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Friday, May 6, 2011

Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn - Chapter 11

Wintermute loves to zig when I zag. It's a rollercoaster of a ride. Just went I lost all hope that even the pace of the story had fallen off, it appears last chapter was only hiccup.

And if you didn't notice, there is a new poll up asking readers to help me decide which book to read next. I don't expect too many votes, so each vote certainly counts. If you want to read a short description behind each choice, go to the full post here . Poll closes May 18th.

Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn - Chapter 11

The trio (and Melira) move past the rocks and up some corroded stairs. Their travels are intermittently interrupted by tremors and the air is heating up. They eventually come across a doorway that is an actual doorway. No more crazy Phyrexian mouths and living conduit transportation. Simply open and walk through.

On the other side is... a large room. (I should have guessed. Ever since entering the Vault of Whispers it seems as if each chapter begins with our heroes entering a large room.) The room is large enough that Venser could "see no walls". A large, skeletal-like Phyrexian sees them and just walks on by. Tezzeret was right, these Phyrexians seem to be different. This cavern has many buildings and all kinds of Phyrexians are dragging the dead around and throwing them in "ore" pools.

Our heroes continue to walk, unimpeded, until they spot a strange giant Phyrexian that lays on its stomach with its mouth open, with obvious molten metal in its belly. Venser wonders outloud, "What is it doing?" and a new voice responds:

"It is melting down Phyrexians for reuse."

They turn and see a group consisting of a loxodon, leonin, three humans, and an elf. It was the loxodon that spoke. Our heroes are questioned and they're determined to be friends by the rebel group. Venser introduces himself, Elspeth, and Koth, and our loxodon is named Maalan. (Notice who was forgotten? More on this later.)

The rebels lead them to their camp, all the while being ignored by all the surrounding Phyrexians. Being led by members of the Mirran resistance with relatively no threat around, Venser takes a swig of his bottle and takes the time to contemplate on the concoction of his. He can't seem to teleport anymore, and the stuff no longer seems to help, if it ever really had. Each sip gives him a boost in mana for the immediate future, but then mana is drained from all the quicker.

He had needed the potion though. Back on Dominaria, with a fellow artificer Afus, they were examining Phyrexian debris after the invasion was over. They had come across a strange pile of black stones that were arranged in a pyramid. And they were full of mana. Venser had learned previously that teleporting with anything of significant power was a bad idea because the mana within seemed to mingle with is own body as he rematerialized. Yet despite knowing that he teleported anyway taking all the blackstones with him to his destination. He was immediately paralyzed. The stones were so fatal in fact that Afus died days later just for having come in contact with the stones. The autopsy showed that Afus' organs had shriveled and become transparent. Venser knew the same would happen to him eventually, and it seemed like it was going to happen on Mirrodin.

Venser's attention snaps back to the present when Koth calls out to him when Venser started lagging behind. Venser catches up and asks why Koth is being referred to as the Son of Kamath, and how they even know his name. Koth left Mirrodin a year ago, looking for help, and he was seen as a coward by his people. There is no worse crime as described by the ore soup lady (Look at that, the chapter somewhat had a purpose), and word spread throughout Mirrodin.

They arrive at the camp, with shelters made through using what resources they had. (Mostly large Phyrexian husks, or metallic skins stretched across various parts to make roofs.) And here is the return of Ezuri. He greets them, asks if they've found their friend Karn, and immediately asks to be introduced to the new person among them. It's just common courtesy.

"You are new. Who are you?"

The fleshling said nothing

"Speak up," Ezuri said.

"Melira," the fleshling said softly.

Melira? Venser thought.

Ezuri is obviously confused because Melira looks like a Sylvok but has no metal on her body like an outlander. They continue their small talk, ask if they can rest a bit, then are taken to a shelter of a Mirran that had to be put down because the phyresis had spread too far. They notice several children playing throughout the camp that all show signs of phyresis.

Elspeth and Melira go into the shelter while Venser and Koth stay outside an talk. Veser doesn't understand why Koth is shunned, and Koth explains it was his own family that spread the news of his shame, and he wants to redeem himself by leading the Mirrans in this war. Venser suggests there is another way. Then a little girl in the shelter screams.

* * *

Venser the Rude

There are a lot of little things I can point out, but frankly I'm a bit exhausted. I feel like all the anger has been drained out of me by reading this book. There is one topic I want to address though. Melira. The trio have been traveling for days with the girl, and she isn't mute. Not once did they ever ask her name? Really? Was Venser's thought in the last section him realizing what an jerk they've all been for never once attempting to talk to the girl like she was a real person? Was it surprise that something make of "flesh" could have a name? What the hell!

And get this. Even after he learns Melira's name after the meeting with Ezuri, Venser still thinks of her as the fleshling. It all doesn't make sense in terms of how the characters should be acting.

Why is it being done then?

Answer: Because the book is poorly written.

If I had to guess, the constant use of the word fleshling (And it is constant. So very constant and annoying.) is to remind the reader that there is something special about this girl. We can't actually see these characters so Wintermute seems to be trying make sure we understand that she's different amongst the other Mirrans. But besides not needing as many reminders he's giving us, considering how short the book is and how dense the book is not, there is an obvious way to handle the situation if it has to be done.

Koth's first reaction to seeing Melira in the prison cell was a look of disgust. Koth has been shown to be a pretty big douchebag. Koth is native to Mirrodin and is the one planeswalker of the three that would see her state as the most bizarre and unnatural. With these points in mind, it is obvious that both the caring, nurturing Elspeth, and the man who is also made completely of flesh and decided this special girl could be a key to stopping the Phyrexia across all the planes they've infected would both call Melira by her name. Koth could then refuse to speak her name because of how much a Mirran with no metal disgusts him, and he could be the one that calls her fleshling.

The answer is right there!


No more for today. The little stuff, is little stuff. It's terrible but this larger problem certainly overshadows everything else in this chapter.

At least the pacing is back on track. At least we have that.

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