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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Brothers' War - Chapter 17

Planning and research.

PART 3 - Converging Trajectories (29 AR - 57 AR)
Chapter 17 - Mishra's Workshop

It's been a year since the fall of Kroog, and Mishra has risen to qadir of the Fallaji Empire. With that power he decided to build a palace within the large trees on the northwest tip of the Kher Ridges. And within that palace he finally built the workshop he's always wanted.

The surrounding trees have been cleared for resources and to provide room for smaller foundries and forges with slaves performing all sorts of manual labor.

Ashnod returns after another one of her many trips to meet Mishra in what is both part throne room and part workshop. She notices the all the treasure from the sacking of Kroog still lays about, and all the books are mostly unopened. He looks up from his chalkboard after Hajar announces her presence and he demands a report. Ashnod doesn't appreciate the changes in him since taking on so much responsibility.

She begins listing off the wealth they've plundered from the lastest raid into the Yotian provinces, but he cuts her off and wants to know about the books. She lists off the categories of books recovered, with the most important being a book on hydraulics and one on metallurgy. Next he wants to know what resources they've secured and she tells him of the mines they've seized. There is news of fealty, raids, and rebellions. The last thing he asks about is his brother. Always his brother.

About Urza their is no sign. There are the regular ornithopter patrols, but no signs of any organized resistance. There are rumors of a base in Argive near the Korlisan border, but the Korlisians still claim neutrality and know of no such thing.

"What is he waiting for?" said Mishra, patting his fingers together. "It's been a year."

"The loss of Kroog and most of the northern Yotia has struck him hard," said Ashnod. "He may simply be in hiding."

"He never hides," said Mishra hotly. "He plots. He plans. He is still in communication with the Yotian towns, I am sure of it, and the rebels act on his command. He is waiting for the right moment. For the moment of weakness. Of inattentiveness. And then...," Mishra raised both hands to indicate the magnitude of his brother's imagined revenge.

He waves Ashnod to follow him and he shows her a dead dragon engine that's been taken apart, with another mockery of a dragon engine being assembled next to it. He tells her it was damaged by one of Urza's avengers and slowly it began to lose function, and lose sight, and then it died. This can't happen again. Their enemies cannot know these things can be killed, and they especially cannot be allowed to die on the battlefield. Their attempts at creating another dragon engine to replace it are progressing slowly.

Ashnod tell him she can help him. Not with this, but in creating new weapons for him. She's being wasted with cataloging. When he tells her that she's one of the few he can completely trust to do the necessary work out in the field, she tells him that it was Tawnos that saved all of Urza's work. Urza gives his apprentice the freedom to do what's necessary and trained him well. She asks him if Urza is a better master.

A red storm of rage formed on Mishra's face, and for a moment Ashnod wondered if she had pressed too far. But Mishra took a deep breath, and the anger subsided slightly. Sharply, he said, "What do you need to produce such an army?"

She tells him she'll need her own place away from prying eyes, books on biology and anatomy, a small portion of the resources, surgical tools from Zegon, and slaves both for work and for... other things. Slaves that won't be missed like criminals and traitors. She can't promise immediate results, but he'll have them. Oh, and he should know that there will be people who will not appreciate what she's doing. She won't be gentle.

* * *

Reverse Psychology/Challenge

It's easy to poorly use reverse psychology in a story. I've seen so many cartoons and family TV shows when I was kid that seemed to make sense when I was little, but I know they would make me cringe if I watched them now. With that said, I think it was used effectively here.

It works because Mishra is clearly unstable, much more so than we've previously seen. Maybe Ashnod's simple words wouldn't have so easily manipulated a younger Mishra, but this insanely obsessive Mishra on the other hand... I can buy that.

Urza was obsessed with his machines for much of the early book, but now we're watching Mishra's obsession of Urza come into full bloom. When someone is that irrational, using reverse psychology in such a blunt way works. As long as Ashnod doesn't do it too often, just like her caution to herself implies, this instance of reverse psychology doesn't get put into the Cringe-Worthy column.

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