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AMRT Chapter 50: Careful Risks

 
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2005 7:28 am    Post subject: AMRT Chapter 50: Careful Risks Reply with quote

Sorry for the delay. I kept revising things. Anyway, this chapter seems to consist of three main parts, so that's how I organized my summary. I'm still not entirely happy with my efforts, but good grief I've had months to work on this thing, so it's my own bloody fault for not delivering the goods, heh. Here ya go:

THE APARTMENT

So, just when we were getting used to Geraden and Terisa as expert Imagers, and expected their translation back to Orison to be a routine thing, we’re thrown rudely back into a place and a world we thought we had left far behind: Terisa's old apartment. Our heroes have inadvertently crashed a tuxedo party taking place there.

Not having re-read MN all these years until now, I had forgotten this little episode. I didn’t like coming back to this prison that was Terisa's former life. She isn't feeling too great about it either, as she ponders what led Geraden to bring her back here and right now, at the worst possible time?

The party guests are confused and agitated by this sudden, impossible appearance of two people out of nowhere. Amid calls for security, Terisa sees none other than the Reverend Thatcher, whose eyes start watering with "surprise and relief and embarrassment” when he sees her. Right behind the Reverend is Terisa's father, whose expression in contrast "made him look like a startled barracuda."

Terisa's old fear of her father comes back to her, but Rev. Thatcher's words get her attention: "He was going to sell your apartment anyway. I persuaded him to sell it for charity. For the mission. He's going to auction it tonight. To raise money for the mission." The lonely and meek Reverend had somehow found the strength and courage to face down her father and argue the case for the mission--and had won.

His improbable triumph over her father shocks Terisa out of her fear. The Reverend has changed into a hero before her eyes…but her father hasn’t changed: he remains the domineering figure he’s always been in her life. He immediately starts scolding Terisa for daring to embarrass him in front of guests, but now she stands her ground. His powers of intimidation did not work on the Reverend, and now they no longer work on Terisa: she doesn’t even feel she needs to hurt him back for all the years of mistreatment she suffered at his hands. Simply not being afraid of him anymore is enough for her. Instead, she calmly faces him while telling Geraden to find a way to get them out of this mess.

Geraden now has to do something he's never done before: reach across worlds to shift an image in a mirror--Adept Havelock's mirror, in Orison, so that Havelock can see them and bring them back. Meanwhile, dear old dad threatens to punish Terisa, but Reverend Thatcher cuts him off: "Mr. Morgan, that's absurd. She's come back. We all thought she was dead, and now she's come back. We should be delighted."

Question: why did they all think Terisa was dead? Did her father decide that she was, and told everyone so? All anyone could really say was that she had simply vanished without a trace, nothing more.

Anyway, that's moot right now. I really like Rev. Thatcher here, a good man coming into his own. He seemed such a miserable and futile figure when we first met him in the story, but now we see the strength and humanity in his character. He seems to be the only one in the whole room who welcomes Terisa's return, no matter how strange the manner of returning.

However, there is no time for the Reverend to chat with Terisa, as Geraden finds the way home to Orison. With a shout ("Havelock, we trust you!") he vanishes, scaring further the already freaked-out guests. Before she also vanishes from this world (again!), Terisa says a final few words to Rev. Thatcher to express her belief in him: "You can have your auction. Make him give you every penny he gets. I want you to have the money. It's a good cause, the best. And I might not come back. If I do, I certainly won't live here."

Then she is gone, as suddenly as she came. I wonder what the Reverend will make of this event in the years to come: how will he interpret it? I like to imagine that Terisa became an angel in his eyes (just as he himself became transformed in Terisa's eyes). Her miraculous re-appearance might, in his mind, be akin to a divine visitation, come to bless him and to confirm that he was right to seek out her father and fight for the mission's cause. Terisa, the Reverend's guardian angel. I rather like that image.

THE STRONGHOLD

Our heroes meet Adept Havelock once again in his chambers, and Artagel is there also. Geraden explains to him Terisa's plan to make an Image of Eremis's stronghold from one of Havelock's mirrors, so they can hopefully surprise the hell out of Eremis and his cohorts. Not only does Artagel agree with the plan, he intends to join them on their little adventure, overriding Geraden's objections.

Terisa puts herself before a flat mirror (the one showing a sand dune in Cadwal) and starts her task. The next couple of pages cover in detail her struggle to recreate in her mind's eye the dark cell where Eremis had kept her and Nyle. The interesting thing here is how Nyle becomes Terisa's key to resolving the Image of the cell. Imagery normally focused on places, not people; so Terisa's achievement in using Nyle to bring her Image into being is another hint of how powerful her talent is. (I guess it's a reverse process from how the Congery acquired the Image of its champion: I assume they first found the Image of the alien planet, and only then zeroed in on a specific person there--Darsint.)

Eventually Terisa succeeds in creating her Image of the cell, and steps into it. She takes a lamp with her to provide illumination so Geraden can see the place and copy it in a curved mirror, so that he and Artagel can come through.

When she looks around and sees Nyle where he is supposed to be (still chained to the wall of the cell), Terisa at first feels triumphant, but is soon appalled by Nyle's condition. Once again, we're confronted by the consequences of rape, a recurring theme in SRD's stories:

Quote:
His face was chalky, not physically battered, but nonetheless haggard and abused. His eyes stared at her, dark pits from which the intelligence had been burned out. In spite of her sudden arrival, he slumped against his chains, unable to lift his weight off the manacles. Old blood crusted his wrists. A small caked pool marked the stone between his feet. Master Gilbur had strange tastes. Nyle looked like a man who had been used until the only part of him left alive was his sense of horror.

And that was the fate Master Eremis had intended for her. He had planned to reduce her to that condition, in order to hurt both her and Geraden as much as possible.


Artagel and Geraden arrive moments later and are hit hard by the sight of Nyle. They attack his chains like madmen, driven by rage and disgust at the degradation practiced on their fellow brother. Before they can translate Nyle back to the safety of Orison, however, the High King's Monomach suddenly shows up at the door: Gart had come to take Nyle to the "Image-room" where Master Eremis was going to ready him for use against Geraden and Terisa.

After brief pleasantries between the parties, Terisa throws her lamp at Gart, and in that instant Artagel launches his own attack. He is so ferocious that Gart is forced back out of the cell and into the corridor. However, the Monomach soon recovers, and once more Artagel finds himself on the defensive, fighting for his life. But at least he has barred Gart's way, and Terisa, Geraden and Nyle flee in the other direction. Soon, they pass by a storeroom that Geraden pushes Nyle into for hiding. Then Terisa and Geraden go in search of the Image-room and Master Eremis.

After a while, they come upon the Image-room: "a large, round room, as large as the Congery's former meeting hall." It is full of tall mirrors arranged in a wide circle, facing inward toward the centre of the room. Standing in the centre are Eremis, Gilbur and arch-Imager Vagel: they're busy studying the mirror showing the giant slug-beast at Esmerel. King Joyse is also in the Image, rallying his men under the very jaws of the monster.

With surprise on their side, Geraden and Terisa manage to shatter several of the mirrors before the three Imagers can do anything. Eremis actually seems pleased by it all: he is someone who relishes being tested. Gilbur gets out his dagger and goes after Geraden, while Terisa faces Eremis and Vagel. She seems quite calm in the face of these two powerful men; in fact she already knows how she is going to fight them. She is going to send an Image of this room back to Havelock's flat mirror, so that he'll be able to translate Eremis and Vagel to Orison. Eremis would lose his mind, and Vagel would be cut off from his power base with no way back. As Terisa concentrates on her task, Geraden flees out of the room, hoping to draw Master Gilbur after him, but the Imager stops his pursuit and returns to his cohorts, knowing Geraden doesn't pose a threat away from the room.

Unfortunately for Terisa, her ingenious plan is wrecked when she opens the way for translation...and Havelock himself pops into the Image-room, with one person in his sights: 'Hee-hee! Wait for me, Vagel! I'm coming!" The Adept's arrival catches Vagel completely off guard and he bolts from the room in panic. Havelock chases after him, armed only with his...featherduster. With Havelock gone (as well as Geraden) and no way left to fight, Terisa once more finds herself totally in the clutches of Master Eremis. He leaves the destruction of King Joyse in Gilbur's hands, while saving Terisa for himself.

ESMEREL

We finally return to the battle in the valley of Esmerel and the problem of the slug-beast. First we view the situation from King Joyse's perspective: he calmly considers the fact that he has no weapon with which to combat the beast, but sees that his priority right now is to restore order to his panicked troops. Therefore he rides up as close to the monster as he dares, to show that he is still in control, and shouts for his army to retreat in order. Soon Prince Kragen and Castellan Norge join the King, and the sight of the three leaders defying the monster does indeed restore order to their army...but it doesn’t appear Mordant's defenders will last much longer anyway, if no one can find a way to stop the beast.

We switch to Myste and Elega (and Darsint hovering protectively behind them), observing the battle from a distance, and cheering their father on (as well as Prince Kragen). The two sisters are glad to see their father back in glorious kingly form, glad to see him and Kragen working as allies in holding their troops together with their leadership:

Quote:
As the army fought down its panic, Elega murmured, "I did not believe that we would ever see him like this again."

"I hoped for it," replied Myste softly. "I could not bear to give it up. That is the difference between us. I cannot live without old hopes. You are willing to let them go in order to conceive new ones."

At the moment, Elega had no idea whether she considered this an accurate observation or not.


Darsint, however, sees himself lacking in the kind of courage Joyse is displaying: "Wouldn't catch me doing that. Haven't got the guts. Fighting I can do. But stand like that so the men won't panic? Make myself a target? Maybe that's what went wrong on Pythas. Couldn't rally my men."

Then the trio spots hundreds of riders in red fur streaming around the slug to attack Joyse and Kragen—the same race of four-armed creatures that had once attacked Terisa and Geraden. In the imminent slaughter, Myste may lose only one man--her father, but Elega would lose both her father and Kragen, the love of her life. And there is nothing they can do about it. Now, though, Darsint finds courage: he tells Elega to protect Myste, then runs down to the battle. There is enough power left in his suit to enable him to run as fast as a horse. However, the Cadwals at the last catapult--the remaining one he couldn't destroy because his rifle ran out of juice--see him and launch scattershot at him. The stones catch him, and he falls down on his face.

King Joyse and Prince Kragen see the coming onslaught. Castellan Norge sends a force down to rescue them, but his men are too far away. The two leaders view their predicament in their separate ways:

Quote:
...the King smiled, and his eyes grew brighter. "As I said," he remarked in a voice only Prince Kragen could hear, "the High King grows desperate. He dares not fail. And men who dare not fail cannot succeed."

Prince Kragen considered this a foolish piece of philosophy--and gratuitous as well--but he had no time for it. He had no time to regret that he was about to die, or that he had failed his father, or that he would never hold Elega in his arms again.


Joyse--always the grand strategist, keeping his eye on the big picture; and Kragen--an unsentimental man of action rather than of words. The Prince draws his sword and rides straight at the creatures. Joyse joins him, and the two men fight the good fight, hoping to take as many of the creatures as they can with them when they go down.

But they don't go down. Joyse and Kragen manage to cut into the heart of the creatures' assault, and keep on going. The creatures may have savage hate driving them, but they're still vulnerable flesh-and-blood beings, and they aren't too skillful with their scimitars, neutralizing their ostensible four-armed advantage. And here we finally see the "real" King Joyse in true, formidable form:

Quote:
Prince Kragen himself was much younger--presumably much stronger. Yet King Joyse matched the Alend Contender blow for blow, swung and thrust his longsword as if the weight of steel transformed him, restored him to his prime. Now his beard was splashed with blood; cuts laced his mail; grue stained his arms. And yet he kept all harm away from his companion on that side.

...Kragen found that King Joyse made sense to him at last. If everything else was lost, still no one would ever be able to change the fact that the King of Mordant and the Alend Contender had died side by side instead of at each other's throats.


But they don't die. The momentum of the battle suddenly shifts when the Termigan appears with all of his men. They had been readying themselves to strike during the first attack of the slug-beast, maybe even to strike the beast itself, but now they plow into the red-furred creatures, and Kragen sees for himself the "grim lord" Termigan in action:

Quote:
The look on his face was as keen as a cleaver; he had the hands of a butcher. The way he slaughtered his enemies justified every story the Prince had ever heard of him. And his men were beyond panic. They had seen Sternwall eaten alive by Imagery, and nothing could frighten them.


The Termigan's force keeps Joyse and Kragen alive until Castellan Norge's men arrive.

Darsint is also still quite alive, if a little bruised and battered. He is back up and continues on his way, "lumbering like a wreck." On reaching the battle in front of the slug, Darsint deals with the red-furred creatures by shooting them down with his handgun, "aiming and firing almost negligently, as if he could do this kind of fighting in his sleep." The creatures' scimitars glance harmlessly off his armor. Darsint isn't interested in the creature army, though: his goal is the slug-beast. Norge's men has thinned out the combat in front of the monster just enough to allow Darsint to walk right up to its maw. He makes an adjustment inside his suit and, "before anyone except Myste" realizes what he's up to, he jumps straight down the monster's throat!

So ends Chapter 50... Faint
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2005 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've often thought that the first part of this chapter is sort of ... odd. Confused

Why is it necessary for Teresa to go back to her own world, even briefly?

I have long though that Thatcher represents "good" and her father represents "evil" in the story, and this is the only scene where we see both men in the same place and time. Their reactions to Teresa's suddden appearance are rather telling.

Also, it shows how much Teresa has grown in her time in Mordant, that she clearly sees the Reverand for the hero that he is, and her father for the first class jerk that he is.

But it still seems to be a bit of an odd interlude to me. Confused

It might be that in her own world she has been gone for months and months, and was perhaps thought dead because of that? Confused

Poor Nyle...to be chained and raped...the description of the blood on the floor always makes me feel queasy. Crazy Gilbur is an animal. Raver

This whole chapter allows us to see people as they are, deep down inside. Thatcher is a tower of strength. Mr. Morgan is an abusive *ss. Gilbur is a monster. The Termigan is faithful to Mordant when it matters the most. Kragen and Joyce are brothers under arms, both of them brave and true. Teresa remains calm and in control in a crisis. And Darsint shows that he really is a champion. Smile

Great job, by the way, with your dissection, Matrixman. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2005 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, duchess. Smile

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I have long though that Thatcher represents "good" and her father represents "evil" in the story, and this is the only scene where we see both men in the same place and time. Their reactions to Teresa's suddden appearance are rather telling.


Works for me. Smile I guess the age-old conflict between "good" and "evil" finds form in Rev. Thatcher's goodheartedness versus the coldheartedness of Terisa's father, in terms of our world. Though it's more of a skirmish rather than an ultimate battle. Thatcher reminds me of SRD's philosophy about the "effective passion" of human beings, how it drives his fantasy writing. He was referring to Thomas Covenant's character, but Rev. Thatcher is also someone whose passion for his cause is an effective, positive energy that helps him prevail over the forces of darkness and negativity, represented by Terisa's father. Er, does that make sense?

Quote:
This whole chapter allows us to see people as they are, deep down inside. Thatcher is a tower of strength. Mr. Morgan is an abusive *ss. Gilbur is a monster. The Termigan is faithful to Mordant when it matters the most. Kragen and Joyce are brothers under arms, both of them brave and true. Teresa remains calm and in control in a crisis. And Darsint shows that he really is a champion. Smile


Cool insight, duchess. I didn't see that angle before.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2005 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The apartment scene does seem odd, but I think it's necessary--I wonder if it was one of those things that SRD knew had to happen, but for some reason it wouldn't happen quite seamlessly.

Terisa has to face her father at some point, in order to prove that she is no longer invisible, to prove to him that his unlove and neglect have become utterly meaningless to the person she has become. At the beginning of AMOHD, she compares Eremis to her father--his power, his magnetism--so in a way, facing down dear ol' dad is almost like a practice run for the undoubtedly evil-er Eremis. It's a way of showing that no one--not even the guy who originally made her feel like fading--can control her in that way any more.

I think the scene's placement is a little awkward, but it also has very definite functions in the story. A) It gives Terisa that practice run and B) it ties up the loose ends of her former life. Spoiler:
It does sort of indicate that she won't be returning to New York, but that can't really be helped. If SRD had left it to the end, you'd either be sitting there wondering what the heck happened to New York, or you'd have a really awkward scene where Terisa goes back to tell her father off, and ask Thatcher to officiate at her wedding (or something).


And can I just say that Darsint is a great big hunka-hunka burnin' luv? As well as being totally hardcore. Jump into the slugbeast's mouth! Leap into the belly of the beast! Hero!
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2015 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

^This post above by Myste is really terrific; absolutely sums up all the important points of this chapter, and why it needed to be written in this way!
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Terisa faced Eremis and the arch-Imager alone.

She knew how to fight them: without thinking about it, without planning anything, she knew. She could never break enough of their mirrors to save King Joyse. They would kill her long before she did that much damage. And she would accomplish nothing if she shifted the Image which showed the King's peril. Nevertheless she had glass to oppose Eremis and Vagel with, mirrors at her disposal which they couldn't see. All she had to do was stay alive.

And concentrate--

I want you to trust me.

--concentrate on the flat glass in Havelock's rooms, the mirror with the Image of the sand dune. If she put this scene, this room into that glass, the Adept could see it. He would see it, if he hadn't fallen completely victim to his insanity. And then he could translate both Eremis and Vagel to Orison.

Trust me.

Eremis would lose his mind. And Vagel would be in Orison, with no way back here. He might use one of Havelock's mirrors to avoid capture, but he would cease to be a threat.

All she had to do was concentrate.

She stood still. Instinctively, she raised her hands as if to show Master Eremis she was no longer a threat to his mirrors.

The way he looked at her made her blood labor like sludge in her veins.

To keep himself from being pinned to the wall, Geraden had to retreat toward one of the exits. Apparently hoping to draw Master Gilbur after him, he turned suddenly and fled, running hard down the corridor.

Cunning despite his rage, Master Gilbur stopped. There was no harm Geraden could do anywhere except in this room.

Clutching his dagger, Gilbur returned to the ring.

To the Image in Terisa's mind.

She held it steady, hoping now that Havelock would wait until Master Gilbur came within reach, within range of Eremis' destruction. She had no pity of any kind left in her.

At that moment, a touch of cold as thin as a feather and as sharp as steel slid straight through the center of her abdomen.

"Hee-hee!" a thin voice cackled. "Wait for me, Vagel! I'm coming."

Adept Havelock burst out of the air at a run.

"I'm coming!"

Oh, no!

He was a madman full of glee. His feet seemed to find the stone without any possibility of misstep, as if losing his mind made him immune to all the other hazards of translation. His apron flapped about his ankles as he ran.

As swift as joy, he sped for the arch-Imager.

In both fists he clutched his featherduster as if it made him mighty: a sword or scepter no one could oppose.

That surprised Vagel; it took him too suddenly for any reaction except panic. Once, in the past, Havelock had cost him everything but his life: now the mad Adept wanted his life as well.

Havelock was oblivious to everyone else. He didn't see Terisa. He didn't seem to notice that Master Eremis had stretched out a casual foot to trip him; he was only after the arch-Imager. Vagel, however, had flinched away; he headed for one of the exits with all the speed his old legs could produce.

Veering to follow, the Adept unconsciously avoided Eremis' foot.

"I'm coming!"

One after the other, they disappeared down the corridor, taking Terisa's only hope with them, her only way to fight.


Stressful when I first read it, because Havelock unravels Terisa's clever strategy, but funny upon re-reads because Vagel's cold-blooded composure is undone by the sight of Havelock coming after him.
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