Test of Metal
|Test of Metal|
|First printing||October 2010|
From the ashes of defeat, Tezzeret rises again.
Beaten to within an inch of his life and left for dead by the psychic sorcerer Jace Beleren, Tezzeret has lost control of the Infinite Consortium—an interplanar cabal he commanded with a power and influence few in the Multiverse have ever achieved.
Now he must turn to a former enemy for help: the dragon Nicol Bolas, perhaps the only planeswalker in the Multiverse powerful enough to get him back on his feet. Bolas, however, has his reservations. What can Tezzeret give him that he doesn't already have?
So begins Tezzeret's search for the secrets of etherium—a magical alloy infused with all the power of the Blind Eternities—thought to have been lost with the disappearance of the great sphinx, Crucius the Mad. Tezzeret's quest is clear, but his thirst for revenge clouds his decisions. Will he achieve his goal, or will he be bested by his own ambition?
Due to problems presented within the text itself, and details later revealed, the canon of this novel is dubious.
This is the origin story of Tezzeret, but it is told in a mix of flashbacks so it takes some effort to untangle. This plot summary is in chronological order, not in the order the story is revealed.
Tezzeret was born and raised in the underclass of the city of Vectis on the plane of Esper. He was a scavenger in the Tidehollow district who saved enough to claw his way up the ladder into being an apprentice mechanist, then he got into a school and made his way up to master mage. Along the way, he created for himself an arm from etherium. It is typical for mages of Esper to replace one or more body parts with etherium.
He then joined the Seekers of Carmot, an organization that is said to know how to create etherium using the mysterious sangrite and carmot. Somewhere in here, he became a planeswalker. He learned that the Seekers are run by Nicol Bolas and became part of Bolas’ organization.
As told in the novel “Agents of Artifice”, he learned that the Seekers not only don’t know how to create etherium, but they are also clueless as to what sangrite and carmot are. So he killed the leaders, went to Ravnica, and took over the Infinite Consortium, which he ran for 10 years. Jace Beleren destroyed his mind, removed his etherium arm, and left him for dead on Kamigawa at the end of that story.
This story starts with Nicol Bolas having regenerated Tezzeret’s arm, healed his body, and somehow put his mind back together. He wakes up in Jund. Bolas shares that sangrite is the petrified blood of a dragon who died in battle, and apparently a lot died in Jund, but he doesn’t know what carmot is either. He sets Tezzeret the task of finding the Great Sphinx Crucius the Mad and the secret of etherium. Tezzeret isn’t entirely willing on this task, but Bolas grafted an entity named Doctor Jest into Tezzeret’s nervous system and so Tezzeret is forced to comply.
He goes back to Victis, where he attempts to regain power. He’s a pretty weak mage overall and relied on his etherium arm for power. Through some adventures, he gains enough etherium to power himself, faces down Jace Beleren (who he leaves with an etherium-based device embedded in him that prevents the use of magic) and Baltrice (who Jace has altered to be loyal to him). This encounter happens when Jace and Baltrice use Tezzeret’s father, who still lives in the Tidehollow, as bait. Baltrice then accompanies Tezzeret on his mission because she wants to save Jace.
At the stronghold of the Seekers of Carmot, Tezzeret engineers a meeting with the Grand Hegemon, a Great Sphinx named Sharuum, who was Crucius’ love. She has a message for him and she promises him everything she has if he can arrange a meeting with Crucius. Silas Renn, the leader of the Seekers, overhears the secret message.
They then go to the Glass Desert, where the Crystal Labyrinth is. They find that Silas Renn got there first and is using hundreds of thousands of zombies (as created by Liliana Vess) to try and brute force a solution to the Labyrinth. There is a complex battle with Renn using time manipulation powers called clockworking, and Renn is defeated and then controlled by Tezzeret. Tezzeret uses Renn’s clockworking abilities to solve the Crystal Labyrinth.
In the center of the Labyrinth is another Great Sphinx named Kemuel. He is the son of Crucius and Sharuum, and he has the task of guarding the Riddle Gate. One trying to get through the gate is a “seeker”. The Seeker (capitalized) is the one destined to get through and find the goal. Kemuel is apparently somewhat outside time, since he makes comments on what percentage of parallel realities have Tezzeret arrive and what percentage of the time Tezzeret makes certain choices.
Tezzeret gets through the Riddle Gate, which requires him to stop wanting etherium for him to pass. He arrives on the Metal Island, which is made entirely of etherium and is situated on a plane that is otherwise just water, and contains a life-sized etherium statue of Crucius which is implied to be his remains. Tezzeret then spends an unknown amount of time preparing for the arrival of others.
Nicol Bolas arrives first, making demands. Then Baltrice brings along the still-disabled Jace. Nicol Bolas reads both of their minds using a Memory Syphon, then suspends them.
Then the Grand Hegemon arrives through a gate to talk with Crucius. This is unusual, since non-planeswalkers are not supposed to be able to do that. After talking, she returns through the gate and it closes.
Then Liliana Vess shows up to support Nicol Bolas and there is a massive fight with clockworking time manipulation, undead dragons, and all kinds of climactic mayhem. Tezzeret wins, then faces down Nicol Bolas, who is apparently losing some of his faculties.
Tezzeret then explains some of what is going on and gives some gifts. He gives Liliana freedom from her blood-signed pact with Nicol Bolas. He gives Baltrice a piece of sangrite and a necklace that will make her immune to mind control. There is a falling out between her and Jace when Jace reveals that he put a spell on her to make her nice and be loyal to him, but claims it was for her own good and that she begged for it. She leaves without putting on the necklace. He lets Jace live, but promises that he’ll live in fear from Nicol Bolas, Baltrice, and himself. Jace leaves.
Tezzeret then reveals that the Memory Syphons were a trap and that Nicol Bolas now has a device in his brain that makes him unable to hurt planeswalkers, including Tezzeret. He also reveals that Nicol Bolas is up to some massively destructive plan to regain his pre-Mending godlike powers, but that Tezzeret would help make it happen without destruction if Nicol would take a partner.
Tezzeret leaves, then the real Nicol Bolas shows up and tells the one we’ve been dealing with that he is a simulacrum that only lives a few days and was created to go someplace dangerous. The decay in his abilities and overall weakness was due to being a simulacrum. It was all a more complex trap by Bolas. But then we find out that Tezzeret knew this too. Plans within plans!
At the end of the novel, Doctor Jest (who Tezzeret had thought dead) reveals himself to be alive, and forces Tezzeret to go to Mirrodin on Bolas's orders, setting up the events of Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn.