Dennagon regains consciousness in a place that looks like a giant city of computers, but engineered to look like the natural world.
Even the towers, which were constructed of hundreds of gigantic cybernetic terminals, looked like giant sequoias that gnarled and twisted as chaotically as any biological organism (page 147).
That’s…actually kind’ve an interesting concept. Not a great description, but interesting concept. Why isn’t a well-done painting of that on the cover of this book?
Gashes riddled his soma, revealing scathed muscle under flayed scales. He was completely deformed (page 147).
Holy shit! He better get medical attention stat –
Aside from that, though, the rest of his body still felt refreshed (page 148)
Aside from missing large chunks of skin that’s been flayed off his body –
He was ready for another day (page 148).
Dennagon is shocked by the cityscape around him, and ruffles through his “trusty spellbook” looking for something that would explain this place’s existence. However, for some reason he quickly decides that no magician would ever be able to create a place this complex, which makes no sense. He’s from an incredibly technologically advanced city, he’s seen cyborg technodragons, and he’s seen fossils of things that seem to blend technology and biology. Why is this blowing his mind?
…right. Book written in five weeks, not edited for shit. Let’s move on.
Dennagon goes exploring! There’s no sun, moon, or stars, which makes me wonder how he can see. As he walks, he spends a page or so thinking about a wristwatch that Drekkenoth had and wondering why he used it.
The only thing he could conceivably sum it up to was idiosyncrasy (page 151).
Dennagon is an idiot. He knows, obviously, that Drekkenoth is supposedly very intelligent: isn’t it a far safer and more rational to assume there’s a reason for it and Dennagon just doesn’t know what it is – and, for that matter, since Drekkenoth clearly values the wristwatch, to spend some time trying to figure out why since it may be to Dennagon’s advantage?
He keeps wandering. Eventually he sees his reflection in a shiny gem.
“You know, I have really nice scales,” he complimented himself (page 151).
I really hate this book’s protagonist.
But then the image shifts and he sees his horrific wounds and is startled because he hasn’t even noticed the pain. Then a voice comes out of nowhere and tells him that he can’t know the future by wishing for the past. Then a robotic arm comes out of the cyber-tree and attacks him. They fight. There’s some amusing quotes, like this:
A giant circuited talon grabbed him by the torso, squeezing him with the perfunctory ruthlessness of an unrestrained CPU (page 152-153).
Eventually, he defeats Robot Treebeard but at the expense of his sword, which breaks. The disembodied voice remains. Dennagon realizes it’s a shadowy figure that turns out to be an undead dragon in plate armor, holding a sword that is known in every history book. The sword’s name is Exarius – which sounds a little bit like Excalibur. Dennagon immediately kneels and greets the undead dragon, who is called Shevinoth, who you might remember from a single brief mention 100+ pages ago when Dennagon dreamed about the first dragon king landing on the moon.
Shevinoth invites Dennagon back to his place to see some literature, which probably isn’t a metaphor. They take off, flying up into the stratosphere, and head off to an enormous tower that’s called the Technorealm Mainframe. There’s a giant control screen with alien buttons that say things like “Alt” and “Ctrl” and “F5” which confuses him. Um…
Shevinoth touches a button and a screen comes up.
It displayed the words “Starting: Windows 1200 AD”. (page 157)
I don’t know how to respond to that.
Dennagon asks how long Shevinoth has been trapped here. Shevinoth scoffs and says that this isn’t a game of dungeons and dragons, which is accurate, at least: Dungeons and Dragons has way more realism than this book.
They launch into a Deep Argument where they debate the fundamental concepts of reality so Eng can revel in his intellectual superiority.
“A genesis in time would be necessary as a causal predecessor to timed existence, yet that too would need a genesis of its own that would not itself need a temporal premise.” (page 159)
Skipping past some pointless debate, Shevinoth inserts a CD into a disk drive and uses the computer to connect to the internet. Part of me really hopes he’s using an AOL trial CD, but Eng doesn’t specify. Shevinoth explains that he did die, long ago, but he still had a purpose in life – controlling the flow of time – so apparently he un-died. And now he’s here to endow Dennagon with the gift of omniscience – the Lexicon – which is on the computer screen. All Dennagon needs to do is enter the password. Dennagon says he doesn’t know what the password is, though.
“You know it. You’ve known all along.” (page 162)
God, I hate that trope.
Dennagon searches his memory and eventually decides to use Shevinoth’s name since it’s the only thing he can think of. It works and thousands of icons start popping up that basically contain the sum of all human and dragon knowledge.
Shevinoth explains that all this information is for Dennagon, because – don’t say it, goddamnit
“Only you can defeat Drekkenoth and his evil minions.” (page 163)
Dennagon picks up one of the cables which then automatically connects itself to his brain. As the Matrix starts spinning up to initiate the download, Dennagon has a moment of clarity where he wonders if this is going to be like the black orbs of knowledge that he’s been fastidiously ignoring for years – and then the download starts and he learns string theory, C++, Java, and a shitload of other things in the space of the next 90 seconds. That’s not a joke: the text states he learns string theory, C++, and Java. After a minute, though, Dennagon realizes it’s starting to attack his brain and starts trying to break the cable free.
Shevinoth explains that he’s becoming part of the Mainframe – all knowing, but without free will, which seems like a dumb thing to say before the process completes and Dennagon loses his free will. Naturally, this immediately backfires, as Dennagon whips the pistol out of his belt and starts blasting the computer until it shatters and shuts down. Then he punches Shevinoth in the face. The mask falls off, revealing…Drekkenoth.
Nice one, Dennagon.
Our not-terribly-smart hero takes off with Drekkenoth in hot pursuit. After some poorly choreographed violence, Drekkenoth turns to his precious wristwatch that you’ll remember Dennagon dismissing a few pages ago. Drekkenoth turns the dials and uses it to warp the very fabric of space – surprise! – and Dennagon basically finds himself running in slow motion. Drekkenoth pulls out a plasma cannon and Dennagon frantically searches his newfound knowledge and hits upon a plan.
You know, if your plan to incapacitate your enemy involves giving him all the knowledge in the universe to destroy his free will, you really should make sure that the enemy can’t interrupt the process halfway through. Or, in other words, Drekkenoth’s just as fucking stupid as Dennagon.
Dennagon decides to run AT Drekkenoth instead of away from him, which makes him move faster rather than slower. Drekkenoth fires his super-powered computer-guided plasma cannon and, naturally, misses. Dennagon rapidly approaches and then hits the speed of light, which serves to pop him backward in time, so he suddenly vanishes out of that “now”.
We are now just past the halfway point of this book.