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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Brothers' War - Chapter 23



Explanations.


Chapter 23 - Circles of Protection

The Brotherhood of Gix had successfully inserted themselves into Mishra's factory and they hear and see everything. The mines are drying up as was continual tribute from Zegon. Acquiring Sarinth was becoming ever more important to Mishra's campaign, but letters from Fallaji chiefs constantly hint that things will go terribly wrong if Ashnod is given full command. As for Argive and Korlis, a ring of towers garrisoned with metal soldiers seemed to have sprung up overnight, and the Argivians might be ready to press on into the mountains.

With all this combined pressure, Mishra has decided he to relocate his court to Tomakul, a place both further from enemy lines and closer to the Sarinth campaign. This was bad for the Gixians . They would lose everything they worked so hard to gain if they were left behind, and so in this emergency situation, they gather and chant as they were taught, and from a pillar of black smoke, Gix appears.


...Soon after...

While the Gixians were needed for him to be summoned to this place, Gix has developed the ability to transport himself back to the Caves of Koilos at will, a place he now considers to be home. If his followers were to lose their place in Mishra's organization, then he better just kill Mishra now while he can. Gix put his followers into a deep sleep and moves through the factory which is now mostly filled with automated workers. There's one sentry machine that actually sees him as a threat, but a quick realigning of the matrix of its power crystal with a simple touch of his hand convinces it that he's not an intruder.

Gix enters the workshop to find the now obese Mishra asleep in a chair resting before his chalkboard, with a piece of chalk in his hand and crown on his head.

But Gix could see an alertness about the man, even in slumber. His mind was working, dreaming of new devices and new plans. Even in the rest there was the sense of motion about him. The demon would have to move quietly.

Originally Gix had thought to merely excise the top of the man's head and scoop the brains out slowly, to make Mishra aware of what was happening to him before he perished. Now, seeing the man think even when asleep, Gix decided to merely slash his throat and take the power stone for himself.

Gix leans forward ready to slice his throat with one of his sharp talons when he hears a soft hum and a glow coming from beneath Mishra's vest. The stone was aware of him. He presses his hand forward but the harder he tries, the more resistance he faces. The stone had never shown any signs of protection before, and now Gix's priorities had shifted his primary goal to be of acquiring the stone. Killing Mishra can wait. As soon as his thoughts changed, the stone's protection changed. Gix yanks his hand away as the stone tries to grab hold of him and dominate him like it had done with the dragon engines years ago.

How to get the stone? It protects Mishra, and it protects itself while in Mishra's control. The stone isn't actually whole, it's only half a stone. Perhaps... perhaps the stone has bonded with its master as a replacement to its true counterpart. If he could get the brothers together the whole situation would be changed. That will take years more yet to accomplish, but he has time.

Gix leaves the room and Hajar stirs from his unintended slumber. The day of preparation to move the base of operations had exhausted him. He gets up and throws a blanket around his master, locks the door, and drifts off to sleep once more.

* * *


A New Wrinkle

So we have an explanation as to the strange bond between the stones and their brothers. One that feels grounded with some kind of science, that vaguely sounds like it's following some tweak on the natural law of the conservation of energy. And considering we're dealing with artifacts and artificers, it feels quite appropriate.

Perhaps this desire in each stone to bond with its opposite is a contributing factor for the very existence of this war. Perhaps the reason that each brother covets the others' stone isn't 100% internal and psychological, and rather each is being affected by the stones and making them even more obsessive than they usually are. While the use of Circle of Protection: Artifacts is quite a stretch (I really only know that this is the card's appearance in the book thanks to the very strong implication from the chapter title), the new dimension to the story thanks to the revelation more than makes up for the first misstep in card representation.


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