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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Guildpact - Chapter 3

Time to get a peek of the Gruul Clans. Wait... what's that? Look behind you!

Guildpact - Chapter 3

Freedom from the mortal connection to crude coinage and simple riches allows the members of the Obzedat to pursue true and holy power, unshackled by worldly concerns. So why do they still pursue the coin with as many fervor as ever?
The Generational Manifesto for Orzhov's Future (4582 Z.C.)

30 PAUJAL 10012 Z.C.

Aun Yom, the Gruul bandit lord of the Utvara region watches as the fancy pants Orzhov try to sneak into his territory through cover in their fancy pants train-like caravan that is carried on the back of a giant millipede-like creature. The filthy Orzhov didn't deserve to have such power and wealth. They live impractical lives and are the true thieves of the plane. They've even robbed the Gruul of the ghosts of their ancestors, leaving the poor, misunderstood Gruul to go through life without sagely advice and guidance.

Traveling to Utvara by land was a necessity, including these foothills known as the Husk. The whole region suffered from the kuga plague winds which began forty-seven years ago, and so all manner of flying mounts would not be able to survive. It took a few days of travel though this harsh environment to reach the plague free zone. The Gruul managed to survive, an anti-biotic fungus grew upon them which shortened their lifespans in half, but that was still better than outright dying.

Thanks to the forced land travel, the Orzhov would pay.

Aun Yom picks up his bam-stick and shield which had been given to him by a mysterious Izzet goblin and was ready to signal the attack. The only problem was that it was only now that he realizes he no longer sees any signs of his clan who were all supposed to be in hiding ready for the ambush.

He knew the offer was too good to be true.

He tries to call out a warning to someone we have yet to meet named Illati, when a knife is driven deep into the base of his skull. Aun Yom's spirit rises up and he doesn't get a good look at his attacker before moving on, however he does get to catch a glimpse of his own body getting back up on its feet.

(Well... hmm... there goes our Gruul POV.)

...Inside the caravan...

So here's the situation. It turns out that Teysa is the closest blood relative to Uncle, thanks to him having an affair with his brother's wife so long ago, and Teysa is going to be the first baroness in ten generations. One catch is that they have to travel to Utvara to have the whole thing transferred, and Uncle did still have to die. That was something Teysa wondered about. He was for sure going to rise to the Obzedat, aka the Ghost Council of Orzova , when he did finally die, but taking out an assassin on yourself was strictly forbidden.

As for Utvara, it was unique as reclamation zones go. Typically it required 400 years to pass after a plague wiped out a zone, if deemed sufficiently threatening by the Simic Combine. Then before year 401 was up, a sufficient amount of population, government, and public works would have rise up, otherwise the land defaulted to the Selesnya Conclave. In this particular instance Uncle had tried to take a shortcut and hired the Izzet to create a manabomb that would wipe out all life in the area. Unfortunately, something went wrong. While all life was killed, some great tear in the sky was formed, simply called the Schism, which mutated the plague into some new form. Since then the Selesnyans were called in to try their thing, and they planted a giant perpetually flowering tree, Vitar Yescu. This new pollen combated the new kuga plague, and allowed for a town to rise up in the vicinity of the tree.

So there we have it. Teysa's on her way, lost in her thoughts, with mostly just Uncle and Melisk in their cabin, with servants, supplies, and paid passengers in the other cars. Her trusty thrull were of course with her. Phleeb drove the lokopede, Elbeph stands around waiting for something to kill, Elbeph stands as lookout. Buteven with a lookout, the first shot of a bam-stick shatters a window and strikes Bephel in the head before a warning could be raised.

The Gruul are attacking.

(Or is it zombie Gruul?)

(Oh yeah, and apparently Uncle is going to sleep through the attack.)

...In the back...

The courier goblin Crix spends her time trying to record/deduce anything of interest from her ride back to Utvara for her master Zomaj Hauc. She's both the daughter of poor Kluzax from Chapter 1 and an especially bright and magically altered goblin. While most other passengers in the car with her gave up their life savings to catch a ride to Utvara, the fact that Hauc oversees the power Cauldron of the area allowed her free passage with a simple word the Karlov patriarch.

With a device that allows her to see the source of mana that was used to create the magical enchantments that were used to enhance the speed of the lokopede, she notices a cloud of lights pop up on the display. She has her answer as to what this new development is when the Gruul attack.

As a loyal and true servant to her master, the only correct thing to do is to try to reach the patriarch and business partner of her master, and give warning and whatever other assistance she can offer. Unfortunately, when she gets to the lead car, she was too late. The patriarch was most certainly dead, along with some angels of despair, and pretty much everyone else except for one bald man and a woman, both who unfortunately mistake her for an attacker.

Having magical protections from the Guildpact as an official courier does not make her invincible. She runs for it and ends up having to dodge her way around both Orzhov and Gruul alike, all the while wishing that she could get permission from her master to use her own enhancements. In the end she makes it to the roof and decides to jump off, correctly predicting that all the attackers would be trying to enter through the windows rather than bother with the heavily armored rear end of the lokopede.

Rather than getting up and and beginning her walk back to the Cauldron, instead someone with white fungus growing all over them picks her up and takes her to who knows where.

* * *

Fake out

What looked like was going to be a Gruul POV chapter following the Izzet and Orzhov POV chapters instead turns out to nearly be two or three chapters in one. The Crix section alone was as long as any chapter in Book One. It's easy to see how they all center around the attack on the lokopede though, so I wouldn't say it was bad tweak in Herndon's style.

Exposition Galore

We sure did learn a lot in this chapter. We pretty much got the whole set up to what the Utvara valley is all about, including the fun fact that I didn't mention above, that this place is the old hunting ground of Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind , and there are treasure hunters in the area that are looking for his original lair.

Altered Impressions

I need to correct some of my impressions of Herndon's depiction of Ravnica. In Book One of this trilogy, I was a bit sad to read about reclamation zones and a city proper when the whole world is supposed to be city. It sounded like there was vast areas of natural plains and all that, but it turns out I may have just been imagining it wrong (or Herndon didn't express it enough for me to catch on.) Despite Herndon repeatedly mentioning foothills in this chapter, the foothills aren't exactly your everyday foothills. They are in fact areas where buildings upon buildings have crumbled and fallen on top of each other with sinkholes due to these collapsed buildings all over the place. It makes sense that these citizens would refer to this type of place as a foothill whereas if that kind of location was here on Earth it most definitely would not. It's still odd that there is a main city that's referred to as the city proper, but at least the reclamation zones aren't as barren and free of signs of civilization as I had once thought.


We got our tie back to Chapter 1 even though it makes it seem all the more that Chapter 1 should have been titled as a Prologue instead, it really doesn't matter, it's just something to note. There are two mysteries surrounding this character at the moment.

What is it that she can actually do? It was mentioned more than once that she has talents far above other goblins, beyond enhanced intelligence, that she can't use without her master's permission.

Who has her? While that is a mystery, at least it's one that I can guess at. It's probably the Illati person that Aun Yom mentioned or someone that is going to take Crix to Illati.

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