Liliana had been here twice before. The first was when she encountered The Chain Veil and the dangerous hunter Garruk. The second was when she returned shortly thereafter to try to uncover more information about the Veil. The endeavor ultimately ended in failure as she learned very little about the Onakke, was chased by a riot, and an encounter with the Raven Man only made the matters more confusing.
That information was unnecessary now. The Veil had no doubt proved itself powerful by granting Liliana the means to kill both Kothophed and Griselbrand, but had also been a heavy burden to bear. The power that surged through her body and illuminated her scars left her feeling weak and the voices in her head were becoming louder and more frequent. It was time to return it.
“You’ll take me there, won’t you?” she said. The whispers rose just to the edge of her hearing before she quashed them again.
“…where the seed took root…”
She walked, and soon enough—as she had expected—a sort of pressure behind one eye steered her to the right.
The voices guided her and she began to recognize places she had been before. Hoof prints where she had killed the beast that Garruk sought to avenge. The crumbling ruins of the temple that had housed the Veil and the setting for Garruk’s curse.
As she approached the temple an angel intervened, warning her to stay back. The angel seemed to recognize the Veil resting on Liliana’s side.
Liliana wasn’t one to head warnings, especially from angels. She’d killed many angels before, and this one would be no different. With ease she blasted it with dark magic and with her dying words the angel muttered,
Liliana was taken aback by the words and the voices grew to a loud roar that sent her to her knees. When she arose, she saw that her surroundings had changed. The land was younger, there were buildings, and there were Onakke ogres walking around a town. The business of the day’s errands supplanted the voices in her head. Suddenly an ogre ran out of the forest and into the town square, clamoring what seemed like warnings to the others citizens. The ogre fell to the ground and melted into a black smear of bones and soot. Chaos ensued as the citizens ran in a panic. A dark purple fog filled the town and meteors fell out of the sky. Any person that came into contact with the smoke met the same fate as the first. Before her eyes, she witnessed the massacre of an entire civilizations in just a few brief moments. A raven landed on a building near her, stared at her, and was the first thing to take notice of her. The Raven Man. She shot a blast of dark magic at it and she was suddenly pulled out of her vision.
She saw the ancients forest again, the dead angel, and the crumbling temple before her. She was in awe of the destruction she had witness, almost admiring it, but also wanted more than anything to return the Veil. It was bad enough to hear their voices let alone be thrown into visions of them.
She entered the temple and approached the alter, the voices were growing louder.
“Trust me, I’ve tasted its power. It’s really something. Great work… But I seem to have killed two masters and taken on a million more,” she said. “I’m not your damned vessel.”
She let the Veil slide to the edge of her hand and turned away to leave. To her disbelief she looked down and saw the Veil still in hand, thinking she had set it on the altar. She held it out in front of her to drop it but her hand refused to loosen its grip. She tossed it hand to hand but could not let go.
“Stupid hands! Don’t you know who’s in charge here?”
She walked over to an Onakke skeleton and animated it. She demanded it take the Veil from her and it obeyed despite her body’s objection. She then ordered it to take the Veil to the altar but it refused to move. She decided that if it wouldn’t leave her, she would leave it, and quickly took the life that was animating it. As it crumbled to the floor it lunged at her and draped the Veil on her outstretched arm. She fell to her knees defeated.
Another Onakke skeleton approached her without the need for her reanimation magic. Muscles, organs, and skin began to envelope the skeleton until she saw an Onakke ogre as if it were alive and well. She tried to dispatch it but it seemed to ignore her attacks and feel no pain. It spoke to her,
“The root has not yet come to full flower in you, vessel.”
“The root that was planted in you so many years ago, when you killed your brother.”
The mention of her brother angered her and she attacked it once again begging it to take the Veil from her. The ogre refused, further explaining that when the time was right, she would bring forth the destruction she carried within. He scolded her for damming others to the void while cheating death herself. At the mention of her brother again she called upon the Chain Veil to finally quell the spirit. She had to get out of here, anywhere other than Shandalar.
It had been a long time since Liliana had seen Jace, but there weren’t that many people she could go to for help, and she knew she needed it. She tracked down Jace to Ravnica where he had become an important figure among the guilds. Her presence caught him off guard. The last time they had seen each other, Liliana had betrayed Jace at the behest of Bolas. Though he was suspicious, he still let her into his house. She tries to convince him that her visit is to simply repair the relationship they had before; that their was no ulterior selfish motive. After some probing into the whereabouts of Garruk and the effects of the Veil, the two begin to heal old wounds.
Just as they began to enjoy each other’s company their dinner date was interrupted by Gideon. His interruption annoyed the party but quickly caught Jace’s curiosity when he mentioned Zendikar. His news that Zendikar’s defenses were falling to the Eldrazi alerted Jace to the severity of the situation. Gideon urged Jace to come with him and help him defend Zendikar against the titans. Liliana, having been ignored this whole time, pushed them aside and went her way.
Sensing she was hurt, Jace pursued her and tried to inform her of the situation, that he may be partially responsible for the release of the Eldrazi and that it was his responsibility to fix it. He tried to convince her to come and help or at least wait for his return on Ravnica. She couldn’t. She had a mission, a mission she would put before Jace and especially before Gideon, whom she likened to stupid angels. She still had two demons to kill and she wasn’t going to accomplish that by running off to Zendikar. She pressed on and let Jace go with Gideon; she was alone again.
She roamed the streets of Ravnica, regretting her decision to hold back from asking for help. Perhaps if she had, Jace would not have left and instead would have chosen to stay with her. Did he know what the Veil was doing to her? Her bind to it? Could he hear the voices in her head?
As her walk continued, the amount of ravens amidst the building tops became apparent.
The Raven Man.
“All right, Raven Man,” Liliana said. “Enough of your games.”
At once the Raven Man appeared out of a flurry of feathers and smoke. He mocked her poor condition with a disingenuous offer to help but she ignored him. She poked and prodded, hoping to unveil some new information about who he was and what his mission entailed. Obviously she had been a part of it since her time on Dominaria, before her spark, but to what end? She didn’t enjoy feeling like a pawn in a game she didn’t understand.
He gave her no answers, and only continued to provoke her by pointing out her unfortunate situation: She needed the Veil to finish off the other two demons, but the Veil was killing her with every use. She was trapped.
“You’re accustomed to corpses that are bound to your will. You’re accustomed to using death as a weapon. But death is coming for you, Lili. Death you can’t control. It is growing inside you, and there is nothing you can do.”
Her annoyance led her to finally attacking the Raven Man with the Veil, sending the ravens back into the abyss. The Raven Man had disappeared, her arms were bleeding, and once again she was alone. Frustrated with Jace and her lack of progress on Ravnica, she planeswalked away.
While the events on Zendikar were taking place, Liliana returned to Innistrad to see if any of its most accomplished giestmages, specialist in the magic of spirits, could rid the Chain Veil of the Onakke. After the Eldrazi’s defeat on Zendikar, Jace would once again find himself in the presence of Liliana, except this time the roles were reversed. This time Jace was on Innistrad, approaching Liliana for help. He was looking for Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, who had abandoned his responsibilities of guarding the once imprisoned Eldrazi titans. She tried to keep him from finding Sorin and going to Markov Manor, but Jace was annoyingly insistent, and would go whether she helped or not.
After much investigating on the plane, Jace returns with an uneasy demeanor. He attempts to use his mind magic on Liliana to test the knowledge he’s accumulated in the investigation against hers. The Raven Man makes himself known to Liliana and shields her mind from Jace’s prying magic. With the Raven Man protecting her mind, Liliana defeats Jace.
Jace seemed to be coming undone and on the edge of insanity, claiming he must find Avacyn and go to Thraben. Again Liliana refuses to help but tries to persuade him not to go, that it would be the end of him. Against her better judgement, he leaves for Thraben anyway.
Liliana couldn’t follow Jace, she had an important appointment with the Geistmage Dierk who was willing to help with the Veil. She arrived in the laboratory where Dierk had been readying the Witchbane Orb. The goal was to harness the power of the storm outside and blast the Veil with spectral energy while Liliana wore the artifact on her face. The experiment would be incredibly painful but could rid the artifact of the Onakke that were ensnared within it.
The experiment was a failure. Liliana took on as much pain as she could handle before giving in to the powerful spectral blast. The orb was ruined, the lab was a mess, and the Veil remained unchanged.
It was time to return the orb to its owner and she made her way to Olivia‘s manor. There, she learned from the powerful vampire that Avacyn had been destroyed, by Sorin’s hands no less. A fleeting feeling of worry for Jace came and went at the mention of Avacyn.
Olivia admitted she knew that Liliana had opened the Helvault. She told her that while she had freed Avacyn, Griselbrand, and other evil beings, she had also released The Lithomancer, Nahiri. She was one of The Three that also included Sorin and Ugin. Together they helped bring the Eldrazi into physical form so that they could be trapped. Sorin lured them to Zendikar, Ugin used his colorless magic to bind them, and Nahiri forged the hedrons that constructed their prison. When the prison became unstable, Nahiri called for Sorin but her messages were not received. She went to confront him and saw his negligence as an act of betrayal, he saw her contempt as disrespect. As punishment, he trapped her in the Helvault.
More surprises awaited Liliana as Olivia led her down the hall of the manor, to Sorin himself. He was livid with Liliana for releasing Nahiri, who had taken it upon herself to warp the plane that he loved to attract Eldrazi as revenge for her imprisonment.
Sorin’s fangs flared. “I told you when you came here as a pup. Innistrad is mine. You meddle in my affairs, you die.”
“Innistrad may be your domain, Sorin,” she whispered. She patted him on the arm. “But death is mine.”
Their feud was interrupted by Olivia who made Sorin aware of the fact that Nahiri was close and that it was time to go. Olivia had gathered a vampiric army on Sorin’s orders to face the Lithomancer, and it was time to march into that battle. Olivia offered a position within her ranks for Liliana, but she felt a pull in another direction.
Avacyn was gone and now Sorin was pulling his resources to face Nahiri instead of the monstrosities she wrought. A dark shadow of tendrils slithered beneath the clouds towards Thraben, away from Nahiri, towards Jace. Nobody would be there to help Jace or Thraben from the Eldrazi. Nahiri was Sorin’s battle, this was hers.
Liliana arrived as the Gatewatch and Tamiyo were in the midst of being overrun. The Gatewatch was a band of planeswalkers that consist of Gideon, Jace, Nissa, and Chandra. They had all taken an oath to team together against enemies that were too large or dangerous for any one planeswalker. While distrustful and suspicious of her motive and dark magic, the group had no choice but to lean on Liliana’s ability to keep the swarms of Eldrazi at bay with her zombies.
Before a plan could be formulated, Emrakul approached the Gatewatch. Her presence was unsettling and made Liliana feel uneasy. A feeling worse than the memories of Josu, Bolas’s gaze, and the Veil’s power.
Emrakul let out a burst of magic towards the Gatewatch that made them feel sick with vertigo and nausea. Her power was incredible and staying to fight seemed like insanity. Even the Veil didn’t want any part of Emrakul.
“Vessel of destruction. Root of evil. Flee.”
Emrakul let out another mental attack that knocked most of the group unconscious. Her assault on their minds was an attempt to enslave them, take them as her own. Just the thought of someone trying to take control of Liliana infuriated her. She’d come so far and achieved so much. She wasn’t going to let someone else take that from her. Her anger and rage drew more power from the Veil than she had ever siphoned before. Her outrage even blinded her from the pain that the Veil had caused previously. Perhaps this is how she’s to overcome the side effects of the Veil, by sheer force of will.
Once her fury and rage subdued the pain of the Veil, she was able to continue to draw more and more from it, to the point where she felt omnipotent as she was before the Great Mending. The Veil and the Raven Man protested in her mind.
“We must leave here. This is madness. I thought you wanted to conquer death. The entity you face here is older than time, and more powerful than you, even if you wielded a hundred Chain Veils! We must leave!”
“Vessel. Vessel of destruction. We must flee the World-Ender. The World-Creator. Vessel!” The Raven Man’s voice choked with panic. “Listen to the Veil, you idiot! Flee!”
“I. AM. NOT. A. VESSEL!”
All that matters is my will. My desire. Nothing can stand before me.
I don’t belong to you. You belong to me.
She blasted the titan with necrotic damage and then again and again and again with relentless fury and determination. The two pushed back and forth on each other while the Raven Man continued his campaign to convince Liliana to leave.
Eventually, Liliana began to tire as the battle had drug on for some time; Emrakul did not. The power that she had been using to fight Emrakul and keep her veins from spilling blood was now being used to shield herself from the titan. Her scars began to bleed and she was backed into a corner against the titan’s tentacles. Liliana’s fate was now in the hands of Jace who was the only other conscious planeswalker. He had been dispelling Emrakul’s magic and protecting the others, but he would need to do much more now.
Jace finally pushed past the mind control magic, and the rest of the group regained consciousness. Emkrakul could not be destroyed, as evidence of Liliana’s defeat and unconscious bleeding body on the ground. They had to do something else. Their plan was to try to trap it, the way it had been on Zendikar. Just as Avacyn and Griselbrand were ensnared within the Helvault, Tamiyo and the Gatewatch were successful in trapping Emrakul within a silver moon.
Liliana recovered, as did the rest of the group, and the plane itself.
She had lived, but she hadn’t won. In fact, she hadn’t had a gleam of hope or reason for celebration in a long while now. After killing Griselbrand, failure was all she had known. Failure in returning the Veil, failure in getting help from Jace or the geistmages of Innistrad, and failure in battle; The Veil was unreliable and her zombies were not enough to achieve victory.
She realized she needed more than the Veil or zombies to accomplish what she wanted, she needed planeswalkers. When her powers weren’t enough, they’d be there to step in, fight, and also help her heal afterwards. Their blind loyalty to each other was ridiculous, but perhaps she could exploit it for herself. The next two demons would be even tougher adversaries than the ones previous. Having back-up didn’t seem like such a bad idea.
My very own Gatewatch
“I see that together we’re more powerful than we are alone. If that means I can do what needs to be done without relying on the Chain Veil, then I’ll keep watch. Happy now?”
If you’re interested in reading any of Liliana’s stories mentioned in this article feel free to visit her home page here.
Continue Liliana’s story as she fights her two remaining demons with the Gatewatch by her side here.