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Monday, October 10, 2011

Zendikar: In the Teeth of Akoum - Chapter 7



It's never safe in Zendikar.


Zendikar: In the Teeth of Akoum - Chapter 7

Nissa awoke suddenly, shivering in the darkness, listening for whatever had woken her. But she was unable to hear anything except the gusting wind shaking the grass fronds around her. There were no stars or moon overhead, and Nissa could not hear Smara's incessant babbling. Her staff was by her side, and she very slowly reached out and put her hand around its smooth shaft. She waited and listened, but nothing came and she drifted off again.

(Uh oh.)

Nissa wakes again at a more reasonable time with sun up in the sky, still clutching onto her staff. She finds Anowon sitting down nearby with bound arms wrapped around his legs, watching her.

(I thought he earned the right to be unbound...)

Sorrin asks is she's ready to leave, and tells her that Anowon had wanted to feed on her last night because he senses something in her blood, but he stopped him.

(More on this later.)

"I take the Joraga tincture," Nissa said. "Once a month." She took Khalled's map from the tube strapped to her belt.

"Where do you get that?" Sorin said. "Are you not a Tajuru after all?"

Nissa stopped. What did he say? she thought. She bristled at the taunt. "Watch your tongue, human."

Sorin, laughed.

(And this.)

Nissa tells them that she's fought vampires plenty of times, and the tincture she takes turns her blood poisonous for them, and then asks them if they're done, and she pulls out the map. She wonders what has gotten into the two of them. Sorin asks her if she slept well and tells her that one of Smara's goblins is gone. She doesn't take any significance from that statement.

"We are wondering what happened to it," Sorin said, a smug smile on his face as he turned to Anowon. "Aren't we?"

She looked up in surprise. "Why would I have knowledge of this?"

Anowon didn't move.

Nissa looked from one to the other of them. A smile tickled the corners of her lips as the joke dawned on her.

"I ate it," Nissa said. "You have discovered me, human." She looked back at the map. "More like the vampire did. He seems in a stupor."

(Nissa really is just an idiot.)

But back to the map. Where are they exactly? That palace at the foot of the mountain should be marked on it somewhere... but it wasn't at the base of the mountain anymore. There's just a large crater, and the palace and a large chunk of earth is floating up in the sky now, with rope lines dangling from it indicating that people are still in there. Zendikar is always in turnmoil, but this latest string of events is beyond the norm, and Anowon agrees. Sorin says it's a result of the brood lineage. That they need to be put back into the earth. Smara halts her chanting and runs up to Sorin in response.

"The gift is in the loam," she said. "The gift is in the loam. Then she began talking in another language and soon was repeating the same words.

Anowon and Sorin continue to listen to her ramblings, but when Nissa asks what she's saying, another Roil is the response. Nissa jams her stem sword into the ground to create an anchor to hold on to, but it's not enough. The quaking is too violent and everyone is tossed about at the mercy of the land. The land beneath Nissa detaches from the ground, and she rolls off before is rises too high for comfort. When it's all over, the simple plain is dotted with seventeen large craters, with new floating islands overhead.

As for the palace, it crashed back down to the ground and now lays on its side. Anowon takes a look back down the way they had come from and spots brood lineage, and Sorin recognizes them to be trackers. They're likely trying to track down the kor refugees, but it looks like the brood lineage will come across their trail soon enough. They need to get out of there. They run towards the palace.

They run on and on. Sorin seems to be full of energy, but despite Anowon being a vampire, she finds him trailing behind. Which is more strange due to the fact that she's positive that it was Anowon that disposed of the missing goblin so he should be full of energy.

(How long is this "Nissa in the dark" plot thread going to go on!)

They make it to the village surrounding the palace, and find the ground littered with holes a wide and deep as Nissa's arm, some filled with crops. some with corpses of the villagers. They're quite fresh. They get to higher ground and spot another large group of brood lineage ahead of them. At the pace that the group behind them is traveling, the two groups will converge soon enough, with all of them trapped between them.

(Umm... I guess they are digging holes as in pits, and not holes as in tunnel entrances... that's just really bizarre.)

* * *


Wait... what about The Presence!

What was that weird feeling? What was up with waking in the night? Am I supposed to believe it was the vampires themselves? That can't be right because Anowon felt it too before they went to sleep. Is it something they just left behind now that they've been running for an entire day away from the brood lineage? Those series of paragraphs were absolutely fantastic, it would be a shame if nothing ever came out of that.


Nissa, Sorin's a Planeswalker

After the roil, Sorin completely gave away that he's a planeswalker.

"I'm beginning to like Zendikar," Sorin said, sitting up. "I really am. It feels like I’ve been here for years, when it's been more like weeks."

That's pretty clear that he's a planeswalker. Last we heard, thoughts about that were only beginning to creep into Nissa's head but she wasn't sure. Now that he completely gives it away... Nissa doesn't pick up on it at all.


Nissa, Vampire Expert

What did we get in this chapter? Anowon wants to feed on Nissa because he senses what turns out to be vampire poison in her blood. Sorin tells her he stopped him with a smile on his face making it seem like he's telling her he did her a favor... What kind of idiotic deterrent is this Joraga tincture, that it makes vampires want to feed on you? It could be that Sorin's smile is supposed to be a knowing, mysterious smile but Nissa didn't react like it was. But their reactions aren't always the best indication of what's going on so who really knows.

And Nissa's think she's an expert on vampires and has killed plenty of them, but she can't seem to understand that Sorin's a vampire... and then thinks she's in on the inside joke between Anowon and Sorin and makes herself look that much worse.

Please let this plot thread end already. It's not fun for the reader when they know the secret from the beginning, Nissa looks like an idiot, and Sorin comes off as a jerk. It brings down the level of enjoyment in both of the main characters.


A Simple Change

"Where do you get that?" Sorin said. "Are you not a Tajuru after all?"

Nissa stopped. What did he say? she thought. She bristled at the taunt. "Watch your tongue, human."

Nissa had just mentioned something about some new potion that had never been brought up in the book yet. Sorin's first question seemed perfectly reasonable, making the second question about him not realizing she was Joraga and not Tajuru seem plausible. Maybe there was an actual mistake in identity on his part to mirror her own. A Joraga guide could be useful to have in Zendikar.

So I ended up thinking that her thoughts to herself were actual confusion, perhaps a realization that she had some info she could turn on him. But no... the sentence that clears up what's going on was just put too far back in the paragraph that I had to re-interpret everything I just read. The thing would have worked much better with a simple change of removing one sentence and swapping some others.

"Where do you get that?" Sorin said. "Are you not a Tajuru after all?"

She bristled at the taunt.  What did he say? she thought. "Watch your tongue, human."


Other Quirks

Everything I've covered is from the beginning of the chapter. There are plenty more minor things to talk about, but I've covered all the major stuff. I'm ready to move on.


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