Insight

It was dark, Jason thought as he walked down a long winding path with the Commodore leading the way. He had cast a simple spell that teleported them to this place. Guff had said he would show him what the author had said. That had been an hour ago. Between the endless traveling and Guff’s in-depth explanation of how time worked and that “This might not even be from your future” Jason found his patience wearing thin.

“How much further?” Jason asked his compatriot. The old man to his credit hadn’t seemed the least bit agitated by the interruption.

“Not much further. Now one last thing. Nothing you see is real. You cannot in anyway change what you see. Remember that. It will save you much grief. BUT when you ignore that and cause yourself unnecessary pain I’ll be here to snap you out of it.”

“Okay.” It was strange advice, but Jason didn’t really care to argue it he just wanted to know who the author was.

“Well then.” With a wave of his hand a heavy wooden door with a ring shaped handle appeared in front of the two planeswalkers. “Right this way.”

He motioned for Jason to step forward and with only a hint of hesitation he did so and opened the door to see what was on the other side.

~#~#~#~

“When can I leave?” Maytee asked to woman sitting in front of her.

“Soon, when you’re better.” Was the reply she received as always. She had narrowly escaped death in the battle for the campus. Her spark had awoken as an axe was about to crush her sternum. It had turned a lethal blow, into a cripplingly painful blow that had cracked several ribs and broken her ankle when she landed wherever she was currently located. As a result she had been bedridden for days now with nothing to do except talk to the elf woman in front of her.

When she had asked her name, the lady had kindly given it to her but it had be so difficult for Maytee to pronounce that they had settled on Celest only a portion of her full name but enough. Celest said she was part of the Cylian elves of Naya. Maytee wished she knew more about the multiverse right now.

“You know you can’t really keep me here. I’m a planeswalker meaning I could leave this plane if existence at anytime.” Celest gave her another kind smile before responding.

“You could leave, but where would you go? You have trouble breathing and you can’t walk on your own. What would you even do once you got back to your campus?”

“Sit in a bed and be bored as my responsibilities get shifted onto someone else. Probably Nick now that I think about it. And Chris my boyfriend.”

“So you would be doing exactly what you are doing right now?”

“Yes.”

“Then why bother? Are we not taking good care of you in-spite of your sudden appearance in our home?” That was an understatement according to some of the others she had actually come crashing down through the ceiling while the Anima was communing with their gods. To there credit no one seemed overly alarmed by her entry and had patched her up without a second thought. Celest had been her companion and caregiver ever since.

“It’s not that. I’m worried about everyone. We had a major attack against us, and I was injured early in the battle. I just want to know everyone is okay.”

“I see. Well I can’t stop you even if I advise against it, but perhaps we can come to a solution.”

“What you’re going to finally heal me?”

“No.”

“Why Not?”

“Because if our healers did so you would leave without a second thought. Mayael our leader and current Anima was communing with the gods asking for guidance. Instead they gave us you.”

“I could just have the best timing ever.” Maytee replied half-jokingly. Celest in turn gave Maytee a stern look.

“Mayael has been communing with the gods ever since, and hasn’t spoken one word about you. So until she does we need you here.”

“I can’t stay here forever.”

“We don’t expect you too. That’s why I’d like to teach you some of the seer arts and the ways of green aligned magic. You would be able check on the well being of your friends and have something to do. While we could have you here for a while longer.”

“And I’d be able to leave as soon as you guys figure out why I walked here at this particular time?”

“Yes, you’re our guest not our prisoner.”

“When can we get started then?”

“Right now.”

~#~#~#~

“Try it again.”

“I am dammit!”

“No you’re not your just running around.”

“Well I wouldn’t have to run if you didn’t keep sending trees after me!” Zeke yelled at Ezra. They had been practicing mind magic inside Ezra’s head ever since he had agreed to help him. That was months ago. Over the course of that time they had both come to the conclusion that Zeke was terrible at blue magic. And to make matters worse as a bio-mage he had nothing physical to manipulate making him even more useless than when he was on that damn moon of his.

Another branch lashed out at him hitting him square in the chest knocking him on his back and winding him. Zeke then spent the next few seconds hopelessly trying to suck in air before finally being able to breath again. Ezra helped him up and patted him on the back to help clear his lungs. All completely pointless gestures since none of this was real.

“This isn’t working.” The old man finally responded seriously.

“You think?!” Zeke responded angrily as he flailed about. “I told you when we began that I’m no good with blue magic. Why would that change now?”

Ezra stepped back from the squirrel-person’s rather animated display of anger and frustration.

“Because I doubt you could win a battle in your mind without blue magic. Your biggest weakness is literally your only hope of escaping your current predicament. But if you don’t think you need my help by all means leave. You are only a distraction for me anyway.” The bio-mage scowled hard at his mental counterpart. They both knew full well that he needed Ezra’s help. By pointing out his option to leave was just a way to rub it in. And to make matters more irritating they only thing Zeke even knows about Ezra is his name and the fact that he’s been asleep for three hundred years. Other than that, nothing.

“Something has to change we’re not getting anywhere this way. I can’t manipulate your mental world.”

“Hmm, you might be right you should have been able to do something by now.” With a wave of his hand a set on oak double doors appeared in front of the two ‘walkers. They were big and sturdy looking with simple ring shaped handles to pull open.

“What’s that?”

“Doors.”

“I got that, where do they lead?” Zeke replied irritatedly.

“To a change in you’re training process.”

“That’s not where.”

“No, but trust me its better you don’t know till we get there.”

“Fine.” Ezra opened the doors to reveal a black void on the other side. Before Zeke even had time to worry about what that was, the ground picked him up and flung him through the doorway. Ezra himself stood at the threshold nervous for a moment. Then finally with a deep breath to calm himself he stepped through to follow his furry friend.

~#~#~#~

The light was blinding at first. The sun was hot and the air fresh. Jason could already feel sweat form on his back as his eyes adjusted to his surroundings. They were standing in a large hilly plain the seemed to stretch out for miles. All seemed quiet at first.

Then the ground began to rumble beneath his feet. Soon the rumbling turned to a roar as armies of armored men charged and clashed with one another. The sound of steel ringing off of steel, men yelling in rage,and others in pain as they died flooded Jason’s ears. The noise was deafening and soon spells began to fly around everywhere. Some exploded others cut down swathes of men. Shadows enveloped even more and soon scores of warriors died on both sides.

Day 9 of the war.

I don’t know how they did it but they raised armies large enough to challenge me in the field. What should have been an easy victory with my enemies so divided has turned into a meat-grinder as we fight for every inch of land.

“What’s that voice? Why can I hear it so vividly?” Jason soon found himself asking as he looked around. The battle around him was quickly escalating as massive monsters the size of small buildings crashed through the battlefield. Some attacked the smaller combatants, while others ignored the annoyances beneath them and attacked the other monsters.

And still while this happened more people entered the fray. All of this was dizzying to Jason as he tried to follow all of the battle at once. Until one thing caught his attention, then the war around him seemed to cease to be. It began with a sickly black fog that rolled in sucking the strength out if all who touched it. Then the inevitable appearance of Fallor happened. He seemed covered in darkness as he killed scores of people with a flick of his wrist. A single knight tried to attack him, but as he swung his axe Fallor dodged without looking and pointed a finger at him. Soon this fully armored man seemed to wither away and die as his skeleton still clad in his armor collapse into pieces on the ground.

The diviner seemed rather pleased with himself as he looked at his latest work with pride. Then in an instant he seemed to snap back into reality as firey chains attempted to grab him. As Jason followed them to their source, he wasn’t surprised to find Tom clad in his iconic Izzet cloak.

In theory the battle was going to be a cake walk as I made my enemies bleed more without the support of their precious planeswalkers. Who were supposed to be busy dealing with other threats. Threats that would always arise dragging them away till it was too late. Tom never should have been there. He was supposed to be hunting Lee…the shadow that he was.

Fallor slowly levitated higher above the battle to the same height as Tom. Without a word Fallor flew at him full speed dodging one fire chain after another. Until he was almost upon the Izzet walker. Then Tom pointed his left hand towards Fallor. A bracelet made of our energy formed around his wrist.

“Data Drain!” Tom screamed as the wings opened up and streams of data shot forth. Fallor teleported out of the way, but they continued to track him as he reappeared in the distance. This continued for several minutes as the three beams created an ever growing maze of code that no one really understood. Not much time had passed before the strands hit Fallor, immediately draining the mana inside him. The drain was so violent, white light exuded from his mouth and eyes eventually causing him to burst into flames. Leaving nothing behind but a few pieces of ash.

Not satisfied with that display Tom fired several wooden spears from his newly transformed hand off in another direction. They flew fast and would have been deadly if Fallor hadn’t batted them away with a shadowy tendril. Both ‘walkers maintained eye contact as chaos ensued around them, and eventually the hot and sunny day became overcast followed by heavy rain in an instant.

They both became drenched as water seeped into their clothes. Neither seemed to care as the expected water serpents lashed out towards Fallor as a harbinger of Nick’s arrival. A deadly battle of tendrils and serpents ensued as both forces fought each other. It had become almost impossible to track everything as more and more of their chosen weapons filled the air. Not wanting to be out done, Tom also rushed in firing wooden spears from one hand and a web of razor sharp silver chains from the other. With less and less room to maneuver Fallor plunged into the battlefield braving sword and claw as Tom’s and Nick’s spells caught up with him.

Finally, one such spell did and a water serpent knocked him to the ground. Fallor wheezed in exhaustion as he lied on the blood stained ground. Tom loomed over him triumphantly.

“Is this where you declare your victory Tom?” Fallor yelled to the victorious planeswalker.

“No Chris, that is a terrible cliché that always ends badly for the person that does that. This is where you just die.”

“Isn’t that the same thing?” Jason could hear Fallor mutter.

“No, because you’re my only enemy here right now, and your not going to stop me by yourself.”

“At least we can agree on that.”

Tom stood over me so smugly and so deathly serious. So foolishly.

Tom’s face contorted with pain. Blood began to well-up from dozens of puncture wounds as the ice that stabbed him quickly melted back into water. His clothes became drenched in blood but were utterly undamaged by any external attacks. Tom coughed up more blood, and silently fell over to bleed to death.

“No!” Jason yelled as he sprinted over to his dying friend.

“Jason! It’s not real! You can’t change anything!” Gruff yelled as he chased after him. All of Jason’s effort seemed to be in vain as every spell he cast did nothing to heal the dying Tom. Soon the shield mage learned he couldn’t even touch Tom as his hands passed right through him. “I told you already you can’t change what happens we’re just observers.”

The scene quickly faded to black, and just as quickly reappeared into a new venue. Here it was considerably quieter as Jason looked around the room. It was large and mostly empty, pillars made of black and white marble ran down the center of the room. Strange arcane rune marked many of the walls, and a long red carpet went from a large oaken doorway several stories in height to the other end of the room between the twin rows of pillars. At the other end of the room the carpet ran up a small flight of stairs and stopped right in front of a rather grand looking throne made of more black marble carved to create three prongs at the top of the back making it look like a crown. That was where Fallor sat on a large fluffy pillow.

Muffled footsteps echoed, catching Jason’s attention. He turned his head back to the entrance showing Nick walking down the long path leading to the base of the stairs where he stopped and looked up at Fallor. Both men were clad in robes. Nick wore black robes trimmed in silver with a simple blue sash around his waist. While Fallor also wore black robes, but they are simply black except for the blood red sash he wore as a belt and the golden crown encrusted with emeralds and sapphires. Nick was deathly serious looking, while Fallor himself looked indifferent with a hint of contempt. Both were silent for a moment.

“I’ve done as you’ve asked.” Nick said after a moment longer breaking the silence. His voice also echoed in the empty room.

“And?” Was Fallor’s only response.

“I want you to meet your end of the deal.”

“No.”

“No? I killed Tom and Zeke. I imprisoned Lee and used him as a red herring to keep the others searching for a soon to be dead man. I doubled the size of your army and am days away from defeating your enemies for you, and your answer is no?”

“It’s no because you haven’t finished what we agreed to.”

“No.”

“No? Don’t tell me your getting cold feet?”

“It’s no because I don’t trust you will hold up your end of the bargain after I’ve finished. I have done more than enough to at least receive physical proof of it instead of that sneak peek you gave me. I can still fix most of the damage if you don’t.”

“Fine.” Fallor waved his hand and a small portal formed in front of Nick. It was just large enough to see through but not to get through if he tried. Jason could clearly see the other-side of it which appeared to be traffic, as cars zoomed by on the freeway. It then switched to the image of a massive crater with rubble littering everywhere. Nick extended his hand through the portal and pulled back a piece of concrete from the other end. It sat there in the palm of his hand in stark contrast to the room around them.

“You did it.”

“I told you. Now finish your task and you may go home.”

“Fine.” Without another word he walked away carrying the piece of concrete in his hand looking contemplative all the way.

Nick turned out to be a shrewd ally. He doubted every word I spoke demanded proof at every corner. And barely helped in any task unless I proved my willingness to cooperate. And still he refuses at trust anything from me, as if I’m going to betray him at any moment. To be fair though he’s probably right about that, but he is my most valuable asset in this war. With him I shall rule.

Jason stood there stunned at what he had heard. After he regained his wits Jason looked over at Gruff.

“I’m done here… take me back.” Wordlessly he did so. Soon Jason found himself standing amongst the vast collection of books of Gruff’s library. “Is this really the future.”

“Maybe.”

“Maybe? Give me a straight answer.” Jason replied harshly.

“It’s maybe because it is a possibility. It hasn’t happened yet. This is just one of many possible futures like I have already told you many times before.” Gruff spoke soothingly, understanding how he must feel after that last display.

“What are the other possibilities?”

“Many. You don’t need to know them all. Just this. If you don’t return to Volst this future is much more likely.”

“I have no idea how I’m supposed to get back to my time.”

“I’m working on that, but you will be long dead by the time I finish.” Jason gave him a severe look that made the Commodore speak quickly. “In a century another of your friends will arrive before the phyrexian invasion he will be the key to your return.”

“That doesn’t solve my dilemma of being dead.”

“Have faith, and go to sleep.” The elderly planeswalker waved his hand in the last statement putting the unaware Jason to sleep almost immediately. He then muttered a few words and Jason began to fade and a simple compass appeared where he had fallen. The caretaker of the library pocketed the compass and quietly walked away reshelving the book as he did so.

~#~#~#~

“Finished, finally.” Alex said somewhat relieved to himself. He had spent weeks inside this map room splitting his attention between learning the gate technology and understanding rudimentary time-space mechanics. This didn’t even cover how he was supposed to apply all of it without a practical application to test all this theory on. Of course in order to test it he would have to go to Phyrexia, and that was beyond an understatement of every bad idea anyone could think of.

“Don’t worry so much Alex. I’ll be there to help you.” Alex heard in his ear. Without thinking he stood up quickly flipping the chair he had been sitting in over. He was lightning fast as he turned to face the voice. Behind him several yards away Syeahrs stood watching him. That was a person he didn’t want to see right now.

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