Fragments: An Alara Anthology Chapter 1

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Hello all! You may remember a few days ago when the Magic: Expanded Multiverse’s first major production was announced, Fractured: An Alara Anthology.

Well, we of the Expanded Multiverse are very proud to represent the finished product. But not yet. Over the next two weeks, the stories contained in the finished, fully stylized PDF file will be released right here, on the Flavor & Storylines forums, followed by the reveal of the PDF file itself, where you can see the brilliant artwork of our resident Keeperofmanynames.

Without further ado, here is Chapter 1: The Shards of Alara.

Akrasan Squire

Akrasan Squire

by Mercer

After hours of arguing, yelling, and general disobedience, the boy finished the night by refusing to go to sleep until he'd been told a story. The mother obliged.

"Fine, Taruk," Mahzahdi said as she tucked her child in under blankets of eagle down. "This is a story of many years ago, when I was still actively serving in Akrasa's military."

Taruk's eyes lit up and the boy grinned. These were always his favorite stories, those of his parents' days on the battlefield. "Oh, okay," the boy said, failing completely to hide his enthusiasm.

"Well, a long time ago, Valeron and Jhess were at war. The war lasted for many weeks. On one day of the war, ritual battle was called by both sides, and I was chosen to be a part of it. The focus was a young knight, barely in her twentieth year, and with enough sigils from her honorable deeds that she might soon become a paladin. I'll call her Collette. She was athletic and dutiful, but small for a knight. She showed no fear to her coterie, but I think she was scared. How could she not be? She was the one that would fight, and only the sigils of a dozen squires, soldiers and knights would be her battalion.

"It was then that we met Jhess's champion--Brynlonn, a rhox ten feet tall and three of us wide." Taruk's eyes widened, but Mahzahdi continued. "The whole coterie was paralyzed with fear. His footsteps shook the ground, and you could feel his voice in his chest. He called out, 'Jhess has chosen my power to bring their victory! Though we six are not weighed down with mere trinkets like you, my strength and training are unmatched!' All of us engaged in the preparatory rituals, we dozen and their six.

"Finally, it was time to fight, and it was brutal. For every strike, Collette barely dodged or was knocked about even as she blocked. As the power of our honor was further channeled through the sigils, Collette was able to deflect Brynlonn's hammer or more easily dodge his strikes. And then finally--and I'll always remember this--the songs of angels were coming from the sigils, and light surrounded Collette like a blanket. She dodged another of Brynlonn's swings and retorted with a mighty sword strike that cut through the rhox's armor and knocked him to the ground."

"What happened then?"

"Well, Collette got right on top of that rhox--so big she could stand on his chest with plenty of room to spare--and pointed her longsword at his face. She demanded that he surrender, and he did."

"Wow. She sounds strong."

"But she wasn't. She was short and thin and barely came up to the rhox's tummy."

"So how did she beat him?"

"Each sigil that empowered her, each squire serving her... Taruk, on this world, honor and virtue and obedience are more powerful than even a rhox's muscle. Remember that when you start being disagreeable," added a smiling Mahzahdi, tousling his hair playfully.

There was a grin on Taruk's face as he finally allowed himself to start drifting off to sleep. Mahzahdi quietly left her son's room, and outside, her husband waited for her.

"Why didn't you let him know where that story actually came from, 'Collette?'" asked the warmly smiling former knight.

"The angels smile on humility, too, Farzha," smiled Mahzahdi, and they both stepped towards their room for bed. Mahzahdi paused briefly on the way to gaze at her first paladin's sigil, mounted on the wall, awarded on the Jhessian shore after a battle against a grey-skinned behemoth whose power never matched her virtue.



by Skibo


Tara picked through the dense jungle as nimbly as a Nacatl. The jungle was alive with sound, birds roosting in the branches, wind ruffling the leaves, and humans hunting far below her on the ground. But the sound that most stood out, the one that kept her moving, was the dying cries of a gargantuan.

The beast had collapsed at the edge of her town’s territory, as the village healer, she felt obliged to see what could be done to save the beast’s life. But as she approached the location of the fallen giant, she felt a twinge of fear.

Though she had lived in the same jungles as the behemoths her entire life, she had never actually interacted with one. Her entire life was lived within the village, and each step further away from it made her realize how little she actually knew about the massive creatures.

Her thoughts were shattered every few moments by the deafening din of the behemoth’s howls. It needed her, it was hurt and dying. She was a healer, and it needed healing.

She put her fears aside, and pushed forwards.

Abruptly she stepped out of the jungle and into a clearing. A clearing in the jungle is a rare sight. The forest’s growth is relentless and any bare patch of soil is quickly swallowed.

She stood in stunned awe at the sight before her. Trees toppled as far as she could see, and in the center of it all was a mountain of flesh and bone. In its mad thrashing, it had cleared a large swath of forest, but now it laid hunched over, exhausted.

Tara climbed down from the canopy and approached the ancient beast from the ground.

The next few days were a flurry of activity. Trying to apply her healing magic to something the size of her village took considerable effort. She collected bushels of herbs by day while it thrashed about and howled, and worked on its wounds at night while it slept.

She was fighting a losing battle. The leaf patches she sowed to cover the wounds didn’t staunch the blood, and her healing magic barely touched wounds larger than herself. It was going to die…. She knew that in the back of her mind. The beast knew it as well, it stopped thrashing and laid still, breathing heavily as its chest rose and fell with the sun.

Then, one day, it happened. While working on the chest wound, Tara and the behemoth locked eyes. In that moment she knew it was thanking her, but urging her to give up. It had accepted its fate. It was ready to die.

The behemoth that had been the center of her world for weeks was done. She could admit it to herself now. She took the last of the painkilling herb she had collected and placed it into the noble giant’s wound. Its body eased as it drifted off to sleep. She wiped a tear from her eye as she climbed up to the canopy to await its death.

Part of her told her to leave, because she couldn’t bear watching the gargantuan die. But part of her told her to stay, because she would never forgive herself for letting it die alone. So she stayed, and waited.

She awoke in the night to a chorus of howls. She looked out into the twilight to see the gargantuan’s herd gathered around it. Like great trees they circled the dying beast, mournfully crying out to their fallen leader. The chorus of the scions rang through the forest and deep into Tara’s heart.

When she awoke the next morning, the herd was gone and the gargantuan was dead.

Tara stopped by the corpse one last time before heading out. In time the behemoth’s body will decompose, cover in soil, and transform into a fertile hill. And though she couldn’t prevent it’s death… she had forged a kinship with the giant beast, and that filled her with pride.

She had left her town as a healer. She would return a godtoucher.

On the hunt

On the hunt

by BornToDie17

Three days had passed since they started following the human hunters. Three days away from their mountains to adventure through the forest. Ach! The forest isn’t the place for a goblin. It’s filled with dangers, just like the plant which ate Nars. Killed by the flora, that’s a bad death even for a goblin. He wouldn’t end like that. But now, now they were so close to their prize. He could almost taste the fresh meat. Their preys were weakened from the journey, the figh…

A scream brought back Ruuk to the hunt. Bokd was charging headlong towards the surprised humans. He should have charged immediately, alongside the rest of them, instead he hesitated. The battle was going to be difficult, they were outnumbering their preys only two to one. When they begun trailing them they were four to one, but the forest has no mercy for goblins. Ach! Just like everything else in the world. All he could hope for was a nice death. Not like Serg who drowned while they were crossing the river. Some of that water would’ve been nice, he was thirs…

Fignar pulled Ruuk by the arm, out of his mind and into the fight. Their preys were putting up a ferocious resistence. After all, they were hunters. The four sons of Murlk bravely fought against a single surrounded human. Zorv fell when he stumbled over Bokd corpse. Poor Bokd: first to charge, first to fight, first to die, as always with goblin raids. Well, being killed in battle is a fine death all in all. Muax downed a warrior maiden and got killed while stunned for the emotion. That’s the prize goblins receive for their prowess. Murf and Orgyl fell together to a single spear, ending like meat on a spit. They sort of funny, in a sick way. Svafn ducked an axe swing, jumping behind a tree and quickly answered with his javelin.
The skirmish was not going well for the goblins: a crazied human, covered in scars, was rabidly taking down goblin after goblin, unfairly seeking single combat. Joop, Trab and Ghiw fled from the battlefield, while Limn instead opted for a strategical retreat. Fignar’s spear finally put an end to the man’s frenzy.

Then, through the heat of battle, Ruuk suddenly felt a much more tangible heat. The prey of the human hunters. The biggest hunter of them all. Now it was everybody for himself. He run and then he run and then he run. And then he tripped. He looked back to see he was already safe. A scaly snout, two angry eyes and dozens of hungry teeth answered a roaring NO!
Even though he was paralyzed by fear, Ruuk felt somewhat proud. He wouldn’t have bitten the dust against some damned humans. Fate reserved for him the most honourable of deaths. He was goin…

The dragon’s hunger interrupted his last thoughts. If Ruuk still had been able to think inside the beast’s stomach, he would have been satisfied.

Memento Mori

Memento Mori

by Tevish Szat


From across the dregscape the word had come. To every bolt-hole and every hideout, every hidden, secret fortification, every point of light where vitals rallied against the death and the dark, the word had come. Not since the fall of Sedraxis, Vithia’s once shining jewel, had such words been uttered as were passing in whispers between the mortal holdouts. Not since forever had anyone dared whisper the word hope upon the dregscape, and yet through its vastness the word had come all the same.

Not everyone listened to it. Some knew better, that this new rumor of a land of safety was nothing more than rumor, at best a fever-dream shrieked and echoing across the dying halls then carried upon to distant climes that knew not its provenance and at worst yet another guileful trap to lure those last holdouts from their places of safety, onto the dregscape to die. Still, the word had come, the message was clear. Come home, scattered children of Grixis. Come to Vithia’s heart and its soul, somewhere you will be safe and provided for. Come out of the darkness.

Adar Hahn had forced himself to believe in the words that came on the lips of weary travelers, of the tales of a Vithian retreat where the stink of fetor and decay was warded out of every street by perfumed censers, of a place where they had banished the demons and the banewasps and the slaves of the necromancer barons that stalked around every corner and in every shadow. For his wife and his daughter, he had forced himself to believe.

The road was harsh and long. At times, it didn’t seem clear, but the longer they followed clandestine signposts and countless whispers rising together to a secretive roar, the more he was certain their path, however long and however hard, wasn’t leading onward into doom. A trap, after all, would have been kinder to itself and incidentally to its victims, ensnaring them swiftly once they were past the confines of their bolt-holes and hideouts, not after months of pilgrimage across the rotted world.

Grixis itself, though, had always had a way of refusing to be kind.

The Kathari were circling lower that day than they had for the past few, as though they knew somewhere in their rotted minds that something was going to happen. The sky, raging and acrid high above, was oddly still, rarely spitting flashes of lightning from cloud to cloud, more a dark mass than a raging, festering horror.

They struck from the earth, not from the darkness like they had before, but from the very ground beneath their feet, as though the dregscape itself was hungry for more carrion. Adar Hahn watched in horror as the bones sprung up, as his wife was impaled and the spears drank up her blood before it could be wasted and spilled upon the earth. He could do nothing but watch as foam pink with blood roiled over the lips he had kissed in stolen, tender moments, as her visage became pale and, life draining from her, she mouthed the word “Run”.

It was the encouraging he needed. He had a daughter to live for, and the only thought one could spare for the dead was to set their bodies alight so the necromancers would not take them. Adar Hahn filled his mind with a burning need to get his child to safety, and when her short legs couldn’t carry her, he took her hand to pull her along a little faster as she cried and screamed for her mother.

Grixis always knew your weaknesses. Sooner or later, Grixis always struck them. Sooner, rather than later, it came for his daughter.

Panic and exhaustion were what drew the Kathari, he was sure. They came down on their sickly black wings, and Adar Hahn raised the rusty knife he kept as a weapon in defiance. He knew they were bluffing: he was alive, and far too large to carry off as prey. The Kathari knew it too, and when he put both hands on his knife to ward them off, one swooped down behind, and bore his child into the air.

If that had been it, he would have followed, would have dared to hope to find her alive at some foul nest, but the child as well was too much for the Kathari to bear for long. She gave some final struggle, and fell from the bird-thing’s grasp, down onto the dregscape. By the time Adar Hahn crossed the terrain to where she had fallen, he had to fight off the Kathari, yelling and flailing at them to see what he dearly had not wanted to see: just another mangled corpse, somewhat smaller than most, split asunder and torn apart on the dregscape.

It was the day after that Adar Hahn found the stranger, or the stranger found him. He had lost his orientation, his way to Vithian salvation, so to see another vital was welcome relief. If the stranger, twisted as he was, was a necromancer or a servant, he told himself he would be glad. Maybe the dead didn’t remember.

The stranger had a hovel, of sorts, and invited Adar Hahn in. He brewed concoctions that smelled of something other than rot, noxious herbs relieving in their difference. They sat in silence for a time, and then the stranger spoke, his smooth, deep voice soothing most of Adar Hahn’s mind but putting the hair on the back of his neck on pricking edge.

“You have a look about you of a man treated unfairly.” He said. “Let me guess, on a wild pilgrimage for utopia?”

“You could call it that.” Adar Hahn admitted.

“And you’ve realized… it isn’t what you dreamed.”

“My family…”

“Say no more.” The stranger replied, giving the hints of a smile. “I know how it is. All too common. You’ve found your way to the right place. I can help.”


“I can make you forget. Piece by piece, until you’re at peace.”

“What does it cost?”

The stranger grinned, his crooked, yellow, and rotting teeth more predatory than inviting. “Nothing you will lament being rid of.”

* * * * *

Adar Hahn woke up in a strange place. He remembered, vaguely, entering the hovel, and remembered that it was near another one, belonging to a stranger. Why was he there alone?

He remembered his pilgrimage. He could remember the call. Come to Vithia. Come to its haven. Come where it’s safe and pure.  He had been traveling there with his wife and his daughter. He remembered them at his side just the night before. Where were they?

“Layana!” he called, his voice echoing across the darkness. “Alya?” Neither answered, and he stepped out of the small tent, noting the larger hovel adjoining it. Had he just taken the worse set of hospitality?

No, he wouldn’t have… He couldn’t remember splitting from them, was sure he’d rather sleep on a floor with bone shards than let his wife out of his sight.

“Layana, where are you?”

A stranger came out from the hovel, his back hunched with protruding bone, his yellow, rotted smile somehow both kind and cruel. The stranger shambled forward.

“Now, now.” He said, “Don’t worry about that.”

“It’s my wife!” Adar Hahn shouted, “My wife and my daughter! How can I not worry?”

The man frowned, shook his head, and patted Adar Hahn on the shoulder. “You must be confused right now, but trust me, it will pass.”

“Where is my family?”

“Do you really want to know?”


“You’re wrong.”

“How can you say that?”

“I know you better than yourself, Adar Hahn.” The stranger said, smiling again.


“Let me tell you a story.” The stranger replied, “Once upon a time there was a man sitting upon the dregscape. He had no idea who he was, or why he was there. A demon appears next to him, and asks him what is his third boon. The man looks at the demon in confusion, and says he cannot recall a first or a second. The demon produces a contract with the man’s signature, and says that for his soul he was granted three boons, but that his second choice was to undo the first.  The man thinks, and says he knows what his third boon shall be. He wants to know all about himself, and all about where he is and why. He wants the answers to all his questions about the world and the past.  The demon grins and says it knew that would be his choice. Can you guess, Adar Hahn, why that is?”


“Because, the demon says, that was the first boon I granted you.”

“So you’re saying I’m the man on the dregscape?”

“Was it so obvious?”

“And that would make you the demon.”

The stranger laughed. “If you want to think of it that way.” He reached a hand towards Adar Hahn’s forehead. “But trust me, you wanted this. And it is for the best.”

Adar Hahn’s world went black.

* * * * *

His hand quivered, and he forced himself to still it. The words needed to be crisp and clear. This would be his legacy to himself, his record should the stranger come again. He had already lost so much! He was sure of that score, though how much of himself was gone he couldn’t say. The fetid earth of the dregscape burned well enough, sputtering and charring into a black mass that he crushed to power with a fragment of bone. He hoped he had enough as he put a tough, thick strip of leather between his teeth and took the razor in his left hand, pressing it to his skin. By the time he was done with his right arm, it would be in agony, and his left would look no cleaner than the right. If he started the other way, his right arm would be illegible and therefore useless. Small cuts, he told himself. Careful.

Your name is Adar Hahn, he wrote in his flesh. The razor wasn’t as sharp as he had hoped, but that was good. The words would scar well. He rubbed the black dreg soot into the wounds, then washed off the skin around the wounded words with what little water he had. The lines appeared black as night against his pale flesh. They would scar black. His future would have a past.

You have a wife named Layana, he wrote, You have a daughter named Alya. Find them. Find your family.

He could remember their names, and their faces barely, and Adar Hahn knew that he wouldn’t have left without them. He couldn’t remember why he was on the dregscape: the stranger had stolen that much from him, but Adar Hahn would make sure the stranger would take no more. Rubbings of soot over razor cuts, vague washing attempts, examining the bitter scars. Flesh was the only constant on Grixis, the only thing that was ever really yours. He put his testament in permanent, living flesh. He switched the razor to his now unsteady right hand

Do not trust the stranger, he wrote, The man with the bone-hunched back. The man with the cruel smile. Do not trust him. Do not let him near you. He has stolen your life. Do not trust the stranger.

When his work was finished, Adar Hahn stepped out onto the Dregscape. The stranger was waiting, and looked at Adar Hahn with a frown.

“How many times?” he asked pleasantly, “How far shall I have to go? And look what you’ve done to yourself now.”

“You did this to me!” Adar Hahn yelled. “You stole my life!”

The stranger shook his head. “You sold it to me.” He said, “Just to be rid of it.”

“Where is my family?”

“I thought you might ask that.” He shuffled forward, and Adar Hahn brandished the razor.

“Stay back!”

“It’s for your own good, too.” He said, “I’ve been a generous friend to you, Adar Hahn, but you leave me no choice.  I suppose it was always going to come to this.”


* * * * *

The man looked across the world he had no word for. Something about it was revolting, deep down in the core of his being, but he ignored that little twinge and took in the air. It smelt the same as it always had, just like the land looked like it always had. He couldn’t remember why or how it was this way, but he was sure nothing had changed.

He sat down on the hill he had woken up on, put his elbows on his knees, rested his head in his hands, and watched the roiling sky and rotting ground, so strange yet so familiar.

There were markings on his arms, he noticed, strange black lines that gave him a slight pause. He thought they might be… words? But he couldn’t decipher them, their lines and curves holding no meaning at all. He knew what words were, how to think them, and as he muddled with his mouth how to say them. But how to see them? No, there was no way. They couldn’t be words, he must have been mistaken Maybe, like the ground and the sky, those marks had always been there.


* * * * *

The lethemancer examined the dull, fractured crystal that contained Adar Hahn’s bartered memories. His whole life, down to learning how to read and write. It was more than the usual pay, more complete and pure than any he had harvested in a long time. Perhaps this would be a token worth something. Perhaps, he thought as he placed Adar Hahn’s memories alongside a few others, he would have enough now to buy back something of his own. He fancied his name first. It would be good to have a name again, and after seeing Adar Hahn, he worried that history might not be what he really wanted to trade for.



by Skibo

The Crafter scowled as he looked over his latest creation. It was leaning slightly to the left. He had made a mistake. A human mistake.

He hated mistakes.

He slammed his fists into the table, splintering it. Why couldn’t he sculpt today? Instinctively he checked his etherium enhanced arms. They were undamaged.

They were perfect.

He turned away from his creation” This was his fourth mistake today. Crafter wrapped his hands around the tiny living sculpture and crushed it into slag. He then stepped down the table crushing each of his mistakes in turn until the table was filled with slag.

Something was wrong.

The fourth homunculus was missing. That ugly thing with misshaped limbs, too flat and wide. The Crafter looked out his open window to see a tiny figure walking haphazardly along the canal that ran through the alley. Such a valuable supply of etherium could not be lost.

Crafter backed up and jumped out the window. He didn’t worry about injury. His body was more metal than flesh, and any damage he could repair himself. He landed awkwardly on his leg, it buckles and snapped. Crafter lurched forwards and rolled into the canal.

This was bad.

The water passed through the holes in his hands and slipped through the large gaps in his legs. He failed and gasped, and howled as his head slipped under the water. He wished he replaced his lungs when he last underwent etherium infusion.

What a stupid way to die.

Just then his head was pulled up out of the water, and he gasped fresh air. His misshapen creation had affixed itself to him. Its broad flat arms cut through the water and propelled the tiny creature against the current and towards the bank. Crafter had to admit, if the homunculus were perfect, it would have been unable to battle these currents.

Back at his apartment, the Crafter repaired his leg. By his side, his minion hopped up and down. The Crafter smiled peering down at this plucky little object. He patted it on the head…

Then crushed it into slag.

“The next one,” he said, “will be perfect.”

Behemoth's Herald

Behemoth's Herald

by heyra666


The elf child clung to her father’s leg as she was brought to the priest at noonday. The girl didn’t like the priest. His demeanor scared her, the way his eyes seemed empty and wild when he stared into hers. But her father comforted her and she walked with him to the temple. He motioned to her then, with a crooked finger and a rasping, harsh voice.

“Hello there, little one.”

“Hello,” she mumbled, suddenly incredibly fearful of the fragile creature before her. Something in his voice, perhaps, or maybe it was the eyes. The child shied away even further from the priest, leaving the safety of her father’s presence for the first time during the meeting. She looked around, desperate to find something to look at other than the withered figure before her. The young eyes fixed on an oakenwood staff leaning in the corner as if discarded in a hurry. The grainy surface was carved into twisting, turning patterns, tracing images across the young girl’s eyes. A fang changed into a talon with a shift of the light, another transformed it into the head of a great beast that the girl had once seen in an old storybook. The old elf gently picked up the staff and extended it towards the child. As she reached out to touch the twisting wood, he began to speak again.

“Child, you have been chosen for a great duty. Do you understand the importance of your role today?”

The child shook her head silently.

“Really?” The wizened old elf turned to the father. “I thought you would have told her the old stories.”

The father looked down and grunted. “We thought that as she was to come here, it would be best for you to tell her. You do know the tales better than the rest of the village.”

The old man thought for a few seconds, idly stroking the intricately carvings, before replying. “That is true. Well then, little one, come here and I’ll tell you a story from when the world was young.” The child walked hesitantly over to the priest, eyes mesmerized by the ever-shifting staff. She sat down before him, and he reached out to muss her auburn hair affectionately. She shied away from his hand, and with a sad, resigned sigh he began his story.

“Long ago, when Naya was young, the Great Hydra rampaged through our world, destroying the races who populated it. The thing was an enormous beast with five heads and iridescent skin, shimmering with a glorious sheen that left any living witness in awe of the monstrous creature’s great beauty. The Nacatl were devoured in their canopy cities, the humans trampled into the dirt. We elves were caught in the path of the Great One as well, until a mighty Anima sealed him away in a state of eternal slumber, his heads resting on the forest floor with a resounding crash that brought the mountains down, burying his body in rubble.

“From his sleeping body sprang the gargantuans that roam our land, the beasts that govern our lives from sunrise to sunset. The gargantuans are as numerous as the stars and as unique as you and I. So often have we needed to move entire villages in order to evade the path of these beasts. Usually that is enough. However, a few exceptional behemoths emerged from the Sleeping Lord as well, beasts that cannot simply be avoided, but must be sated by blood and fire. I hope you understand how important you will be to the village and how grateful we all are to you, my little one.” The child began to ask a question, bewildered by the priest’s last entreaty, but the priest put up a hand to silence her. “There is no time, and we must go. Your questions will be answered in time, my dear.” The child nodded and stood up.

Suddenly, her father pressed a bundle of herbs to her mouth and nose, which emitted a sweet, ashy smell that clouded the girl’s nose and mind. She struggled weakly, but she was young and weak, and the scent overwhelmed her. She collapsed into her father’s arms.

* * * * *

When the child awoke, she was bound and gagged. She looked down and saw that she was lying on a stone altar, which was carved in the same manner as the priest’s staff. She took a further look around and saw that she was in a clearing, a rare occurrence on Naya. And from the trees on one side of the clearing came a thunderous roar that shook the earth. The child began to scream. She screamed into her gag, screaming for her father, her mother, anyone. Crashing sounds arose from the trees and the beginnings of a clawed foot spanning a quarter mile came into view. The child’s screams turned into cries, then whimpers, the moans, until she broke down into pitiful racking sobs. An eye, red as fire and as huge as the sun itself, gazed down on her, neither kind nor malevolent, simply hungry.

And the child’s father watched as his terrified daughter was eaten alive, tears of joy streaming down his face.

"Mine is an insatiable god, with appetites as magnificent as the jungle itself."




by Skibo

The sphinx Ainíssesthai woke from a long slumber and stretched his body out over his throne. Around him his staff was busy at work, polishing the floors, columns, and ceiling. Two attendants came over and polished his face plate, until the etherium metal glistened.


Ainíssesthai turned his head enough to see. In the center of the whirlwind of polishing and cleaning, a woman stood. Her body was mostly metal, infused with eitherium until her arms and legs were no more than intricate filigree work. He grinned, and contorted his body into a sitting position.

“The Lady of Scrap has come to visit me once more.”

“Indeed, I’ve brought the last shipment.” She handed him a bag, “Enough steel to finish your tower and then some. And a healthy amount of etherium thrown in to forge servants to polish it.”

The sphinx undid the knot on top of the bag and let the contents fall into his large paw. He turned the metal scrap pieces over in his paw several times, examining them for quality. Then, satisfied, placed them back in the bag and clapped his hands.

At once, all his attendants ceased working, and filed out of the room, shutting the door behind them.

Ainíssesthai gave a dramatic pause before beginning. “You’ve held up your end of the bargain, so I shall hold up mine.” The still air of the room began to stir as Ainíssesthai’s brilliant facemask began to glow azure. His eyes glazed over as if peering through eternity. The pupils darted back and forth, as if reading.

Then at once, it stopped. The great sphinx composed himself.

“In the sunken city where the scrappers dare not tread,

waits the tomb of the ancients, in the chamber of the dead,

Under the casket cover, untouched by time and tide,

Lies a box of gold, your prize awaits inside.”

* * * * *

Footsteps echoed down the flooded corridors below the streets of Eppra city. The smell of rotting steel filled the stale air. Through the dank passages the Lady of scrap walked with a stern look on her face. She shuffled quickly along. She had an appointment to keep.

She stepped into a large vaulted room. The remains of a basement of a mansion. The glorious mosaics that once stretched across the walls had long since crumbled with disrepair. Water flooded the room turning it into a still pool. The flooded hallways snaked out from this room like canals.

“Ah, good to see you Mistress. I had feared you lost your nerve.”

Argentus was something of an oddity. An adventurous individual he had made a name for himself as a guide and treasure hunter. He spoke with ease, ignoring the rank and status of those around him. A trait the Lady of scrap prided herself in having, but finding disdainful in others.

She had approached him several weeks ago with the job, delve into the sunken city of Eppra, navigate its maze of sewers, and retrieve an artifact. He had, of course, agreed at once, and set about creating the detailed plans they’d need if they were to be successful.

Today, all her dreams were coming true. She'd only need to wait a few more hours.

“I never get cold feet Argentus. Now let’s get underway.”

“As you wish, Mistress.” Argentus stepped into the waiting boat, and offered his hand. The lady of scrap ignored it and climbed in behind him. Argentus smiled to himself, and pushed off the shore with the oar. They had several hours’ worth of travel to reach the center of Eppra city.

“So what brings the queen of the scrappers to the sunken city?” Argentus said after several hours of silence.

“I lost something many years ago,” the Lady of scrap looked at her etherium enhanced hands, “I’d like to get it back.”

Argentus chuckled to himself, “I think Ainíssesthai has sent you on a wild goose chase. There’s no way anything you’ve lost could wind up here.”

“It’s here”, she wrung her hands, “I know it is.”

“Well, we’ll be arriving in the burial chamber in a moment. Just don’t get your hopes up too much.”

The corridor opened into a large burial chamber. The massive chamber had vaulted ceilings seven stories high. An oculus in the ceiling let a tiny beam of light through. The beam landed on the burial mound in the center, a patch of soil rising from the flooded room. The Lady jumped from the boat as soon as it grounded and ran up to the top of the hill. As the sphinx had spoken, an old granite casket was lying in the center.

Argentus came to the grave and ran his hands over it. It was rare to find artifacts from before metal became the norm. The granite casket was ornately carved.

“Well don’t just stand here, open it,” the lady said, nudging Argentus.

With a great labor, he pushed off the top. Before them was a veldaken skeleton. Its body glistened with talismans, jewelry, and fine clothing. At its feet laid a golden box.

The lady of scrap picked up her prize, took and deep breath, and opened it.

* * * * *

Argentus waited for several hours before grabbing the lady of scrap by the arm and pulling her into the boat. He had work to do and couldn’t wait anymore.

The lady of scrap sat in the boat and caressed her face. She peered into the curious mirror she found in the box.

In her reflection, she saw herself as she was many years ago, beautiful, without wrinkles or blemishes.

As the sphinx had promised, she had found her youth in the sunken city.

The Price of Freedom

The Price of Freedom

by Wizards_White_Knight


Consciousness returned, filling her vision with the neverending plains of the Topa Savannah. All her plans, all her ambitions, reduced to nothing by her conniving "partner". Together they had planned their heist, gaining entry inside the barracks using the good faith Gwafa had garnered over the years. She had slipped in undetected, her years of training as an Infiltrator serving her well. The Sigil's were in her grasp, when the yelling began.

Fearing that she had been spotted, she used a quick incantation, allowing her to hover up to the roof, seeking to blend into the shadows that were cast by the insufficient candlelight. Hovering above the door, pressed against the roof, she watched as Gwafa led a group of intimidating Rhox guards.

"She is here somewhere, I'm sure I noticed her slip in the gate as I was drawing my caravan within your walls."
The Rhox split up, searching the barracks for her. Betrayed by her employer, her partner in crime, Hakhana felt her blood boil. All her life, she felt different from those around her. She felt stifled by the caste system, and boggled at the lack of ambition that others displayed when it came to rising above the Mortar rank. The military offered her a chance of expansion, but it was equally confining to her sense of freedom. When she met the merchant Gwafa, she felt she had found a like soul. His ambition was refreshing to her, and although his ultimate prize seemed to be wealth (something Hakhana cared little for), she was pleased to have found someone who was willing to rebel against the system.

But it was Bant's system of Honour that Hakhana had assumed Gwafa would follow when she agreed to work with him. 'Honour  among thieves' she scoffed to herself, realizing that she had been  setup, used by the man she had judged to be just like her. She watched him, loathing him for what he was, for what she realized she must represent. Would she ever sell out a partner, a friend? No, she wouldn’t. Gwafa was something more than she, driven by greed and willing to do whatever it took to get what he wanted. If only she could draw him away from the last Rhox, she could slip her rapier in between his ribs, pierce his heart and spit on him as his lifeblood slipped out from his deceitful body.

Using another incantation she had learned as an infiltrator, she conjured a loud clanging noise at the Barracks entrance. The Rhox waiting with Gwafa hefted his halberd, and set off back the way he came, shouting orders for Gwafa to stay put. Hakhana waited a few moments, pressing herself tighter to the shadows, as the other guards ran back through the room, heading towards her distraction. When she was sure the coast was clear, she deactivated her hover spell, withdrew her rapier and lunged at Gwafa's black heart... least, she tried to. Her coin purse, the one Gwafa had insisted he give her as an advance payment, suddenly became overwhelmingly heavy. Upon deactivating her Hover spell, she fell unceremoniously to the ground.  Gwafa slowly turned around, and stared straight into her eyes.

"My dear Hakhana" he whispered, "fancy seeing you here." Slowly, without any fear, he reached down and took the Sigils from her grasp. She tried to grasp them, to hold on, but it took all her power to hold her head up. He muttered a cantrip, summoning a small pouch into his open hand.  Delibrately, he dropped the Sigils in one by one, before waving his hand and dismissing the pouch. She tried to curse at him, but found her tongue held firmly within
her mouth. Holding a finger up to his lips, he shushed her in an exaggerated fashion. With a wink, he called for the guards.

Her trial was quick, considering she was unable to speak in her own defense. The Sigils were nowhere to be found, an accomplice was assumed.  She would not (could not!) name them, she was forced to take part in the excommunication ritual. Looking around at the endless plains once more, she suddenly realized what it meant to be Bantian. The ideals of Bant were there to protect its citizens, not suppress them, to uplift a community, not an individual. She waggled her tongue, rejoicing in its freedom. Gingerly, she stood up, feeling freed from the cursed coin that Gwafa had forced her to take as sign of good faith. With a depressed sigh, she had realized that she was finally free of the caste system she had secretly railed against all her life. She was Unbeholden, her own boss, master of her own destiny.

And it felt very, very lonely.

The Contract

The Contract

by Skibo


“It doesn’t make sense.”

Sirv finished his calculations for the hundredth time. And yet it came up the same. According to his calculations there should be five varieties of magic, not three. And yet as sure as his lungs breathe, he knew his math was true.

He started a hacking fit, coughing up so much blood it turned his hand red. He was running out of time, he needed to get to Unx. He wiped the blood from his hand and rolled up his notes. They would have to wait until he return, if he returned. Before he left home, he took one last look at the tiny hovel he had carved out for himself, and closed the door.

The trip to Unx was far more taxing then Sirv expected and he reached the outskirts of the city by dusk. Using a few tricks he’d learned from clinging to life for so long, he easily evaded the large, mindless armies of Unx.

The city of Unx was a crumbling hellhole unfit for human habitation. Deep within the center of the city, rising from the city like a bone jutting out of a rotting corpse was the tower of Unx. The tower was in no better wear than the rest of the city. It leaned sharply to the right having lost much of its foundation. Ghostly fires lit the inside of the tower, the only sign of habitation in this dark dead place. Sirv headed there.

The stairs leading up the tower were crooked and in disrepair. They creaked and strained under Sirv’s light weight. Each step sapped a bit more of his strength. But after long hours, he finally took a step into the master chamber.

The room was too dark to see. A cackling laughter filled the stale air. Cold lights flared up across the room, illuminating a dark figure in the center of the room.

“It has been a long since I last tasted the scent of live flesh. Tell me why I shouldn’t drain your life now and add your corpse to my army?”

Sirv sagged under the weight of a long life. “Archdemon I have come with a deal. I have spent my entire life studying the nature of magic. I just need more time… a little more time.”

“You come to a master of death for a new lease on life? You may know magic, but you know nothing of demons.”

“Archdemon, my body is failing me. I don’t need a lease on life, I need to strip away my weakness.”

“What do you propose mage?”

“Take my vis, and turn me undead. Just leave me with my mind.”

The Archdemon’s face cracked into a wicked smile. A blue fire burst in his hand. As it contracted it congealed into a papyrus scroll. “This is a contract of unlife. With the added stipulation that when you are complete with your work you’ll return and lead one of my armies as a general.”

Sirv did not hesitate to sign it.

The years pass deep within his hovel. His cold flesh hands doing calculation after calculation. The ink worn to flesh, the flesh worn to bone, the bone worn to nubs. Years, and years, and years, and years, Page after page, identical, the same.

“…There can’t be five types…”

“…There can’t be five types…”

Violent Ultimatum

Violent Ultimatum

by Barinellos

A primordial world of fury and wrath. The dark skies overhead roiled violently, ashen clouds crackling with unnatural lightning, the hellish glow of myriad caldera painting the underbellies of the lofty overcast with fire. Perpetual storms churned Jund's primal skies, though rain would never fall, the heat of the hellish crags and spires below boiling the rain into the clouds endlessly even as it fell. Overlooking this furious horizon, buffeted by the dread zephyrs on this harsh world, a man navigated the skies.

Sarkahn Vol pumped his wings again, catching an updraft and ascending to greater heights. The exultation he normally felt at soaring the skies was muted by his black mood, a newly acquired weight that nagged at him. He had watched silently from the cliffs as the dragon mates had hunted the odd rat-like goblins of this world, picking them off in groups and circling back, one always as a distraction while the other fed. He doubted the pitiful creatures below had even known there was more than one of the great beasts feasting upon them. Satiated, the pair had flown back to their crystalline hoard and he had followed.

He had tested them then, slow witted and besotted with full bellies, but they had only been a match for the dragons he already claimed dominance over. Still, defeated and marked, they made an acceptable addition to his cadre. Not even considering the gemlike drops of sangrite he had culled from their blood during the battle. His mood lightened briefly at those thoughts. Yes, at the very least, he gained new beasts to command from this... exercise.

"These dragons are so like the warlords of home. Fighting for a dominance they already possess. Full of rage and dim with it." He wondered as he flew, if the warlords of his distant birthplace had been hunted to extinction yet, as they had done to the dragons of his homeland. He smiled once again at that semblance, hoping revenge had been visited upon those fools.

His destination loomed ahead and Sarkhan Vol began to descend, seeking the grounds of one of his favorite spots to focus himself for his ritual trance. His feet lightly grazed the ground, his boots scraping the harsh ground, and he dismissed his enchantment, staggering as the wings ripped from his flesh, dissolving into the aether as if burned from within. He staggered, feeling quartered as they departed, as if the dismissal had taken the bulk of some essential part of him with it. He called to the mana seething in the stones below his feet and tried to fill the emptiness of vitality in his soul.

Sarkahn slowly walked the path to the steppe above, his back straightening again after a few steps, the warm ferocity of the mana steeling him once more. Unnoticed, as the shaman ascended the worn stones, the scrag bushes along the path behind him shook as he climbed.

* * * * *

Sarkahn's eyes slit open, the rough stone of the plateau coming into sharp focus after his dreamlike state. His trance hadn't been long, it usually wasn't, and it still remained fruitless. Despite his best efforts he was yet again unable to locate that which he sought. He was without the dragon that was truly worthy of his worship. As his soul rose fully back to Jund, he found he was not the only seeker upon this steppe.

"You might as well come out. I know you're there." Sarkahn called.

The bushes across from his position parted and a trio of Viashino, the great ape-like lizardmen of Jund, stepped out of their shadowed and vined cover. They were all males, as far as Sarkhan could ascertain, one of them a great brute who was clearly their leader. They were all large and thick skinned, their thorny hides wrapped around massive backs and forearms. Their crocodilian jaws opened in a vibrating rumble that started deeper than their throats, from down in their distended bellies. All three carried weapons, thick paddles lined with teeth they called kikkach, and their tukatongue rope belts were hung with half rotted meat, which notably included a few human hands.

The Carrion Thrash then, just wonderful, Sarkahn thought as he stood, lifting his staff from his lap as he did. The largest, the brute wearing the necklace of teeth stepped forward.

"How nice of you to invite us out." It quipped with a harsh rumbling voice. "It is rare to find prey who will not run."

"Oh, I've no intention of running from you, beast. I want you to know what killed you." Sarkahn sneered.

The trio bristled and hissed in wounded pride. The speaker hefted both his kikkach and growled. "For that, I will lick your guts from my blade palehide." He gathered himself to charge as he spoke, his muscles bunching under his scaly hide and his claws going rigid.

"You have a big mouth." Sarkahn growled back. Mana jumped to him and his forearm swelled, sinew and skin tore and popped as scales ripped from beneath his muscle. His hand was lost as his arm terminated in an effigy of one of his great tyrants. He thrust the appendage forward and preternatural light spilled from its eyes, the maw opening and a hellish inferno spilling forth. Embers danced against the glare and the scenery was lost as the air turned to plasma and caught the charging lizardman. He had no time to scream as the dragonfire greedily ate its flesh. Moments later, Sarkahn lowered his arm and the black scaled flesh sloughed off, leaving his hand as it had been before.

The Viashino carcass staggered forward another step. Its ribs were blackened and its lungs exposed and cooked, all the flesh having been charred from its chest. Its skull was worse. Black blood oozed from its heat warped jaw as it worked in death spasms. Burst eyes wept gore and finally the corpse fell smoking to the ground with a heavy and final thump.

The other two Viashino stepped forward, clicking and rumbling in their native tongue. They both broke into jovial laughter, a hissing sort of screech, as they picked up their fallen comrade's weapons.

"What's so funny?" Sarkahn asked monotonously.

"We do not know whether or not to thank you palehide." One of the two answered in its scratchy deep voice.

"For what exactly?"

"When we kill you, we will have both raw and cooked meat for the Thrash tonight." They both broke into another fit of hysterics. Sarkahn just scowled.

"Do you have any last words palehide?" The Viashino asked as the pair edged closer.

"Words?" Sarkahn grimaced, "Words are a waste of time. Destruction is a language everyone understands."

The viashino leapt and Sarkahn called all of his mana to himself, spinning his staff in an ornate pattern as they crashed forward. He cast his head back and flung his arms out to his side as light and sound exploded outwards from his body in a wave of heat and sheer concussive force. The airborne lizardmen met the wall at full speed and fell into it, their bodies colliding with solid air and heat. They stopped in midleap as their skin and muscle was ripped from bone by the force of the explosion. Their viscera was turned to so much meat and their bones were crushed, reducing them to fragments and then to nothing more than ash and shadow in a single overwhelming instant. The wave did not stop with them as it rippled outwards, blasting the earth and scattering the remnants of the shaman's attackers to the four winds.

* * * * *

Sarkahn opened his eyes once again and gazed upon the inferno painted clouds far above. The silence around him was deafening, a dull background roar of tempestuous winds and boiling rock. Slowly he lowered his arms, gripping his staff tightly, feeling it's weight pull him down from his exertion. As his gaze fell, the sight around him had been terribly altered. The ground was volcanic glass, blown into jagged rippling miniature waves stretching outwards from where he stood at the epicenter. He bent and felt the smooth obsidian beneath his rough and cracked fingers.

"Still warm." he sighed and frowned. He had enjoyed the view from here. It was a shame to have had to sacrifice it, especially for such dim, unworthy creatures like the Carrion Thrash. He gathered the dregs of his mana, tapping into the crackling mana of mountains on worlds far flung beyond Jund. Fledgling wings slid from his back, no larger than a whelp's. Bones popped as they contorted and grew unnaturally swift. He leapt forward, dragon wings creaking as hot acidic wind filled their leathery skin. With great sweeping beats, Sarkhan Vol, soldier and shaman, began to soar away from his ruined panorama.

"Perhaps I should find a new place to seek my trance. A mountain near Rift Valley, possibly, or the tar fens of the lowland jungles." He said. "Many options to consider. An entire world's worth..." With that, Sarkahn Vol, walker of the worlds, vanished into the volcanic clouds of Jund.


42 is responsible for getting this up, incidentally. God, literally anything you do on these forums is like dragging your face through broken glass. 
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
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Good to see so many of them in one place again.
Though I will be honest, it's been so long that I'd forgotten how short so many of these were. No complaint about it, just surprise.
Yeah, the actual anthology is only 120 pages.

Granted, we formatted it on much larger sheets of paper, but still, a lot of the stories are definitely shorter.
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
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Yeah, the actual anthology is only 120 pages.

Granted, we formatted it on much larger sheets of paper, but still, a lot of the stories are definitely shorter.

Well, I might also be a bit spoiled by my own more recent efforts since they've... uhhh gotten a LOT longer than the earlier material.
Yeah, the actual anthology is only 120 pages.

Granted, we formatted it on much larger sheets of paper, but still, a lot of the stories are definitely shorter.

Well, I might also be a bit spoiled by my own more recent efforts since they've... uhhh gotten a LOT longer than the earlier material.

Yeah. The average story length has really... expanded. Ahaha. God I need to go to bed.

Which is good, because it means that supersecretproject#2 that I'll be announcing when the rest of the Anthology is posted will be a lot more extensive :3

ha ha wow I sat here with this post open for like 20 minutes whoops. Yeah, definitely time for bed.
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
(Click through to view the cover and announcement page)Want to get your work in the Expanded Multiverse? Come join the project! Oh, and check out my blog, Storming the Ivory Tower: making sense of academia, media, and culture twice weekly.
I'm really starting to hate this slow play Keeper.
"I think me going Bang bang bang I win is pretty intuitive" Mafia Record: Wouldn't you like to know? 2011 Mafia Awards - Mastermind of the Year
57817638 wrote:
58060728 wrote:
88318561 wrote:
58060728 wrote:
Moriok Rigger does absolutely nothing to boost other riggers. You are incorrect.
Moriok Rigger is not a Rigger in print. Only in Errata WHAT NOW! (yes, I did put that phrase in for that exact reason)
Congratulations, they have activated your trap card!

42 is responsible for getting this up, incidentally. God, literally anything you do on these forums is like dragging your face through broken glass. 


I'm happy that this is going up, but being recognised feels a lot nicer than I thought it would.

I'm really starting to hate this slow play Keeper.

What, finished already? Man, you read fast.

Profile Picture taken with implied permission from Trildar.

KeeperofManyNames wrote:

Alright, new theory: these forums are an experiment in ultraminimalism. By Monday everything--yes everything--will be the color white, and typing any character will simply produce a solid rectangle of variable height and width.

Great work everyone; I especially enjoyed your Sarkhan Vol story, Barinellos.
Great work everyone; I especially enjoyed your Sarkhan Vol story, Barinellos.

Thank you much. I'm flattered.
If you're interested in some of my other works, I can shoot you links to them in a message.
Hell, you could link them here if you want. No reason not to plug other M:EM stuff in this thread, if people are interested.
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
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Hell, you could link them here if you want. No reason not to plug other M:EM stuff in this thread, if people are interested.

well, I'll wait to see if he wants to read any more of my scribblings before I link them.
This is absolutely lovely.  Well done to all the authors, and to MEM_Archivist for compiling things (and the pretty cover image?).

I think "Memento Mori" is my favorite right now.  Dystopian setting, loss of self, the centrality of memory... also, the idea of a giant pyramid scheme of memory-theft amuses me.

"Go, then. There are other worlds than these." -- Stephen King, The Gunslinger

Please feel free to copy this message into your sig.

This is absolutely lovely.  Well done to all the authors, and to MEM_Archivist for compiling things (and the pretty cover image?).

I think "Memento Mori" is my favorite right now.  Dystopian setting, loss of self, the centrality of memory... also, the idea of a giant pyramid scheme of memory-theft amuses me.

Hey now, Skibo is credited for having done the compiling (though there was a lot of proofreading that needed to be done to put these out as you see them here); and there is NO way I'm letting Keeper go uncredited on that mindblowing art job (seriously, you've got to take a look at the PDF, it is GORGEOUS).

Tevish definitely deserves a round of applause for Memento Mori. Made my skin crawl. In a good way. And that whole "demon & three boons" thing? Fuggedhaboutit. Masterful.

Profile Picture taken with implied permission from Trildar.

KeeperofManyNames wrote:

Alright, new theory: these forums are an experiment in ultraminimalism. By Monday everything--yes everything--will be the color white, and typing any character will simply produce a solid rectangle of variable height and width.

Eeee so glad people like the chapter page. Yeah, I'm excited to share the PDF now... I did all the graphic design for it.

If I remember correctly, there's a few more stories by Szat in the anthology, and they're all very good reads.
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
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Eeee so glad people like the chapter page. Yeah, I'm excited to share the PDF now... I did all the graphic design for it.

I'm looking forward to it. I enjoyed reading the stories, but seeing them nicely bundled in one file will be all the better.

After the official forums lost most of their functionality, a once vibrant community of Vorthos was wiped out.The survivors founded a new place to discuss all things concerning with the art, flavor and storylines of Magic: The Gathering. Come join us.

It's also a bit more professional looking, which will be good for showing the project off to people. I'd love to put some of the planar guides--both M:EM and Canon--together in PDF form, actually.

(Pssst you should go finish voting on Taramir, Yxoque!)
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
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Glad to know people enjoy my contribution.

Interestingly, Memento Mori here was one of the few pieces actually written for the anthology, rather than as part of the Short Story contests we held so long ago.  I believe Barinellos and Skibo also did hole fillers or major revisions.

I can't take full credit for the "Three boons" mini-story... it's an oldie, though the classic form, naturally, uses a genie and three wishes.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."


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THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

Finally got around to reading these once I realized they were short stories.

We'll probably need your storywriting services for the next anthology, Thoctar... 
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
(Click through to view the cover and announcement page)Want to get your work in the Expanded Multiverse? Come join the project! Oh, and check out my blog, Storming the Ivory Tower: making sense of academia, media, and culture twice weekly.
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