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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn - Chapter 2

Time for some history behind our planeswalkers.

Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn - Chapter 2

The planeswalkers make it to Malach's house, not only to find him gone (or possibly dead) but to also be attacked by nim (Mirrodin zombies). With nowhere else to go, they decide to head for the Vault of Whispers, concluding that must be the origin of the phyresis of the world.

Atop a plateau near the entrance they sense two things. The smoke of a crazy shaman woman who lives in a nearby hut that appears to still be living, and the sounds of many attackers ready to converge on them. So they prepare for battle. Venser finds some explosive irrenphor, which is made of both mineral and mana, that they scrape off the rocks to set up some traps. Once those are set up, Venser cracks the stupid joke about how if a bear is attacking you, you don't have to out run the bear, you just have to outrun your friend, but he says it Mirrodin style to Koth.

Phyrexians appear, and let out a howl that is echoed by many more Phyrexians than they had expected. Venser set off the explosions and they run to where the exploded irrenphor used to be. Koth comments that Mirrodin is really just an outer crust that covers an inner core that no one has explored. With this knowledge Venser concludes that Karn may be inside. (Obviously. Where else could he be? Besides anywhere else on the plane that Koth has never seen and may not know about. That doesn't count!) Koth then mentions that the lacunae used to be geysers of mana that lead straight to he core.

Well... now we're at a crossroads. Elspeth, the honor-bound knight that becomes rabid when Phyrexians are nearby (which includes the very attractive frothing at the mouth) declares she won't be going with them to the Vault of Whispers, and will instead go back to see that shaman they passed by. But that's not the real reason:

"But the truth is not that I will go to this shaman's place to find herbs to heal. I will leave you because I have been enough of a burden to you."

Followed by:

"A what?" Koth said. "What is this rot you speak?"

Venser's face had drained of its color and he stared at Elspeth. Both of his hands were shoved into his tunic, and his lips were drawn tight in obvious embarrassment. "Go then," he said.

(More on this later.)

So we follow Venser and Koth, and Venser makes a big deal of wanting to explain his shaking (which Elspeth commented on earlier). Koth doesn't think it's a big deal (and neither do I) and doesn't ask for details. They travel and feel as if they're being followed, but they were wrong, and Venser comments on how lifeless the plane is. Koth explains that Mirrodin used to have a larger population, but large portions of it vanished. (See Fifth Dawn) The goblins rebounded quickly because what did it matter if they lost the older generation, there was not much goblin knowledge to pass down. But the Vulshok (of which Koth is one of them) were hit hard, and all kinds of forging techniques were lost. On top of that metals had become corrupt, so the tribes fought. They fought until Koth discovered he could purify metal in small batches, enough to divvy amongst the Vulshok tribes to create peace. And that's when the Phyrexian threat became known.

Back with Elspeth and the old, crazy shaman who isn't actually old. (Which makes sense since the elders vanished.) She kindly offers Elspeth delicious ore soup, that Elspeth rudes refuses to eat. She asks the woman Vadi if she's concerned by the the growth of the Mephidross swamp, and Vadi replies that she'll adapt. Elspeth gets hot in the face and rudely (Typical) declares, "You will all die, you know."

Back to the boys, who've been traveling for days, and they're running out of water, and yet Koth refuses to be teleported and insists they stay together as a group. (Why no insistence that Elspeth stay?) They spy a tree that has gel fruit. Dangerous because it's a good source of water, so predators are likely nearby. Koth gets his hands on some, and while Venser stops one creature, he gets stabbed by a mechanical mosquito that renders him unconscious. He wakes to find himself strapped to Koth's back. Venser is untied, and Koth presents to him how far they've traveled.

And now back to Elspeth, who I expect hasn't been sitting in front of her ore soup for days, but is still talking to Vadi during that same meal... And she continues to try to scare the bejeebus out of her host by describing how she'll be flayed, left alive to regrow her skin, only to be flayed again as part of Phyrexian experiments. Vadi asks how she knows this, and Elspeth admits she's been witness to it. Vadi grabs a spear first afraid her gust might be infected, then a spy for the doomsayer Koth, and then realizes she's worse. She's a coward. She then gives a standard speech about how Elspeth has abandoned her friends, and Elpeth pouts and says they're better off without her.

* * *


Let's start with the end. Elspeth. I know next to nothing about her except that she's from Alara, and specifically the Bant Shard. I've read some of the online comics that she's had interaction with the Phyrexians in the past, which makes sense as to why she'd be a character in this story. But without much backstory to her (if it exsits), she's not connecting to me. She's successfully sliced up and nim and Phyrexians already, even if she does some unladylike frothing of the mouth. She seems more capable at fighting than either Venser or Koth, and yet when she declares she's useless, Venser goes pale and tells her to leave? That makes no sense!!! I'm completely with Koth on that one.


Speaking of Koth, although I read about his role among his people back in November (The Human Cultures of Mirrodin), it's still a good story, and of course it needs to be actually written in the book. Was the mosquito attack necessary? Probably not, but I guess it served its purpose. Perhaps the scene sets the stage for later when something more important occurs.

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