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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn - Chapter 9



What perfect placement for the final Planeswalker's Guide to New Phyrexia. Have you read it? If not do it now.

(I'll wait.)

(Really.)

(My thoughts on the article, should you care to read them. )

Considering where we left off last chapter, the amount of thought that has gone into spreading Phyrexia to all the colors has been absolutely fantastic. There's been hints in the previous four parts to the Guide, but it all makes so much sense now! And going in to this chapter with a better understanding of the deeper core of Mirrodin, I was thinking maybe the book can turn around from here. That or maybe I'll be disappointed just that much more.

Which shall it be? Let's find out.


Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn - Chapter 9

Through the doors, Tezzeret presents to the planeswalkers their final destination. It wasn't the Furnace Layer and the rebel camp like I had hoped, but what they do find isn't disappointing. Tezzeret has brought them to an experimentation room. They Phyrexians inside are quickly dispatached, and in one of the cells Tezzeret shows them a girl. A girl with no metal on her body, that Venser thinks must obviously come from another plane yet Tezzeret assures him that the girl is Mirran. She not only has no metal on her body, but neither does soaking her in Phyrexian oil nor even injecting it under her skin induce phyresis. This girl may be a cure. And she isn't very talkative and  so she never gives her name, and as a result she will henceforth be known as the fleshling for the rest of the chapter.

Tezzeret has given them a gift, they question why, and he says that it wouldn't be unfortunate if the Phyrexians were slowed down a bit in gaining total control and power.

The discussion is interrupted however. This deep into the planet, the rooms and passageways are more alive than metal. (Much like the mouth passages they had to travel through to get here.) There is a living wall as part of this room, and it opens its eye. At the sight of the intruders, it bellows out an alarm.

Tezzeret says they only have moments. Koth isn't very much impressed by the girl, and in fact he's a bit disgusted at how someone could be born with no metal. She even has a gash along her back that will slow her, and thus them, down. Considering her childhood in a Phyrexian prison, Elspeth identifies with the girl and insists she must be saved. Venser is torn. On the one hand Koth is right that the girl will slow them down. On the other hand she is the possible savor of this plane and no doubt all the other planes that are likely infected by Phyrexians and their devastating oil. (Tough call.) Venser grudgingly sides with Elspeth, but only just barely. Koth stomps his foot in protest.

Tezzeret says it's time they part ways, but before he can leave, Venser asks him if he's seen Karn. Tezzeret tells him he has, and that he's in the throne room deeper within. Then Tezzeret steps into one of those lovely living passageways and disappears, but not before commanding the few chrome Phyrexians with him to attack the ones that are about to close on our heroes.

They go through living passageway one after another, going upwards rather than deeper into the core, which is where Tezzeret went, while Phyrexians follow. Venser describes the movement similar to how a snake moves food through its body. (How fun.)

Eventually they find their way to a giant caverns with thousands of blinkmoths. Koth is amazed, as the blinkmoth was only a legend, and thought to be extinct. Venser appreciates them as well. The creatures are the only living creatures on Mirrodin, created by Karn himself. He also can't help but think that blinkmoth extract is used to make what's inside of that potion of his.

It's in this large room that Phyrexians catch up to them. At first the three surround the fleshling, so they can defend her from all sides. Elspeth does that thing with her sword where she can attack from every angle imaginable in a single instant, and Koth grows stone whips from his forearms. They fight and eventually Venser decides it would be best if he teleported himself and the fleshling to the far side of the room, and strike from there.

He teleports, but he misses his mark. He didn't just come up short, rather the two are up in the air amongst the blinkmoths. A strange sensation goes through him, and then both he and the fleshling begin to fall.

(That's anoying right? I'll stop it now. She's Melira damnit!)

It appears that every time Venser teleports, the shakes get worse. They hit the ground and he can't even move. On the other hand Melira speaks up for the first time. She says she can feel the blinkmoths inside her head. She can feel every pore on her body dancing. That's not a good sign, as Venser knows that sensation from when he first started taking his special concoction.

But back to the other two. Despite how out of breath they were when fighting just four butchers, they manage to destroy Phyrexian after Phyrexian. (I guess they don't make'em like they used to.) The battle's over, and Melira suggests they get back to walking.

They walk for what they assume is days, taking breaks to sleep when they feel the need. Eventually they run into a river of "rosy material". Elspeth asks if they should follow the river of lava.

"That is not lava," Koth said. "That's ore."

Considering that lava is in fact molten metal, that's essentially the same thing, but perhaps there is a small but important distinction in Koth's mind. He couldn't possibly just feel like being a total douchbag and wants to play irrelevant semantics games. (Right?) Koth then says that he knows his way from here and that he can lead them to the surface. Venser asks if they can go to the furnace layer instead, where Tezzert says that Phyrexians that are different than the others live. And like a total douchebag Koth replies:

"Maybe. If I choose."

Venser then tells him to choose it then. Koth isn't happy but he agrees and leads the way until they hit a wall where there should be a hidden door that he can't seem to find. Venser beats him to the button that opens it and Koth continues his douchbaggery by saying:

"I would have found that eventually."

Inside they see two Phyrexians compleating an elf. Elspeth's enraged and kills the two and then beheads the elf as well because he's too far gone.

* * *


The Good

Yes, there's some good in here. The pacing of the story is excellent at this point. I'm sad to see Tezzeret go, especially since he seems to have taken all the good dialogue with him, but we have Melira now, and important plot point. We're heading to the Furnace Layer. And our heroes both have confirmation that Karn is on Mirrodin and where he's located. That's good stuff.


Koth, Internet Troll

I forgot about this Koth. The one that makes fun of the name Venser, because his name is Venser. (*rollseyes*) It's like Koth is one of those forum posters that thrives on the anonymity of the internet and looks for way he can just be a douche. Just replace anonymity with power of a planeswalker as his excuse and you get Koth, the Unlikable complete with being on good behavior when someone more powerful than him is in his presence. You'll notice he only returned to form after Tezzeret left.


Terminology

When our heroes entered the blinkmoth cave, Koth yelled out, "Blazing ore!" in surprise. Okay, that makes sense. It's appropriate to his culture and to the plane of Mirrodin. His home. On the other hand, Venser is not from Mirrodin. He is not from a plane where all creatures are born with at least some metal as part of their body. This chapter is from his POV, yet he constantly refers to Melira as "fleshling". That bugs me. A lot. And it's not as if he's been living here for a long time. He was only kidnapped and brought here a few weeks ago at most, and hasn't been here since before it was called Mirrodin rather than Argentum. Hopefully Melira reveals her name soon.


The Action

While overall the chapter was decent, the action was by far the worst parts of the chapter. I don't know that I have the energy anymore to keep on being upset by this. Maybe I should just let myself become numb. But here's one example. The point in the chapter we're at is the battle in the blinkmoth chamber.

"How many are their numbers?" Koth asked.

"Plenty for all," Elspeth hissed.

Decent so far. But this is dialogue right before the battle, and not the action itself. The next paragraph immediately begins with:

Then they were close, the Phyrexians, and Elspeth raised her sword and began running.

(%@#$!)

Yes, the word "they" is ambiguous. It could refer to either our heroes or the advancing Phyrexians. Although considering that we're in the POV of one of the planeswalkers and considering that they're standing still, I think it would be fairly easy to understand that the word "they" refers to the Phyrexians.

But okay. Putting in some more clarification to the sentence isn't uncalled for. But why add the clause "the Phyrexians" which both interrupts the flow of the sentence when you want the words to flow smoothly to match the action and at the same time there are obviously better ways to write this sentence in a simpler fashion:

Then the Phyrexians were close, and Elspeth raised her sword and began running.

If not completely writing it be much more elegant and evocative such as:

Then the Phyrexians advanced, and Elspeth charged.

or

Then the Phyrexians advanced, and Elspeth chose to close the gap rather than wait for the enemy.

or any other number of ways. These are just simple examples, without much flourish or thought into them. I don't want to go into rewriting the entire sequence but I have no doubts that I could write it better.

The sentence immediately following this one is:

She crashed into the first line of the enemy at a brisk trot - cutting three down with strikes too fast to see.

Wintermute is sending mixed messages. You do not crash into the enemy at a brisk trot. You can crash into the enemy or you can advance on the enemy at a brisk trot, you can't do both.

And with just the first two sentences of the action, I'm exhausted, and will end it here. Just remember... at least the pacing of the story is good. (I need something to hang on to. Give me that at least!)


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