They stood silently for a moment as Alex tried to comprehend how she had found him. He could accept that she would also be able to go through the doors to the same time and location assuming they were set locations, but this library is miles long with thousands of rooms in a weaving maze impossible to really know unless you were Commodore Guff. Hell he was even afraid to wander to far from the map room without the old man for this very reason.
“How did you find me?” Alex suddenly blurted out without thinking. The harlequin gave a small laugh in amusement. She seemed utterly unconcerned by this as she continued.
“Don’t worry so much. I’m only going to be here for a minute before your friend the commodore walks in.”
“Don’t worry so much? You shouldn’t be here.”
“Oh Alex, you should know by now that you can’t hide from me.”
“Why did you send me here? I thought I was free once I beat you.” Alex could only imagine a huge smug grin right before the Unbound Victor spoke again.
“And you are. You left via the door, which I allowed. I never said I would leave forever. Besides you’re taking to long to return. It’s also my job to motivate you to return to your correct time and plane after a while.”
“What do you mean motivate?”
“Well normally that’s just a polite way of saying attack, but I don’t think you need that. I’m just here to tell you that you’re on a deadline. Ta-ta for now.” With little warning his jester associate suddenly vanished into a poof of smoke. Which conveniently disappeared by the time the elderly commodore walked in.
“Come with me, it’s time.”
“No, he can’t come.”
“Oh he will.” The commodore replied.
“No, there are only nine titans. Only the nine of us will enter.”
“He isn’t going to be a Titan he isn’t even going to travel with us long. His objective is much earlier than ours.”
“It doesn’t matter he’s a liability. And it’s suicide to go in there without a Titan.”
“I think the Phyrexians will have bigger problems than one lowly Mage.”
“He’s also the weakest planeswalker I’ve ever met. He wouldn’t make it past the first level.”
“He will, I have faith in him.”
“No Guff, this is my mission I can’t have him jeopardizing it, and that’s final.”
“Then I’n afraid I won’t be going either Urza. Either he comes along or I’m not going.” The room got quiet with Guff’s declaration. All eyes had fallen on the exchange. It was minutes before the final push of the Phyrexians. Every Titan had assembled for this last ditch effort to halt their advance.
“Fine Guff, you win. He’s your responsibility.”
“I thought you’d see reason.” Guff said as he clapped his hands together. “Now, I believe we have a plane to invade.”
It was hell. That’s all that Alex could think of to describe Phyrexia. It had only been a few minutes since they all had ‘walked to the plane, and he had already almost died four times.
The smoke had made it impossible to breath without a respirator, and the oil rain had made him almost blind. But he had come to far to turn back now. The young mage had thought as he trudged through the fake metallic jungle. Various mockeries of life stalked them as he and the titans walked onward.
Nothing seemed brave enough to attack them as they continued forward unimpeded. That’s what Alex had thought until an ear splitting shriek echoed through the jungle landscape, and then all hell broke lose.
First, dragon-like machines came bursting through the tree line. Some were flying others running. The entire plane seemed to attack them at one time.
The Titan holding Guff first received a deep gouge from one of the draconic monstrosities as he intercepted it from harming Alex himself. They grappled briefly before the thing simply dissolved in his hands.
Alex looked around and realized all the other Titans had obliterated hundreds of these things with almost no effort at all. These already god-like mages were made even more powerful by Urza’s creations. This sight alone made Alex’s own magical achievements seem insignificant by comparison. But the young ‘walker didn’t have time to feel minuscule. He could already see a glimpse of another threat through the haze and oil around him. Taking as deep of a breath as his mask would allow Alex prepared himself for a long fight before summoning his rackets.
It had been weeks since Quiet Joe had arrived at this plane, or at least he thought it had been weeks. He wasn’t quite sure since he had been shifting in and out of consciousness. All he really knew was that he wasn’t on the campus anymore.
Opening his eyes for the first time had been a challenge, as he fought the urge to sleep some more. The world around him was a blur and darkness. With eyes shifting in and out of focus Joe tried to make out the shapes in his surroundings. Some might have been rocks or piles of something, he really couldn’t tell. The wiry built mage shifted his gaze till he saw what looked like a face staring at him, mere inches from his own face.
“Autnie he’s awake!” It screamed rather excitedly. Joe jerked back startled by the turn of events immediately summoning thorny vines that strangled the creature. The thing couldn’t have been more than three feet tall. Its frame so small, with little effort the creature was dangling in the air, and flailing around for several seconds choking. Joe still in a daze stood up not really thinking.
That turned out to be a mistake as he slammed his head into the ceiling of the cave they were in, knocking himself out. He could vaguely hear a small voice cough.
“Never mind Auntie, he hit his head again.” The thing had wheezed out before he lost consciousness again.
The second sphere didn’t seem any less hostile than the first. Scraps and ruins from the first sphere littered the area, from half broken trees to the carcasses of the dead dragon-like monsters impaled on pipes sticking out from the ceiling of the sphere. A maze of smokestacks filled the ground level letting out massive amounts of heat and smoke further choking the air around them, but also giving off the only source of light.
More than once Alex almost caught himself on fire from the oil that permeated his clothing. And even with his respirator he found himself barely able to breathe with all the smoke. Everything about this place gave an air of oppression that weighed down upon Alex making him more nervous. His eyes darted around in every direction left, right, up, and down. The haze of everything made it nearly impossible to see anything beyond the stacks. More than once Alex found himself questioning if they were going the right way, but then again he didn’t even know which way was right to begin with.
“I guess I’ll find out eventually.”Alex muttered to himself amidst the noise of fire and movement.
Joe jerked himself awake suddenly as the ice cold water splashed his face. The normally quiet ‘walker found himself thrashing about and yelling various obscenities as he tried to locate the source of his attacker.
Eventually he recovered from his disorientated state and saw two creatures standing a few feet away, one holding the bucket that undoubtedly had water in it at one point in time. The one holding the bucket was very short no more than three feet tall with a brownish-green color to its skin and a strangely pointed head. The other goblin by contrast was older and rather plump looking as it leaned on a walking stick to support its weight. It was a brown color but almost grey with how dull it looked in the light. He stood a full head over the younger monster, and while that one looked rather dumb and excitable, this older one had a look of intelligence that came with experience.
“Oh good you’re awake.” The older one said to Joe.
“What the fuck man?” Was Joe’s immediate response, followed by him jerking against the restraints he notices for the first time. This, while not really a problem, only served to annoy him more.
“Sorry about that. You tried to kill Igot here the last time you woke up. They are just a precaution. If you promise to behave we’ll remove them.
“Fuck you man. Where the fuck am I?”
“You are in the Mudrumble Bog in the plane of Lowyn planeswalker.”
“What do you mean what?”
“I’m not a…”
“Planeswalker? Then how do you explain being on a plane that has no native humans?”
“I…” Joe was speechless. He had no idea how to respond to the news. He didn’t even know how he had gotten here.
“What is the last thing you remember?”
“I was in a battle. Monsters had started to attack from all sides on my home. And then…”
“And then what?”
“I found a friend of mine. He was dead from a knife wound so I attempted a spell to revive him. And I died in the process.” Joe slumped down thinking about what had happened. He supposed he was thrilled by the thought that he also had been a planeswalker, but it seemed somewhat diminished by the way events had unfolded.
Silence filled the dimly lit room as Joe took in more of his surroundings not wanting to deal with what he had just remembered. The old creature gave him that moment before continuing.
“You’ve been unconscious for sometime. Likely what ever battle you were in has passed for better or for worse.”
“Who are you?” Joe finally thought to ask.
“I am Bolgrat, Auntie of the Sky Tosser Warren. Welcome.”
Alex was bathed in darkness. It permeated everything and filled everything. Light was simply engulfed by the darkness. This of course made Alex’s attempt to see in the third sphere that much harder as he defied gravity running on a dizzying network of pipes that filled everywhere.To the point where Alex had found it difficult to move. He had no doubt that the titans were even worse off, trying to maneuver those gigantic machines in such tight spaces. More than once Alex had become separated from the group as a distortion seemed to mislead him. He’d travel down paths that went no where only to backtrack into places that led nowhere.
One time he had marked a spot and ran back into it in four different stretches that shouldn’t have overlapped it. He could have attributed it to the combination of darkness, nerves, and the dizzying omnidirectional maze, but the young ‘walker knew it wasn’t just that. He could feel the distortion that warped the very reality around him.
And right when he was on the verge of panicking, Alex squeezed through one last opening and managed to hear the familiar heavy thunk of the titan’s footsteps. He let out a sigh of relief as he felt his way back to the group. Most seemed unconcerned by his absence or not to even have noticed. Not that he could hear their conversations inside the titans.
But soon he could see their objective in the distance. A faintly glowing portal in the distance that would allow them to travel to the lower planes. One more level. Alex thought to himself as his excitement and anxiety grew. One more and he could be done with this horrible plane. He hoped that was the case anyway.