Jace was inside what remained of the mind of the Phyrexian guards within the room. From what little knowledge he could draw from the guard, this was a kind of meeting room. Bolas, was speaking to three of five Praetors of New Phyrexia. A kind of ‘set’ of leaders from their respective areas from what he could deduce. In the room were Nicol Bolas, Elesh Norn, Sheoldred, and Jin Gitaxias. Jace wasn’t sure who the others were, but he know who Bolas was all too well. If Bolas was meeting with these machine-creatures, than they were just as tyrannical and dangerous as Bolas himself. The one called Elesh Norn began to speak, but, like all Phyrexians, she spoke a clicking/clanking language indiscernible to humans. “Only one relic left, patience Grand Cenobite.” Came the sinister voice of Nicol Bolas.
“What’s going on in there?” Said Sorin as Jace was whipped back to the reality of his own body. “Would you like to do the mind-reading Sorin? I’m trying to get as much as I can.” Stated Jace as he again reached into the guard’s consciousness with his mind. “Is Vector Signious ready for deployment Gitaxias?” Questioned Bolas. Gitaxias responded with a short series of varying pitches that Jace could only assume meant yes based on Bolas’ response. Sheoldred began to click and clank her own portion of the conversation, to which Bolas responded: “There will be more than enough mana and death to serve your motives, you can be sure of that. We will retrieve the last relic and your warships will be ready to puncture the barrier. All I ask is that you let me take command on the other side.” There was a short debate among the Phyrexians, which concluded with Elesh giving Bolas an affirmative in Phyrexian. “Then it is settled, we will meet on Dominaria once I have the last relic, and you’ve finished your ships.” Gitaxias said something in Phyrexian. “Yes, I know. Hello Jace.”
Jace felt daggers jab into his consciousness, debilitating his mind-reading abilities. He hadn’t felt this kind of pain since his last battle with Bolas. He broke free of Bolas’ grip on his mind to see Sorin standing over him with his claymore drawn. “What in the name of Griselbrach just happened?! You started screaming and kicking at the air.” Sorin chimed. “We HAVE to go!” Said Jace struggling to concentrate. “What??” Jace knew they didn’t have time for this. He gripped to Sorin’s leg tightly and shot into the blind eternities as hard and fast as he could. They landed in a thick Alaran jungle roughly. They were hurt, but they were, at least for the moment, safe.
Jace quickly became unconscious in the dirt he landed in. When he awoke, Sorin was standing over him tending to Jace’s now bleeding left arm. “Don’t move, you’ll hurt yourself.” Sorin explained. “Your arm is completely broken. You need time to recover.” Sorin Continued. Jace looked at their surroundings. They were no longer in the mud they’d landed in from Jace’s blind planeswalk. They were surrounded by a Leonin camp. A pride. There were young leonins, healers, and mighty leonin warriors all around. Many resembled younger versions of Ajani.
A purring leonin voice spoke from behind Jace. “You were lucky to survive a fall like that human. It is good your vampire friend brought you to us.” Jace thanked the leonin for her kindness, and asked her name. She spoke in her thick leonin accent “I am Narassa, healer of Ajani’s pride.” “So this is Ajani’s former pride.” Jace thought aloud. “Yes.” Sorin crouched down next to Jace. “You’re not in any condition to fight right now, and we obviously can’t handle this by ourselves anymore. I’m going to go get some more help. I want you to stay here and rest, then meet me on Dominaria once you’ve ‘fully’ recovered.” Sorin explained “What kind of help?” Asked Jace curiously. “Whatever kind of help we can get.” Was Sorin’s only response before planeswalking out of sight.
Jace spent the next few weeks recovering from his injuries, and mastering his mental-barrier disciplines. He refused to fall victim to Bolas’ superior mind control abilities ever again. He had no hope of becoming stronger than Bolas, but he could become wittier than the dragon. His time with the leonin pride gave him insight into a different type of thinking. Staunch ferocity was merely an outward characteristic. The leonin are far cleverer than most would assume. They “bate their prey” in more way than one. While training with a leonin warrior, he quickly fell for their ruse of outward strength being their only asset. When he tried to take control of the leonin’s mind, he was welcomed into the creature’s mind with open arms, only to experience in an instant every ounce of suffering, pain, hardship, and regret the noble beast had ever felt. When Jace freed himself of the melancholy induced by this leonin’s memories he was at axe point under the warrior’s hind paw. Jace learned that there was more than traditional brain or brawn methods of conquering your enemy.
Jace learned that the best offense is to not have one at all, and make your enemy prepare for an attack that will never come.
Weeks went by quickly, and, thanks to leonin care, Jace’s arm was now fully healed. It was now time for him to meet Sorin on Dominaria. Jace thanked Narassa and the pride for all they’d done for him, and swore he’d return to visit once this situation was resolved. As he left, every warrior in the pride let out their collective roar to signify their strength and loyalty went with him.
He appeared on Dominaria by a group of ruins upon the coast. He searched the world with his mind for Sorin and found nothing. He must still be searching for that help. Jace decided to wander the plane while he awaited his companion’s arrival.
He wandered for several weeks until he found himself at the ruins of Urza’s Tolarian academy. The wrecked, time-warped structure fascinated Jace. He searched the building at his leisure until he got to what was the east wing of the building. He wasn’t alone. Jace found himself looking down from a cracked staircase, which now served him as a discrete balcony, at Sarkhan Vol.
He was searching the rubble for something desperately. Madly even. (No surprise) He must be looking for the last artifact Bolas was talking about on New Phyrexia. Jace knew he couldn’t allow Sarkhan to find whatever it was he was looking for. Before Jace could plan his move, Sarkhan spun around and leveled a cluster of damaged walls with an explosive gout of crimson fire just a foot short of Jace’s hiding position. Vol immediately went back to searching as if nothing were amiss. The smoking rubble in the background didn’t affect him at all.
Jace decided a head on attack with magic was a bad idea. His strength could be his weakness. If I can make him reckless enough to hurt himself, I can get him. Jace took note of the bubbles of time fluxuation that dotted the landscape. He conjured several illusions of himself and phantasms. This, cast from a safe distance, should be enough to distract him. Jace thought. He scaled a few walls to get a better vantage point, and sent his illusion magic to do his dirty-work.
The first phantasm whizzed past Sarkhan’s face several times before he took note of its presence. He immediately reached out to grab it, but when it avoided his grasp he sent a wave of flame in all directions. It was destroyed, and replaced by three more, followed by an illusion of Jace himself. Sarkhan did not respond well to seeing Jace. He began summoning monstrous dragons in massive numbers to destroy ‘him’, despite the obvious effects it was having on his physical-health.
Eventually Jace got Sarkhan to chase one of the many illusionary Jace that taunted Sarkhan from all corners of the academy. When Sarkhan finally caught up to the phantasmal-Jace, his sense returned too late. Jace exiled the dragon Sarkhan was riding after the fake, and pushed Sarkhan with all his telekinetic power into a slow-time bubble, where Sarkhan remained frozen in a nanosecond-by-nanosecond suspended animation of time.
With Sarkhan now otherwise preoccupied with time, Jace returned to the ruins to search for the relic himself. Hours of digging and searching produced a small focusing lens. Jace did not understand the importance of the artifact, but if it would stop Bolas from finishing his plans, then it was good enough. When Jace arose from his find, he found himself surrounded by old friends, enemies, and unfamiliar faces. Among them stood Chandra Nalaar, Ajani Goldmane, Elspeth Tirel, Gideon Jura, and, of course, Sorin Markov.
Side by side the unlikely alliance of planeswalkers stood, backed by a Dominarian army. “I think I found the help we need.”