Remember the Weatherlight, Part V(b): Imperfect Parts

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After months of fighting, the Dominarians hold Yavimaya, Llanowar, Koilos, and the deepest oceans. Two forests, a desert, and some water. Sure, a few holdouts remain in various parts of the world, but organized resistance is limited to these few distant realms. And then, the overlay happens.
When Weatherlight took its day trips there during the Invasion, the dread plane of Rath was covered in Phyrexian troops. The crew could not figure out why. But suddenly, to its horror, the entire Coalition at Koilos finds itself utterly surrounded. The flowstone plane reached completion, and the entire surface overlayed itself upon Dominaria—carrying the Phyrexian armies with it.
Weatherlight returns to the skies as the army rushes to prepare itself for battle. Then, it disappears. The Weatherlight crew is stunned as more and more of its allies disappear, and the Phyrexian army and antiaircraft tighten around the skyship and the one remaining titan engine—Urza himself. The last second before they are destroyed, Urza planeswalks ship and engine both away.
They appear off the coast of Urborg, where Barrin had fought his last, losing battle. However, Urza has miscalculated, and gets to take a bath.
The outer Urborgan isle is swarming with Phyrexians, but something is odd about them. They are not acting as fighters or killers, but pilgrims . . . and Gerrard realizes that the center of their adoration is the devastated ruins of Crovax’s childhood estate. He wonders: just how high has Crovax risen?
Crovax has changed a lot since he was a Weatherlight cabin hand.
He is having a casual chat with his parents’ remains when the hastily repaired Tsabo Tavoc is brought before him. She thinks she is to be his second in command. He has other plans for the general who abandoned her army and lost Koilos.

The flowstone beneath her legs holds her fast
as Crovax rips her apart. She screams, and asks
if she is to be fed to his vampire hounds. Crovax
gives a shark-toothed grin—no, that privilege
belongs to the Evincar.
A few of Urza’s allies don’t go straight to their rendezvous point on the first sphere of Phyrexia. Tevesh Szat has a little chat with Darigaaz, returning him and the dragon nations to Shiv where the Phyrexians are attacking an ancient mural of a dragon. Szat tells Darigaaz the tale of the Primevals, five dragons that ruled the world in ancient times, that could be resurrected to fight the Phyrexians and make dragons the dominant species once again. The Phyrexians had already destroyed the remains of the first. . . .
. . . but he does take them to the second, deep in Yavimaya. Darigaaz doesn’t really know how to free the Primeval from her prison inside a magnigoth treefolk , but he feels her calling to him. When the leader of the black dragons grows impatient and even hostile, Darigaaz’s normal diplomacy is overwritten by rage. He impales the other dragon on the tree, and it begins to open.
Darigaaz is enamored with Rith as soon as she emerges. The green dragon is beautiful, and powerful, and commanding… and hugely disappointed with what has become of her race. She takes de facto command, and leads the dragon nations to free another.
Just after the dragons leave, the magnigoths awaken. Trees the size of cities, they were charged with holding Rith for eternity after the Primevals were first defeated by mortals, millennia earlier. Now, they started moving to get Rith back.
. . . with a few thousand kavu hitching a ride in their canopies.
Eladamri and his Llanowar elves, meanwhile, appear in the frigid reaches of Keld. Eladamri gasps as he recognizes the forest nestled in the Keldon hinterland—the Skyshroud. His home has followed him to Dominaria. And now, it is dying. The trees of Skyshroud, the Rootwater underneath, neither can survive in this climate. So he calls in a favor.
He had become the “Seed of Freyalise” to save the elves of Llanowar, who worship the planeswalker. Now, he prays to her, demanding (politely) that she protect his homeland in return. She consents, casting a spell to protect the forest from the climate and the natives, but if he wants to protect it from the Phyrexians to come, he’ll have to make an alliance with the Keldons, even then furiously circling the forest, wondering why they aren’t able to enter it.
As the ground war on Urborg heats up, Agnate’s metathran take mile after putrid mile—the battle is much more fluid than the grinding trenches of Koilos. However Agnate gets overconfident, and is lured into a trap . . . before being rescued by a powerful new ally.
The metathran are saved by an army of undead, who fall upon the Phyrexian zombies and machines, while pulling the metathran out of the quicksand trap. The Phyrexians are defeated, but Agnate is not sure what to do about this new undead ally… who looks disconcertingly identical to Thaddeus.
The Lich Lord Dralnu tells Agnate that he and his undead minions are all former soldiers, serving as they can in this unlife. There is no afterlife, he says, no Valhalla—simply nothingness. He offers warriors an afterlife of service and duty. In this way, he pays tribute to the honored dead. Agnate accepts this alliance, performing a ritual of unity with him by washing his feet.
Looking down on the battlefield, Weatherlight’s crew notices Agnate and many of his troops go missing, and muses on where reinforcements could be found. Gerrard suggests Tahngarth’s homeland, Talruum, though the minotaur is grimly hesitant. His culture puts a lot of emphasis on appearance, and after his stay in Volarth’s dungeon, he is a mutated, monstrous caricature of a minotaur. Nevertheless, once Gerrard gets the idea, he can’t be swayed.
Tahngarth is slightly disturbed to find that his homeland simply doesn’t exist anymore, thanks to Teferi’s meddling. He is silently thankful for not having to face his brethren, but Gerrard’s one-track mind simply thinks of the next source of minotaurs—the storied Hurloon range. Weatherlight shifts there, only to find that the Hurloon capital was burned during the planeshift, and the male fighters have been drugged and prepared for transformation—just like Tahngarth. Of course you know, this means war.
Chain of command be damned, Tahngarth orders the ship into landing, and loading a full thousand of the unconscious minotaurs aboard. The ship takes massive damage in the battle, and is too heavy to lift off. They accelerate to planeshift speed, cruising on their landing spars, and flash to Yavimaya, where Multani (residing in the living boards of the ship) has the trees catch the ship so the crash doesn’t kill all aboard.

Times Weatherlight has crashed: 5
Oceans away, Rith and Darigaaz arrive in New Argive, or what’s left of it. The nation that arose out of the unification of Balduvia and Kjeldor had been a powerful source of White mana—and thus a priority target in the early days of the invasion. The great library of New Argive had been razed, all its books burned. Beneath that library, however, was the foundation of an even greater ancient one, beneath which the White Primeval is pinioned. Rith tricks the leaders of the other four dragon nations into mana burning themselves to death, and that sacrifice frees Treva.
Oceans away from that, (the same oceans, actually,) Eladamri has formed an alliance with the Keldons in the same way he had won metathran allegiance—trial by combat. Now, the small elvish army joins the huge Keldon host, marching for the Necropolis, the most holy site in the Keldon Twilight religion.
The Necropolis is the resting place for all the great heroes of Keldon history. According to the Twilight legends, at the end of time, the heroes of Keld will rise to fight invaders. Atop the Necropolis is the dock of the Golden Argosy, a mystical ship that will carry those heroes to their destiny. However, now a Phyrexian army outnumbering the combined Keldon and elvish (Kelvish?) host is marching for this hallowed ground, and the alliance rushes to prevent its desecration.
The Kelvish host fights as hard and as fast as it can, but colos and longships cannot outpace the huge Phyrexian army. Not just the Necropolis, but all of Keld seems lost. Then, as the Necropolis is overrun, there is a flash, and the legends of Keld’s history rise again.
Problem is, they fight on the wrong side. The Keldon dead rise to fight the Keldon living. The religious shock alone is enough to render many Keldons unable to fight. Then, things REALLY get nasty, when a holy artifact strikes one of the Keldon dead, and through such blasphemy, causes a volcano to erupt beneath the glacier on which the battle is fought. Soon, a geyser of lava is surrounded by a whirlpool of icy water, in which everyone is equally doomed.
On Phyrexia, the Nine Titans have already begun their destructive descent down the spheres. Both Urza and Szat have visited the plane in the past, and Urza has spent centuries discovering critical junctures and support structures, and the Titans systematically attack each of these, while fending off the deadly and endless defenders of the hellish plane, although Urza is increasingly pausing to marvel at the mechanical perfection of it. (Incidentally, I think that is Taysir on the left there, next to the implosion)
However, a tragic ‘accident’ quickly occurs, when Kristina is forced from her engine into the area Tevesh Szat was breathing a huge acid cloud. Taysir attacks him immediately—she was an old flame of his after all. Szat insists it was a tragic accident, and the Eight Titans continue.
After another session of refit and repair, Weatherlight again sets sail. The now-conscious minotaurs have learned of Tahngarth’s insistence on helping them; they show him that only his courage matters to them, not his appearance. However, the same is not true when the minotaur commander, Grizzlegom, encounters his new allies. While he holds Agnate in high esteem, Dralnu he does not trust at all.
Agnate will not be swayed from his alliance with Dralnu, insisting the undead man is a noble warrior. Moreover, Dralnu’s zombies, skeletons, and other ghoulish troops make up the bulk of Coalition forces on Urborg. With Dralnu’s help, Phyrexian forces have been driven back almost to the Stronghold itself.
In the end, Agnate provides Grizzlegom the proof the minotaur needs of Dralnu’s duplicity—the metathran general is dying of a slow rotting disease, spreading up from where the lich had washed his feet in the alliance ceremony. Grizzlegom finally makes Agnate recognize the truth—he has turned Death against Death, merely chosen one to rule instead of the other. If Dralnu is not stopped, he will take control of the entire Coalition, by taking control of Agnate. Agnate agrees to pass command on to Grizzlegom, if only the minotaur will do for him what he did for Thaddeus. Grizzlegom ends Agnate’s life, then his unlife, assassinates Dralnu, and leads the living army against their undead allies.
Treva and Rith lead Darigaaz and the terrorized dragon nations to an ocean trench where the next Primeval is imprisoned. Darigaaz tries to object to the escalating sacrifices of mortal dragons, but can do nothing against the two Primevals, and hundreds of his kin die diving toward Dromar’s gilded cage.
Dromar is the greediest of the dragons, and was captured by giving him all the wealth he could desire. Rith destroys it, thus forcing the Primeval back into the world. With three Primevals holding him in thrall, Darigaaz’s better self is virtually dormant. His temper is short, and his anger a terror to behold. He flies with Rith, Treva, and Dromar, virtually their equal in power, as they make their way to the site of the final, Black Primeval. And where else would that be, but Urborg?
The Eight Titans have split up, each to plant a charge on some essential support struts of the third sphere (probably). Daria, outside her suit, has wriggled her way between some really tight pipes toward some target that creates an inconvenient ‘prevents planeswalking’ zone. She sets the bomb, turns to leave, and finds herself face to maw with Tevesh Szat. She tries to run, but the draconic walker is to big, too fast, and too hungry. Afterwards, Szat returns to his own Titan Engine.
When Taysir finds out Szat ate his adoptive daughter, he becomes furious, but Urza calmly replies that he expected Szat to betray them, and matters are well in hand. He explains that he had devised a powerful weapon known as a "soul bomb," that would take the souls of many thousands of mortals to charge . . . or of just one planeswalker. Barrin had told him there was no ethical way to charge it. So, being Urza (i.e. insane), he deliberately included a ‘walker in the Titans whom he knew would betray them. And the moment he felt justified in doing so, he initiated the kill rubrick in Szat’s suit.
Under the glacier in Keld, Eladamri and Sivvi have somehow survived, along with a few odd Keldons and elves here and there. Most miraculous of all, though, is that they do so from the decks of the Golden Argosy, sailing immaculate and radiant among the dark depths. The surviving Keldons realize now the truth of Twilight: the dead legends of Keld were simply that—dead. Now, the Argosy was picking up the true heroes of Keld, and it would take them to the battle to decide the destiny of the world. Eladamri and Sivvi take comfort in each other as they await to face the dawn.
The advance at Urborg has ground to a halt, without Dralnu’s undead armies to support it (and with Grizzlegom’s living army diminished by destroying it). Weatherlight controls the skies, granting one significant advantage for the Coalition forces. That is, until its old enemy rises to challenge it.
When Weatherlight and Predator first met, the Dominarians got their ass kicked. The second time, they won by a quirk of chance. This time, Predator is no contest. Weatherlight has grown bigger, faster, stronger . . . the crew has about 50,000 more experience points each, the armaments have been improved five or six times over.
However, Predator is not expected to truly challenge Weatherlight, to the point that Crovax is really just throwing it away to make a point. Greven, in his ONLY SCENE in the Invasion trilogy, is being mind-controlled by Crovax, and is flippantly tossed to his death.
Ertai, broken by the loss of Belbe as well as some torturous mutations, is Crovax’s loyal lapdog now, but even were he not, he would enjoy taking some measure of revenge against Gerrard. With a simple teleport spell, he appears behind "our hero." Squee jumps Ertai to try to save Gerrard, but in the end only gets himself captured along with his commander.
Crovax is delighted. Not only has he captured his former commander and crewmate, his counterpart among Urza’s forces, but he also has Squee to play with. Gerrard must first be dealt with, starting with the classic villainous “We are not so different, you and I,” speech. After that, though, comes the true temptation: Yawgmoth sends Crovax Selenia, makes her manifest. She is tangible, real—alive. Crovax beheads Squee, who (thanks to Yawgmoth) rises only a moment later, whole but confused. All of this is to show Gerrard one thing: Yawgmoth controls death. And he can bring Hanna back.
The deeper the Titans (now Six) get into Phyrexia, the more Urza laments every step in its destruction. The others—Bo Levar and Freyalise particularly—call him on it, questioning his loyalties. He assures them that he is committed to destroying Phyrexia, masterpiece though it is.
However, when it comes time to set the master bomb, that will set off all the other soul bombs at once, Urza cannot do it. Yawgmoth speaks to him in his head, seducing him, and Urza turns. Yawgmoth does not act surprised, but cannot accept the change of heart in his millennial nemesis so quickly. He puts Urza through a test, summoning the ‘walker to the punishment sphere. There, Urza sees his brother, Mishra, still alive after 4000 years of torment. He is given the choice—save Mishra, or serve Yawgmoth. He tells Mishra, "goodbye," and walks away.
The dragon nations arrive at last at Urborg, and Rith explains to Darigaaz how the quest will truly be completed. Each Primeval stands for a part of the life cycle: Rith is birth, Treva is childhood, Dromar adulthood, and Crosis, the last, is Death. The sacrifice needed to reawaken Crosis is the sacrifice of the other four Primevals. And what of the Red one? Why, the Red one is, and has always been, Darigaaz himself—rebirth.
Four mighty dragons plunge into the muck of Urborg’s deepest swamp, and five omnipotent ones emerge. Their control over the mortal dragons is complete. They give no thought to the plight of the other races, and when they see something else daring to claim the sky as its own—Weatherlight they attack it with the anger of gods. The ship may be powerful, but five dragon-gods is more than it can take.
Weatherlight does all it can to fly evasively, but there doesn’t seem much hope . . . until what looked like a fast-moving Sargasso rises from the ocean. The Magnigoth treefolk have finally tracked down Rith, and Multani guides Weatherlight among their branches as the kavu bound down from them to join in the ground battle. Rith is captured, and Darigaaz regains a little of his mind—but not enough. He attacks Weatherlight latching onto the side, digging into it to tear out its Thran heart. But the power of another god gets in his way—Karn blocks his path, and with the touch of a burgeoning deity, reawakens the memories of the mortal Darigaaz. Horrified at what he has become, Darigaaz plummets toward a volcano of his own making, sacrificing his life to weaken the remaining Primevals.
As Weatherlight plummets again to the ground (Times Weatherlight has crashed: 6), the ground battle has stalled, when a golden ship unloads an army of the mightiest heroes of Keldelf and human alike. The advance resumes.
The crew defends the ship and otherwise does what it can, but the damage this time is just too extensive. They have lost Hanna. They have lost Gerrard. The engine is smashed. But Karn, increasingly cryptic Karn emerges from below, holding the Thran Tome, and saying he knows how to save Dominaria.

. . . while on the ninth sphere of Phyrexia,
Dominaria’s two greatest heroes bow
in fealty to Yawgmoth himself.

To be concluded next time!


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