Sing to me, o Muse, of slain false gods
Ascended once on wings of fiery faith,
Brought low by careless pride. The blessed spear
Thrust home by Sun’s bless’d Knight restored the peace.
And what great hero’s welcome earns the Knight?
That same spear, stolen by its sun-crowned maker
Splits the heart of her who did obey
Too well. The grand reward of Heliod:
Ilysia, the field of hero’s rest.
At least, that’s what the gods prefer to think.
The door swung open silently, peeling a wedge of light from the hall beyond and laying it on the floor of the cell with a gentleness immediately contradicted by the shadow that fell across it. Vicious spikes loomed in the doorway, and she shrank back as far as she could into the corner, injection sites already aching in a perfect line down her spinal cord.
But darkness was no refuge, and never had been. The thing found her by smell, or the sound of her breath, or some other sense it had no need for her to understand. Grasped her arm in talons that barely left a mark, even as they squeezed the blood from her wrist. They both knew what came next.
Not this time. The thought may even have come from her, and it was right. She reached for the spikes with her free hand, wrenched one loose and turned it back on her captor. It screeched, vibrating her bones, but she gritted her teeth and drove it home--
--and opened her eyes, and it was not some Phyrexian monstrosity before her, but Daxos, tangled in his bedroll, eyes glazing up at the spear driven into his chest.
No, and this time she was aware of herself speaking. “No, I--I’m--” and then he was dead, and nothing she could say mattered anymore. The murmur of the revelry outside had become an approaching roar.
She gathered her clothes, her armor, the spear with which she’d--she hadn’t meant to, it had been a dream, she’d lashed out, if only--
Outside the tent, fires were spreading. Laughter rang from somewhere, echoed by screams. She ran until she could no longer tell how long she had run, but the laughter pursued her, drew alongside, and as its source turned to face her she recognized it. Dropped her armor and struck at the source of her misery--
--and opened her eyes to an eternity of starlight and velvet, and Xenagos crumpled at her feet, eyes glazing up at the spear driven into his chest.
The sun rose behind her as she bent to free the spear, and she turned to greet it. “My lord,” she began, but got no further as the great hand of a sun-crowned god tightened around the haft of Khrusor and wrenched it from her grasp.
Her chest ached even before the blade pierced it. They both knew what came next.
Not this time . Maybe that voice really was hers. There was force behind it, a force that drove her to sieze Khrusor in both hands and pull it from the gash in the armor that she hadn’t realized she was wearing--
--and open her eyes, and Heliod was not there. The stars, the dead god, all of it lost in a soft dull grayness lit by no visible source.
She knew she was awake this time, because none of this had ever happened before. She reached up to rub her eyes and touched metal. Ran her hand over her face until she found an edge, and pulled away a bronze mask set with blue gems. Then, with sight unfettered, she examined the spear that remained in her other hand.
It was a shadow-made-solid of the Khrusor from her dream, black and oily-surfaced where the other had been polished steel, with red gems instead of blue binding the blade to the haft.
She knew where she was now. She knew why she was there. And she may not have known why she now held the shadow of a spear, but Elspeth Tirel knew what she needed to do.
God of Destiny
Klothys paused a moment in her ascent to watch the movement of souls about the Underworld. For the most part, all was as it had been for millennia, as she herself had decreed at the binding of the Titans: the heroic and virtuous dwelt in peace in Ilysia, the vile and vicious endured their fated torment in Tizerus, and all others faded into the tepid gray of Phylias.
But one movement drew her attention. A soul not of this world, who had died a hero in bringing justice to the Usurper. Meant to be resting comfortably in Ilysia, she wandered instead in the gray realm, navigating the crumbling misera and ghosts of ruined temples like a Returned hunting for the path to the sunlit world.
This would not do. Klothys continued on her way to Nyx, vowing to return Elspeth Tirel to her much-deserved rest. Her wandering was not the first sign that the order of the world had begun to break down. Klothys would return Theros to the path of its destiny, regardless of the cost.
The source of Elspeth’s unrest paused a moment to consider what they had seen in her dreams. An exquisite nightmare, that image of the spiked torturer framed in the cell doorway. They must discover what caused such delicious trauma; perhaps there were other victims.
A stolen image of Phyrexia clear in their mind, Ashiok planeswalked away, unseen by gods or mortals.