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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ravnica: City of Guilds - Chapter 13

Excellent chapter (mostly). The storylines are beginning to converge, and before we know it, we'll be going full throttle.

Ravnica: City of Guilds - Chapter 13

The moment a violation of the Statutes becomes personal, the officer has lost objectivity, and all of his conclusion are henceforth suspect. The singular exceptions are those cases of homicide involving an active partner. In such cases, any request by the surviving officer to investigate the other's death may not be refused so long as said survivor meets acceptable physical and mental health standards for active duty."
-Wojek Officer's Manual, Appendix E:
"On the Vengeance Statute"


Kos slowly wakes and finds himself on the floor. He had a vivid dream that he just can't quite remember the details of, and somehow he fell off the bed.

"Kos. Wake up, buddy."

"Shut up, Borca," Kos said reflexively.

It takes a second... then Kos screams.

It's Borca's ghost right there in front of him. Not some illusion, not some spell messing with his mind, but the real Borca. And he has a lot to say.

He has no memory of being at the table with Bayul. The last thing he remembers is being with the girl like Kos told him, and then he was being dragged along with a wounded Kos as he was delivered to the hospital. Dragged because he's anchored to him. It is part of a deal. Agrus Kos is to be Bell Borca's avenger.

...In the undercity...

Fonn and Jarad have to get to this contact of his, and the only way through is this little zombie section of town. But it isn't so bad actually. Zombies worked on different levels. The ones here seem pretty mundane. They have houses, and shops, and have very normal lives. The shops sell rotten meat and other goods that only a zombie can want, but on the greater whole, they aren't so different.

However up ahead four zombies walk into the middle of the street, blocking their path. Four appear behind them as well. Just as Fonn wishes her trusty wolf was by her side, Biracazir charges in from the behind and tears the zombies apart.

The zombies were confident at first. Eight of them vs two elves would have been no problem. Two elves and a wolf was another matter. The as of yet unmauled zombies make a break for it..

"Any chance your wolf is going ot leave the other two intact?" Jarad asked.

"Let me look. Uh, no, not really," she said and crinkled her nose.

So Jarad nocks his bow, aims, and hits one one square in the back toppling it over.

"I thought you had to hit the head it kill them," Fonn said.

(More on this later.)

Of course that wasn't his intention. They needed on for questioning. And it gave some surprising answers. They were there for the bounty not just on Fonn's head, nor Jarad's, but both of them. And that bounty wasn't put out by Savra.

Then the unexpected happens. The zombie melts into a mass of worms, and begins to reshape itself. It was an act that none of the other fallen zombies were replicating, and it was like nothing either of them had ever seen. It reached out for Jarad's hand, and his affinity for insects and other creatures of the night pushed back, temporarily stunning it, yet that same affinity soon made him susceptible to some kind of hypnosis.

Fonn mounts Biracazir and drags him away before who knows what could happen, and he regains control of himself.

They had too many questions, and needed answers. Jarad's information broker had better deliver.

...Back at the hospital...

It turns out the deal, was an insurance policy. Life as a wojek isn't easy, nor it safe. And after being partnered up with Kos, Borca realized he didn't want to grow up to be 110 years old with no family and no one to really care if he should die. And if he was murdered, he wanted to be sure someone would avenge him.

So he purchased a standard revenge policy from and Orzhov called Haskins the Ectomage.

That's all well and good, but you have to sign things if you're going to be bound by a contract, and Agrus Kos knew he had signed so such thing. The thing of it though, is that he was a wojek, of the Boros Legion, bound by the Guildpact. There was strong and ancient magic that bound the Guilds together, and by law Agrus Kos would be investigating Borca's murder anyway due to the Vengeance Statutes. That was the loophole, and now the contract is in effect, to be dissolved once Borca's murderers were tried in a court of Ravnican law.

There was no getting out of it, and he really was going to take care of it anyway, so might as well get started. But questioning doesn't provide any new information, when Feather comes into the room wondering who he's talking to.

He ignores the question and instead pleads to the angel to help him get out of here instead. All he needs is some teardrops. The drops could kill him if she did that, and she refuses to be part of his suicide.

But the key word there is "could." Not "would." He was old now, he had a full life, and he was going to find out who killed his partner if he had to get up and break every bone in his body trying to fight through her. On the other hand, if she could just hand him some 'drops, he'd even administer them himself, so she wouldn't have to be part of his death should that happen.

"Nice touch," the ghost said. "She wants to help you, and not just with this either. Gods, can you feel it? It's washing off her in waves. She wants to kill whoever did this to you. Wish I could inspire that kind of loyalty. I don't think she'll take much pushing."

With a tiny push more, if she was going to do this, she was going to do this all the way. Not just give him teardrops, not just help him out of the hospital, but help him side-by-side until it was done. This was big. There really weren't any angel wojeks, angels were in the upper ranks of the Boros Legion above all others. Feather had been serving as a wojek with her wings bound as a punishment. Kos could barely speak his thanks.

* * *

Ghost of... not Zunich?

Wait a second... the ghost that Kos followed down the alley before he found Luda killed was as bald wojek with a handlebar mustache that he mistook for Myczil Zunich. Then here he is surprised with he sees a bald ghost with a handlebar mustache and that ghost is Bell Borca.

I assume that's not a mistake, and rather is a cheap trick to make us thing the ghost of Zunich is going to appear, when it's actually Borca. If Zunich also appears later on, then it will feel a bit more justified. If it turns out those previous sightings were actually just hallucinations from a guilty conscience then that's a bit more disappointing.

How To Kill A Zombie 101

I have two issues with Fonn's line about how to kill a zombie.

  1. It was absolutely clear that Jarad wanted a zombie that wasn't torn apart. It's only a short hop to figure out he wants one for questioning.
  2. Everyone knows how to kill a zombie.

On the one hand, it is a waste of space and just makes her looks stupid as a character. Herndon has been making her look ignorant of life beyond that of being a ledev guardian, but now that she tries to contribute something utterly pointless.

On the other hand, it could be awkwardly inserted exposition meant to inform the reader. The problem here is this book is full of familiar fantasy creature types. The reason, beyond that they're in the style guide, is that it allows for shorthand for the reader so we can get straight to the story. There doesn't need to be much explanation of what an elf is, there doesn't need to be much explanation of what a centaur is, and there doesn't need to be an explanation of how to kill a zombie, especially when the intent wasn't to kill it.

The book is short as it is, and space is precious. And here on two different levels that line of text fails to earn its place.

Dimir zombie?

I have to assume that the crazy worm zombie was a Dimir agent. It strikes me as some kind of cross between a Mindleech Mass and a Dimir Doppelganger . As to who sent out the bounty, it couldn't be Szadek could it? He would have done so through Savra, yet the creature said it wasn't Savra that posted it.

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