The Importance of the Impossible
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MtG Fan Fiction

Posted by A.E. Marling in Uncategorized

The Ixalan Magic Story set up multiple narrative promises, all of which were broken. This fan fiction explores what it might’ve looked like in War of the Spark if they had been kept.

Date on Tin Street

Vraska and Jace sat outside in an eerily peaceful Tin Street Market. Goblins moved carefully between the stalls, not racing and bumping into anyone. When a clumsy krovod knocked over an urn full of peppers, the merchant didn’t start screaming. Even the birds of paradise on display in cages seemed quiet.

“The city hasn’t recovered yet.” Vraska sipped her coffee, savoring its bitter strength.

“Yes,” Jace said from across the barrel table. He breathed in his coffee’s steam. “All the minds around us are fizzing with anxiety. And awe.”

Gazes lingered on Vraska and Jace. A Boros minotaur bent down to whisper in the ear of her fellow guardsman. “That’s them! The couple that outsmarted the dragon.”

“Oh, aye! The Guildpact and the gorgon!”

One young goblin girl stared up at Vraska, rapt, her little green mouth hanging open and half full with of some sort of insect she had been munching.

Vraska’s cheeks burned, and her fingers prickled with a wild thrill that went all the way up her arms to her chest. Once, she had aspired to nothing more than to be unseen. Now each time she had to tell herself they didn’t stare because she was a monster to be feared, locked up, and beaten. No, she was respected not only as the Queen of the Golgari but also for defeating Bolas.

“It still feels unreal,” Vraska said. “That the plan we made on Ixalan, a plane away, worked here.”

“Bolas anticipated many things, but not us.”

Not their love, if love it was. Vraska was very aware of Jace’s presence beside her, though they didn’t touch as they finished their coffees, and walked side-by-side down Tin Street. “Did you hear what the Boros guards said?”

“I did, and they shouldn’t call you that. ‘The gorgon,’ I mean.”

“And just what’s wrong with being a gorgon?”

Jace went pale. Paler. “No, no, they should know your name. And title. Captain—er, Queen Vraska.”

“The whole city know me? I’m not sure I should like that.” Vraska stopped in front of the bookshop. When she had been young, the color of its door had been faded, but now it was freshly painted green. “Here we are, the Broken Spine.”

“That’s its name? A bit morbid, isn’t it?”

“Yes, the poor books. I never thought of that as a child, though.” When Vraska walked the last steps toward her favorite bookshop, she felt a whirling lightness. It was like all the years were lifting away, all the hurt, all the blood, and she was new to the world and afraid of nothing.

Jace stopped short of the door. “The sign says closed.”

“It’s open for us.” Vraska nibbled at her lower lip. “I may have bought the shop.”

“Really? Good for you.”

“…and carted all the books into the undercity. I was worried they might be damaged in the invasion.”

Jace squinted into the brown-tinted windows. “Wait, those shelves don’t look empty.”

“After we won, after it was over, I asked the kraul to carry the books back. For this. For us.” Vraska felt her skin burning again. People hadn’t stopped staring. She rushed for the cover of the shop.

Before she could reach the doorknob, it swung open. The Certus Assassin Nevitlili stepped out with dvarkin grace and closed the door behind Vraska and Jace. She would guard the exterior along with Jace’s Guildpact guards.

They were alone in the Broken Spine. The shop smelled like she remembered. Vraska savored the scent of musty pages and warm parchment. Her heart began to slow, her chest untighten, and she could breathe all the way down her legs to her toes.

Jace leaned closer to a bookshelf and cocked an eyebrow. “‘The Goblin’s Pot: How to Win a Food Fight’ is that a cooking book? It’s next to, ‘Encyclopedia of Parasites, volume 2’; and the Fanged Gentleman.’ How are these ordered?”

“They probably aren’t,” Vraska said. “That last is a romance. Reshelved by kraul, remember.”

Jace flipped open the romance novel. “Ahem! ‘His doublet was heavy with blood. The vampire shrugged it off slowly, languorously, exposing the tight musculature of his chest inch by immortal inch.’ Have you read this?”

“I read a lot.” For a moment she remembered herself alone as a child in the undercity, reading by mushroom fluorescence. She blinked and examined the disorganized shelf. “This will be even more of a treasure find.”

“What are we looking for?”

“Good question.” She wondered what she expected out of coming here with Jace. It was a date, and yet she felt like someone else had arranged it. The other Vraska, the ship’s captain from Ixalan, that was the woman who had made a promise with a telepath in the heart of a forbidden city.

If her memories could be believed. They seemed almost too bright to be real. They had flooded back with a shimmering rush, and even now she was tearing up thinking of it. What if Jace is manipulating me? What if the memories of us together are lies? Every detail in them rang true, and yet taken all as one, she couldn’t believe them.

She and Jace, enemies adventuring together over sea and land, and with a broken compass, finding themselves. Who could believe that?

“When asked what I am, I’m often at a loss.” Jace’s voice startled her, so close inside the crowded shop. “How do we explain what we are, Planeswalkers? Now I think it’s like always being in a bookshop. Any plane you want, within reach. Always standing between infinite possibilities.”

He ran his fingers over the spines of a row of books, and she felt a tingle across her back. Vraska said, “A good bookshop reminds me of the undercity, dusty, narrow passages, and full of secrets.”

“And you get to relish the choice of where to go next.” Jace pulled out a book. “‘Stoicism: Mental Fitness for Warriors.’ I wonder if Gideon would like this.”

“Keep it. You can give it to him after he gets back from that demon-hunt-safari thing with the necromancer.”

Jace nodded, tucking the book in his cloak. “It feels strange, staying on Ravnica while the rest of the Gatewatch goes away. Chandra and Nissa are headed to a plane Ikoria, sightseeing. And they deserve it, after all they’ve been through. They all do. But here I am.”

“‘The Guildpact belongs on Ravnica.’”

“Yes, I said that. And now I have an hour blocked off in my schedule until Lavinia sends a sphinx to fetch me.”

Vraska stiffened. “You sound like you would rather be anywhere else.”

“I’m nervous.” He turned to her and met her gaze. “What to say, what to do, so many choices to make, and I worry I’ll get one wrong. Or them all wrong.”

Vraska might have been worrying a little about that too. How could this ever work, between the Guildpact and a Golgari queen, between one of the Gatewatch with their silly oaths and her, an assassin in a gown. She felt like she was only pretending with him.

And yet on Ixalan, he had been one of her crew. He had called her captain. And just now he had met a gorgon’s eyes, and the only thing he had been afraid of was disappointing her.

Vraska turned away, hiding whatever expression was pinching her face. Safely looking over books, she asked, “Gideon and the necromancer, they aren’t together, like Chandra and Nissa, are they?”

“No, no, only fighting partners.” Jace cleared his throat, twice. “If I do something wrong, no, when I do, please tell me. I will correct my mistake for you.”

The earnestness in her voice tugged on one of her returned memories, of him on the The Belligerent mastering knots with such ease. She remembered how the sea spray had played over her tendrils. Rolling her shoulders, she felt the knots within her loosen.

“I will, Jace, and I will need time to get used to all this. To what we were. What we are.”

“That’s more than reasonable.” Jace pulled something out from beneath his cloak, and by reflex Vraska flicked out a concealed dagger.

He was holding out a book, she, a weapon. “Sorry,” they said at once.

“You brought a book into a bookshop?” Vraska sheathed the blade.

Jace held it out to her. “I knew they wouldn’t have this one.”

It was a different book than the one he had taken for Gideon. Its brown leather binding felt familiar under her skin, smooth and pebbly, yes it the texture of a catacomb crocodile. The book’s spine glinted with the script, ‘The History of the Golgari.’

“What a beautiful book, and I’ve never heard of this one before. Who’s it by?”

“You, I hope,” Jace said with a timid grin.

The pages were blank. She ran her fingers over the good paper and listened to them rustle as she flipped to the end.

“I thought you might like to write a history for once, Vraska.”

“My own history? But that would be a memoir.” She folded the book against her chest. Vraska realized she was smiling. “As I recall, you like memoirs best.”

“Memoir or history, I should like to read your book, My Captain.”

“And I think, Jace, that I want you to be in it.”

Vraska blinked, surprised she had said that. She turned back to the shelves, not to browse, only to collect her thoughts, and yet one familiar book pulled at her focus. Her fingers rested on a slender volume, across the spine were threaded letters, some worn away by many eager hands but, she recognized the book in an instant. “It’s, ‘Very, Very Vizzerdrix.’”

“What?” Jace asked.

As he neared, Vraska tried to shove the book back in its shelf. “Ah-ha! Nothing, just a children’s book.”

“It sounds like it was your favorite.”

“Maybe it was,” Vraska said.

“I’ve never heard of a Vezzer-what-was-it?”

“Vezzerdrix, a big pink rabbit thing with fangs. Either Simic or made up.”

“I would like to read it.”

“You may look young for your age, Jace, but you’re not young enough for this book.”

“Then let’s read it together. We’ll feel equally foolish.”

She slid the book out again and weighed it in her hand. Well, at least she knew it was harmless. But reading a book with someone, alongside them? She hadn’t done that since forever.

“Is this the only chair?” Jace stood in front of what looked like a throne overstuffed with red cushions. It had obviously come from a Rakdos club, but how had it got there?

“I suspect we have Storrev of the Erstwhile to thank for this. She has opinions about me, and about us.” Vraska would have words with the lady lich later.

The seat was big enough for two, but their hips had to touch. Vraska felt self-conscious settling in beside Jace. It wasn’t fear of creasing her dress. The royal fungus would regrow to its original shape. No, he was very close. She told herself she was overreacting, but it seemed like his heat soaked into her waist, up her chest, and all the way to the tips of her tendrils.

She snapped the book open. Vibrant pictures filled its pages of the fanged Vizzerdrix bounding over a dreamscape. She remembered this, yes, from a time of scraped knees and elbows from crawling through the undercity after goblins had thrown bricks at her. Reading had been a time of safety in an unsafe city. She took a deep breath, and yes, she felt safe.

Vraska read the first line, “The Vizzerdrix loved to play very very nasty tricks….”

She flipped the page but she didn’t need to look at the words. She knew the rest by heart. They trickled up within her. When Jace had returned the knowledge of their time in Ixalan, it had come in a flash flood. That night booming with thunderstorm, with the guildmasters gathered before Bolas’s Citadel, Jace had called her his captain. It had felt so right that she went along with it, the plan, even though she wasn’t sure if she believed it.

A month had screamed by since Bolas had fallen. She had time to digest it from atop her stone throne, alone in her chambers in front of her emerald mirror, and together with the Gatewatch in the plane-wide celebration. In every spare moment she had relived her time with Jace on Ixalan, and she found a glittering truth.

Vraska trusted her memories. She trusted Jace, and she trusted this.

She turned another page, still speaking from memory. “‘The Vizzerdrix was very very sorry….” Vraska smiled because she knew this one ended happily ever after.

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