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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Guildpact - Chapter 5

Teysa does what any good ruler should do when they're new to the throne. She makes sure that those in power know that she's the power on top.

Guildpact - Chapter 5

You demean your family when you negotiate in good faith with the lieutenants of one who dares to oppose you. You demean yourself when you accept the word of lackeys, for it means your family accepts the word of lackeys. If the opposing party does not respect you enough to show you his throat, find it and cut it out.
-Patriarch Xil Xaxosz
(b. 3882, d. 4211 A.C., Obzedat member 4211-present)

31 PAUJAL 10012 Z.C.

It's morning the next day and Teysa hasn't yet met all the local leaders and Guild representatives. It's past time to get down to business. Everyone is lined up outside her new office with two of her thrulls standing guard outside, and the smartest of the three who was also granted the power of speech doing to pat downs for hidden weapons. (Collectively the three are known as the Grugg brothers.) Apparently the one that had his brains blown out on the lokopede grew a new head.

First up, to get a feel for the area without really risking offending anyone important, is the guildless half-demon and labor union leader, Aradoz. After his attempts to leer at her were met with her forcibly twisting his ram's horn in a decidedly painful way, she gets straight to it. She hands him some blueprints and says she wants him to use his workforce, which includes both living and zombie workers, to build her a true seat of power. If he needs more men he should hire them, because the construction jobs aren't going to stop anytime soon. She wants this place to be a grand place and can't stand the fact that the biggest building in the area, the Cauldron, is owned by the the Izzet League. This is Orzhov territory.

When he asks where it should be, we're given a description of the area.

Utvara was roughly the shape of an egg, if one counted the fringes of the Husk region. Inside that shape a rectangular township filled the southern two thirds of the egg- the township proper, sliced by the wide thoroughfare and numerous alleys and byways. The Vitar Yescu sat north of center, bordering the farmlands, and there were several other Selesnyan-looking structures nearby. North of the Farmlands were the flats, which included the Cauldron project.

The flats is the reason the town sprang up despite all the dangers. Some risky adventurer braved the plague infested area and broke ground and discovered miles of unclaimed and forgotten city buried beneath the area. Gold-rush style migration of those seeking to discover a fortune occurred.

Well, after the geography lesson for the readers, Teysa shuffles around neighborhoods of people to make space for her new mansion. With that settled, she lets him know that if he doesn't break ground by the end of the day, he'll be killed and someone with more ambition will be found, and then gives him an official Orzhov pin, an act that leaves him stunned.

...Out in the Husk, and back in time...

Oddly, we pick up with Crix the moment where we last saw her and get a much better description of what attacked them. The shape towered over them, roughly humanoid, and it really was made of junk. It had a head of stone and concrete, limbs of metal bars, and knuckles of scrap iron.

It was a nephilim .


And the Gruul leader sounded the retreat. Crix was able to figure out his name was Golozar and tried giving him some advice. That was a big no-no. Brainy types often felt like showing off how smart they were, and he wasn't going to stand for her showing him up in front of his clan. Instead, Golozar does what he does and leads his men in a plan that goes against every thought in Crix's head. They attack.

Sort of.

In reality what looked like a suicide strike was actually a plan to get the nephilim to fall down one of the many fissures of the Husk. He explains that the nephilium cannot be killed as standard operating procedure, they can often be dealt with for long stretches of time.

...Back to the interviews...

The vedalken Doctor Nebun sits within a verity circle (like everyone else), but doesn't realize it. This gives Teysa such a big advantage, and she certainly is able to get what she wants out of him. He gets defensive when she asks him about the kuga plague because everyone wants to blame the Simic Combine if plagues are involved. The circle confirms his belief that the Combine had nothing to do with it's creation. What he does slip out is that he knows that it was engineered. That's something she puts a pin in to address at some other time.

The meat of the meeting is that she doesn't like the Selesnyan Conclave, and she doesn't like the Vitar Yescu tree. She wants the plague cured and since she refused to rely on them she wants him do it. That's what Simic are good for. She wants him to use that brain of his and show some progress within the week. There must be a way. The Gruul are of at least four different species and they're all surviving out there in Husk.

...Back to what I assume is still last night...

Crix is finally dropped to the ground and the blood rushes back into her limbs in what I imagine is an exceedingly uncomfortable moment. She takes this time to gather what courage she can about her and try to enforce the rules of the Guildpact and her protections as an official courier, and Golazar simply tells her to shut up. With a wave of his hand some leather cords move to bind her once again and concern fills her up once more.

...Interviews, interviews...

Teysa is less than pleased. Zomaj Hauc didn't bother to appear himself and instead has sent his foreman, the goblin Babolax. Teysa asks him who the shiftbosses are that work under him and then proceeds to question why the energy output numbers just don't add up. Ignorant of the verity circle, he's surprised he's forced to admit that Hauc is hoarding a portion of the power for himself. That certainly can't be tolerated. Teysa kills him with the bam-stick that had been delivered to her as a gift, and asks Melisk if he would be so kind to summon the shiftbosses to carry back the dead body of message back to Hauc. She will not tolerate intermediaries.

Then the mirror behind her speaks up. Uncle wonders what the Izzet magewright could be hiding from them. Teysa then inquires if the Obzedat has anything to say, and he responds that she needs patience. (As if he wasn't the one that just wondered out loud what was going on.)

* * *


Considering that each chapter begins with a date, it's odd that we have to switch back and forth with Teysa's interviews and Crix's predicament from the previous night. It feels like a cheap way to transition from one interview to the next. The whole fight with the nephilium could easily have happened all at once last chapter, and in fact I would have loved to just stayed in one mode while reading rather than having to switch back and forth from physical action to verbal maneuvering.

Nitpicking Time

There were a couple instances that stood out to me and needing some editing. One was a line with Teysa talking to Doctor Nebun.

"[I]n case you hadn't heard, I'm an advokist. I believe you would call me a 'lawmage'."

Come on. Really? This doctor doesn't know that advokist = lawyer? That's such clumsy way to attempt to clarify to the audience what being an advokist means, a clarification that is absolutely not necessary thanks to the flavorful tweak on the word "advocate" and the very thorough introduction of Teysa's character with a court case. 100% that last sentence should have been taken out.

This next one is a mistake that I make often, but I'm posting on a daily basis and don't have an editor to double check my work.

Couriers were protected by special magic, and couriers that lasted as long as they knew when and how to use it.

It looks like Herndon changed his mind mid-sentence. He was originally trying to go for:

Couriers were protected by special magic, and couriers that knew when and how to use it lasted longer than other.

Then he changed his mind and decided that this sounded better:

Couriers were protected by special magic, and couriers lasted as long as they knew when and how to use it.

He just forgot to delete the "that". It's certainly easy to miss something like that as you're typing away, but that's what editors are for.

Teysa, Utvara Baroness

I'm impressed with Teysa. She knows what she's doing and she knows what she wants. She certainly seems like she capable of turning this place into a thriving city of her own.There is the mystery of this plauge in this book, like there was the mystery of Borca's murder in the last, but since Teysa's the leader and not the one doing the grunt work, she's rightfully delegates the task and it gives this book a very different feel from the last. This is the Orzhov way.


I know those guys .  I really wasn't expecting them to be a part of this story, yet here they are. You can bet they'll show up again, and it will be interesting to see if Herndon can make sense of the flavor of these creatures because I have a hard time making heads or tails of them.

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