MTG Wiki
Advertisement
Mercadian Masques
Mercadian Masques.jpg
Publishing Information
Author(s) Francis Lebaron
First printing September 1999
ISBN-13 978-0786911882
Preceded By
Rath and Storm
Followed By
Nemesis

Mercadian Masques is a Magic novel written by Francis Lebaron and published in September 1999. It is a sequel to the book Rath and Storm.

Mercadian Masques was originally billed as Weatherlight Cycle book II, as follow-up on Rath and Storm. However, later Wizards of the Coast decided to pull Rath and Storm out of the cycle, which was then renamed to the Masquerade Cycle.[1] The Masquerade Cycle continues in Nemesis and Prophecy, but the three books are only connected in an indirect way.

Blurb[]

Treachery stalks the Weatherlight

Escaping from Rath, the crew of the flying ship Weatherlight finds itself adrift. Grieving for their lost comrades and in need of repairs, they make their painful way to Mercadia, a city where everything is for sale.

But not everything is at it seems. In the streets of Mercadia, the heroes of the Weatherlight find that more than merchandise can be bought and sold.

Plot[]

After crashing through the Erratic Portal at the end of Rath and Storm, the Weatherlight crew finds itself trapped on the plane of Mercadia. They have to look for mysterious artifacts to repair their ship, but must also face the hidden figures behind the throne of Mercadia, a traitor from their own ranks, and try to uncover this strange plane's connection to the Brothers' War, the Thran, and Phyrexia.

Chapter by Chapter Summary[]

Chapter 1 – A young man named Atalla watches as the Weatherlight crash lands onto one of the fields of his family’s farm. Gerrard takes stock of the situation and the crew: most made it, but a few died or were wounded in the crash and Ertai did not make the planeshift jump on board. The ship is seriously damaged, so they will need to travel to the city of Mercadia. Gerrard rejects Atalla’s request to come with him, but the farmers provide some shelter for the wounded. Takara leads her blind and paranoid father Starke to the shelter. A memorial service for Mirri and the other dead is interrupted by a sudden flood that brings in a band of warriors on boats and that starts to carry off the Weatherlight. Despite Hanna and Karn’s best efforts, they cannot stop the ship from being carried off by the sudden current.

Chapter 2 – Orim, still on the Weatherlight, had been carried off by the waters and now has some of the raiders on board. The leader of the raiders, a man with glowing hands, takes Orim below to tend her wounded, who had been further injured by the movement of the ship by the flood. The chief helps her until the ship docks. By then, one of her charges has died, but both the dead and the living wounded are carefully removed from the ship and transported to land. Orim now feels a great supernatural presence all around that soothes her soul. They are brought into a village in the midst of a forest of great trees. Klaars, the surviving wounded, has had his broken arm tended to, but it pains him and his anger grows. Cho-Manno, the leader, now introduces himself and his people, the Cho-Arrim, to Orim. Orim also meets Is-Shada. Then she asks for help for Klaars, and their healer puts him to sleep and suddenly amputates his broken arm, sending Orim into a rage, although Is-Shada tries to comfort her. Later, Orim and Klaars find themselves in a prison cell, and the latter states his determination to get some vengeance on the Cho-Arrim. When Is-Shada brings them a meal, Klaars pounces on her, rendering her unconscious, and then attacks and kills the guard. Orim is shocked at the violence and does not follow Klaars out. Instead, she ministers to Is-Shada, hoping to revive her. The next morning, Klaars and Orim find themselves facing the executioner, Ta-Spon. At the leader’s nod, Klaars is dispatched. Just before Ta-Spon can do the same to Orim, Is-Shada runs up to her and hugs her.

Chapter 3 – Gerrard digs graves for his fallen crewmembers and refuses any help from anyone, until an empathetic conversation with Takara convinces him to let her join him. Then Atalla brings them word that an armed force is approaching their position. Looking out, Gerrard sees the upside-down mountain that Mercadia City rests upon off in the distance. Mercadian Jhovall riders arrive and surround Gerrard, Tahngarth, and the rest of their crew. They speak in a dialect that Gerrard can’t understand, but Takara does. They have come to arrest Gerrard and seize his ship. Gerrard orders an attack, but eventually it becomes obvious that they can’t win over such a large force even though they have killed several Mercadians and observed what poor soldiers they really are. Gerrard negotiates a truce and they agree to give up their weapons in exchange for treatment of the wounded and proper burial of the dead. The Mercadians tend to their wounds but drag the dead bodies off and dump them like garbage. Gerrard is incensed, but there is little he can do. As they ride back to Mercadia City, they are overwhelmed by a great desert storm, and they seem to be magically transported closer to the city as if passing through a mirage. As they approach the city, they smell a great stench of rotting garbage emanating from the wall at the base of Mount Mercadia. Once they arrive, they find themselves in a great marketplace buzzing with business, although it turns out to just be a camp outside the real city. They are led to a set of caged elevators that will take them up to the city proper. As they ride up, Gerrard plots an escape.

Chapter 4 – After the ride in the lift, Gerrard and his crew are led through a city of winding streets full of market stalls. The air is full of an overwhelming smell of incense, and Gerrard makes his play. Kneeling down in the gutter he calls for something to drink and bids Atalla, who has been freely following them, get him some wine. Atalla grabs some wine from a vendor’s stall and a dispute arises about who is going to pay for the wine, while Gerrard denigrates the quality pf the wine, further enraging the vendor. While the captain of the guard tried to sort things out, Atalla steals his keys and unlocks Gerrard’s shackles. As Gerrard grabs the captain’s trident, the rest of the crew are freed, and the captain of the guard feigns unconsciousness, while reinforcements appear. A giant approaches and Gerrard suggests that Karn, the pacifist, dance with him to keep him occupied while the rest of the crew start to scatter. Then a cateran enforcer, a large, black insectoid creature, arrives on the scene and Gerrard and Tahngarth engage him, with a little help from Squee. At the sight of Squee, the cateran enforcer stops and seeks pardon from the goblin. Squee orders the now compliant beast to dance with the giant, while everyone else sneaks away from the scene. As the crew of the Weatherlight hide out in the city, Squee uses his new-found status to secure them lodging and soon they hear exaggerated stories about Gerrard’s prowess in battle. Gerrard decides to act on his current fame, so he and Takara make their way to the Magistrate’s Tower to offer a deal to the magistrate. As they enter the audience chamber, they are surprised by a toy rat that whizzes towards them. The toy’s owner then shows them the insides of the toy, which contains a small powerstone. When they engage the seated, fat magistrate, they find that he is advised by a goblin—a Kyren—who only speaks in questions. As he tries to advise the magistrate to summon guards and armed forces to deal with Gerrard, Takara grabs the little goblin and stares him down with pure hatred in her eyes. Attitudes are changed, and Gerrard proposes that he train the Mercadian army and then march them against their common enemy, the Cho-Arrim, to retrieve his ship. As a reward for this campaign, Gerrard would keep the ship, have it repaired with new powerstones, and have the family whose farm he ruined when he crashed recompensed with money.

Chapter 5 – Orim has now been with the Cho-Arrim for a month. The Weatherlight is treated as the sign of the return of Ramos, their god. Orim spends much time with Is-Shada, learning and teaching. Is-Shada believes that Orim has received the gift of chavala, the power to heal. One day, a group of separi, storytellers, arrive and put on a performance for the tribe. They perform the Peliam, the story of Ramos’s triumph over Orhop and the creation of the three peoples: Cho-Arrim, Saprazzans, and Rishadans. The Cho-Arrim await the day when the Uniter, a great metal serpent, will come and reunite the peoples of Ramos. One night, Orim has an nightmare about horrible creatures. Cho-Manno has the same dream—it is a dream that tells them of an attack on the Rushwood by mercenaries and monsters. Cho-Manno will lead his people against these invaders, and Orim joins Ta-Karnst to work as a healer during the battle. The battle does not go well until the wizards arrive and begin to work their magic and the forest itself begins to defend itself. The tide turns and the Cho-Arrim skyscouts fly down to surround the caterans. Orim can now begin to minister to the wounded. She asks Cho-Manno why the caterans had attacked, and he informs her that they had come to seize the Weatherlight.

Chapter 6 – While Gerrard trains the Mercadian regiment he has been granted, Squee rides about and enjoys his new-found authority in this society, trying to boss everyone around, although most everyone ignores him, except some of the merchants. Tahngarth and Takara try to keep him in check, but the merchants are quite obsequious towards the Kyren (goblins). When Gerrard learns of the ill-fated attack on the Rushwood, he complains of the Mercadians trying to grab Weatherlight before he can get it. Takara has the impression that the Cho-Arrim are quite a vicious and bloodthirsty opponent that he must prepare his men for. He starts to feel an urgency to rescue both the Weatherlight and Orim from their clutches. The rest of the crew starts to get used to the dizzying paths of Mercadia that wander in the opposite direction one expects in order to get where one wants to go, and it always seems as if there are many more people in the city than it should actually accommodate. In the midst of all this, Hannah and Tahngarth have a heart-to-heart discussion about what happened to Tahngarth on Rath. He wishes he had died there instead of having to live with the twisted changes effected upon him by Volrath. He wonders if he might have joined with Greven il-Vec if Gerrard had not arrived when he did. Hannah tries to comfort him, to persuade him that he still looks like the proper first mate for the Weatherlight, but Tahngarth doesn’t seem convinced. Then Takara summons them all for a troop inspection—Gerrard thinks he’s ready to lead his new forces into the Rushwood. They use the Mercadian dust magic to make the journey to the Rushwood, although they arrive dusty and dirty. His regiment marches in order, and they are followed by a motley collection of cateran mercenaries. Gerrard reasserts his orders to Xcric, the commander of the caterans, that no one should fight until he says so. When they come into sight of the Rushwood, it appears as a tall wall of green with massive trees populating the dark forest. Sisay says that the forest is said to be a living entity, so Gerrard determines to enter the forest as peacefully as possible. While he doesn’t know the exact route to the Weatherlight, he can feel it calling to him from the center of the forest.

Chapter 7 – Orim is woken up early to attend to a baby birth. The birth is going badly, but Orim recognizes that the problem is that the baby is breech, so she and Ta-Karnst work to turn the baby and successfully deliver it. At first it looks like the baby is stillborn, but Ta-Karnst uses his magic to make a bowl of water cold and then plunges the baby in, shocking it into life. Orim is tired after this ordeal, but she walks with Cho-Manno through the village and the forest, discussing the approaching Mercadian army, although Cho-Manno trusts that the forest will defend itself. They then take a canoe ride and arrive at the Fountain of Cho, where the history of the Cho is written, although it cannot now be read. Discussing these things, Orim comes to understand how important the Uniter is to the Cho-Arrim and admits that she has found among this people something she has searched for her whole life. Cho Manno agrees and they kiss.

Chapter 8 – None of the troops likes Gerrard’s command not to light any fires within the forest, and Xcric decides that while he had to relay Gerrard’s command to his cateran mercenaries, the command didn’t apply to himself, so he shoots at a pair of eyes in the forest that are watching them. As the forest responds, Gerrard tries to get his troops into position to attack forward—holding their position will only get them annihilated in this forest. He jumps on a jhovall and tries to gather his quickly disorganized forces. He gets Takara on board, and with the rest of his crew following him, along with the remnants of his Mercadian regiment aboard their own jhovalls, they push into the forest. When forest elementals attack them, they take a beating, with Takara taking a horrible fall; Gerrard’s only solution is to burn them. Then Takara appears behind him again, explaining that her hatred drives her beyond mere bodily wounds. Gerrard urges his army onward to the Weatherlight.

Chapter 9 – As the cateran mercenaries emerge out of the forest into the Cho-Arrim settlement they start massacring everyone. Volley after volley strikes and kills. Orim dashes about trying to help and heal, but it is mostly a hopeless effort. One old lady even accuses her of treachery, but she does save the child of the woman who had just given birth. When she hears the Cho Arrim himself has been killed, however, she passes out. Orim is awoken by Sisay, but she is hardly glad to see the crew of the Weatherlight when she learns that they are at the head of this army, an army that has massacred women and children, and even taken trophies off the bodies. When Gerrard saw what the caterans were doing, he tried to stop the killing, but all he managed to do was to kill a couple of caterans himself. Takara reminds him that he had given the order to attack, so ultimately he is the one to blame for this atrocity. He also gets an earful from Orim. As he listens and tries to explain, Xcric approaches him and suddenly binds his wrists in shackles. He is under arrest for ordering his men to attack and kill the caterans! Xcric had been hired by the magistrate for just such an eventuality. Now Xcric arranges for Weatherlight to be brought back to Mercadia City.

Chapter 10 – Gerrard had been cleaned up for his ‘trial’, and the magistrate plays his capture up to the crowd, while holding the other crew members of Weatherlight hostage. Then Orim, also especially cleaned up, is brought in atop a large white jhovall. Gerrard apologizes to her, but Orim simply threw her turban at his feet. The crew is led away, backs turned to Gerrard so the magistrate can claim they have renounced the great ‘Giant-Killer’. The magistrate then presents the charges against Gerrard and his new prize: the Weatherlight herself. Gerrard can only fall to his knees in anguish. As the crew is shuffled into a lift, Squee approaches, decked out in royal robes, and begins to praise the Mercadian soldiers for their work and to offer them some wine to quench their thirst. Atalla is also there, offering to brush off the dust from their uniforms. Hanna is playing the role of lift operator. The wine proves to be drugged, and Atalla secures the key to their shackles. Just as the guards are collapsing they call out an alarm. The crew cannot wait for Gerrard any longer, and the lift begins to ascend. Tahngarth decides he must save Gerrard, but the lift is hardwired to only go up, so the minotaur leaps out of the lift. As the others think of following Tahngarth, Takara reminds them that they can save Gerrard up top. Tahngarth finds Karn with a large canvas draped out to provide him a slide in order to break his fall. Unfortunately, they find themselves surrounded by hundreds of soldiers. Up top, Squee and Atalla convince the bearers of three huge bins of garbage that they are in the wrong place to dump their loads. Back at the bottom, Gerrard, Karn, and Tahngarth prepare to be executed in the rubbish-heap wall. On top of the wall is Xcric, gloating, and when he orders the signal crossbow bolt to be fired, he urges the condemned to look up at their impending doom, but what they see is tons of filth fall right on top of Xcric!

Chapter 11 – Takara, Hanna, Sisay, and Orim take advantage of their newly-won freedom and fame to approach the magistrate and negotiate. The magistrate agrees to allow them to repair and keep the Weatherlight, in exchange for using it on a mission of the magistrate's choice. They will travel to Saprazzo to get the Matrix to fix the ship, along with some Mercadian ambassadors. Since the dust cloud magic doesn't work in this direction, the trip is slow, as the magistrates only like to travel a few hours a day, in the cool of the morning. Orim spends the time in her tent meditating on Cho-Manno magic and mythology. Along the way, she exhibits the power to control a jhovall by whispering in its ear. Eventually, they reach the sea, and the port city of Rishada, a city much like Mercadia, full of markets and business. They take ship to Saprazzo, but on the way, the crew decides to harpoon a whale. The whale turns out to be a giant Saprazzan warrior beast, and it turns to attack the ship. Then a squad of human-sized Saprazzans assails the ship as well. As they attack and converge on the ship’s passengers, the warrior beast grabs Orim and drags her under the sea. As he carries her deeper and deeper, she reaches out and uses her Cho-Arrim magic to heal the harpoon wound until her last breath gives way.

Chapter 12 – Gerrard, Tahngarth, and Karn are taken to prison in chains, still covered in refuse and not given any bath. For weeks they languish in a dank prison, until finally they are cleaned up and transferred to ‘ambassadorial apartments’ in the Magistrate’s Tower. Then Takara arrives with a crate full of wine, explaining the deal the women had brokered with the magistrate—the men are essentially serving as hostages to the deal now. As Gerrard and Takara drink some wine and reflect on their path to this point, the theme is betrayal. Takara gets Gerrard to talk about the beginning of his long adventure and consequent miseries, which started with Gerrard rescuing his brother Vuel from death during his coming-of-age ceremony, which embarrassed his brother before the whole clan, and made it so he could never rule. In his indignation, Gerrard’s brother became Volrath, who killed his father and destroyed his village. Gerrard is willing to accept that everything that has happened is thus ultimately his fault. Later, after a few bottles of wine, Karn tried to set the record straight: Vuel only became Volrath when a vicious, conniving stranger came to their village and corrupted him—Starke! Gerrard refuses to believe it, but for Karn, the pieces start to come together and he warns Gerrard not to trust Takara. To change the topic, Karn then pulls out a document from his chest cavity, which he found in the city archives and which dates to Mercadia’s earliest years. It is written in a script much like that of the ancient Thran, suggesting the earliest inhabitants of Mercadia were Thran refugees, and since Orim had seen a version of the Brother’s War put on as a play while with the Cho-Arrim, it suggests that there may have been continued contact with the Phyrexians, and thus it is possible that Volrath knows that they are here. As time passes, Tahngarth and Gerrard get permanently drunk on the wine and Gerrard grows angrier and angrier under Takara’s tutelage. One day, when Karn urges to Tahngarth to waken Gerrard, the result is a little drunken brawl with insults back and forth to accompany it, until Karn finally ends it for both of them—a quiet night ensues.

Chapter 13 – As Sisay engages their attackers, she is deeply wounded by a trident, but as she lays dying, Orim arrives on the ship riding the whale-like creature. She calls on both sides to put away their arms, and then she heals Sisay. Sapprazzan is a city built within a submerged caldera, and the new arrivals make their way through the city, noting the easy way that its inhabitants live on both land and sea here. Then they meet with the grand vizier, who is puzzled by the combined legation of Mercadian nobles and the women of the Weatherlight. Plans are made to meet the next day to discuss their business at the Shrine of the Matrix. At the Shrine of the Matrix they meet, and the grand vizier recounts to them their myth of Ramos. Ramos was a powerful artificer who ruled over an entire world until he became obsessed with reaching the stars themselves. So, he neglected his duties as ruler and spent all his time with his artificers until the people of his realm, those of the forest, of the coast, of the sea, came to his castle to complain, but at that moment, Ramos appeared on his balcony, clutching the Power Matrix and shining brightly. Then he leaped up into the sky and grew larger and larger, while also carrying up the onlookers with him. He carried those people beyond the world until he rose too high and his whole body broken into pieces and the people fell to the earth of this new world: the forest folk landed in the Rushwood, the coastal folk landed at Rishada, and the sea folk landed at Saprazzo. Ramos himself broke into his essence embodied in crystals, now known as the bones of Ramos: the Eye, the Skull, the Heart, the Horn, and the Tooth of Ramos. The myth says that if all these artifacts are brought back together, the different peoples would be reunited and returned to their original world. When Sisay asks for the Matrix, however, she is put off—they will speak again of this the next day. That evening, Orim wanders the city and finds a quiet place to meditate. She mainly thinks about Cho-Manno. Then she hears a couple of quiet voices nearby, and overhears a Mercadian negotiating with a Saprazzan to steal the Matrix and to frame the crew of the Weatherlight for it. When she accidently makes a noise, she is unable to get away before being clubbed unconscious. She awakes to find the Saprazzan conspirator as the commander of her guard, a man named Oustrathmer. She is being accused of both murder and theft!

Chapter 14 – Squee comes to visit Gerrard and company, and Gerrard uses it as an opportunity to remind the little goblin who he is and where his loyalties lie. Squee gets the message and blames his recent attitude, enjoying the benefits of being a Kyren in this city, on the fact that Gerrard has become mean. As Gerrard goes to smack his cabin boy, Tahngarth and Karn restrain him and help him to see that Takara has been poisoning his mind with the help of her plentiful wine. Takara and Starke enter the court of the chief magistrate and his Kyren advisers and demands a private audience. Then she presents her father to them only to then charge him as a traitor and slice his neck open. As the blood drains from Starke’s body, Takara metamorphoses into Volrath. The Kyren ask how his plans go, and he announces that all is going according to plan: Gerrard will be destroyed and the Weatherlight will be his! When he enquires about their progress, however, they note that Gerrard and his crew have stirred up the people and the Ramosans to rebellion. They fear they will not be able to stamp it out. This only leads Volrath to lash out at them and declare that he will have to be more vicious in his plans.

Chapter 15 – Sisay visits a depressed Orim and then decides to go speak with the vizier. After being briefly waylaid by Oustrathmer, the guard captain, the vizier appears and receives Sisay. They talk of the theft and murder, and of the potential rising of the children of Ramos. Orim spends her time in prison either meditating or wandering the city. A couple of times she even dines with the vizier, but she carefully guards some information about the Legacy and the Weatherlight. Then one day she is meditating a small courtyard when Cho-Manno appears too her—he is not dead! He and his people had fled from the Mercadians, and later learned of Gerrard and his crew, and of their trip to Saprazzo from a Ramosan. Orim, Sisay, and Hannah, as well as Cho-Manno and Lahaime, the leader of the Ramosans, gather before the vizier. Orim submits to a mind meld with Cho-Manno, who then declares her innocence. The vizier now plans to act upon Orim’s account of the crime, and to use Oustrathmer to spread some disinformation among the Mercadians. They arrange a fake punishment for Lahaime before the eyes of Oustrathmer, so he will send the message that the leader of the Ramosans is dead and that Saprazzo is on the side of Mercadia. Then a passage by ship is arranged back to Mercadia for Orim, Sisay, Hannah, and Cho-Manno.

Chapter 16 – Back in Mercadia, Volrath has a team of artificers trying to join the Power Matrix to the Weatherlight’s engine, but nothing is happening. This failure has already cost the life of the chief artificer, and the new chief figures out that there are some missing crystals that must be needed to make things work. For her failure, Volrath kills her too, but at least now her assistant, the new chief, knows what they need. A great torrential storm now blows across the land and lashes Mercadia. It is loud, ferocious, and wet. The guards outside Gerrard’s holding room are taking a beating when a relief party of guards arrives, led by a bedraggled Kyren. They dismiss the grateful guards and take up their duty. The new guards are in fact the rest of the Weatherlight crew, plus Cho-Manno. It was they who brought this storm and used its water to travel (just as the Mercadians had used a dry storm to travel earlier). After their escape, the new plan is for Gerrard to lead part of the crew to find the Bones of Ramos, while the rest will see about the Skyship Weatherlight. Meanwhile, Volrath contemplates the storm and sees his rebel enemies using it to move into his city. He also sees Gerrard making his escape, but that only makes him smile. ven though they hadn’t consulted Takara, they were going to do exactly what he needed: find the missing crystals! The crew makes their farewells, Gerrard kissing Hannah goodbye. Then they use the cloaks of the Cho-Arrim sky scouts to glide down from Mercadia. Some of the crew lands better than others, but everyone makes it, including a late arriving Takara...

Chapter 17 – Gerrard and his crew make their way on “borrowed” jhovalls to the west. Takara keeps herself a little distant, and Gerrard’s one attempt to engage her in conversation, only elicits the information that her father has been killed and that she is planning out her vengeance. As they come to a pass between two mesas, they are attacked by Deepwood ghouls. The ghouls themselves are rather mindless attackers, but they act in concert with one another, as if a single mind controls them. The riders survive the encounter, but their jhovalls are all killed or wounded. Some of the crew were infected by the attack and so they take some time to rest. One night, around a large fire, Gerrard and Sisay revel in their quest and their companionship. Gerrard tells Sisay that she has become stronger, wiser, and more beautiful since her experience on Rath. Takara tries to attribute it to hate, but Gerrard disagrees: you can survive Rath through either hate or hope, but only the latter produces heroes. After a few more days, they find a Thran glyph and know they must have entered Ouramos. Sisay notices that the ruins they find in this land seem to have been destroyed, not just decayed over time. As they press forward, one crew member finds a tiny powerstone, another finds a giant pile of excrement. Then they push through the trees and find themselves starting at the great bowl of Ouramos containing the Bones of Ramos. Then all of a sudden they are attacked by vines that are strong as steel. As the crew retreats, they run into some dryads.

Chapter 18 – Squee walks past two drunken guards on the lower story of the Magistrate’s Tower while chasing a bug to eat. While continuing his hunt, he finds a secret staircase leading down, where he overhears a conversation between Kyren that suggests Gerrard and company are the mere pawns of their master. Continuing down, he eventually discovers a giant underground hangar full of ships and workers. The ships are much larger than the Weatherlight, and they remind Squee of the Predator, from Rath. As he roams about, he is inspected by some spider-like metallic creatures. Then, he discovers Weatherlight itself, but as he is leaving in search of some food, he runs into one of the chief Kyren and then, trying to avoid a beating, he stumbles into a Phyrexian!

Chapter 19 – Gerrard, Sisay and the rest are first treated by the dryads as threats, until Gerrard sits down as a sign of his peaceful intentions. Then he communes through sparks of energy with the dryad. “This is Ouramos,” he explains to the others. In a kind of trance, Gerrard then recounts the story of Ramos: Ramos was originally a Phyrexian created to hunt humans, but Urza saved him and turned him into a creature designed to save humans, such that when Urza released the great sylex blast, Ramos was hurled forth. As he hurtled away, he grabbed a school of merfolk and a ship of refugees with his great hands, and they were all carried to Phyrexia. From there, Ramos sought to save these creatures by passing through a secret portal to Mercadia. As they emerged into the Mercadian sky, the merfolk and the humans were on fire. Ramos’s heart broke and it (the Power Matrix) fell into the ocean. Then to extinguish the fire that threatened them, he settled the merfolk in the sea, the ship of humans on the beach of Rishada, other humans in the forest of Rushwood, and even the dead in the forest of the Deepwood. Ramos’s own crash to the ground created a great crater and unleashed a sylex-like blast that killed hundreds of thousands of the native inhabitants of Mercadia. Along the way, Ramos’s will was shattered, marked by the breaking off of five parts of his body. Later, when Ramos revived he built an altar with those crystalline artifacts ion the center of the crater and created the temple of Ouramos—the dryads were raised up to serve him. Now, Ramos summons the crew to meet him. Gerrard leads the way, and when they reach the altar, he can see that the “Bones of Ramos” are powerstones. Then Ramos arises from out of the ground—he is a hundred-foot-tall dragon engine! Ramos accuses Gerrard of coming to steal the Bones, but Gerrard counters that he is merely fulfilling a prophecy—a prophecy he does not believe, notes Ramos. Gerrard insists that the prophecy represents hope, and he comes in the name of hope. Ramos tells Gerrard that the powerstones will not work outside of the crater, but Gerrard convinces him to let him try anyway, and Ramos accedes to the request. The stones do fizzle out beyond the crater, but Gerrard insists that he just needs some time to think of a solution. Takara mocks him for his hope, clinging to her hate. During the night, Gerrard communes with the dryad chief and finds that he can bring a small spark to the powerstones, but then it fades. Only when the dryads and the forest all unite their minds with Ramos do the powerstones emit a light as bright as the sun. Ramos has thus joined them in their journey back to Mercadia. Unfortunately, during the night, Takara makes off with the powerstones.

Chapter 20 – Meanwhile, Squee finds himself bound aboard the Weatherlight and being interrogated by a couple of goblins. Squee knows nothing, but the beatings continue. Eventually, the goblins give up, and Volrath lays claim on him for future servitude. Down in the lower city, Hannah and Karn debate what to do as their food and water is starting to run out. Just as they have decided to seek out the Ramosans for help, Takara shows up with the Bones of Ramos and a dire tale about the Weatherlight crew, but soon she morphs into her form as Volrath, who takes them captive. Volrath leads Hannah and Karn down into the subterranean caves below the city and forces Hannah to repair the Weatherlight in order to save Squee from a slow strangulating death. As they are led through town, Orim sees them and determines to prepare the Ramosans for revolt. As they prepare for an onslaught on multiple fronts, Atalla appears promising to lead the peasants in the marketplace against the Mercadians.

Chapter 21 – Gerrard and his crew approach Mercadia in the company of a band of jhovall traders. Once past the outer guards, they near the base of the great city. The leader of the traders offers to show Gerrard a secret way up to the city to avoid the lifts; he assumes that Gerrard is planning to cause some trouble for the magistrates, which is to his liking. The crew passes through a small door into a dark tunnel inside the mountain and begin their ascent. The route proves to be blocked by a rock fall, so they take a side tunnel and continue until they encounter a small patrol of soldiers, courtiers, and kyren. After a short fight, they are able to continue until they come to a great hall full of Phyrexian-style ships. Gerrard says he can also hear Weatherlight here calling to him. Meanwhile, on Weatherlight, Hannah has been trying to stall, but the Bones of Ramos, the Power Matrix, and the Juju Bubble have already been fitted together; just one little piece is out of place. When Volrath comes to check on her progress, he is angry and storms off to kill Squee if the ship doesn’t start up immediately. Just as Volrath shoots a crossbow bolt at Squee, the engine starts and the bolt just misses. Volrath now summons his crew to ready the ship for flight.

Chapter 22 – Weatherlight continues to call to Gerrard as they make their way to the great underground hangar, but there is a Phyrexian army between them and their beloved ship. The crew gathers some goblin bombs and soon a great battle is underway with the Mercadian guards. The bombs start a chain reaction of explosions among the ships in the hangar, though. Meanwhile, a storm moves in over the city and people start to think that Ramos has been killed and this storm is his wrath. The Ramosans start a rebellion against the Kyren, with Cho-Manno and Orim leading the charge. Atalla is also at work among the people, stirring them up against their masters. They make their way towards the Magistrate’s Tower and attack and kill the Chief Magistrate and his Kyren advisors. On Weatherlight, Hannah is almost executed during the mayhem, but Tahngarth gets there in time to save her. As they prepare to start the ship, they notice that not only is the passage out of the hangar now blocked by a landslide, but Volrath and his men have surrounded Gerrard and Sisay.

Chapter 23 – Gerrard now realizes that Volrath had been disguised as Takara. “Coward!” Gerrard charges as the two begi to sword fight. Volrath responds with denial: “No, I wasn’t hiding but merely destroying you from the inside out.” “Well, you have failed,” replies Gerrard. “I have dewniedc you this world of Mercadia.” “Pah! I do not care about the Mercadians. And you cannot resist the power of my master, the Lord of Phyrexia.” Gerrard recalls their practice sword fighting when he and Volrath—then his brother Vuel—were taught to seek out a foe’s weakness. Gerrard remembers Vuel’s weakness: he favored the left side. Gerrard takes his chance and attacks the right, breaking through Volrath’s defenses, felling him. Immediately Gerrard and Sisay are surrounded by Volrath’s minions. heir own end seems certain. With one final attack, Gerrard swings his sword, but it meets no resistance. A bright red beam of light sweeps through, disintegrating everything, including Gerrard’s own sword. Then Gerrard sees it: Weatherlight! Now a rope comes down and Hanna and Tahngarth pull the two up on board. After tending to their wounds, Hanna shows them the work she has done on the ship. In the engine room they find Karn with his arms sunk into two ports into the engine—he is attached to the ship and with just his mind he can control the whole engine. She points out the Power Matrix and the Juju Bubble that Karn used to carry about in his guts. The latter was the key to making all the Bones of Ramos work together with the Thran Crystal. To get out of the subterranean hangar, Gerrard and his men take up station on the Phyrexian ray cannons that have been installed. As everyone takes to battle stations, the ship moves forward. They use the guns to melt a path through a wall of collapsed stones. Once through into the main chamber, they strafe the remaining ships of the Mercadian-Phyrexian fleet. Meanwhile, Volrath slowly arises, self-healing the wound inflicted by Gerrard—one more blow might have killed him, but Gerrard had failed to deliver that final killing blow. But inside, Volrath knew that Gerrard had defeated and essentially killed him once again, and stolen everything from him. But his hatred would fuel him to rise and fight again.

Chapter 24 – As rain falls upon the old city, the people rise up against Mercadian tyranny, but the mob threatens to get out of control. To calm the various peoples, Cho-Manno must speak to them; he melds his mind with Orim’s to gain the knowledge of the languages of the Saprazzans, Rishadans, and so forth. Then, through a spell he speaks to all at once: “End the killing, even though our hoped-for Uniter has not appeared…” Just then, Weatherlight burst into view in the sky, like a god. The people began to chant, “Ramos…Ramos…Ramos…” t was followed by a Phyrexian ship. “Orhop…” said the people, referring to Ramos’s evil brother. “Volrath?!” cried Gerrard. A dogfight between ships ensures, but the Recreant is heavier and better armed. While Squee shoots at the opposing ship from the stern, the Weatherlight climbs higher and higher, until Gerrard decides to ram it by dropping all power. The stern rams into the Recreant, and destroy all but its prow, which leaves Volrath cursing at his brother again while falling from the sky. In despair, and with only faint hope for the future, Volrath passes through his portal back to Rath. Gerrard then orders his ship to climb—he sees another ship coming. As Orim watches the sky, she insists that the burning meteor falling from the sky is not Weatherlight. The she sees the new ship appear. It looks Phyrexian, but proves to not be a ship but a dragon engine. Cho-Manno interprets it according to the old myths: Ramos and Orhop have fought and been united in the form of a dragon. “The Uniter has come!” he declares. When the dragon engine finally lands, it announces, “Children of Ramos, your protector has returned.” Gerrard flies away and lands some distance away, sending some of his crew to go back to Mercadia to collect Orim and supplies for their next voyage. They return with Orim, and Cho-Manno and Atalla, new leaders of Mercadia. Orim and Cho-Manno say a heartfelt goodbye—despite their love for each other, her place is on Weatherlight, and his in uniting the people of Mercadia. Cho-Manno blesses Gerrard as they say goodbye. Then, Gerrard orders that they planeshift back to Dominaria.

References[]

Advertisement