The World of Kaladesh Part II: Aether Revolt

The Vorthos Guide to Magic: The Gathering
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Welcome back to Archive Trap, the unofficial guide to Magic: the Gathering. Today we return to the story of Kaladesh. In Part I, we learned about the world and how Chandra's mother, Pia Nalaar, was not as dead as Chandra believed. Their reunion was cut short by the revelation that Tezzeret, the old foe of Jace and Liliana, was not only still alive but had somehow found a position of power within the Consulate. What was an unplanned trip back home turned into a full-fledged mission for the Gatewatch. Chandra, Liliana and Nissa escaped Tezzeret's clutches through Pia turning herself in, and the kindly old Oviya Pashiri, secretly a renegade leader herself, found the three errant planeswalkers and led them to safety. We now return to the story of Kaladesh, already in progress.

Why does the Consulate have a secret prison? Probably the same reason Baral still has a job.
Art by Victor Adame Minguez
The Search for Pia Nalaar
Some time after rescuing Chandra, Liliana, and Nissa, Mrs. Pashiri leads Chandra and Nissa to the home of Yahenni, a retired aetherborn with about two months left to live and friend of renowned pilot Depala. Yahenni is the host of one of the aetherborn's famous parties, which is the perfect time for the group to blend in. The trio seek information on where the Consulate may have taken Pia Nalaar after arresting her. After some introductions, Chandra and Mrs. Pashiri go mingle in the party while Nissa remains behind, clearly uncomfortable. Nissa is still not accustomed to the concept of cities, even with Ghirapur’s relatively moderate cityscape as opposed to the oppressive Ravnica. As the evening progresses, Yahenni uses their empathic abilities to get Nissa to open up somewhat. Nissa admits she’s not at home in an urban sprawl, and that she is confused about how the aetherborn could be part of a natural cycle. Yahenni’s response startles her:
"We are the city. I'm made of aether, and one day, I'll return to it. Nature is all around us, it just may look different than what you're used to."
Nissa had never thought of things that way. Hot on the heels of her revelation, the pair go and investigate a disturbance at Yahenni’s party. A consulate guard barged into the party and is banging on their bathroom door. Yahenni politely asks the guard to leave, but he claims to be after a consulate fugitive. Yahenni uses their empathic powers to gain Pia’s location by gauging the guard’s reaction to various prison names. They learn that Pia is being held in Dhund Prison, the same facility where Baral is stationed. They ask Nissa to escort the guard out, and Nissa knocks the burly guard unconscious and throws him over her shoulder without breaking a sweat. Chandra melts the lock off the door for Yahenni, and with that Nissa, Mrs. Pashiri, and Chandra leave with their new intel.

Inside the bathroom, Yahenni finds a dying aetherborn, a petty thief who just escaped from the Consulate. This infuriates Yahenni; the aetherborn live such short lives and they are jailed for petty reasons. In her anger, they consider using their dark gift on the guard outside. Why should they live such short lives, after all, when they can live longer by taking from those who deserve it? They ultimately put the idea out of their mind, thinking it only a last resort. They stay with the dying aetherborn until they passed, then go outside to announce next month’s party.

Leaving the party, Oviya imparts that the Dhund is a secret prison. Its location is unknown, but it is rumored to be somewhere near the night market run by the crime lord Gonti. She also reveals that Baral is stationed there, setting Chandra into a fury. When they get there, they struggle to find leads, until Nissa has an epiphany. Everything on Kaladesh is laid out according to the flow of the aether, and the tunnels underground are no different. Sensing the flow, she leads them to a secret underground entrance, where Chandra quickly dispatches the brute left to protect it. In the tunnels, they find themselves going in circles. Finally, Nissa follows the aether flowing through pipes, and realizes what appears to be a wall is in fact an illusion. They journey into the Dhund, and discover it curiously empty. Too late, they realize they wandered into a trap as they are enclosed by hidden walls. All attempts at using magic to break open the trap fail as the cage has anti-magic properties, and they are taunted by Baral outside. Chandra begs for him to let everyone else go and take it out on her, but Baral responds simply with no. Baral leaves them to their presumed death, as gas is piped into the chamber. Neither Nissa nor Chandra want to leave Mrs. Pashiri to her death, and so they settle in to wait.

Ajani honors Elsepth by wearing her cloak after her death.
Art by Volta Creation
And Suddenly, Ajani
During a sequence of flashbacks set six months earlier, Ajani Goldmane arrives at the home of Tamiyo on Kamigawa. It is shortly after Elspeth’s death on Theros, and he cannot bring himself to talk about it. He meets a young Nezumi boy named Nashi, a survivor of the Nezumi village Baltrice burnt down in Agents of Artifice. Tamiyo relates his story to Ajani, mentioning that Tezzeret was ultimately responsible for the burning of Nashi’s village. When Tamiyo mentions that a dragon arrived to negotiate for Tezzeret’s body, Ajani recognizes that it could be Bolas. Tamiyo ends with an important note:
"Actions have consequences," Tamiyo told Ajani. "Sometimes people like us...forget how big our feet are."

Tamiyo leaves for Innistrad while Nashi and Ajani bond over their shared loss. Before leaving, Tamiyo reports that their shared information network, the story-circle, spotted Tezzeret on Kaladesh.

Back in the present, in a disguise made by Mrs. Pashiri, whom he calls Grandmother, Ajani darts across Ghirapur to the old lifecrafter’s home. Seeing it is surrounded by Consulate forces, he sneaks inside, where he overhears some Consulate Guards talking. They mention that Rashmi made it to the next round of the Inventors' Fair, and even have a humorous discussion about if Oviya has a pet:

This sneaky image was cropped in such a way to suggest THIS was Tezzeret's planeswalker card.
Art by Izzy
"Did you see her pet?" the young man asked.
"Doesn't have one," the woman answered. "She's a lifecrafter. Makes her own." Her scarred hands described bird-shapes in the air.
He moved swift and silent across the tile, extending his arms as if to embrace the intruders, the wind gathering under the hood of his cloak.
The boy started to turn, brows furrowed. "...But there's white fur all over the couch."
Ajani knocks those two out and interrogates a third, who reveals the trap sprung by Oviya, Chandra, and Nissa. The inspector does not know where the trap was sprung, though, so Ajani uses his tracking skills to follow Oviya’s scent. He comes to a dead end at the scene of what was likely Chandra’s brief battle with Consulate Forces before escaping. There, a young renegade elf who goes by Shadowblayde, a name mocked often, as her real name is Vatti, accosts Ajani. He repeats back the passphrase and gains the assistance of some other renegades, who offer to aid in the search. Vatti helps him find an entrance down into the sewers, and from there he tracks Grandmother Pashiri’s smell to the room of the deadlock trap, where two guards have been left as the occupants slowly die. Ajani knocks out the guards, refraining from killing them, and uses healing magic to help Chandra and Mrs. Pashiri recover.

Meanwhile, on Ravnica, Jace has a clandestine meeting with Ral Zarek. Ral imparts that Project Lightning Bug is still active, and that he detected an anamoly: Vraska planeswalked away from Ravnica, but it did not register where she planeswalked to. Given her history with Jace, Ral thought it important to inform him. Liliana appears just after their meeting, demanding Jace come to Kaladesh and bring Gideon in tow, as she found Tezzeret. She is clearly rattled, and planeswalks away again in broad daylight.

If the Gatewatch thought Tezzeret was a challenge, wait till they meet Bolas.
Art by Raymond Swanland
On Kaladesh, Ajani, Nissa, Chandra, and Mrs. Pashiri recover after their underground ordeal. While formulating a plan of action, they notice the not-so-subtle banners featuring Tezzeret and proclaiming a showdown in the Grand Exhibition for the following day. They are spotted by three consulate soldiers, and prepare to do battle, only to find it is Jace, Gideon, and Liliana, under an illusion. As they all meet, Liliana and Ajani size each other up. High above them, a spy thopter snaps images of the group, and brings them to the Skysovereign. Inside, Consul Kambal sends for a courier to relay the information to Dovin Baan.

Pia awaits the exhibition as a prisoner, overhearing an announcement that Rashmi won the top prize. She notices as she is escorted out that the inventors are subtly being separated from their inventions. She has no time to think on it further as she is brought out into the arena and shown her supplies for her quicksmithing duel with Tezzeret. She starts off strong, but she quickly realizes that Tezzeret has access to materials she does not and her every invention is up against something stronger from Tezzeret. Finally, he overwhelms her, and one of his artifacts is about to impale her when Chandra launches a bolt of flame at the construct, destroying it.

The Gatewatch reveal themselves, although Jace is cautious since he cannot read Tezzeret’s mind. They battle against Tezzeret and his various constructs, but even as a team they are barely a match for the planeswalker. As they slowly start to overwhelm him, it becomes clear the whole thing was a distraction. Skysovereign appears overhead and Tezzeret is safely extracted. In the aftermath, the Gatewatch realize that Tezzeret was using the contest as a cover for stealing all of the fair’s inventions, and kidnapping the most brilliant inventors, like Rashmi. Saheeli Rai, who had witnessed the fight, asks the Gatewatch for help getting her friend back. Chandra and Pia are finally reunited.

Dovin watches from below as Tezzeret is lifted from the arena and taken to the Aether Spire. He is upset with the slapdash way in which the confiscation order was given. He attempts to help organize the process from descending into chaos, with middling success. He eventually makes his way to the Spire, where he confronts Tezzeret. We learn that Dovin did not consult Tezzeret about bringing on the Gatewatch, and that Tezzeret holds Baan partially responsible for what has happened. In the end, Tezzeret demands an inquirium to use to study Rashmi’s device, and leaves cataloguing the rest to Baan. This promotion calms Dovin’s anxiety about the plan, and he happily gets to work.

Hey, look! Shiny!
Aether Revolt Key Art by Clint Cearley
Spark of Rebellion
With only a short time left to live, Yahenni breaks the Consulate Curfew to find someone with which to spend the end of their life. They stumble across Nived, their caterer, now spraypainting the renegade symbol on the side of the Museum of Invention. The guard dismisses Yahenni and uses a security device to shock Nived into submission, then cruelly shock him over and over. With only a few minutes left, Yahenni finally uses their power to drain the guard, which is both agony and pleasure, adding twelve days to her life.

Deciding they want to continue to live, and needing to find a moral excuse to do so, they seek out the crime lord Gonti. Their goal is to find Chandra and Pia Nalaar, and push the renegades into open rebellion, engineering a conflict where she can drain lives without guilt or reproach. They are brought to Gonti, but careless guards means they catch them in an unguarded moment, spying a device in Gonti’s chest cavity, presumably keeping them alive. Gonti informs them where the Gatewatch are hiding out, because the curfew and rationing is bad for business, but tells them to flee because they will send the consulate to force them into action.

Yahenni finds them hidden in a statue inside a memorial garden at Aradara station. She convinces them of the threat, and as they leave, climbing down a ladder, the group is attacked by a Consulate cruiser. Yahenni leaps down and lands on the cruiser, draining the driver but causing it to crash into a different statue. The rest of the group leaves for Yahenni’s home as their new safe house, but Nissa stays behind to console the Aetherborn, who feels sick at having murdered two people in a day. The group spends weeks attempting to track down Tezzeret’s whereabouts, and the conflicts between them become apparent. Gideon’s ethics and Liliana’s casual murder come to a head, and Gideon struggles with their role in the conflict. Are they there to stop Tezzeret, or to fight the Consulate with the Renegades? Tezzeret is the priority, but given Chandra’s personal connection to the Renegades, the line is blurry. He decides the Renegades can help stop Tezzeret, but that the Gatewatch will not be more active than necessary fighting the Consulate.

Most players did not realize Tezzeret failed on New Phyrexia.
Tezzeret the Schemer by Ryan Alexander Lee
One day, while Gideon battles against consulate forces, Saheeli arrives and helps him dismantle Consulate automatons. She has brought the group with Tezzeret’s location, the Aether Spire, and he chooses to trust her. Gideon, Nissa, and Ajani create a distraction while Jace, Liliana, and Saheeli infiltrate the Spire to rescue Rashmi. Chandra goes with her mother to the Renegades’ attack, this time on an Aether Hub. She mentions the Renegades have their own machines, and big ones, but they need the aether to finish and power them.

Meanwhile, Tezzeret sequestered the winners of the Inventors’ Fair in an inquirium atop the Aether Spire. He regularly comes in to check the progress of their various projects, and is not kind about the results. Eventually, Rashmi is the only inventor left in the inquirium, and Tezzeret demands she work insane hours to complete her archway. Interestingly, he is very focused on her modular core for the machine, more so than the arch itself. One night, as she nears completion of the archway, she has a revelation: the "ghost dimensions" she’s been theorizing about are real, living places! An accident while working on the modular core, a device capable of collapsing or folding space, sends her spiraling through the planes, although it is not clear if they are visions of other planes or not. She is brought back by the dreaded sound of Tezzeret’s footsteps as he approaches. As she shows off her finished device, it becomes clear to Rashmi that Tezzeret, now the Grand Consul, intends to kill her upon the project’s completion. She uses her original miniature device to send a message to Mitul, and after some minor sabotage to open an escape route, she jumps out the side of the spire with a cable and harness. Reaching the street below, she is swept up by someone mysterious and shoved into a vehicle. The abductor turns out to be her friend Saheeli. Saheeli welcomes her back, and brings her to the renegade hideout.

Unfortunately, Heart of Kiran will not be a new Weatherlight for the story.
Heart of Kiran by Jaime Jones
Aether Revolt
Pia leads Chandra to the hideout of the renegades, and encourages Chandra to help inspire the renegades from being simply rebellious into being a true rebellion. Her words do not work at first, but she does cause everyone present to think about what they have lost. A representative of Gonti arrives, and offers the aetherborn crime lord’s aid. Chandra is hesitant, but in the end they accept, agreeing to an undisclosed price.

The renegades launch their attack on the Aether Hub, and Sram, its designer, is called in to fix what they believe are malfunctions at first. Kambal arrives to berate Sram, because of the obscene request for aether Tezzeret requested and Sram denied, believing it to be an error. Kambal flees as it turns out the malfunctions are anything but, and Sram is taken prisoner by Pia. Returning in victory, they find Rashmi and Mitul completed work on a huge skyship originally designed by Kiran. Struck by Kiran’s inspirational legacy, she renames it from Tezzeret’s Ruin to Heart of Kiran. Holding the Aether Hub proves to be more of a challenge than the renegades believe. Dovin works with Tezzeret, who suspends his outbursts in the face of the vedalken’s complete and utter disinterest in them, to plan a trap for the Gatewatch. They plan to use Baral to lure Chandra and whomever else they can away from the Hub, while simultaneously pressing the renegades in a pincer formation and flanking them with troops delivered by thopter. Dovin is sent with Baral, to ensure that Baral does not overstep.

At the Hub, Gideon and Chandra reconnect. They reminisce about their time together during The Purifying Fire four years earlier, and Chandra is obviously emotionally conflicted about her relationships to both Gideon and Nissa. She is so stressed that when Baral announces himself by loudspeaker, she immediately falls for the bait. Gideon is left with a tough choice: defend Chandra, or do what needs to be done about the Consulate attack. In a painful choice, he nods to Nissa to protect her.

Baral has been a central figure in Chandra's life. She will not pass up the chance to take him out.
Art by Cynthia Sheppard
Baral leads Chandra on a chase through the city, until he suddenly smacks into a wall of vines that had not been there earlier. He and Chandra face off, each injuring the other, until Dovin comes in and rescues Baral. Nissa arrives to help Chandra, and the battle ends up moving to a rooftop, as Dovin insists Baral continue the distraction while the Consulate takes the Hub. To anger her further, Baral attempts to wound Oviya, but the old lady is saved by Ajani. Baral reveals all his cruelties to Chandra, believing her to be the monster, and blaming her for everything. In her rage, grief and self-loathing, she begins to cast a spell that would consume her and get around Baral’s countermagic. Nissa arrives to calm her in time, and Chandra barely manages to get the white hot spell under control.

During the aftermath, in a twist move, Dovin arrests Baral for the crimes he admitted to while taunting Chandra. Chandra and Nissa flee back to the renegade headquarters, where she checks on everyone else’s status, having lost the Hub, in part because she was not there to help. Her spell has once again left her without the use of her legs. Gideon, battle-damaged from a fight with a Cataclysmic Gearhulk, immediately rushes to her side. When she realizes all her mother and friends want is her safety, she is overwhelmed again, but in a good way.

Jace accompanies Captain Kari Zev on aether supply missions in her ship, The Dragon’s Smile. They return from a mission to find that the Aether Hub has been lost, and that the situation is hopeless while Skysovereign continues to defend the Aether Spire. They lead a modest effort against the Consulate fleet, but fail to secure Skysovereign’s attention. Jace creates the illusion of an entire renegade fleet, modeled on Kari’s old fleet that Skysovereign destroyed. The image does not hold long, and it quickly becomes clear they do not have what they need to overcome the behemoth ship. Kari uses her aethernaut gear to pursue a consulate official who captured her monkey companion, Ragavan. In the ensuing fight, she winds up in the Aethersphere and spots a pod of skywhales. Knowing what to do, she returns to her ship and gathers all of their "liberated" aether supplies, and uses it to lure the pod toward the Consulate fleet. Skysovereign does not stand a chance, and is destroyed by one of the whales passing through it.

Ajani being hilariously out-of-place on Kaladesh is honestly the best part of the story.
Art by John Stanko
Aboard the Heart of Kiran, the renegades prepare to mount their attack. With the Skysovereign down, they begin talking tactics for taking down the Planar Bridge and Tezzeret. Liliana wants to just kill everyone in their way, of course, but Gideon insists that the Bridge is the target. Saheeli and Rashmi reveal the modified thopter they were working on, dubbed Hope of Ghirapur. On board is an aetheric disrupter not unlike what was used to shut down power during the Inventors’ Fair. With it, they hope that they can disable and destroy the Bridge from afar. In their way is a Consulate Turret defending the spire. Pia wants to lead a ground team, and despite Chandra’s desire to come along, the team consists of Pia, Nissa, and Ajani. Tezzeret himself needs to be distracted or he will take out the Hope of Ghirapur easily, and Liliana volunteers. She and Gideon argue over the proper course, and Gideon reluctantly agrees that attempting to kill Tezzeret may be the only option.

The ground team rendevous with Oviya Pashiri, who gives them a mysterious package to aid with tacking down the turret. The turret itself is heavily guarded, including even an enormous peacewalker. Nissa and Ajani do their best, but in a reckless move Shadowblayde falls under the spikes on the peacewalker’s treads. Ajani dashes in to save the young elf, but it is Nissa’s timely spell that saves both of them from being crushed to death, as she lifts the peacewalker with vines. In the aftermath, they open the package from Oviya, which turns out to have contained dozens of Gremlins, which immediate take to tearing the turret apart.

On the prow of Heart of Kiran, Chandra and Saheeli defend the ship from incoming consulate weaponry. Chandra offers her a place in the Gatewatch, but Saheeli wants to stay and help rebuild when the conflict ends. The ship is shaken by turbulence, and Chandra goes below decks to investigate. There, to her shock she finds Dovin Baan, finishing up his sabotage of Heart of Kiran and Hope of Ghirapur both. She can only watch horrified as he breaks the small, vital component of the aether disrupter, a piece not replaceable in the time they have. In her fury, she attacks Dovin, but he planeswalks away after offering advice on how best to save most of the crew from his sabotage.

Gideon joins Chandra, Rashmi and Saheeli in evaluating the damage. Chandra has the idea to ride Hope of Ghirapur and unleash that white-hot spell that nearly consumed her earlier against the Bridge. The two artificers think they could modify the thopter to account for her weight, when Gideon attempts to put a stop to it, knowing it will result in her death. At least, she will die without his help, and so instead Gideon insists on coming along.

The events of Agents of Artifice loom large over the story of Kaladesh.
Art by Daarken
Liliana approaches the aether spire while contemplating her place in the Gatewatch. She has so many loose ends: Caligo Forest and Josu, the Raven Man, Bolas and her Demons, Garruk and the Veil. She desperately needs the help of powerful individuals like the Gatewatch. The only problem is, she is a bit afraid they are making her go soft. She reanimates a dead renegade, but when given the opportunity to slaughter a squadron of Consulate enforcers to add to her fledgling zombie army, she instead shows mercy, only weakening them. In fact, she does not kill anyone along the way. When she comes face to face with Tezzeret atop the spire, he is still distracted with the Planar Bridge. She takes the opportunity to unleash a killing wave, but Tezzeret counters the spell.
Only then did Tezzeret turn around, his flesh-and-bone hand finishing up some kind of adjustment to his etherium arm. He seemed unfazed by her arrival and even her attack.

"Vess," he said. His voice echoed in the enormous room. "Did he send you? What, to check up on me?"

They quip at each other as their battle begins in earnest. Liliana blasts Tezzeret with killing waves, but Tezzeret deflects them or counters them all outright. In response, he sends animated hunks of metal back at Liliana. For a while, they seem evenly matched. Tezzeret taunts her with the idea that Jace is manipulating her. He reveals that he is on Kaladesh at Bolas’ behest, and when Liliana asks if he is working against the dragon, they argue about each other’s stupidity in thinking they can escape the dragon’s plans. Finally, Liliana gains the upper hand, and Tezzeret reveals Bolas’ location, the same place as her third demon, Razaketh. Before Liliana can finish off Tezzeret, though, Hope of Ghirapur dashes in through the broken window left behind by Rashmi.

Gideon and Chandra's pseudo-romantic relationship has turned to one of true trust.
Art by Chris Rallis
Inside the modified thopter, Gideon holds Chandra close as she pours more mana into the tiny explosive supernova of a spell she is holding. As he does so, his protective magic overlaps her, so as they crash and as the spell explodes, the pair survive. Liliana survives by hiding behind a distant pillar, one that was mostly incinerated by the explosion. Cursing herself for not killing Tezzeret when she had the chance, Liliana fails to find the artificer’s body in the wreckage of the Planar Bridge. As Gideon and Chandra stumble out of the wreckage themselves, Liliana demands that they find Jace. Bolas being behind Tezzeret changes everything.

In the aftermath, Pia is made Consul of Allocation. Together with her daughter, they go to inspect what is left of the Dhund, no longer a secret prison, and with only a few prisoners remaining. They confront Baral, who demands to know when he is to be executed. When he finds out that imprisonment is his only punishment, he tries to goad Chandra into murdering him. A gift from Nissa, a flower, helps her calm down, and the two leave the cruel, broken man to his fate.

The Gatewatch and Ajani gather at Yahenni’s penthouse. Gideon extends an invitation to join them, and Ajani accepts. They move on to discussing their next moves, and Liliana reveals what Tezzeret told her, that Bolas is on Amonkhet. Ajani urges caution, having defeated Bolas before by luck and only the slimmest of margins. Ajani urges that they gather allies first, but Gideon insists that they should strike now before Bolas has time to plan for them. In the end, the rest of the Gatewatch side with Gideon. They agree to discuss a rendezvous location in the morning, after Yahenni’s Penultimate Party, which is just beginning.

At Yahenni’s party, they bequeath half their fortune to their aetherborn family, and the rest to a young inventor. Depala gets her investments, while Mrs. Pashiri gets her fleetwheel cruiser. She meets with Nissa, who gives her the greatest gift: she reveals the secret of the Multiverse, and how all the planes are made up of and divided by aether, her very body. With thoughts swimming of the majesty of it all in her mind, she allows herself to pass in the company of friends.

Pia and Chandra go to repair the broken, neglected portrait of Kiran, and have a heart to heart talk. Chandra insists that she must stay, but Pia knows that she must go. And so she forces Chandra to say goodbye, because she knows the multiverse needs her daughter, and is content with the visits from a loved one she once thought dead. Chandra pledges to rebuild the shrine next time she comes home.

Finally, Chandra comes to Nissa during a meditation. Nissa had sent her mind out traveling on the aether stream, and Chandra wants to try and learn again, as she had before coming to Kaladesh. Nissa convinces her to stay after some awkwardness. Nissa tries to teach Chandra to meditate, but the exhausted pyromancer falls asleep instead. Nissa is comfortable with that, as Chandra rests her head on Nissa’s lap. When Nissa casts her mind out again, she comes across an aetherborn just being born, the reincarnation of Yahenni.

Thanks for Reading! While the Gatewatch are heading to Amonkhet next, the next Archive Trap articles will cover some of the history of Phyrexia, in advance on our Mirrodin coverage.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments or on the forum, and we will address it in future updates. Have a suggestion for something you want to see? Let us know, and we may address it in a future column. You can also follow me on twitter @Jay13x or Archive Trap Mini on Tumblr.



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