AFBH 23: Pages 324-331

21:48 Mon 23 Oct 2006
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Episode 23. Ambush—continued.

The exciting conclusion to the battle in the ruins of Soaring Woodhelven, and my first non-compilation expert appearance since Episode 1.

324-331. Starts with “Then a swirl of battle swept toward Covenant’s trench” (p324), ends with “hot sparks that dazzled and singed the air” (p324).

Tadhg O’Higgins


We see Heatherly and Julie asleep, Julie murmuring something about “it tickles”. She wakes up (02:04) and tells Heatherly that she had a really weird dream. Heatherly asks if it involved peanut butter, a really big pickle, and Cameraman Jenn. Julie says it didn’t and then says that she doesn’t have time to discuss it, since they’re reading pages 324-331. Heatherly says that that’s a lot of pages, and they go into the usual intro spiel.

###Analysis of Pages

Heatherly recaps that they left off mid-battle, with “Lord Mormon” in a battle with thirty or forty ur-viles. She begins this episode’s section with “Then a swirl of battle swept toward” Thomas Covenant (p324) (03:28). She describes Bannor fending off attacks from all sides, Prothall fighting the griffin, Foamfollower rusing from under a horde of Cavewights.

She then describes a Cavewight attack on Tamarantha that causes Covenant to get out of the trench and try to defend her. Heatherly stumbles on “inchoate” when she reads “inchoate rage roared in Covenant’s ears” (p326) (04:04). She describes how Covenant grabs Tamarantha’s staff and hits the Cavewight with it, then attacks more Cavewights.

She continues, describing how the company switch antagonists to gain advantage, Prothall moving to Foamfollower’s aid, Foamfollower attacking the grifin, and Prothall then helping “Mormon” against the ur-viles (p327) (04:33), and then describes how Foamfollower manages to kill the griffin and how the ur-viles and Cavewights flee soon after that. She says that Foamfollower “chased the fleers as if he meant to crush them all with his big giant feet” (05:11). The actual line is “chased the fleers as if he meant to crush them all underfoot” (p328).

Heatherly describes how Covenant emerges to find bodies everywhere, and says that there were a hundred Cavewights dead, ten ur-viles dead, five warriors dead, and only one Bloodguard dead (05:26).

Heatherly covers the aftermath of the battle, and reads Covenant’s line “he wants to milk us for all the despair we’re worth” (p330) (06:10), and his claim that Covenant tricked Drool into making the attack so that Drool wouldn’t be busy defending himself, so Foul must know what they’re doing even if Drool doesn’t.

She says that no-one was really listening to Covenant because “Mormon” just noticed that his parents were dead (06:35), and reads Covenant’s appalled reaction: “Do you mean to tell me that we—that I—we—? For a couple of corpses?” (p331) (06:38). She says that Prothall scowls at him and that a warrior tells him that if he speaks again he’ll break Covenant’s arm, to which Covenant says “Don’t touch me”.

Julie asks “what was up with Thomas Covenant? Did he just suddenly grow a pair of balls or what?” (07:37). She asks if Heatherly read that passage correctly, and Heatherly assures her that she did, that she read it four times. Julie says that Covenant killed an ur-vile, and Heatherly says no, he killed a Cavewight, and then three or four other Cavewights.

Heatherly then says that she doesn’t know what “inchoate rage” is, and tries a number of different pronunciations. Julie says that a viewer mailed in a site which covers words from the book, and the URL appears on screen (06:35):

(This pagse covers a number of other obscure words, but inchoate is not on it).

Heatherly says that’s the best website ever, and Julie says “I know, it’s pretty ‘inch-o-hot-ay’” (08:42). They both then stare at the screen for quite some time before introducing the action sequence.

As Covenant watches the Cavewights overwhelm the Bloodguard who are watching over Tamarantha, he can’t bear it and rushes to protect her (p325). This distracts the Woodhelvennin who was protecting him, and she is caught by a sword thrust as a result, though Covenant doesn’t notice. He sees a Bloodguard give up his life to save Tamarantha from a Cavewight’s spear, and attacks the Cavewight Triock’s knife. This has no effect, and the Cavewight slaps him to the ground. Bannor defends Covenant but is grabbed by the Cavewight, which tries to squeeze the life out of him.

Covenant, enraged, grabs Tamarantha’s staff and hits the Cavewight with it, causing an explosion of “white and crimson power” (p326). Covenant’s rage, his use of a Lord’s staff, and the red infection of his ring combine to release the power of his ring. Covenant doesn’t remember putting the ring back on, but it is on his wedding finger. He is attacked by another Cavewight, kills it, and goes on to kill three more before falling into a trench.

As he lies there, the rest of the group alter their tactics, with Prothall first freeing Foamfollower from some Cavewights and then aiding Mhoram against the ur-vile loremaster while Foamfollower deals with the griffin. The Ranyhyn return and attack the Cavewights, and Prothall and Mhoram strike down the loremaster. Foamfollower kills the griffin and Quann its rider (p327). The ur-viles flee when Foamfollower charges into their wedge, and the Cavewights follow soon afterwards, with Foamfollower in pursuit.

In the aftermath, Prothall says that they are fortunate, which Covenant reacts to with incredulity. Prothall points out to him that they are still alive, having paid a fairly small price, and that by attacking Drool is not building his defenses (p329). Covenant, however, does not feel fortunate, but is appalled that he has killed five Cavewights, and is convinced that Foul planned the entire affair. He tells the rest of the group this and likens it to what was done to Llaura, saying “Foul is telling us what he’s doing to us because he’s sure that knowing won’t help. He wants to milk us for all the despair we’re worth” (p330). Covenant insists that it is all part of Foul’s plan, and demands to know why his words are going unheeded, when Mhoram reveals that Tamarantha and Variol are dead. A warrior protests, saying that no weapon touched them, but they are indeed dead, both smiling.

Covenant, in shock, asks “Do you mean to tell me that we—that I—we—? For a couple of corpses?” (p331), and Quaan threatens him for his insensitivity.

In this passage Covenant consciously wields the power of the ring for the first time. He does so in anger, and he kills using it. In using it, he is aided by Lord Foul, who has somehow added red to Covenant’s ring. This coloration is not merely decorative, but in fact makes it easier for Covenant to activate the ring’s powers. It may also make the ring harder to control once active.

Covenant is disgusted by the fact that he has killed, and shocked by it. It seems clear that he felt it might have been justifiable in defense of Tamarantha and Variol, but this rationale crumbles when he discovers that they were already dead. His outburst “For a couple of corpses?” doesn’t mean “we went through all that for a couple of corpses?” but rather “I killed to protect a couple of corpses?”

Variol and Tamarantha choosing that place and time for their deaths is very odd. Prothall implies that they chose it to aid the company, but his claim that they were a distraction to their enemies doesn’t make a great deal of sense given the description of the battle and how much effort the Bloodguard went to in order to protect them. Furthermore, their not communicating their plan to anyone meant that the company could hardly take proper advantage of it. It is possible that they foresaw how the battle would go if they did what they did, and decided that it was the best course, but this is never made explicitly clear.

###Key Misunderstandings

Covenant is able to kill the Cavewights using the power of his ring.

Covenant is aided by Lord Foul’s red infection of the ring in activating its power.

Covenant is appalled at having killed, and outraged that he was driven to kill in defense of two people who were already dead.

###Action Sequence

The Fantasy Action Sequence begins at 09:00.

We see Llaura in a scene from the previous action sequence, as she warns the company of the ambush. The recap ends at 09:34, and the Fantasy Action Sequence proper for this episode begins.

It opens with Prothall yelling instructions to the warriors, and we see Bannor fighting an ur-vile. A Batman-style “WHACK!” appears (09:47), followed by “Splat!!!” and “Z-ZWAP”, and then we see Covenant and Llaura lying in grass nearby, watching the battle. The battle scene continues with more on-screen sound effect words—including “UNCLEAN!!” (10:07) and “WHO’S YOUR DADDY?!!” (10:18).

“Lord Mormon” knocks the ur-vile leader to the ground (10:45), prompting the remaining ur-viles to squabble about who should face him next before one of them picks up the dual-blade lightsaber and attacks.

After more fighting, there is this scrolling text (11:41):

> pg. 324
> “Through the dark flash
> of legs Thomas Covenant
> caught a glimpse of
> Prothal [sic] and saw that
> the High Lord was
> under attack…
> …he strove with
> the GRIFFON.”

After this, we see Prothall fighting with a masked humanoid figure with wings on its back and long claws. It appears to be wearing a long red boa around its neck. It dodges all of Prothall’s attacks and appears to be getting the better of him.

We then see two Bloodguard, “Bob” and Bannor, still guarding Tamarantha and “Valium” (12:05). Bannor looks alert, but “Bob” is relaxed and smoking a cigarette. A horde of ur-viles advance on the two prone Lords, and Covenant cries “they’re gonna kill Valium and Tamarantha!” and jumps up (12:18). With on-screen “action phrases” of “DON’T TOUCH ME I’M A LEPER!!” and “HELLFIRE AND DAMNATION”, Covenant rushes a Cavewight, discards the knife he’s carrying, and grabs Tamarantha’s staff. He knocks over the Cavewight (12:35), and then we see Prothall falling under the assault of the “griffin”. As the “griffin” looks at Prothall on the ground, Foamfollower rushes up behind it, grabs it, and kills it, presumably by breaking its neck (12:51).

Watching Foamfollower curse after killing it, the remaining ur-viles/Cavewights say “oh shit, they killed the griffin—run away!” and proceed to flee (13:05), pursued by Foamfollower, who brandishes his two suitcases and shouts “Stone and Sea, motherfuckers, Stone and fucking Sea!”.

This is followed by scrolling text (13:18):

> pg. 326
> “Thomas Covenant…
> Howling FOUL struck down
> another cavewight,
> and another
> and another.”

We see Covenant attacking another Cavewight, and as with the first one, he “attacks” by repeatedly striking the ground with Tamarantha’s staff, which eventually causes the creature to collapse.

More scrolling text (13:40):

> pg. 328
> “A cry of faiure broke
> through the attack.
> The cavewights began
> to run.”

After this, Prothall surveys the area and says “We are fortunate” (it must be noted that the action sequences have “Lord Mormon” taking more and more of Lord Prothall’s lines), and Covenant replies “Fortunate? This is all Foul’s doing! He wants to milk us for all we’re worth! Pah, fortunate” (14:02).

“Lord Mormon” then goes over to his parents, checks their pulses, and says “They’re dead! Variol and Tamarantha are dead! My parents are dead!” (14:12). He continues with “My god! A child should never have to outlive his parents!” and then starts crynig.

Covenant says “You mean we did all this for a couple of corpses?” (14:28), prompting Bannor to say “if you speak again, I’ll break your arm.” Covenant responds “Don’t touch me, I’m a leper!” (14:35).

The Fantasy Action Sequence ends at 14:38


After the action sequence, we see Heatherly crying. Julie asks her what’s wrong, and she says that she misses me, that I’m supposed to be their Resident Expert and they haven’t seen me in, like, forever. Julie then tells her that I’m the expert for that episode (14:56).

The word “Dervish” appears alone on the screen (15:00).

I appear a moment later, at 15:01. I am wearing the expert jacket. They do not ask me anything about how many times I’ve read or understood Lord Foul’s Bane, instead Julie gets right to the question “what’s a dervish?”, referencing its appearance in the book (p324) (15:09). I say that a dervish is a Middle Eastern warrior, and that the typical movement associated with them is spinning. (In actual fact, while the spinning association is correct, dervishes are not necessarily warriors, but rather members of various Islamic orders.)

The word “inchoate” appears alone on the screen (15:33).

Again referencing its appearance in the book (p326), Julie asks what “in-cho-hat-ay” is (15:42). I correct her pronunciation and define it as formless, or unformed.

The word “deluged” appears alone on the screen (16:02).

Referencing its appearance in the text (p324), Heatherly asks what “deluged” means. I tell her that a deluge is normally a vast amount of water that falls or rushes in. Julie asks if you could have an “in-ko-hat-ay” deluge, and whether you could fight like an “in-ko-hat-ay deluge dervish” (16:54). After prompting from Heatherly, I grudgingly say “I suppose one could, it would be quite a sight to see” (17:10).

Julie then asks me how many people or things I think died in the battle (17:19). Their answer of 115 appears on the screen as I consider the question. I say I’m not really sure, but I think it would be in the tens, at which point they gleefully tell me that I’m wrong. Julie asks me how many Bloodguard died, and I say “one” (17:45). I say that I’m surprised that there were 115 deaths. I want to see the evidence, so Heatherly finds it and says that on the very bottom of page 328 there are lines referring to ten dead ur-viles, five dead warriors, and nearly a hundred Cavewights (18:27). At this point I say that some of those Cavewights were merely unconscious, and that the line is “nearly a hundred of them, comma, dead, dying, unconscious”. Julie then claims that I said it was ten, I say it was “in the tends, less than a hundred”, which neither of them believe.

Heatherly drinks NyQuil as I say “I still think it’s in the tens, well, no, that’s probably not true, it probably is over a hundred—” (19:06), and then Julie interrupts me to ask why the company didn’t kill the Cavewights that they found that weren’t mortally wounded. I say “because they’ve sworn the Oath of Peace and they won’t kill except in self-defense” (19:22).

Heatherly says that this answers their next question, which is about whether the Oath of Peace allows self-defense. I say that clearly, since they defend themselves in the passage, they’re able to defend themselves. Julie then asks me if the ur-viles take the Oath of Peace too, and I say “no” (19:42). She asks if they take the “oath of hate”, and I say I don’t think so. Heatherly and Julie then discuss what the “oath of hate” would be like, whether it’s the Oath of Peace played backwards, or whether it’s an antonym for peace that makes up their oath, and I say it would be war. Julie then asks what the opposite of oath is (20:11), and I say I’m not sure.

Juliana comments on the fact that Covenant suddenly “grew balls” and killed a bunch of ur-viles (which he didn’t—he killed Cavewights). I say that he was pushed into a situation where he unleashed the wild magic, that the wild magic comes from his white gold ring, and that his rage and Tamarantha’s staff let him activate the ring (20:59). I then say that he should be nervous about using the wild magic, because the wild magic has the power to shatter the Arch of Time. Julie asks me what the Arch of Time is, and I say “the Arch of Time is like the shell, or structure, that the Land, and possibly the earth, the cosmology is a little unclear, exists in. And Foul has been trapped in the Land by the Arch of Time” (21:35). Heatherly comes up with an oyster shell analogy that I say isn’t exactly correct.

Julie asks whether it’s Drool or Foul who’s trapped, and I say that it’s Foul, that Drool is a much smaller player, and that Foul wants to shatter the Arch of Time so that he can escape from what he sees as his prison. Julie asks why they need the Arch of Time in the first place, and I say that Time gives structure to the Land (and possibly to the Earth, also). Julie asks me how he got trapped there, and I say he was trapped there when it was created but I’m not sure of the details. Julie asks me if we could get trapped in the Arch of Time, and I reply “well, one could say that we are trapped in the Arch of Time, in this particular cosmology” (22:28). Julie says she doesn’t think she likes that, and I say “perhaps you should side with Foul, who’s trying to shatter the Arch of Time, which would incidentally destroy the Land (and possibly the Earth).

Julie then asks how you know you’re trapped in the Arch of Time, if it’s like being able to see everything but not interact with it. I say no, that for us, if we were in the Land, it would be our normal existence. For Foul, Foul is some kind of other-dimensional or supra-dimensional being. Julie asks if he has form, and I say he has form, at which point Julie says that their expert Jason said that Foul didn’t have any form, that he was just two slitty eyes (23:06). I reply that “two slitty eyes” is still a form. (Jason actually said that Foul doesn’t seem to have corporeal form.)

Heatherly suggests drawing charts of what makes Lord Foul happy, and I say that nothing makes Foul happy, that it would just be an empty chart, and they tell me to just draw that on my chart.

Chart-writing starts at 23:32, on the topic of “What makes Lord Foul happy?”.

Chart-writing ends at 24:32.

Julie’s chart (24:39) shows Wal-Mart superstores with McDonald’s in them, hot lesbian porn, a popsicle on a hot day, and an arrowhead, as she thinks that Lord Foul probably collects arrowheads. Heatherly comments that she thought the arrowhead was a butt plug.

Heatherly’s chart (24:59) shows “things that other people likes”, kitty-cats, a bunny rabbit, birthday cakes, balloons, unicorns, a stick pegasus, some hugs and kisses, and a really sharp meat cleaver.

My chart is in two parts, as it folds open. The first part is what makes Lord Foul mad (25:19), and it shows Lord Foul as “a slitty-eyes formless collection of strokes” being trapped in the Arch of Time. What makes him happy (25:49) is shattering the Arch of Time, thus freeing himself.

The “post-coital” segment begins at 25:58.

Julie says that her favorite part was when they found out what “in-cho-hat-ay” means (26:22). I wince and don’t correct her.

Heatherly says that her favorite part was a combination of when Foamfollower “kicked a lot of ass” and when Covenant charged into the fray (26:47).

I say that my favorite part would also be when Covenant attacked the Cavewights (27:06).

After we say goodbye, we see Heatherly and Julie again. Heatherly is reading Lord Foul’s Bane and looking perplexed. Julie announces that “now our viewers can rent us”. Heatherly says she’s not sure she’s comfortable with that, and Julie produces a Fantasy Bedtime Hour DVD and says “no, our DVDs”, and tells viewers in San Francisco that they can be rented at Le Video on 9th Avenue between Lincoln and Irving.

The end credits feature “Lord Mormon’s” lascivious facial expressions, presumably as he’s applying the “hurtloam” to Llaura.

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
Dervish: A member of one of a number of Islamic religious orders whose rituals include spinning and dancing. Incorrectly defined by me as a Middle Eastern warrior whose characteristic movement is spinning.
Inchoate: Not yet fully formed. I defined it as “unformed” or “formless” in this episode.
Deluge: A large flood or rush of water.

First action sequence with “Previously on Fantasy Bedtime Hour”, 09:03
First mention of the DVDs, 27:47

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