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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ravnica: City of Guilds - Chapter 8

I love secrets, and this chapter is full of'em.

Ravnica: City of Guilds - Chapter 8

The Dimir, the so-called 'Tenth Guild,' is a fiction concocted to frighten children and those with the mind of children - a useful fiction.
-First Judge Azorius (47 R.C.-98 Z.C.),
from the Guildpact Statues appendixes


Savra soars upon her monstrous bat down into the great fissure cutting across Ravnica's building's that has become known as Grigor's Canyon. It is believed to simply be the main route between the surface and Old Ravnica of the Golgari but it is much more.

There is a palace hidden within the depths that never resides in the same place twice, and can only be found with the aid of its master, and only if one has been deemed worthy. Matka, the high priestess of the Golgari travels to this being whom she worships as as god, but this is no god of the Golgari.

Szadek , the last of his kind, welcomes his faithful servant, and she basks in his praise. She has come to report that Bayul is dead, and Jarad dealt with. Now it's time for him to reveal how she can challenge the Sisters .

...Deep within Golgari territory...

Nearly ten millenia ago, Svogthir, the greatest necromancer Ravnica has ever known, saw the wisdom in the Guildpact, and was the third parun to sign, only behind Razia and Azor. It was his signing that lead the way of the more chaotic guilds to follow suit. For nine millenia he reigned, until his lieutnants, the Sisters of Stone Death turned on him. There were five of them at first, but only three left by the time he was defeated. While many had felt the Svogthir had gone mad by the time he was finally overthrown, Savra felt the Sisters were worse.

It's not that they were more insane, it's that in her two hundred years of life, all she has seen from them is the wasting away of what was left of Svogthirs wealth and empire. They cared only comfort and status of themselves and rest of the teratogens. The Reclamation Yards fell into disrepair and the power of the guild slowly crumbled away day by day.

Savra was ready for their reign to end. And Szadek had given her the key. A silver key.

It was known that Svogthir was dead and gone. Szadek knew the truth. The Sisters' power to turn their enemies to stone did not work on him. Instead they had broken every bone in his body, but he was necromancer on a level of no other. He had already replaced near every part of his body except for his head by the time the Sister rebelled. Destroying his body could not destroy his consciousness.

She uncovers the hidden door and turns the key. It took many attempts to find the right path, but she finds him. Svogthir, true guildleader of the Golgari. His body is broken and the plant life so overgrown that it makes it impossible to tell where he ends and his tomb begins. There is even a family a crabs living within the cavity in his knee and a family of bats nesting within his chest.

The zombie-god is impressed that one has finally found him, one he knew was there to free him. He was ready to leave his prison, ready to be freed of a millenia of boredom. But to be sure, he dives into her mind to uncover her secrets. Once done, he agrees to help.

"Why should I trust you?"

"Oh, you shouldn't, not entirely," the god-zombie replied. "That would be a silly mistake, my girl. Svogthir is not ot be trusted in most things. But you can trust that I do not seek to control this guild any longer. Nine millenia above and one more in this dull solitude have made me really sick of this place. If you want it, you can have it. I merely want my revenge."

(Hint: When someone says to not trust them. Don't. It never ends well.)

He just has two conditions. She must build him a body strong enough to destroy them, and once done, she must then destroy him, and affix his skull on the top of her staff to be a symbol of her power.

(Yeah, that's not suspicious.)

Savra attributes his wishes as truth to the stories of his insanity, and agrees to the deal.

...An hour later...

Savra isn't completely foolish, before she performs the ritual, she asks why he couldn't free himself of his prison. Why did it require her? The answer is simple. The Sisters aren't necromancers, but they do have a power of their own. They can leech power off of others, and they leeched the power from him. He still survived, but the ability to sense and manipulate the dead were now beyond him.

(Fun Fact: He also reveals that the torso he died with, used to belong to Cisarzim, the cyclops parun of the Gruul.)

Satisfied with the answer, Savra begins. For three hours she chants, and for three hours he screams as vines weave in and out of his body filling with blood and becoming his new veins and muscle. Wooden spikes pierces into him to be anchor points, moss grew to seal together patches of skin, and on and on his body was restored to greater power than he ever had at his peak.

When it's over, he stands and smiles.

"I can't believe you fell for that. My power may be sapped, but it will be mine again and so will my guild. But first I fear I must deal with you priestess."

(Told you so.)


Fonn wakes up next to a small fire, in a dark room, alone. She imagines she hears a voice telling her that she's safe and that everything depends on her. Weak as she is, when she hears footsteps coming, she does her best to attack the strange elf that enters the room. That of course doesn't end well, he apologizes, and then says she still needs to sleep and pricks her with a non-lethal dose of some poison or another.

A second later she collapsed, unconscious, in Jarad's arms.

* * *

So close!

He sets'em up, but he can't knock'em down. This chapter was so close to being excellent. So close.

Szadek, Lord of Secrets

His presence was great to finally see, and early enough in the book to enjoy all the mischief our supposedly non-existent Guildleader can come up with, no doubt tied to the decamillenial. He was the obvious manipulator of events. I also like that his first appearance is about him revealing secrets.


This is even better. We have the history of the power struggles over the Golgari laid out before us. Svogthir's tomb was mighty impressive, and the tone of his personality was great. It's too bad his closing words have to begin with "I can't believe you fell for that." That line instantly shattered my impression of him and transformed him into a Saturday morning cartoon villain.

Fonn and Jard

Okay. So the two are alive, and Fonn has a likely Obi-wan moment when Bayul speaks to her. Then she attacks the person that obviously saved her, thinking that he was a threat. It all felt a little too familiar, but there had to be some way to get these two elves of different guilds together. I just absolutely wish the chapter didn't end with that last line. Herndon danced around the identity of this "intruder" as if it wasn't obvious and tired closing the chapter on some big revelation that just wasn't. The scattering of these misplaced lines really deflated the importance of what was happening.

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