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Friday, February 24, 2012

Test of Metal - Tezzeret: Even a Broken Clockworker

Tezzeret vs. Silas Renn

Tezzeret: Even a Broken Clockworker

The fight was short, by comparison to the hours of mock dueling Renn and I had inflicted upon each other at the Seeker Academy. This confrontation was over in less than a minute. However, when fighting a clockworker, less than a minute is not as brief as it sounds.

(Awesome intro to the chapter.)

(But if you're expecting Tezzeret to find a way to defeat the insta-age attack, the attack where Tezzeret or Baltrice said that Silas Renn had the ability to age someone's body one year for every second that passes, or if you're expecting that attack at least be reference... just forget about it. That set up for how deadly and impossible it is to beat him is completely forgotten.

(Oh, and about Silas Renn being able to pull Tezzeret through time and torturing him for days, and looping time so he could try to figure out how he keeps on escaping... that's forgotten too.

(Tezzeret's gotta win somehow, so using those abilities would be cheating.)

Silas Renn stands in his almost one-hundred percent etherium body not even a dozen meters from Baltrice. The fact that she hung frozen mid-fall with a motionless spray of blood coming from her back made it clear she was in some kind of slowed time field.

My best guess was that Renn had stream-shifted behind her and hit her with some kind of hypersonic ballistic projectile. Or a group of such. Hypersonic because she must have been hit before she heard it coming, ballistic because her automatic defenses would have layered her in impenetrable shields in the instant any magic had been directed against her.

He'd shot her in the back.

(Read that again... "hypersonic because she must have been hit before she heard it coming." Silas Renn teleports right behind her, but the actual projectile must have given off a sound that was outside the range of the human hearing because clearly if she could have heard a projectile coming at her from... what?... less than a few feet away?..  if not a few inches, she could have dodged it. Obviously. I dodge bullets all the time because I can hear them coming. Unless they're stealth bullets of course.)

Renn squints at the bright glow of energy permeating throughout all of Tezzeret's skin and is able to recognize his old rival. Tezzeret booms down at him from his place in the sky and tells him that they don't have to fight, that they can work together to find Crucius, but Silas' reply is to raise his weapon and fire.

He pointed the device at me, and in that instant I understood. He was not simply a psychopath, a bloodthirsty maniac attacking for sport. He was attacking because he thought he had no choice. He was fighting the man I used to be. In self-defense.
When one is made of glass, everything looks like a stone.

(Like how the words of wisdom don't match up with Tezzeret's realization? The saying is trying to convey the message that when you are vulnerable, everything looks like a threat even though it may not be. On the surface that seems to match up, since Tezzeret knows that he is not a threat, but looking closer it's the exact opposite of what's going on. The saying is from the perspective of the person made of glass, yet the realization of what's going on is from the perspective of the "stone." Since it is Tezzeret that realizes that he's the one that's changed from the "stone" he used to be, Silas Renn is misinformed, not misinterpreting what's going on. A more fitting saying would be:

(When one looks like a stone, do not approach one made of glass until you prove you're made of harmless rubber.)

Tezzeret realizes that Renn's shields must be down to allow the projectile to pass through, and he saw this as an opportunity to experimentally verify a hypothesis he'd come up with years ago.

I’d proposed that there is no interdimensional conservation of vector. In plain language, when allowing a moving body to pass through a reality warp, its vector on re entry will be, effectively, any direction I feel like.

(Seriously!? That's the big hypothesis? A hypothesis that what goes into a teleportation gate will leave the exit gate in the direction that the gate is facing, and not continue to move in the direction it was originally moving? You mean like how portals work in every tv show, movie, comic, and video game? Something that is testable in a matter of moments that Tezzeret just happened to have not had the time to test out all these years since he brilliantly "came up" with something that is quite intuitive?

(That Tezzeret. What a genius.)

Tezzeret opens up a portal before the projectile reaches him and has the exit aimed right at Renn's crotch. Which, along with his head and feet, is one of the remaining pieces of flesh on his body.

There's clear pain on Renn's face, but he shakes it off and tells Tezzeret he'll have to do better than that. Renn unleashes, what Tezzeret assumes, is temporal spell after temporal spell, and he counters by creating warps in reality to intercept them.

While this is going on, Doc has been trying to get a good look at what's happening with Baltrice, and he's able to figure out that slow time field around her seems to extend to one meter beyond her on all sides, and she seems to be moving at one tenth of normal speed.

As for the blue runes that Renn has been flinging at Tezzeret, and now have formed a ring in the sky... Which turns out to be a temporal gate! Tezzeret recognizes it for the trap that is it, and rather than chase after him into an ambush with five etherium drakes lying in wait, he instead reaches out with his reality warping powers granted by sangrite power that is steadily being used up and pulls him back through and flings him at Baltrice.

(More on this later.)

Renn cancels the field around Baltrice before he gets trapped in it as well, and Tezzeret comes in right behind with a knee to the face. Baltrice asks what's going on, and Tezzeret simply points to Silas Renn and then tells her that he can deal with his rival. He needs her to handle the drakes.

The mana in each of them is nearly exhausted and so Tezzeret and Silas Renn resort to a good old fasioned brawling. There's eye gouging, finger breaking, and rubbing glass sand in people's faces. But in the end Tezzeret realizes that while he hasn't fought with his fists since he was about eleven years old, it appears that the Renn family includes hand-to-hand combat as part of their education.

Near death, Tezzeret can only think about how stupid he's been. This whole time he's been trying to avoid a head to head fight with Silas Renn and yet he does just that. A machinist of flesh and blood against a clockworker made of etherium...

Wait a second...

(No, Tezzeret isn't able to just control all the etherium on Silas Renn's body, and isn't just able to pull his enemy apart. If there's one good thing about this fight, it's that it doesn't go that route. That would completely and utterly destroy any reason as to why people would want etherium limbs, especially Tezzeret himself, if other people could affect etherium in your own body in that way, not to mention it wouldn't explain why Tezzeret realizes he can't handle the etherium drakes and relies on Baltrice to take care of them.)

There's still the etherium in his heart.

Tezzeret mentally rips it out of his body, leaving behind just enough to plug the hole in his heart, and jams is through Renn's eye. While he's distracted and in pain, Tezzeret opens up a gate back to the zombie horde.

Silas Renn sees the gate and at first takes it for Tezzeret trying to escape. He realizes the truth too late. Tezzeret mentally controls the etherium sled and slams it into Renn's back. As he gets part way through Tezzeret closes the gate and slices Renn's body in half, with part of his torso, legs, and one arm on one side, and the rest of his body on the other.

Tezzeret looks towards Baltrice and sees that there are still three etherium drakes left. Since they're causing so much destruction, they might as well fight in the middle of the zombie horde and take out as many as they can through collateral damage, so he he reopens a transit gate and tells her to lead them through.

Tezzeret follows to find the remains of Silas Renn still moving, trying to reassemble itself. He picks up Silas Renn's head, Tezzeret denies his rival's wish to have it done with and be killed. Tezzeret has other plans.

There's one last thing to do. Enter the Crystal Labyrinth.

* * *

Who Cares!

Besides the fight not making any sense in the context of what he know about clockworking, there was something that really stood out in this chapter. The etherium drakes.

This fight between Tezzeret and Silas Renn has been building up for so long, and we're now eighty percent through the book. The story is supposed to be coming to a close, loose threads are supposed to be wrapping up, and we're supposed to reach the exciting climax, which this fight being part of that.

So what does Stove do? He inserts two pages about the back history of the etherium drakes in the middle of the fight and grinds all the momentum to a halt.

I knew the fight wasn't going to make total sense and I was ready to just enjoy it as much as I could. I was not expecting the story to switch from sprinting to full stop just like that.

(If you want the details, read on.)

(We very literally learn about the behavior patterns of the drakes of Esper, how they were a threat to everything, and then because a segment of the population decided the Noble Work needed to expand from just the intelligent creatures of the plane to the more base creatures, they decided to start with drakes. It turns out that giving drakes etherium limbs didn't change their behavoir, and instead only made them more of a threat, so they thought maybe they should add more. And more. Until the drakes were very nearly made of all etherium and now a huge threat to the plain. The problem became so bad that Sharuum had to order the particular sect to clean up their mess, which lead to their own annihilation, and then over the course of a couple decades, Sharuum herself had to lead hunts to eliminate the nuisance.)

World building in a fantasy story is expected. But there is a time and place for it and it and this was not it. A paragraph, sure. Two pages, absolutely not. Especially because it added next to nothing to the story while it affected the pacing so drastically.

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