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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Agents of Artifice - Chapter 9



Flashback Part 2! We left off with the fateful invitation, now we bear witness to the actual meeting between Jace Beleren and Tezzeret.


Agents of Artifice - Chapter 9

The first Vineyard was so called because it had stood in the same spot since before Ravnica grew up around it. (Or at least, so the tavern-keeper claimed. None of the nature-oriented guilds had ever confirmed his claim, but then, they'd never denied it either.) It was a  crowded establishment, quite popular with wine connoisseurs and simple drunkards alike... 

(Anything look odd up there? More on this later.)


...and at a table sit two figures, Tezzeret, and the same woman who summoned the firecat, Baltrice. Tezzeret's a bit disappointed that Jace isn't showing. He was sure he'd be there. He did pass Gemreth's test after all (that demon that poisoned Jace was actually Gemreth himself and not a demon that was sent on Gemreth's behalf like I was thinking), and Baltrice is happy to throw out an "I told you so."So what to do? Should they have him killed? Surprisingly Tezzert says no. He doesn't know anything to be of any threat.


...Soon after...

The two walk the alleys back to base, when a hooded figure (obviously Jace) appears and blocks their path. Jace wasn't about to just appear before Tezzeret after such a rude invitation, and now he's showed them he's at least capable enough to discover their hidden base of operations. Tezzeret is amused by this display of his, and the talks resume at a new inn. (Jace has yet to earn his way to simply be invited into the base.)


...At the Inn...

They order some drinks, and Jace orders some actual food since the last time he ate anything was at tea time at Emmara's, and there is one last thing to do before they get down to business. Tezzert asks Jace to speak into some crystal pyramid, and an invisible field forms around them that blocks all but the loudest noise from penetrating within, and anything they say cannot penetrate out to the other patrons.

Jace begins with the obvious. He didn't appreciate the test, but what would have happened had he not passed?

Tezzeret said nothing. Baltrice grinned and shrugged. "Probably best none of us know." She extended a hand across the table. "No hard feelings, hey?"

Jace watched the hand as though it were a viper, then raised his gaze to meet her own and allowed just a taste of his own power to gleam in his eyes. "I'll let you know," he intoned deeply, "after I decide if I like what i heard tonight well enough."

Now's Tezzeret's turn to ask the questions, and he wants to know what Jace knows about them. It amounts to not much besides them being a criminal organization and that Tezzeret and/or people who work for him are Planeswalkers. Tezzeret confirms it. Both he and Baltrice are planeswalkers. Should Jace join them that would make five planeswalkers all part of the Infinite Consortium and a few others that do contract work but aren't official members. That's more planeswalkers than any other organization can claim, as far as Tezzeret is aware of. (And Tezzeret is aware of plenty. He constantly shows Jace how much he actually knows about the mind mage.)

Jace does make the mistake of trying to read their thoughts, and is swiftly warned to never do that again. Tezzeret explains that any modest mage who knows of the mental magics can sense when their minds are being read, even if they can't do the same. Although a bit rattled as his mistake, Jace knows they want his skills, so he asks point blank what's in it for him.

And despite that warning, Tezzeret gives him a true answer and not more threats. Tezzeret clearly wants Jace to become a full member of the Consortium and forcing him into it won't do. Tezzeret tells Jace to consider his life. Jace makes money by blackmailing one politician after another. Eventually that will catch up to him. Not only that, but he is a man of considerable talent yet his skills are laying stagnant if not degrading. Tezzeret promises that if he had a man of Jace's potential working for him, he'd make sure that man lived up to it. While they don't have someone that can train him in mind-reading, they can ensure that he gets the discipline to be at his peak. And they do have members that could mentor him in other areas of magic such as illusion and clairvoyance.

Tezzeret has said the magic words. Jace hasn't had a true mentor in some time. Baltrice then tries to mock Jace by saying that their mentoring won't turn out like what happened between himself and Alhammarret. And with that said, it was now Jace's turn to give warning of his own:

His vision veiled in a film of red rage, Jace found himself standing, his chair lying on the floor behind him. "You will never utter that name again."

After the outburst, Tezzeret sends Baltrice away. He tells her he can't have a proper conversation with Beleren with her always provoking him. She gets up and stalks off, unaware that she no longer knew the name that had so enraged Jace Beleren.

* * *


(Comment)

I do tons of comments, identified many times by the use of parentheses, all through this blog of mine. It seems to fit the format. However, being 1/4th the way into this book, Marmell's use of parentheses in that opening paragraph seemed absolutely out of place. That comment could very easily been written in a much more standard method. I'm not completely opposed to using parentheses in novels, but I feel if it's going to be used, it:

1) Should have been used earlier in the book so there are no established expections that the book will not contain them.

2) Should be used more frequently so it feels a natural part of the writing style.

If this is the one and only time parentheses are used in this book, it is absolutely a mistake to have written the paragraph that way.


Tezzeret

This was a great chapter. Certainly this Tezzeret and the one in Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn seem to have a consistent personality. That's a plus for consistency's sake and a plus because he was probably the best thing about that book. I am very much impressed with how Tezzeret is luring Jace in to the organization with enticing offers and not with threats. It feels right. If this is the way Tezzeret leads, their organization must be pretty fearsome indeed. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing the rest of the planeswalkers that work with him.


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