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Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Brothers' War - Chapter 26

Debriefing and advice.

Chapter 26 - Clockworks

Tawnos traveled only at night to avoid being spotted by MIshra's forces. He was making good progress when he runs into one of Mishra's latest invetions.

It was buried under the ground and reacted to his presence. The very sand itself began to churn like boiling water and Tawnos' horse bolted. If that was all that it did, things wouldn't have been so bad, but the machine also simultaneously set off an alarm which called out to a near by dragon engine.

Tawnos figures he has no chance unless he can make it to the mountain passes which are just within reach... and then the dragon engine takes flight.

This is bad. Really bad. His only chance is if he can make it to one of Urza's towers which is so close... and then he realizes he has no chance at all once the dragon engine breathes out some kind of liquid that ignites with contact with the air.

(Now that's a dragon engine.)

Then Tawnos' saviors come out of the blue. Metal avian birds intercept Mishra's machines. The birds are quite adept at  dodging the dragon engine attacks, and Tawnos instantly recognizes where the inspiration for these clockwork avians came from. The razor sharp beaks tear apart the large machine, and when one crawls into one of the larger holes, the dragon engine falls from the sky.

...Safe within Argivian territory...

Urza's leaner than ever, with his hair a pure white, and with glasses as a necessary aid for reading. Urza updates Tawons on everything that's been going on since his capture. They thought he had died and Urza sat down with his son Harbin and went through each and every toy that Tawnos had made for him to find ideas for a new device. The avians were the much needed defense against Mishra's liquid spewing, flying dragon engines that have popped up. Without them, things would be much worse.

But distance was the greatest obstacle to pressing any advantage they gained through the creation of the avians. They decided to march on Fallaji territories, but had to halt once Mishra's groundbreakers came into the mix.

Urza tells him that currently, the forests of Korlis are nearly depleted and they have to rely on purchasing metals from the dwarves in the Sardian mountains. Some are pressuring him to attack and just seize the dwarven territories, but that's not something he wants to do unless there's just no alternative left.

As for good news, the Gixans have been ejected from the school, thanks to the information reported. And as for inventions, Urza's been considering using a the special primal clay material to create soldiers, that won't rely on a metal framework like the clay statues.

There's a silence as Urza tries to come up with more to say, and Tawnos outright asks him what's wrong. Tawnos has been away, but he can still recognize when there is something his friend wants to say.

The problem is Harbin.

He wants to become an ornithopter pilot. He's bright and capable, but his mother will kill him if he gives his son permission. And he, himself, doesn't want his son placed in any danger. On the other hand, there's a war, and every able body is needed, and how can he offer special protections to his son when he's asking so many others to die?

Tawnos thinks for but a moment before coming up with a simple solution. He reasons out that completely sheltering the boy will do him little good, and he is capable. He'll likely make a great pilot. Urza should allow it, but send him on scouting missions or message runs, or any number of other duties that don't take him to the front lines, but are quite necessary for the war effort. If he complains about his assignments, Urza should just tell him that he can't just place his son in whatever combat unit he wants, because he can't show any special treatment to his own son when there are other deserving pilots out there.

Urza chuckeld and hoisted his heavy chalice . "It is good to have you back, Tawnos. I have been lessend in your absence."

"And I in yours, Urza," said Tawnos, raising his own goblet.

Just then a runner comes with a message. Mishra is on the march. He's headed west for Terisia City.

* * *

Contrasts with Apprentices

Both Ashnod and Tawnos are quite devoted to their masters, but things just keep on getting worse and worse for Ashnod which ends with her banishment, while on the exact opposite end Tawnos is not only welcomed home with welcome arms, but Urza goes to him to seek advice for his personal life.

Once again, it's these moments of humanity that really help to let us know that Urza is the brother we should be rooting for, even though the book quite accurately points out to us that in the larger scheme of things, both brothers are wreaking havoc on the lands and cultures they come in contact with, to a very similar scale.

Terisia City

Of course this last line in the chapter cannot be ignored. Is this just the natural place for Mishra to expand to, because it's away from Urza's territory? Or did her purposefully banish Ashnod, and hope she'd head towards that direction because he knew that her actions in those lands would initiate this phase in the war?

If Ashnod can be believed, Mishra likely didn't have any definite plans, and only allowed his actions to give him the widest range of possibilities to take advantage of, and he'd recognize which path was the right one to take when the time arose.

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