Darkness, silence, fear. That was all I could know in that instant. Just a few moments ago I was sitting at a lunch table, playing a game of Magic. Then there was a rushing sensation that I was moving, but I couldn’t tell where. Just like that, and here I am. I don’t feel any restraints, nothing; it’s like I’m just… floating.
Suddenly there was light, ringing in my ears, falling hard on my knees.
“How is he?”
“He’s fine, stop worrying.”
I could hardly make out any voices or faces, my eyes and ears refusing to cooperate. Soon the darkness took hold again, this time in the form of sleep.
Awake, rough linen sheets, thin mattress on a wooden frame, back pain.
I felt feeble; in an attempt to sit up, a large hand crossed my chest and forced me to lie down.
“Not yet.” A gruff voice commanded, I looked over to see who it could belong to.
A man with the head of a white lion, missing his left eye and wearing gold armor.
“What…” Disbelief was my only reaction, he reminded me of Ajani Goldmane.
“Looks like the trip took a larger toll than we originally thought.” A disembodied voice came from behind the cat-man. Soon after a man wearing blue robes walked into view. At least this guy looked fairly normal. He reminded me of Jace Beleren.
“Where am I? Who are you? What am I doing here?”
“All in good time; for now, rest. Planeswalking is no mere feat for someone without an ignited spark.” Ajani said in a reassuring tone.
“Granted we helped you.” Jace interjected.
“What is your name?” Ajani asked.
“It’s Markus, but what are you talking about?” I don’t know why I said that, but there was no doubt in my mind.
Either magic is real, or somebody is playing a really elaborate joke.
“Rest Markus, I will come back later to check on your condition.”
The two figures left, and while I was left with a sense of disbelief at my revelation, all I could do was lie there wondering.
Where am I?
What’s going on?
How do I get back home?
Graduation is in a few weeks!
I stared at the stone ceiling. My body felt strange, like it was more, I dunno, energized. There was something in the air here that made me feel powerful despite my weakness.
“It feels different here, doesn’t it?” A strange voice came from the corner of the room.
Surprised, I jerked my head to see who it was, “What?”
There was a tall, lithe man standing there, with ashen skin and pale hair. Most likely Sorin Markov, but what was he doing here?
“Mana, I know you can sense it. It makes you feel stronger, more confident.” He sighed, “No matter, the feeling will pass soon enough.”
“What do you mean?”
“You really don’t get it, do you?” The man scowled, “Up until now you didn’t even know magic existed, let alone that you were capable of using it. Did they not tell you?”
In my confusion I didn’t know how to respond, “Tell me what? And what do you mean by magic? If this is some kind of practical joke, it’s not funny.” Who is this guy think he is? What’s he trying to say? In frustration my face reddened.
There was a sigh of contempt, “Never mind, Jace and Ajani really found a bright one.”
Turning away, he walked to the open window, and jumped.
“Hey!” I jumped, running to the window to see him fall.
“You really are a fool,” He scoffed, floating in front of me, “You have much to learn.”
With this final insult, he flew away towards another section of what appeared to be the stone tower I was being housed in.
Jerk, I thought to myself, Assuming I don’t know what he’s talking about.
I sat down on the bed, trying to calm down. I was still frustrated from what the guy said, but I didn’t know why.
I should be calmed down by now. I thought to myself, So why aren’t I?
Contemplating the conversation that had transpired, and seeing him fly off afterward, I’d determined that this must have been pretty expensive to set up. Either way, I was going to enjoy it as much as possible before going home.
A few hours passed and I was still alone in that room. I felt perfectly fine, just a bit shaken at first. Who wouldn’t? Still, the time to myself let me calm down from earlier and examine my surroundings. The room I was in was relatively average size, two beds in both corners against the wall on opposite sides of the window, a simple woven rug strewn across the stone floor. At the foot of each bed was a small desk, with what looked to be parchment, an inkwell and a quill for each. It was simple housing, but I don’t know what I expected.
Eventually Ajani came back into the room, a change of clothes in his hand.
“Alright, put these on and follow me.”
“Where are we going?” I inquired.
“You will see.”
I grabbed his arm, “Wait!”
“What is it?” His voice was thick with impatience.
“I need to go home, I’ve got finals next week!”
“You think this is a joke? I will show you that it is not.”
He grabbed a small blade from the folds of his clothing, and cut my arm.
“Hey! What the heck!”
Putting the blade away, he grabbed my arm where he had cut me. A small white glow emanated from the palm of his hand. After a minute or two, he let go, my pain gone. Inspecting my arm, there was no blood under my cut sleeve; my arm was perfectly fine.
“Whaaaat?” I stammered.
“This place is no jest, I assure you. The education you will receive here far outstrips any you may receive on your home plane.”
The reality was starting to sink in, Magic is real.
I paused for a moment, “Wait, what do you mean by education?”
“Not knowing the basics of magic would be unthinkable for a planeswalker, and being that you’re from a plane with no magic at all, you have a particularly strong deficiency.”
“Very tactfully spoken,” I sarcastically commented, “But I’m not a planeswalker.”
“Not yet.” Leaving it at that, Ajani went into the hall, leaving me speechless and confused.
Me? A planeswalker?
After changing into the coarse linen clothes and heavy leather boots, I left my confinement into the large hallway where Ajani was waiting.
He continued his lecture, “You will need these as well.” He handed me a small sword and shield.
“But I don’t know to use these.” I protested.
“Then you had better learn quickly.” Jace exclaimed from behind.
I jumped. Doesn’t he have something better to do? Where’d he even come from?
“Don’t get him killed, Goldmane.”
“I am not called Mentor of Heroes for nothing.” Ajani chimed, already walking down the hall. I ran after him.
“So, what is this place?” I inquired
“What do you mean?”
“This big castle, the land surrounding it, heck even the country we’re in!”
“We are on the plane of Antaris, or so called by the locals, Atlantis.”
“Atlantis? Like the city that sank under the ocean?”
“Is that how your people remember it? Strange.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You must be confused, let me explain. The plane of Antaris, or Atlantis as you call it, was once part of your own, but is no longer. Jace, Sorin and I have made it a place to train new planeswalkers from your plane before letting them roam the multiverse.”
“Planeswalkers? From my plane? But you said earlier that you helped me get here.”
“That is correct. Jace had developed a spell that can take someone with an innate planeswalker spark and forcibly ignite it. I’m surprised you know what a planeswalker is. I’m assuming then that you know what a spark is?”
“Yeah, you can’t planeswalk without it, why?”
“Because you’re plane shouldn’t have magic at all. Without some kind of magical influence, there would be no way for a spark to ignite or for other planeswalkers to go in and out of your plane conventionally.”
“Yet here I am.”
“Yes, that is true. It took quite a bit of effort to get you here.”
“How did you do it?”
“I enacted a spell that Jace developed to forcibly separate some of my essence and so used it in a way as to ignite your spark artificially.”
“So what you’re saying is that you gave me part of your spark?”
“So why you? Why not Jace or Sorin?”
“We determined that Ajani would have an easier time training one of his own, given he has more experience training youth. As a result though, you will have a noticeably higher affinity for white mana over other colors.” Jace responded.
“That sounds fine to me, but it sounds like a pretty dangerous thing to do.”
“More dangerous than you could imagine. Just the sheer amount of mana required would normally make most mages jealous. Do you know what mana is?”
“Living essence of the land we walk, essential sustenance for casting spells. You didn’t answer my question though, where did all that mana come from?”
“Impressive!” Ajani seemed astounded as Jace continued, “This plane is a sister plane to your own, absorbing the mana on your plane to have more concentrated energy flow. I didn’t think you would know what mana was.”
I felt a plume of confidence, “We still have the concept of magic, so I know a little bit. Magic is regarded as fantasy though, stories for children and nerds.”
“What is a nerd?” Ajani asked.
“It’s a slang term for people who have no lives.”
“Like ghouls or zombies?”
“I don’t understand.”
“Barring any more distractions,” Jace interrupted, “You two should get going.”
Walking further down the hallway, I waited until Jace was out of hearing range, “To be honest, a more organized lesson plan seems befitting of Jace Beleren.”
“The first week was going to be spent explaining to you what magic is.” Ajani sighed. “I suppose it will make my job a little bit easier.”
We walked through a series of halls and stairways, eventually coming to a large courtyard at least the size of a couple football fields. It was filled with many kinds of trees and statues of various beasts.
“I am a bit curious though,” Ajani turned to me, “How is it you already know so much?”
I paused, a little bit surprised, given I’d been asking all the questions.
“Well, back home, there is a game that we play. Not all of us, but a large portion of us. It is basically what you would call magic, except it is more… imaginary. There are novels associated with this game, and the stories in them depict…” I hesitated.
“You. Your lives, your journeys, everything you’ve accomplished in your lifetimes that have affected the history. Every planeswalker, the histories of a dozen planes. Chandra Naalar, Gideon Jura, Nicol Bolas–”
“Wait. You know of him?”
“Well yes, but there are those who know more about him than I do.”
“Name a god of Theros.”
“Ooh! Iroas! Theros is my favorite plane! Do you think I could go there sometime!? Now that I know it’s real I mean?”
“What are the most recent events you know about?” There was a sense of urgency in his voice.
“On Theros or Tarkir?”
“Tarkir? Theros of course!” He seemed to be getting increasingly agitated.
Remembering what I could about Theros, I couldn’t help but feel my foot was in my mouth.
“You and Elspeth quelled Xenagos’ apotheosis, before Heliod…” I couldn’t finish.
“That’s all I wanted to know.” Ajani’s mood was somber, “Come, we have work to do.”
After teaching me a few basics of swordplay, Ajani went back inside the castle, telling me to go back to my room.
I stood there, drenched in sweat, If I can even find it. I thought to myself. I wonder where I could possibly bathe here. Man I need to work out more!
Deciding to wing it, I started walking into the entrance hall.
This place is huge! How am I ever gonna find it?
Looking for my room, I had plenty of time to think about my situation.
How is everybody doing back home? How soon could I return? Would anyone believe me if I did?
Resolving to not talk about what I knew anymore, I continued my search and came upon a particularly large wooden door, from which came the wonderful smell of cooking food. I didn’t know what kind of food, but I hadn’t eaten since I’d gotten there, so I didn’t really care. Walking into the large room, there were tables set up like a cafeteria, simple chandeliers with large candles loomed overhead while torches with eerily constant flames lined the walls. In the far right corner, a hallway opened up to what looked like a kitchen, with wooden counters lined up like they were for serving food in a line.
Floating over to the source of my drooling, I found steaming plates of strange meats, assorted baked goods, and various other cuisines that I couldn’t even begin to recognize. Admiring the food a bit too closely, a voice rang from behind the counter.
Jumping, I gasped, “Um, yes please!”
Seeing who it was, I saw a towering giant of a man, skin with a sheen like silver, and an assortment of tattered, loosely fitting clothes of vaguely Arabic appearance.
“Karn?” I guessed,
“You would be correct.” He answered, “How is it you know my name?”
“Long story.” I shrugged off the question, “I’m Markus, nice to meet you.”
“Pleasure.” Karn said flatly, “Please, take whatever suits your fancy.”
“I will. Thanks.” Smiling, I loaded my plate with as much as I could, I wanted to try everything.
Sitting at the closest table, I sat and began to taste each dish. Unfortunately, they were all delicious, so I wolfed them down fairly quickly.
“Feel free to take seconds and thirds if you wish, there’s plenty here.” I heard Karn yell behind me, “I’ll be in the back if you need anything.”
“Mmhmm! Thnnk yuuu!” What else could I say with a full mouth?
As I sat down after getting a second plate, I couldn’t help but wonder,
Why has Karn been reduced to being a lunch lady? Doesn’t Mirrodin still need his help?
Pondering this along with everything else that I’d learned that day, I had a lot to acclimate to.