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AMRT Chapter 42 : Unexpected Translations

 
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:28 pm    Post subject: AMRT Chapter 42 : Unexpected Translations Reply with quote

“Unexpected Translations” begins with Terisa in Eremis’s clutches--literally. At the end of Chapter 41, we’ve had it made perfectly clear that Geraden simply cannot rescue her. So for the first time, Terisa finds herself in a peril that seems utterly hopeless. Unlike her stint as Lebbick’s prisoner in the dungeons of Orison, there is no Tor, no Artagel, no Quillon--no Lebbick, even--all of whom, at some point or other, Terisa was able to plead her case to. (Never mind the fact that Artagel was delirious, the Tor drunk, Lebbick insane, and that Quillon didn’t need convincing.) From Eremis’s trap, however, there is no chance at all of escape.

The chapter starts, and we go back in time just a little bit, to the moment of Terisa’s capture by Eremis, Gilbur, and the High King’s Monomach. In the chaos of King Joyse’s audience chamber, Eremis grabs Terisa and pushes her at the transition point. She feels the “bottomless instant of translation,” and finds herself surrounded not by the sunlight streaming through the clerestory windows of Orison, but by torch- and lamplight, all of which is instantly doused at Eremis’s command. A voice Terisa doesn’t recognize asks what went wrong, and Eremis tells the owner that Geraden is still alive, and mustn’t be allowed to see the room they were translated to. The voice agrees, but before Terisa even has time to consider who its owner might be, Eremis forces her down a hallway and into another room.

Quote:
She had never been strong enough against him. Her concentration had never been strong enough. While he had approached her in the audience hall...she had tried to reach out into the mirror that had brought him here and change it. Her need was that extreme: she didn’t care that what she was trying was probably insane. Her strange and unmeasured talent was her only weapon. If she could fade, if she could go far enough away to reach his mirror--

His hands made that impossible.


In an almost completely dark room in the depths of Eremis’s stronghold--wherever it may be--Terisa, wholly in the rogue Imager’s power, finds that only her rage can sustain her against the insistence of his hands. Refusing to give way to panic, she fights with the only weapon she has--the only weapon she’s had for so much of her time in Mordant--logic. She learns the consequences of her ill-advised trip to visit him when he was in Orison’s dungeons, and what she told him there of Joyse’s seemingly intentional decline. She discovers that she is indirectly responsible for Queen Madin’s abduction, as Eremis tells her that it was a way of getting Joyse out of the way long enough for Eremis’s plans to come to fruition. And she learns the secret of simultaneous translation--it is not, as Barsonage and Eremis discussed so long ago, simply a matter of translating one glass inside another, but of a specific oxidate used in the creation of one mirror to prevent the other from shattering.

And in the meantime, Terisa, now chained to the wall, is completely at Eremis’s mercy. Well, almost completely. Her thoughts are still her own, and as he taunts her with the truth, and touches her as he’s always intended to touch her, she keeps from going completely mad with a very simple mantra

Quote:
I’m not yours. Never. I’ll find some way to kill you. No matter what happens. I swear it...

Far away in her mind, she was imagining his death...

She was going to kill him. All she had to do was stay alive long enough...

At the moment, her determination to kill him was all that kept her from despair. There simply wasn’t room in her for so much anger and the horror of seeing her last hope collapse...

If he had let her arms go--just for a second--she would have done her best to put his eyes out.


She gains a reprieve, however, when the same unfamiliar voice she had heard when she first arrived at Eremis’s hideout says from the doorway, “Festten wants you.” Furious at being interrupted yet again just when he is about to have his way with her, Eremis takes some convincing, but finally agrees to go see the High King. As he’s leaving, Terisa asks one last question.

Quote:
“Why are you doing this?”

He must have paused. His tone was at once hard and light; malign; jubilant.

“Because I can.”


[Talk about a villainous line. God, I hate Eremis. But his particular brand of evil is unspeakably delicious. Malign and jubilant. Light and hard. Yum.]

Eremis leaves. Alone at last, Terisa reflects on her failures and missteps, and her absolute murderous rage against him. When she starts rebuttoning her shirt, however, the unfamiliar voice comes again. And Terisa realizes that she is face to face (more or less) with the Arch-Imager Vagel. Faking nonchalance as much as possible (she’s chained to the wall in an oubliette on a bed big enough for whatever Eremis has in mind while being watched by the man who is possibly the most powerful Imager in the world, and who can see in the dark, after all), she tests the length of her chain, and asks Vagel why he puts up with Eremis, why he serves a man who is less powerful than he is, instead of the other way around.

Quote:
Power [says Vagel] is more often a matter of position than talent.


[Think about this for a second. Who else would agree with the Arch-Imager here? Elega certainly would. Terisa herself would--Terisa, whose position in Mordant, always uncertain, has fluctuated from one end of the power spectrum to another. What about Kragen? Without his position as the Alend Monarch’s son, his talents might never have put him in the Contender’s seat. The Tor takes control of Orison by virtue of his position more than his talent, which of late has been mostly drowned in wine and grief. It’s a singular statement on power, and it’s straight out of the mouth of the most mysterious and possibly fearsome villain in the whole book.]

Vagel informs Terisa that he serves Eremis because Eremis has made himself irreplaceable to High King Festten by virtue of a) the secret oxidate that allows for simultaneous translations and b) his position as a respected member of the Congery, which allows him access to the secret places of Orison; and that neither of things would be enough on their own if they didn’t lead to the ultimate reason Vagel serves--revenge on Joyse and Adept Havelock. When Terisa suggests that Eremis is just as likely to double-cross Vagel--to keep revenge on the King and his Dastard to himself--Vagel responds with a hiss and a curse and a promise:

Quote:
...before I am done I will roast Joyse’s guts over a slow fire. I will hear him howl until his mind goes, or by the stars! I will take my satisfaction from Eremis himself.”


Vagel leaves, and Terisa is alone once again in prison, trapped in the dark. She wants nothing more than to fade, as she always did when her father locked her in the closet, but she finds that she’s still too full of rage. She is still too full of volition, of willingness to live and fight. Having tested her chain, she decides to explore her cell. It’s something to do, and anything she can learn about where she is might come in handy. She feels along the wall, trying to measure how far she’s gone, when she touches another manacle. And the hand it holds, and the body it belongs to, and its face.

Nyle.

So Terisa’s theory is proved right. It gives her only momentary relief, though. Talking to Nyle, she finds out that he believes he’s being kept as bait--and as a toy for Master Gilbur. He believes that’s why she’s being held prisoner as well, as bait. Bitterly, he explains that he truly thought he was doing what was right--he knew that doing Elega’s bidding would never make her love him, but he was convinced by her conviction. Terisa struggles to keep herself from being sick at the thought of what Gilbur and the rest have done to Geraden’s brother, and can’t help but feel bitter herself when Nyle begins blaming Geraden for preventing him from completing his portion of the scheme. Worse than that, though, is how he blames himself. He tells her, finally, that he agreed to his last betrayal--the fake murder and consequent framing of Geraden--because Eremis & Co. threatened to destroy Houseldon if he didn’t. And Terisa finds that she can’t afford sympathy.

Brutally honest, she tells him that they destroyed it anyway.

Quote:
Far away from her, Nyle groaned softly, as if she had just slipped a knife between his ribs--as if she had just cut down the defenses, the self-justifications, which kept him alive in his fetters.

She went to him, feeling at once as brutal as a child molester and as vulnerable as a molested child.


[This may be the source of the Terisa-as -molested-child theory tossed around in the MN Discussion. I personally don’t think it’s a concrete indicator of molestation during her childhood--she was abused as a child, certainly; and she’s certainly been molested by Eremis. I suppose you could ask how she would know what a molested child feels like if she hadn’t been one; but logic would then force you to ask how she knows what child molester feels like, and the argument falls apart. Interesting discussion, though, right?]

Eventually, she gets Nyle to talk to her again, and has time only to learn that he believes they’re being held in Esmerel before Eremis suddenly returns. And equally as suddenly, she finds that she’s found that point of concentration and focus she needs to withstand the panic and rage she feels in his presence. She asks him why he’s holding Nyle in the same cell, and he tells her that it’s because he desires a witness to her degradation, so that when Geraden comes for her, he can send Nyle out to tell him all about it. In the midst of Eremis’s exposition, she finds what she’s looking for--a chaos of Images running through her mind, a blank space, like a gap in existence. A place to fade.

He comes toward her, prepared to pick up again where he left off before Festten’s summons. She asks him to remove her chain so that she can show him what she learned from Geraden.

Quote:
Chuckling, he took hold of her arm and clicked the fetter off her wrist.

Because she was so far away, she did nothing to betray herself. And because she was so full of anger, she didn’t hesitate.

Before he could secure his grip, she swung her leg with her strength and kicked him in the crotch.


[This may be one of the most satisfying crotch-kicks in all modern literature.]

And at that moment, Terisa sees an Image as sharp in her mind as if it had been “acid-cut.” She has no idea where she’s seen it before, but she doesn’t care--it’s away from here, this cell, Eremis--and as he reaches for her, prepared to take his revenge, she feels a touch of cold as thin as a feather and as sharp as steel slide straight through the center of her abdomen.

She falls backward into the wall, watches dimly as Eremis pulls himself back just in time to avoid being taken with her, and after the infinite moment of translation, falls onto the floor of a completely different place.

It’s Adept Havelock’s hall of mirrors in the basements of Orison, and Master Barsonage, Geraden, and the Adept himself are staring at her as if she had just tumbled out of a coffin.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Myste wrote: [This may be one of the most satisfying crotch-kicks in all modern literature.]

I agree! Those only thing that came close, for me, was the 5 times Sharon Stone got Arnult between the legs in Total Recall! Razz

Myste wrote:
She falls backward into the wall, watches dimly as Eremis pulls himself back just in time to avoid being taken with her, and after the infinite moment of translation, falls onto the floor of a completely different place
.

That's the coolest translation in the entire work, as far as I'm concerned. In a way it reminds me of (Warning: Runes spoiler):
Spoiler:
how Linden reaches deep within for her 'hidden door' in Runes.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go Myste!!! Great look at this chapter!

This could be my favorite chapter in this series. The "most satisfying crotch-kick in all modern literature", Terisa discovering her true talent - it all makes for a truly exciting & tantilizing turn of events!!!

BTW - Eremis really is a scum sucking dirt bag. Just so you all know how I really feel about this character (have I mentioned this before??) Wink

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2004 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The kick is, sorta, a precursor or signal too...Spoiler:
that all the serious ass-kicking it about to begin!
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great job Myste! Cool

Yes, it was a very satisfying kick, wasn't it? Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

There's something very twisted and sick in wanting to molest Terisa in front of an audience -- wonder if Gilbur would have also molested poor Nyle in front of Terisa for a similar reason?

I've always thought that one quote --
Quote:
Because I can.


Sums up the nature of evil very well. And conversely, the nature of good as well. Laughing Because someone feels compelled to do what they can rather than just sliding through life...but I'm pretty tired today, and doubt I am making any sense, so I'll stop now while I'm ahead. Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I know what you mean, duchess--that "Because I can" is very reminiscent of Sir Edmund Hilary's "Because it's there" quote regarding Mt. Everest.

Even from Hilary's point of view, it's still a question of power. Both men basically give the same answer to the question "Why are you doing this?" The only difference is that Eremis is a sick, evil bastard and Hilary is a mountain-climber. When a powerful person with a strong enough will reaches the point at which ability and opportunity intersect, it may be that "Because I can" is the only possible answer.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That analogy with mountain climbing definately works, but I was sort of thinking of a couple of chapters back when the Tor took charge because he could, and felt that he must -- and that was an act that was unquestionably good for Mordant. Smile

Two sides of a coin...but the need/desire to act is in common with both.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vagel's such an evil old bugger. He makes Havelock look wise for blaming all the atrocities of Imagery on him.

Quote:
The chain left her room to move around the bed. Grimly, she pulled up her trousers, tied the sash tightly, and began to rebutton her shirt.

"Unfortunate," the rattling voice muttered.

She froze.

How many people were watching her--people she couldn't see?

"I see well without light. Darkness conceals not secrets from me. But opportunities to witness such nakedness have been rare in recent years." The speaker's voice sounded like pebbles on glass. "A woman with such proud breasts, and yet so full of fear A tantalizing combination. And there is time. Eremis will be away for some little while. Festten will question him narrowly before allowing him to go ahead with his plans."

Terisa wanted to finish buttoning her shirt, but she couldn't make her fingers work. How many people--? Until now, she had only been afraid of Eremis, not of the dark itself, not of the place where he had left her.

"Sadly, however, Eremis does not like used meat. And I do not like any meat enough to risk my alliance with him. Hide your breasts--or flaunt them--as you choose." She heard relish as well as scorn in the rattle. "They will not sway me."

As if she had been waiting for his permission she fumbled at the fastenings of the shirt.

At last, her eyes were adjusting to the dark. When she peered hard, she was able to discern the outlines of a figure near where she guessed the doorway to be. The voice came from that direction.

Clenching her teeth for courage, she stood up and tested the chain. She was able to swing her arms before she came to its limit. Following it to its anchor, she found that it was stapled into the wall at the head of the bed--nearly ten feet of it, enough to let her perform almost any conceivable gymnastic feat on the bed, but not enough to let her evade the dim figure in the doorway. Nevertheless she was comforted to have that much range of motion. If everything else failed, she would at least have a chance to hit Master Eremis before he touched her again.

Deliberately, she wrapped some of the chain around her fist to give it weight. She placed her back against the wall. Then she faced the figure with the rattling voice.

"You're Vagel." She didn't need confirmation: she was sure. "The famous arch-Imager. The man who drove Havelock mad. Why do you do it?"

"Do what?"

"Put up with him. You call it an alliance, but he probably treats you like a servant. You're the arch-Imager. The most powerful man anybody has ever heard of. Why are you serving him? Why isn't it the other way around?"

The outlines of the figure suggested a shrug. "Power," he said like stones scattering against a mirror, "is more often a matter of position than of talent. He told you the truth, in a way. The whole world hinges on the little discovery which enables him to translate glass through glass. But that is not his real power.

"Really?" She couldn't stifle her impulse to goad Vagel. She was too frightened and furious for any other approach. Apparently, Vagel been listening--watching--while Eremis had her naked. "What is?"

"His real power," rattled the arch-Imager, "is that he is irreplaceable to all his allies--because of his talents, of course, but also because of his position, in the Congery, in Orison. What access do I have to his resources, his freedoms? Gilbur, I grant you, has also been favorably placed. But there it is his talent which is replaceable. He is only swift--uncommonly swift--rather than brilliant. And he hates everyone too much to form bonds--everyone except Eremis.

"No, Eremis' real power is that he can have his way with anyone.

"He has his way with me, although my Imagery far surpasses his--and although I am the link which allowed him to begin his dealings with Festten, years ago when he rescued me from renegade destitution among the Alend Lieges. He will have his way with Festten, despite the High King's taste for absolute authority. He will have his way with you"--Vagel let out a malign chuckle--"until the only thing with prevents you from begging for death is that he does not let you speak.

"He will even have his way with King Joyse in the end." Now Vagel's tone suggested hard things--broken things with sharp edges. "For that reason I do not care how utterly I serve him."

Unexpectedly, Terisa had stopped listening. The Alend Lieges. The way he said those words triggered a small leap of intuition, fitted an odd, minor detail into place. In surprise, she said, "Carrier pigeons."

Vagel was silent, as if she had startled him.

"You're the one who brought carrier pigeons here. You gave them to the Alend Lieges."

"Those mucky barons," growled the arch-Imager. "Their squalor and their petty ambitions nearly drove me mad. They demanded--demanded--Power. Imagery. I had to satisfy them to keep myself alive, me, the greatest Imager they had ever known. And yet they were satisfied with birds that could carry messages. I would have destroyed them long ago--I would have required that of Eremis--if they weren't such little men.

"For that also, for the humiliation they cost me, Joyse will suffer."

"Revenge," Terisa muttered. Her attention shifted back to Vagel. "He and Havelock beat you back when you thought you were about to become master of the world, and you can't live with it. Now you don't care who has the power. You don't care how much Eremis humiliates you. All you care about is hurting the people who showed you you were wrong about yourself.

"What Eremis is doing to you is worse than anything King Joyse ever did."

"Is it?" Vagel's voice purred like a fall of small stones. "How strangely you think. Your defeat becomes less and less surprising, despite all the nearly unguessable implications of your talent.

"Eremis' manner is demeaning, but the rewards he offers are not. Do you believe that either Joyse or Havelock proved themselves better men than I am--more able or deserving, more powerful? No. They only proved that they were more treacherous. And you have seen in the decline of Mordant and the collapse of Orison that there exists nothing so desirable, worthy, or powerful that it cannot be betrayed. I was beaten, not by a good Imager or a good king, but by a good spy."

She expected the arch-Imager to advance, but he didn't. "Do not despise revenge. Unless I am much mistaken"--he was sneering at her--"you yourself have no other passion.

"In your case, however, revenge must fail. You do not serve any man who can make glass from the blood-soaked sand of your desires. Eremis will have his way with you, and then the truth of you will be proven absolutely."

"It's the same for you," she retorted, fighting back so that what he said wouldn't crush her. "He's using you--having he's way with you. And when he's done, he'll just discard you. You won't get your revenge after all. He wants all the fun for himself."

Vagel made a sharp, hissing noise. After that, there was a long silence. Terisa tightened her grip on the chain, although the vague figure hadn't moved.

"No," he said at last, as if she had provoked him to candor. "All his allies must fear the same thing--but he will not discard me. Festten trusts me. Eremis' plotting would have come to nothing, if I had not stood with him before the High King. He needs Cadwal too much to risk that alliance by discarding me.

"And without me all the force of Imagery disposal will become a blunt instrument--able to strike hard, but unable to strike at will. Useless. I am the arch-Imager, as you have observed. The procedures by which we shape mirrors that show the Images we desire are mine. Did you believe that our successes could have been achieved randomly? That Gilbur for all his speed could have made the glass we need simply by mixing accidental combinations of tinct and oxidate, sand and surface? I tell you, he could have until his heart burst without ever producing a mirror which gave access to Vale House--or one which showed the audience hall of Orison. That victory is mine.

"Alone, I have overturned the tenets of Imagery, and no one among Joyse's foolish Congery can compare with me."

Vagel's voice intensified. "Eremis cannot do without me. His need for glass which only I can provide will never end. And because of that"--he seemed to be controlling an impulse to shout--"before I am done I will roast Joyse's guts over a slow fire. I will hear him howl until his mind goes, or by the stars! I will take my satisfaction from Eremis himself."

A visceral tremor started up in Terisa's guts, so hard that she couldn't speak.

Abruptly, the arch-Imager turned to leave. "Remember that," he snapped while his voice faded. "Perhaps it will inspire you to surrender to him prematurely, and then his pleasure in you will be made that much less."

He left her with the chain wrapped around her fist and no one to strike.



[Edited to supply italic emphasis to some of Vagel's words.]


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
"Hide your breasts--or flaunt them--as you choose. They will not sway me."


Vagel's best line. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
Quote:
"Hide your breasts--or flaunt them--as you choose. They will not sway me."


Vagel's best line. Very Happy



Agreed. Twisted Evil
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