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Friday, September 16, 2011

Alara Unbroken - Section 4



These shards of Alara are violent places. Fighting all around.


Alara Unbroken - Section 4

Jund

Upon the ledge just before the dragon's bowl-shaped cavern, Kresh looks down upon his victim. Rakka wonders if it's asleep but he tells her that isn't so. It knows they're there, it just doesn't consider them to be a threat just yet. Sarkhan suggests to Rakka that if she's going to summon any help for them, now is the time.

She pulls out her herbs and other items and Kresh watches as Sarkhan holds out his staff before him to perform his own chants. Kresh is glad to have come across this new warrior. He's been watching him this whole trip and has already felt the battlelust that he inspires in himself and the other warriors. Kresh isn't envious or threatened that his power is greater than his own. With his help all will lay claim to a great victory.

They're ready. All they need is Rakka's elementals. Once they throw their spears, they'll need to get under the dragon's belly and the elementals will be essential then. Rakka says she needs more time but he says they must attack now. She tells him to begin. The spell will be completed in time. Sarkhan nods that he's ready and Kresh signals the attack.

They let their spears fly, and the dragon tries to use its wings as a protective shield. Some bounce off but others manage to pierce holes into the leathery wings. Kresh feels the rush of Sarkhan's battlelust and he and his warriors jump off the fifty foot shear cliff without a second thought. Mid-fall he turns to look at Rakka to convey the thrill of victory to her, and he sees something strange. He sees her like he's never seen her before, with an aura of power about her, perhaps a power that compelled them to jump off the cliff.

(Uh oh.)


Bant

Mubin stands before the three squires of the mercenaries that Rafiq will face after this duel. He has nowhere near the amount of sigils that Rafiq has, but the ones he owns are well deserved. The battle begins and Mubin can quickly see these squires are not yet used to their armor, and despite their greater numbers and attempts to surround them, he quickly and soundly defeats them. They yield and the judge declares the round for the defendant. The final round will now commence between the plaintiff's and defendant's champions.

(Only two rounds?  What if there's a tie? Does the defendant have win both to win the dispute?)


Naya

Ajani returns to the bonfire as Jazal finishes the hadu. Jazal greets his brother but seems distracted. Ajani asks his brother if there's anything wrong, anything he wants to tell him, but Jazal says it's nothing and he just wants to turn in for the night. With his brother gone, Ajani doesn't feel much like sticking around either. He takes some of the gargantuan meat back to his own lair, and sleep haunts him with evil dreams.


Bant

The ceremonial armor bites into Rafiq's shoulder, but that is the price of victory. The three Jhessian champions bow and now that he has a closer looks, Rafiq finds his suspicions confirmed. Their swords are enchanted, and he isn't at all positive that it's an enchantment of blunting magic. That's a clear violation of the rules. But before he can call for an inspection the three charge at him.

The Jhessians are clumsy but they manage to just barely parry his blows. The crowd gasps as Rafiq actually has to duck to avoid a sword aimed at his head! There's a reason why helmets are no longer required for duels! Why isn't the judge stopping this!?

Rafiq feels a sword finally do more than scratch his armor. His skin is actually split open. He turns to face the champion behind him see sees blood on the tip of his sword.

Rafiq watched his blood race its way down the champion's blade, transfixed. He had never seen blood on a blade before.

(They're cheating! Some stop them!!)

(I love how ridiculous this is. I'm liking Rafiq now.)


Jund

Sarkhan watches as a blast of power from Rakka sends Kresh and his warriors off the cliff and towards the dragon. He doesn't know what's going on but he'll need a different spell. As he prepares he watches as Kresh successfully manages to draw his sword and drive it into the dragon's face before hitting the ground. Some of the warriors get back up after the fall ready to fight. More of them did not.

The dragon breathes fire on the warriors while simultaneously flapping its wings with enough force to blow them into the air. Sarkhan yells at Rakka to forget the elementals and just collapse the ceiling atop the dragon, but she refuses. She says she just needs a little more time. There's no relying on her, he has to do this himself so he jumps off the cliff.

As he fell, he drew on every bit of power left in him and became a dragon made of fire.

(Nice.)


Naya

Tenoch's on guard duty for the night, but what's there to guard? Nothing ever happens after the Festival. He may as well continue his tried and true practice of being in a state of half sleep while on duty.

Look at that. Some stranger in a cloak with its hood up, despite it being a fairly warm night, is walking up to the bonfire to sprinkle something on it and then walks away. Great. He now has something to report so no one can claim he wasn't observant. Who cares if there's a strange sound coming from the fire. What's that weird smoke? Why does it smell funny? Why is it taking the shape of a monster? And why is it coming towards him?

Tenoch screams.


Jund

Rakka is impressed as the dragon of fire that is Sarkhan engages with the hellkite. That will do it. She'll have enough time to finish. She creates a circle and places a small obelisk in the center. It begins to glow and the cavern begins to shake. Stalagtites fall and the stone of the largest column holding up the ceiling cracks, revealing a red obelisk of sangrite beneath. Job done. Rakka takes one last look at Sarkhan and Malactoth , then leaves.


Bant

"You're here to kill me then."

Rafiq's words carry far in the silence. He doesn't know what's going on or why this hasn't been stopped, but he's going to win. Or wait... are they doing? The Jhessrians are unbuckling their breastplates. How can he swing his sword now without breaking bones and possibly killing them?


Naya

Screams ring through the night waking Ajani from his nightmare and the smell of nacatl blood and ash and rotting flesh fill the air. With claw and axe Ajani tears through the unnatural creatures until shouts for the kha draw his eyes towards his brother's lair. Ajani bounds up the trails and kills the creatures headed towards his brother and kha. Zaliki warns him not to go in. He pushes her aside and he sees Jazal's axe, twin to his own, buried in his chest.


Bant

The Jhessrians are breaking the rules but he will not. Rafiq holds off their attacks and watches and waits for the right moment to... CRACK! Rafiq manages to put all his weight into his swing and breaks one of the mercenaries swords. With one down, the other two face Rafiq from opposite sides. They fall into a rhythm and Rafiq exposes his back to them in quick succession and dodges at the right time so they lunge and impale each other.

The judge declares the defendant the winner.


...After the match...

Aarsil the Blessed congratulates him and apologizes. She hired the mercenaries and influenced the judge and the members of the Order of the Skyward Eye with her supplied the swords. She needed the right champion, and he has proved himself worthy. Mubin protests in anger but Rafiq calls for him to remember his place. She then tells him that he's been chosen to discover who destroyed Giltspire Castle.


...Immediately continuing the conversation from the same POV...

(No idea why the break is there.)

Rafiq expresses surprise at the news. Aarsil says the castle is gone and already people are traveling towards the site as a pilgrimage.

"Asha's Prophecy predicted this," said one old man at a pilgrim's camp one night. "The Prophecy warns that once grace falls, doom will come to the world, and the ultimate test will begin."

He continues and says the the Sigiled caste must be the ones to scour the underworld of hells creatures or Bant will fall.

Rafiq and Mubin travel to the site of the castle and see for their own eyes the obelisk , ringed by rubble, ringed by knights who are preventing the final ring of travelers from getting too close. Mubin examines the obelisk and sees an ancient script similar to the runes he's familiar with. There are symbols of mana some familiar and some not. A nearby knight says that this is a warning from Asha.

"This obelisk is part of Asha's Prophecy. 'The armies of Death are foretold; Their Names revealed in the primeval Stone,'" said the knight. "'The prophet's Word; Fells the mountain of War.' The merchant Hazid... We believe that he's the prophet it mentions. He brought a spell that felled the 'mountain' of Giltspire, and revealed this primeval stone. And on it are the names of the armies of death to come."

Mubin wants to stay and study the inscriptions but Rafiq says there's no time. They have to follow Hazid's trail before it goes cold.

* * *


Phew!

Wow that was a lot to cover in same number of pages as the first three Sections. There's no way to say the the book is dragging.


Where's Esper?

I wonder if Esper is going to show up at all before we get to PART TWO. Considering we've just gone through twenty two chapters already with no appearance, I'm guessing no, unless it's the final chapter where the Esper Obelisk is revealed and the conflux occurs.


Rafiq, Tournament Fighter

It was actually a pretty charming reveal at how Rafiq is basically a glorified tournament fighter, how it seems like all of Bant is pretty much unaccustomed to war. They're going to have quite a hard time fighting against all the more violent shards.


Sarkhan, Nice Guy

For having such a threatening appearance, Sarkhan is actually a pretty decent fellow. He doesn't really seem to want to bring harm or wish any ill-will upon anyone. He just has his quest to find the right dragon to worship, and as long as no one interferes with that he's quite pleasant to be around.


Flight of the White Cat

Here we have Part 2 of Flight of the White Cat. While looking over the online version and the physical version, I noticed the two are actually a bit different. The panel's are clipped online because the ratios are different. That in turn changes were the word balloons are placed among other things. I may do a comparison between the two sooner rather than later thanks to this new insight.


Rakka and Sarkhan

Beyer successfully through the rug over my eyes concerning Sarkhan enhancement power and Rakka's actual magical shove. Good job. As I was reading I could slowly feel myself going:

Okay that makes sense... Well, maybe that is a high drop... Wait, wait, wait, what's going on!

The red herring worked wonderfully and it created an awesome "time to cheer on the bad guys" moment.


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