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Just how COOL is Artagel?---spoilers
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2018 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This section of the story where Artagel and Lebbick talk is as revealing of Lebbick's vulnerabilities as it is of Artagel's complexities. Neither character is as simple as he first appears to be.

In A Man Rides Through Chapter 34 was wrote:
Artagel nodded. After a moment, he went on, "Speaking of the Congery--"

Lebbick interrupted him balefully. "Were we?"

Artagel frowned. "Were we what?"

"Speaking of the Congery. Or were you just prying?"

"I was prying." Artagel grinned. "And I'm going to keep prying until you say three sentences in a row that make sense. If you don't pull yourself together, you will rot.

"Speaking of the Congery, what're they doing about poor Master Quillon?"

Castellan Lebbick studied his visitor as if at last he had begun to wonder why Artagel was here. "Nothing," he articulated. "As far as I can tell, the only thing they do all day is sit around wiping each other's bums. By which I mean to say, of course"--he began to sound like he was quoting scornfully--"that they are dedicating all their efforts night and day toward discovering how Gilbur and Geraden and that woman are able to use flat glass without going mad.

"That blind lump Barsonage has suddenly"--Lebbick's tone was savage--"figured out King Joyse is right. He's gone all virtuous and noble about it. Mirrors don't create their own Images. The places they show are real. So we don't have the right to take anything that can tell the difference out of them. Which is a dogshit way of saying they aren't going to help defend us. They refuse to touch the only things that might do us some good."

The Castellan barked humorlessly. "It's actually funny. They discovered purity just when King Joyse gave it up. The only real reason we haven't been overrun already is, Kragen can't use his catapults. Whenever he tries, Havelock destroys them with some kind of smoke-bird from one of his mirrors."

Artagel began to hope that he was on the right track. Castellan Lebbick seemed to be recovering his self-command. Maybe it was time to risk--


Artagel's not as subtle as he wishes to be in getting information, but he shows insight enough to succeed in calming Lebbick down.


Quote:
Because he was the sort of man who took chances, Artagel said conversationally, "That's better. You're doing much better. Any minute now, you're going to be your old self again. There's just one thing I still want to know.

"Castellan"--he took a deep breath--"what in the name of sanity is the connection between Saddith and Nyle? Why does the fact that she showed up in your bed prove Geraden didn't kill him?"

For a long moment, the Castellan glowered as if he meant to explode. A muscle in his cheek twitched. His gaze burned red, drawing the darkness of the room around him; his expression was full of doom.

Like a man chewing iron pellets, he said, "Not Saddith and Nyle. Saddith and Eremis. She's his whore."

Artagel waited.

"He did that to me." Without warning, Lebbick's eyes began to spill tears. They ran down into his dirty beard, leaving streaks through the grime on his cheeks. "I was already so close to the edge. That woman was trying to tell me the truth, and I didn't know how to believe her. And he did that to me. He sent his whore to give me the last push. Because I'm the only one King Joyse has left. Even though he doesn't trust me.

"Master fornicating Eremis," the Castellan said through his loss, "wouldn't have sent his whore to my bed if everything that woman said about him wasn't true. He was trying to distract me."

With difficulty, Artagel resisted the temptation to whistle through his teeth. This time, he found the Castellan's reasoning comprehensible. He had always appreciated Saddith's frank lust; but at the moment he wasn't thinking about her. He was thinking that her appearance in Lebbick's bed was the worst thing Eremis could have done to the Castellan.

It was almost as if Eremis and King Joyse were conspiring together to destroy him.


Artagel is a natural at empathizing. If it weren't for his own independent streak, he would have already been made a leader, and a good one.


Quote:
Gruffly, Artagel said, "That makes sense." Words seemed to stick in his throat; he had to force them out. "What did Terisa actually tell you about out hero, Eremis?"

The Castellan scrubbed his face with his hands, grinding his tears into the dirt. "The same thing you did." On the cot beside him, he found a rank piece of rag and used it to blow his nose. "They must have switched the bodies. If Underwell really wanted Nyle dead, he could have made it happen without the stupid risk of all that bloodshed. But if Geraden was innocent, Underwell must have discovered right away that Nyle wasn't hurt. So Underwell had to be killed. To protect Eremis.

"Nyle is probably still alive. Unless Eremis doesn't need him anymore.

"Eremis is busy acting like the hero of Orison because his plans aren't ready. Cadwal isn't ready to attack. That's obvious--Cadwal isn't even here. Or he's waiting for something else to happen. He doesn't want Kragen to get the Congery."

Artagel was right on the edge of asking, So why don't you stop him? Go cut his heart out. Instead of holing up here like a beaten dog? Fortunately, he halted himself in time. As soon as the question occurred to him, he caught a glimpse of how Castellan Lebbick would react to it. They want me to come out so they can jump me. He wants to break me. He doesn't trust me.

Artagel liked to live dangerously, but he wasn't willing to risk pushing Lebbick back into turmoil.



I note that the trust factor with Artagel is so strong, that he has no trouble steering people into areas where he wants information. He has gotten experienced with interviewing people from all the times he's been sent out in the kingdom to solve problems, some of them no doubt mysteries to be solved.


Quote:
He couldn't grasp what King Joyse was doing. But that wasn't his problem: someone else would have to figure it out. Eremis was another matter, however. Artagel was very sure that he wanted to oppose or hinder the Master in any way possible.

Gazing around the room in search of inspiration, he grabbed the first idea that came to him.

"You know, Castellan, if your wife saw this pigsty she'd spit granite."

Artagel was probably the only man in Orison who would have dared mention Lebbick's wife to his face.

By luck or intuition, however, Artagel had found the right approach. Instead of erupting, the Castellan looked chagrined. "I know," he muttered. "I'm going to clean it up. I'll get around to it soon."

The sorrow in his face wrung Artagel's heart. Without premeditation or forethought, he said quietly, "Don't bother. Leave it. I've got an extra room. I've even got an extra bed. Come stay with me."

Castellan Lebbick stared dumbly. His mouth worked as if Artagel had asked him to give up his link to the only thing that held him in one piece.

"She's dead," Artagel said as gently as he could. "It can't be helped. She doesn't need you anymore.

"We're the ones who need you."

Roughly, fighting collapse, the Castellan rasped, "'We'? Who is 'we'?"

"Me," Artagel didn't hesitate. "Geraden. Terisa. Anybody who thinks King Joyse is still worth trying to save, even though he does act like he's got his head stuck up his ass."

Lebbick thought for a long time, gazing away into the gloom around him. He looked like a man lost in memories--lost in love, in old instances of violence; a man who might never find his way back. But then his shoulders sagged, and he sighed.

"All right."

"Good." Artagel sighed as well, let the suspense exhale from him so hard that the release made him shudder. "It's time."

Without suspense or sorrow to keep him tight, however, his muscles went slack, and his limbs turned to rubber. Ruefully, he added, "You can start by helping me get back there. I'm afraid I overdid it coming here."

"Idiot," Lebbick growled. Slowly, he got to his feet. "You're supposed to be resting. I've seen shrubbery with better sense than you've got."

"That's easy." Artagel made a determined effort not to fall out of his chair. "I've seen shrubbery with better sense than any of us.

"Just tell me one thing." He paused to collect his fraying thoughts. "Why Ribuld? I didn't know you had such a good opinion of him."

Almost gently, Castellan Lebbick helped Artagel to his feet. Supporting Artagel with his shoulder, he started toward the door.

"I need somebody I can trust. He likes Geraden. That's all I've got to work with."

Artagel couldn't help himself: he had to ask. "Are you really in that much trouble? Just because of Eremis and Saddith?"

The muscles along Lebbick's jaw knotted. His eyes were full of gloom. "Wait and see."

On the way back to his rooms, Artagel found himself positively aching with the intensity of his desire to see Geraden again. He wanted somebody to tell him what was going on.


Artagel was very sure that he wanted to oppose or hinder the Master in any way possible. After the murder of Master Quillon, it's about time Terisa and Geraden had another ally actively working for their side in Orison. Artagel's greatest contribution will be alerting Master Barsonage of his suspicions about Eremis, thus enabling Barsonage to conceal the Congery's defensive studies from Eremis. No small thing.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being one of the most important supporting characters in the Mordant's Need story, Artagel is featured in a lot of scenes, and sometimes we see him in his panicky moods, like when he was removing the rocks under which Terisa and Geraden are buried, or when he couldn't figure out a way to conquer the body-snatching cockroaches. But Artagel can also rebound quickly with open-hearted confidence, such as when he sees that Barsonage and Quillon's mirror will be able to get the rocks off of Terisa and Geraden, and when he's ready to hug Terisa in apology after the delirious things he said against her and Geraden.

Artagel has a permanent limp from his refusing to rest , with muscles never completely healed. He thinks he's doing his duty when he knocks out Prince Kragen when Kragen and King Joyse face off in their second public audience, but makes up for it by defending the Prince's life against Master Gilbur. Then Artagel gets knocked out by Gilbur and has to remedy his error while still in shock over seeing his friend Lebbick dead.

heal.
In Chapter 40 of A Man Rides Through was wrote:
Prince Kragen continued to hesitate, caught--the Tor supposed--between suspicion, curiosity, need. And he probably didn't trust the wine-soaked old lord in front of him. Who would? A guard came into the hall and crossed toward Norge, but the Tor ignored him. In addition, Artagel began to fumble toward consciousness. The Tor ignored that as well. He concentrated on Prince Kragen's silence.

"Come, my lord Prince," he wheezed. "I am not well. I will not be on my feet long. You have said that you desire an alliance. And your desire is demonstrably sincere. With the rupture"--poor choice of words--"of Orison's gates nearly accomplished, you desisted when Terisa and Geraden came into your hands. But you did not keep them and their knowledge for yourself. You brought them here, risking them and your own person for the sake of what you hoped to gain.

"The blow which struck you down under a flag of truce was a mistake. Artagel will admit as much." The Tor saw no reason to refrain from extravagant promises. "Will you sacrifice your own needs and desires merely to punish us for a mistake?

"My lord Prince, tell us the things you came to say to King Joyse."

Artagel levered himself off the floor, lurched to his feet; one hand clasped the back of his neck, trying too late to protect it from Gilbur's attack. When he saw Prince Kragen facing him, sword poised, he took a step backward and looked around urgently, searching to comprehend what had happened.

"A report, my lord Tor," Norge announced tranquilly. "You asked for reports.

"There's panic in Orison, and it's spreading, but we've been able to keep it out of the courtyard--away from the gates. The Prince's honor guard is waiting as patiently as possible. No sign of King Joyse. Geraden is definitely with Master Barsonage. The mediator's quarters.

"Two of the duty guards say they saw Adept Havelock's brown cloud lift off the King's tower." Nonchalantly, Norge avoided Prince Kragen's sharp gaze. "If they're right, it didn't attack the encampment. It just floated out of sight."

The Tor suffered this interruption as well as he could, but he barely heard what Norge was saying. At the moment, all he really wanted in life was the ability to cry out; scream his pain at the ceiling. And not just the pain of his brutalized abdomen. He had other hurts as well. Lebbick's death. King Joyse's abandonment, when he, the Tor, had staked his heart on the belief that Joyse still deserved trust. And the humiliation of being distrusted because he had drunk too much wine.

His eyes ran again. Stupid, stupid. Through the blur, he croaked, "Artagel."

"Is this certain?" Prince Kragen snapped at Norge. "The report is to be trusted? The King's Dastard has not attacked us?"

"Lebbick?" Artagel demanded like a man who still wasn't entirely conscious. "Lebbick?"

"You struck Prince Kragen under a flag of truce. That was a mistake. Tell him you know it was a mistake."

Both Prince Kragen and Norge stared at the Tor as if the old lord had lost his mind.

"Lebbick!" Artagel cried through a clenched throat. "What have they done to you?"

The Tor tried again. "Artagel."

"Terisa? Geraden?" Artagel jerked his head from side to side, scanning the hall, the guards, the bodies. "Where are they?" A flush of blood and pain filled his face. Did Gart get them? Somebody give me a sword! Where are they?"


I've got to feel empathy for Artagel at this moment, when he's awoken to a situation that tat first seems so mentally incomprehensible and morally demoralizing with Lebbick's ruin and the King's absence to shake his confidence. In this moment, what Artagel manages to do makes this one of Artagel's truly cool moments in the MN story.

Quote:
"Artagel!" Norge put an inflection of command into his easy tone. "Eremis and Gart took the lady. Geraden is all right. Pay attention. The Tor gave you an order."

"Gave me a what?" Artagel rasped as if he were about to begin howling. But then, abruptly, he froze; his eyes widened. Almost matching Norge's casualness, he asked, "Where is King Joyse?"

"That," said Prince Kragen in heavy sarcasm, "is a question we would all like answered."

Slowly, Artagel's jaw dropped.

The Tor made one more effort. "Artagel, you struck Prince Kragen under a flag of truce. I want you to apologize."

Then, deliberately, the old lord closed his eyes and held his breath.

He didn't look or breathe again until he heard Artagel say, "My lord Prince, I was wrong."

Artagel was smiling like a whetted axe. His voice held an edge he might have used against Gart. And yet--

And yet he did what the Tor needed.

"It's inexcusable to violate a flag of truce. And you saved my life once--you and the Perdon. I just didn't have the time to think. I was afraid of what King Joyse might do. Everybody in Orison knows he's been practicing his swordmanship. The Castellan said he was probably going to challenge you to a duel. I thought he was crazy enough to try it."

Prince Kragen couldn't hide his surprise at this information, but the Tor clung to his pain and let everything else pass over his head. Unexpectedly, his spirits lifted a bit. There was good reason why everybody in Orison liked Artagel.

"I've seen you fight," Artagel concluded. "King Joyse didn't stand a chance. I was just trying to save him."

Artagel had the Prince's attention now. Kragen thought intently for a moment, then said, "Artagel, you have the reputation of a fighter. You understand warfare. What is your opinion? Who has the most to gain from an alliance, Orison or Alend?"

Without hesitation, Artagel answered, "You do, my lord Prince. We've got the Congery."


Artagel gets the discussion of an alliance going with this assurance of his, yet another benefit of his presence: he's capable of breaking impasses. It cant's have been easy for him, not if he did it smiling like a whetted axe. Credit goes to Artagel for seeing the need to obey the authority of the Tor as soon as her learns that King Joyse has disappeared. He trusts in the Tor or Norge filling him in on the situation later.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Artagel is super cool 😎 .. so driven by nobility .. you cant help but admire him.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Skyweir wrote:
Artagel is super cool 😎 .. so driven by nobility .. you cant help but admire him.


I basically agree, I think.
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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2020 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't done any Artagel-related quotes in a while, so I'd like to update this character's thread, as I find there are more interesting moments involving him that I'd like to revisit. For being one of the relatively pleasant positive characters in Mordant's Need, Artagel certainly has a way of signaling danger when he's inclined to smile.

In Chapter 44 of A Man Rides Through was wrote:
When she and Geraden reached the King's formal apartment, she noticed the fire blazing in the hearth. Apparently, the lord of Tor felt the cold as badly as she did.

There were four men already in the room: the Tor himself, Castellan Norge, Master Barsonage, and Artagel. Norge stood with his back to one wall, casually at attention: he looked like a man who never needed sleep because he was always napping. In contrast, Master Barsonage seemed to be actually wringing his hands; he faced the Tor and Artagel alternately with a discomfited expression, as if he wanted to intervene but didn't know what to say.

The Tor and Artagel confronted each other like combatants. The old lord thrust his belly forward assertively; his cheeks were red with wine or exertion. Artagel stood in a fighter's balanced stance, his hands ready to go for either his longsword or his dagger.

As Terisa and Geraden entered the room, Artagel turned toward them. His grin twisted her stomach. He looked primed for battle, as fatal as his weapons--and yet in some way lost, like a man who needed help he wasn't going to get against impossible odds.

"Just in time," he said, denying the Tor the bare courtesy of a chance to speak first. "My lord Tor is a bit confused this morning. He doesn't realize I'm your bodyguard. You better tell him. I'm your personal bodyguard."

Master Barsonage cast an unhappy look at Terisa and Geraden, then retreated to give them room in front of the Tor and Artagel.

"Artagel," the Tor rumbled to them as if he were on the verge of an outburst, "refuses a direct command. He refuses to obey me."

Terisa looked at Geraden, baffled by the hostility in the room and the knot in her stomach. Geraden's gaze shifted to Artagel, then back to the Tor. "Don't tell me, my lord Tor," he said with a bitterness of his own. "Let me guess. You want him to stay here."

"I want him"--the Tor contained himself with difficulty--"to rule Orison in my absence."

Rule Orison--?

Artagel snarled an obscenity. "It comes to the same thing. He thinks I'm a cripple."

Terisa stared at him, at the Tor; she was simultaneously surprised, relieved, and appalled. The idea of putting Artagel in charge of Orison had never occurred to her.

"No!" the Tor retorted, almost retching, "It does not come to the same thing. I do not ask you to remain behind because you are unfit to go. I command you to stay here because you are needed!

"I must leave Orison with less than two thousand men to defend it. And I have no alliance with the Alend Monarch. He will let us depart, of that I am sure. But when we are gone, he will not hesitate to renew his siege. Prince Kragen considers this castle to be the best safety available.

"If Orison is not defended--well defended--it will be lost."

Artagel was in no condition for fighting. And yet the cost of having to stay behind--the price he would pay for remaining in Orison while Mordant's fate was decided without him--would be severe.


Artagel is brave beyond all doubt, but his pride often prevents him from being smart and making the smart moves. Clearly, he is a great choice for commanding Orison during a prolonged siege, at least from the standpoint of being an inspirational leader. Yet he realizes that his impatience and pride could hamper him in that position.

Quote:
"After King Joyse," the Tor concluded, "you are the only man who can hope these walls against the Alend army."

"How?" Artagel snapped back. "I don't have any authority. I don't even belong to the guard. I've never been able to take orders. How do you expect me to give them?"

"By being who you are," the Tor answered heavily. "The best-liked man in Orison."

The old lord was right, Terisa thought. The guards would fight to the death for Artagel, of course. But so would half the population of the castle. He was the best swordsman in Mordant; his feats were legendary. And he was a son of the Domne. By simple likability, he might be able to rule Orison even more effectively than Castellan Lebbick.

Cursing, Artagel returned to his brother. "Tell him," he demanded. "I'm going with you. You need me. When you go up against Eremis, you'll need somebody to watch your back. I want--"

The look on Geraden's face stopped him.

"You want to try Gart again," Geraden said softly, "is that it?"

Anger and distress pulled Artagel's expression in several directions at once.

"With muscles in your side that haven't finished healing?" Geraden continued: soft; relentless. "You want to tackle a man who's already beaten you twice, when you can even lift that sword without a twinge?"

Artagel flinched in helpless fury or frustration; he took a step backward. "I'm coming with you somehow," he said between his teeth. "I won't stay here."

"Yes, you will," rasped the Tor. "You may succeed in refusing to obey me, but I assure you that you will stay here."

Artagel flung a glare like a challenge at the old lord. "Are you going to make me, my lord Tor?"

"No, Artagel, I will not 'make' you. Norge will do that. He will support me in this."

From his place against the wall, the new Castellan nodded amiably. His bland calm was more convincing than a shout.

"Your choices," the Tor finished, "are to remain in command of Orison--or to remain in the dungeon."

Artagel studied the Tor and Norge; he directed a last appeal at Geraden.


For me, there's something amusing about Norge backing up the Tor's threat by being as calm as possible. Norge isn't behaving in a threatening way, but his calm demeanor makes the Tor's threat that much more certain, ironically.

Quote:
In response, Geraden muttered miserably, "Don't you understand, you halfwit? You're too valuable to waste on a senseless contest with Gart. The Tor wants you to do the hardest job there is. King Joyse needs someplace to come back to. If everything else fails, he needs a castle and some men for the last defense of Mordant. He needs someone to give him that. He can't do it for himself. He needs someone like you, who can make old men and serving girls and children fight for him just by smiling at them."

For a moment, Terisa feared that Artagel would break out in protest, do something wild. He was a fighter, by temperament and training unsuited to sit still for sieges. But then his face took on a smile she had never seen before--a grimace bloodier and more bitter than his fighting grin; a look that chilled her heart.

To Norge, he said, "I want Lebbick's mail--I want all the things he was wearing when Gart got him. I want his insignia--his sash and that headband. The more blood on them, the better. Anybody who looks at me is by the stars going to know what I stand for."

Norge glanced at the Tor. The Tor nodded; his eyes were glazed with pain. Phlegmatically, Norge said, "Come," and left the wall.

Artagel didn't look at either Geraden or Terisa as he followed the new Castellan out of the room.


Atragel's request is dramatic, yet reasonable in light of wanting to look serious as a figure of authority. Artagel always backs Geraden and Terisa, and no doubt it hurts when they don't back him in this case. But, what could they reasonably do, when Artagel can't even lift a sword without feeling pain?
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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2020 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Exactly Cord 👌 this was clearly a tough position for Artagel to find himself in.

He IS a fighter and a damn good one. And he has EARNED the fealty and support of the guards and fellow combatants... every man in Orison.

But he is in no condition to lead the charge ... and Im glad he acknowledged that ... and wearing Lebbicks garb and armour reinforces his valor.

Geraden is dead right he is far too valuable to risk.
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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2020 8:17 am    Post subject: Just how COOL is Artagel?---spoilers Reply with quote

Thank you for the comments, Skyweir! You have summed it up well. Artagel is worthy of command of Orison despite not being much for taking orders himself, because of his many previous feats of valor.

And, as you point out, he needs to wear Lebbick's garb and armor, the bloodier the better, to remind all of the dangers he has faced over the years for the security of Mordant. And perhaps Artagel approves the blood being there to remind people how seriously they all need to work together and do their best to retain Orison for the King.

Certainly Artagel is needed far more for keeping Orison intact than for looking to guard Terisa and Geraden against Gart. At least, he needs to keep up Orison's morale and try to rest and heal before considering being T & G's bodyguard once more. As you (and Geraden) say, Sky, he's far too valuable to risk...at least, until the siege has settled in and Artagel restores order and calm to Orison.

But that moment does come for Artagel eventually, some days later when Adept Havelock finds Terisa and Geraden within one of his mirrors and translates them into his workroom in Orison, and it's too hard for Geraden to argue with Artagel by then.

In chapter 50 of A Man Rides Through was wrote:
Together, they [Terisa and Geraden] turned toward Havelock.

The Adept wasn't alone. He had Artagel with him.

Artagel was dressed for battle, and he was grinning.

Havelock had apparently been cleaning the room again. In one hand, he brandished a rather limp feather duster; he wore an apron several sizes too large for him tp protect his still-spotless surcoat. Twisting his features as if he wanted to howl, he poked his duster at Terisa and Geraden and said, "I told you to trust me.

"Don't you realize yet that I'm the one who planned all this? I planned it all. Joyse is the only man alive who could have done it, but I'm the one who planned it. No matter how crazy I get, I'm the best fornicating hop-board player in Orison, bar none.

"Remember that, for a change."

Terisa couldn't resist: she asked, "You mean you knew we were coming?"

For once, the Adept was tolerant of questions. "Of course not. But I considered the possibility. What do you think planning is?"

"It's good to see the two of you again," Artagel interrupted happily. "I gather things have finally gotten desperate enough for some dramatic Imagery. A few of the Cadwals we've been taking prisoner in the ballroom look actively horrified.

"What're you trying to do?"

"Go to Eremis' stronghold, if we can get there," answered Geraden. "He isn't in Esmerel. Nyle isn't there. That was a trap. but Terisa thinks she can make an Image of the place Eremis took her. If she can, maybe we can find it and get in."

"Good." Facing his brother boldly, Artagel said, "This time, You aren't going to get rid of me so easily. Whatever you have in mind, you're going to need a bodyguard. And I am sick to the teeth"--he flashed his grin--"of being in command of this useless pile of rocks."

Geraden started to protest, but Terisa stopped him. This was another of her reasons for returning to Orison. Two days ago--was it only two days ago?--he had said, When the fighting really starts, we had better be sure we've got somebody with us who handles a sword better than I do. One of his "strongest feelings". Instead of trying to explain, however, she said, "Let him do what he wants. We don't have time to argue with him."

As if to demonstrate her point, she left Geraden's side and went to the mirror she wanted, a flat glass reflecting a sand dune in Cadwal.

"Besides," Artagel whispered to Geraden behind her, "Havelock says you need me. He got me down here. I didn't have any idea you were coming back."

"What makes you think you're ready for Gart?" demanded Geraden hotly. "He's already beaten you twice. And you're still hurt."

Artagel chuckled. "What makes you think the two of you are ready for Eremis and Gilbur and Vagel? We've all got to do what we can. And," he added more soberly, "you may not have time for Nyle. Maybe I'll be able to help him."

Geraden apparently found that argument difficult to refute. As if to relieve a personal anxiety, he changed the subject. "How's the siege?"

"No trouble," Artagel replied. "Margonal is a model enemy. Yesterday he sent me a dozen sides of beef. Sovereign's courtesy. I sent him a cask of the King's best wine. We're becoming friends. As long as Orison doesn't panic, I'm not needed here."

Terisa set herself in front of the glass she had chosen and tried to relax.



While it still appears to me that Artagel is nuts for trying to have a rematch with Gart, he gives sane reasons to Geraden to allow his company, such as Nyle needs his help and that as commander he's already achieved a significant lowering of hostilities within and immediately without Orison.

Artagel adding that it was Havelock's idea he go with them makes it seem fated that Terisa and Geraden cannot win without Artagel's presence in the enemy Imagers' stronghold. It seems likely to me that Havelock views Artagel's presence with Terisa and Geraden as placing a necessary hop-board piece in just the location that it needs to be to ensure success of his overall strategic "game" to save Mordant.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2020 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Surely Artagel was foolish not to arrange for more guards to be with him and Havelock when Havelock informed him that Terisa and Geraden would be arriving via Imagery. Making himself be the lone defender of Terisan and Geraden simply was not good planning (but it obviously makes for gripping reading, I concede). All the same, he looks heroic for standing between the inhuman-seeming Gart and their deaths by the Monomach's sword. (I always thought the description of Gart with yellow eyes and a lack of physical stress made Gart seem less human, more than a fighting machine or like some invincible alien creature with merely a semblance of humanity.)


In Chapter 51 of A Man Rides Through was wrote:
Facing Gart's sword in the stone-walled corridor, Artagel felt he was looking down the throat of death.

The High King's Monomach had recovered from the fire of the lamp, and from the first extremity of Artagel's attack; now he had his balance again, his command of steel and weight. Moment by moment, he seemed to grow stronger.

The lanterns which lit the passage made his eyes yellow, they gleamed like a beast's. His hatchet nose faced his opponent, keen for blood. The scars on his cheeks, the initiation-marks of his craft, were pale streaks against the bronze hue of his skin. Though he was assailed by the best swordsman in Mordant, he wasn't even sweating. His blade moved like a live thing: as protective as a lover, it caught and countered every blow for him, as if to spare him the effort of defending himself.

His teeth showed white and malign between his lips; loathing stretched all the mercy out of his features. Yet Artagel felt sure that Gart's abhorrence had nothing personal to do with him. It involved no resentment of Artagel's reputation, no envy of his position, no particular desire to see him dead. In Gart, the lust for killing was a professional characteristic untainted by individual emotions.

Artagel had heard about the training undergone by Apts of the High King's Monomach, the privations and hurts and dangers imposed on small boys to make them sure of what they were doing, sure of themselves; to harden their loathing. That was what gave Gart strength: his detachment, the impersonality of his passion. His heart held nothing which might confuse him.

Artagel, on the other hand, was sweating.

His hands were slick with moisture; under his mail, his jerking clung to his skin. His sword had gone dead in his grasp, and his chest heaved with the exertion of swinging the blade. The tightness in his side had become a band of hot iron, fired to agony, and that pain seemed to sap the resilience from his legs, the quick tension from his wrists, the life from his weapon.

A flurry of blows, as loud as forgework, bright with sparks. A measuring pause. Another flurry.

There was no question about it: Gart was going to kill him.

Artagel didn't face this prospect with quite the same approval Lebbick had felt.

He couldn't afford to be beaten, absolutely could not afford to fail. If he went down, Gart would go after Terisa and Geraden. He would go after Nyle. They would all die, and King Joyse himself wouldn't stand a chance--

But when he thought about Nyle, remembered what had been done to his brother, his heart filled up with darkness, and he flung himself at Gart wildly, inexpertly. Only the sheer fury of his attack saved him from immediate death. Fury was all that kept him going; nothing but fury gave strength to his limbs, air to his lungs, life to his steel.

A quick slicing pain brought him back to himself--a cut along the bunched muscle of his left shoulder. He recoiled from suicide as blood welled out of the wound. A minor injury: he knew that instinctively. Nevertheless it hurt-- It hurt enough to restore his reason.

Not this way. He was never going to beat Gart this way. The truth was obvious in the effortless action of Gart's blade, the feral smirk on his face; it was unmistakable in the glint of his yellow eyes.

In fact, Artagel was barely able to keep Gart's swordpoint out of his chest as he retreated down the corridor, gasping for breath, battling to recover his balance. The Monomach's blade wove gleams and flashes of lantern-light as if his steel were somehow miraculous, like a mirror.

All right. Artagel couldn't beat Gart this way. Actually, he couldn't beat Gart at all. But he had to prolong the struggle as much as possible, had to buy time. Time was vital. So he needed some other way to fight. He had to start thinking like Geraden or Terisa, but not about Nyle, no, don't think about Nyle, don't give in to the darkness. He had to do something unexpected.

Something to ruffle Gart's detachment.

Down in the depths of Artagel's belly, a knot loosened, and he began to grin.


His teeth showed white and malign between his lips; loathing stretched all the mercy out of his features Even if I wasn't invested in Artagel's success at this point in the story, then still I would want Gart to be defeated just because of how feral and un-empathetic this passage makes him out to be.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 6:24 am    Post subject: Just how COOL is Artagel?---spoilers Reply with quote

Nearly sixteen years ago in this very thread, danlo wrote:
Well, I love the conversation that Artagel has with Gart as he's fighting him at the end of AMRT and I need to post it here eventually, *hint, hint*, but it's snowing today so my students are bouncing off the walls and I have to skim most of White Gold Wielder (even before the last chapter) just to start to be ready for my Dissecting "2nd Chrons Wrap-up" Faint


Posting the conversation that Artagel and Gart have (while fighting each other for the third and final time) has always struck me as a brilliant idea of danlo's. Now, let it come to pass.

In Chapter 51 of A Man Rides Through was wrote:
Artagel, too, was grinning, but for an entirely different reason.

Despite the blood which streamed from his cut shoulder, he beat back the hot steel lightning and force of Gart's next attack. That defense cost him an exertion which seemed to shred his wounded side. Twice he only saved himself because the corridor was too narrow for perfect swordwork, and he was able to block Gart's blade away against the stone. But at last he managed to disengage.

Before the High King's Monomach could come at him again, he retreated several quick strides, then relaxed his stance and dropped the point of his sword.

Gart paused to scrutinize him curiously.

Trying not to breathe in whooping gasps that would betray his weakness, Artagel asked, "Why do you do it?"

Gart cocked an eyebrow; he advanced a step.

Artagel put up a hand to ward off the Monomach. "You're going to kill me anyway. You know that. You can afford to send me to my grave with my ignorance satisfied. Why do you do it?"

Swayed, perhaps, by the admission of defeat, Gart paused again. "Why do I do what?"

With an effort that felt desperately heroic, Artagel tried to laugh. He failed, of course. Nevertheless he did contrive to sound cheerful as he said, "Serve."

The tip of Gart's blade watched Artagel warily as the Monomach waited.

"You're the best," Artagel panted, "the best. You lead and train a cadre of Apts who all want to be as good as you, and some of them may even have almost that much talent. You could be a power in the world. I'll wager you could unseat Festten anytime you want. You could be the one who decides, instead of the one who serves. Why do you do it?"

Gart considered the question for a moment. "That is who I am," he pronounced finally.

"But why?" demanded Artagel, fighting for a chance to regain his breath, his strength. "What does Festten give you that you can't get anywhere else? What does being the High King's Monomach get you that isn't already yours by right? You could choose who you're going to kill. If I were you, I'd be embarrassed by the amount of time you've spent recently trying to kill a woman. Whose decision was that? Why did you have to demean yourself like that?"

A snarl pulled tighter across Gart's teeth.

"I tell you, you could be a power. Don't you have any self-respect?"

The Monomach came at him like a gale in the constricted passage, suddenly without warning; and the only thing that saved him was that he wasn't surprised. He got his longsword up, parried hard, tried to riposte. Gart slipped the blow aside and swung again. Artagel felt steel ruffle his hair as he ducked; Gart's blade rang off the wall. Artagel hacked at the Monomach's legs fast enough to make him jump.

Somehow not stumbling, not clutching at his torn side, Artagel disengaged again, retreated down the corridor.

"That," said Gart as if he had never been out of breath in his life. "is who I am."

"But the point is, you serve," protested Artagel. "You're nothing more than a servant, a weapon."

"Listen to me," Gart articulated dangerously. "I will not say it again. That is who I am."

"With your abilities?" Artagel's voice nearly rose to a cry. "I don't believe it. You're content to be a servant? You're content to be used like a thing with no mind, no pride? Aren't you a man? Don't you dream? Haven't you got ambitions?"

It was probably madness to goad the Monomach like this; but Artagel didn't care. For the first time since their contest began, he was having fun.

"No wonder you're so hard to kill. Inside, where it counts, you're already dead."

In response, Gart whirled his blade with such speed that the steel blurred into streaks of lantern light. "Oh, I have dreams, you fool." he rasped. "I have dreams.

"I dream of blood."

So fiercely that nothing could stop him, he hurled himself at Artagel.

Now Gart was the mad one, the frenzied attacker, swinging as if he were out of control; Artagel was the one who couldn't do anything except parry and block--and try to keep his balance.

Unfortunately, the Monomach's fury only made their struggle more uneven. He wasn't wounded; he hadn't been weakened by a long convalescence. And at his worst he never forgot his skill.

As if by translation, cuts appeared on Artagel's mail, his leggings. A lick along his forehead sent blood dripping into his eyes. Reeling, almost falling, he slammed into the corner where the corridor turned, hit so hard that the last air was knocked out of his lungs.

He barely saved himself, barely, by diving out of the corner, rolling to his feet and running, his lungs on fire, his eyes full of sweat and blood, no life in his limbs, running until he gained enough ground to turn and plant his feet and stand there wobbling and face Gart for the last time.

The fun part of the fight was over.


I like that Artagel was daring enough to try to get the truth out of Gart, but Gart is someone of few words even when he's being more forthcoming than usual. It doesn't seem to matter which one of the two gets mad, because Artagel still suffers for it. When Artagel feels fury for how Nyle was treated, he gets his shoulder cut. When Artagel makes Gart feel fury by mocking his humanity, then Artagel gets his forehead cut. I found this passage really intense, and when I first read it I could see no way in this situation for Artagel to prevail over Gart.

Turns out, of course, that it takes a distraction from somebody else for Artagel to prevail.

In Chapter 51 of A Man Rides Through was wrote:
What a way to die. No, worse than that: what a way to be beaten. Artagel was a fighter; he had lived most of his life in the vicinity of death. For him, it was at once so familiar and so unimaginable that he couldn't be afraid of it. But to be beaten like this, utterly, miserably--

Oh, Geraden, forgive me.

If only, he thought dumbly, if only he hadn't been hurt the last time. If only he hadn't spent so much time in bed.

Terisa, forgive me.

But it was stupid to wish for things like that. Foolish regret: a waste of time and energy and life. Gart had beaten him the last time, too. And the time before that.

I will regret nothing.

He retreated down the passage, past more doors than he could count; stumbling barely on his feet. By bare will, he kept his sword up for Gart to play with.

If anybody thinks he can do better than this, let him try.

That was enough. As unsteady as a drunk, he stopped; he locked both hands around his wet swordhilt.

I will regret nothing.

Almost retching for air, he jerked forward and did his absolute best to split Gart's head open.

Negligently, Gart blocked the blow.

Artagel's eyes were full of blood: he couldn't see what happened. But he knew from the sound, the familiar echoing clang after his swing, and from the sudden shift of balance, that he had broken his sword.

One jagged half remained in his fists; the other rang away across the floor, singing metallically of failure.

"Now," Gart breathed like silk. "Now, you fool."

Involuntarily, Artagel went down on knee, as if he couldn't stay on his feet without an intact weapon.

The High King's Monomach raised his sword. Between streaks of Artagel's blood, the steel gleamed.

For some reason, a door behind Gart opened.

Nyle came into the passage.

He looked like Artagel felt: abused to the bone; exhausted beyond bearing. But he held the chains of his manacles clenched in his fists, and he swung the heavy rings on the end of the chains at Gart's head.

The instincts which had made Gart the High King's Monomach saved him. Warned by some visceral intuition, some impalpable tremor in the air, he wrenched himself aside and started turning.

The rings missed his head, came down on his left shoulder.

They hit him hard enough to strike that arm away from his sword. But he did most of his fighting one-handed anyway, despite his weapon's weight. While his left arm fell numb--maybe broken--his right was already in motion, bringing his blade around to sever Nyle's neck.

Nyle!

In that moment, a piece of time as quick and eternal as a translation, Artagel brought up the last strength from the bottom of his heart and lunged forward.

With his whole body, he drove his broken sword through the armhole of Gart's armor.

Then he and Nyle collapsed on Gart's corpse as if they had become kindred spirits at last.

He had the peculiar conviction that he needed to prevent Gart from risingup after death and shedding more blood. A long time seemed to pass before he recovered enough sanity to wonder whether Nyle was alive.


Gart's instincts save him from having his neck broken by Nyle's chain, but exposes him to being slain by what's left of Artagel's sword. I savor the irony that it's Artagel's instinct to take advantage of Gart's momentary vulnerability (an exposed right side that is the result of Gart's instinct to counter Nyle) that saves the day.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it is interesting to hear Gart's arguments - that is who I am. I think most of us decide that maybe without realizing it sometimes. I could have put more effort to advancing my status as an accountant but I am happy with the path that I chose because that is who I am.

I am happy that I do the meat and potatoes of accounting. The more up the management ladder you go the more "political" your position gets and dealing with people, vendors, other management. No I am who I am - happy to deal with accounting problems and solutions. Happy to have more available time for my family. It is enough.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

samrw3 wrote:
I think it is interesting to hear Gart's arguments - that is who I am. I think most of us decide that maybe without realizing it sometimes. I could have put more effort to advancing my status as an accountant but I am happy with the path that I chose because that is who I am.

I am happy that I do the meat and potatoes of accounting. The more up the management ladder you go the more "political" your position gets and dealing with people, vendors, other management. No I am who I am - happy to deal with accounting problems and solutions. Happy to have more available time for my family. It is enough.


I, too, have made several choices in my life that, had I chosen differently, could brought me closer to what most in our society would consider success; but I could not reconcile such a choice with who I am internally. I know this is more philosophically attuned to the TC series, but I chose to "be true" to myself.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2020 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have always loved Gart, and maybe for this reason. He is what he is.

Perhaps it does not occur to Artagel that this was not a profession Gart fell into, but literally how he was raised. For him it is all he knows and all he cares to know. It doesn't even occur to him that there is another way than being the best and following instructions, because it's all he has been conditioned to do.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2020 8:33 am    Post subject: Just how COOL is Artagel?--spoilers Reply with quote

Thank you for the insightful feedback on those recently-posted Artagel passages, samrw3, IrrationalSanity, and Avatar!

Sam, it could well be that some of us decide without fully realizing it consciously that we take a certain occupation role because that's where we are most comfortable, even if it doesn't net the most money that we could possibly make with our skill sets. This is something I am dealing with in my work as a wildlife biologist in a federal agency. I love that I get to go out into the mountain forests for four to six months of the year looking for rare animals or doing work improving habitat areas for wild animals. If I ever get promoted enough to make a year-round job of it (instead of what I do now, which is to supplement my income with menial labor jobs like banquet service and even sometimes dishwashing for nearly half the year), then it means spending much more time at meetings and in front of the computer writing reports and making political decisions and getting little on-the-job exercise or fresh air. It's still a challenge for me to decide who I really am, as I love the field work but know my legs won't be able to handle the strain of so much hiking forever, but I hate being immersed in the politics of wildlife habitat decisions. Still haven't figured out who I am in that regard.

Sanity, I am glad that you have found a way to reconcile what you do with who you want to be, and I appreciate reading your reminder that success need not be measured in currency and earnings! I like that you and Sam have come up with an interesting and unanticipated reaction to the quote about Artagel and Gart, for you both have shown how Gart can manage to be relatable to readers. That is an eye-opening experience for me, because I have repeatedly seen Gart as more of a killing machine or as some sort of vicious yellow-eyed alien being than as a human. You and Sam and Av are getting me to see a different side of him. I like that you brought up the philosophy of "be true" from the Thomas Covenant series, and you all do a good job of showing how it applies in Gart's case. Granted, the concept of "be true" isn't overt in Mordant's Need like it is in the Covenant books, but it might be said that Terisa Morgan comes into her power by finally learning to "be true" to herself, which at last allows her to throw off her enchantment of being passive and feeling like she's fading.

Av, it seems to me that you are on to something when you observe that there's a good chance that Gart knows nothing else except being a tool for assassination; was raised to understand nothing else. Artagel chose his profession; as one of the sons of the Domne he was encouraged to follow his dreams by his father, and King Joyse probably further encouraged him in the path of being a swordsman. Gart may have had little choice, either because how he was raised or because he had no other route to a secure profession other than by being a swordsman. If so, that would likely explain Gart's fury at Artagel's mockery: he feels he is being unfairly judged by a foe that he's supposed to dispense with, someone he considers to be an inferior because of lesser skill, so he wants to hurry up and kill Artagel so that he doesn't have to hear any more questioning of his humanity and his purpose for living. Hearing his understood purpose questioned by Artagel causes cognitive dissonance within Gart, as what Artagel says to Gart violates Gart's understanding of himself, and cognitive dissonance can produce a violent reaction of denial in some people, especially someone like Gart.

The final Mordant's Need scene with Artagel relates to this idea of "that is who I am", actually. In Artagel's case, being able to have a future that won't drive him stir-crazy (as a soldier in peacetime) or get him needlessly killed (in some skirmish that he can no longer physically handle) means that he learns to see himself differently. So it is that being a lord who looks out for the welfare of his Care is who Artagel becomes.

In the Epilogue to A Man Rides Through, entitled "Crowning The Pieces", was wrote:
The new Tor was one of the old lord's younger sons--in fact, the only one of his sons who wanted the position. But the old Perdon had died without children; and his widow had positively refused to look at the prospect of being the first female lord in Mordant's history as anything except a cruel burden. "You have lost me my husband and my friends, my lord King," she had protested harshly. "Will you now deprive me of quiet as well?" So King Joyse, with a glint in his eyes which occasionally suggested humor, and occasionally malice, had named Artagel as the Perdon.

Artagel's protests had been considerably louder than those of the old lord's widow; but King Joyse had only smiled and insisted, glinting. And at last, in exasperation, he had snapped, "Be reasonable, Artagel. You can't be the best swordsman in Mordant for the rest of your life. The years won't let you. And those scars are never going to be as resilient as whole flesh and muscle. It's about time you had something else to do."

So Artagel had relented with an ill grace which had gradually faded as he realized that his new position in Scarping made it possible for him to have a home--and maybe even a family?--of his own at last.


I don't doubt that Artagel will care very well for his subjects. He's deserved the change of occupation, by being the very cool character that he is.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed.

As for Gart, I sorta feel he was raised as an Apt of the previous Monomach...think there was something somewhere about them being children, and everybody who failed died.

So not only did he see his childhood companions fall for failure, but he may even have killed some of them himself.

I feel choice did not enter into it, and after that, all he could have was pride in his skill and supremacy.

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