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Friday, December 16, 2011

The Brothers' War - Chapter 4



Within the Caves of Koilos.


Chapter 4 - Visions

This is what Tocasia saw.

The power stone at the center of the room suddenly began to glow hotter, to consume itself with its own radiance. It shone as if a piece of the sun itself had been detached and set down among them. Instinctively Tocasia flung her arms up in front of her to shield her eyes, but already the two brothers were nothing more than fuzzy silhouettes against the gem's radiance. She shouted out their names but her voice was swallowed by the explosion.

There is an explosion of pressure, heat, and blinding light... but there is no sound. She can feel the vibration run through her, but at at a wavelength she can't hear. When her sight returns she sees the two brothers on the ground, each with half of the power stone in their hands. In the distance she can hear the sound of heavy footsteps.


...Urza...

This is what Urza saw.

He was reaching out to stop Mishra but was too late. There was a brilliant flash that consumed them both. His last clear vision was his brother's face, his expression surprised, his beard surrounding an open mouth. Shouting a curse or a warning? Urza could not hear him and suddenly he was surrounded by the whiteness of the blast.

And then Urza finds himself a different place. If it's a dream, he can't be sure. It's a land composed of a mesh of huge corroded wires, with other wires snaking in and out between them. He lands on a huge metal gear that seems to be taking him somewhere. And off in the distance is a much larger gear with people in white masks and white hooded robes building various machines. Some of the machines are humanoid shaped, some are spider shaped which remind him of some of the half-buried artifacts outside the cave, and there are even more he can't quite figure out. All of the devices are armored and mounted with long cylinders that he instinctively knows are weapons of some kind, and in addition to that he instinctively recognizes how much energy is required to power each them.

The strangers look toward him with some concern, but when he waves at them with the gemstone that's appeared in his hands, they return to their tasks. Their gear stops at the base of a large furnace and they dismount in ranks. One of them tries to flee and they all turn their weapons on him, and then move up the ramp. When they throw themselves in to the mouth of the furnace, Urza screams and then wakes on the floor of the cavern chamber. In the distance he can hear the sound of heavy footsteps.

...Mishra...

This is what Mishra saw.

Urza lunged forward, and Mishra looked up at him, but by the time he saw his brother's face, stern and angry, the white glow had already consumed them both. All Mishra saw was Urza's scowl. And then he was someplace else.

Mishra finds himself in an endless corridor with walls covered with a leathery texture. When he touches it he sees the wall ripple as if it sensed him. Mishra takes a step and hears the cracking sound of a gold human shaped toy crushed beneath his foot. It's arm had snapped off and it's face was screaming. Mishra looks around and sees so many of these toys littering the ground that he can't take a step without crushing one no matter how carefully he walks. He's finally relieved when he notices that they're all screaming, and not just the ones he breaks, so he concludes they're obviously not alive and moves through them with no more concern.

He comes across an alcove with a dark mirror and sees a statue transform from one shape to another and another, before repeating the cycle from the beginning. The next alcove shows an armored figure shift to different forms, and it is quite clear the armor itself is part of the creature. All of a sudden Mishra understands that the machines back in the cavern chamber were used to transform flesh and stone into other forms.

The third alcove has another statue that changes much slower than the other, with backward facing horns, leathery skin, and bones jutting out from its flesh. The fourth has a similar creature . As Mishra stares at it, waiting for it to change, it opens its very life-like eyes. The being raises its arm and touches its chest, and Mishra realizes that within his own chest lies a gem. Mishra pulls it out, and when the creature places its hand on its side of the mirror, Mishra does the same. Then he hears his name being called and he wakes on the cavern floor. In the distance he can hear the sound of heavy footsteps.


...After the explosion...

Mishra refuses Urza's help to stand, and they argue about what happened. Tocasia shushes them and they all hear the sound of several creatures marching towards them coming from a doorway in the back of the chamber that wasn't there before. Su-chi emerge and when Urza raises his stone , a beam of ruby light lances across the room. The artifacts pause for a second then march towards them faster than before. Mishra lifts his own stone and Urza tells his brother that there's no point and so they run back the way they came.

Going up the long stairway is quite difficult, especially for the older Tocasia. Urza wishes they had something to block the path, and Mishra insists on trying his own stone again. Urza tries to stop him but Mishra's too quick and a wavy beam of green light strikes the nearest creatures. They noticably slow down and some tumble backward taking the others with it. Some of them get back up and resume the chase.

At the cave entrance they see the shadow of the roc waiting for them. Urza tells Mishra to take Tocasia to the ornithopter while he takes care of the roc. Mishra takes their mentor through a path that gives them some over behind some boulders while he exclaims how crazy Urza is. His brother crawls inside one of the spider-shaped artifacts and when he uses his stone on it, it activates. He turns the barrel of the machine towards the roc and it falls in flames right on top of the pursing su-chi.

Mishra claims his brother was lucky, but Urza insists he knew what he was doing the whole time. Tocasia cuts off their argument and says they should repair the ornithopter. Urza says that first Mishra should hand over his stone because they might be able to put it back together. Mishra says that it's Urza that should hand over his stone, but Urza tells him straight out that he thinks Mishra might break it. The fight escalates until Urza accidentally strikes his brother in the face with the stone. He quickly apologizes but the damage is done. They fly home in near silence and Tocasia knows that the power stone isn't the only thing that was shattered this day.

* * *


Viewpoints

Those were strange "dreams." Urza watching people voluntarily throw themselves to their deaths and Mishra crushing toys beneath his feet that may or may not be alive. How is that related to the stone and the blinding light and why did it happen at all? Just gotta read on and find out. What we can be sure of is that these power stones are the stones that Tawnos and Ashnod were talking about in the prologue.


1 comment:

  1. The common discussion I've heard about Urza and Mishra's visions were the visions of what each saw in Phyrexia.

    Urza, with his planeswalker spark, could see it unfiltered: the sacrifice of many for the goal of creation and domination, and destruction.

    Mishra saw only the primal shifting of creation in artifice and phyresis, and it was his first inspiration to building.

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