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Friday, April 29, 2011

Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn - Chapter 4

So far we've covered what I suspected (and have now self-confirmed) was a retreading of the webcomic. It's all brand new story from here on out.

From what I know from the cards and official site, at some point we're going to have to find Thrun, the Last Troll and Melira, meet the Mirran resistance, meet one or more of the Praetors, and liberate Karn. The ending will either be defeating one or more of the Praetors and the the rest flee while the Melira cure is prepared and used or Karn is liberated, Melira is freed because they know she's key to a cure, and the heroes flee the plane leaving it to fully develop into a true Phyrexia. I hope the ending is the later.

Will any of this happen this very chapter? Let's find out.

Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn - Chapter 4

Our heroes have gone back into the experimentation room because that's the direction the silver creature that Koth glimpsed has gone. Venser gets the shakes again and says:

"We will not speak of this," Venser said. "It happens sometimes."

"But why?" Elspeth said.

"It happens because of my foolishness. Because of a great mistake I made."


So they don't talk about it, and there is a new hole that wasn't there before, and they figure the silver creature is leading them somewhere. At least Venser is properly nervous that they're following something he's never met. But follow they do, and Elspeth uses some mana to have her armor glow with light so they can see their way through these dark tunnels.

They reach a large cavern and at the other end are several Phyrexian vampires, led by Geth. But their backs are to our heroes because they're busy knocking on the walls and floors until one of them finds a hidden doorway in the floor. The Phyrexians go through.

Despite being the one suggesting they follow the silver creature that only he has seen, all of sudden Koth now refuses to go onward when the others suggest following down the trap door. His idea is to now return to the surface and fight that endless stream of Phyrexians that they saw exit the Vault of Whispers and also raise a warning. Elspeth says something about how she just wants to kill every Phyrexian there is, and that some of the ones she's met especially hates skin. They hate skin so much they take it from their prisoners and attach it to their own faces, hoping it would take to their metal. (Wait huh? They hate it so they want it to grow on themselves? I have to say it again... that makes no sense!)

Somehow those comments of hers change Koth's mind, and they search for the door, which they can no longer see thanks to the flesh covering these Phyrexian caverns which have healed and now hide any sign of it. But Koth simply uses his red mana and pulls the door open. Venser does a quick teleport into and back out of the room. He holds his breath because it helps with short distance teleporting, and for some reason while being gone for just two seconds he's gasping for air when he returns for no reason at all.

He reports that the enemy is in there, working, all shaped appropriately for their jobs. Elspeth is ready to kill some Phyrexians. Venser says they won't like what it is that's causing the loud booming sounds and Koth calls him a jackass not lying to them and telling them the sounds were nothing at all. (Since when was Koth given the coward role?) Venser's plan is to have them jump down the trapdoor while he teleports off to the side of the room and attack from there.

The two jump down and land in a room that is ankle deep with body parts. The room has tables with bodies in the processes of  butchering, and Phyrexian butcher at each table, including one stump of a left hand and a cleaver of a right hand. The eat gets taken to a cart to be dumped down one hole, the bones get taken to a giant Phyrexian whose role is to just crush the bones and dump it down another. The crusher spots them, and the butchers come running at the two, not yet having seen Venser.

Elspeth uses her sword, and Koth does some standard punching with occasional fire. And the two are tired after defeating just four butchers. (Really? I thought these guys were mighty planeswalkers, and these not even fighting Phyrexians... they're just butchers!) After that quick battle, they see they are now ringed by all the rest of the butchers in the room... which is apparently much larger than I thought. And now all of a sudden we're told that there are so many butchers that Venser stops counting at sixty (and there are plenty more than that.)

Venser asks Koth to choose: Meat hole or Bone hole. Koth chooses meat because it's softer. Elspeth declares she never retreats from battle, and Venser says they're not retreating cause they're still moving deeper into the Vault and not back they way they came.

(More on this and the battle as a whole later.)

They make their way to the meat whole which is a good distance away. And by make their way, I mean fight. At one point Elspeth's sword attacks from every angle at one time, dealing thousands of cuts into a six-pack of butchers.

(Should I be amazed at the magical sword? or put on my -_- face at imagining a sword from attacking at every angle in a single moment. That'd be in infinite number of strikes and look like a solid disk or half a sphere.)

As they get somewhat close, an iris diaphram opens up in one of the walls and two gigantic Phyrexians come through. Their hands are are big as their torsos, and they move by first moving their hands forward, planting their fists on the ground, and then swinging their bodies forward. (I imagine like how someone on crutches moves... but you know... scary.) Apparently the rooms is still bigger than I imagined, and these fists are so huge that the they're crushing butchers as they advance their way towards the intruders.

(Crushing butchers by walking through this already huge room with their fists!!)

Despite their massive size. Koth picks up a huge section of some spinal vertebrae, and throws it at the head of one of the monstrous creatures. And even though the mass of bone in absolutely no way equals the mass of one of these guys... even though you would imagine that simple bone would just bounce off one of these things... you just have no idea what kind of arm Koth has because he actually knocks one of them backwards, and Koth jumps on it and punches it through its chest! Then a butcher attacks, and gauntlets form around Koth's arm, which is used to deflect the cleaver, and then he picks up the butcher and throws him into the butcher pack knocking more down.

Venser is distracted by something for a bit, but they eventually all make it down the meat hole.


* * *


On the one hand, we have Venser's speech pattern getting pretty tiresome. "We will not speak of this," is getting a bit tiresome. Which is a shame, because you think a teleporter wouldn't have such a stiff personality.

On the other hand, we have Koth calling Venser a jackass. I don't know about you, but "jackass" seems too "Earth" to me. It's not a full on break of the fourth wall, but it's certainly poking it full of holes that takes me out of the world of the novel for a bit.

Power Level

How can our planeswalkers be both incredibly weak and insanely power at the same time? Running out of breath after holding it for two seconds... getting tired after fighting just four butchers... and then all of a sudden performing miracles. I want some consistency please. It's hard to comprehend their danger when you can't tell what's a danger to them. (Size consistency and/or information would be useful as well.)

As for specific attacks, forget the magic sword of Elspeth. Maybe it was hyperbole or just worded poorly, but it's magic. OK, that's fine. But Koth knocking down a massive Phyrexian that is crushing other Phyrexians with its fists, made of both metal and probably some flesh... and it gets knocked over by a single vertebrae!?

What's to Come?

Is the whole book going to be traveling room to room like a video game until they get to the center of Mirrodin? I agree with Koth's change of heart of getting some word to someone before committing themselves to something like this. At least they may still run into the Mirran resistance, considering much of the resistance hides within Mirrodin itself. (As revealed in some of the Mirran Field Reports on the Mirrodin Minisite.) At least we hit item on my checklist. We got a glimpse of Geth, who will no doubt reappear as we get closer to Karn.

The Good

I've been highlighting a lot of problems, but there really is some good stuff. Elspeth's telling of her backstory last chapter was actually written pretty well, and really did make me feel for her. I'm sure there will be more good to come, I'll try to highlight it better as it comes.

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