In the twelfth part of Mort, EVERYTHING IS A HUGE DISASTER. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
!!!!! HOW THE FUCK IS THIS REAL. WHAT HAS THIS BECOME? WHAT!!!!!!!!
I can’t believe I actually typed that sentence about Mort not being an antagonistic force in the narrative because LOOK AT THIS. LOOK AT IT. I even was pretty much spot-on about my theory that Death and Mort switching places and it still didn’t help me. In the first few pages of this section, I didn’t think that anything was amiss. Yes, Mort is still horribly misguided here, and as he continues to pursue his plan to “save” Keli, he gets further and further from the easiest solution available to him. But once he enters the vast room full of the lifetimers (WHAT A COOL NAME), it’s like Mort realizes the power that Death has always had, and the transformation begins to rapidly spill out of him. Well, that and Albert does call Mort “lad” right before Mort completely loses control of himself.
It was just horrifying to read. Albert was trying to help, and so was Ysabell! And then Mort is threatening to kill Albert if he doesn’t help him, and the worst part about this is that we know Mort has the power to do it. We know that he could send Albert back to the real world and let him live out his final few months before Mort would come back to claim him. This alone was scary enough to me. But then Albert makes all these references to an “agreement” he had with Death and how Mort was about to violate it. I suspect that this is what he was referring to.
“But you don’t live a long life as a wizard without making a few enemies, see, ones who’ll… wait on the Other Side.”
He sniffed. “They ain’t all got two legs, either. Some of them ain’t got legs at all. Or faces. Death don’t frighten me. It’s what comes after.”
That’s the deal he made, isn’t it? He’d become Death’s servant to avoid passing on to the next world, which for Albert would be the Dungeon Dimensions. This is what Mort is threatening Albert with. It’s horrible, possibly irredeemable. How could you do this to someone??? And Mort only makes it worse by forcing Ysabell to get Albert’s biography so that she can read from it. It allows Mort to pry into his thoughts, to know that he’s lying about there not being a spell to change Reality. And it’s just so sad.
“‘Albert looked into the blue glow of those eyes and the last of his defiance drained away,'” she read, “‘for he saw not just Death but Death with all the human seasonings of vengeance and cruelty and distaste, and with a terrible certainty he knew that this was the last chance and Mort would send him back into Time and hunt him down and take him and deliver him bodily into the dark Dungeon Dimensions where creatures of horror would dot dot dot dot dot,'” she finished. “It’s just dots for half a page.”
“That’s because the book daren’t even mention them,” whispered Albert. He tried to shut his eyes but the pictures in the darkness behind his eyelids were so vivid that he opened them again. Even Mort was better than that.
Maybe Mort as he was a hundred pages ago, but is that even who Mort is anymore? Mort has become cruel with the onset of power, desperate to save someone who might not even want to be saved, and willing to threaten people with unimaginable horrors in order to get it. And on top of it all, he’s whiny. He whines about having to go claim two souls before LITERALLY CHANGING REALITY TO FIX HIS MISTAKE. STOP WHINING.
I wonder, then, if Albert is convinced that Mort is about to do something so unforgivable that it’s worth him leaving Death’s realm. We don’t get much insight into his decision to get his old staff out (from under his bed!!! This is really cute to me!!!) and use magic again. (AND HE MADE A HAT. THE HAT IS IMPORTANT DO NOT FORGET THIS.) But I suspect that’s his motivation. He’s willingly returning to the world, where he’ll be susceptible to Time and mortality, and I bet he’s going to try to stop Mort.
Mort, meanwhile, is heading towards the Counterweight Continent with Ysabell to take his first soul. I was actually quite excited to visit this place because it was where Twoflower was from! We don’t actually get much in the way of worldbuilding aside from all the stuff about the Empire’s restriction of travel by use of a wall around the entire country. (Which explains SO MUCH about Twoflower, I swear.) There’s hints that the boy emperor of the Agatean Empire is considering changes to the Empire’s policies, but that’s all put aside for A REALLY SPECTACULAR SCENE in which the boy emperor reverses an attempt by the Grand Vizier to poison him. Oh my god, I love everything about it, from the ridiculous honorary titles the two use for one another, to the way they both try to out-logic and out-custom the other into eating the poison, TO THE WAY THE GUARDS ARRIVE ALL MAJESTICALLY AT THE END. So good. SO GOOD.
And if Mort feels like the second death will be worse than this? LORD. It probably will be.
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