So Kale has gotten a new outfit from Granny Noon, which would be slightly more dramatic if we knew anything about her old clothes.
Draped around her shoulders, it fell to the floor and swayed gently as she moved. Something odd happened to the color every time she glimpsed it out of the corner of her eye.
Wooooowwwww, I wonder if this is some sort of totally unconvincing knockoff of the awesome elf cloaks of the awesomest fantasy trilogy ever.
Except this one is apparently some sort of chameleon cloak. Whee.
I’m not used to such elegant clothing, that’s all. That could be the explanation, but still something about the cape made her vision kind of muzzy.
I'm pretty sure that if I put Gucci clothes, it would not cause blurred vision. HOW DUMB ARE YOU?!
So we're given the details about her clothes. They're colored like a house repainted for sale, with lots of neutrals. And for some reason she's wearing a skirt even though it's not as warm and not as convenient for traveling.
Everything—her undergarments, stockings, boots, skirt, blouse, and cape—smelled new.
... maybe I'm just weird, but I've never noticed a "new clothes smell" like with cars. Mostly they FEEL new.
She liked looking clean and neat. She’d be warm, and she’d look respectable.
- Again, we know nothing about the clothes she had before. Did they look dirty and sloppy?
- And did they make her look NON respectable? What gets respect in this world?
- Or is she just really, really shallow?
However, she's weirded out by the fact that her cape's lining is full of pockets, and even though the pockets are full, she can't see any bulges on the outside. Honestly, I would be more concerned about keeping the cape on my person, because that bitch has got to be HEAVY.
Granny Noon had explained each item, but the familiar objects had bizarre purposes. Before Granny tucked the last feather into the right side pocket, Kale knew her mind was muddled with bits and pieces of information she didn’t understand. She tried to sort out Granny Noon’s instructions as the others busied themselves with their own preparations.
And the author is not gonna tell us WHAT those objects or their purposes are, because we need the deus ex machinae to be as vague as possible so they can be defined as crises come up.
"Oh no, we've been pushed off a cliff!"
"Don't worry, I have a magic feather that serves as a parachute!"
"Oh no, we've got a meteorite about to land on us!"
"Never fear, I have a magic soup bowl that can shield us from anything!"
"Oh no, we're stuck in a mediocre Christian fantasy series!"
"... I got nothin'."
Dar stood beside an ironing board, pressing out wrinkles in clothes he had washed and dried.
Does he do anything that doesn't involve clothes? Is that his one characteristic besides having a dog-face?
Leetu studied the bookshelves, looking for a book to borrow. Granny Noon bustled from cabinets to the table, packing provisions for their journey.
- .... so they're off on a quest to save the world, which could theoretically get them killed... and she's bringing along someone else's books?
- And why didn't they have provisions already?! So they just wandered out of the Hall and into the woods with lots of clothes but no friggin' food?
- I get it. I finally get it. These people aren't actually on an official mission. THAT is why they have no provisions, no training, one of them is utterly clueless about EVERYTHING, and they left behind A GENERAL so they could take Doggie Fop along.
- These are just some noobs who decided to go out on a quest on their own.
And we're finally given an idea as to what the various items do... and it's less overwhelming than you'd think.
The beans will grow breakfast.
Or a beanstalk that will lead right up to castle in the clouds where you can steal a golden harp.... you know, the usual.
The dried yellow leaves cure headache.
Whee. Generic fantasy aspirin.
The dried pink leaves cure stomach pain.
Whee. Generic fantasy Pepto-Bismal. It's even pink!
The twigs tell which way to water.
So we've got dowsing? Uh, that's a form of divination, Paul. Do you really wanna put that in a Christian book?
The white feather is a peace token.
"Don't worry, it conveniently works with every single person in the entire Generic Fantasy Land. There's no chance of it meaning absolutely nothing to anyone!"
The black feather signals trouble.
... and what are you supposed to do with that? Stick it in your ear so your comrades can tell there's trouble without talking to you?
The gray feather means “follow me.”
I mean, are these feathers magical? Do they have some special power? Or did the batty old crone just give her a bunch of feathers with arbitrary meanings?
Oh, and she's been given a shell that... for some reason, it summons crows. And no, Sieve-Brain can't remember why she'd want to do that. The potential savior of the fucking world, people. She even acknowledges that she wants to ask Granny Noon without alerting Dar and Leetu Bends to her inability to remember simple instructions. So even the author is admitting that Kale is a dolt.
But since she's an idiot, she's immediately distracted by a shiny object. No, literally.
The cape! There was something odd about the cape. The light gray fabric shimmered in the light—rippled, really—catching the colors of other things as if the material reflected images like the old mirror on the wall.
.... and she just failed to notice this before? She's wearing a mirrored cape and she went through all this time not noticing?!
Dar messes with her by saying that it's made out of moonbeams, which Kale totally swallows. And Granny Noon tells us that the cloak is made out of "moonbeam plants." Yeah, I don't know what part of the plant it's made out of. Leaves? Petals? Stems? Does it have some kind of fibrous material that can actually be woven?
“When you move, the material looks like any other cloth,” explained Granny Noon as she went back to wrapping small bundles with gauzy white cloth. “But when you stand still, you blend into your surroundings.”
I KNEW IT.
I'm having flashbacks to Frodo and Sam crouching under Frodo's little cloak. Also, this fantasy world has chameleons? So, we have different creatures of all types, from drummerbugs to carnivorous fish... but we also have a specific kind of real-life lizard. Is this a zoological version of Aerith and Bob?
So Kale tries out her new cloak, and she becomes one with the living room.
“No,” said Leetu. “Dar, you’re going to give her too much confidence in that cape, and then she’ll get into trouble.” Leetu carried three books in her hands as she crossed the room to stand in front of Kale. “The cape is more effective in shadows or at night. In the blazing sun, your outline will be clearly visible."
... wow, where have I read that before?
He wanted it because it was a ring of power, and if you slipped that ring on your finger, you were invisible; only in the full sunlight could you be seen, and then only by your shadow, and that would be shaky and faint.
Yeah, that's where. The Hobbit. I wish I were reading that, and not.... THIS THING.
"Never risk your life, thinking the cape will save you. It’s one of the first rules of service to Paladin. Trust in what is real, not illusion.”
... uh, what is REAL is that the cape can camouflage her. The cape is not an illusion; it gives off an illusion to trick OTHER people. THEY are the ones who shouldn't... oh forget it. Paul's obviously trying to make some sort of philosophical point, and it's failing.
And why are they even giving her an invisibility cloak if she's not supposed to rely on it?! That's like giving her a gun and saying, "Don't rely on it, because it shoots bullets instead of nuggets of religious tweeness."
So Leetu is getting pissy for some reason, though we're not given a lot of signs that she IS pissed. I mean, basically she doesn't wanna be hugged by Granny Noon, which I don't think seems like a sign of pissiness.
“Don’t mind her.” Dar approached, speaking too softly for Leetu to hear. He handed Kale her own blue scarf, laundered and ironed. “She’s miffed because Lee Ark sent her with us instead of taking her to defend the southern border from an invasion of quiss.”
Then again, she's been sent on a mission with a fop and a dribbling idiot. I think anyone would be pissed under the circumstances, especially if she's supposed to save the world with these morons.
“Quiss? Sea creatures?”
Wow, SEA CREATURES? In the OCEAN? What a shock!
“Nothing but rumors,” said Dar. “The quiss migration isn’t due for another year. Leetu will likely see more adventure with us than patrolling a remote seashore.”
... yeah, that might have actually been funny if they had stopped after the word "year." That would have been mildly funny. But adding the extra sentence just makes the funny go limp.
And because Paul sucks ass at segues, Kale immediately gets distracted from whatever Dar just said. Seriously, she doesn't react at all, just starts staring at random other stuff.
Kale looked at her scarf folded in a neat square. Why had Dar done this kindness for her? He was not a slave or a servant. Why?
Yes, because nobody does anything nice for each other unless they are subservient to them. All people who are not slaves or servants are selfish dicks.
I have the horrible feeling we're building up to a "of course, because following Paladin/Wulder/Aslan/the Easter Bunny/Johnny Depp means that you do nice things for other people! It's what we do!" spiel, with the implication that if you're NOT Christian then you're not going to do unselfish kind things for people. Which, as we all know, is absolute bullshit.
So Kale whines for a minute about how she didn't expect any of this stuff when she left River Away, and wah wah wah don't care. I swear, every time she's presented with something unfamiliar, she whines about how horribly complex the outside world is and how she wishes she were a slave again.
"Here's a magical rock that can turn you blue."
"Oh how weird it is away from River Away! I can't cope with this! I wish I were a slave again!"
So she notes that a scarf she was given by her former SLAVE-OWNER has apparently been magically fixed by Dar. Apparently it needed to be washed, so she was ready to throw it away. Yeah, that sounds like a slave, doesn't it?
“You washed my scarf?” she asked, still not quite believing that someone would do this menial task for her.
"Who knew someone obsessed with clothes and doing laundry would actually WASH A SCARF?"
Granny Noon put her hand on Kale’s shoulder. “To a doneel, clothing is symbolic."
.... symbolic of what?! We're never told!
"He saw me throwing away your old clothes and salvaged the scarf. It would be important to him to carry or wear something from his home.”
So they play music while they crap, and now they insist on always wearing something from their home, even if their home was where they were OWNED as a SLAVE. Personally, I would not want reminders of the good ol' days when I could be treated like shit by everyone in the whole town.
Kale looked from Leetu’s rigid back to Dar’s small figure. The emerlindian again examined the bookshelves as the doneel meticulously pressed a crease in a pair of trousers.
Holy shit, how long are they going to do that? They've literally been doing that for the WHOLE CHAPTER.
Leetu might be worthy of wearing the colors of The Hall and heading their expedition, but Kale was very glad Dar would be along.
"He washed my scarf! He MUST be a good person!"
Also, note that apparently even Kale doesn't think Dar is worthy of more than owning a clothing boutique.