History & Lore: Liliana of the Veil (Part 3)

History & Lore: Liliana of the Veil (Part 1)

History & Lore: Liliana of the Veil (Part 2)

 

Three months had come and gone since Emrakul’s defeat on Innistrad. The Gatewatch had since made Ravnica their home of operations. Gideon trained with Nissa and Chandra, Jace had Guildpact responsibilities, and Liliana….well, she simply did as she pleased.

Jace had put the word out to the multiverse, if there was trouble, they would come, and they would fight. It wouldn’t be long before the Gatewatch would pique the interest of those on other planes. One of those interested parties was Dovin Baan of Kaladesh. He was looking for help to stop the renegades who were disrupting his plane’s government.

The job didn’t really excite the Gatewatch until they had heard that Tezzeret was operating on the plane. Liliana and Jace were the last to see him before his memory was ruined and body left for dead. To hear that he was alive and well was unsettling.

The Gatewatch went to Kaladesh to try to uncover Tezzeret’s intentions and the events that transpired ultimately led to a confrontation between Liliana and Tezzeret. She uncovered his efforts to confiscate the Planar Bridge, an experimental portal that reminded Liliana of the old artifacts that were built early on in Dominaria’s history. The technology could bridge two planes together, a terrifying tool for invasions and interplanar travels. The two fought back and forth and soon Tezzeret revealed that he was working for Bolas. It seemed that Bolas was responsible for restoring Tezzeret’s mind and body as well as putting him to work on Kaladesh.

Liliana defeated Tezzeret and pried for information on the whereabouts of Bolas. With her heel on his throat, he struggled to mutter,

“R— Ra—”

“Razaketh,” he gasped.

Fear jolted through her at the name of her demon master.

“Amonkhet,” she said aloud. “He’s on Amonkhet.”

Before she could deliver the killing blow, an explosion interrupts her execution and Tezzeret takes the opportunity to escape.

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Art by Daarken

The Gatewatch regrouped with their new member, the powerful leonin planeswalker Ajani. They debated whether they should go straight to Amonkhet to try to take Bolas by surprise, or if they should try and gather more allies and information before their assault. Most favored going to Amonkhet immediately before Tezzeret could alert Bolas.

Ajani left to try to recruit more allies while the rest left for Amonkhet. What they found was a desert plane with a secluded paradise within a protective barrier. Past the barrier was a lush, vibrant, organized civilization. The Gatewatch immediately took notice of a huge monument built in the likeness of Bolas’s horns that could be seen from anywhere. In the beautiful city they found the undead working on new buildings, gods like those on Theros, but no sign of Bolas or Razaketh. It was hard to believe that such a beautiful place was the product of such a devious enemy. Liliana had only been here once before, when she was signing her contracts with her demon masters, but it wasn’t anything like she remembered.

Bounty of the Luxa

The undead servants were strange here, Liliana couldn’t control them and there seemed to be some kind of ambient necromancy keeping them in order. Perhaps this was the product of Razaketh? She sent two shades to try to find his whereabouts and while they were successful in finding evidence of his presence, her prodding also alerted him to her.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Gatewatch was trying to uncover the reason for Bolas’s interest in the plane. What they could find was that Amonkhet had a history and culture older than Bolas, but they had been corrupted by him. The gods couldn’t seem to remember what had happened before his intervention and the population seemed to look forward to his “glorious” return. The prophecy was stated that when the second sun would rest between the horned monument, the God-Pharaoh Bolas would return and the Gate to the Afterlife would open, revealing a paradise to those who earned it. It seemed that he had supplanted himself in their culture and mythology as a God to be worshiped.

The Gatewatch’s timing was impeccable as the second sun was forecasted to set within the horns shortly after their arrival. As it did, the Gate opened not to a paradise, but a harsh desert to the disappointment of those promised a heaven beyond its border. Not only was there no paradise, but Bolas also remained absent and a demon emerged in his stead. A heavy dark mist trailed its wings as it flew from the Gate and turned the lush river to blood. His curses would set in motion a series of plagues that would end with Bolas’s return to the plane. The prophecies had got it all wrong.

“Liliana,” it rumbled.

“I know you are here, Liliana Vess. You cannot hide from me.”

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Art by Jaime Jones

Razaketh forced Liliana to make her way to the Gate where he stood. He had complete control of her. She tried to convince herself that her involuntary movements were just a scare tactic, but fear became an inevitable emotion as she was forced to make herself known in the crowd.

“There you are.”

“Come to me.”

How was she supposed to defeat Razaketh when she couldn’t even control her own hands, couldn’t even reach for the Chain Veil. It was always her intention to use the Gatewatch to help defeat her demons, but she had hoped she would have had more time to earn their trust. She had no choice though, Razaketh could easily defeat her if he wanted. She spoke out to Jace in her mind, informing him of her location and to bring the Gatewatch.

Liliana continued in her involuntary trance towards the demon, through the river of blood, to the Gate. She nearly drowned walking across the bottom of the river to the other side and now the demon had her in his claws. Liliana continued to talk to Jace in her mind, trying to get him to hold off the Gatewatch until the right time when they could ambush the demon. The demon took great pleasure in toying with his disobedient servant.

Razaketh, the Foulblooded

“I apologize for the forcefulness, Liliana, but I love a dog who comes when she is called. And you’re a good dog, aren’t you?”

He held out a lazy finger and tapped it.

Liliana felt her head nod. Her muscles strained and cramped as she tried to resist the urge, but her head tipped forward . . . then back . . . forward . . . then back.

Razaketh smiled, putting his hand down. “Good.”

He went quiet and considered her for a moment. A smug look pulled at the scales of his face as he thought over his next command.

“Bark.”

“Woof,” Liliana replied in a tone that could ice over the sun.

After he was satisfied with her torment, he finally gave her an opportunity to speak, and she didn’t waste it,

“You have five more minutes to live,” Liliana said, voice dripping with resolution. “You will watch me as I kill you.”

The demon laughed her threat off and ridiculed Kothophed and Griselbrand for being stupid enough to fall at her hands. Liliana had stalled long enough and the Gatewatch was in the perfect position to attack. Chandra blasted the demon with fire and he released Liliana. Immediate relief came over her as she regained control of her body. She attempted to siphon mana for a spell before Razaketh could take notice and stop her.

“I don’t think so,” the demon roared, and Liliana felt her shoulder dislocate itself.

The rest of the Gatewatch joined in as Nissa summoned an elemental, Chandra continued to blast him with flames, Jace was trying to break his control on Liliana, and Gideon was extending his invulnerability magic to her while she shoved her shoulder back into place. Razaketh struggled to control Liliana while simultaneously fighting the other planeswalkers and soon found himself half charred and pinned to the banks of the river by the elemental. His control over Liliana was broken and she took her chance.

“Razaketh,” Liliana called.

“Watch me as I kill you.”

She awakened the massive amounts of death that lay at the bottom of the river; people, crocodiles, hippopotamus, snakes. She controlled all of them and commanded them to eat Razaketh alive. Nothing pissed Liliana off more than someone trying to control her and Razaketh would soon learn that lesson. The zombies shredded the demon apart while he screamed in pain. The carnage was brutal as the rest of the Gatewatch watched in awe and disgust. When the zombies were full she left what scraps remained drift down the banks of the river.

She had done it! And without having to use the Veil! Razaketh was dead and now there was only one more! One more demon and she could reclaim herself!

The Gatewatch had proven itself quite useful and she was giddy at the thought of using them again to kill Belzenlok. That would have to wait though, Bolas was coming, and while that fight may prove easier with Razaketh gone, it would still be a tough battle. To make matters worse, Liliana was completely exhausted and barely able to stand let alone fight such a formidable foe.

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“Hour of Devastation” by Simon Dominic

Bolas was huge, towering over the small band of planeswalkers. The fight wasn’t even close. One by one he dealt with each member of the Gatewatch with ease.

He penetrated Jace’s mind and began to take every ounce of his mind and consciousness; he had to planewalk away, or die. Jace’s screams rang in Liliana’s ears and it became apparent to her that the battle was lost before it had started. Chandra’s fire did nothing to the elder dragon, Nissa had no control over the ground that was loyal to Bolas, and Gideon didn’t have the strength to even make a dent in him. He mocked their pathetic attempts.

“That was your mind expert, I believe? Do you have a spare? I can wait, or I promise not to listen if you shout at each other.” 

The Veil called out to her begging her to use it against him, but she knew she shouldn’t. It had gotten to the point where every use meant possibly dying to its powerful surges. As if Bolas could hear the voices in her head, he combated them with his own promises.

“Do you know, Liliana, how to use the Chain Veil so that it doesn’t rupture your skin or drain you of life? Do you know how to make the spirits of the Onakke serve you as their master instead of seeking the destruction of your soul and body? I do, Liliana. I do. […] Yes, it’s a nasty weapon in the hands of the untutored. A testament to your power and skill that it hasn’t killed you already. But I can help you unlock its power, Liliana. Its true power. […] I promise you this: whether you use the Chain Veil or not, if you fight me today, you will die. I am a better telepath than your mind mage, more destructive than your fire mage, more powerful than your elementalist, a better general than your so-called tactician. That each of you has lived so long is merely a function of how useful you can be to me. […] Liliana. Go. Leave if you want to live. The safest place in the Multiverse is the place where I have use of you.”

She was disappointed in herself for letting his words unravel her malice towards him, but he was right. They weren’t going to win, and there was nothing to be gained by staying. She turned to the others, pleaded with them to leave, regroup, live to fight another day. They stared back angrily with disappointment, the battle had just began and she was giving up.

She turned back to Bolas, “Where  . . . where do you want me to go?”

“Away,” Bolas said. “Away. I will find you, and then we will talk. There are so many useful matters to discuss. Go now, Liliana Vess.”

Here she was again, betraying the few people she cared about for self gain, self preservation. She supposed in was inevitable, it’s the way it’s always gone. Their hurt was tangible and the wave of different emotions was not something she typically allowed herself to feel.

She surrounded herself in a glowing nimbus of dark energy and vanished into the void, her tears finally free to fall in the empty spaces between worlds.

Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh

Three remained. Bolas pulverized Chandra’s ribs and crushed her to the point where she was coughing up blood and on the verge of unconsciousness. She had no choice but to planeswalk away.

Two to go. He forced dark energy through the leylines Nissa wished to harness and they began to suffocate her. Without access to the leylines of the plane, she had no power. If it were not for a timely interjection from Gideon, giving her an opportunity to planeswalk away, she would have died.

One left. Bolas had perhaps the least respect for Gideon than anyone else in the group. He was a reckless leader and a horrible strategist, continuing to fight even after the battle was lost. Gideon carried himself so confidently that his arrogance was palpable.

One of Bolas’s talons began to glow as it pressed into the invulnerable shield protecting Gideon. The talon pushed, and pushed, and the shield parted like melted butter, the talon’s sharp point puncturing shield and armor and flesh alike.

Though he may have been content in dying in that moment, Bolas’s mockery gave him reason to live on, to prove him wrong, so he planeswalked away instead.

Now, none remained and Bolas was left to revel in his victory and destruction of the once beautiful paradise on Amonkhet.

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“Damnation” by Zack Stella

Gideon arrived in front of the others at the rendezvous point, Dominaria. Ajani had picked it but Liliana was quite happy with the choice. It lined up perfectly so that they could defeat Razaketh and then go straight to the plane where Belzenlok resided. First the Gatewatch would have to lick their wounds and regroup. Also, where was Jace?

They worried where he had gone, was he dead? Did he abandon them? Their frustration from defeat and Jaces absence turned to anger. Liliana tried to calm Nissa down, she needed the group to stay together and remain cohesive.

“It wasn’t a disaster; we killed Razaketh. The rest . . . We couldn’t have anticipated—”

Nissa snapped back at her; perhaps now was not the best time to mention her victory over her demon master.

Nissa’s anger snowballed into accusations,

“You got what you wanted and ran. You don’t care about defeating Bolas, you’re just using us to free yourself from your pact.”

Nissa persisted, “And why here?” She flung an arm out, gesturing to the dead marsh. “How do you want us to risk our lives for you here?”

Chandra and Nissa were putting the pieces together, “Your last demon is here, isn’t it, Liliana?”

She couldn’t defend herself, it was going to come up eventually if she wanted their help.

“Belzenlok is here.”

She tried to convince them that defeating the demon would unlock her ability to defeat Bolas, that it was a necessary step, but her words only hurt them further. Outraged, Nissa ended her watch, revoked her oath, and abandoned them. Chandra, hurt by Nissa’s actions, also left shortly thereafter.

Only Gideon remained, who believed that Liliana could help defeat Bolas without her demon’s shackles. He was injured though, and he needed rest.

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“Broken Bond” by Ryan Yee

They found a small inn at a nearly deserted town that looked to be in ruins. She found out that the Cabal, followers of Belzenlok, had taken this territory and with it all of the beauty she had remembered about the Caligo Forest and Benalia. She went out to find some herbs that could help Gideon heal and couldn’t help but visit the grounds of Vess Manor where she had grown up. To her surprise is was still in tact, run down, but still standing. It shouldn’t be though, it had been too long since being deserted to still stand. She wondered who was watching over it enough to keep it from crumbling, the Raven Man?

Returning to the inn she had a run in with some of the undead Cabal knights patrolling the area. The undead were easy to dispatch as she simply took control of them from their Cabal cleric. As she was about to destroy the last one, a voice whispered in her mind, different from that of the Raven Man and Onakke.

The Void awaits.

Josu?

An image of a lich passed before her mind and the lich’s face was that of Josu’s.

The Cabal cleric was mortally injured but Liliana interrogated nonetheless.

“Where is Josu? What has Belzenlok done to him?”

“He knew, our Demonlord, the Scion of Darkness, he knew you were coming! He has made your precious brother into his servant, the commander of his unholy forces!”

Belzenlok is using my own brother against me, Liliana thought.

“He serves our lord, he . . .” The cleric gurgled as blood filled his throat. He gasped, “The Void awaits,” and slumped lifeless on the pavement.

She still feared it, the Void, the damnation that Josu had cursed her to. The guilt and fear from that day, the day her spark ignited, still followed her. She had to unmake Josu and lay him to rest. That would undo his curse and would weaken Belzenlok’s army without a general. She would have to lure Josu to the manor, where the curse was born.

Gideon and Liliana convinced the general of Benalia’s forces to come together and meet at the manor to lure the Cabal. Liliana spoke to Josu in her mind to catch his attention and bring him to the front of the ranks. He was unrecognizable as a lich, but he recognized her instantly.

Josu Vess, Lich Knight

This was her chance, she had to act now while he was vulnerable. She called upon the Veil and sent a blast towards Josu. His lich-like appearance retreated and he suddenly became the brother she had remembered with pale skin and dark hair. His peace was short lived though as he began to crumble to dust. The curse was broken and the ruins of the manor began to crumble as well. She could barely stand, weak from the Veil’s use.

“Josu, it’s all right. It’s over. The curse of the House of Vess is ended.”

“It cannot end, Liliana. Not while you still live.”

“What do you mean?”

What was left of his lips formed a sneer. “You destroyed the House of Vess, Liliana”

 “Josu, I wasn’t here—”

“Of course you weren’t.” Josu’s voice strengthened, even as his body failed. “What do you think happened after you left? They died. All of them. Father tried to lay me to rest. I killed him myself. Mother took our sisters away, searching for a cure for me. And searching for you. She thought you lived, thought you’d been stolen away. She followed a rumor of magic that could save me and the journey killed her. Others took up the burden, our sisters, our cousins, trying to stop me, to destroy me. All of them died.” He was fading now, fragments of his body disappearing into windblown dust. “You killed me. You killed them. It is you, Liliana. It will always be you. You are the curse of the House of Vess.”

And he was gone.

The words shook her, they were hard to digest, hard to swallow. What made it worse was that Gideon was there to hear it all as well, to see her in such a vulnerable state. Sadness and disbelief turned to anger and rage. Belzenlok would pay for using her brother the way he had, “If I must be a curse, then let me be Belzenlok’s!”

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“Final Parting” by Eric Deschamps

The rest of the battle was easily handled as the Cabal forces quickly scattered without their general. Afterward, Gideon and Liliana made their way to the city, where the Gatewatch was set to meet with Ajani after their fight with Bolas. It wouldn’t be long before a massive sky ship descended from the heavens upon them, the Weatherlight.

Ajani was disappointed, but not surprised to hear about their defeat on Amonkhet. Ajani was one of the firm opposers to the plan, and blamed Liliana and her distracting demons. Regardless of how things unfolded, they were down three planeswalkers and so he left in an effort to find more. Gideon and Liliana were left in the hands of the Weatherlight crew and its mission to overthrow the Cabal and save Dominaria from Belzenlok.

The Weatherlight had picked up some worthy inclusions to their crew as they made preparations: the time mage Teferi, Urza’s creation Karn, the legendary pyromancer Jaya Ballard, and even Chandra, who had returned to Dominaria looking for Jaya. The plan was to use Teferi’s time magic to help Gideon and Chandra infiltrate the Cabal Stronghold and find the Blackblade in their treasury. The blade was a soul siphoner that consumed the souls of those it slayed. The more it siphoned, the more powerful it was to wield, and it had already absorbed the soul of an elder dragon. Once the Blackblade was found, the rest of the Weatherlight would attack from the outside while Gideon and Chandra wreaked havoc from within. After the Cabal forces were distracted and weakened, Gideon would confront Belzenlok with the Blackblade and destroy him with it.

Blackblade Reforged

Before they could reach the Cabal, Jace planeswalked aboard the Weatherlight. He seemed hurried but even more importantly, he was alive. He explained that Bolas was preparing a trap for planeswalkers and tried to recruit as many as he could. They decided to stay and help Liliana instead, proclaiming that it would be more beneficial if she could help at her full power. Jace, disappointed and untrusting of Liliana, leaves to find and help Ajani.

Cabal Stronghold

The plan was executed well as Gideon and Chandra had found the weapon thanks to Teferi’s time magic. The Weatherlight crew, along with Liliana, overpowered the Cabal with thousands of undead that had laid just beneath the surface of the battle worn soil.

Gideon drew the Blackblade and met Belzenlok in the courtyard and caught his attention.

“I smell Planeswalker. Who are you?”

Gideon didn’t hesitate. “I’m Gideon Jura. I came here with Liliana Vess to kill you.”

Belzenlok bared his fangs again in a grin. “You. The Gatewatch. I know what’s planned for you. It almost seems a shame to kill you now. Almost.” Belzenlok lunged forward.

The two fought but Gideon was unable to pierce the demon with the powerful weapon. Liliana would soon catch up to them and their duel, but she was far too weak to engage while she still held control over the undead army that was fighting the Cabal. The best she could do was distract him. She ridiculed, belittled, and tempted him to try to break his focus. Gideon lunged at every opportunity he could find but Belzenlok was fast and strong.

Demonlord Belzenlok

He swatted Gideon like a fly and Gideon released the Blackblade from his grip. The weapon caught in Belzenlok’s hide but it wouldn’t siphon his soul without a wielder. As Belzenlok went to finish Gideon off, Liliana went for the hilt, grabbed it, and the dark energy soared through her. The incredible power of the weapon rendered Belzenlok paralyzed as Liliana drained him of his life and trapped it within the blade. Belzenlok’s body withered and collapsed onto itself until the blade released what was left of him; a pile of flesh, ash, and horns.

“You should have left Josu alone.”

She was exhausted but she felt incredible at the same time. She was victorious and she was finally free. Excitement quickly led to confusion at the sight of her still remaining scars, but perhaps they would always be a reminder of what had been done, regardless of whether the demons that had inscribed them were dead.

Belzenlok was defeated, the Cabal had been overthrown, Dominaria was safe, and Liliana was free. The Weatherlight crew celebrated their victory but there was still much work that needed to be done. The crew became the guardians of Dominaria and not just its saviors, while the Gatewatch left to help Jace. Teferi took his oath and joined the Gatewatch against Bolas. Karn decided to help against Bolas, but would not take the oath, as he had other priorities that he would need to attend to afterward.

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Art by Tyler Jacobson

It was time to part ways, to go help Jace, Ajani, and the others.

Carrying the Blackblade, Gideon glanced around at them all and said, “Are we ready?”

Everyone nodded and began to planeswalk away, following Gideon’s lead.

Liliana watched the others leave but remained behind. Confusion and panic followed. She had meant to follow him. Why couldn’t she? Had she lost her spark? Perhaps the power of the Blackblade or the Chain Veil had damaged her ability to planeswalk.

Then she saw the dust in the court rise and swirl into a whirlwind. A dark form grew at the center of the maelstrom. “No,” she breathed, as sick realization settled on her like iron chains. “Oh, no.”

Nicol Bolas materialized out of the darkness, his huge scaled dragon form looming over her, the sheer weight of his presence drawing all the light and air out of her world.

“You really should have read the details of your pact more closely, Liliana. You seem unaware that with your demons dead, your contract defaults to its broker. Me.”

Everything.

All of her victories over her demons, her betrayals, manipulations, triumphs and trials were all leading her here, to be Bolas’s slave. She was furious, disappointed in herself, and filled with sorrow. Perhaps she would simply disobey, abstain. He replied to her thoughts as if she had said them out loud.

“No. If you disobey my orders in any way, the pact will kill you. You will age hundreds of years in a moment, a desiccated husk to be blown away on the wind.”

Maybe that was okay. Maybe that was better than facing the Gatewatch on Bolas’s side. Maybe that was better than being under Bolas’s thumb. Perhaps death would free her from her prison once and for all.

No.

She couldn’t. Not while she had the will to fight. There had to be a way out. There had to be a way to be free. One day, she would be free, but that day was not today.

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“In Bolas’s Clutches” by Zack Stella

If you’re interested in reading any of Liliana’s stories mentioned in this article feel free to visit her home page here.

History & Lore: Liliana of the Veil (Part 2)

History & Lore: Liliana of the Veil (Part 1)

Shandalar.

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,

“The Onakke…..vessel.”

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.

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“Damnation” by Kev Walker

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.”

“What root?”

“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.

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“Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient” by Slawomir Maniak

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.

Gideon, Champion of Justice

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.

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Art by Adame Minguez

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.

Jace, Unraveler of Secrets

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.

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“Liliana’s Indignation” by Daarken

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.

Witchbane Orb

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.

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Art by Joseph Meehan

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, the Promised End

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.

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“Imprisoned in the Moon” by Ryan Alexander Lee

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?”

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“Oath of Liliana” by Wesley Burt

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.