Olympia Bellamy was not particularly fond of crowds. Unfortunately for her, whatever plane she had just happened upon was full of them.
Already, she missed the dark forests and meandering streams of her previous planeswalk, Zendikar. Though her time there had ended on a sour note, at the very least, it was relatively quiet. She shrunk into herself as several elves pushed past, not even noticing the young Dominarian girl as they strode past haughtily. Olympia winced as a few loud, drunk men jostled her as they jeered and stumbled down the street. This plane was an absolute hellscape for her. Why did she come here?
Olympia mused that she didn’t really choose where she went. She knew there were hundreds, if not thousands, of worlds for her to explore, but without any idea of what she wanted or even who she was, she was at the mercy of whatever divine power made her a planeswalker.
She didn’t really understand how the planeswalking thing worked, anyway. One day she was a quiet, lonely healer-in-training on Dominaria; the next, she was being taken in by tribal vampires on a new world. She wanted to go home. Too bad she couldn’t.
The brunette girl was pulled from her thoughts as she passed an alleyway; in the darkness, she heard snarling and screeching. Olympia glanced around, and upon noticing no one was even bothered by the shouting, she took it upon herself to wander to the edge of the alley and see what was happening. The fighting died down just as quickly as it began, and three men walked out the alley with varying injuries. After they were out of sight, Olympia peered down the alleyway before clutching her small dagger and entering the darkness.
She spotted a man, turned away from the light, lying on his side by a large wooden crate. In the darkness, she could only make out the vague outline of armor. “Um… hello?’ she called as she approached.
“Go the hell away.”
Olympia pursed her lips. “That’s no way to greet someone who wants to help you.”
“I don’t want your stupid fucking help. Go away!” The man waved a hand dismissively; as he raised his arm, Olympia noticed beautiful stained glass in his gauntlet.
“Wait -- are you… Are you a Benalish knight?” While he was certainly wearing Benalish armor, his accent was distinctly foreign, and Olympia couldn’t quite place it.
The raven-haired man turned his head slightly to face her. Olympia gasped at his pale, hideous skin and glowing red eyes. “Who’s askin’?”
“A girl from Benalia, that’s who.”
“Oh! Great! Are you here to put me out of my misery, Little Miss Holier-Than-Thou? Cut my head off and call it a day? My dagger’s right there!” He jerked his head in the direction of a bloody longsword on the ground. “Stabbed with my own damn knife. Ah, the irony.”
Olympia stared at the man and shifted from foot to foot. This man clearly needed her help, but he was being awfully rude. She remembered what one of her teachers, Lady Catherine, had told her; male patients, especially knights, were prone to being cruel while in extreme pain. Steeling herself, she approached him, knelt down, and gently touched his arm. Olympia was able to get a decent look at his face, and there was no mistaking it: he was a vampire. And an ugly one at that.
“Don’t touch me!” the knight snapped, jerking his arm away from her. “Can’t you understand shit being said to you? Go away!”
“Let me help you!”
“Yes!” Olympia crossed her arms and gave him her best intimidating face. “As a healer, it’s my job to help people. And you need help. So you are going to lay there and let me fix you!”
The man laughed ruefully. “No one can fix this,” he snarled, pointing at his face. “Trust me, I’ve asked around! The people who actually talked to me instead of running away screaming told me that vampirism is incurable. So there! Put that in your pipe and smoke it!”
“You don’t know how powerful I am,” Olympia said, attempting to sound wise and mysterious despite not being either of those things. “I worked with vampires on my last planeswalk.”
“Oh, really ?”
“ Yes , really , and they taught me how to use healing and death magic to deal with injuries to the undead. Which you are.”
“Oh, rub it in, why don’t ya?”
Olympia ignored him and continued to talk. “Though I’m not sure how you can planeswalk, considering I heard that undead things can’t do that.” She snatched up his wrist, much to his chagrin. Olympia yanked his gauntlet off and pressed her ear to his wrist. After a minute, she pulled away and gave him a curious look. “Hmm. Sounds like maybe you have a heartbeat. It’s just very, very slow.”
The man yanked his hand away and scowled. “I don’t care. All I want is for you to go away!” He swatted at Olympia, who stood up and recoiled in shock. She had dealt with her fair share of brash, rude, and often crass knights, but nothing compared to this vampire’s behavior.
Still, Olympia was unwilling to give up on him. As the man began to crawl away into the shadows, Olympia decided to speak to him in the only language he seemed to truly understand: violence.
“Stop! Moving! And! Let! Me! Help! You!” She punctuated every word with a harsh kick to his side. The man hissed like a wild animal and swiped at her feet; she stomped on his hand in response, and he screeched in pain. Olympia felt a bit smug as she stared down at the vampire, who writhed in pain as she continued to kick him and plead with him to let her help him.
“Hands up! Stop moving!” A new male voice boomed down the alleyway. “You are under arrest!”
“I… wait… what?” Olympia’s jaw dropped as the officers grabbed both her and the vampire and tied their wrists behind their backs. The two were led to a carriage and thrown into the back, despite the protests from Olympia and the vampire. Olympia shouted through the canvas separating the back of the carriage from the driver, “What are we even being arrested for?”
“Being dumbass nuisances,” one officer snapped.
The other gave her a serious answer -- at first, anyway. “ Inciting public violence is what we’re putting down. But yeah, being dumbass nuisances.”
She huffed and turned back to the vampire. He was curled up on the floor, shielding his face from the light. Despite his obvious pain, Olympia couldn’t feel sorry for him. His stubbornness had gotten them into this mess!
The ride to the jail was bumpy and miserable. Olympia pouted as she sat by the canvas. Her wrists were already aching from the rope digging into her skin. Finally, mercifully , they reached the jail, where Olympia and the vampire were thrown into the same cell together. The officers removed the ropes from their wrists. The vampire crawled into a corner, his face in the wall as he ignored Olympia. This was going to be fun. Still, Olympia attempted to strike up a conversation.
“Yes! You’re gonna talk to me!” Olympia strode over to him and sat down behind the knight. “We’ll both be miserable if you just ignore me. Talk to me.”
The vampire growled. Olympia tried to maintain a facade of calm, though admittedly, this man was terrifying her. “I’m Olympia Bellamy. I’m a healer who studied at Calchester.” She extended a hand near his side. “Nice to meet you.”
The man glared at her over his shoulder. His piercing red eyes made Olympia’s heart jump in fear. He seemed to be studying her before deciding to answer. Finally, he spoke. “...Miroslav Alkaev.”
“Miroslav…? Oh, so you’re Kevan, right?”
“ Kevyan ,” Miroslav corrected, annoyance creeping into his gruff voice. “And yeah. I am.”
“I figured. You have--”
“--a stupid accent and a dumb name?”
“I wasn’t going to say that.”
“It’s what you were thinking.”
“No, actually,” Olympia protested. “Miroslav is a cool name! And your accent isn’t dumb, I promise. I’ve always liked the way Kevyan accents sounded.”
Olympia scowled. “You’re a jerk, you know that?”
“I am very well aware of that, yes.”
She crossed her arms and glared at him. “Listen, Miroslav. We’re not going to get out of here unless we -- wait. We’re planeswalkers. We can just leave . Let’s do that.”
“I won’t,” he snapped in response.
“What? Why not?”
Miroslav sighed. “When I first landed here, I was arrested for... nevermind. The point is, I was detained and they took my sword.”
“Don’t ‘oh’ me! It was a family heirloom! I need it! And I’m not leaving this stupid fuckin’ plane until I get it back!”
“And how do you get it back?”
“You know about the arena?”
Olympia eyed him suspiciously. “I’ve heard people talking about it, yeah.”
“If I enter the latest tournament and win, they’ll give me anything I want. But the tournaments are always duos-only.”
“We can enter together!”
“What skills do you have that I want?”
The brunette scowled. “I told you I’m a healer who can work with the undead. I can use death magic, you know.”
“These tournaments aren’t about kills, Little Miss Healer. They’re about style. Finesse.”
“And you think you have either of those?”
He grumbled. Olympia caught a brief glance of his face; with the better lighting in the jail cell, she could tell that the skin was ashy and pale, and pulled taut against his bones. How old was this man?
“Who’s to say that stealing someone’s life force or healing a wound can’t be stylish, anyway?” she challenged. “My magic is a lovely purple color, you know. Here, let me try it on you.”
“ Excuse me? ”
“Nonono, I’m not going to hurt you, I promise,” Olympia explained, attempting to assuage his fears. “I can… make you look more alive again.”
Miroslav seemed to ponder this for a moment before fully turning to face her. Olympia tried to hide the horrified gasp that nevertheless escaped her lips. The knight’s eyes were a bloody red color, and juxtaposed with his dead, gray skin, he looked like a zombie. His hair was gray and dead as well. Miroslav looked like an old man, though by his demeanor and speech, Olympia assumed he couldn’t be more than 25. She smiled weakly and tried to comfort him. “I’ve seen worse.”
“No you haven’t,” he snapped.
Olympia’s eyes narrowed. “Fine! You look like a goblin had sex with a golem and then threw the baby off a tower, only for it to get run over by a horse and then dunked in shit!”
“That was mean!”
“You’ve been mean this entire time!”
Miroslav’s lip twitched in annoyance. “Just fix me, please.” Though his voice was gruff, Olympia sensed an undercurrent of fear within it. It almost made her pity him.
She scooted closer to him and reached for his face. At first, the knight flinched at her touch. Olympia carefully took his face in her hands, and focused on giving him life back. Her veins glowed a soft purple and magic floated off her fingertips and into his skin. The man shut his eyes and attempted to relax himself. Through the lilac fog clouding her vision, Olympia could see his skin and hair darkening. Stop , her mind whispered. You’ve done all you can.
Olympia stopped the flow of magic and pulled away to look at Miroslav. His skin was no longer gray, but a warm brown color, and his hair was alive and a lovely shade of black. Freckles adorned his cheeks and nose, though Olympia felt pang of sadness when she noticed his eyes were still a deep red. “You look a lot better,” she said with a gentle smile. “I have a small mirror in my bag -- here.”
Miroslav took the mirror from her and gasped, touching his face and running a hand through his hair. “You did this?”
“I did,” she replied proudly, admiring her handiwork.
The knight caught her staring and scowled a bit. “Don’t be getting any ideas. I don’t like women.”
“Oh,” Olympia responded, feeling her heart drop for a moment. Oh well. She tried to remain cheerful by adding, “Well, do you like them as friends?”
Miroslav blinked slowly, as if processing what she’d just said. Then, he laughed -- a real, genuine, hearty laugh! Olympia couldn’t help but grin at him. The black-haired man regarded her with a quirked eyebrow and a small smile. “You know… maybe I do.” He glanced back down into the mirror. “You’ve got some skills.”
The brunette young woman sighed in relief. With his change in attitude, she wanted to continue to help him and remain by his side as a friend. They were just two lost Dominarians, far from home, and so far all they had was each other. “Would you like to be teammates and get your sword back?”
“I would like that very much.”