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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Zendikar: In the Teeth of Akoum - Chapter 9



Time to go up and over the mountains.


Zendikar: In the Teeth of Akoum - Chapter 9

Unlike the grassland they passed through earlier, where a Roil would lift up random patches of dirt and randomly send them back crashing down, here in the mountains nearly every mountain has their peaks sheared straight across and they would rise and fall at random intervals, yet remain intact. Our heroes are at such a location right now, with the peak lifted high enough for any of them to pass, with the seam of light on the other side only a bow shot's distance away. They can make it just fine, if only there wasn't the fear of it crashing back down on top of them mid-way.

[Actually the book says they've just reached the mountain proper where this separation occurs, to me that means just past the foothills... however with the distance so close, that screams mountain peak to me.]

When Sorin suggests they just go around, Nissa takes a look at the map and says it would take at least two days, and the brook lineage would catch up to them. The best plan is to wait until the mountain peak falls, then run through as soon as it raises up again.

(That is one wide, yet narrow mountain.)

So they wait. They wait for the rest of the day, and sleep huddled together at night. In the morning Nissa's quite hungry but the last of her dry travel food has already been eaten. So what does she do? She spots some birds around some nearby rocks, and she determines right that there is three days dead giant grit slug hiding away in a hole that they're trying to get at. It takes six heaves but she finally yanks it out of the hole.

She collects some dead wood from the surrounding shrubs and builds a small fire.

"That fire will never heat that... thing," Sorin said.

"I only have to boil one area, and the slug will cook in its own skin," Nissa said.

It took hours to cook the thing, nonetheless. And the whole time the mountain did not fall.

(Obviously more on this later.)

When the slug is finally cooked, she shares some of the meat with everyone. After the meal, Nissa decides they should just risk it and go. They can't wait much longer, else the brood lineage will be on top of them. When Sorin suggests that it might not be a good idea, Nissa challenges him and says that if he has fear in his heart then he can just take the long way without them. Well, Sorin isn't the type to show weakness, so he lets out one of his patented yawns and walks on in.

The journey through reveals the smashed remains of several creatures but besides there's no incident underneath the mountain peak. The problem isn't the mountain, but what waits on the other side. There's a sleeping hurda with the remains of all kinds of animals and people strewn about it. They try to sneak past without success. The hurda wakes and immediately attacks. It flings its body forward and gets one good kick in at Sorin, but with a simple cut from his sword, the creature shrivels up into a dry husk in the span of three breaths.

Sorin tells Nissa that his sword is called the Parasite blade.

"It draws mana from whatever it cuts. It can drain creatures to their doom, as you saw."

They make it down to the foothills by late afternoon, and Nissa has an unexplainable feeling that a catastrophe lay ahead in the Fields of Agadeem.

Anowon smells smoke in the air and leads them off towards the edge of a canyon to the left. They see a couple of kor smoking a bundle wrapped in leather and harnesses. Anowon explains there is a dead kor inside and soon they will chop it up for the birds to feed on it so its spirit can fly away with the birds. Nissa is quite disgusted and burial ritual, and further disgusted when Anowon tells her that the kor also give up their first born to the wilderness, calling it the "world gift."

She tells them she knows a bit about exile, and thoughts of her own exile run through her head.

She had been a young warrior. What did a young elf know about right and wrong? About proper and taboo? How was she to have known that the ability she possessed was something to be hidden away? But the truth was she knew, even then. She knew that she was different and she flaunted it. And when her mother and father exposed her to the Deep Council for displaying non-Joraga tendencies, it was exactly what she deserved. And she was better for it.

At the plains, our heroes come across a vampire labor camp. Brood lineage are chained and dragging stones towards the beginnings of some large structure. Sorin won't stand for this. Despite Nissa and Anowon's reticence, Sorin tells them that they are going to launch a surprise attack and kill them all. All three will attack from different sides.

Sorin is the first to make contact. His sword cuts down one unaware, while his spell strikes down an entire wave of them as they flee towards the structure. Nissa doesn't have time to see if Sorin can recover in time from using such a draining spell because she has her own hands full when a group of brood lineage charge right at her.

* * *


You Read That Right

Nissa was hungry so she spotted some birds... and decided to eat the three days dead slug the birds were trying to get at. No one else even brought up the suggestion that maybe they try to eat a fresh bird.

And she collected twigs for the fire... yet was able to keep the fire going for hours. If you haven't been camping or played with fire ever, that doesn't happen.

On top of that, this whole waiting process has taken approximately and entire day.

- 6 hours (The rest of the day)
- 12 hours (All night)
- 4 hours (Cooking for hours after sun is out)

The trip around the mountains would have taken two days and still Nissa thought the brood lineage would caught up to them while on the move. If this timing is right (and there's no guaranteeing that), then that means the brood lineage moves at about twice the speed they can.

If they know fast these brood lineage can travel, they should have gone on through a long time ago. How (in)frequent are these rises and falls? Is it a difference between minutes and days? It can't possibly be weeks, it wouldn't make sense to wait. And if the mountain only touches down for a brief period of time before rising again, that means they don't gain any time by hoping for the mountain to fall. In fact, it would have made sense to try traveling around the mountain and then just cross at any point after the mountain peak lifts off. It's not a tunnel that opens up, the whole peak lifts off.

They could have even avoided the hurda by veering a little bit to the left or the right, but I can understand wanting to take the shortest path once you're actually underneath and unsure when it's going to come crashing down.


Hurda

At least there is one mystery solved. The creature that was making the deep divots and deep knuckle grooves as it walked is supposed to be hurda. But don't think about it too long, or you're realize that since it walks on its hands and not its feet it wouldn't create dragging tracks with its knuckles. Creating deep divots is quite suspect as well.


Quirks

There is just too much to talk about, much of it the same. Here's a quick run down of some of it.

- Bad dialogue
- Supposed taunts from Sorin that don't come off as taunts
- Nissa asking Anowon again about what power that Sorin has over him, still not realizing that Sorin is a vampire.
- Nissa thinking about Sutina's death as a motivator to attack at the end of the chapter, as if she had any kind of personal connection to the person she's only seen once in her life, who is part of a people that she may or may not feel hates her and thinks she's part of Joraga invasion.


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