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Monday, May 23, 2011

Agents of Artifice - Chapter 3

When last we left, our heroes were in trouble, how will they ever get out of this one?

Agents of Artifice - Chapter 3

Tied up, and his love Liliana threatened with three crossbows aimed at her back, Kallist gives Semner the answer he's looking for. Jace is in the Favarial district as far as he knows. Semner accepts it as truth, and orders for Liliana to be let go but to kill Kallist.

(Really? Not kill both? After what they know she did at the dance?)

But Kallist is a quick thinker, now that he's wide awake, and of course reminds Semner why he's invaluable. Favarial is a days long trip away, Kallist may be lying (unlikely) but Jace may also simply be be gone, and Kallist would probably have a better idea how to track Jace down should that be the case.

(And to himself he thinks that Jace might not be simply gone, but gone. As in walked to another plane. However that's something Semner wouldn't understand.)

Semner sees the sense in this and orders a couple of his men to tie up Liliana next to Kallist, and stay behind and watch over the two, sleeping in shifts. Even though Semner himself always failed at studying magic, he has people that work for him that will be able to magically relay the message on whether or not Jace is found in Favarial.

Even though the threat that is the necromancer Liliana Vess may have slipped Semner's mind, his men (actually one man and one woman) remember, and they're a bit nervous about staying behind with two mages. Liliana yells out to Semner that he'll have to take the two of them with him, because if his men's guards slip up for a moment, and she's able to say the right word or give them the right glance, then both she and Kallist will be freed.

The stubborn Semner still doesn't want to take them with him, perhaps because he doesn't want to give in to anything they say and he wants to retain the feeling of control, and he simply orders the two prisoners to be blindfolded and gagged, on top of being tied up.

The two heroes share a glance and give no resistance as they are bound more securely, then Semner and the rest of his men leave to find Jace.

The two mages wait for the right moment to strike. Liliana's bravado was simply a ruse to confuse people only vaguely familiar with magic. The blindfolds and gags were nothing to them. Liliana's ropes had already been rotted through before Semner even left. That fact remained hidden by a simple illusion by Kallist. One guard, Rin, slept while the other remained away for his guard duty shift, except Rin wasn't actually sleeping. Liliana had summoned that shadowy spectre of hers and it had effortlessly and silently had killed her. Rin would wake no more.

When the time was right, Liliana simply stands, which baffles the guard, and Kallist attacks from behind and knocks him out.

In the heat of the moment, Kallist moves in to hug Liliana, and his heart sinks as she quickly backs away. He's a bit crushed, but then he realizes it's likely because of all the vomit on his clothes from when he was tied up before, and puts it out of his mind.

So now they're free and Kallist is ready to run, but Liliana speaks the unthinkable. She says they have to go warn Jace. Kallist doesn't care, the two of them aren't goodie-two shoes, (What does having two shoes have anything to do with the meaning of that saying?) and Jace wouldn't appreciate seeing either of them. In fact, there is some incident that he's never forgiven them for. (A simple love triangle? Or something more?) But eventually Liliana convinces him that even though Jace may have ruined Kallist's life somehow, Mr. Beleren also saved Kallist's life over a dozen times. Kallist eventually caves in, and says he'll go do it. He'll be able to run there and get ahead of Semner and crew. He'll do it, and he'll do it alone.

She rose, smoothly, swiftly, until her feet were inches from the floor, her body surrounded by a flickering aura of black mist, the arcane symbols once more inked across her back and neck. She hovered, higher, until she had to look down to meet Kallist's gaze.

It's at this point that Liliana of course insists that she'll be going as well. She's just as capable as him, if not more so. There really isn't much debating that. She's proven her point, and he concedes.

One last thing before they go, the unconscious guard Errit has woken. Kallist draws his sword and walks on over. Errit pleads for his life. Kallist asks to be convinced of its worth. Errit says he knows nothing and so Kallist kills him.

With that last bit done, off they go.

* * *


The talk about our heroes having been mercenaries wasn't just for show, the two of them are acting the part. I love it! Kill someone while they're asleep to reduce risk. Excellent. Eliminate a possible loose thread. Fantastic. Errit was going to kill Kallist anyway if he hadn't proven why his life was valuable. That's how it is. And that's how they act. This is excellent stuff.

The Escape

The "I gotcha" moment of Liliana threatening Semner and tricking him into doing exactly what she wanted could have gone very wrong. It could have come off very cheesy like in many other tv shows and books, and yet Marmell was able to pull it off quite nicely. Bravo. He even has me believing that Liliana and Kallist have a history together. They feel three dimensional. I'm loving both these charcters and Kallist doesn't even have his own planeswalker card.

(He actually may be a planeswalker himself. I'm not positive either way.)

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