AFBH 21: Pages 281-314

23:52 Sat 21 Oct 2006. Updated: 00:53 22 Oct 2006
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Episode 21. Halloween episode.

Covenant stepping in the ill of the earth.

281-314. Starts with “Then he heard Lord Mhoram’s agonized whisper” (approximately) (p286), ends with “the High Lord insisted” (p314).



The episode opens with Heatherly drinking from a vodka bottle, and both Heatherly and Julie wearing elements of costumes. Heatherly has cat ears, and Julie has bats on her head. There’s a knock at the door (02:02), and Heatherly and Julie are both excited at the prospect of trick-or-treaters. A person covered in a large white sheet appears, and Julie asks if they’re supposed to be a ghost, then offers them a bowl full of beer cans. The “ghost” takes four. The next trick-or-treater is Adult Gladiator. Heatherly offers him a piece of candy and then drops it into her cleavage (02:49). They start making out, while Julie says “Well, that was unexpected!” (02:58) before telling Heatherly they don’t have time for it because they’re reading pages 281 to 314.

After a fadeout and fadein, Julie introduces the episode with the usual spiel while Heatherly continues to make out with Adult Gladiator.

###Analysis of Pages

After another cut, Adult Gladiator is gone, and Heatherly says “Oh my god, Julie, we have like an assload of pages to cover”, to which Julie says “I know!” (03:52).

Heatherly says that they start to get really freaked out because the full moon is about to rise, and it’s been rising blood red (03:59). Then she says that Covenant keeps stepping in the ‘ill of the earth’, which he can only feel through his boots and which gets worse and worse until it makes him pass out (p297) (04:16). She says that “Mormon” holds Covenant until he has another attack, which he can feel through Covenant, and discovers that Drool Rockworm is tracking Covenant, and sending these attacks at him, through the boots because he can use the Staff of Law to do this since the boots are not of the Land. She says that the Lords confiscate all of Covenant’s clothing and give him a white robe (p300) (05:05).

She continues with the awakening of the party as Foamfollower says they are being hunted by wolves and ur-viles. She recounts Foamfollower and Mhoram’s explanation to Covenant of what the party is doing, that by confusing Drool they might convince him that they are about to attack and that Covenant has mastered the power of the white gold (p303) (05:49).

She then describes how they reach the Mithil River and meet Korik, and his detailing his journey, the encounter with kresh, ur-viles, and a griffin, and his display of the odd one-eyed hawk that they had killed (p306) (06:35).

She continues with the party’s discovery that Soaring Woodhelven is in flames, and the report of their scouts that Soaring Woodhelven has been entirely burned down. She describes how the corpses littered the ground, and how the company started to bury the bodies. She says that Prothall calls the group together and insists that they eat, despite none of them having any desire to eat due to their circumstances (p314). She finishes the reading with “so, they all had lunch” (07:23)

Heatherly says that she’s getting really conufed about who’s on the quest and how they relate with one another (07:42). Julie says she wrote an elaborate chart to address this very question. Julie’s chart (07:51) is a lot of circles connected by lines. Each circle has name in it. The central name in the chart is “High Lord Prothall (son of Dwillian)”. Julie says that related to Prothall are the “dotard parents Tamarantha and Valium”, and that “Mormon” is “Valium’s” son. She covers Saltheart Foamfollower, “Tuvok”, “Bloodguard #3 ‘Bob’” (marked as ‘expendable’), Bannor, “Ranny-nin #1, #2, #3″, and Thomas Covenant, who is marked out as a leper and as “Not Related! Stranger in the Land!” (08:34).

Heatherly asks how Lord Foul fits, and Julie flips over the chart to show another (08:42), with fewer circles, the main circle representing Lord Foul, who owns the griffin, controls Drool Rockworms, controls the ur-viles, and also controls Ravi Shankar “whom he likes”.

After the departure of the quest, Covenant spends days dealing with saddle soreness. When he has adjusted somewhat, Mhoram asks him about his world. Covenant’s description is almost entirely negative: he thinks of diseases and disorders and crimes, but then describes his world as being a place where inhabitants do not appreciate the beauty of their surroundings—that to them, beauty is nice, but something extra, something they can live without (p284). Foamfollower then asks hwo they resist despair, and Covenant replies that he doesn’t think they do, that some of them are just stubborn. After that, Mhoram doesn’t ask him for further details.

The party is dismayed by the full moon, which is entirely red. Covenant is shocked to see that his white gold ring looks infected by the redness, and while he is trying to deal with this, he is hit by the “ill” that comes through his boots. In an attempt to escape this, he plunges towards the fire, but is snatched from it by Bannor (p287). He points at the ground where he felt it, and the Lords attempt to detect it. Prothall and Birinair feel it briefly, and are outraged. After Covenant explains that he can only feel it through is boots, the Lords are also perplexed, and says that Mhoram or Prothall must remain at his side at all times (p290). The attacks continued throughout that day and the next. At the end of the next day, Covenant asks Mhoram about the Creator, and Mhoram says they know almost nothing of him. Tamarantha corrects him, and says that the Creator lives, and tells a legend of creation (p293).

The legend is that the Creator toiled to make the Earth, first making the Arch of Time for his creation to have a place in which to be, and making the wild magic the cornerstone of that Arch so that Time could witstand chaos. Then he created the Earth, trying many times to get it right, and then finally creating inhabitants, “beings to act out in their lives his reach for perfection—and he did not neglect to give them the means to strive for perfection themselves” (p294). But when he thought that he was done, he looked more carefully and saw in his creations powerful forces that could destroy the entire world he had made. The legend is unclear as to whether “Despite” was within the Creator, or whether the Despiser was another being, but the Creator struggled with it and cast it down onto the Earth. This resulted in the Despiser being trapped within the Arch of Time, so that he was free to reign on Earth, but where the Creator could not undo what he did without destroying Time (or, presumably, without the Creator also becoming trapped in Time). So the Creator can help in indirect ways only, such as aiding Berek in the creation of the Staff of Law, but cannot stop the Despiser from acting on Earth without freeing him.

After she tells this she connects it to Covenant’s appearance in the Land, and says, “if we cannot win this Unbeliever to our cause, then the Earth will end in rubble” (p295).

This legend provides background for the entire story. It appears to be quite accurate, in that Lord Foul is immensely powerful (and was able to survive the Desecration, for example), and explains to some extent why no equally powerful countervailing force is working against Foul directly. There are strong hints that Covenant has in fact met the Creator, or an agent of the Creator, in the form of the beggar who tells him “you need not fail” (p28)—for example, when discussing the Creator on page 270, Covenant thinks of the beggar.

Covenant is not attacked via his boots for the rest of the day, but the attacks return the day after, and eventually Mhoram decrees that they will go no further until they understand what is happening (p298). By suffering through an attack with Covenant, Mhoram is able to discern that Drool Rockworm is reaching out to touch Covenant via the Staff, and that he can sense Covenant’s boots because they are not of the Land (p299). They insist that Covenant give up his own clothes, and give him a white robe to wear instead. They put his old clothes into his saddlebags, which seems odd—why won’t Drool still be able to detect them, and thereby track their movements?

The next night, Covenant is woken by Foamfollower, who warns him that they must go because wolves and ur-viles are near. Foamfollower and Mhoram explain to Covenant that they will split the party, sending Korik and five others to act as decoys. They do this, and then the main party leaves, riding for four days to the Mithil River. There Korik’s party rejoins them, and informs them that they lost a woman, Irin, while trying to escape a group of ur-viles, Cavewights, and a griffin. Korik then shows them a mutant hawk that they shot down, a hawk with just one large eye. Prothall says that this is clearly the work of the Illearth Stone (p306).

The next day, they discover that Soaring Woodhelven is aflame (p309). When they reach it, they find only corpses, and Birinair is able to discern what happened, that ur-viles and Cavewights set the tree alight under cover of an iron plate. and prevented the Woodhelvennin from putting out the flames. When the Woodhelvennin attempted to escape, the superior ur-vile and Cavewight force killed them, and then the ur-vile loremaster destroyed the tree—dying in the process (p312). Foamfollower rages that this is the doing of Soulcrusher, that no Cavewight is so strategically clever. Quaan asks why they would attack Soaring Woodhelven, but is not given an answer. Prothall sets the group to work burying the dead, and Covenant makes stakes to help the diggers. Prothall calls a halt to the work in the afternoon and insists the the group has some food (p314).

###Key Misunderstandings

It is Drool Rockworm, not Lord Foul, who is attacking Covenant via his boots.

Soaring Woodhelven was burned by ur-viles and Cavewights.

###Action Sequence

The Fantasy Action Sequence begins at 09:00.

It opens with a shot of a blood-red moon, overlaid with scrolling text:

> pg. 286
> “The moon was full
> red, stained as if
> defilement were
> complete.”
> pg. 291
> “Covenant…distrusted
> the ground, dreaded
> contact with it.
> Blind silent soil
> had become a dark
> hand malevolently
> seeking out him…
> he set foot on the
> ground and was stung”

We then see the company walking through woods, and Covenant crying out in pain, falling to his knees, and saying “my feet!” (09:28). As he writhes on the ground, the rest of the company walks on, apparently ignoring him.

This happens again, with Covenant cursing vociferously as the company more or less ignores this until Tamarantha asks “what’s wrong with Covenant?” (09:54) and “Lord Valium” replies “drinky drinky”.

This happens a third time, to no reaction, and a fourth, at which point “Lord Mormon” says “Halt! This has gone on too long. We must discover the reason for Thomas Covenant’s affliction” (10:29).

We then see “Lord Mormon” and Covenant hand-in-hand, taking slow, deliberate, synchronized steps. At the fourth step, Covenant cries out and collapses (10:42), and “Mormon” says that it is the ill of the earth. He puts his hand to Covenant’s head, and asthe rest of the group looks on says that he senses a biped, prompting “Lord Valium” to say “chopsticks”, and they play a guessing game until one of the white Ranyhyn neighs (subtitled) “Drool Rockworm”, at which point “Lord Mormon” says “Yes!”, and then they move on to trying to guess what the “something wooden” is, until Tamarantha gets it with “the Staff of Law” (11:31). “Lord Mormon” then says “Lord Foul has been tracking us all along!” and produces a beeping tracking devices from inside Covenant’s clothes (11:41). It has “property of Lord Foul” written on the back (11:44).

“Lord Mormon” says “we’ve got to get him out of these clothes!” (11:47), at which Covenant asks “what? Why?” and “Lord Valium” rips his jacket and shirt off. This is followed by scrolling text (11:57):

> pg. 300
> “The trial ahd been
> too much for him.
> So he did not see
> how carefully his
> clothes were removed…
> …how tenderl he was
> dressed in a robe
> of white samite.”

(The beeping that had started at the discovery of the “tracking device” ends at 12:00)

This is followed by “Lord Mormon” throwing a robe at Covenant and saying “Covenant! Put these on. And for the love of Lord Dwillian, someone get this man some clean underwear!” (12:05)—a reference to Episode 18‘s discussion of Covenant’s underwear.

This is followed by scrolling text (12:09):

> pg 301
> “Finally he went
> to bed.
> He was awakend [sic] some
> time later by a hand
> on his shoulder.”

We then see Foamfollower waking Covenant, warning him that ur-viles and wolves pursue them and that they must go. And laughing (12:30). This is followed by more scrolling text:

> pg. 303
> “It took the company
> four more days of
> hard riding…
> to reach the
> Mithil River.”

This is followed by shots of the company riding hard intercut with a hand taking dates off a calendar.

Covenant asks “Foamfollower! Where are the Bloodguard?” (13:05) and Foamfollower tells him that they’ve sent the Bloodguard to distract the wolves, which will confuse Lord Foul, and convince him that they’ve mastered the power of the white gold. And laughs, and says “blah blah blah”, and is interrupted by “Lord Valium” saying “Look! It’s the Mithil River!” (13:42). The black and orange Rayhyn neighs (subtitled) “Look! It’s the Blood Guard [sic]!”.

The Bloodguard rejoin the party, and “Bloodguard Bob” tells them that they killed wolves and valkyries and ur-viles, and then says that that morning they saw this bird and killed it because it was different (14:23), brandishing a plush toy chicken. Someone in the background says “Burn it!”, and the chant is taken up by the group, until “Lord Mormon” says “now, now, now, High Lord Prothall says we don’t have time to burn it, we must bury it”.

This is followed by scrolling text over a background shot of an idyllic river/wilderness scene and over background noise of flames (14:46):

> pg. 309
> “The…quest galloped
> eastward along the
> Mithil.”
> pg. 310
> “Two Bloodguard returned…
> and reported that Soaring Woodhelvin [sic]
> was in flames.
> charred…corpes littered
> the ground.”

This is followed by what appear to be photos of charred corpses.

We then see “Lord Mormon” looking distraught, followed by shots of the rest of the company looking similarly upset, including the black and orange Ranynyn vomiting (15:06).

Covenant sees the “lominator 2000″ on the ground, and has a flashback to Episode 11‘s action sequence, in which he is introduced to “the lominator 2000″ and beaten with it by the Woodhelvennin. The flashback lasts from 15:13 to 15:34.

“Lord Mormon” says “Everyone! Prothall has decreed that we must bury all of these dead” (15:42), which is greeted with sounds of annoyance by the rest of the group. This is followed by scrolling text (15:48):

> pg. 314
> “Late in the
> afternoon Prothal [sic]
> called everyone to eat.
> By that time, nearly
> half the bodies had
> been buried.”

We then see “Lord Mormon” saying “Time for a lunchbreak! Who wants a BLT?” (15:54), to which the rest of the party reacts with disgust, and “Lord Mormon” says “no, I insist”. The rest of the party very reluctantly tries to eat. “Lord Mormon” eats enthusiastically, mixing laughter in with the eating.

The Fantasy Action Sequence ends at 16:28.


They have trouble pronouncing Len’s second name (Vishnevsky), and then Julie feels something in the bed, and then Len appears from underneath the covers (16:54). He is not wearing the expert jacket. But the jacket appears on him at 17:03. He has read Lord Foul’s Bane once (17:30) and read it because of the show. He says that he thinks he understood it (17:41).

Heatherly wants to know what the “ill of the earth” that Covenant kept stepping in looked like. Len says taht it would be kinda spastic, like putting your hand on the burny thing in the kitchen. Julie says that they want to know what the ill itself looked like (18:06). Len says you can’t see it, otherwise Covenant wouldn’t have stepped in it.

Heatherly asks what a kresh is (18:32). Len says he doesn’t remember and asks her to use it in a sentence. Heatherly reads the line from page 306 where Korik says that the wolves were kresh. Len says that they are a special kind of wolf that are found in the Land and points out that it’s in the glossary in the back, which Heatherly looks up (p477).

They then discuss what sound Korik makes in the phrase “he made a splitting sound” (p306). Len says it’s like a pop. They don’t raise the possibility that it’s meant in the sense of “an ear-splitting sound”.

They ask him about the one-eyed bird (20:52), and he explains that while they were away from the main group, they saw a one-eyed bird flying around and shot it, and that it was a plot device so that they could show the Lords the ills at work in the Land. Julie protests that they shouldn’t have shot it just because it only has one eye, and asks if Covenant is freaking out because he’s surrounded by animal-killing sadists. Len says he’s freaking out because he’s a leper (21:48).

Julie wants to know how “Lord Mormon” could figure out what’s afflicting Covenant just by holding his hand (22:15). Len answers that he’s a Lord and has spent a lot of time learning how to do these things. Julie asks why Prothall didn’t do it, and Len replies that he’s old and not a seer or a prophet. He then explains that Prothall is the “elected boss” of the Lords, and Julie asks why they would elect a dotard to be their boss (22:52)—prompting Len to say he’s not really a dotard and Heatherly to say “well, Julie, didn’t we elect a dotard to be our boss in this country?”

Julie returns to the question of how “Mormon” figured out that Drool was getting at Covenant through his shoes, asking if he had prior experience with similar things that he was drawing upon. Len says that it wasn’t the smoothest plot device in the book, because he never really explains how he figured it out.

They start chart-writing at 23:43, on the topic of “What do you think the carnage in Flaming Woodhelven looked like?”. (Of course, their earlier calling it “Flaming Woodhelven” and it then having been burnt to the ground by ur-viles and Cavewights is rather ironic.)

Chart-writing ends at 24:25.

Julie’s chart (24:36) shows a big tree that’s toppled over, with smoke coming from it, and burnt corpses on it and around it, including a burnt “tree baby”. Julie claims that the fire might have been started by one of the Woodhelven smoking in bed. She says it could also have been the rays coming from the one-eyed bird.

Heatherly’s chart (25:16) shows an eyeball, a hand with all the flesh burned off of it, a burned leg with half a foot, a guy who got stabbed in the leg as he was dying, and a dead guy’s head with the hair burnt off.

Len’s chart (25:55) shows the charred tree of Soaring Woodhelven, with a fissure down the middle, charred limbs on the tree, charred corpses on the tree, Covenant saying “Hellfir and bloody damnation”, and corpses around the tree, some of which have arrows in them.

The “post-coital” segment begins at 26:39.

Julie says that her favorite part was when they found out about that one-eyed bird that they killed (26:58).

Heatherly says that her favorite part was when Covenant kept stepping in the ill and getting shocked and then one time falling down and passing out because of it (27:10). Julie says she takes back her previous answer and that that’s her favorite part too.

Len says that his favorite part was “the simile of the empty beer” (27:19).

After the credits, there is a still shot of a statue, with the words “Fantasy Bedtime Hour Productions” to the left of the statue, with a voiceover of Heatherly saying “Oh my god!” and Julie saying “I know! That’s hot!”. The statue is from Powerscourt Gardens in Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland.

###Words Defined
kresh: Savage, giant, yellow wolves. This is a word from the Land, and the definition is from the Lord Foul’s Bane glossary, p477.

First expert to have read Lord Foul’s Bane because of the show, 17:35

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