|The Gathering Storm|
In March 2019, it was revealed at the Emerald City Comic-Con (ECCC) that the prequel novel would become available through the website of publisher Del Rey (part of Random House) instead of at Magicthegathering.com. The prequel story was released on a weekly basis by way of a newsletter, starting in June 2019. The final chapter was released on October 23, 2019.
Although billed as a prequel novel, readers of War of the Spark noted that some essential details were missing from the story of Greg Weisman's novel. Because these events (most notably Niv-Mizzet's death) were also taken for granted in the depiction of the cards from War of the Spark, it has been speculated that The Gathering Storm was originally intended to be released along with Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance.
Wexler's stories are mostly written from Ral Zarek's point of view, but some sections are written from Vraska's, Kaya's, and a Dimir thoughtstealer named Millena's point of view. Additional characters include Tomik Vrona, Teysa Karlov, Lavinia, and Niv-Mizzet. The Gathering Storm is set during the time period that the Gatewatch is away from Ravnica. The stories featured the new character Hekara, a cheerful Rakdos emissary.
|One||June 5, 2019||Ral Zarek meets with Tezzeret, who presents him with Nicol Bolas's offer to pay off a debt. Zarek refuses and they fight until Zarek realizes it must have been a distraction. Meanwhile, the Dimir thoughtstealer Millena, controlled by Bolas, infiltrates Nivix and plants a thought into Niv-Mizzet's mind (presumably the idea for the Interplanar Beacon). After capturing the intruder, Niv-Mizzet sends for Ral. He reveals that he knew about planeswalkers all along, that Ral is one such creature and that Nicol Bolas is planning an invasion of Ravnica. He tasks Zarek with uniting the ten guildmasters to change the Guildpact and provide Niv-Mizzet with the necessary power to withstand Bolas. In return, Ral is promised the control of the Izzet League. He is also tasked to turn Project Lightning Bug into a beacon to call other planeswalkers to Ravnica.|
|Two||June 12, 2019||With the help of the rot troll Jarga, and the kraul Mazirek and Xeddick, Vraska finds guildmaster Jarad vod Savo in the Devkarin rot farms. While the Cilia elves try to save Jarad, the Erstwhile lich Storrev betrays him. After Xeddick extracts all of Jarad's dirty secrets from his mind, Vraska petrifies him. Meanwhile, the planeswalker Kaya, hired by Nicol Bolas enters Orzhova to free Teysa Karlov. After killing a ghost that guards the prison, she finds that Teysa is unwilling to leave. Instead, Teysa and her aide Tomik Vrona point out that to return Teysa in a place of power, the Obzedat has to be killed without her obvious involvement.|
|Three||June 19, 2019||Ral Zarek visits New Prahv to discuss Niv-Mizzet's plan with Supreme Judge Isperia of the Azorius Senate and the angelic guildmaster Aurelia of the Boros Legion. On his way, he notices the increased vigilance and apprehension of the Azorius army. Isperia introduces her second in command, the vedalken Grand Arbiter Dovin Baan. Baan reveals himself as a planeswalker and the threat of Nicol Bolas and the wish of Niv-Mizzet to become the new Living Guildpact is discussed. Zarek also reveals his suspicion that Lazav and the Dimir are in league with the elder dragon. Isperia and Aurelia agree to a guild summit. On his way home, Zarek is approached by the Azorius renegade Lavinia. She warns him that Bolas already has an organized network, spread through all the guilds. In his apartment, Zarek meets his lover Tomik and they enjoy a meal of curry. Because they are both highly placed, but in different guilds, they have to keep their relationship a secret. In bed, Zarak reminiscences about his youth. He had been a struggling rain mage at seventeen when he was set up upon by some noble bullies. A tall, handsome older stranger, with his graying hair tied back in a queue, came to his aid and healed his nose. The stranger then offered him employment and introduced himself as Nicol Bolas.|
|Four||June 26, 2019||Ral Zarek wakes from his bad dream when a Izzet messenger knocks on his door. In the letter, Niv-Mizzet orders him to meet with Hellas Vitria, a lieutenant of Lazav, who is open to discussing the possibility of leadership change at Dimir. When he arrives at his destination, he finds Hellas Vitria dead and mutilated. Lazav, in the guise of a small child, is waiting for him and reveals that rogue agents have infiltrated the Dimir. Annoyed by this, Lazav agrees to attend the guild summit. Meanwhile, the Golgari guild leader Vraska considers her alliance with Nicol Bolas and experiences a hole in her thoughts. The kraul Xeddick removes the mind block created by Jace Beleren. She now remembers Ixalan, her friendship with Jace and her newfound righteousness. She also realizes that Bolas will invade Ravnica with his Eternal army. Ral Zarek, meanwhile meets with Hekara, who claims to be the Rakdos emissary and is sent to be an observer and represent her guild at the summit. Then another messenger, a Golgari zombie, arrives to say that Vraska will attend as well.|
|Five||July 3, 2019||Ral Zarek and Rakdos emissary Hekara visit the Selesnya Conclave to convince them to attend the guild summit. They meet with Emmara Tandris, who reveals that Trostani has unprecedentedly been in discord and that the guild is divided on their course of action. While Tandris advocates cooperation with the other guilds, glademaster Garo proposes an isolationist course. During their meeting, a servant girl tries to kill Tandris in an attempt to frame Zarek and sow discord between the guilds. When they confront Garo about it, they are attacked again. Before the old elf dies, Zarek finds out that the glademaster had been possessed by Nicol Bolas. Meanwhile, Kaya and Tomik Vrona meet again with Teysa Karlov. Vrona proposes to enlist his friend Ral Zarek's help in distracting the Obzedat. After the Obzedat has been dealt with, the Orzhov should attend the guild summit to return the favor to Zarek.|
|Six||July 10, 2019||Ral Zarek meets with Lavinia, who gives him information on Vraska, the mysterious new queen of the Golgari Swarm. Ral and Hekara then meet with Vraska, who explains her experience on Ixalan and how Jace Beleren wiped her memories so the elder dragon Nicol Bolas wouldn't know that she was against him. Ral is suspicious of her, so she asks for a chance to prove herself. Tomik then explains Teysa Karlov's predicament to Ral and asks that the Izzet attack Orzhova. Ral is willing to do so but is worried that the Orzhov will find out. He calls a meeting with Vraska and Kaya. On her way there, Vraska notices some Dimir corpses (part of Lazav's endeavor to reinstate his authority). Ral proposes his plan: Vraska should organize a Golgari raid on Orzhova, providing the necessary diversion for Kaya to assassinate the Obzedat. Additionally, this provides Vraska with a chance to prove herself. Everyone is in agreement, and the coup is set for the following day.|
|Seven||July 17, 2019||Vraska, Ral, Hekara, and a Golgari strike team attack Orzhova to provide Kaya the opportunity to assassinate the Obzedat. The attack is successful until most of the Golgari rot-zombies are killed and the rest of the strike team is nearly overwhelmed. Hekara is forced to cut out a large piece of her skin when she is hit by an arrow with powerful death magic, but Ral manages to sear the wound with his lightning. Vraska, Ral, and Hekara then escape on a skyship-like vessel known as the Cloud-Lifter. Meanwhile, Kaya passes through the Orzhov defenses mostly without a problem, although she has some difficulty defeating a couple of giants. She kills the Ghost Council easily, but as she kills the ghosts, she feels all the Orzhov contracts physically weighing her down. Karlov, the head of the ghost council correctly guesses that his granddaughter is responsible for the assassination and he warns Kaya that Teysa is untrustworthy. After Kaya kills him, she collapses under the weight of all the Orzhov contracts.|
|Eight||July 31, 2019||Ral Zarek visits the Azorius Beacon Tower to meet with Dovin Baan. In the primary chamber of the tower, an Izzet team led by Chief Chemister Varryvort is preparing the Interplanar Beacon for its activation. Ral enters a safety sequence for the activation in the machine that only Niv-Mizzet and he knows. Varryvort mentions that, once activated, the Beacon will stay active until its internal power reserves run down. Meanwhile, Kaya wakes up in an elaborate Orzhov bedroom, feeling the burden of the contracts. Teysa explains that Grandfather Karlov had unexpectedly held most Orzhov agreements personally and that these were now transferred to Kaya. The guild had no choice but to acknowledge her as guildmaster. Not much later, Kaya is visited by an old man possessed by Nicol Bolas. It is revealed that Bolas has maneuvered her in this position and that she now had to do his bidding in return for aid to her broken home plane, as originally agreed, but also for extrication from her current predicament. Bolas commands her to attend the guild summit. At home, Ral Zarek dreams about his youth. In the three years after becoming employed by Bolas, Elias's career had taken off in a way neither of them had imagined possible. Non withstanding their lavish lifestyle, they had grown apart because of Ral's secret missions for Bolas. During one of his enforcer jobs, he was stabbed by a young boy. Returning home wounded, he found Elias in the embrace of another man. The shock ignited his Planeswalker's spark and he disappeared from Ravnica.|
|Nine||August 7, 2019||Ral Zarek wakes up from his nightmare. He looks at the sleeping Tomik beside him, and realizes that their relationship has become public knowledge. Ral meets with Lavinia in her official capacity and a recovered Hekara. They identify Kaya and Vraska as the most likely suspects of being an agent for Bolas. Meanwhile, Kaya shortly escapes the tediousness of her new role as guildmaster, and frees a poor servant from his debt. She feels an ever so slight relief from her burden. In another place, Vraska is met by a Devkarin elf who turns out to be possessed by Bolas. Bolas notes that Vraska has deviated from her assigned role by helping Ral Zarek. He threatens to turn the Erstwhile against the Golgari, creating death and chaos for her people. Bolas then forces her to make a choice, for or against him. While making the choice, Vraska feels guilty towards her friend Jace.|
|Ten||August 14, 2019||The guild summit commences at New Prahv. Guildmasters and representatives of all Ravnican guilds hear the request of Niv-Mizzet to change the Guildpact and grant him the power to fight Nicol Bolas. Many distrust his motives, and the meeting is adjourned. That night, Vraska meets Isperia in the conference chamber. Simultaneously fulfilling Bolas's demands and achieving personal revenge, Vraska petrifies the sphinx. After the delegates find out about the murder, their cooperation is dissolved and they return to their guilds. After Lazav pledges his guild's support, Ral Zarek and Hekara are left behind. Ral is desperate but then thinks up another way to achieve their goal, using the magic of the Implicit Maze.|
|Eleven||August 21, 2019||Nivix is abuzz as the entire membership of the Izzet League cooperates on bringing Ral Zarek's plan to fruition. Ral is exhausted and dreams about his first planeswalk to an unidentified plane. Not knowing where he was, or how he had gotten there, he had found an apprenticeship with an old tinkerer who worked with electricity. He also had found a new lover in the tall and broad-shouldered Harith. After learning all that he could from the tinkerer Ghazz, Ral had worked with Harith to rob him. Afterward, he had betrayed Harith and had left with all the loot. Ral presents his plan to Niv-Mizzet: the construction of artificial lines of energy to alter the design of the Implicit Maze, in order to alter the Guildpact that it substantiated. A machine that spans the Tenth District, enabling the ascension of Niv-Mizzet without the consent of all the guilds. The machine requires nodes in Gruul and Golgari territory. Aurelia and Dovin Baan agree to attack the Gruul Rubblebelt with their guilds, while the Orzhov and the Rakdos agree to attack the Golgari in the Undercity. Hekara, however, is having second thoughts about the necessity of attacking their former mate Vraska.|
|Twelve||August 28, 2019||Kaya prepares to join the fight against the Golgari in person, despite Teysa Karlov's objections. In her room, Kaya releases another poor servant of her debt, but still feels the multitude of debt weighing her down. Meanwhile, the Izzet commanded by Ral Zarek, the Boros under the command of the minotaur Ferzhin and the Azorius confront the Gruul in the Rubblebelt. The Gruul are commanded by their new guildmaster, Domri Rade, who has disposed of Borborygmos. At the cost of many casualties, the old square that contains the Implicit Maze-node is eventually conquered.|
|Thirteen||September 4, 2019||Vraska prepares for the coming battle in the Undercity, and Xeddick assures her that the Kraul will stand firm. However, they express their doubts about Mazirek, who has grown proud and selfish. Hekara visits to persuade Vraska to make peace with Ral Zarek again. Vraska refuses because she feels that the Golgari need her protection, and feels the pressure of her agreement with Bolas. Meanwhile, Orzhov guildmaster Kaya is berated by Teysa Karlov for forgiving of debts. Teysa argues that it will lead to the collapse of the guild. As Kaya realizes that wouldn't be a bad thing, Teysa warns her to watch her back. They part on disagreeable terms. On the other side of town, Ral Zarek is impatient to put his plan of altering the magical field of the Guildpact into motion. He feels the fine-tuning costs too much time but is afraid of the destructive resonance if the resonators would fail. He and Tomik comfort each other. Later, the alliance leaders consider their attack on the Golgari for the next morning: their target is Grek'ospen, a Kraul hive. Dovin Baan regrets he won't be able to join the expedition, but Aurelia, Ral and Kaya will all be at the forefront of the attack.|
|Fourteen||September 11, 2019||Ral Zarek and Kaya enter Grek'ospen with their Orzhov army of thrulls, knights and giants. Vraska awaits them and sets off multiple explosions which destroy the hives of the Kraul and split up the attacking army in many small units which are attacked by the Kraul, the Devkarin and their death mages. Ral throws in the war-constructs of Nivix to turn the tide, but Vraska retaliates with her army of rot zombies. In the melee, Kaya is attacked by one of her own Orzhov priests, who calls her a traitor. The woman dies before she can reveal the name of her master. Meanwhile, Vraska wears out Ral's electrical power and is about to overwhelm him, only to be confronted by a raging Aurelia. The tables are turned and Vraska only manages to escape thanks to a telepathic attack by Xeddick. Xeddick is killed by Aurelia.|
|Fifteen||September 18, 2019||Ral Zarek attempts to motivate his workers to finish construction on the Undercity resonator for his great machine. Ral returns to Nivix and is visited by Tomik Vrona who asks for Ral's help, explaining that Teysa Karlov is making a mistake by participating in a plot to kill Kaya. With Ral too focused on his work, Tomik leaves to deal with the problem himself. In Orzhova, Kaya struggles with her precarious position. She receives a note from an informant warning that the hierophants and Teysa plan to arrest her and extract the Orzhov debt from her by magic. The informant asks for Kaya to make her way to the stables below. Orzhov soldiers and mages attempt to capture Kaya by using a binding spell to disrupt her impermeability. Kaya fights her way out, but along the way encounters a shadowy figure who turns out to be Nicol Bolas. Bolas offers to free her, but the cost is the destruction of the Orzhov guild. Kaya refuses Bolas's offer and continues on, discovering that Tomik is her informant. Tomik explains that he only wants to help both Kaya and Teysa as hundreds of thrulls converge upon them. Suddenly, Ral comes to the rescue with a group of Viashino scorchbringers. Tomik runs to embrace Ral and reveals what he had uncovered. Later, Kaya strides into the main hall of Orzhova to confront the hierarchs who have gathered with Teysa. As the true heir of the Patriarch Karlov, Kaya exposes one of the leading hierarchs and declares him in breach of his contracts. She announces that all of the hierarchs had been bound to support the Karlov family and its true heir, and that Teysa is not indebted after all. Kaya places Teysa under arrest and offers the hierarchs an opportunity to make a deal.|
|Sixteen||September 25, 2019||Ral Zarek and Tomik Vrona walk together in the rain talking about Ral's daring rescue and why he did it. Ral reveals that he has difficulty trusting people because of his time away from Ravnica, but that he wants things to change with Tomik. Dreaming of his earlier life, Ral has just finished a prototype of his signature accumulator. Nicol Bolas appears and compliments Ral on the invention but reminds him of his debt. Rejecting Bolas's offer and in defiance, Ral returns home to Ravnica. Back in the present, Vraska stares at her throne reflecting on her recent defeat and the death of Xeddick when Mazirek arrives. Vraska questions where Mazirek had been in the battle and almost decides to kill the dark green kraul, but decides he is still too useful. Bolas enters in the body of a rotting woman wearing a Boros Legion uniform. He orders Vraska to kill Ral after his great machine fails and to disrupt his backup plan. In her armory selecting an appropriate weapon, Vraska gives Storrev a secret task as she prepares her assassination of Ral.|
|Seventeen||October 2, 2019||Ral Zarek secretly meets with Lavinia and learns of Nicol Bolas’s imminent arrival. Lavinia reveals that she is tracking one of Bolas's operatives and is close to capturing him. Returning to Nivix, Ral orders for the great machine to be brought online despite testing being incomplete. The machine is powered up as Niv-Mizzet reaches out to indicate his readiness, and the order is given to flip the switch. Meanwhile, Lavinia continues her pursuit but realizes something is wrong. Lavinia confronts and questions her target who reveals himself as Tezzeret. Explaining how Glademaster Garo had been turned, Tezzeret decides that a demonstration is in order as four multi-armed constructs emerge to attack. Lavinia notices a strange apparition hovering near Tezzeret and soon realizes that her reinforcements are not coming. Tezzeret explains that for the weak-minded, his associate is able to take direct control, but for stronger wills, Tezzeret provides assistance. Lavinia is subdued and Tezzeret places a metal collar around her neck. Back at Nivix, the great machine is activated but an explosion occurs in the primary control room, killing one of Ral's chief engineers. Ral demands to know what went wrong and is told that a surge originated from the second node in Azorius territory. Niv-Mizzet telepathically reaches out and reveals that it was no accident and that Dovin Baan has betrayed them.|
|Eighteen||October 9, 2019||Niv-Mizzet admits that he has again underestimated Nicol Bolas but compliments Ral Zarek for doing everything expected of him and more. In the distance, an enormous portal begins to open, heralding the arrival of Bolas and his minions. Out of time and with little hope remaining, Niv sends Ral to activate the Interplanar Beacon. Niv then flies off to delay Bolas for as long as possible. In the Undercity, the ground shakes from above and Vraska calls for Storrev who wishes Vraska good luck as she prepares to go to the surface. Hovering above the city, Niv waits as Bolas steps through the portal. Niv triggers huge energy blasts from hidden mizzium batteries across the city and channels their energies into a concentrated beam that strikes Bolas in the chest, knocking the elder dragon off his feet and decimating the surrounding area. Bolas emerges with a smile but with the scales on his chest damaged. After a quick verbal exchange, Niv unleashes a devastating elemental barrage. Bolas counters with a protective web, lashing out with death magic that Niv quickly brushes aside. As the two dragons engage in thaumaturgical combat, Niv abruptly flies into Bolas, digging into the elder dragon's chest and eventually biting into Bolas's wrist. Bolas attempts to obliterate Niv's mind but is surprised that he cannot penetrate the Firemind's mental barriers. As the battle progresses, Niv begins to realize that defeat is inevitable. Attempting to use his knowledge of the plane as an advantage, Niv draws Bolas away from the Tenth District. Niv again flies into Bolas who has been drawn over a Simic zonot and releases Bolas in midair. As Bolas struggles to regain flight, Niv collapses a large portion of the surrounding city onto the elder dragon. Bolas rises through the debris in a sphere of death and destruction that causes Niv to experience fear for the first time. Niv brushes the strange feeling aside and roars in defiance as he leaps toward Bolas and impending death.|
|Nineteen||October 16, 2019||Ral Zarek waits outside the heavily guarded Azorius Beacon Tower as Nicol Bolas and Niv-Mizzet battle in the distance. Having received Ral's note, Kaya arrives and has brought along Orzhov gargoyles perched above on the surrounding buildings. While Ral and Kaya try to figure out how to get inside the tower, Hekara shows up followed by reinforcements, a Rakdos circus. Creating a distraction, the circus approaches the tower defenses and is ordered to disperse. The ringmaster is disappointed, but his motley crew insists the show must go on. With that, chaos erupts as the circus creates pandemonium, and the gargoyles attack the hovering thopters. Ral, Kaya, and Hekara make their way to the tower door which is guarded by a lawmage and shielded arresters. Ral is unable to penetrate the mage's wards, so Kaya uses her powers to surprise the mage and slice his throat, allowing Ral to disable the soldiers with his accumulator. Kaya opens the locked tower door, but once inside, they are surprised to find the staircase unguarded. As they begin their ascent, Ral reveals a group of camouflaged constructs created by Tezzeret. Ral, Kaya, and Hekara fight their way upward and arrive at the room housing the Interplanar Beacon, only to find Lavinia and Vraska waiting for them.|
|Twenty||October 23, 2019||Ral Zarek, Kaya, and Hekara face off against Vraska and Lavinia in the Beacon Tower. Ral decides to take on Lavinia, now controlled by Nicol Bolas, while Kaya and Hekara go after Vraska. With Lavinia protected by a lightning ward, Ral is frustrated as he is mocked by Bolas. Against Vraska, Kaya and Hekara make little progress. Hekara begins to help Ral, but Lavinia's own voice distracts him, causing Ral to hesitate. Lavinia kicks Ral and is about to kill him, but Hekara steps between them and takes the sword through her chest. After Hekara dies, Ral becomes enraged and charges Lavinia, melts her sword, and removes the metal device from her neck. As Lavinia collapses, Bolas's apparition emerges to find another host but is destroyed by Kaya. Vraska knocks Kaya unconscious and turns her attention to Ral whose power is running low. Ral retreats toward the exterior copper dome, creates an opening to the outside storm, and unleashes an enormous bolt of lightning toward Vraska who planeswalks away. After checking on his friends, Ral activates the Interplanar Beacon. Deep underground, Mazirek travels with Storrev and an escort of Erstwhile zombies, believing he is to meet with Bolas. Mazirek is brought to a large chamber only to find that he has been set up by Vraska and Storrev. Hekara's Rakdos friends kill Mazirek. On the surface, Tezzeret makes his way through the ruined streets to meet with his master who is found sitting in the ruble and covered in scorch marks, broken scales, and with deep cuts in his badly burned chest. Bolas holds and regards Niv-Mizzet’s skull that has been scoured of its flesh. Tezzeret reports that no significant resistance has been encountered but is corrected by Bolas who glances at the skull. Bolas is informed that the beacon has been activated and smiles, declaring that everything is going as planned.|
- Mtgbooks@penguinrandomhouse.com, Magic: The Gathering books newsletter.
- Jay Annelli (March 18, 2019). "Storytelling in Magic: the Gathering Panel at ECCC 2019". Archive Trap Mini. Tumblr.
- Random House (March 2019). "Free Magic Stories from Django Wexler"
- Doug Beyer (April 12, 2019). "There's a lot of pre-War of the Spark Ravnica story material that will be filled in with Django Wexler's prequel stories.". Twitter.
- Chris Gleeson (April 18, 2019). "War of the Spark Story Hype". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- The Gathering Storm archive. Random House.