Welcome back to Archive Trap, the unofficial guide to Magic's lore! Last time, I covered the original Ravnica block and the epic three-novel story covering the end of the original Guildpact and the machinations of Ravnica's leaders in the vacuum. This week I'm going to take a look at what happened next: The Infinite Consortium, Return to Ravnica, and the brewing civil war. The fan favorite homunculus Fblthp was introduced during our Return to Ravnica, and we see a lot of change on the plane over this time.
Please note that some of the material for this article is taken from previous editions of Archive Trap.
Setting the Stage
A lot has changed on Ravnica in the roughly sixty years between Dissension and Return to Ravnica. The original Simic guild has disbanded, while massive sinkholes called Zonots reveal Ravnica's oceans for the first time in millennia. The remnants of the Simic are taken over by newly emerged merfolk, who refocus the guild from biotechnology to bioengineering the fusion of species. Agyrem, the Ghost Quarter, manifested briefly on Ravnica after the fall of the Guildpact, but a few years later it disappeared with the Mending. The guilds are the weakest they've ever been, and the nefarious Nicol Bolas takes advantage, establishing a cell of the Infinite Consortium on the plane to attend to his interests there. The Consortium quickly grows and rivals the guilds.
The goblin Krenko is hired by the mysterious Mr. Taz to break into the Boros Headquarters. It turns out that the Guildmaster, Pierakor az Vinrenn D'rav (Feather from the original novels) has been ousted by new Guildmaster Aurelia for her impure past, and is being kept in stasis. Krenko sneaks into the Boros compound and pretends to be one of their goblin recruits. He causes some havoc, and frees Feather only to steal one of her angel feathers. To cover his escape, he immediately starts shouting that Feather is trying to escape, causing Boros guard to rush en masse to confront her. It's not clear what became of Feather after that moment, but Krenko returned to Mr. Taz successful, where he was gifted with a key to Feather's Orzhov Vault, where the angel's Wojek income is stored. Cryptically, Mr. Taz tells Krenko she won't be needing it anymore.
Domri Rade is a young Gruul about to go through his coming of age ceremony, calling the Burying. Domri is nervous, but is reassured by his friends that it will be okay. All of his clan go through this ritual, where they prove their strength by allowing themselves to be buried and reborn as their true selves. During Domri's ritual, however, his planeswalker spark ignites, taking him to the shard of Naya on Alara. There he discovers great beasts the fire up his imagination, but when he returns home he learns his people believe he was a coward and abandoned his burial. Upon consultation with the shaman, however, he learns that there are no laws for the Gruul, and he will not be banished. Something miraculous clearly happened to him, and the shaman gives his encouragement to pursue it.
Vraska the Unseen is caught up in a massive Azorius raid of the undercity that rounds up many members of the teratogen races. She's abused by the prison guards, and during a riot she's used as a weapon by the other prisoners. Her spark ignites, but she becomes trapped in darkness and it takes a long time for her to figure out a way to leave. When she returns, she becomes an assassin, a member of the Ochran. Her specialty is using poetic justice on her victims, and she takes her revenge on the Azorius who treated her so unjustly.
Agents of Artifice kicked off the modern story.
Agents of Artifice Cover Art by Aleksi Briclot
The Infinite Consortium
Years before the modern story, Nicol Bolas loses control of several cells of the Infinite Consortium to Tezzeret the Seeker, who had worked for Bolas ever since his spark ignited. This was, in part, attributed to Bolas's loss of power in the decades following the Mending. Liliana Vess, whose demon deals are coming due soon, comes to Bolas with a plan. She too once lived as a god, but only had a frail human body to fall back on. Bolas brokered four demonic deals on her behalf, restoring her youth and power. Liliana hoped she could find a way free of the deals before her debts came due, but as the time ticked by she was forced to turn back to Bolas for aid. She proposes a deal: the return of the Infinite Consortium in exchange for freedom from her debts.
Little did she know that Tezzeret had just recruited Jace Beleren, a telepath with no memory of his home plane. Jace had been living as a grifter on Ravnica, using his mental abilities to blackmail his way into a decent living, but doing little else. His only true friend was Emmara Tandris, a Selesnyan who took in stray youths like Jace. Emmara had heard of the Consortium, and warned Jace to stay away, but Tezzeret's offer of training his telepathy proved to be too much of a draw. For missions on Ravnica, Jace was partnered with Kallist, whose martial skills complimented Jace's mental abilities. For missions off-plane, Jace was partnered with the volatile pyromancer planeswalker Baltrice. Jace allowed himself to be compromised bit by bit in the Consortium, crossing the line from unethical to outright immoral.
DotP 2012 illustrated a lot of cool moments.
Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 Loading Screen
By Karl Kopinski
Tezzeret pitted Jace against Nicol Bolas, demanding the mind mage protect Tezzeret during a negotiation with the dragon over Consortium business. Their meeting place was warded to prevent a direct confrontation from Bolas. Jace was distracted by a mental conversation with the elder dragon, and Nicol Bolas took what he needed from Tezzeret's mind and set natives of the plane to kill them, exploiting a loophole in the ward. Furious with Jace's failure, Tezzeret's abusive nature came out in full force as he tortured the mind mage with a mana blade in punishment.
Jace had no stomach for Tezzeret's brutal tactics, and when he fled the organization, Liliana swooped in. She seduced the young mind mage, but when it was clear Jace had no intent of going after Tezzeret she had to act. She manipulated events (including hiring assassins to kill his friends, with only Emmara surviving) to make Jace believe that Tezzeret sought revenge on his old protégé, miring the two in conflict. Jace decides the only way to be safe is to flee the plane, and attempts to bring Kallist's mind with him. The effort backfires, and the two switch bodies. Liliana departs with the 'true' Jace, who believed himself to be Kallist, but when it becomes clear the effect isn't temporary, she hires mercenaries to get 'Kallist' moving to rescue Jace. They fail, and the overzealous mercenaries kill the false Jace, restoring the real Jace's mind. Jace believes that the mercenaries were the work of Tezzeret, and heads for a direct confrontation with his former mentor.
In the final battle, Baltrice is seemingly killed and Liliana's duplicity is revealed. Rather than play into her hands, Jace leaves Tezzeret for dead on Kamigawa (the site of a former mission gone wrong). Bolas ends up the only winner, recovering Tezzeret's body and gaining some leverage on two new potential pawns. The elder dragon manipulates events so that Jace would track Chandra Nalaar to Zendikar after a previous confrontation over a mysterious scroll. There, Jace would be partially responsible for the release of the Eldrazi titans.
Can Jace and Niv-Mizzet work together for Ravnica?
Return to Ravnica Key art by Jaime Jones
Return to Ravnica
Several years after the fall on the Infinite Consortium, Jace has contented himself with working on private projects in his sanctum. He discovers strange patterns on ancient stonework all over the city, and begins to believe he's found a secret code. Together with his partner Kavin, a vedalken formerly of the Azorius guild, they investigate the mystery.
Unknown to Jace, the Izzet are after the same mystery. Guildmage Ral Zarek has been assigned the task of tracking braided leylines running through the city, and discovering their purpose. Their path leads them into the undercity, where they're attacked by Golgari after refusing to leave. Ral hypercharges himself and obliterates the Golgari's undead so the Izzet can continue to their mission.
Emmara reconnects with the Selesnya Guild, and is given the task of recruiting Jace's help. She offers him guild membership, and explains the Izzet's increasingly hostile incursions into other guilds' territory, but Jace doesn't want to get involved. The Dimir vampire, Mirko Vosk, catches wind of this conversation as he tracks Emmara. When the conversation reveals Jace is a mind mage, Mirko reports back to his shadowy master.
Jace decides to investigate the Izzet's project, and discovers Ral speaking with his goblin assistant about their research. Jace learns that the Izzet are researching the same mystery, but they don't yet know what Jace has discovered. Ral believes this mystery will reveal a weapon for the guild that discovers it first. Jace continues to follow them in secret until they cross into Izzet territory, where Niv-Mizzet himself awaits a report. Unable to restrain his curiosity, Jace plunges into the dragon's mind. Niv-Mizzet's mind is like no other, and it's all Jace can do to keep from losing himself inside the Firemind. But he discovers the name of the mystery: the Implicit Maze. Unfortunately, Niv-Mizzet is aware of Jace's intrusion, but chooses to do nothing at the time. Back at the Sanctum, Kavin is horrified at what Jace has discovered. He wants to burn all of their research and steer clear of the unrestrained guilds.
Emmara reports back on her failure to recruit Jace to Trostani, who grants her control of the guild's elementals. Emmara is given a new mission to reunify Ravnica before it splinters apart forever. Emmara knows she needs Jace's help, but when she gets a letter from Jace's pseudonym, ‘Berrim', she knows he's making a terrible choice. The letter tells her that Jace stumbled on something incredible dangerous, and that he intends to erase his memories of it. Emmara immediately heads out to stop him.
Across the street from the Sanctum, Jace and Kavin meet at an Inn to ensure they've destroyed their notes. Jace warns that even with the notes destroyed, their memories could be used against them, but Kavin isn't sure he wants his memories tampered with. Jace doesn't give him much of a choice. Jace sends a mental command to Ruric Thar, who Jace hired to smash the sanctum and ensure that nothing remains. Emmara arrives just then, and the three argue over the correct choice. Unwilling to change his mind, Jace casts the spell to destroy Kavin's memory of their research. Kavin runs away as the awful spell takes course, and Jace casts it on himself to Emmara's objection.
Some time later, Jace wakes up bleeding, the room ransacked and Emmara missing. His only clue to what happened is a Rakdos coin discarded in the chaos. The innkeeper informs him that the Rakdos took his friend and that he'll have to pay for the damages. Azorius officers arrive asking questions about Jace's still-burning Sanctum. Lavinia attempts to detain Jace, but when it becomes clear they're more concerned with the destruction of his former Sanctum than the disappearance of his friend, he escapes out of a window. Ruric Thar's renewed rampage stops any Azorius pursuit.
Ral Zarek continues to track the pathways of the Implicit Maze ruthlessly. We learn that Ral considers Niv-Mizzet a nuisance, as Ral has the entire multiverse available to him and believes his Guildmaster to be holding him back. He also reveals his ruthless streak as he destroys a griffin aerie belonging to the Azorius, and is indifferent to the death of one of his team in the resulting battle with Azorius forces.
The Rakdos coin leads Jace to Exava's club, where he pierces the Blood Witch's mind to find the location of rendezvous where she was hired to deliver Emmara. Furious at Jace's intrusion into her club and her mind, Jace is forced to use some clever illusion work to escape. Exava's memories lead him to the Undercity, where he discovers the Rakdos thugs brutally murdered and Varolz lurking in the shadows. Jace is only saved by an elemental summoned by Emmara, who remains unharmed. She had left with the Rakdos willingly to protect Jace, who was helpless after casting his spell. Before they can say anything else, Mirko Vosk reveals himself as the agent sent to collect Emmara.
When Lavinia reports back to Azorius Guildmaster Isperia, she's severely reprimanded for her failure to apprehend Jace. Her authority over the Tenth district is revoked, leaving her jurisdiction over only New Prahv itself. The investigation is turned over to the Boros legion. Kavin meets her in her office and reveals he took notes as his memories failed, giving Lavinia a clue as to what is really going on.
Gideon's Boros connections will come in handy.
Gatecrash Key Art by Michael Komarck
Mirko Vosk knocks Emmara aside and latches onto Jace, piercing his mind. When Vosk finds nothing, he warns Jace that he's only made this worse for himself, and departs into the undercity. Vork's failure angers his master, revealed to be Lazav. Lazav takes Vosk's form and has the vampire imprisoned in a secret cell deep beneath the city. In the cell with no doors, Vosk finds Kavin, imprisoned in the dark with him.
Elsewhere, Ral Zarek is assigned to tracking down Jace by Niv-Mizzet, who remembered the mind made's contact days earlier. Ral investigates Jace's destroyed Sanctum, and manages to reconstitute some of the burned papers. The papers give him the insight he needs to narrow down the true path of the Implicit Maze. He follows the path to the Forum of Azor at the center of the city, but is confused and frustrated when nothing happens. Returning to Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind deduces that the Maze must be a failsafe in case of the Guildpact's failure, and that all of the guilds must run the Maze.
Exava appears before Rakdos himself and is granted control of a massive Rakdos horde to assault the city. Lavinia, unable to pursue Jace on the street, turns to researching what he might be after (thanks to Kavin's clues) in the Azorius records.
Emmara heals Jace in the aftermath Vosk's attack, and together they return to the Selesnya guild. There Jace meets Captain Calomir, an elf to whom Emmara is exceptionally close. Jace is jealous at first, and suspects something is amiss with the Captain. Because of Emmara's kidnapping, the Selesnyans are preparing for war with the Rakdos, something Emmara can't dissuade them of. Trostani is disappointed that Jace is not of any help, but before leaving Jace can't help but attempt to skim Calomir's mind. He discovers the elf's mind is a complete blank to him, a feat only managed by ancient beings of incredible power. When he demands to know what Calomir really is, Emmara becomes upset with Jace's hostility and he's expelled from the Selesnyan guildhall.
With nothing left for him on Ravnica, Jace considers simply leaving, but the mystery of the Maze nags at him. He visits Lavinia looking for a lead, much to the Lawmage's chagrin, and he learns that Ruric Thar seems to have been attacking sites in the path of the Implicit Maze. He avoids capture again and meets with Ruric Thar, but the ogre refuses to help, demanding a duel if Jace wants information. Jace's magic reflects badly from the two-headed giant, and Jace is forced to fight for real, tapping into the combined experience of Ruric Thar's Gruul companions. Defeated, Ruric Thar allows Jace into his mind, and Jace discovers what he was looking for… just in time for a massive Rakdos riot.
Emmara is displeased to learn that Calomir has posted guards outside of her home. Calomir's demeanor and questions about Jace make her suspicious of his intentions. She's unable to convince the Selesnyans not to attack the Rakdos, and is made to summon an elemental army to support their troops. Calomir leads the army through Boros territory, igniting another conflict. Emmara tries to steer the elementals away, but Trostani takes control of them away from her.
Jace conjures an illusory Rakdos to confuse the rioters, leading them back to Rakdos territory where Emmara is quickly overrun despite putting up an awesome fight. She's rescued by Calomir, only to be arrested for treason and imprisoned in her home. Jace connects to Emmara's mind, reassuring her that he will help her as soon as he can. He's captured by Exava, who begins to torture the mind mage as a message arrives from Niv-Mizzet, announcing the Implicit Maze and setting the terms that one runner from each guild should arrive at an appointed time to run the Maze. He too is rescued by Calomir, only to be handed over to Dimir Agents.
How long as Ral Zarek worked for Bolas?
Dragon's Maze Key Art by Eric Deschamps
Deep in the Undercity, Jace is imprisoned in the cell with no doors, along with Vosk and a vampiric Kavin. Only one escape remains for Jace, he's forced to planeswalk away as Vosk and Kavin drain his memories and his veins. Vosk learns the route before Jace disappears, but Lazav isn't pleased that the mind mage escaped them. He makes Vosk the Dimir maze runner, but kills Kavin and assumes his form.
Emmara is kept prisoner by her own guild, her elemental spells stripped from her. ‘Calomir' pays her a visit, interrogating her about Jace. She tricks him into revealing his identity where one of the Selesnyan guards can see, and the two escape from the shapeshifter together. She appears before Trostani, and is granted the position of Maze Runner for the Selesnya, but her power is not restored. The Selesnyans are hesitant to believe their hero Calomir is false (and somewhat ashamed, too).
Jace's emergency planeswalk takes him to Zendikar, foreshadowing Battle for Zendikar. The area of the plane where he arrives has been desolated by the Eldrazi, but he can feel a family huddled for safety underground. Intrigued, he's surprised to find their resilience, but their fear threatens to overwhelm them. He tries something new, and connects their minds (causing himself pain), which rejuvenates the family. Jace debates with himself whether or not he should return to Ravnica (heh), but is surprised to find that he's come to view it as his home.
On Ravnica, Jace arrives at the Forum of Azor, and feels an intelligence lurking behind the scenes. He investigates and finds the Bailiff, a construct created by Azor or oversee a trial for the guilds. All the guilds must succeed or the Bailiff will deliver the Supreme Verdict of Azor. As Jace leaves to ensure this doesn't happen, Lazav investigates the Bailiff as well. Jace spies on the Azorius to discover ‘Kavin' has encouraged Isperia to nominate Lavinia as their maze runner. In the process he learns that the Supreme Verdict is a spell to destroy the Tenth district.
As a mythic planeswalker, Ral wasn't in the rare runner cycle. Enter: Melek. Melek, Izzet Paragon
by Jason Chan
Niv-Mizzet informs a furious Ral Zarek that he is not to be the runner of the Izzet. That honor, instead, is granted to the experimental weird Melek. Ral's assistant gave all the information on the Maze's path to Niv-Mizzet, who commissioned Melek for this express purpose.
The maze runners assemble at the appointed time and place, and Ral destroys Melek to run the maze for the Izzet. He informs them that the only rule of the maze is that there are no rules, blasting all those assembled to gain the lead for himself. Jace realizes Emmara is without back-up, and jumps in to help her. Jace uses his illusions to help the two get past many of the obstacles, allying with the Simic runner Vorel for a time. They're separated when, at the Azorius Guildgate, Jace is arrested. They immediately hold a trial for him, and Jace learns that (at ‘Kavin''s behest) Isperia intends to allow the Bailiff to cast the Supreme Verdict, because she believes Azor is law personified. Jace manages to convince them that he can find a way to unite the guilds and prevent a massive loss of life, and they find him guilty… but his sentence is freedom.
Jace rushes to catch up, and at the Dimir Guildgate, he plows face first into an illusory wall before he learns he needs to act like a Dimir, believing himself above such illusions. Along the way, he notes that the Dimir use the same kind of magic he does. He arrives at the Orzhov Guildgate in time to find Teysa Karlov extorting the rest of the route from Emmara. Jace turns Teysa's guards against her, but Teysa is more than capable of dispatching them herself. Jace instead gives her the rest of the route with the condition that he'll do to her what he did to the guards if she betrays them. Teysa readily agrees.
At the Izzet Guildgate, Ral Zarek is waiting for Jace. Jace realizes Ral is a planeswalker, and as Ral threatens him, Emmara overhears Jace's true nature. She feels betrayed, and a gloating Ral allows her through before attacking Jace. Jace distracts Ral with an illusion and passes through the gate. Ahead, Emmara is stopped by Exava and the Rakdos, but the Selesnyans arrive in time to allow her through. With the renewed trust of her guild, she carries a defeated Exava to the Forum of Azor.
Azor's failsafe was simple: law or genocide. Maze's End
by Cliff Childs
Each of the maze runners makes it through to the Forum of Azor. Spurred on by Lazav's influence, Jace arrives to find them all at each other's throats. The Bailiff makes his judgment, and implants knowledge of the Supreme Verdict spell in each of their minds, allowing the guilds to destroy themselves. Jace, remembering what he did with the family on Zendikar, connects their minds, and the Bailiff nullifies the verdict and decrees that Jace has become the Living Guildpact. Jace doesn't believe he should be the one to actualize the new Guildpact, arguing that he isn't even from Ravnica, to which the Bailiff responds that Azor wasn't, either. He has one recommendation from Azor on how to be the Guildpact, which is to use the power that earned him this position.
Niv-Mizzet arrives and attempts to test this new Guildpact by declaring war on the Selesnya. Jace refuses his request, and Niv-Mizzet acquiesces. Afterwards, construction of the Guildpact's Embassy begins on the ruins of his old sanctum, the public face of this new enterprise. He invites Lavinia to be the first of his new advisory council.
When Emmara arrives, they exchange distant pleasantries, and his old friend requests he remove the knowledge of his nature as a planeswalker from her mind. Jace reluctantly agrees.
The Greatest Thief in the Multiverse
- Magic: the Gathering (IDW Comic) (Ebook)
- The Spell Thief (IDW Comic) (Ebook)
- Path of Vengeance (IDW Comic) (Ebook)
Dack Fayden has taken Ravnica as his adopted home after the slaughter of his hometown on Fiora by a mysterious planeswalker. His eclectic skills lead him to become the greatest thief in the multiverse, pulling heists across the multiverse. His targets are usually objects of power, from which he learns new spells thanks to his psychometry. He fences them afterwards, no longer needing them. One day, he steals an artifact from the Rakdos that finally leads him to the Planeswalker who slaughtered his hometown: Sifa Grent. He tracks her through Innistrad, Grixis, and several other planes before finally landing back on his adopted home of Ravnica. Sifa steals the life forces of others (their Vis, as she's a Grixis native), and her ultimate plot is to gain immeasurable power by draining the life force of Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree. Dack and his allies finally avenge his family and friends by killing Sifa.
Jace and Vraska's initial meeting was not a pleasant one.
Jace vs Vraska by Igor Kieryluk
Prelude to Civil War
In the aftermath of Jace becoming the Living Guildpact, players all around Ravnica began making moves to take advantage of the new status quo. Gideon Jura finds himself working with the Boros Legion to help bring peace to the Ninth (focal point of the original Ravnica). Working with Tajic, he successfully quells the Rakdos and Gruul uprisings; however, Gideon declines the offer of permanent guild membership from Aurelia.
Vraska learns that Jace is a planeswalker like her, and begins murdering (bad) people whose names sound like planes Jace might have heard of to gain his attention. During their first meeting together, she attempts to coerce him into allying with her, and when that fails attempts to kill him. Through some telepathic tricks, Jace broadcasts Vraska's monologue to Sunhome, revealing her guilt in the murders to the Boros. In the aftermath, he realizes he may need to aid Garruk, leading to Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015. This is one of many times Jace departs Ravnica and leaves it to the Azorius, much to Lavinia's chagrin.
During the Implicit Maze, Teysa realized the opportunity presented to her. The Maze was not something the Obzedat had planned for, and she hatches a plan to free herself from the Obzedat, and her patriarch, once and for all, but she needs help to do it. While Tajic was preparing to run the maze, Teysa gained a new ally in her fight. And with the Guildpact now a person, Teysa knew it could be manipulated. Teysa takes advantage of Jace's disinterest to get some seemingly minor proclamations declared, which she uses in her plan. Together with Tajic, they use the loopholes Teysa identified to break into the Orzhov's most secure vault: the crypt holding the bodies of the Obzedat, but something happens she doesn't anticipate. The room holding their corpses is immune to the hieromancy of the Guildpact. Tajic is thrown into an Orzhov dungeon while Teysa is stripped of her title as advokist and forced into debt to the Obzedat. And with debt, they control her.
Elsewhere, Vraska reveals her plan to her friend and ally, Mazirek. She's grown tired of the abuses of the Devkarin elves on the teratogen races under Jarad, and wishes to overthrow the guild leader and install herself. She departs, and leaves Mazirek to enact his part of the plan, luring one of Jarad's lieutenants deep into the undercity, deeper than most Golgari dare go. There, the Kraul slaughter the Devkarin elves to awaken an ancient tomb.
The Absentee Guildpact
The modern story begins when Jace is urgently summoned by Ral Zarek, his former rival in solving the Implicit Maze. The two planeswalkers are still not friends, but Ral has discovered something that will affect them both if it comes out. He has been assigned to "Project Lightning Bug," an Izzet device that can detect the energy released upon planeswalking into and away from Ravnica. This device is still in its early stages, but if it's finished it represents a grave threat to them both. Niv-Mizzet would not take kindly to one of his guildmages having an ability he does not and the knowledge of Jace being a planeswalker could be used against him in his role as the Living Guildpact.
Ral and Jace concoct a plan to fool the detector with Jace's illusions. The plan appears to succeed, but in the process they also learn of another planeswalker that has been making regular trips to the Boros headquarters. They attempt to track this new planeswalker, but their skills aren't up for the task. As they enact their plan, Gideon Jura, who Jace and Ral have been attempting to follow, watches from hiding as Jace planeswalks away. With the knowledge that the Living Guildpact is a planeswalker, he leaves.
Gideon, for his part, is stretching himself to the limit fighting two wars. He hasn't forgotten about the Zendikari while on Ravnica, and he splits his time between waging a costly war of attrition with the Eldrazi on Zendikar under Commander Vorik, the allied leader, and protecting the guildless on Ravnica. This constant struggle leaves him precious little time to rest and he becomes increasingly fatigued on both fronts. On Ravnica, his exhaustion becomes evident as he tries to put a stop to an all-out goblin gang war. Having captured Krenko after the goblin don assassinated one of the Shattergang Brothers, he gets sloppy and takes a shiv from the little mafioso. Meanwhile, Gideon's efforts on Zendikar include saving refugees headed for Sea Gate. When Gideon takes the brunt of an Eldrazi's attack, he is almost killed and has to planeswalk away. Back on Ravnica, his injuries overwhelm him and he passes out trying to find Jace for help.
Lavinia has really taken the brunt of Jace's negligence as Guildpact. Lavinia of the Tenth
by Willian Murai
The story then switches to Jace in his duties as the Living Guildpact as he works with his bailiff, Lavinia. After finishing with supplicants for the day, Jace retires to his sanctum but has an unexpected knock at the door. Unexpected, because the location of his sanctum is a closely guarded secret, and because the knock was coming through a door connected to an entirely different district. Behind the door is Liliana Vess, who wants Jace's help with the Chain Veil. Jace is reluctant to trust her after her betrayal in Agents of Artifice, but he is eventually convinced to hear her out over dinner. Liliana never gets around to making her plea for help, however. She talks around her issues coyly and soon their dinner is interrupted by a wounded Gideon. Gideon relates to Jace the fall of Sea Gate and Jori En's breakthrough with the Hedron Network. Gideon has come to Jace for help because of his nature as a planeswalker and his experience with leyline puzzles through the Implicit Maze. Liliana storms off in a huff as Jace agrees to help Gideon. Before they leave, Jace insists that Gideon first has to see a healer that Jace knows, implied to be Emmara Tandris. Jace then disappears with the Gideon to Zendikar, where the Gatewatch is formed.
When Jace returns to Ravnica with the Gatewatch, two of the Eldrazi titans are dead (much to the spirit dragon Ugin's chagrin) and the third has been sealed into Innistrad's moon. The Gatewatch languished on Jace's Sanctum on Ravnica until the arrival of Dovin Baan. Chandra and Liliana end up travelling to Kaladesh (although not with Dovin), while Jace remains behind, his duties as the Living Guildpact finally taking priority. Ral meets with Jace again, letting him know that Project Lightning Bug has been continuing in secret, and that Vraska seems to have disappeared, but in the middle of their conversation Liliana appears and tells Jace that they've spotted Tezzeret on Kaladesh. The two disappear together, leaving behind an annoyed Ral Zarek.
Vraska will be a key ally, turning on Bolas when the time is right. Induced Amnesia
by Chris Rallis
Ral Zarek, we learn after Nicol Bolas has defeated the Gatewatch on Amonkhet, is working for the elder dragon. Tezzeret's purpose on Kaladesh was revealed to be the Planar Bridge, and believing the artificer defeated, the Gatewatch followed his clues to Amonkhet, where Nicol Bolas's army of Eternals rose up and slaughtered civilization there. Likewise, the elder dragon destroyed the Gatewatch, defeating each of them in turn. Jace himself planeswalks away as the dragon crushed his mind. His last memory is a fleeting glimpse of a crystalline mind similar to Bolas's.
Jace awakes on Ixalan, with no memory of his identity. He's found by Vraska, who takes pity on the amnesiac Jace and allows him to join her pirate crew. Without all of Jace's emotional baggage, he is a different person than we've known. He and Vraska grow close, and so when Jace's memories are restored, he continues to aid Vraska in her attempts to find The Immortal Sun. With his memories of his time on Vryn restored, Jace's skill with his powers increases drastically. They find the Immortal Sun guarded by Azor, the Lawbringer, from whom Jace learns of Ugin's plot against Bolas. Over a millennia ago, the two planeswalkers had attempted to imprison and kill Bolas on Ixalan, but they were discovered and Ugin was killed. Azor was left trapped on Ixalan, his spark sacrificed to power the Immortal Sun. Bolas had recruited Vraska to find it, in exchange for guild leadership of the Golgari. Jace also learns that Bolas's plan involves Ravnica, which he has neglected ever since becoming the Guildpact.
Jace uses his power as the Living Guildpact to compel Azor to a life of solitude to reflect on the damage he's caused on Ixalan. Vraska agrees that Nicol Bolas needs to be stopped, and together they hatch a plan. Jace uses his greater skill to smooth over Vraska's memories to fool Nicol Bolas into thinking she's still a willing agent, a feat that would have been impossible before recovering his memories of training on Vryn. Once Jace has their plan in place, he will restore her memories at a crucial moment against Bolas. With a sorrowful farewell, Jace erases her memories of their time together and departs as Vraska signals that she has found the Immortal Sun. It's transported away by the Planar Bridge, and she returns to Ravnica to find a note indicating Jarad is alone and imprisoned for her to finish off.
Jace arrives aboard the Weatherlight to find the Gatewatch fractured. Nissa has quit and Ajani Goldmane departed earlier to seek more allies. When they insist on helping free Liliana of her final demon, he informs them of Bolas's plans for Ravnica (and that they can't trust Liliana) and departs. Some time later, Gideon and Chandra return to Ravnica with Karn, Teferi, and Jaya in tow. Jace appears to them, stating they have a lot of work to do. The new allies are confused, believing Liliana was going to join them, and Jace admonishes them for trusting her. In truth, killing her last demon defaulted her demonic debt to Nicol Bolas himself, and Liliana was forced to join him or die.
And so Bolas's plan for Ravnica is about to begin! On the side of the Gatewatch are Jace, Gideon, Chandra, Jaya, Teferi, Karn, and secretly Vraska. Working for Bolas are Liliana, Tezzeret, and Ral Zarek. Will Vraska be enough to turn the tide? What allies will Ajani bring?
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