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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Alara Unbroken - Section 8



Ajani Goldmane, welcome to Bant.


Alara Unbroken - Section 8

Naya

Ajani tracks down Tenoch to Hydra's Tail Chasm and confronts him about his brother's death. With no more kha and a meeting with the council soon to occur no one gains more from his death than he does. Tenoch tries every tactic he can think of from denial that he doesn't command the dark sorcery that did it, to laughing that Ajani is no murderer, to expressing sorrow of his brother's loss and offering him position as Chief Advisor. But Ajani will not be swayed. He wants vengeance.

Ajani picks up the spoiled brat ready through throw him into the chasm, and that's when Tenoch breaks. He tells him that it was his mother that gave him warning that something terrible was going to happen that night and soon it would be his time to lead the pride. She didn't do it herself either, but she knew it was coming.

Tenoch pleads to be let go, and Ajani does. He's quite happy to watch him fall to his death, but Tenoch ruins his plans as he manages to latch on to him and they both fall over the edge. By random luck Tenoch's jerkin catches on to something while Ajani hangs on to his leg.

Just like that things have changed. Ajani councils Tenoch to be calm he's going to try something that will save them both. Tenoch of course doesn't listen to the person that just tried to throw him off a cliff and he shakes Ajani off his leg.

(Okay, that was weird.)


Bant

Elspeth Tirel is home. She wasn't born on Bant, but the horrors of her world ignited her spark, and after running from world to world she quickly found this place and knew this is where she wanted to live out her life. Bant provides open sky, the promise of angels, and the chance to be a knight. It's paradise.

She arrived with no knowledge of the art of the sword but through dedicated study she's risen through the ranks until reaching the rank of Knight-Captain that she holds today, all the while keeping knowledge of other worlds and her true nature to herself.

The recruits watch on as she duels one of their peers as a method of instruction. There is still quite a lot for him to learn and a lot she can teach him and she disarms Mardis quite soundly and knocks him flat on his face. By a fluke accident it's quite clear that sword is going to come right down on top of him point first and land on his unprotected back.

Without thinking, she shouted a protection spell to save him.


Naya

Ajani slowly opens his eyes. He's at the bottom of the cliff, his mouth is dry, and time seems to have passed him by. And when he tries to move he realizes one arm is dislocated, the other broken and he can't even lift his head to check if his legs that he can't seem to feel are still there. He's dying and Tenoch probably will never even tell anyone he ever saw him.

"Well he's certainly going to take my place if you lie there like that," said Jazal's voice.

Ajani thinks maybe he should just lay there and die, but each time Jazal agrees with him and insists that it's probably a good idea, it only makes him struggle more to want to live. He knows his brother believes in him and while he can't get up, there's one thing left that he can try.


Bant

Elspeth runs to Mardis and pulls out the sword. It had stabbed all the way through, with bits of dirt clinging to the tip as proof, yet there was no blood and no wound. Elspeth tries to play it off that it missed him but there are serious doubts in their gazes.

Elspeth leaves to have a moment to herself. She can't have her secret leaked out. With a magical inclination she should have joined the Sighted and not the Sigiled, but being a knight was he dream. Her time alone is ends quickly as the recruits call her name. On the ground, out of nowhere, a man covered in white fur has appeared.

No, thought Elspeth. "Get your pikes," she said.


...Ajani...

Ajani had no destination in mind when he planeswalked, but he felt it work, and then felt himself plummet towards ground and slam into it. With a foreign, bright blue sky over head Ajani turns over and throws up.


...Among the Knights...

The other knights don't know what to make of what's happening. Some are afraid and some cry out that they should kill the demon. Elspeth tells them all to hold, and sends someone to go fetch some clerics. She's never seen a leonin before but she's heard of them. Whoever he is, he's broken and covered in blood. She tells him to lie still and congratulates him on his 'walk. Where ever he ran from he has nothing to fear now. He'll be accepted here just like she was. He'll be free to do what he wants. What is it that he wants? He tells her he just wants to leave.


...Among the Healers...

Ajani isn't too fond of Bant's slower and more painful form of healing, but at least the healers seem to be reacting positively to his progress. The food is also strange and the sight of the cats used as mounts makes him feel pity, however it's surprising that he can communicate at all with these people. These humans who aren't automatically trying to hunt him down and kill him. Their language and his seem to be cousins to each other. Not close enough for fluent conversation but close enough to be understood with simple words.

Elspeth checks on him regularly and she shares with him that her planeswalking nature is a secret and they don't even know that other worlds exist. She tells him that the clerics and knights who've been attending him have been all hand picked by herself so there's nothing to fear. And she's glad that saving his life has been the right choice. He's strange looking, but if he was killed on the spot that might have caused more uneasiness and fear rather than keeping him alive and proving to others that there's nothing to fear.

She tells him that she would like him to stay and that she can use another knight, and while a bit tempting, he can't stay. She again tries to tell him that he doesn't have to go back to a place that would treat him so but he insists that he has some things that he needs to do once he's healed. With that said, Elspeth storms out.


...Later...

A rhox war monk leads a chant of healing that is both embarrassing and a bit distressing. Their chant is in the language of the apocalypse and it just reminds Ajani of his vision of five worlds colliding together.

After the chant Elspeth comes back in a more understanding mood. He asks her if she ever misses her original home:

Her answer was quiet. "No."

"Never?"

"Bant is my home now."

"Well, I wish it all the best."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

She pries out the information about his vision. She can't believe it. She saw nothing like what he describes when she arrived, but that was over two years ago. Her perfect Bant might end? It's quite a shock to her, so much so that she doesn't notice until it's too late that Ajani's gone.

* * *


Happy Coincidence

Through random chance by how I've been partitioning these Section, Section 8 has turned out to be a perfect little story of the introduction to Elspeth and her meeting with Ajani. It's nothing important, but quite amusing.


Ajani vs Tenoch

This whole section was just weird. Tenoch is behaving exactly how the despised Cloud Nacatl behave. (Or at least how the Wild Nactl say the Cloud Nacatl behave.) He's one-hundred percent political and a schemer and a coward. If these characteristics are so despised in the Wild Nacatl, how can that behavior be tolerated in him at all?

And what was that all about with Ajani actually trying to kill him (which I liked) and then all of a sudden trying to save not just his own life, but both of theirs. That was such a strange swing in emotions. He goal of vengeance has been written as absolute, and then all of a sudden when he tries it... did he get buyer's remorse? Or does he really not have it in him? It's not impossible for that to have happened, but it's weird to be rooting for Tenoch's death and then having Ajani say he's going to save him in the span of a few paragraphs. Make up your mind!


Elspeth

Elspeth wasn't like I was expecting either (a common theme with all these planeswalkers) but it's quite enjoyable. Considering the naive nature of Bant, and her background of running away from something terrible in her childhood, it makes sense that she isn't a self-assured knight that can whether any storm. She has plenty of fears that she has to contend with. Not what I expected, but not a bad thing.



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