October 27th, 2008, 7:11 am
Discussion of The Magic Quill #144 -- Jude the Insecure (www.mugglenet.com/editorials/themagicquill/tmq144.shtml) by Robbie Fischer.
+++ DOUBLE CHALLENGE FOR TMQ #146 +++
SURVEY: Which of the gifts Merlin received in TMQ #141 should he use next?
CONTEST: Describe the talisman Signor Maledicto stole from the goblins? (See TMQ #141 for more info.)
October 27th, 2008, 2:35 pm
I think Merlin's next action should be to hide inside the bag. I mean, we don't want to use these things up too quickly, do we? My second choice would be to use the troll-hair wand, not necessarily for its intended use, possibly with some interesting side-effect that Merlin might or might not have counted on.
As to the Talisman ... let me think. By the way, it isn't the toenail of Ickleborg, is it? It can't be the Amulet of Yendor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogue_(computer_game)#Gameplay). (Please tell me it can't.)
Ickleborg the Nameless was born shortly after the last of the goblin wars. He was the alleged son of the goblin Gnoborgun the Scandalous. The scandal in question was that the boy was the presumed son of Gnoborgun and an unknown being. Gnoborgun reared the infant/boy, but never acknowledged the child as his; for this reason the boy never actually received a name. He became known as "the little Gnoborgun or "Ickleborg."
While Ickleborg's parentage is not a matter of record, it was clear that he was half-goblin and half something-else. When it was found that he enjoyed serving others, he was banned from contact with non-goblins and the word spread that his mother was a house-elf. When it was found that he could escape snares and bindings set using human magic, the rumor became presumed fact.
While Ickleborg was distinctly altruistic, his (presumed) father and (known) master was not. In an attempt to harness Ickleborg's magic, Gnoborgun tore one of Ickleborg's toenails off and fashioned a lumpy wand around it, using a briar root for the wood. He found to his dismay that, although it allowed him to escape the spells of others, it also weakened most of his own natural powers. He secured it in a strongbox.
Ickeborg disappeared one day and fell out of history, as they say. Gnoborgun crafted a will that ensured that the wand would become the property of the goblin that did him the last ill turn, with a curse that ensured that it would return to its owner no matter how it was given or sold. The beneficiary turned out to be Splitlip the Scatterbrained, who quite accidentally pushed Gnoborgun to his death.
Gnoborgun's spell didn't take into account his son's altruistic nature. Instead of clinging to its owner maliciously, it went where it was told and never acted of its own accord. It continued to diminish the spells around it, both coming and going. The one power it had of its own was the ability to transport someone in spite of anti-apparition spells.
Splitlip's attempts to use the Wand of Ickleborg nearly ended in disaster when he was caught with it by humans. But he used it to escape, breaking it in the process. The goblins decided that it would never be put where it could be found by humans. They also discarded all the parts but the one containing Ickleborg's toenail, and decreed that it should never again be called a wand, but only "Ickleborg's toenail" or "Gnoborguns Shame." Over time, these names were twisted; when talking of it today goblins speak of the "Toenail of Shame" or the "Toenail of Ickelborg."
As to how Signor Maledicto got it ...
October 27th, 2008, 3:28 pm
Great installment, Robbie! I'll get back to you with the survey and contest.
October 28th, 2008, 8:49 am
As to how Signor Maledicto got the Toenail of Ickleborg ...
Because the goblins must not let anyone know they have a wand, if they need to use it (for either its transport or shielding) they must find someone else to use it. If they are staying outside of the range of humans, this isn't necessary, but if they want to actually use it around humans ... they need an agent. They thought they had found such a person in a persona that Maledicto adopted. He conned them by virtue of a persona he adopted, and avoided magical traps by non-magical means (including muggle disguise). He faithfully undertook nine missions for them, including two with the Toenail. On the third Toenail mission, he neatly faked his death and the destruction of the wand fragment. When the goblins looked further, they discovered that the person they trusted didn't exist.
Woe then to the person whom they find in possession of the Toenail. Especially one who takes such pride in his ability to exercise power over others.
Continued possession of the Toenail is a problem of sorts. It does make it easier for His Pridefulness to escape consequences, and to leave the victims of his drollery frustrated in their attempts to make him pay, but it also reduces his ability to wield 'real' power. And there is no one on whom he would wish the Toenail, no one more worthy of such a rare and exotic thing than he. And if it returned to its owners by some means ... well, that could be costly. Goblins have little need to spare expense, and although they generally prefer to, they might make an exception if they discover they have been fooled, or if their treaty with humans was put at risk.
Which also explains who is tracking Signor Maledicto on his journey to Auntie or Uncle Leslie.
October 29th, 2008, 11:58 am
As Merlin is locked up with other birds/creatures at the moment because of his animagus bird form perhaps the 'stone necklace' that protects the wearer from talons and fangs might be the best gift to use at this moment.
How absolutely disgusting, greyniffler, the toenail of Ickleborg! I love it!
The missing talisman is none other than the 'golden knut', an extremely magical coin that can vanish at will and reappear miles away. A tricky coin that seems to have a mind of its own. It was obviously in the care of the goblins at the gringott's vaults in a specially built stronghold.
It has escaped with the help of C. d Bestemia who now holds it against its will in a special vault. This coin is dying to get out. Poor thing.
October 30th, 2008, 9:31 am
Linda_Carrig, I like your reasoning on the stone. I'll throw a second vote that way, if I may.
October 30th, 2008, 11:58 am
Sure thing, gn! I just love that toenail!
I've done some further thinking on that gold knut. It might be the original magic coin on which all money and banking is based on which is why the goblins want it back.
Besides having a mind of its own, it provides the owner with a shield against unfriendly spells.
November 1st, 2008, 2:56 am
Of course, whatever it is that Signor Maledicto had may drain magical energy for a reason ... it might be greedy, or hungry, or it might be contributing that energy to something else. Leave it to the goblins to have such a thing.
Unless, of course, the altruistic Toenail is donating it somewhere ...
November 3rd, 2008, 1:47 am
How about a pyramid-shaped earing?
Pyramids are powerful anti-magic agents, even when made with non-magical rituals (i.e. sacrifice). That is why they are found through out the world in the presence of death. Perhaps as a way to prevent an attack from evil wizards, ancients would sacrifice (in some cases their king) and build a pyramid to reduce magic.
November 3rd, 2008, 8:05 am
By the way, Robbie, if you don't already have the uses of those other three bottles of Liquid Skill mapped out, let me suggest a way Merlin could cheat a little bit. Let's say he want's Joe Albequerque's disguise skills, but doesn't know if he needs to spend a day just finding or preparing things. He uses his first bottle to gain the skill of the person who prepares Joe's disguises, and the second to gain the skill of using the disguises.
November 3rd, 2008, 11:21 am
Pyramids are definitely cool, quercitron. There's lots of symbolism going on there. And earrings are nice too.
November 10th, 2008, 6:16 pm
C'mon folks, don't let just three of us have theories! It could be a ring, a knife, a lock of hair, a body part, a scroll, a quill, a likeness, a petrified cupcacke .... All you have to do is wrap a little story about it: Why does it have its power? What power is it? Why would the goblins let Il Comte have it?
November 11th, 2008, 4:19 am
I'll get back on the survey, after I take another lok at those gifts.
As for the contest...
The talisman is a TableTurner, invented by the same person who invented the Time-Turner. Like the time-turner, the TableTurner is a small hourglass at the end of a chain. The hourglass has only a few grains of sand in it. When these grains of sand are in one half of the houglass, magical properties, spells, etc. are increased in the vicinity. Flipping the sands into the other half of the TableTurner will have the opposite effect, currently in use by Il Comte. (One cannot accidentally flip the TableTurner, as the sand will remain wherever it is unless you want to flip it.)
However, there are a few catches. First of all, every flip of the TableTurner decreases the number of grains of sand by one, so eventually, after a certain number of flips, the TabeTurner is obsolete. Additionally, as the hourglass shape suggests, there is a time limit. The TableTurner will periodically flip itself over, changing its affects and sacrificing a precious grain of sand.
It is obviously to Il Comte's best interests that one setting of the TableTurner is decided on, and that it is then placed in a Timeless vault where the passage of time has no effect. This is how the TableTurner came to be where it currently is.
November 11th, 2008, 11:28 am
That table-turner is intriguing, dragonic.
a petrified cupcake? What an imagination, gn! This cupcake came to light centuries ago of course and is the only cupcake that was petrified by the deadly gaze of a basilisk. Egads! The only non-living thing to ever be petrified. Gives the owner imense power to cook up all sorts of dastardly deeds that actually suceed. This is one of the fundamental magic items that the goblins possess. Our nasty count managed to get his manicured hands on it while he was checking out a vault that didn't belong to him, the thief. How did he come into possession of a pass-key to gringotts vaults? Perhaps he won it at a card game--wizard poker.
November 11th, 2008, 7:46 pm
a petrified cupcake? ... Egads! The only non-living thing to ever be petrified.Wait, wasn't Sir Nicholas petrified? And at the time, he was post-living, no? A has-being, or perhaps had-being, I think.
Here are some other things to wrap stories around: a comb, a stone, a throne, a viol, a vial, a stole, a manuscript, a golden whip, a model ship, a leg of lamb, a telegram.
November 12th, 2008, 4:41 am
That sounds Lewis Carollish, greyniffler. Should that list of items ring a bell for me?
November 12th, 2008, 11:29 am
Or a bell of course! Thanks for the idea, Robbie.
A tiny bell like the ones worn by cats. Originally this bell was stolen by the goblins (not stolen, excuse me, won from a sphinx more like it). After answering the sphinx' riddle, the goblins didn't want to get whatever the sphinx was guarding but the bell attached to the neck of the mother sphinx' kitten. The sphinx was not pleased at all but as the goblins had answered her riddle fair and square, she had no choice but to hand over the kitten's bell. Needless to say, this is a powerful magical object.
November 12th, 2008, 4:11 pm
Robbie, I don't think the list is Lewis-Carrollish; it just has rhyming triples. Well, more or less rhyming; viol and vial don't really count.
A thistle, a missile, a bristle ... you see, it's easy.
Linda_Carrig, I like the idea of a bell. Bells are evocative. Did Il Comte answer questions of the goblins to get the Sphinx's bell from them? Can it force you to ask questions whose correct answers make you hand it over? That's a fascinating premise.
November 13th, 2008, 11:08 am
Yes, it is, isn't it? Bells are used for a lot of things like announcing the end of something like class or summoning people to church or in a game show. Sick people use them to ask for help and who can forget the novel, "For Whom the Bell Tolls".
November 14th, 2008, 11:02 am
So, at the moment Merlin is a merlin. Cute!
And then I ask myself (for the umpteenth time), what does an animagus do with his wand and other gear when he is transformed? Fur don't have pockets -- well, only if you are a marsupial. But we have yet to meet an animag-'possum, or ani-Kanga. I'm willing to accept that the clothes kind of morph into feathers/fur -- I don't dig it, but not being able to come up with another answer, I'll live with that. And McGonnagal's glasses seem to bear it out.
But hard, lumpy objects that have no conformity to the transformed body? Now there's a problem. If the stuff just absents itself until the resumption of man form, it's really too easy. E.G. Wizard wants to steal a grand piano. Wizard wraps arms around piano and transforms into hamster. Piano becomes part of hamster. Wizard waddles himself to destination and retransforms. Piano appears in Wizard's parlor. I don't think so!
Which is all to say, just how much of his stuff does Merlin have access to from inside that cage? A dog might conceal something by shrinking it and hanging it on his collar like a tag. All Merlin's likely to be wearing is that string thing they put on falcon's legs to hold them by. No bag, I think. However, there is one object small enough that he could be wearing it more or less undetected. That would be the earring. It might appear to be some sort of ID tag. A bird band. And it would be good to have Rigel come unlock the tiny cage before M resumes his larger man form. (ouch!) And maybe refresh the apparently fuzzy bird brain on just what's going on.
The only other item I can think of would be the blindfold. If it became a falcon's hood, would our Count be impelled to put it on Merlin? But then he would have disappeared before he went into the cage. And with C holding him fast, too. A bit risky.
I suppose Merlin could squawk and cry until C shows up to take him out and hood him, but you still have some of the same difficulties.
I vote for the earing.
As for the talisman, after reading the bit about the toenail, I'm just speechless. Wow.
However, I'll try one just for fun.
Goblins are obviously good smiths, and love precious metals and valuable objects. Judging from the actions of the talisman, it could be some sort of armor. Chain mail? A helmet? A shield?
I'm liking a helmet. It's made of silver plate (repels curses, I think?) over a steel bowl for strength. Being goblin armor, it can withstand a reasonable amount of normal, physical strain. Sword blows, mace licks, falls from hypogriffs, etc... And never gets a scratch. Has lots of pretty stones on it, too. Not Ruby, which would make sense in battle as a partial remedy for treachery; not catseye, which warns of danger; but blue sapphires, to free from enchantments (also denote repentance -- the only thing Count ever worries about, you said?), all along the crest. In magically protecting it's wearer, this helm also limits his power to strike, just as the physical armor might interfere with vision (it's got a visor, of course), or speed, or range of motion.
So that's what he took from the goblins, and why he's both confined and protected.
November 15th, 2008, 11:39 am
A sappbhire studded helmut, oooh, nice!
November 15th, 2008, 2:47 pm
And of course the magic, or some of the magic, has to extend to the owner even if it's not worn, since Il Comte couldn't fit in a goblin's helm, and since he wouldn't risk trying to enlarge such a powerful magical object. So write us some history. Why did the goblins lend it to him? Do they think that the helm was destroyed, or that he was destroyed with it? What other powers does it have?
November 16th, 2008, 12:28 pm
The helm was lost for many years; Bittle the dubious (a goblin) was sent on a quest to retrieve the watch-dragon that he had managed to let escape. Bittle managed to find the dragon but the helmet fell off and he was roasted to death. Another goblin was sent to retrieve the helm and the dragon but only the dragon was found. Finally il Comte came along and they struck a deal; get the helmet back and we will let you live. Some bargain, huh?
Obviously il Comte kept the helmet for himself instead of giving it back.
November 16th, 2008, 7:24 pm
How about a mime's box?
Miming is an ancient tradition among goblins, one that is reflected in the human version. In fact, the most talented mimes of our world are just goblins with a height charm. This is why these mimes don't speak; if they did, it would come out in gobledegook. However, goblins' boxes were originally meant as a form of protection while mining. Who knew whether a goblin might encounter some lava deposits or uranium radiation? Goblin's boxes are gifted with the skill to become physical barriers, light barriers, magical barriers, or heat barriers; none, some, or all. It is a skill that was passed down through the generations. In fact, every goblin of this age has the skill in their blood. However, under special circumstances, a human might gain this skill. If a goblin is killed under the full moon on the aniversary of the birth of the inventer of the goblin box, pier-rot, his or her blood can transmit the power if only painted somewhere on the killers body (a little known fact: goblin's blood is white.) Il Comte secretly has a spot of white somewhere in the vicinity of his belly button. He keeps a spare stash of blood in a vial hidden deep within his vault.
oh, and I vote for the earring.
I miss Rigel.
November 17th, 2008, 11:03 am
Good one, quercitron, a goblin's box would be very magical indeed. And I'm sure every goblin has one to store any treasures that might come to light.
November 18th, 2008, 2:00 am
Bittle the dubious ... was sent on a quest to retrieve the watch-dragon [... he] managed to find the dragon but the helmet fell off and he was roasted to death. ... Finally il Comte came along and they struck a deal; get the helmet back and we will let you live.So il Comte was already in trouble with the goblins? Or did they take him on as a treasure-hunter?
Did he charm it from the dragon using Charisma potion? Or is there some other history to his self-absorbtion?
November 18th, 2008, 5:30 am
oooh... I have sooo much catching up to do! This'll definitely have to wait for a day off!
see ya'll soon!! :-)
November 19th, 2008, 12:25 pm
Good question, gn. I think il Comte was caught in a part of gringotts that he wasn't supposed to be in. I don't think the goblins thought he was a tresure-hunter.
Il Comte went back to the spot where the helmet disappeared and using a summoning spell-accio-the helm came flying right into his hands. It had been buried in the scuffle between Bittle and the watch-dragon.
November 19th, 2008, 5:44 pm
We are constrained by the premise: it's something that can only be given willingly. That suggests a con job or broken trust of some kind.
Could the object be in some way responsible for Maledicto's absurd vanity? Could it have enhanced his self-rapture? Could the effects be slowly wearing off now that he is without it? What will that have done to the clowns? And is it linked to the effect of that clown-nose on him? For that matter, why was it that Merlin accepted the assignment only when he had that comfortable-feeling clown nose in his hand?
November 20th, 2008, 11:40 am
The clown noses could very well be transfigured sapphires from the helmet.
November 23rd, 2008, 7:02 am
Linda and GN, I rather like the backstory you two are getting up for that helmet!
Il C definately wasn't being straight with the Goblins, and they didn't tell him the whole truth either. (Well, they are infamous for thinking to retain ownership of things they've sold, aren't they?) So he might not have realized at first that he wasn't going to keep what he "won".
November 23rd, 2008, 11:36 am
Thanks, TWZRD, for bringing up the goblin's stubborn belief that the objects they make are theirs and not the property of the buyer; the objects are only on loan so to speak and should be returned to the goblins when the purchaser dies. Good point.
December 8th, 2008, 11:03 pm
The clown noses could very well be transfigured sapphires from the helmet.
You raise an interesting point. Let's say you take an ordinary object, transfigure it, lay some complex charms on it, and reverse the transfiguration. What happens to the charms? Are they dormant? Or do they retain their power somehow, perhaps hidden from "ordinary" view? How about charms applied during a sequence of transfigurations, returning to the original form?
A Polka, huh? Bottom row, left panel (http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20070103). Also here (http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20080620).
December 9th, 2008, 5:47 pm
Interesting thought. Perhaps if a wizard or witch wanted too, he or she could tranfigure his or her broomstick into a carpet, toaster, potato, etc. Very handy indeed. Perhaps this is how Merlin is carrying his gifts in bird form, i.e. magical round stone as a tag, potions as burs stuck in his feathers, etc.
About this issue of whether the charms would retain their potency, I tend to think that they would. But a very interesting special type of charm would be an object dependent charm. For example, for the terrible "get a song stuck in your head" cursed object; if the cursed object was a snake eating its tail, it would be the song that never ends, or if it was an accordion, it would be polka music.
December 23rd, 2008, 6:36 am
I suggest that you keep an eye on my new blog, bodwyer-dot-blogspot-dot-com. I am going to reprint the entire Magic Quill there & then proceed with new chapters, based on your comments in response to my blog posts. This will make it unnecessary to visit COS forums to participate in this collaborative column.
It's a tough decision to make, since TMQ started as part of MuggleNet & has benefited greatly from being part of it. But lately The Magic Quill has suffered severely from the inactivity of its editors. This has cost TMQ in many ways, not just letting regular readers slips away but also making it harder to keep the creative juices flowing as the writing/publishing cycle loses momentum.
As I told one reader offlist, I could handle a weekly column; but the more time elapses between chapters, the harder it is for me to keep it going & keep the shape of it in my head. So with the freedom to post my own stuff, I'm going to try to bring TMQ back up to a weekly schedule. I think this will be more satisfying for me as well as those of you who stay with the continuing column.
My thanks to everyone at MuggleNet who has allowed me to contribute my creative efforts to their great site. I wish them a bright future.
As a side note, anyone who has been missing my reviews on the Book Trolley - not because I stopped writing them, but again because my editors fell off the face of the earth - you can find my latest book reviews & other writings on my personal blog, afortmadeofbooks-dot-blogspot-dot-com. Wouldn't you know my blog would be named after my "location" in my COS profile! I hope you'll visit soon & often.
December 23rd, 2008, 3:19 pm
Will you still have the contest/survey?
December 24th, 2008, 1:11 am
I suggest that you keep an eye on my new blog, bodwyer-dot-blogspot-dot-com. I am going to reprint the entire Magic Quill there & then proceed with new chapters ... I think this will be more satisfying for me as well as those of you who stay with the continuing column.Robbie, I can't imagine how much effort this must be taking.
Folks, let's have a round of thanks for Robbie!
December 24th, 2008, 3:10 am
Will you still have the contest/survey?Absolutely! And thanks!
December 27th, 2008, 5:04 pm
Yo! Chapter 145 is here (http://bodwyer.blogspot.com)!
In a week or so, I'll be writing Chapter 146 based on this discussion and the comments on this blog post (http://http://bodwyer.blogspot.com/2008/12/144-jude-insecure.html). Please consider this discussion open until then...and pretty please, take note of The Magic Quill's move to its own blog. This will be the end of TMQ's reliance on MuggleNet & the COS forums. Thanks to everyone who participated in the first leg of TMQ's journey. May we add many new friends during the next stretch!
December 27th, 2008, 6:34 pm
I already read the newest chapter! Wow! Another great installment! I'm not sure how to answer the survey and contest. I did post but I don't know if I did it right.
December 27th, 2008, 7:41 pm
Yo! Chapter 145 is here (http://bodwyer.blogspot.com)!Robbie, I tried to use the preview and reply buttons. They didn't work. I normally use a somewhat quirky browser; I'll try it with IE tonight.
December 27th, 2008, 8:00 pm
Robbie, I tried to use the preview and reply buttons. They didn't work. I normally use a somewhat quirky browser; I'll try it with IE tonight.
I'm not sure what those buttons are. I guess I'm used to using IE. I would hope the blog would work just like any other. If the blog continues to behave in any unusual way, let me know.
December 27th, 2008, 8:14 pm
I use other pages on Blogger, and reply without apparent difficulty. Have you tried replying to one of your own posts while NOT logged in?
December 27th, 2008, 8:49 pm
Apparently you have to be signed in via Google, LiveJournal, TypePad, WordPress, AIM, or OpenID to post a comment. There is also a text verification step to posting. I added that level of security when my personal blog started getting spam comments. Would you advise taking it down?
December 29th, 2008, 11:56 pm
Here's a suggestion: if you know the offlist contact info for anyone who has followed TMQ in the past, let them know about its new location!
January 3rd, 2009, 5:01 pm
Guess what, folks! Andrew Sims has gotten back to me & says he would be willing to continue posting my reviews & editorials on MuggleNet. For starters I've been sending him unpublished book reviews - 34 of them, to be precise. We're still going to have to work out how the Magic Quill is going to work - new chapters being published on my blog & reprinted on MuggleNet, or what have you.