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Monday, May 2, 2011

Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn - Chapter 7

Just in case anyone missed it, I put up two posts yesterday, both Chapter 6 of my The Quest for Karn Read Through and the Primer that I promised would be up.

Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn - Chapter 7

When last we saw our heroes, they were in the meat pit. They must have moved through a few rooms or found another trapdoor while we were peeking in on the villains, because we start this chapter with all three heroes speeding down a long, pitch black, winding tube.

(I imagine what Luke went through at the end of Empire Strikes Back, but much, much longer.)

They travel on and on in this method, speeding faster and faster and faster. Then slower. Then faster some more! Why they thought this was a good idea, I have no idea, and apparently they go on long enough that Venser wonders if he shouldn't just try to teleport away somewhere while Elspeth begins to bang her heel against the tube in what Venser senses as panic.

They finally exit, and land unharmed. It appears that they're in a "vast" room with an incredibly blinding light. A light as if they sun was within the room itself. In fact there actually was a giant bright ball up above.

The planeswalker walk on, Elspeth talks more about her terrible childhood (This time in a much less compelling way), and they walk on thirsty and tired. The floor vibrates, but they see nothing and continue walking for what they assume is half a day, considering how far the ball of light has moved up above.

The lack of change in scenery in this flat, expansive, hot, and blinding room is getting to our heroes when Venser sees a dot in the distance. The dot gets larger, and they can make out a huge Phyrexian, with six stubby legs, that's larger than a galley. (Wintermute's word, not mine.) Venser teleports, the thing falls, and a panel off its back pops off as Venser emerges from within.

They banter back and forth about the existence of this creature, and think perhaps it was stuck in here and couldn't get out. Then they see another dot in the distance. This one moved slower. And as it got closer they could make out chains coming off the creature with Moriok attached. Venser almost turns and runs.

The creature lumbered forward on huge, crooked legs. It was easily as large as a small city and it dragged its inhabitants on chains behind it.

Let me repeat. A small city. Many of the chained Moriok were dead, rotting corpses, and some missing their legs. They soon find out why. It stops before them, a "rooster tail of steam" shoots up from the air, then the Phyrexian is described as a giant and it reaches down, grabs one of the Moriok, and bites its legs off and chews and it considers the three before it.

Then the Phyrexian (a Phyrexian crusher apparently, but not like the one that crushed bones) advances, moving crablike (sideways?) towards them. Koth glows red hot, Elspeth has her sword ready, and Venser... reaches out with his mind and grabs onto a tether (is that supposed to make sense?), while the chained up Moriok draw their own blades. Koth burns his hand into the chest of the first Moriok that attacks him, and Elspeth "attacked at every angle imaginable" and leaves deep cuts into a large area of the Phyrexian (Large in relation to Elspeth? or large in relation to a small city?). Koth is swatted away with one arm, while Elspeth side-steps and...

She brought her sword across and caught the Phyrexian in the wrist, hacking its claw almost off.

(Small wrist? Maybe it has different sized arms, and lots of them.  And it certainly should have been written as "...in the wrist, nearly hacking its claw off."  if it had to be written at all. I forget the terms of the parts of speech, but I know the way they end the sentence with "almost off" sounds awkward.)

Then Venser finally strikes, apparently with a combination of electronic and telepathic powers and sense generates a nerve impulse in the creatures brain that forces it to lurch backward.

Now is the time for our heroes to notice that they're no longer alone. Behind them are a hundred Phyrexians. Koth asks if they can all be teleported away, and Venser said it's not possible at the moment because he can't see anything to hide behind in this vast cavern. (I guess teleporting so they're not trapped between a city sized Phyrexian and a hundred Phyrexians is off the table.) So Venser teleports in front of the big one, pulls off a panel, and reaches in all the way to his upper arms, and begins rearranging pieces.

Now obviously there are vital parts to this Phyrexian within arm's reach, despite its size, and so the creature immediately swiped a claw down and knocks Venser sideways. Before Venser can recover, the crusher picks Venser up by a claw, then decides the best way to deal with him is to slowly advance the pointy tips of his other claw towards Venser's eyes. (Simply closing the first claw and crushing Venser's head is unsportsmanlike. Obviously.)

With no hope left... all of a sudden every piece of metal on the creature starts dripping upwards, while the flesh of the creature sags down with no more metal supporting its frame. The metal collects into a cube while changing colors and then comes crashing back down.

It wasn't Koth that did this, no, not at all. It was a human. One with a bright shoulder. I'd quote the rest of the paragraph, but I'll cut to the chase. Tezzeret saves the day.

* * *

You Might Want to Sit Down for This

I didn't quote that final paragraph because I wanted to highlight something else. Koth's throwing of a giant vertebrae in the butcher room has nothing on this next scene I'm about to show you. Remember how I said it seems Venser has telepathic powers now? That's nowhere near the worst part.

Venser breathed deeply through his nose and felt his will collecting in his throbbing brain and extending out and away.

He found the Phyrexian's brain, such as it was, and followed it back until he was fairly certain he was in the motor function area, though it was hard to be sure as the being had once been a crusher. To be sure, Venser sent a reverse-impulse request through the brain. The Phyrexian crusher lurched backward, a bewildered look on its tiny face. The hand pulled away [from nearly crushing Elspeth] with the rest of the body.

Please, please, please... I want to be able to say good things about this book, but its so hard. Ok, so Venser is telepathic now. Or at least can control nerve signals. Somehow that's part of him having teleportation Magic and being an artificer. Fine. Ok, so at first the creature "had once been a crusher" and then two sentences later its described as "The Phyrexian crusher." Fine. Sure. I'll take that. Either way it's still a "Phyrexian monster". And he sent the feedback signal into the brain of the thing to be sure he was in the right area of the brain, supposedly to do something else, but that quick check turned out to be enough and forced the creature to stop crushing Elspeth so no further action was required. Makes sense.

But man oh man oh man! Show Don't Tell! Please. There is so much to say about this chapter. (Why is a Phyrexian being described as galley sized? When did sea faring terms ever come up in the book? And no I don't think the other was actually city-sized. Everything after that description seems to suggest otherwise.) But I just can't say more right now. That's it for me for this chapter. I'm going to crawl into a corner and cry.

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