April wakes up the next morning, wondering why she can never get a good night's sleep, and talks to the Banda Elder, telling him what the spectre of Charlie said to her. The Elder says she has had a sacred vision of the truth, both the good and the bad, and that she is the one the Banda have been waiting for. He gives April the Banda Stone. April makes her goodbyes to the Elder and Ben-Bandu, wakes up Crow, and sets out afresh. Picking her way through an enormous swamp, April emerges on a hill on the north side of Riverwood. From here, she can see a floating castle in the plains below.
When she gets down to the castle, April realises it's anchored to the ground by a stone statue - that tries to talk to her. After using a little makeshift moisturizer to soften his mouth, the 'statue' explains he is Lorhan, one of the many people who has tried to defeat Roper Klacks. But Klacks is too powerful: he has taken the souls of his victims, holding them in a crystal called the Soulstone, and has trapped their bodies in stone. Lorhan is afraid the same will happen to April. She assures him she'll be fine, and Lorhan pulls down the steps into the castle for her.
Inside, April finds herself in a labyrinth filled with shifting steps, gargoyles, and deceptive paintings of staircases that trick her into walking up them. The voice of Roper Klacks taunts her, but she finally manages to make her way through and emerges into an antechamber. She tries to go up the stairs to the main tower, but Klacks himself appears and blocks her path. He finds her highly amusing and decides to have a little fun before the soul-removal-and-victim's-petrification business of the day.
In one of The Longest Journey's more memorable sequences, April then challenges Klacks to various contests, including a spelling bee (April loses because she can't spell 'Anzhabecquakaleea'), a cookery contest (Klacks is a master of mince pies but April can't cook), a game of hopscotch (he's surprisingly agile in his Alchemist's robes) and challenging Klacks to quote from Shakespeare (he gives an RSC-quality rendition of a soliloquy from Macbeth).
Finally, April pulls out the calculator she won in the cups game, and challenges Klacks to a contest of mathematical skill - his vast intellect against her puny gadget. As he loses again and again, he becomes more and more irritated until he finally snatches the calculator from April. He quickly becomes engrossed in playing with it, until suddenly, an eerie blue light emerges from it and sucks him inside.
April makes her way up the stairs and finds herself in Klacks' laboratory, where the Soulstone rests on a stand. Using his spell book and cauldron, she mixes various potions - though she has to brave her evil 'mirror-universe' self to get a torn page. She uses two of the potions to destroy the Soulstone, freeing Klacks' victims throughout the labyrinth. With Crow's help, she scatters a Wind Potion into the air above the castle - it frees the winds, but also lifts the castle up into the air. It floats across the plains and crashes outside Marcuria. April walks back to the city and heads down to the docks.
Captain Horatio Nebevay is sceptical about April's story of defeating Klacks, but when she shows him the Wind Potion, he quickly changes his tune. If April comes with them, her wind magic will speed them on their way in no time. But Nebevay still doesn't have a navigator. Remembering her job with the map merchant, April makes her final delivery to Tun Luiec at the Journeyman Inn. She's a Dolmari navigator who is depressed because no one will hire her. April offers her a job aboard Nebevay's ship and she gratefully accepts.
April decides to visit Vestrum Tobias before she leaves, and goes to the Temple of the Balance. She finds him contemplating the Murals of the Balance. He tells her that the armies of the Tyren, goaded on by the Vanguard, are coming. He also tells her that April is the thirteenth Guardian of the Balance, news that shocks and horrifies April. Tobias gives her a gift, an ancient artefact called the Talisman of the Balance, and wishes her good luck on her journey. April sails out on Nebevay's ship, the White Dragon, staring out over the rail, bound for the island of Alais at last.
Themes & References Edit
- There and Back Again is the alternative title for J R R Tolkien's The Hobbit. It's an appropriate title because this chapter deals with similar themes to Tolkien's Middle Earth; a small, simple folk who live in burrows (the Banda), a monstrous, anthropophagous beast with speech disorder (the Gribbler), a powerful wizard who lives in a tower (the Alchemist Roper Klacks), and a riddling contest (the various challenges April uses to try and defeat Klacks). However, 'There and Back Again' is generally taken to refer to the journey that Bilbo Baggins makes, a journey that not only accomplishes an important quest but changes Bilbo forever. The same is true of April.
- When April wakes Crow he tells her "I was having this weird dream about a big-ass turkey wearing a pair of red shoes...and you were there, and he was there, and...and...maybe it wasn't a dream after all?" This is a reference to Dorothy Gable at the end of the film version of The Wizard of Oz (1939), in which Dorothy's journeys in Oz are depicted as a dream ("But it wasn't a dream. It was a place. And you and you and you...and you were there. But you couldn't have been could you?").
- When viewing the Mirror Universe version of herself, April notes "It's like that Star Trek episode with the mirror-universe Spock", a reference to the Star Trek episode 'Mirror, Mirror'.
- The mundane challenges April opposes Klacks with were probably inspired by the farcical duel with the Grim Reaper in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (1991), which was itself inspired by the Chess game with Death in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957) (Ragnar is a big Bergman fan). Bill and Ted challenge him to several games, including Battleship, Clue, electric football, and Twister, although in this case they defeat him every time and he demands a rematch, before finally conceding defeat.
- The quote Klacks recites from Macbeth is I, 7: 1-5.
|Chapters in The Longest Journey|
|Prologue: A Lion is in the Streets | Penumbra | Through the Looking Glass | Friends and Enemies | Monsters | There and Back Again | The Chaos Storm | A Deep Blue Mirror | Reunification | Shadows | Rebirth | Kin | Dreamland | The Longest Journey | Epilogue: Threads|