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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Test of Metal - Tezzeret: Bloostone, Stone, and Blood

Twenty minutes to plan.

Tezzeret: Bloodstone, Stone, and Blood

Doc isn't happy about how narrowly they always escape from danger, but Tezzeret tells him there is no time to complain.

“Renn dialed us back along my subjective time line so he could get at me before I made the armor. He couldn’t have attacked Baltrice while I was standing there; I had turned away from her only a few seconds before you smelled the blood and smoke.”

“What happened to her, then? Why was she gone and Renn there?”

“It’s possible Renn was talking to us from our future. Did you notice how black the blood was? And the smoke odor was too faint. On his time line, he might be hours ahead of us—maybe days.”

“What, he was talking to us from after he takes out Baltrice? After he’s going to take out Baltrice? Something like that.”

“Yes. Me—us—too.”

“So in our time line, he hasn’t attacked her yet? Even though in his, he grabbed her days ago?”

“My best guess,” I said, “based on how long it seemed to take from when I began the armor to the moment that our eye-and-ear link went dead, he will attack her in just about twenty minutes.” “Clockworkers give me a headache.”


“So you think we can get there in time to warn her, or something?”

“Or something.”

(Wait wait wait... "talking to us from our future"... Is Stover saying that Renn experienced their future and traveled back in time to the sled to pull Tezzeret to that time, and he's talking from having the experience of being in that future, and thus that's why he's covered in blood that's already drying? Or does Stover literally mean that Silas Renn is standing in the future, standing in a different time frame, and yet he still could magically pull Tezzeret backward in time... side note: I must assume that time travel is harder than rewinding time, because otherwise why not just do that?... and then he talks to Tezzeret while he's in one time while Tezzeret is in the other, and they can still both see each other because of some clockworking magic or possibly the ability to rewind time is localized so while Tezzeret was rewinding through time it was still the future time that Silas Renn was in

(Is Stover being repetitive because we already know that Renn has been torturing Tezzeret for days and we know that he's been looping Tezzeret through the same steps because he's trying to figure out how Tezzeret teleported away... side note: he can't figure it out because it was Doc's ability to teleport Tezzeret to Bolas' cavern that was used, and Renn doesn't know about it, although I don't understand how Tezzeret had access to it without consulting Doc... Or is Stover just adding one more ability to clockworking that will make clockworkers even that much more invincible.

(You choose.)

Doc objects to coming up with any plan at all that involves confronting Silas Renn. It's better to just wait it out, update Nicol Bolas as to what's going on, and who knows... maybe Bolas will solve their Silas Renn problem for them. But Tezzeret says it has to be. He won't let Baltrice die. It's not her fault that she's being so loyal to Jace. He has to do this to save them all. Doc doesn't like the sound of that so he tries to force Tezzeret to give in by simulating the pain of ripping his testicles off, but Tezzeret reacts with nothing more than a slight tightening of his eyes.

Tezzeret tries one more time to reason with Doc. Doc wants to get back and Nicol Bolas right? Nicol Bolas is fond of his so-called practical jokes, well Tezzeret has one in mind to pull on the dragon.

 “Let’s put it this way: If rage doesn’t make his head explode on the spot, he’ll have to suck it up and pretend he likes it. He’ll have to thank us.”

(That's a bold claim.)

The biggest obstacle is one that he wasn't expecting. He's naked. Doc's teleporting power transported just Tezzeret to the cavern, and left behind the etherium armor.

Tezzeret figures there is only sixteen minutes left until Silas Renn kills Baltrice. Nine hundred and ninety seconds. That gives him a precise time and location to strike. All he needs from Doc is for him to keep time while he figures things out.

First things first. Tezzeret needs to know if he can escape this sangrite lined cavern. The red crystal actively absorbed mana, preventing him from teleporting or planeswalking. Tezzeret searches the cavern for any small pieces to experiment with, but finds none. He has to resort to tugging and kicking at the large crystal lodged in cavern walls and floor, which only results in a few cuts and no loose sangrite.

At least no immediate results. A few moments later small eruptions of power burst forth from the stone at every point where Tezzeret's blood came into contact with the crystallized dragon blood.

Tezzeret asks for the count and Doc says it's at two-hundred and eighty-six.

Tezzeret then decides to see if blood has that kind of reaction, what about some other fluid, like saliva? Tezzeret spits a bit on the floor, waits, and then nothing happens. He then takes it a step further and takes a lick, hoping that nothing is going to explode. There's absolutely no taste, which means it's not dissolving even a little bit. Looks like the bloodstone that is sangrite only dissolves and reacts to blood.

The important thing is that there is a power there to be harnessed. If he could only find small enough pieces, perhaps the explosive reaction could be channeled. But there were no pieces to find. If only he had some tools. If only his etherium armor hadn't been left behind. Even just a little bit...

Wait a second...

The armor isn't the only etherium at Tezzeret's disposal. Doc tells him the count is at three-hundred and seventy, and Tezzeret gets to work.

Standing nude in the center of the cavern, I closed my eyes and focused my will, and shortly there appeared in my perception a chaotic array of very, very faint points of energy, glowing faintly like stars on a misty night: a halo around my scalp, clustered around my groin, and scattered among my hands and feet. I fixed my attention to them each individually, and to them all generally, and pulled them out from under my skin.

Etherium he acquired not as a student at the Seeker Academy, but the slivers he had stolen from his father so long ago. When gathered together, it was enough to a make a ball a half and inch in diameter. Tezzeret forms it into a hollow needle and draws up some of his own blood. He then walks up to one of the sangrite crystals, one with a flaw, and inserts the needle into a crack. Tezzeret then steps backwards and forces the needle to release the blood.

The crystal explodes, Tezzeret is blow backward and crashes into the cavern wall, and shards of all sizes of sangrite litter the room.

One more experiment. Tezzeret picks up a tiny sliver of sangrite and jams it into his left butt cheek.

Thankfully nothing explodes, but a burst of power and some smoke spits out, and for a brief moment it feels like the pain will burn all the way down to the bone

After the knock backwards, Doc has lost the count, but the last he remembers being in the high seven hundreds. There is no more time to experiment. Tezzeret has to hope his theory is correct. When Doc asks him what he's about to do, Tezzeret tells him to just trust him. He then finds a piece of sangrite shaped for his purposes, he coats it in etherium and forms a sharp needle point, and then he jams it into his rib cage. Tezzeret then manipulates the etherium so it makes its way towards and into his heart.

I took a deep breath. “This is how it’s going to work. This sangrite seems to be the next best thing to solid mana. And concentrated. Activated by contact with blood. Instead of jamming a crystal straight through my skin and setting another part of me on fire, I believe that a very, very fine powder fed directly into my bloodstream might distribute the reaction throughout my body in a controlled fashion—so I can use its power without blowing myself apart.”

“Come again? You want to mainline powdered dragon blood?”

“More than mainline. I am equipping the etherium needle with very, very tiny grinding gears, that very, very slowly crush the sangrite as it’s fed into my aorta. If it works the way I’m hoping, the dust particles will spread through my whole body in a few seconds.”

Tezzeret releases the sangrite powder into his body, and he feels the power rush through him. Tezzeret floats into the air and as he creates a transit gate back to the Glass Dune where he knew Baltrice and Silas Renn would be, he finds he can see not only that, but the entire plane all at once. He sees Esper, Grixis, Bant, Jund, and Naya. He can see Sharuum on her throne, Nicol Bolas off brooding, and his father collapsed in his hovel.

Tezzeret steps through the gate.

My arrival cracked the sky. 

Through the rip I came, blazing in the air dozens of yards above them. The light from my body whited out the colors of the desert, Baltrice and the sleds, and the hand Renn had raised to shield his eyes. 

I spoke in thunderclaps. 


* * *

Twenty Minutes

I like that there was an attempt to explain why Tezzeret told Silas Renn that he'd see him again in twenty minutes. Supposedly he knows that's when Silas Renn is going to kill Baltrice. How he thinks he can stop and kill Silas Renn, when he also knows he's been stuck in a time loop controlled by the clockworker makes no sense, but at least Stover made an attempt. If you look closely it doesn't make sense (and that's a big reason why people should stay away from time travel when it comes to writing), but since clockworking exists for this story, gotta find what good I can.

Tezzeret and Etherium

When Tezzeret realizes he still has some etherium to work with, he had quite a lot to reflect on.

Not to mention the tiny slivers and shards of etherium lodged under the skin of my scalp and groin, hands and feet, that were half-forgotten remnants of what I had stolen from my father.

Stolen is a stark word. Someone less devoted to precision than I would likely try to justify such a theft as some sort of moral necessity; I myself have been guilty of such. For many years I had thought of myself as a victim who had transformed himself into a clever rogue-hero like those of childhood fables, using ingenuity and patience to win freedom against impossible odds—and though that was exactly what I had done, at the same time, the unsentimental truth of the matter is that I had been only a clever thief. Worse than a thief: a bandit. A ripper.

I had used my mind instead of a weapon, but that was a distinction of style, not substance. Irrelevant to the truth.

Yes: my father was a bad man. Is a bad man. A drunkard, a wastrel, an addict, a violent abuser of my mother and myself—a figure of terror before he became one of contempt. And yet—

And yet there had been two things left in his life that he’d called his own: his tiny trade in etherium scraps, and his son the rhabdomant, who had kept him in business. And I had ripped them both forever beyond his grasp.

As he had taught me, all those years ago: whatever can be taken, will be taken.

I took from a man who’d had nothing else.

It appears that this is supposed to come off as another example of Tezzeret seeing the "truth" that normal people cannot see. That he is able to admit to himself supposed truths that a "normal" person, and someone not as enlightened as he is, would not be able to admit or even realize.

Maybe I'm not as enlightened as he is, but that whole internal speech is ridiculous. At the very end he says that his father only owned two things. The etherium that Tezzeret himself found, and Tezzeret himself.

Let me repeat that: Tezzeret believes that he stole himself from his father.

The man who didn't ever bother naming him, who was very clearly using his son as a tool and not raising him as a son.

It would be nice to think that this was inserted to demonstrate that while Tezzeret thinks on a higher level than other people, he still has some blind spots despite how highly he thinks of his own intelligence. The blind spot being that doesn't consider his own body, his own self, as being fully his own because he was so abused as a child that he can't help but think of himself as his father's property...  but I believe we just have to take it at face value. This series of paragraphs is just too long of an explanation as to why we, the readers, are wrong to believe that Tezzerret gained freedom and escaped a life of oppression to make a life from himself, and instead he is nothing more than the disgusting little thief/ripper he's always been.

Moral of the story: You can't escape who you are, and no matter how hard you try and how far you go, if you were born a piece of trash, that's who you'll always be. The best you'll be able to do is convince yourself that it is a virtue to accept that as the truth.

I'm not saying that every story has to have the protagonist rise up from nothing to find himself saving the universe from unspeakable evil and gaining the affections of the beautiful princess. I'm not saying that some stories cannot have have tragic figures, and that a tragic figure cannot be a protagonist. My problem with this is that the words of this book seem to be conveying a message that isn't intended. Sometimes it seems like Tezzeret uses a lot of unnecessarily long words to demonstrate how he really is this wise, self-aware, enlightened being that's a bit arrogant but maybe he does see things that mere mortals cannot, and other times it seems like he's just spouting out nonsense that completely contradict his actions and is done in a way that doesn't provide layers to a fully fleshed character but instead just shows inconsistency.

Stover is sending mixed messages.

1 comment:

  1. The way I interpreted Tezzeret using Doc's teleport was that because his mind was apparently preparing to planeswalk, Doc could tell that and either got the hint or thought "oh no you don't". Throughout the story, even though he hates Bolas, Doc makes sure to keep Tezzeret going with his mission. He talks rebellious, but when it counts, Doc's loyal to the dragon.