Art courtesy Steve Argyle
The darksteel tendrils rattled and growled like living things as the prisoner struggled against her restraints. She’d woken up a bit earlier than usual, so Jor Kadeen was not only annoyed at the noise, but also the hour. He scowled as he walked into the wan light of the cave, looking up at the small prison several Vulshok had struggled — and some had died — to construct.
“It’s too early in the morning for this foolishness, Glissa.”
“Release me, fool!”
Kadeen shook his head. “I know you’re not an idiot, elf. You were captured by us, we’re not just going to release you on a whim.”
Glissa snarled, frothing at the mouth, infectious ichor oozing down her chin.
“I will feast on your throatmeat!”
Kadeen’s face went sour. “Woke up on the wrong side of the bed, I see. Fine.” He drew his sword and, with a small effort of will, set it aflame.
Artwork Courtesy Austin Hsu
“Let’s start over. Where have the Praetors gone?”
“Torture me if you wish, fleshling! All you will get from me is death!”
Kadeen’s mood darkened even more. Apparently, Glissa had used her most recent portion of rest to regather her resolve and put up a fresh front of bravado. Death had never held much fear for the elf, and now emboldened by her ‘perfection’ at the hands of the Praetors of ‘New Phyrexia,’ the corrupted traitor feared even less. Jor took a step forward.
“I won’t torture you. But I will tell you what I’ll do. I’m leaving, and I’m going to melt the Tangle.”
Glissa stopped struggling. She stared at the Mirran warrior.
“I will take my blade, which burns with the desire to see Mirrodin restored, and I will watch the copper branches and leaves of the Tangle blister and peel. The home you failed to protect will be utterly destroyed. Not ‘perfected’, not saved, destroyed. And it will be your fault. You’ll be even more of a traitor to your birthplace than you are now.”
“No.” Glissa strained against her bonds. “No! Release me!”
Jor turned and walked away from the darksteel lattice, ignoring Glissa’s screams.
“Was that really necessary?”
He turned, finding the slender form of Melira leaning against the cavern wall around the corner from the tunnel to Glissa’s chamber.
Artwork Courtesy Min Yum
“We have to reach her somehow. Personal threats don’t work. I was hoping she still feels some sort of connection to the Tangle.”
“Even if she does, it would only be to corrupt it. To reshape it in Phyrexia’s image, even moreso than it is now.”
Jor shook his head. “Even if I meant to carry out my threats, it’s a dangerous place. I wouldn’t want to get stuck there.” He paused. “But we have to do something. I don’t like that the Praetors are moving in ways we can’t see. And Koth…”
“Oh, don’t start again.”
“We need action!” Jor’s anger flared. “We’ve skulked in the shadows long enough! The sooner we strike out at Phyrexia, the sooner we can draw the Praetors back out, and we can fight them and we can win! We’re well past the need for caution and circumspection!”
Melira looked at Jor evenly. “I’ll remind you that I lead here while Koth is away. Not you.”
“Then give me leave to do what must be done.”
“I’ve given you leave to question Glissa and gather intelligence. Not to reignite the fires of war.”
Jor gripped his sword more tightly. “You would have me sneak through the dark like some thief rather than bring my sword down on the necks of those who have torn apart all we hold dear… still, after everything we’ve been through…”
Melira wasn’t listening anymore. She was looking past Jor. He noticed, and turned to see a pair of amber eyes moving towards them in the dark. As the form approached, more molten glow appeared, in the hands and arms of the planeswalker Koth.
Artwork Courtesy Eric Deschamps
“If you want to rant about revenge and the necks of our enemies, do so at me.” Koth’s voice was weary, but every bit as strong as it had been when Jor had first met him, a voice that originated somewhere around the base of a mountain. “Melira has better things to do than pay you heed.”
Without another word, he walked past the pair into the tunnel. They followed. Koth stopped in front of Glissa and crossed his arms.
“Why are they going back to Dominaria?”
Jor and Melira blinked at Koth. Jor spoke first. “How did you…?”
“Later.” Koth thrust his chin at Glissa. “Speak.”
“They now have all they need,” Glissa hissed. “They have their guide. They have their knowledge. They have the perfected vector to return to the world that denied them, and make it their own, just as they have conquered this cold world of metal and simpletons.”
Jor scowled and moved to advance on Glissa. Koth’s arm did not seem to move — one moment it was across his bare chest, the next it was blocking Jor’s path, solid and unbreakable as darksteel. Jor took the hint.
“If I did not tell your little blonde lapdog, why – ?”
“Because your body may no longer feel pain, but your soul does. And I can tear it out and scorch it.”
Both Jor and Melira stared at Koth. He continued as if he didn’t notice.
“I am a Planeswalker. I exceed any mortal power. And the Praetors, fearsome they may be, are mortal. As are you. Explain, before I remind you of that. This is a lesson you do not want.”
There was silence in the chamber. Then:
“They kept his corpse, Koth of the Hammer. The Spark was gone. But he remained. And like me, he was twisted, broken, reshaped, sent forth.” Glissa looked up. Her eyes were now haunted, not defiant. “They sent him home. And they follow.”
Koth stood like the mountains of his home. Then, he turned and stalked out. Small molten spots marked his footsteps.
Jor and Melira followed hurriedly. “What did she mean?” Jor asked at the same time as Melira’s “Where are you going?”
“It means I have to go kill a friend,” Koth said. “I’m going to kill Venser.”
Mondays are for making or talking about art.
Credits: Magic the Gathering copyright Wizards of the Coast. Glissa the Traitor art courtesy Xoaba. Jor Kadeen art courtesy Richard Wright. Melira, Sylvok Outcast art courtesy Richard Wright. Koth of the Hammer art courtesy Richard Wright.