Piers Anthony’s “Xanth” series: Pet Peeve

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Pet Peeve (2005)
Goody Goblin is a rarity – a good-natured male goblin.

But then someone gives him the Finger: this is an object which looks like a finger, which is held in a box, and makes the recipient angry.  He can’t get rid of it, and he is too polite to give it to someone else.

Demoness Metria tells him to go to Good Magician Humfrey with his problem.  So he heads off to the Good Magician’s Castle.

Goody had been married to Go-Go Gobliness for 20 years.  But she was under a curse to die before she turned 40.  So now she is gone, and Goody is grieving for her.

When he arrives at the Castle, he is met by Wira, the Good Magician’s daughter-in-law.  She tells him the Good Magician is currently busy, and takes him to a courtyard to meet Rose, the current Good Magician’s Designated Wife.  Her talent is growing roses, and she has an enchanted rose garden there in the courtyard.  She invites him to take a rose; he takes a pale grey one, which represents grief.  Rose tells him he will eventually meet another woman, who will be able to take the rose from him.

Wira takes him to the Good Magician.  Goody tells him his problem with the Finger.  The Good Magician tells him to give it to Wira; because she is blind, she will not take offence.  He tells Goody that he does not need to do a Service; Humfrey can use the Finger in one of his Challenges.  But Goody insists.  So Humfrey tells Wira to take Goody to Grey Murphy (Humfrey’s assistant); Goody’s Service will be to find a home for the parody.

Wira takes Goody to another room where Grey is working.  Next to him is a green parrot-like bird.  This creature is the parody, also referred to as the pet peeve.  (Parodies are a parrot-like species of bird found in Xanth.)  Grey is currently using his Nullification power on the bird, but once he stops using his talent, the bird starts insulting everyone, always using the voice of the person whom it is with, so it seems that that person is doing the insulting.

Goody has been chosen for this Service because of his peaceful nature; anyone else is likely to wring the bird’s neck because of the constant insults.  But to help him in his quest, Wira gives him a bag of spells; these are four spells (this is not the number of spells; there are dozens of them), such as fourwarning and fourshadowing.

Grey also detects that Goody has a talent, which is generally protective in nature.  Goblins don’t normally have talents, and Goody is unaware of having one.

Goody will also have a bodyguard to protect him, because of the reactions people will have to the peeve, but also because of the dangers of the Xanthian wilderness.

Grey takes him to meet the bodyguard, Hannah Barbarian, a warrior woman.  But Grey gets called away before he can explain the situation to Hannah, and the peeve starts insulting Hannah in Goody’s voice.  Hannah is ready to attack Goody, and it is only with difficulty that Goody manages to explain things.

So Goody and Hannah set off the next day, taking the paths less commonly travelled. The parody normally rides on Goody’s shoulder, with the result that it is always using Goody’s voice to insult people.  This requires an explanation from Goody or whoever are his companions at the time.  Goody asks people along the way if they want the bird, but no one does.

Along the way, a telepathic tunnelling dragon emerges from the ground.  His name is Vortex; he is one of the dragons who migrated from Dragon World in “Currant Events”.  He offers to eat the peeve, but Goody turns him down.  The dragon says Goody should call him mentally if he changes his mind.

After various other adventures, Hannah suggests that Goody find out what his talent is.  Goody thinks that Vortex Dragon may be able to find out by reading Goody’s mind, so makes a mental call to him.

Vortex emerges from the ground again, accompanied by his female partner Vertex.  Vortex agrees to Goody’s request, but asks in return that Goody and Hannah fetch a construction robot from Robot World (one of Ida’s Moons) to build a nest for the two dragons.

Vortex takes Goody back mentally to when Goody was a child: Goody’s name was originally Gory, he had the normal rude behaviour of a goblin male, and he was the son of a chief.  But then the goblin mound was raided by a foreign tribe. Gory’s nurse had protected him by making him drink water with reverse wood powder dissolved in it; he became well behaved, like a female goblin.  The nurse had dressed him as a girl and called him Goody.  So the foreign goblins took no notice of him.  But after the chief took the mound back, Goody retained his nice nature, and eventually the goblins cast him out of the mound.

The dragons work out what Goody’s talent is: if someone attacks him, their weapon bounces off him, without hurting him.

Goody and Hannah continue on to Castle Roogna.  They meet Princess Ida, who arranges that they travel to her moons.

Princess Ida has a tiny moon, Ptero, orbiting her head. It is possible for people from Xanth to travel to this world in soul form, by releasing their souls from their bodies and leaving their bodies behind.  On the moon, their spirit takes the form of their body, and the moon appears to be a full-size world. Ptero also contains a Princess Ida, who has another moon orbiting her head, and so on.

Ida gets Goody and Hannah to lie on couches, with the peeve perched on Goody’s arm.  Ida gives them a potion to sniff, and their souls separate from their bodies and fly towards Ptero.  After this they travel rapidly from moon to moon, until they reach Robot World.

They are met by a welcoming committee: three robots in the forms of a human woman, a goblin and a bird.  The robots agree to their request; in exchange they must provide their life histories.  But a robot can’t physically travel from Robot World to Xanth: the robots will provide a program to build the required construction robot.

They are taken to a place where their thoughts are projected visually onto a screen.  Hannah tells her story.  She had been delivered as a child to a barbarian village.  She had been taught from a young age how to use a sword, and to go adventuring and fight monsters.  As a young adult she had gone on an extended adventure.  But when she returned to her village, she discovered it had become peaceful and civilised. She had left in disgust.

The peeve tells its story.  It had been hatched in a harpy nest.  But because of recessive genes, it was completely a bird, rather than a human/bird crossbreed like other harpies.  The harpies threw it out of the nest.  It was rescued by an allegory (a Xanthian alligator-like species) who handed it over to a nest of parodies.  But the peeve was not fully accepted by the parodies, and was cast out as soon as it could fly.  It travelled around, insulting people wherever it went.  It came to a demons’ party and interrupted a speech by Demon Professor Grossclout.  Grossclout banished it to Hell.

The peeve found Hell quite boring.  It insulted everyone there, but soon the residents of Hell ignored it.  The peeve figured out where it had gone wrong: it had been insulting people with its own voice.  It learnt to mimic other people, and always insult people using the voice of the person it was with.  This stirred things up for a while.

The Gorgon found the peeve in Hell.  She took pity on the bird and brought it back to the Good Magician’s Castle.

[The Gorgon was presumably visiting Hell under the arrangement that the Good Magician’s wives remain in Hell, taking turns a month at a time to be the Designated Wife – refer “Question Quest”, and the explanation given in my review of “The Color of Her Panties”.  In the Gorgon’s case, she is on permanent loan from Hell to the Dream Realm where she acts in recordings of bad dreams.  However, maybe she is required to check in to Hell periodically, or maybe she was visiting her fellow-wives.]

Goody tells his story (which is covered in various sections above).

The robots give them the package containing the program, with instructions, and Goody, Hannah and the peeve return to Xanth.

They head out from Castle Roogna and find a suitable place to set up.  Goody calls Vortex and Vertex mentally, and they arrive.  They gather the various things required and place the program among them.  The various equipment connects up and soon produces a small robot.  The dragons take it off to the site for their nest.

Goody and Hannah resume their quest to find a home for the bird.  They head for the Region of Madness, reasoning that only a madman would accept the pet peeve.

They enter the Region of Madness, and see various weird things.  They camp for the night.  Hannah goes out in the morning. But when time passes and she hasn’t come back, Goody starts to worry.  But then a figure approaches; it is a gobliness, and she looks exactly like Goody’s wife, Go-Go, who had died.  But she is mute.  Goody asks her a series of questions, to which she can nod or shake her head, and he discovers that this is Hannah, transformed.  She had passed through a portal, and come face-to-face with the Random Factor, who had cast a spell on her.  The Factor must have used the image of Go-Go from Hannah’s mind, which she had seen in Goody’s projection on Robot World.

But how can they change her back?  She can’t go back to the Random Factor, because he casts a different spell every time.  And now she can’t protect him; they will have to rely on his talent of the bounce, and the bag of four spells.

Goody picks a spell from the bag, and suddenly has four shadows.  This is the fourshadowing spell which shows Goody’s immediate past and future.  The two shadows behind him look like Hannah in her human form and her goblin form.  One of the front ones is flickering formlessly; the other is dark and inert.

Then they come across a giant fireplace.  Flames are coming and going from it, flitting through the air.  (The shadows caused by the fourshadowing spell are explained: The flickering shadow indicated the flames; the dark shadow indicated possible death.)  Goody and Hannah back away quietly, but the peeve insults the flames loudly.  Goody and Hannah take shelter in a hollow tree, while the peeve flies away to escape the flames.  But after a while the flames give up the chase and the peeve returns.  Goody realises he is embracing a woman who looks like his wife, and tears come to his eyes.

They come to a lake.  They strip and enter the lake to wash.  (This has been their practice on this adventure.  Hannah follows barbarian practice, and has no qualms about being naked in front of the opposite sex, and Goody doesn’t want to make an issue of it.)

But Hannah gets caught by an undertoe. (This is a big toe that drags swimmers under.)  Goody grabs her, and suddenly his talent of the bounce sends them the other way, to the shallow water.  He finds himself embracing a naked woman who looks exactly like his former wife, and he tries to stammer his apology.

After this Hannah stops him from walking into a forget whorl, which would have caused him to lose his memory.  In gratitude he kisses her on the mouth, and she transforms back into her true form.  The kiss had cancelled the Factor’s spell.

Having left the Region of Madness, they now travel to Castle Zombie; maybe the zombies will like a pet.  They enter the castle and meet Breanna and Justin (who are in charge of the castle), and their baby, Amber Dawn.  But they don’t want the bird. And Breanna says the zombies wouldn’t mind the bird’s insults, but they are not able to care for living creatures.

At that point a zombie comes and tells Justin that something is happening outside.  They all go out and find a small robot, which has been digging holes.  The robot-building equipment, which Goody had set up, must still be operating, and continuing to produce robots.  This robot is searching for more iron to build more robots.  And it is burning wood as fuel.

Goody and Hannah spend the night at the castle.  In the morning the zombies have found several more robots. Hannah chops them to bits with her sword.

Goody and Hannah return to the original robot-building site, but the equipment is gone; the robots must have moved it, and are probably building more robot factories.

They continue on to Castle Roogna.  Outside the castle they meet 14-year-old Princess Eve.  (Eve has a twin, Princess Dawn; they are Prince Dolph and Princess Electra’s daughters.  But Dolph, Electra and Dawn are away today.)  Eve takes Goody and Hannah into the castle, where they explain the situation to King Dor and Queen Irene (who are Eve’s grandparents).  The King tells Eve to go with them to investigate.

So Goody, Hannah and Eve return to the robot-building site.  Eve’s talent is to know anything about any non-living thing. (Her twin Dawn’s talent is to know anything about any living thing.)  Eve examines a dead leaf.  She says it comes from the ironwood forest; the robots are using the iron from the trees to build more robots.  They probably have a factory in that forest.  So they head off to the forest.

They stop for the night.  Queen Irene had given Eve a supply of seeds.  Irene’s talent is making plants grow.  (Refer “Dragon on a Pedestal”.)  She had pre-invoked the seeds, so Eve only has to apply some saliva to them to make them grow.  Eve now plants a houseplant, which grows into a small house for them to stay in.  She also plants pie plants and watermelon plants to provide food and water.

The next day they continue on and arrive at the ironwood forest.  Half of it has been cut down, and robots are proceeding to cut down the rest.  The robots are now goblin-sized – a lot bigger than before.  They are also cutting down normal trees for use as fuel.

The peeve insults a nearby robot, saying that it had seen better iron on a shipwreck.  But the robot takes this literally; it demands to know where the ship is.  The exchange that follows ends up with the robots confining Goody, Hannah, Eve and the peeve to a metal cage.

Eve grows a steelwood tree and a tangler.  They wait until dark.  By then the steelwood tree has broken through the top of their cage.  They climb out.  The tangler is to catch the falling fragments of the cage, to reduce the noise, and also to distract the robots if they come after them.  (The tangler is spelled to be harmless to Eve, but not the others, so she has to wrap her arms around them to protect them.)

So they escape and then sleep until morning.  Then they locate the new robot building factory; it is a lot bigger than the original one.

They head back towards Castle Roogna.  They spend another night in a campsite on the way.  Cynthia, the winged centaur, also arrives at the campsite; they tell her about their mission.

They arrive back at Castle Roogna and report to the King.  At the rate the robots are going, they will soon use up all the ironwood trees, and will be attempting to mine iron from Iron Mountain.  This will enable them to overrun Xanth.  It is necessary to contact all the creatures of Xanth to prevent the robots reaching the mountain.

Cynthia and Che, the winged centaurs, arrive.  The King will be giving orders to the humans who will be fighting.  But he is sending Goody and Hannah out as emissaries to the leaders of the various other species.  To avoid panic, they will use the pretext that Goody is looking for a home for the peeve. And they will ask each group they visit if they can take the peeve.

So they head off; the centaurs are flying, with Goody riding Cynthia and Hannah riding Che.

Cynthia asks Goody about his romantic life, and he tells her about Go-Go.  She suggests, having seen his interaction with Hannah and Eve, that he may be ready to move on and find another woman.  She had heard of a goblin chief’s son who had been banished.  Goody confirms that it was him.  Cynthia suggests that there may be female goblins interested in him, and not just because of his status as a chief’s son.

They land on a beach opposite Centaur Isle.  Che and Cynthia cannot enter Centaur Isle, as the centaurs of Centaur Isle, and landbound centaurs generally, do not accept crossbreed centaurs or centaurs with magic.  Goody and Hannah go to the ferryman and are taken on a raft across the water to the island.  A female centaur called Cheery escorts them to the centaur leader, Chevalier.  Chevalier promises to provide centaurs to fight against the robots. Goody and Hannah return to Che and Cynthia.

They will need to contact the goblins next.  They discuss how to do this.  Goody’s polite nature is a problem; the goblins would not respect him.  But the peeve can speak with Goody’s voice making insults and swearing, and the goblins will think it is Goody speaking.  But the illusion will be destroyed when Goody makes his proposal.  Hannah can’t go into the goblin tunnels with him because they are too small for her. The centaurs suggest that another goblin, a female called Gwenny, could go with him, to tell the goblins about the problem of the robots; as a female, she would be expected to take a subservient role to Goody.

They set off again.  Cynthia tells Goody about the friendship of Che, Jenny Elf and Gwenny Goblin (refer “Isle of View” and “The Color of Her Panties”).  They are now flying to the Isle of Wolves, where Jenny lives, to see what she thinks of their plan.

They land on the island, and some of the werewolves escort them to Jenny’s home.  They meet Jenny’s 5-year-old son Jerry, who is a were-elf – able to transform between elf and wolf forms. He fetches his mother, and Che makes introductions. Jenny says they cannot accept the peeve as the werewolves would eat it.  She calls her husband, Prince Jeremy Werewolf.

(Goody realises at that point that he has met Jenny before: they were both candidate Companions for the demons’ game in “Demons Don’t Dream”.)

They explain about their mission.  Jeremy says he can send werewolves to fight against the robots.  Then Cynthia tells Jenny about their plan concerning Gwenny.  Jenny agrees to it. But Goody gets the impression that some unspoken communication has occurred between Cynthia and Jenny.

They continue on to Goblin Mountain, where they encounter goblin warriors.  The peeve makes a convincing job of insulting and swearing, making it appear that this had come from Goody, resulting in respect from the goblins.  Che gives the goblins a message for their leader.  Goody’s group then withdraws to a rest stop on the enchanted path.

Soon Gwenny Goblin comes to them.  She says Goblin Mountain is not a suitable home for the peeve; the men would like it, but the women would not.

They explain to her about the mission.  Che mentions that there is a significant aspect of both Goody’s and Gwenny’s situations that the other does not know about, but it is best for the mission that they do not know about it.  Gwenny agrees to their plan.  She returns to Goblin Mountain to make arrangements.  Che explains that Gwenny is a clan official, and has significant influence in the governing of the Goblin Mountain mound.  Eventually Gwenny returns.

As night falls, Goody, Hannah and Gwenny go to bathe in the river.  Gwenny follows Goody’s and Hannah’s usual practice of stripping naked, and they all enter the water together.  The peeve remains on land, but is still close enough to insult them.

At Hannah’s urging, Goody massages Gwenny’s shoulders.  He explains that he used to do this for his wife Go-Go, and tells her how she had died.

Gwenny wants to talk to Goody privately, so they withdraw to the opposite site of the river, out of the parody’s earshot.  Goody explains that he feels uncomfortable with their situation, because  Gwenny reminds him of Go-Go.  He feels attracted to her, because she is a gobliness and she is close to him.  But he knows that goblinesses prefer male goblins who are rude and badly behaved.

Gwenny explains that she is not like other goblinesses.  She had been brought up amongst the winged centaurs, with Che and Jenny for companions.  She would prefer polite male goblins.  Besides, she is tolerant of liabilities, such as Goody’s politeness.  She has liabilities of her own – problems with eyesight and lameness.  She wears contact lenses, and her lameness is largely cured except for some stiffness in one knee; so she can’t run or dance or walk long distances.

But she is under a kind of curse which limits her marriage options.  She and Goody must remain on business terms.

The next day they fly to the Goblinate of the Golden Horde, the nastiest and most dangerous goblins of Xanth.  Goody (with the peeve on his shoulder) and Gwenny enter and meet with Chief Gaptooth. Goody has his bounce talent and he invokes a fourwarning spell.  With all of this he manages to fend off the chief’s attacks and intimidate him, and persuade him to bring goblins to fight against the robots.

After this, the visits to the other goblin mounds are easy by comparison, and they persuade goblins from all of them to come and fight the robots.

Goody expects Gwenny to return to her own mound, but Gwenny decides to continue providing assistance with the mission, especially since she enjoys Goody’s company.

Next they have to recruit the dragons.  Goody mentally calls Vortex and Vertex, and when they arrive he tells them about the robots.  The dragons volunteer to go and inform the leaders of the dragons, and to request them to come to fight the robots.

Then Vertex addresses Gwenny as “Chiefess”.  And so the secret is revealed: Gwenny is the chief of Goblin Mountain. (Since she is a female chief, she is addressed as “Chiefess”.) (But of course, we, the readers, already knew she was the chief, if we’ve read the previous books, eg “The Color of Her Panties”.)  Gwenny had not wanted it known who she was when away from her mound.

But then Che and Cynthia reveal that Goody has a secret too.  He is the son of a chief.  Even though he was rejected by his goblin mound, he is an eligible marriage partner for Gwenny.  The centaurs had wanted the two goblins to get to know each other first, before revealing their statuses.

But now Gwenny proposes that they change their relationship to one of courtship.  Goody accepts.

Next they will recruit the naga; these are a human/snake crossbreed race, able to take either snake or human forms.  Goody and his companions can contact Nada Naga.  And since she is married to a demon, they can recruit the demons at the same time.

They fly to the naga tunnels near Goblin Mountain and meet Nada.  The parody goes off to play with the 9-year-old half-demon children, Ted and DeMonica. (Ted is Demoness Metria’s son; DeMonica is the daughter of Nada and Demon Vore.)  Goody’s party tells Nada about their mission concerning the robots.  She calls her husband Demon Vore and explains the mission to him.  He goes off to inform his father, Demon Professor Grossclout, and she goes to tell her father, the King of the naga.

Nada returns to say the naga will join the fight.  Then she hears the peeve swearing, and decides it can’t stay with them.  Demon Vore returns and says his father agrees that the demons will join the fight.  In fact, given how little time they have left, the Professor has ordered that the demons must transport Goody and Gwenny to the other races they must recruit.  Vore calls Demoness Metria and she appears.  Vore will transport Gwenny and Metria will transport Goody.

The two demons transport Goody and Gwenny to the Elf Elm of the Warrior clan of elves.  The elves take the goblins into the tree, where they meet King Sword.  He is willing to send elves to fight, but states that they will have to stay close to the elf elms near Iron Mountain; elves only remain strong near their elms.

Next the demons take them to the harpies, who are quite willing to join the fight.

The final race to be contacted is the ogres.  Gwenny knows an ogress called Okra, who is married to Smithereen, the Ogre Overlord. (Okra’s story is in “The Color of her Panties”.  She had married Smithereen in the aftermath of that story.)  The demons take them to Okra’s cave near Lake OgreChobee.  They meet Okra’s young son and daughter, Og and Not-Og, who call their mother.  Okra is intelligent (which is not considered desirable among ogres) and does not speak in the typical inane rhymes of ogres.  She sends her children to fetch Smithereen.   Gwenny explains the mission, and Okra translates this into ogre-rhyme for Smithereen.  Smithereen agrees.  The ogres quite like the parody, but the parody says they are too stupid to be insulted.

The demons return Goody and Gwenny to the naga caves, where they rejoin their other companions.  They discuss and arrange other aspects of the mission.  Magician Trent will coordinate the forces of all the different races at Iron Mountain.  Demon Professor Grossclout will transport him to where he needs to go.  Hannah’s job is to guard Goody, so she will need a demon to transport her, too.  Dara Demoness (one of Humfrey’s wives) will perform this task.

The demons transport Goody, Gwenny and Hannah to Iron Mountain.  Hannah sets up a lean-to for herself, Goody and Gwenny.   Goody and Gwenny sleep together that night.

In the morning, the centaurs arrive – 100 archers. Their leader is Chevalier, accompanied by Cheery.

Trent appears, having been transported by Professor Grossclout.  Goody raises the matter of food supplies with Trent; there is not much to be foraged in the area.

The harpies arrive, led by a harpy called Fowlmouth.  Trent mentions the lunchbox plantations that the harpies maintain, and asks if they can supply the army which is gathering.  Fowlmouth says they can, but it will take too long to transport the food, as the harpies can only carry two boxes at a time.  Trent offers the services of Che and Cynthia, the flying centaurs; they can flick the boxes with their tails to make them light, so the harpies will be able to carry larger numbers.

Now Fowlmouth points out that the robots are developing flying machines; the harpies can’t carry lunchboxes and fight flying robots at the same time.  Trent says the centaurs (commanded by Chevalier) will use their bows and arrows to shoot the flying robots out of the air.

Grossclout appears with the contingent of demons.

Prince Jeremy Werewolf arrives with the werewolves.  Jenny had suggested to him that the elves can ride the wolves (as they do in her home world, the World of Two Moons).  This would extend the range of the elves, who would otherwise have to stay close to their elms.

The goblins arrive.  Demon Vore carries Gwenny off, so she can take command of the goblins from her own goblin mound.

Trent appoints Goody and Hannah as coordinators, and gives them scarab beetles as badges of authority.  He sends them to meet the dragons and the ogres to help them orient.

The demonesses Metria and Dara transport Goody and Hannah to where the dragons are arriving.  Their leader is a giant firebreather called Firestorm.  Vortex arrives to translate telepathically.  Goody warns Firestorm not to eat any of the local creatures; the harpies will be providing food in lunchboxes.

The demonesses take them to the Singing Tower, where the ogres are expected to arrive.  Dara fetches lunchboxes for Goody, Hannah and the peeve.  Each recipient finds exactly the right kind of food in their box.

Smithereen arrives, leading 20 ogres.  Goody gives them instructions: to bash all robots, and no one else.

Goody reports back to Trent, and then returns to their lean-to for the night. Gwenny is already there, and they spend the night together.

The next day the robots arrive, in huge numbers, in the northwest, where the elves and werewolves are defending.  Trent sends Goody and Hannah off to check on the situation.  The elves are firing their arrows at the robots’ joints, causing them to jam, which stalls them, and makes the following robots crash into them.

Goody and Hannah move on to the centaurs’ quadrant.  The centaurs are defending the harpies’ supply line, by firing on the robotic flying machines, causing them to crash.  But more flying machines are on the way; Goody and Hannah think there will be a problem.  They report back to Trent.

From the top of Iron Mountain they can see the huge masses of robots approaching.  Goody tells Trent about the possible problem in the centaur sector.

Two young women approach: they are Eve, whom Goody and Hannah have already met, and her twin sister Dawn.  (They are Trent’s great-granddaughters.) Trent sends them, as leaders of the human reserve troops, to reinforce the centaur quadrant. Hannah goes with them as a guide.  Trent sends Goody to lead the demons to assist the harpies.  The demons envelop the flying machines, causing them to crash.  The humans bash the robots with their clubs.

Goody and Hannah go on to the naga sector.  The naga are swapping between human and snake forms, as convenient, to sneak behind the robots and bash them.

They continue on to the dragons’ sector, where the dragons are successfully destroying robots.  But with the masses of robots approaching they will soon be overwhelmed.

They report back to Trent.  He tells them that the zombies are coming to relieve the dragons, but they are running late.  Goody and Hannah return to inform the dragons.

They continue on to the ogres’ sector.  The ogres are happily bashing robots.  Goody tells Smithereen to build barricades to prevent robots from sneaking past.  Smithereen goes off to tell the other ogres, and for a time Hannah and Goody are left fighting robots themselves.

Goody looks at the masses of robots still coming, and thinks they are in trouble.  He and Hannah return to report to Trent.

Trent tells them to direct all the fighters to retreat up the mountain.  This will of course enable the robots to get to the iron at the base of the mountain.  But Trent, Dawn and Eve have a secret plan.

So the demonesses transport Goody and Hannah to each of the races in turn, telling them to retreat up Iron Mountain, which they are all willing to do, being injured and exhausted.  Now the robots reach the base of the mountain, seeming pleased to have reached their goal.

Goody sees several rocs approaching.  They are carrying a huge loop of cable, wrapped in cloth. They drop it in a loop around the base of the mountain.  Then demons connect the cable to electric plants growing in the gully.  And suddenly all the robots collapse, and remain unmoving.  The cable is an electro-magnet which has disabled the robot brains.

All the fighters spend the night on the mountain, recovering from the battle.  The next day, Trent congratulates them, and sends them all home.

But Goody can’t find Gwenny.  He asks the goblins of Goblin Mountain, but none of them have seen her since the retreat.  Could she have been killed, or abducted by the robots?

Goody and Hannah search the whole area, but don’t find her.  By this stage everyone else has left.  The peeve suggests that Goody could meet Gwenny in the dream realm, since she is no doubt dreaming about him.  This is a good idea, so they find a gourd, and Goody lies down and looks in the peephole.  Hannah will interrupt his vision every hour.

Within the dream realm, Goody wanders through various scenes.

In one scene he discovers Trojan the Night Stallion’s origin as a Demon, and learns of his affair with Helen of Troy.  And he foils Sorceress Morgan le Fay’s attempt to take over Helen’s body.  (Morgan le Fay appeared in “Currant Events”.  She lives on the moon Ptero, and wants to take over a woman’s body so she can live in Xanth.)

Goody eventually comes to a pleasant garden and meets Emily, the keeper of the garden.  This is the part of the dream realm where daydreams are created – a small part, since most of the realm is dedicated to creating bad dreams.  Emily has a note from Gwenny; it says that Goody should meet her in the Lost & Found.  Emily tells Goody to follow the yellow line.

He comes at last to a shelter labelled Lost & Found.  And there is Gwenny!  They hug and kiss.  Gwenny tells him what had happened; here in the dream realm she can project her experience as a visual picture.

The goblins had been fighting the robots near a lake.  Gwenny warned the goblins not to fall into the water, and had pulled one of the goblins away from the lake.  But then a robot had run into Gwenny, and they had become entangled and fallen into the lake. They had sunk to the depths, and then Gwenny had managed to escape to an underwater cave that contained air, dragging the robot with her.  There were creatures in the cave.  Gwenny helped a bird (an E-gull) and a kraken weed.  Then she turned her attention to the inert robot.  She opened its chest and removed the wet wood, and replaced it with dry wood and lit it.  The robot reactivated.

She asked the robot why the robots had been fighting them.  It replied that they were only seeking iron, and the creatures were obstacles in their path.  Gwenny explained how living creatures generally care for each other.  The robot asked if it could have its program modified to do this as well.  Gwenny agreed to arrange this if the robot helped her escape from the cave.

There was a gourd in the cave.  Gwenny used it to enter the dream realm to contact Goody.  She requested the robot to interrupt her line of sight each hour.

So now, talking to Goody in the dream realm, she tells him where she is physically located, and asks that they rescue the robot and the kraken weed as well.

Goody returns to the real world, and tells Hannah the story.  Soon Metria and Dara arrive to check on them.  They go to the lake and dig down through the bank and soon get access to the cave.  As Gwenny had agreed, the demonesses carry the kraken to the sea.  Gwenny and the robot climb out of the cave. (No doubt the E-gull escapes at this time as well.)

They call Demon Vore, and the demons carry Goody, Hannah, Gwenny and the robot to Com Pewter’s cave, where the robot’s program is to be modified.  They learn that the robot is male, and give him the name Roland.  Com Pewter creates a chip to Gwenny’s specifications; it will incorporate the equivalent of a soul, or a conscience.  It will also act as a virus, spreading to other robots he encounters.  They use additional iron from the wrecked robots to make Roland man-sized.

Hannah accidentally sneezes on the chip before it is installed.  But Tristan Troll (who acts as Com Pewter’s mouse) says it will not matter, and installs the chip.  But it makes Roland fall in love with Hannah, and gives him the characteristics of a barbarian.  They all wonder whether they should remove the chip and reprogram it.  But Hannah is coming to like Roland, and decides they should try spending time together.  The demons take Hannah, Roland and Goody (to act as chaperone) to the far side of the moon, where people spend their honeymoons.  (Gwenny had some business back at Goblin Mountain.)

But then Morgan le Fay tries to take over Hannah’s body.  In this way she is similar to the Sea Hag (“Golem in the Gears” and “The Dastard”), but whereas the Sea Hag takes a person over by force, Morgan persuades the victim that Morgan’s wishes are her own.  But Goody tells Roland to express his love to Hannah, and faced with the possibility of a metal lover, Morgan withdraws from Hannah.

Hannah makes up her mind; she wants to stay with Roland.  A chaperone is no longer required, and Goody returns to Xanth.

Goody and Gwenny spend some time together in a chamber provided in Com Pewter’s cave.  Then Hannah and Roland return from the moon.

Goody still has his quest to find a home for the peeve.  And until he finds it, Hannah still has her duty as Goody’s bodyguard.  Goody, Gwenny, Hannah and Roland set off together, asking people on the way whether they want the bird.

But now Morgan le Fay tries to take over Gwenny’s body.  But Roland, having received a comprehensive data bank along with his other modifications, knows of a way to counter this.  He picks Gwenny up and runs off with her.  As long as an intended victim moves fast enough, the invading spirit can’t establish itself in the victim.  But this is only a temporary solution.

So when Roland returns, and Morgan makes another attempt, Hannah tries talking to her.  Morgan says that, while in Gwenny’s body, she intends to perform bizarre sexual acts with Goody and the other goblins.  She is able to enhance Goody’s desire and make him her sex slave. Hannah points out that Gwenny is lame.  Morgan is taken aback, but then decides it doesn’t matter.  Her main motive is to punish Goody for his interference.   Then she will make Gwenny mutilate herself and commit suicide, so that Morgan can move on to another host.  Hannah’s attempt to dissuade Morgan has failed.  Roland picks Gwenny up and runs off with her again.

This time, when Roland returns, Goody talks to Morgan.  He tells the peeve that he has found a home for it.  The peeve will live with Morgan, and will be constantly insulting everyone around, and telling everyone about the bizarre acts Morgan is performing.  This is too much for Morgan, and she withdraws from Gwenny.

Now Gwenny sets her final test for Goody, before she chooses him as a marriage partner.  Metria and Dara arrive to facilitate this.  Goody is faced with three goblinesses: an attractive and scantily clad gobliness, another gobliness who looks exactly like Go-Go (obviously the two demonesses in disguise), and Gwenny.  Which one will he choose?  And he must have passed the test, because Gwenny accepts him and proposes.  Goody accepts.

Now Gwenny has an idea about a home for the peeve.  She calls to Surprise Golem, who appears. (Surprise has appeared in a few previous books, most notably in “Up in a Heaval”.)   Gwenny asks her if she has a suggestion about a home for the peeve.  Hearing a string of insults from the peeve, Surprise disappears and returns with a young man – Umlaut, her fiancé – who is carrying a picnic basket. He opens the basket, and in it are two tiny figures, Surprise’s parents, Grundy and Rapunzel. (See my comments under “Up in a Heaval” and “Golem in the Gears” concerning Grundy’s and Rapunzel’s size.)  Grundy and the peeve exchange a series of insults; it becomes obvious that they are well suited to each other.  The peeve has found its home in the Golem household.

The group now heads for Goblin Mountain.  After this, Hannah and Roland will depart together for Iron Mountain.

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