Thursday, April 27, 2017

Souldancer: Chapters 35-42

Xander lays dying, exsanguinated by Hazeroth. Astlin tries to avenge him, but Damus interrupts. In the name of his lost daughter, he brings out a worked flute. As Megido grabs Hazeroth with earth and flesh, Damus pulls the trigger, and all three vanish in a flash of light. 

Astlin mourns Xander's passing, but Sulaiman is more concerned with the pranaphage, who is revealed to be a souldancer. He frees Mirai, who moves in an ever-shifting grind of clockwork.

Astlin buries Xander in a cave. The Exarch has left, so the group must climb out of the canyon. Thurif greets them with the Kerioth, and negotiates with Mirai, the souldancer of Kairos. Mirai would listen to the madman, so Kerioth picks his up. The rest of the survivors are doomed to fall. Thurif tries to convince Mirai to make him a god. 

The survivors regroup on the canyon floor. To stop Thurif, they must rely on Sulaiman's imp, Th'ix, to translate them through the ether to Irminsul.

Hazeroth is judged by Shaiel's Will, who is en route to Mithgar. 

An ether warp over Ostirith bars Th'ix's path. They decide to step out of the warp and cross the city in the natural realm.

Xander awakens and finds himself inside Astlin's mind. After convincing Astlin that he is not a new lie from an old Flame, he worries that he has become a kost, a type of disembodied spirit that preys on wounded souls.

Shaiel's Will arrives on the Irminsul with Hazeroth in tow. The Will demands a report from what is left of the local chapter, and wonders how one Steersman could inflict more losses than combat.

Sulaiman, Astlin, and the other survivors cut through the woods. Xander tries to comfort Astlin about her clumsiness in the brush. What appears to be isnashi surround them, but the shifters are Dawn Gen, not Night Gen. The survivors find themselves on trial, with the Dawn Gen barring Astlin and others from the Irminsul. Between Sulaiman's reason and Astlin's sincerity, they discover a loophole in Faedra's laws. Astlin confesses her misdeeds and consecrates herself to defeat the god about to be born on the Irminsul.

In whatever nexic realm Szodrin inhabits, he encounters and kills Thurif. Mirai confronts him about ruining his masterpiece. Szodrin offers to take Thurif's place.

Serapis lands on the Irminsul. As Astlin, Sulaiman, and their crew disembarks, they are confronted by the guards. A running battle breaks out.

Indiana Jones has been in my mind while I've been reading this part of Souldancer. Crashing airships, treasures hidden inside desert canyons, repeated face-heel turns, and supernatural mysteries all bring to mind The Last Crusade. I don't know if this was intentional, but high adventure certainly rings from these pages.

In some ways, Souldancer has been easier to peg in terms of genre than Nethereal. or, at the least, easier to divide into its component parts of post-apocalyptic fiction, fantasy, and space opera. It is a more familiar story and setting than Nethereal. While many people have said that Souldancer is more accessible as a result, it isn't quite as unique as its prequel. Perhaps Souldancer should be read first; the barrier to entry is nowhere near as difficult as Nethereal's. But, since I'm more a rocketship type of guy than a fantasy questor, I'm more partial to Nethereal. Some people just prefer rocky road to chocolate.

Mirai is an interesting name for one tied to the timelessness of Kairos. In Japanese, it means future, and in Basque, it means miracle. Both certainly are apt descriptions for a god smith. Perhaps he was first of the nine, as Souldancer implies that he was involved in the creation of the others. What is certain is that Mirai had a hand in the recreation of Thera. But is that the only known god he would recreate? Szodrin wants the godhood to so he can judge all things, a role reserved for Zadok, Thera's father...

It is curious that the two souldancers that are elementally closest to the Void, Irallel of Water and Megido of Earth, are both now dead. (Or, given Brian's comment from the last blog, if not truly dead, at least indistinguishable from dead for those walking on Mithgar.) For a metaphysical fantasy such as Souldancer, I have to wonder if reality is manifesting itself in its characterization. The souldancers are personifications of the nine Strata, after all. In Astlin's case, purified fire has a sort of divine spark, and, through adversity, love, and confession, she has been purified...

A blindfolded demon prince named Hazeroth? Perhaps I played too much World of Warcraft in my misspent adulthood, but I could not help but think of Illidan Stormrage of Azeroth, at least in design.

1 comment:

  1. Another phenomenal post!

    "In Japanese, it means future..."


    "Perhaps I played too much World of Warcraft..."

    Cool picture. I created Hazeroth back in 2001, but if you naturally associate that image with him and it aids your enjoyment of the story, by all means go to town!