Nissa struggles to understand her relationship with Emrakul, who has tormented her.
They Were Always My Pieces
Introduction and Disclaimer – If you are a Magic fan or just want to jump into the story, then skip ahead to the actual story. If you want a refresher course in the Battle for Zendikar and Eldritch Moon, then stick around. There were once three Eldrazi titans: Ulamog, the devourer, who drains worlds of life; Kozilek, the distorter, who bends and disintegrates matter; and Emrakul, the twister of minds, who drives all life to madness and distorts them in their image. Once, these Eldrazi monstrosities were sealed away, deep within the mana-rich world of Zendikar. But their bonds were broken, thanks, in no small part, to Nissa Revane, the elven planeswalker who thought she was saving her world. She released them in hopes that they would find another world to destroy. Instead, Ulamog and Kozilek began to wreak havoc on her world, and Emrakul disappeared. With the help of three other planeswalkers, Jace Beleren, the mind mage; Gideon Jura, the heiromancer; and Chandra Nalaar, the pyromancer they were able to kill Ulamog and Kozilek. After some searching, the planeswalkers found Emrakul distorting the world of Innistrad, transforming its residents into tentacled monstrosities. Unable to kill the ancient titan, they sealed it away in the silver moon of Innistrad with the help of planeswalkers Liliana Vess, the necromancer; and Tamiyo, the moonfolk. Now in the aftermath of Emrakul's reign of terror, the planeswalkers look for rest.
Unfortunately, I own nothing of Magic: the Gathering. All characters, worlds, and such belong to Wizards of the Coast. If you're interested in seeing the real stories, check out their webpage, Uncharted Realms to see the full Battle for Zendikar and Eldritch Moon stories.
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Wow, did we do all this? I mean, yeah, Thraben was pretty bad when we got here, but I guess I didn't notice just how bad. Kinda hard to pay attention to that stuff when I'm trying to burn tentacled…things that are trying to kill us. The streets are all quiet, not a soul around, which is really creepy. There were still some people who weren't turned into those…whatever those things were. Where'd they all go? Buildings are all busted up, and I'm pretty sure I see some scorch marks on the edges of one of them. Yeah, maybe I overdid it a little there. The wood on houses is all splintered and broken. And, I'm really, really trying not to notice the smell of dead things all over.
Nissa hasn't said a word since Emrakul disappeared into the moon, and I'm starting to worry about her. Sure, she normally gets all quiet and stuff, but not this quiet. Maybe she's waiting for me to say something. Then again, maybe she's just tired. Yeah, we all ran ourselves ragged fighting that Eldrazi, but she and Tamiyo used everything they had to put Emrakul in the moon. And then Jace said that Emrakul even took over Nissa's mind for a while. It was all kinda gross the way he described it: extra fingers, eye stalks springing out of her sockets…yuck! I don't say anything about that because I think it still kinda scares Nissa to think about.
"Hey, so what did you mean when you said Emrakul was there at your awakening?" I ask, just trying to hear something other than this eerie, deathly silence.
Nissa flinches a little, as if hearing my voice startled her. She waits for a while before answering, as if trying to find the words for it. "When I first saw Emrakul, knew of its presence on Zendikar and what it was doing to poison my world, I mean, it nearly destroyed me. I thought my mind would break. Instead, I was…I was on another world."
Now it makes sense. "Oh, so you mean when you first planeswalked?" She nods. "Where did you go?"
"It was called Lorwyn. It was…a most unpleasant experience."
She doesn't say anything else, and I figure she isn't going to any time soon. I've never been there to know what she's talking about anyway. "So, without Emrakul, you wouldn't be, you know, here."
"No, I suppose not."
Boy, way to really kill a mood. "You never wanted to be a planeswalker?"
"I never asked for any of this."
I shrug. "None of us did, but, I mean, it wasn't like any of us felt like we belonged in our own worlds. So, when it happened, it was a nice release, you know?"
She hasn't turned to even look at me this entire conversation. "Then I suppose we are different in that regard, Chandra. This one will do."
I look up at the building in front of us. It must've been a store of some sort, and it looks like it's got some apartments above. It's clearly abandoned and the windows are all busted out of it. And there's this huge hole in the wall of the store where something tried to bust out. Probably used to be someone just going about their ordinary day, before Emrakul turned it into a monster, that is. "Yeah, it looks like it must have a bed up there," I say, shoving my hands in my pockets. "I just hope Gids and the others found a place to sleep."
It became every man for themselves after the battle. I think most of us just wanted to destress in our own way. Liliana kind of disappeared, much to Nissa's relief, Jace stayed with Tamiyo, and Gids wandered off. Nissa only nods and she follows me into the building.
Upstairs, we find a room with a single bed in the corner. The wind makes an eerie sound as it blows through the broken window. "You can sleep first," I say. "I'm going to light a fire and keep watch."
While most of the tentacle monsters had died off when Emrakul disappeared, a few stragglers had come after us on the way here. At least it's not like before when they were all after us and Liliana had to come save our butts. Burning one or two doesn't take that much energy.
I find a few old rags to use to start the fire in the small stove on the other end of the room. Setting them on fire, I forget just how much power I put behind it. The flame roars up the stovepipe, almost blasting it to pieces. "Uh…I didn't mean to do that."
Nissa's already buried under the small mountain of fur blankets on the bed and is asleep. Were it not for the little bit of her head poking out from underneath the blanket, I wouldn't know she was there. She's so quiet when she sleeps. I wonder if that's a thing she picked up on Zendikar, trying not to get eaten by stuff bigger than her? Her eyelids twitch for just a second. I remember asking her about that a while back. She thinks it has something to do with when her mind connects with a world…or something like that. I wonder if she actually sleeps, like really sleeps? I know her body needs rest and stuff, but if the whole time she's sleeping she's talking to a world, does she ever get any rest?
I decide to sit on the floor and tend to a few injuries. Thank goodness I didn't let those things get too close, or these would be a lot worse. Nissa still has that bruise around her neck where the ley lines tried to strangle her. Talk about scary. It's kinda like when I was a kid back on Kaladesh. My friends and I would climb to the top of the aether spire and then slide down the aether tubes. It was really fun, but also scary 'cause you'd feel your stomach drop, just before you slid straight down. When those ley lines started hurting Nissa and she was unconscious, it was exactly like that feeling...only, the bad version of it.
Ow! Adjusting the bandages, one of the cuts starts to sting a little. Boy, these Eldrazi just never let up, do they? They're like a virus; they just keep fighting and devouring until they die. Relentless little pests. I look up at the moon, where Nissa's glyph is still etched into it. I felt a lot better when she and I destroyed Ulamog and Kozilek. At least on Zendikar, we knew they were gone for good. With this situation, I can't help but wonder if Emrakul might try to come back. And that would be really bad because we couldn't even handle it the first time.
Why do those stupid things even exist anyway? All they do is destroy worlds. Who would ever create creatures like that?
I hear Nissa bolt up in the bed, screaming. I'm up in an instant, trying to figure out what's wrong. I put my hands on her shoulders, trying to snap her out of it. Her skin is icy cold. "Hey, you okay?"
For a while, I just hold her until she realizes where she is. She stops shivering and notices my hands on her shoulders. Oh, right, Nissa really, really hates it when people get close. "Um, sorry. I just wanted to make sure you were okay and everything. And you were like...really cold, and I just…never mind." Stop talking, Chandra. She probably thinks your babbling is weird right now.
Her breathing sounds really shallow, but she finds her words eventually. "Yes, just…bad dream."
She looks out the window, gazing at the moon, probably wondering the same stuff I was earlier. That's probably what happened. I keep forgetting that Nissa's dealt with the Eldrazi longer than any of us, and that she probably still has nightmares about that kind of thing. Tonight probably didn't help. "Look, it's over, Nissa. You're fine. You got rid of all the Eldrazi. They can't hurt any more worlds."
Nissa just gets up, wrapping her cloak closer around her and sitting by the stove. "Thank you, Chandra, but I do not think I can go back to sleep. You can try resting."
"Um…okay?" I'm worried about her, but sometimes, it's hard to know how to help her when I don't know exactly what it is she's afraid of.
ɹǝʌǝɹoɟ lnʞɐɹɯƎ sᴉ lnʞɐɹɯƎ sᴉ lnʞɐɹɯƎ
Nissa never intended to try and make a connection with Innistrad. Anymore, it was an unconscious habit that occurred whenever she slept. She was so used to it back home on Zendikar. Letting her unconscious mind bond with a world was almost like breathing at this point. It gave her time to really hear the voice of a world.
But Innistrad had no voice, not anymore anyway. It was choked, strangled, calling for help with no one to hear it. And it was even worse because she knew there was nothing she could do to help. The terror that Emrakul brought was one thing, but she could not change what had happened to the land itself. It was too far gone, and Nissa knew that Innistrad would never recover, not like Zendikar.
Listening to the dying screams of Innistrad hurt worse than anything she had experienced tonight. It made her heart beat irregularly, and she felt as though the Roil itself had taken residence in her stomach. She wanted to wake up, to not have to hear it anymore. Instead, a different voice called out to her.
You think you have me trapped, don't you, little elf?
Her heart stopped, as if an icicle had passed through it. This wasn't real, was it? It couldn't be. Emrakul was still…
You think I can't do any more harm, is that it? A cold, hard, silver prison this may be, but I can still touch minds. You remember, don't you? I reached you on Zendikar.
Somewhere, Nissa heard her own voice, but she wasn't sure if she was the one in control of it. It certainly didn't sound strong. It was weak, and scared. "No you didn't. Zendikar asked me to help rid it of you."
Was that laughing she heard? Was Emrakul chuckling at the thought?
Silly little elf, you actually think Zendikar would've led you straight to me?
"No, you're lying to me!" her voice screamed back.
Nissa had the feeling that Emrakul was getting closer to her, as if it were merely leaning over to whisper.
I'll tell you a little secret, my secret. You want to know the best way to make someone do exactly what you want? Make them think it was their idea all along.
She wanted to beg for it to stop, but she still had no control over her own voice. She could not will it. Instead, she had no choice but to listen to the twisted voice of the thing that had haunted her for so long.
I also needed time, lots of time. Would you believe me if I said that I had planned everything over the course of a thousand years? That was how long I was trapped on Zendikar, and I can wait just as long here on Innistrad.
Somehow, she found the strength to speak again. "But you said you were trapped. They did that, Ugin and Sorin. And we were able to do it again."
She heard a slithering sound, as if Emrakul were nodding its head.
True, but you assume I was tricked, that I was somehow caught unawares. I let myself and my brethren be encased in Zendikar, and I did the same thing tonight.
Yes, you see, Ulamog and Kozilek didn't understand the way I did. They had their prerogative, and couldn't think much beyond that. That's why I always arrive on a world first. I have to prepare it for their coming. My fellow Eldrazi would have no direction without me. Of course, you know what they are like.
Instantly, she was taken back to that moment, where she was pinned down by a fallen tree, left to die, the corpses of her own people all around her, Bala Ged, the place of her birth, reduced to ash and crumbling wastes. It was one of the first places Ulamog destroyed after it escaped. The worst part was it all felt as real as the day it happened. "Stop," Nissa tried to mutter, feeling blood pooling in her lungs.
But your memories are so fun to pick through, little elf.
It was mocking her now, but it did cease, and she was no longer in the white, cracking wastes. Nissa could feel a dull throbbing pain forming behind her eyes. Her own heartbeat felt like it was pounding against her skull. "But why…"
Why a thousand years? You think we just go to worlds and destroy them on a whim? You have much to learn, little elf. No, we weren't needed back then. We could not complete our objectives.
"Objectives? What are you talking about?"
Emrakul didn't seem to hear her this time. There were more slithering sounds, as if its tentacles were right there beside her.
Ugin, Sorin, and that lithomancer, I used all of them to get what I wanted: time. I only had to manipulate that lithomancer a little, just to make her willing enough to offer her own world as my prison. I needed to be on Zendikar. Oh, you think when I enter a mind I just turn it to mush and turn people into my twisted pawns? No, no, I can merely change a few things here or there, just to give people the right…push. But otherwise, they came up with their plan on their own. I didn't even have to lift a tentacle.
More laughter, and Nissa felt a lurching feeling in her stomach, as if she were falling. None of this could be true, she thought. How could something like Emrakul plan all of this for a thousand years? Then again, she had only known about its existence for a brief amount of time; decades in her own life, but how long to an ancient titan?
Zendikar really is such a beautiful world. So rich, so alive, so perfect. I knew I would hate to destroy it, but that is a cruel law of nature. I came to know every tree and stone, every gnarlid, baloth, goblin, and elf. I watched and guarded the land. I was its steward. Destroying it would be my job soon, but for the time being, it had to stay alive. I still had many more pieces to use.
"Nothing you do is natural," Nissa said through gritted teeth. She didn't know how, but she would fight Emrakul for the right to her own mind.
Debatable, but I think you'll like this next part. Have you heard the name Nicol Bolas?
She had only heard Jace mention it once or twice. She tried to remember the context, or the tone he used when he said it, but everything was starting to get hazy.
He proved to be a loyal pawn. The best part about him was that he thought he was the one moving all the pieces. Him I didn't need to "influence" either; dragons are easy like that. They think they always know better. All I needed him to see was my potential, the potential of Zendikar. That was enough to make him send in his own pawns, which made up the stronger part of my little army. Like clockwork, he sent three planeswalkers to loosen the bonds, allowing my brethren to unleash their spawn. You know two of them, little elf: Jace and Chandra.
Neither one of them had mentioned that. Jace she could see concealing that sort of information, but Chandra? If there was one thing Nissa was sure of, it was how genuine and honest Chandra had always been to her. She didn't even have it in her to lie, did she? A single tentacle began to wrap itself around Nissa's right arm, and it had spines, cutting into her flesh.
Now, I just needed a queen, my most powerful piece, the key to everything. Yes, in those one-thousand years, I watched closely for the perfect specimen. And I could never have found a better one. I knew you were the one from the start. Shame, really. You have a gift similar to mine. You can manipulate the ley lines of a plane, bend them to your will. I can manipulate the ley lines of the mind. We're a rare kind of powerful, you and I.
It was everything Nissa could do not to cry out as the spines on the tentacle continued to pierce into arm. "I am nothing like you!" she spat.
No, indeed you are not. I at least act with purpose and clear guidance. But I know more about you than you will ever know about yourself. You were a child of animists, and probably the last one born, but you know that already, don't you? What I bet you didn't know is that on the day you were born, you and your mother were nearly killed by a baloth, and your mother almost made the hardest decision ever: to save herself and leave you. It's a cruel law of nature, but sometimes necessary when it comes to survival among the wild creatures on this world.
Again, Emrakul sent Nissa back to a memory, one she didn't even know she had, but was buried deep in her psyche. She was lying there, at the base of a tree, too small and helpless to move herself, and her mother already halfway up a tree, as a spiny, massive creature with tusks as big as a person charging straight for her. Nissa had heard of these sorts of situations happening before, and understood it, mostly. Survival was key, and sometimes that meant leaving someone weaker behind. She just didn't know it had almost happened to her. Just before the baloth could get close, the ground bucked and thrashed between them, spooking the giant, and forcing it to turn tail. It was the Roil, Zendikar's pained response to having the Eldrazi within it.
Do you really think it's any coincidence that happened at that exact moment? You belonged to me. In many ways, I was like a mother to you. No one cared for you as much as I did. I needed that power, and at the same time, I truly did love you as my own. I kept you safe when you were in danger. I pushed you to your limits when you needed it.
Do you remember when that gnarlid bit you on your first hunt?
How could she forget it, and yet, she hated Emrakul even more as she was forced to relive it again. She was thirteen, she remembered, and she thought she knew how it was done. She had been tasked to stay hidden up in a Jaddi tree, bow and arrow at the ready. She had only seen it for half a blink before it pounced upon her. Thankfully, the tree hadn't been that tall, or the fall out of it would have hurt worse. Instead, there was the matter of the small, hairy, horned thing gnawing at her left leg, just above the knee. She panicked, and didn't remember how to get rid of it. She struggled and fought, but the gnarlid just clamped its teeth further into her.
Just when she feared she would bleed out, it howled in the most agonizing pain she could possibly imagine. It twitched and backed off of her in an instant before collapsing to the ground itself, dead. When the others had finally caught up and found her, they determined that the creature must've had a heart attack during the ordeal. It took her weeks to heal, she remembered, but she had learned to keep an eye out for them since then. She had the scar as a constant reminder.
You still believe in mere chance, don't you, little elf? When are you going to see that I have more influence than you can possibly imagine. If that's what I could do trapped within Zendikar, imagine what I could've done when freed.
Slowly, it was starting to make sense. Her brain was starting to put some logic together. "But, that means that…"
Yes, your animist abilities would've laid dormant, like your mother's, were it not for me. The dreams started when you were fifteen. The best way to lay a plan is to only provide enough of the truth to get by. All you needed was the knowledge that something evil lurked within your world, just enough to create that fear. I had to make myself evil in your eyes. It was the only way to make you do something about it.
It was starting to unravel on her, all of it. All this time, she had thought it was the voice of Zendikar calling to her for help. She could feel another tentacle, this one snaking around her waist, and gripping tightly, taking the air right out of her.
Getting you to act on it was the hard part, and your one flaw, little elf. You resisted the dreams, let the fear overcome you. You pretended they didn't exist. You tried hiding from the messages I was sending you. And your people worked against me as well, trying to beat these abilities out of you. The solution came when your people's fear of your power threatened to ruin both your and your mother's lives. Your self-sacrificing nature gave you the push you needed. It would do more, of course. It would make you untrusting.
It was true. Her mother never cared for the Joraga tribe's isolationist tendencies, and had tried to teach her better. Instead, her people, in their rejection and fear of her, had taught her to be just like them. But as everything began to unfold, there was one thing weighing on her mind.
Did I know what you were? Of course. That's why I needed you. Only the power of a planeswalker could release me. Forcing your spark to ignite was no easy task, and truly, I admit, there was a point when I feared I would kill you. I didn't want to enter your mind, not yet anyway, but it was the traumatic trigger you needed.
Her mind on the verge of being obliterated, her body did the only thing it could do to save her: send her to another plane. How could she have not seen this? Knowing what she did about Emrakul, how could she have not figured out that Emrakul had manipulated her in such a way? If only…
True, I did have to rely on you to come back on your own, but I was not disappointed. I had generated enough fear of me to make you want to come back, to not try and hide from me, to vow to stop me. I was the one who gave you purpose. And just what do you think you would've done without me? Lived alone, shunned by your people with nothing but wasted potential? Or did you really think you would have had a chance out there on your own with that Mazik?
Mazik! She had almost forgotten about him, the one friend who had believed in her, who thought she could rid Zendikar of Emrakul's presence. She had never learned the fate of her own tribe. She never knew if any of them had survived in the wake of Ulamog's destruction. But, she knew what was coming next. "Please, stop," she pleaded.
What? Afraid of having to take some responsibility in my plans? No, little elf, that was your doing. I merely selected an old pawn that I knew would lead you to me. Sorin…capricious and selfish he may be, but he would get involved when it was a threat to him, which is exactly what I was. If I could potentially destroy Zendikar, what would stop me from coming to Innistrad next? Without fail, he took you straight to me, and before that, he revealed his true nature as a vampire to you, and you hated him for it.
Nissa was still paralyzed, being held fast by the tentacles tightening their grip around her. She wanted nothing more than to cover her ears. She didn't need to hear the rest. She didn't want to. "Stop!"
You wouldn't listen to his instruction, wouldn't listen to reason. You did exactly what I wanted. You set me and my brethren free.
Yes! Do you realize just how important you were to my plans? Do you realize that none of it would've been possible without you? You're the reason Zendikar nearly crumbled. You're the reason Innistrad will never recover.
A third, and what she hoped was the final, tentacle encircled her neck. It slowly tightened, preventing her from offering any objections. She could no longer deny she was responsible. She could hear a noise that sounded like heavy, wet breathing. Emrakul wasn't finished with her.
My task on Zendikar done, I left Ulamog and Kozilek to finish the job. I was called elsewhere: to Innistrad. I actually hoped you would be smart enough to leave your world before it was destroyed. I did not want you to suffer the same fate as your beloved Zendikar. After all, you're like me: our souls don't belong to just one world.
Using her only free hand, Nissa desperately tried to claw at the tentacle around her neck. Yet, she knew that Emrakul was only holding back. It could snap her neck in an instant if it wanted to.
Innistrad's mana was telling me it was ready for my presence. But, upon my arrival, something was wrong. The minds of the living should have been open and welcome to me. I should've found a world on the brink of destruction, dying, in need of a release. Instead, I find a thriving world. But mana doesn't lie. I had to begin my task.
Nissa wasn't sure if Emrakul was even paying attention to her existence anymore. It was no longer taunting her, so what was the point of what it was saying now?
It was all wrong, though. Everything was wrong. When I arrive on a world, the living should be weak, dying, and without hope. My presence is supposed to be their salvation. Instead, I found terror and a people desperately clinging to life. This shouldn't have been. The world should've blossomed with my influence, not cringed in terror. What could've gone wrong? I had to know the meaning of this outcome.
Something wasn't sounding right. Was Emrakul actually scared? Up until this point, the great titan had been a cold and calculating adversary, gloating at how it had fooled her. And now, it was talking about plans falling apart?
My one godsend was having you arrive. Through you, I could perhaps know the cause of this abnormality, but that mind mage prevented me from controlling your mind completely. So, I had to settle for scouring your memories and feeling the land itself. What I found sickened me.
Nissa didn't remember any of this. Then again, she really didn't remember a lot of having her mind controlled by Emrakul. Jace had described what had happened and the nonsense that she had uttered in that state, but she did not recollect any of it. Emrakul had been in charge during those few minutes.
That lithomancer, I could feel that it was her doing through the ley lines. You could feel that taint in the land as well, couldn't you? She…changed the mana. She used it to draw me here. Such a thing should be…impossible. I had become the queen in the lithomancer's vast scheme. It was more than just devastating. It was an outright disaster. If this was all it took to control me, the multiverse is doomed.
Nissa wanted to laugh in the face of the Eldrazi, but still felt her windpipe constrained. It hurts being manipulated and used like a pawn, doesn't it? She felt a smile curl on her lips. So much for Emrakul being all-powerful. Emrakul's tone quickly dropped its cold and calm demeanor, and terror began to gnaw at Nissa once more.
Even worse is what I learned from your memories. You and those planeswalkers destroyed my brethren.
The tentacles tightened around her and dragged her to the ground, pulling harder and harder even after she hit. They were choking her, and she could feel herself starting to blackout. It was like the battle at Thraben all over again, the ley lines trying to fight and strangle her. She clawed at the ground, trying to find some relief, but instead she felt Emrakul hovering over her as she struggled for air.
What have you done, Nissa Worldwaker? Ulamog and Kozilek are gone! The system we had is all gone because of you. There will be no help for dying planes, no renewal. The multiverse will forever be out of balance. You destroyed a vital part of the multiverse's ecosystem without a care in the world. Do you have any idea what sort of destruction you have caused?
Nissa struggled and gasped for air, certain Emrakul would kill her. But the tentacles loosened, only enough to let her breath again. Its rage subsided, for the moment anyway, Emrakul continued to muse.
I let it all happen. How could I have been so blind to the monster I've created? The game was lost, but…I cannot lose. I cannot give it up, but I no longer wish to play, not until I can think of a way to fix it.
She was gulping in air knowing it would be useless if Emrakul decided to actually kill her. Eventually, she got bold enough to speak again. "So you can be tricked. You can be caught unawares."
What she heard next surprised her. Was that disappointment in Emrakul's voice?
Indeed, I can, it would seem. But know this; I could have destroyed you all.
An icy chill came over her once more. Until this point, Emrakul had been blunt and cold, but she didn't know it could get worse.
Do you know what that moonfolk woman intended to do when your spell started to fail? She was going to read a spell of her own, one that would destroy us all. It would have destroyed Innistrad, killed me, killed you, killed all of your friends. I rewrote that spell.
"You didn't want to lose," she said weakly. "You were just protecting yourself."
I could've let her read that scroll. I could've destroyed my pieces. I could have destroyed you. I could've cleared the board and rid the multiverse of the ultimate destruction I had helped to make, but I couldn't do it. Much as I wanted to, I just couldn't. Despite everything, despite how foolish and uncaring planeswalkers are, despite how you killed my fellow Eldrazi, I couldn't do it. You were my creation, and whether you will let yourself believe it or not, I did care for you. The monster who could single-handedly twist and ruin the multiverse on a whim, and I still love you as my own.
Emrakul seemed to pick her up, the tentacles still wrapped around her. Yet, Nissa couldn't tell if it was to continue to hurt her, or as a means of showing affection. She had no response, no understanding of what exactly was going on.
Such is an unusual situation. My kind do not feel. We do not love. We do not sacrifice for others. We merely carry out our objective to renew a plane. To say I loved you is an anomaly, a mistake I should learn to never make again. Yet, here it is, and I cannot bring myself to destroy you. Instead, I need time to think, to plan a new game with new pieces. Have I done the right thing by letting you live? When I emerge again, will you have devastated the multiverse as I know you are capable of? Will I have unleashed an unspeakable terror? You and the other planeswalkers, they were always my pieces, but it was not my game to win, and I can only hope that the world exists long enough for me to play again.
With a long drawn out sigh, Emrakul left her with its last words.
You were my most important piece, Nissa Worldwaker, and now I release you. What are you going to do with that?
And instantly, the tentacles tightened, so fast and so strong, she would die.
Nissa awoke screaming, believing she was still being held fast by Emrakul. Only after several minutes did she find herself drawn back to reality. The first thing she noticed was the warmth radiating through her body, like the sun shining upon a plant's leaves, willing it to grow. Soon, she saw the hands that were holding her, and the friendly and kind amber eyes she recognized so well. "Um, sorry. I just wanted to make sure you were okay and everything," she heard Chandra begin to say, fumbling over a lot of her words.
ɹǝʌǝɹoɟ lnʞɐɹɯƎ sᴉ lnʞɐɹɯƎ sᴉ lnʞɐɹɯƎ
The morning light coming through the window finally wakes me up. I'm surprised Nissa didn't wake me up or that Jace and the others didn't come looking for us. Then again, maybe I'm not sleeping as late as I think.
I roll over and I see Nissa still sitting by the stove, watching the fire inside. She looks like the monks on Regatha when they do that ritual where they watch a fire all night. Mother Luti would be proud of her. I know I can't sit still that long. Her eyes look so distant right now, like she doesn't even know where she is.
I get up and cross over to where she is. Oh, god, bad idea. Cold floor, cold floor! She doesn't notice I'm there. I tap her on the shoulder. "Hey, Nis, you still there?"
I know when we were back on Zendikar, she'd do this thing where she'd send herself into the soul of the world. Sounds crazy, right? If hadn't had that thing where we touched minds, I don't think I would've believed it. Anyway, when she does that, she's kind of there, but not there, and I can't always get her to respond. "Nissa?" I ask again.
She blinks and I can hear her breathing again. I think that means she's back…that is if she was ever gone. She still doesn't speak. "Listen, we gotta go meet Jace and the others, remember? He says we're going to go regroup in Ravnica. You ever been there?"
"Once," she answers, with a strong bitterness that isn't lost on me. Hm, must've had a bad experience there.
She starts to stand up, still a little shaky on her feet. "You okay to travel?" I ask. "I'm sure Jace would understand if…"
"I'm fine," she answers quickly. "Chandra, is what we did…right?"
I'm just trying to keep up with her as we walk to meet with the others. "What do you mean?"
Nissa's struggling to find the right words, but I don't know why. If anyone's horrible at conversations, it's me. "Ugin said we killed the Eldrazi, beings older than us, without knowing the consequences."
I kick at some rubble on the street. "Yeah, but we all know what they would've done: they would've kept destroying worlds until there was nothing left. They'd destroy the whole multiverse."
That answer doesn't seem to satisfy her. She only shakes her head, trying to think it through. "Maybe, maybe not. Chandra, we didn't know what they would do because we've only known about their existence for a few years, a mere speck of time in their lifespans. What if there was more to it than that? What if we've only made things worse? Chandra, I…I was the one who set the Eldrazi free, and you and I are responsible for killing two of them. That's bigger than any of us can imagine, and I feel like…"
"Like a monster," I finish for her.
The tears forming in her eyes tell me I got it right. "You know how that feels?" she asks in a hoarse whisper.
I know exactly how that feels. It's like being twelve again, all chained up in the arena, Baral's stupid, ugly mouth right next to my ear when he keeps telling me I'm the reason my parents are dead. I shake the thought out of my head. I have to be here for Nissa right now.
I'm tempted to grab her again, just to give her a reassuring touch, but I think better of it. "You are the furthest thing from a monster, Nissa," I say. "They were about to destroy Zendikar, your home. You did what you had to do to protect it. Thousands of lives would've been lost. Yeah, maybe it was right, maybe it was wrong. We'll never know. But Nis, we've all made mistakes. I'll bet even Gids did some stupid stuff before, like…I dunno, but I mean there has to be something we're all ashamed of, right?"
She sighs wistfully and keeps walking. I know I'm not helping at all, but at least she hasn't told me to stop. "We just have to go with it, and keep trying to do better, you know?" I say, trying to get to a point.
Honestly, I don't know what we should've done either, but Nissa's really putting a lot of weight on her shoulders about it, and I can't stand to see her like this. Innistrad's moon is still setting, and I look back at it one last time. I can't help but wonder, what have we done?