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ZeldaQueen: Ready for another chapter with minimal plot and a whole lotta nothing? I know you were!

Chapter 3

The auctions have actually started by this point, so Shannon waits around for them to get to the pot. As she waits, she thinks about her own scar, which she got when she was four and shook a pot of boiling water which splashed onto her hand. Despite the fact that water doesn't tend to slosh into nice, neat patterns, the scar ended up being star-shaped and still gets comments from people. Of course it does.

Shannon decides on giving us a pointless interlude as she goes to get a “
diet anything” from the refreshments stand, noting as she does so that leaving the pot causes her to feel less weird, and then explains to us that despite being a lover of fantasy, she knows the difference between pretend and reality. She also throws in a charming jab at the Plebian Masses, informing us that, “Hell, I’m a friggin English teacher—I actually read. For pleasure, as shocking as that seems to be to some people”. That's very nice. You know, I'm not an English teacher and I read for pleasure. Lots of people do. You aren't special in doing so, you know.

HAVE I MENTIONED I'M A TEACHER: 8

AS THE RED BIRD FLIES: 33 (because this is uncannily similar to Zoey putting her nose in the air and going on about how she she's ~~different~~ as a teenager because she likes Star Wars and knows the date the Titanic sunk and thinks pot is totes uncool, yo)

She goes on and on about how weird this all is, pinching herself to confirm she isn't dreaming, and dude. Yes this is weird, but this isn't reality-defying levels of weird. She wanders back to the table with the pot, thinking she should just buy the dragon print and go home, when the creepy dude from the parking lot randomly shows up. He starts going on about how the image on the pot looks uncannily like Shannon. He explains that her hair stood out to him the first time he saw her because, “
too many young women seem to want to ruin their hair by dying it unnatural colors: burgundy, yellow, black. And cutting it short”.



ZeldaQueen: Yet again, we're going to find out that there is a reason he'd think that. Like with his identity though, it'll happen so far in that I'm sure most of you will have forgotten about him by the time we get there. I will, however, say two things.

First of all, “burgundy, yellow, and black” are not “unnatural” hair colors. If this guy is supposed to be emphasizing how weird people can look, he could go for ones like pink, green, or blue. Or have their heads shaved entire. Or have one half dyed a different color than another.

Second of all, justified or not, this sounds like wanking over how speshul Shannon is. Why look, her hair is so Sue-ish and noticeable because she doesn't cut it short or dye it, like those darn teenagers these days! Actually, it sounds like Zoey telling us how Neferet's natural red hair is beautiful, unlike the gross colors that happen when people dye their hair red.

AS THE RED BIRD FLIES: 34

Shannon notes how the guy keeps staring creepily at her despite talking normally, which works fine for atmosphere until she also throws in that his breath still stinks.

AS THE RED BIRD FLIES: 35

She also notes that “
His attention kept leaving me and refocusing on the pot with an almost sexual intensity. And he kept touching it. A lot”.

Again, explained later. And given certain...things we'll be seeing shortly, this is coming across with a good many unfortunate implications.

The guy says this is clearly Fate's way of telling Shannon that she and she alone must buy the pot. Uh, saying something is fated usually refers to an event that has some sort of chance going on. Like, if a person was at a flea market and found that the necklace they really liked was just perfectly within their budget, then that would be a time to say, “fate must want me to buy this”. I'm not sure if that can extend to “a replica of an ancient urn somehow looks like me, which implies that someone in ancient times also looked exactly like me”.

Shannon says that she hopes Fate will keep the bidding affordable and the creepy guy assures her it will. Uh... okay. He strokes the pot one last time and leaves, with Shannon thinking how weird he is. I won't give a Redbird point, because that genuinely was a weird-ass encounter.

We get a lot of pointlessness as Shannon tells us what each of the naked statues she was ogling went for. I'm skipping it because I love you guys. Everyone finally gets over to the pottery replicas and Shannon mentally complains about the auctioneer talking about how awesome and valuable they are. I can understand that, in an anxious, “Oh God, don't do that! I won't be able to afford it now!” sense. That does not, however, excuse her from getting on her high horse about the auction dealers who show up for bidding.

They had the little handheld notebooks, the glasses perched on their noses and the look of professional intensity casual auction-goers never wore. It was a whole different look than just falling in love with an estate piece and wanting to take it home. The dealer has a clinical attitude about his or her purchases, an 'Oh, boy, I can’t wait to get this into my store and mark it up 150 percent' attitude. I was doomed.

AS THE RED BIRD FLIES: 36

ZeldaQueen: Yeah, because collectors never take notes or compare prices or get intense on bidding. Nope, let's just shit on those horrible ol' dealers, who are clearly soulless husks with no joy in their lives. I mean, it's not like selling things is their job, so they can't afford to just buy whatever strikes their fancy.

Shannon starts telling us about the unwashed masses buying the other items on the table. The first is sold to a blonde who, as Shannon nicely notes, needs to have her roots touched up.

AS THE RED BIRD FLIES: 37

The second goes to a guy who Shannon thinks looks English. “
You know: proper, prim, smart, well-bred, but in need of a bath and some orthodontic attention”. Oh, those goofy Brits! No sense of hygiene at all, I tell you!

AS THE RED BIRD FLIES: 38

And yes, Shannon goes out of her way to confirm that he has an accent when he bids. Because it's wonderful to have your book prove that judging someone by their appearance works great. Oh, and he is smug when he wins. Of course.

AS THE RED BIRD FLIES: 39

The third dealer is “
the Depression Era matron I had offended with my legs earlier”. At this point, I have to wonder if there's anyone at this auction that hasn't crossed Shannon's delicate sensibilities in some way.

AS THE RED BIRD FLIES: 40

Also, I didn't get the impression that she was horribly offended by Shannon's state of undress or whatever you'd call it. She looked her up once and then showed zero interest in small talk. She didn't call Shannon the Whore of Babylon.

The auctioneer finally gets to the pot Shannon wants and starts giving some background on it. This includes plenty of wankage over how Epona was teh awesomez as a Celtic goddess and the only one adopted by the Romans and honestly, it just reminds me of how the House of Night series wanked about how awesome and wonderful Nyx was. Because yes, Epona will essentially be Nyx Beta here.

AS THE RED BIRD FLIES: 41

Although I will say, that part is at least right. As for the rest of the information on the pot? The auctioneer says of it, "
Celtic vase, original stood over graves in an ancient Scottish cemetery—Scene in color represents supplications being made to High Priestess of the Horse Goddess Epona."

*steeples fingers* Right. In the comments for the last chapter's sporking, [livejournal.com profile] eilonwya10 noted quite a few factually inaccurate things about the urn In particular, she unearthed (hur) a report written on Scottishs burials in the Iron Age.

Urns are listed as a way to store cremation remains. There is also something called a "Stray find", which is described on page 66 as "
where an artefact strongly indicative of burial, such as cremation urns and artefacts usually associated with furnished burial elsewhere, is found in association with other human
remains, and is likely to hint at fugitive burial activity.
" There is mention off the practice of burial with goods and heirlooms.

Guess what isn't mentioned as a part of Scottish burials from that time period.

Yeah, nothing about urns being placed at gravestones. As the report puts it,

"
The close study of burial rites turned up many interesting trends, such as the lack of evidence for head stones or other grave markers, a minority rite involving the use of curated, fragmented objects as grave goods, and some evidence for more unusual practices such as cremation, prone burial and multiple graves (5.1). The relationship between burial and Pictish stones remains ambiguous, but it is interesting that in most cases, the association is with fragmented and reused symbol stones rather than upright ‘stelae’ marking a grave (5.1.2; 5.3.4)."

It could have been written that the pot was the replica of one found buried in a grave, possibly as an heirloom. But leaving something on the grave? No, that doesn't look too likely. At the very least, it begs the question of how the urn managed to last long enough to get a modern-day replica made. I'd also like to point out that while the report doesn't really give details on the cremation urns (the closest thing it gives to this stupid pot), they just sound like basic stone items. There's nothing about fancy, colorful paintings on them.

I'd also like to bring up that while I can find very little on the topic and am not an expert on the subject, the idea of Epona's priestess being associated with graves doesn't make much sense. Epona being associated with death kind of works because it apparently is theorized that Epona lead souls to the afterlife (although she really seems more associated with horses and fertility), but why the holy hell is her priestess on the urn? Especially since the scene in question gives zero indication that this priestess is in the service of Epona! There aren't any horses or crops or any of the usual items associated with Epona! Nor, I may add, is the priestess doing anything I'd associate with death. Again, I'm not an expert but surely it would have been more likely that if Epona was on a funeral urn, it would have depicted something like her leading the dead into the afterlife!

Shannon, for no reason at all, gets pissy with the auctioneer.

His voice sounded stuck-up and proud, like he had created the pot and perhaps was a personal friend of Epona. I hated him.

ZeldaQueen: Christ, what did this guy ever do to you?!? Or are you grumpy because he's giving information on an item he's selling, as is his job?

AS THE RED BIRD FLIES: 42

The bidding begins, Shannon joins in, and of course it's stressed that the auctioneer is a condescending jackass towards her because oh, poor her! She's trying to do the best she can with the money she has and those meanie auction people are looking down their noses at her, just because she can't afford much!

AS THE RED BIRD FLIES: 43

This guy's going to be around for all of a chapter. Would it kill PC to at least write him as neutral enough to just ignore him? Why would he even be acting like this? This isn't a fancy auction in New York! He's auctioning off personal items owned by some dude who lives in Middle of Fucking Nowhere, Oklahoma!

The other dealers keep bidding, Shannon calls the auctioneer a “
little weasel” because he sounds “ingratiating” when he hears the British guy and then Shannon upping the bidding to two hundred dollars...

AS THE RED BIRD FLIES: 44

And then the bidding goes well beyond what Shannon can afford and is bought by the British dude.

Shannon sits down on a nearby fountain edge and starts moping like crazy, thinking about how it should have been hers. Right. As she mentally whines about all of this, she notes him examining the pot (which she seriously refers to as her pot at first).

The British guy suddenly gets angry and yells, “
My God! What the bloody hell is this?” because that's how British people talk. As it turns out, he noticed a crack at the bottom of the pot and is all pissy over it. And despite the fact that the auction people probably should have noticed that to begin with and he just spent a decent chunk of money on something that turned out damaged, I get the sense that we're supposed to find him all unnecessarily pissy and tantrumy over it.

The auctioneer apologizes for the oversight and promises to cancel the bid. Shannon asks what will happen with the pot now, and despite the fact that she'd just been bidding on it and thus had clearly been interested in it, everyone stares at her like she grew a second head. What, is this more bashing of art collectors and dealers? Are we supposed to believe that these people are unable to contemplate Shannon wanting the pot just because? I guess so. Regardless, she's told that the pot will be resold.

The auctioneer goes off to redo the auction and Shannon follows after like a moth to a flame. Or, as she puts it, “
more appropriately Okie-like, the mosquito to the heavy-duty two-acre bug zapper”. I guess like Zoey Redbird, Shannon thinks that we're under the impression that Oklahoma people talk in an entirely different language than us regular folks.

AS THE RED BIRD FLIES: 45

The auctioneer announce the re-bidding and of course we're told that he sounds annoyed. I'd imagine so, given that he has to redo a bid and probably has to worry about the British guy possibly filing a complaint about being sold a faulty item, but no, I think we're supposed to see it as more proof that he's an asshole.

AS THE RED BIRD FLIES: 46

The auctioneer holds up the pot for everyone to see the crack (even though I doubt a crowd of people would get a good view of a hairline crack inside of a pot) and Shannon gets dizzy and sees ripples when she takes a look. The auctioneer starts grimacing and acting like he's auctioning off a pile of dog crap, because fuck professionalism, we know that those sorts of people are all snooty and hoity-toity and are unable to appreciate ~~art~~ if it's damaged.

I'll skip most of the re-bidding because (A) it's boring and (B) it's just a bunch of wankage. Long story short, nobody bids on the pot and the auctioneer starts lowering the price when he gets no offers. Uh, do auctions work like that? I've only done ones on ebay, but that doesn't quite sound right to me. Shannon mentally crows about how those stuck-up art dealers don't want the pot now that they found out it's damaged (yeah, fuck wanting to buy a quality item!) and then makes a bid of three dollars and fifty cents, all while telling us that it's like “
some kind of quirky justice”. Yeah, it's justice. Never mind that nobody did anything wrong before. Never mind that the auctioneer only did his job selling an item and the dealers had the audacity to want an art piece that was undamaged. Nope! They kept Shannon from getting what she considers rightfully hers, so now it's justice that it's practically being handed to her.

I'm so pissed.

Thankfully the chapter ends right about there, with the auctioneer flat-out grimacing as he tells Shannon she won the item and to go pick it up. I'd like to think he's doing it because she's pissing him off, really.

Oh, a number of you have been asking when the actual plot is going to begin. To answer that question, Chapter 4 is the last one in the first part of the book. The actual "plot" (or at least her going to the magical land) begins in Chapter 5, which is the start of Part 2.

Marvel at PC's pacing skills, people.




HAVE I MENTIONED I'M A TEACHER - 8
AS THE RED BIRD FLIES - 46
MY OWN LITTLE FANTASY - 1


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