Archive Trap: Dack Fayden Part II

The Vorthos Guide to Magic: The Gathering
Welcome to Archive Trap, the unofficial story column for all things Magic: The Gathering! Last time, we talked about the origins of the greatest thief in the multiverse: Dack Fayden! Today we finish up that discussion. Dack is a relatively obscure character in the Magic story, as he was created for an IDW comic book series that was cancelled after 17 issues and left on a cliffhanger.

We encourage you to read the source material for whatever we mention here. The comics and collections are out of print, however you can still find copies on Amazon or digitally on Comixology. However, in a recent event, Creative has even mentioned that their new status quo is to essentially retcon anything that doesn’t line up with where they want to go with a character. As far as we can tell, Magic’s story will be a little flexible when it comes to canon for the foreseeable future.

As much as possible our own commentary will be presented slightly different from the main summary, so you can tell what is us musing, versus what is part of the actual plot.

Not to be confused with Marvel Comic's The Collector
Arrest promo art by Christopher Moeller
The Spell Thief
The Spell Thief (#1-4)

Sifa’s path leads Dack to a palace on Echior. It's the palace of a giant. He dodges traps to get inside and finds himself in a huge library full of rare creatures and artifacts, but runs afoul of the goblins guarding the place. As he runs, he ends up caught between one of those rare creatures and the goblin guards. Dack summons a Wall of Fire, but the stand off ends when the giant who owns the palace arrives. Dack tries to flee, but the giant summons an enormous beast to cut him off. In desperation, Dack summons a Hellspark to destroy the beast. The giant grows angry with Dack for destroying part of his collection and attacks him directly, but after a short fight Dack is incapacitated by a pair of ghosts.

Dack wakes up in a stasis prison. The giant informs him that Sifa purposefully led Dack here in order to keep him trapped, but that he’s willing to set Dack free. His condition: teach the giant how to planeswalk. When Dack tells the giant that you can’t teach someone to planeswalk, the giant grows angry again, keeping Dack trapped in the barrier. Remembering how angry the giant became when the Hellspark destroyed some of the giant’s precious collection, Dack revives the Hellspark to wreak havoc among the giant’s collection. This distracted the giant long enough for Dack to planeswalk away, returning home to Drakeston on Fiora.

In Drakeston, Dack notices a light on in one of the buildings. Since the town was completely abandoned after the slaughter, he moves to investigate. Inside he finds Yarl, leader of the vampires who helped Sifa kill everyone in the town. Dack uses the magic he learned from the Ancient Fang to control Yarl. Yarl pleads that he deserves death, that he’s an exile with nothing left. Dack takes his sword and has a vision of Yarl desperately trying to fight against Sifa’s control. Yarl hadn’t wanted to slaughter those people, but the magic forced him to and he lost everything because of it. Caught in a moment of conflict between conscience and revenge, Dack ultimately decides Yarl’s death wouldn’t help him, and leaves Yarl to his exile.

Dack returns to Lito’s tavern and is confronted by the barkeep. Dack apologizes for his past behavior, telling Lito he was young, reckless, stupid, and didn’t know that Lito's wife was married. Lito said that he felt like an idiot, and that he and his wife have been working through it. Nevertheless, he tells Dack that he still doesn’t ever want to see him again. Dack slides him the jeweled pommel of Yarl’s sword by way of apology and leaves without another word. Since he lost Sifa’s trail after she left Innistrad, he returns to Innistrad to see if he can backtrack her trail.

This might be the first time Sorin has actually accomplished anything.
Standstill promo art by Matt Stewart
Dack meets with Hermann to try to figure out where Sifa had gone. Hermann hands him a scroll with a drawing and notations in a strange language. The drawing is clearly a depiction of Malfegor, and was taken from Von Falkenrath’s estate. Dack uses translation magic to decipher its contents, but he doesn’t reveal his thoughts to Hermann. Ingrid discovers that Dack had returned, and the three insist on a nice home-cooked meal. Over dinner, Ingrid and Hermann ambush Dack with a question: Who is he? Nobody nearby has heard of him. Dack begins to tell them the truth, but finds that they’ve both been paralyzed by someone or something. Dack announces that whoever has done this should come on in, then opens the door to reveal Sorin Markov.

Sorin quips at how civilized the invitation was, and that he didn’t expect it from a fool. Sorin lectures Dack on telling non-planeswalkers about their nature, and demands the Ancient Fang, which was left in Hermann’s possession. In exchange for the Ancient Fang, Sorin agrees to spare Hermann and Ingrid, and reveals to Dack that Sifa hails from Grixis. Before he leaves he plants the location of Grixis in Dack’s mind and erases Hermann and Ingrid’s memory of Dack’s story. When they come to, they’re shocked to find the papers burned and the Ancient Fang gone. Dack tries to leave immediately, but Ingrid follows him outside and wishes him good luck, witnessing his planeswalk.

Dack arrives on Grixis and is quickly captured by the servants of Malfegor. This was intentional, as he learned that Sifa had once been imprisoned there. Dack’s cellmate teases him until she realizes he could actually get her out. Dack frees them both using a hidden lockpick, and the cellmate leads Dack to Malfegor’s torture chamber. Dack uses his psychometry on the torture devices and discovers Malfegor had been torturing every mage he could find in order to find one with a spark. With Sifa, he finally succeeded. During her torture, she "disappeared" and planeswalked to Ravnica. One of Malfegor’s servants discovers them and Dack summons a firecat to take her on. At a psychic signal from the servant, Malfegor himself tears open the roof to the torture chamber to find out what is going on. Dack’s cellmate begs for death and is stepped on, while Dack escapes back to Ravnica.

Why was Malfegor trying to create Planeswalkers?
Breath of Malfegor promo art by Alex Horley-Orlandelli
Path of Vengeance
Path of Vengeance (#1-4)

The story picks up again with Dack bursting into Fadka’s home on Ravnica, cradling a severely wounded Vaclav. The pair bring Vaclav in and set him down, but are surprised by rival thief Maytov waiting for them. Maytov suggests putting Vaclav in a stasis cell and Dack casts it. Maytov tells Dack that the Cult of Rakdos has put a bounty on his head, and that everyone is out to get him. Dack notices another of Fadka’s injured patients, a courier whose injuries match some of Sifa’s victims. Dack uses his powers on her message tube and sees a vision of Sifa Grent draining the courier’s lifeforce. Dack recognizes the alleyway where it happened and heads there, but finds that the demon Hammer is waiting for him. Dack runs and uses his invisibility to disappear after leading the demon to a group of Wojek, forcing a fight between the Boros Legion and the demon. When he returns to his safe house, he finds Maytov waiting for him.

Dack casts a spell that freezes Maytov in place, and begins searching for the apartment for something he can’t seem to find. The search takes long enough that Hammer arrives with more thrill-killers looking for Dack. Dack cuts his way through the floor and tells Maytov to come with him, but Maytov isn’t fast enough. The demon crushes the building with his hammer and Dack finds Maytov injured in the rubble. Dack uses an illusion to disguise himself as a Viashino and brings Maytov to Fadka’s to recover.

Back at Fadkas, Vaclav has woken back up and Dack demands answers. Vaclav, to save his own skin, gave away Dack’s location to the Rakdos - but sent Maytov to warn Dack. Vaclav is apologetic, and Dack forgives him, surprising him with the knowledge that he has many more safe houses throughout Ravnica. Fadka revives Maytov, who finally delivers the message he intended for Dack: Sifa isn’t choosing targets at random, she’s stealing invitations for the Re-enervation of Vitu-Ghazi ceremony. Dack realizes that she’s after the life force of the tree and all the followers of Selesnya, potentially the entire plane, and sets out to stop her. But Sifa’s assault has already begun, and Dack may be too late.

Sifa Grent, the evil necromancer. Not to be confused with Liliana Vess, the 'heroic' one.
Corrupt promo art by Alex Horley-Orlandelli
The group sets out to Vitu-Ghazi, but they are waylayed by Chaos Imps. Dack creates a portal to summon everyone to safety, but drops them in the Undercity among the Golgari Swarm by accident. The group dodges a Deadbridge Goliath before finding someone who could help them. They attempt to buy passage from a Golgari lich working the river, but the lich instead orders his zombies to kill them. They steal one of the lich’s boats while Dack and Fadka drive the zombies back. Once clear, Dack creates another portal, and this one drops them off near Vitu-Ghazi, which they realize is already engulfed in flames. They head inside, past dozens of dead creatures, and find the dryads’ stand against the Rakdos.

Dack calls out Sifa, and a small army of Dryads arrive to back him up. While they do battle with the cultists, one of the demons begins to chop down Vitu-Ghazi. The dryads immediately leave Dack behind to save the tree. While Dack faces off against Sifa herself, his friends start taking down cultists. Dack’s strong connection to Ravnica allows him to fight Sifa on equal terms, creating a stalemate. Sifa summons Rakdos Cacklers while Dack uses water magic to defeat them. Down below, Fadka attempts to heal the tree while Valcav tries to convince her to escape. She is set upon by another chaos imp and burned, unconscious while Vaclav holds her in his arms.

To buy time, Dack creates a Wall of Water to block the cultists, and Maytov confronts the demon attempting to chop down Vitu-Ghazi. Maytov creates duplicates of himself, and tricks the demon into destroying the ground beneath his feat, dropping him far below out of the fight. Dack touches the ground to draw more power from Ravnica, and receives a vision which makes him believe Ravnica, or at least Vitu-Ghazi, wants him to succeed. He receives a surge of mana and creates huge explosions of water and fire, destroying large swaths of the cultists. The surge of mana fades quickly, leaving him vulnerable. Distracted by her final victory over the now-vulnerable Dack, Sifa fails to notice Vaclav sneaking up behind her. He runs the witch through with his blade, but Sifa retaliates with fire magic that burns Vaclav severely. Dack charges before she can finish Vaclav, summoning every last reserve he has to hit her with a giant luminous ball of energy. With Sifa ripped apart, Dack is finally freed from the burden of Drakeston and looks forward to the future.

Dack is too busy throwing up over the side of the boat to do this.
High Tide promo art by Eric Deschamps
The Gauntlet and the Nightmare Weaver
Theros (#1-5)

The story picks up a short time after the events of Return to Ravnica. Dack infiltrates the Boros fortress of Sunhome to steal a powerful gem. This gem could tip the balance of power in Ravnica towards the Boros’ favor. He is discovered and confronted by two Boros angels. As a consolation prize, Dack grabs a brown leather bag before escaping out a window. He takes refuge in an apartment and, while chastising himself, he leaves some money for the owners of the apartment and departs. On his walk home, Dack hears something call his name. He discovers that it is coming from an armored glove in the bag he stole from the Boros, and he uses his Psychometry to examine it. In the vision, he sees a hooded mage using the full gauntlet to a spell calling down meteors from the sky. He also see’s details of the plane of Theros, an island, and the armor of the mysterious mage broken into pieces. This armor includes the other half of the glove he found.

Dack travels to Theros, where he is set upon by street toughs in Meletis. He easily defeats them with spell, and earns the attention of a young child who helps him look for a ship. She leads him to her father’s boat, the Hadross. Vog, the girl’s father and captain of the ship, agrees to take Dack aboard and they venture out for the island Dack saw in his vision. Dack suffers from seasickness the whole way there, and the crew begins to think of him as a weakling. On the island however, Dack enters a cavern alone where he encounters a gorgon and a hag guarding a bracer. Dack takes the bracer and barely escapes from the two with his life, turning their spells back around on them. As the crew leaves, the gorgon and the hag activate a flashy magical trap, but nothing appears to happen.

There's a catch. There's always a catch.
Gaze of Granite promo art by Dan Scott
Back aboard the Hadross, Vog and Dack celebrate their victory. Vog asks Dack to use his Psychometry to figure out what caused Vog to become the enormous hairy man he is. From the time he was 12 years old, he began growing fur like a beast and outgrew the rest of the children. His father was a sailor and adventurer, but disappeared while his mother was still pregnant with Vog. Vog worries that he’ll pass whatever this curse is on to his daughter, and wants to know how to break it. Dack agrees to help Vog, but they’re interrupted by the ship being attacked. It turns out that the gorgon summoned a Shipbreaker Kraken to kill Dack.

As the crew scrambles to defend themselves, Dack puts on the completed gauntlet and finds it whispering to him again. He demands the gauntlet do something, and it fills him with an immense, ancient power to drive the Kraken away. It allows him to perform magic vastly outside of his power level, but leaves him exhausted as he falls into the sea unconscious. Vog fishes him out and Dack apologizes for the danger he brought down on the crew. Following up on their interrupted conversation, Vog lets Dack know how he can be repaid. He hands Dack his father’s sword, and Dack has a vision of Nylea cursing Vog’s father to the form of a beast. It turns out that Vog’s father wasn’t a hero; he slaughtered magical beasts on his journeys and was in turn killed by his own crew when he was cursed. Vog returns Dack to Meletis but tries to convince him to stay on with the crew. Dack refuses, being finished with ships, and sets off in search of answers to what the gauntlet is.

A month later, Dack awakens in Theros after another night of being plagued with nightmares. He dons the gauntlet and steps out into the night for a walk. While walking, he encounters a young mage attacking an old man. When he demands she stop, he takes the force of her pyromantic blast. The young woman appears to wake up, and runs away apologizing. Dack chases her down and confronts her, learning her name is Atha. Atha tells Dack of a curse that is plaguing the land that she has been trying to escape from. She was exiled from her own city when mages began sleepwalking in the night and hurting innocent people. Dack returns home and attempts to use his psychometry on the gauntlet to learn more, and has a cryptic vision of the former wielder and a shadowy form. To the reader, this image is clearly Ashiok. Frustrated with the lack of answers, Dack attempts to return to sleep.

He awakes in a prison cell, having only remembered nightmares featuring Ashiok. During his sleep, he attacked a temple and was captured, only waking up once he was imprisoned in a cell especially designed for mages. Over the next five days, Dack waits for someone to decide what to do with him. One of the jailers even tries on the gauntlet, but it doesn’t respond to him like it does for Dack. Thankfully, Atha appears and melts the bars to his prison cell, freeing Dack. Dack dons the gauntlet once more and stuns the guards with a spell. Outside, however, they’re confronted with a larger force. Dack uses the power of the gauntlet to create a fearsome display that scares off the mob coming against them. Atha tells Dack what she knows of Ashiok. She thinks that Ashiok is attempting to put all of Theros to sleep in order to feed on their dreams. Atha lays out a plan to Dack that he doesn’t like, but ultimately agrees to. The story ends with Dack outside the cavern leading into the underworld itself.

*Actual confrontation not included.
Duress promo art by Michael Komarck
The Cliffhanger
So that's where Dack's story ends, for the moment. He's standing outside a cavern leading into hell for a plan we know nothing about. This year's Checking in with the Planeswalkers indicated that this is, in fact, where creative still has Dack positioned, so it's likely at this point that we'll next see Dack when Magic returns to Theros. This is an interesting place to be, because so far Dack has only operated in the fringes of the Magic story. He has never directly interacted with a block's story, including his Magic card debut in Conspiracy. When we last left the action on Theros, Elspeth had struck down the ascended Xenagos, a planeswalker with ambitions of becoming a god. Heliod's reward for Elspeth was to strike her down with her own sword, killing her. But on Theros, death has even less of a hold on the dead. Those who die in Theros can become Returned, zombies that forget their past, and Eidolons, spirits that act out their greatest passions. With Elspeth now most likely residing in Theros' underworld, under the control of Erebos, God of the Dead, it's likely when we see Dack again his skills as a thief will be put to good use rescuing Elspeth from the dead.

Card References
Dack appears on a number of Magic cards, although the majority of them are promo cards. The promo cards were available with every issue of the comic and feature the cover artwork of that issue. For the most part, that means that each of these cards deals with a part of the story from the comic. I’ve attempted to insert the artwork at the appropriate times in the story, or reference the cards themselves. Below is a list of all the cards Dack has appeared on, and their significance. Please note that these are all my interpretations of the card, and I could be wrong.

  • Dack Fayden depicts Dack himself.
  • Dack's Duplicate depicts Dack creating a clone of Grenzo, Dungeon Warden. Is Grenzo the boss of some of the thugs Dack encounters on Fiora?
  • Bred for the Hunt shows Dack's rather typical attempt to steal from the Simic Guild, where he apparently awakened a Krasis.
  • Voidmage Husher depicts Dack's rival thief, Maytov.
  • Treasure Hunt depicts Dack stealing the Ancient Fang from the Rakdos.
  • Faithless Looting depicts Dack breaking into the tavern on Innistrad. This is a bit of a stylized version, as in the comic itself he just jumped through the window.
  • Feast of Blood depict's Dack using the magic of the Ancient Fang.
  • Electrolyze depicts Dack fighting with some of Sifa's zombies.
  • Arrest depicts Dack's capture by the Collector.
  • Turnabout didn't actually happen, but it's meant to represent Dack's brief run-in with a group of Wojek.
  • Standstill represents Dack's brief one-sided confrontation with Sorin Markov, during which he hands over the Ancient Fang.
  • High Tide represents Dack on board the Hadross. As noted in the art caption above, he actually spent most of that time sea sick.
  • Gaze of Granite depicts Dack attempting to escape the gorgon that was guarding the other half of the gauntlet.
  • Wash out represents the attack on the Hadross by a kraken.
  • Acquire depicts Dack holding the powerful gauntlet he acquires while on Theros. It's unclear exactly how powerful this gauntlet makes him, but it definitely makes him stronger in a fight than most neowalkers. It's not entirely clear what the gauntlet IS, but based on how it powers Dack up, it's likely some kind of Gauntlet of Power or Might. Though curiously enough, given how most of the artifacts he steals are based on the artwork of artifacts in the game, his gauntlet doesn't resemble either.
  • Duress represents the conflict between Dack and Ashiok. This actual scene never happens, as the two haven't come into direct contact yet.
  • Consume Spirit shows the primary antagonist of the series, Sifa Grent, in front of a window on Fiora. How do we know it's on Fiora? The issue took place there, and coincidentally later Magister of Worth's artwork placed it in front of the same window design? Magister was one of the first preview cards for Conspiracy, and this was actually our first clue that Fiora was the setting.
  • Corrupt depicts Sifa Grent's attempt to drain the life force from Vitu-Ghazi.
  • Ogre Arsonist represents one of the many Rakdos attempting to hunt Dack down.
  • Breath of Malfegor depicts Malfegor with one of his cultists.

That’s it for Dack's story, thanks for reading! We hope this article got you caught up on Dack’s story, and we hope you’ve learned to love his character as much as we do. Next time, we'll bringing you the full stories of Liliana Vess and Garruk Wildspeaker. These two planeswalkers have been intertwined since their first introduction in the story. Their low-burn story will hopefully soon be featured in a main set.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments or on the forum, and we’ll address it in future updates. Have a suggestion for something you’d like to see? Let us know, and we could address it in a future column. As always, you can check out our Wiki to learn more.


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