A/N: I don't know if anyone will read this, because this series has a small online footprint. But this part of The Shadow Dragons bugged me enough to write a fanfiction to "fix" it, in the same way that many Harry Potter fanfiction authors fix the parts they don't like.
Just Bugs Me
A Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica fanfiction
"An unusual map requires an unusual medium," said the old mapmaker. "It smells like cider because of its extreme age."
"Did it come from the apples on Haven?" Jack asked. "Those trees were quite old, I believe."
"Oh, it's far, far older," said the Cartographer as he dipped the quill point into the bottle. "If it didn't come from one of the oldest trees that ever was, it certainly was in their forest. You who subscribe to these newfangled modern religions have a name for it: the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil."
Charles bolted upright. "Do you mean the juice you're using to draw with may have come from the same tree Adam and Eve took an apple from in the Garden of Eden?"
"Same tree?" the Cartographer said indignantly. "Pish-tosh. It's from the same apple. They only took two bites from it, after all."
Naturally, Jack wasn't as surprised as Charles. "So the Forbidden Fruit was an apple, then? Genesis only says that it was a fruit, not what kind. I figured it was a unique species. I mean, we eat apples all the time."
The mapmaker frowned at him. "Do stop talking. I'm a two thousand year old wizard. If I say the Forbidden Fruit was an apple, it was an apple."
Charles stood. "I'm fairly sure it's against my newfangled modern religion to have a map tattooed on my back with Forbidden juice."
The Cartographer shook his head. "Superstitious nonsense. Your ancestors ate the apple and they lived for 930 years. It's not going to hurt you to put it on your skin."
"How do you even know it's the exact same apple?" asked Jack. "Who would have saved it? The Serpent?"
"I'm not even going to dignify that with a response," huffed the Cartographer.
"This is the Keep of Time," Charles helpfully reminded Jack. "There probably used to be a door that led to the Garden."
"Point," said Jack.
"As for my ancestors eating the apple," said Charles to the Cartographer, "I rather think that God wouldn't have driven them out of the Garden if he wanted them to keep eating the apples."
"Drawing with the apple ink is completely different," said the mapmaker.
"You're right," said Charles. "It's actually worse. When you eat an apple, it's in your system for less than a day. Tattoos are for life."
The Cartographer pinched his nose. "Religious scholars are the most frustrating scholars."
"Does it have to be that apple?" John spoke up. "Could you use ink from another source?"
"It doesn't have to be the same apple for it to work," admitted the Cartographer, "but it does have to be from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It's the only sure way to reveal forbidden knowledge." He turned back to Charles. "Will it ease your hypersensitive conscience if I tell you that the ink is not visible in the Summer Country?"
"It isn't?" Charles asked warily.
"It only 'knows' where the Nameless Isles are when it's in the Archipelago," the Cartographer explained. "Since it can't sense them in your world, it'll disappear."
"Why didn't you say so in the first place?" asked Jack. "I'll volunteer if you still feel uncomfortable, Charles."
Charles raised his eyebrow. "Are you sure?"
"Well, I can still see how it might be a sin, but we have to find the Nameless Isles somehow, though God only knows why. No one explains anything anymore."
"Did they ever?" said Charles.
"I just explained how the map worked," said the Cartographer, narrowing his eyes.
Jack shrugged. "Yes, but it would have made as much sense if you just said a wizard did it. Anyway, if this is the only way to find the islands, then I think God understands that I'm getting tattooed with Forbidden juice for the greater good."
Charles picked up his shirt. "If you want to rationalize it that way, I won't stop you."
A/N: The beginning of the fanfic up to "They only took two bites from it, after all" is copied from pp. 94-95, with a few minor changes. The rest is mine. In my version of the scene, one of the Caretakers still gets tattooed so the convoluted plot can advance, but at least I showed them reacting to the Forbidden juice and rationalizing it. I'm not saying that the author, James A. Owen, should have made a big issue of the main characters' faith for its own sake, but you can't just toss in a significant religious symbol and brush over it. The characters should have asked these questions.
Don Quixote and Rose Dyson were also in the room for this scene, but I didn't give them any lines because I don't know how to write them. Frankly, I don't think Owen has figured out how to write Rose either. Her existence is another part of the books that bugs me, but I'm not going to write a one shot about her. Any debates she should have sparked have already been covered in some reviews of The da Vinci Code. I'll leave it at that and hope that as I continue reading The Shadow Dragons, I won't come across a scene that Just Bugs Me enough to make this a two shot.