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Friday, June 3, 2011

Agents of Artifice - Chapter 14

Flashback Part 7: Jace and Baltrice among the nezumi.

Agents of Artifice - Chapter 14

Baltrice unleashes her wrath. She begins with a massive fireball then fire elemental with a heart of ice (metaphorically) that kills according to her will. Jace had been accustomed to assassination, to one mission, one kill, but this scale of death once again wakes his sense of morality. He yells for Baltrice to stop, and she tells him to calm down. The killing isn't as indiscriminate as he fears. The burning huts are creating chaos, but most of those set ablaze could likely be saved, and while the elemental is fearsome indeed, it's killing the soldiers that face it and not random nezumi villagers. But still, with several dozen dead, it's not easy for him to ignore. And yet he has to, and so he follows when she heads into the village in search for the chieftain.

They find his hut with little trouble, the chieftain himself is another matter. As Baltrice opens the door, the head of the traitorous son hits her in the head hard enough to make her see stars (More on this later), and the trained warrior quickly has her on the ground while she wishes her previous spells hadn't taken so much out of her. He declares himself as Bonetooth, son of Swamp-Eye, daughter of Moon Hand the Third, and while his son likely lied to them as well, the death of so many of his people is unforgivable. He raises his naginata for the kill... and freezes.

Baltrice looks to find Jace straining as he controls the very body of Bonetooth from delivering the killing blow. Jace ponders his options, and in the end knows there is no choice. Bonetooth stops breathing and falls down dead. With some mana to spare, he lends some to Baltrice who despises being in his debt, and he guards the retreat as she planeswalks back to base and he, himself, soon follows.

...Back home...

Jace vents. He hates how the mission turned out, and surprisingly, Kallist says he's not alone. Paldor himself has shared some words (while drunk) with the swordsman saying that this wasn't the first time that the Kamigawa cell didn't do a proper evaluation of intel. This was the most egregious screw up yet, and big enough that they need to be dealt with.

But that's not the real reason Jace is so fired up, and Kallist knows his friend well enough to know this. He prods, and Jace responds. He tells Kallist of his childhood, how he was forced to leave home by his very own father when the villagers learned of his abilities. His father wasn't completely heartless however, and he sent his son to be taken in by a man named Alhammarret. They were student and teacher for several years in a place that was welcoming and comforting and understanding. It was a good life, and he learned a lot about his abilities, and as is common with many teenagers he wanted to test his ability and was able to get into his teacher's mind when he wasn't supposed to. It was then he discovered that he was a planeswalker.

His first incident in planeswalking left him confused and Alhammarret had convinced him that it was only his illusion spells playing tricks on him while he was sick. That incident was over a year before the reading, and in that instant Jace learned that Alhammarret told Jace's father what he knew, but spoke not a word to Jace himself.

Rather than ask why such a secret was kept from him, the teenaged Jace held the anger at the betrayal inside for days. His anger raged and boiled until one day he broke into his master's mind once again and unleashed his fury. Young Jace didn't really know what he was doing, but in the end his master's mind was wiped clean to the point that it had forgotten how to breathe.

Jace has killed other people since then, including since working for the Consortium, but it was always in self-defense. Until Kamigawa. He killed again. In the same way he killed his master, but this time with complete understanding of his actions.

Kallist nodded, thought he understood. "You're bothered by how killing the nezumi made you feel."

But Jace only shook his head. "No, Kallist." He turned to his friend, and his gaze was empty. "I'm bothered that killing him didn't bother me at all."

* * *

Wait... what? Traitor???

This is my least favorite chapter by far. It's continuing off of my confusion with the last chapter. I didn't want to insert too many comments during the summary in case maybe someone could see something I don't. (Obviously that would be a bit hard considering I'm the one writing the summary... but just in case.) The motivations of every character just doesn't make sense.

Let's start with the mission. It was simple enough. Elminate the chieftain and work with the heir to gain ties to good mana sources. So who was a traitor, to whom, how, and why? The first question is easy. The traitor was the chieftan's son. Who was he a traitor to? Well... that's a little bit murkier, Jace and Baltrice both felt betrayed, but so did the chieftain... so I guess both sides that he was dealing with... somehow. What did he do? He gave poor intel to the Consortium on how easy it would be to eliminate his father... bad information I suppose could be traitorous if done on purpose... but we come to the final question. Why? What did the poor intel gain him? His poor intel would have had absolutely no consequences in the shaping of his universe if the planeswalkers turned and left, and it wasn't a setup to get his father to distrust the Consortium with a trap laid out for them. It was just:

"Yeah I'll be happy to deal with you. I just need to be chief first so come kill my father, it'll be a piece of cake." *WINK*

It didn't gain him any ground with the Consortium by being purposefully incompetent, and it obviously didn't gain him favor with his own father since it was Bonetooth that cut his head off. Am I missing something? People become traitors for a reason. For some gain of some kind, or at the very least to avoid some kind of punishment or loss. It's hard to understand the horror and anger felt by each character, and hard to be in the moment with the dialogue when the motivations behind every single person in the scene when none of it adds up. How did seeing a large village that never sleep add up to betrayal? I was hoping that the answer to the question that popped up last time would appear hear, but it seems I was mistaken.


I couldn't get behind Jace's backstory either. At least a reason why it doesn't make sense is the raging hormones of a teenager, which Jace specifically mentions (and thus Armell). But really? Betrayal? I don't get it. It's not like Jace had ambitions to go to Planeswalker High and join the speedwalking team so he could win at the district wide championship walkoff and he could take the gold and show everyone back home that they shouldn't have forced his father to send him away. No it wasn't like that at all. Jace was happy and comfortable and appreciative of everything, and his master didn't tell him one thing that he maybe would tell him eventually. And yet it's written that Jace felt a deep betrayal. I just don't get it.

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