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Monday, March 26, 2012

The Gathering Dark - Chapter 16



Discoveries and Preparation


Chapter 16 - The Echoes of Battles Yet Unfought

The viewpoint of a historian is that a surveyor on a hillside, overlooking a river. He can see the flow of the river and has no doubt about how it runs and why.

The participants of history view that same river as would a fish, unsure where it is taking them.


-Arkol, Argivian scholar

Jodah runs up the stairs in a blind panic, afraid that Ith will break free of his cage and come after him. But he slowly calms down with each step and each second that passes with no apparent danger coming after him. He begins to think.

What has he learned this night? Mairsil's teacher is alive, and his name is Ith. A name that Shannan hadn't mentioned out of fear or because he didn't know. And it's quite clear that it is he that brought Jodah here to the Cconclave, by way of the Rag Man . Brought him here to a place of safety and of learning where he has come to work directly with Lord Mairsil himself... so he could be freed and destroy this new life that Jodah's found.

Was he mad when he first sent the Rag Man out? He's certainly mad now. But is there also some truth in anything that he said? Is Mairsil really leeching him of his power?

For all he knew, Lord Mairsil could have put his mentor there for his own good. Put him in a place where he couldn't be a danger to himself or anyone else because of his mental state...

But what if he's right? What if the man above who currently rules, does so thanks to the mind and magic of the man imprisoned below?

And what if there really is something in the pit?

For that matter, why was he chosen? Does being a descendant of Jarsyl have to do with anything? Do bloodlines even matter when it comes to magic? Or maybe it has something to do with the mirror . The Rag Man hadn't appeared until after he acquired it.

But the mirror is lost, it went down with the ship, and Sima is gone.

And who is the Rag Man? Does he work for Ith or for Mairsil? He hasn't freed Ith on his own, despite knowing exactly where he is. Maybe he keeps watch on the prisoner for Lord Mairsil.

What if Mairsil is mad as well?

There are too many questions. He needs more information. And he's not going to be able to get it from Shannan. He's going to have to very circumspectly get the information from Lord Mairsil himself.

With at least the beginning of a decision formed in his head, Jodah continues back up the passageway.

Ith. Ith... he has to be mad. And there's no telling what he was like before he was imprisoned. No telling how much he's changed. Or Mairsil for that matter. Ith had said it. Everything changes.

Mountains become island, Ith had said. Plains become forests.

Jodah froze on the stairs, and suddenly he realized where he had gone wrong with his ancestor's spell. He had envisioned the land as it was now, not over two centuries before. Once Mairsil's tower had been out among the cranberry bogs, his grandmother had said. Then they had drained the bottomland and turned it into fields.

Mountains become islands. Plains become forests.

Swamps become plains.

The spell didn't work because he was using the wrong mana!

Lord Mairsil should know immediately!... or should he? Lord Mairsil was quite eager to open the gate... but does Lord Ith feel the same? Who should he trust?


...Out in the plains...

Delphine is quite pleased at how well the festival is turning out. There must be over a thousand people primed to fall under her sway. The letter from the Lord Guardian had allowed her to force the local priest to open up the supplies in the temple granaries to use for her purposes, and word of her generosity with food and wine soon spread.

The people of the villages were heavily armed, thanks to constant battles with the nearby barbarians that they as not much better than goblins, and soon the work of her preacher will turn them into an army that will do as she desires. He reads from the Book of Tal, heals the maimed and diseased, and preaches against the barbarians, the goblins, and the magicians most of all.

Primata Delphine knew the preacher's patter. each story, each parable, each prayer would lead the assembled multitude to the irrevocable point that one cannot suffer a magician to live. That the wizards of this citadel were in a league with the barbarians. That they were stealing sons and daughters to sacrifice to their unknown gods.With each doubling back, the crowd grew angrier, more drunken, and more determined to eradicate the thread of these evil, hell-spawned wizards.

At the right moment , when the fever pitch is at its highest, Primata Delphine will step up and speak her own choice words from the Book of Tal and call for a crusade against the evil tower.

The only one to voice doubt is the local priest. The waste of necessary supplies which would help them through the winter will result in the loss of many lives due to starvation. Delphine ignores him and thinks to himself that soon enough there won't be as many mouths to feed as he thinks there will be.


...Jodah's room...

The young mage can't fall asleep. He knows the mana is the key to what went wrong, but just to make sure he gets up to review his notes only to realize he had left them in Lord Mairsil's study. He could wait until morning to retrieve them, but he figures there's no time like the present and he leaves his room.

Jodah approaches the Lord High Mage's door and finds that it is still spelled to allow him in, and he finds the recording scarab and sheets of paper still on the floor where he had left them. As he exits, he hears the sound of footsteps and voices approaching, and he realizes it's Barl and Lord Mairsil himself!

With the doubts from Lord Ith still in his mind, he knows he doesn't want to be caught having snuck into the Lord High Mage's study in the middle of the night, and with no where to hide, he does the only thing he can do and acts if he's knocking on the door to be let in. When asked what it is he's doing here, Jodah truthfully says that he couldn't sleep, and then adds that he wanted to drop by to see if he could help with the clean up.

Lord Mairsil expresses admiration for his initiative, but tells him to not worry about that. The servants will take care of it. He tells him what he needs from Jodah is for him to get some rest so he can tackle their problem with a fresh mind. As Jodah walks away, Lord Mairsil adds one more thing.

The smile returned, and it seemed very much to Jodah to be a wolf's smile.

"You're going to have to learn a few spells in the next few days," Mairsil said. "I need you to fight a duel for me."

* * *


Swamps!

Love the solution. It's perfect in so many ways. The very beginning of the book discusses how the period known as The Dark spanned several hundred years and is transition from the world as we knew it to the coming Ice Age. The core concept of this book is to illustrate the basics of magic and introduce it to the world and to the readers. And the hook to the protagonist is his relationship to the legendary Urza.

All three of these things are brought together as one as Jodah realizes that the reason his spell recreated thanks to the notes from his great-great-grandfather Jarsyl was using the wrong mana type because he wasn't considering how the land has changed since his time.

That's the right way to utilize Jodah's shock from his experience in meeting Lord Ith.


Crusade

Well, there we go. We actually do get to see Delphine's special order from the Lord Guardian put to use. I still think it's odd that she traveled all this way with no one else besides Sister Betje and the preacher (and picked up a tracker as she neared the journey's end) considering the amount of passion she expressed in wanting to hunt them down, but at least it got used, as well as the preacher's skills.

In her defense, she didn't know that Jodah and/or Sima were staying a fortress filled with mages, and so she had to improvise.


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