe she just forgot how to do that until now.
Lila was very strong, her aim perfect, her focus absolute. She looked into Dar’s eyes as they stood face to face for the lasttime, her hand firm against his chest where the blade had pierced between his ribs directly into his heart.
So Lila stabs Dar to keep up the illusion Barry is still in control. Does anyone else see the problem with this? If the queen figures that Dar is up to something then she probably suspects there’s something wrong with Barry. So all Lila is doing is killing the only ally she has in the court aside from Astar.
I would expect that from a regular human who only has a regular brain which can be distracted by fear. A normal person might be frightened because they’re so close to being found out and get easily tricked into stabbing their friend. But Lila has a computer in her head which is always processing data. Right about then is should be screaming alarms at her and telling her she’s being an idiot. Maybe next chapter we’ll get lucky and Arie will melt Lila down for scrap after laughing at her.