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Serra, Lunarch of Innistrad

A 'Magic: The Gathering' "What If?" Story

This is the third part of my "What if?" series, if you have not read the first two parts please use the links below to read them before proceeding.

Yawgmoth, Lord of Innistrad Part One

Serra, Beacon of Hope Part Two

***

Serra and Odric worked their way through the crowded markets of the middle level of Thraben. Odric grabbed a pair of cloaks from a shop as they passed it.

"Here, put this on," he said as he handed one of the cloaks to Serra.

"Normally I do not condone theft," Serra said as she took the cloak from him and put it on. "But this is a matter of life and death."

"Agreed, we need to make it out of the city." A commotion in the crowd drew Odric's attention. "Angels! They must be tracking us!"

A hand grabbed Serra's shoulder and pulled her and Odric into a nearby shop. The person silently closed the shop door and cautiously peered out of the window.

"Stay down," the person said as they signaled for Serra and Odric to remain still. "The angels will pass soon."

"Who are you?" Serra asked as she studied the person.

"Thalia?"

"It is I Odric," Thalia said as she lowered her hood.

"How did you know where we were?" Odric asked as he embraced Thalia.

"The angel of Flight Moonsilver that saved you from Gisela. She came to me and told me about you two. She said you would need my help."

"But how did you know we would be here?"

"You are predictable Odric," Thalia said as she turned to Serra and extended her hand out. "You must be Lady Serra."

"I am," Serra said as she shook Thalia's hand. "I see my reputation proceeds me."

"The angel told me all about you. What you have done and what you can become."

"How do the angels know so much about me?" Serra asked to both Thalia and Odric. "I have dealt with angels before but never experienced this."

"So it is true," Thalia said as she glanced to Odric. "You are a traveler. You were not born of Innistrad."

"How did you know?" Serra asked as she looked at Thalia then Odric.

"Avacyn's angels can see inside the hearts of people," Odric explained. "Every child is told if their heart is pure they have nothing to fear of the angels."

Several loud bangs drew the attention of the group to the roof.

"Speaking of angels," Thalia said as she peered out the window. "It looks like they didn't fall for our ruse."

Thalia signaled Serra and Odric to look out the window. Several angels were descending upon the market causing the crowd to scatter. Serra's attention was drawn to the angel at the center of the group, she had large wings like Gisela and wielded a distinctive spear.

"Another archangel?" Serra asked without shifting her gaze.

"Bruna," Thalia answered sternly.

"Bruna is one of Gisela's sisters," Odric explained as he watched Bruna land. "She leads the Flight Alabaster, they shepherd the souls of the dead to the afterlife so they do not haunt the living."

"Come out heathens," Bruna declared as she began walking the marketplace. "We know you are here!"

Thalia stepped away from the window and signaled for Serra and Odric to get out of sight. Serra and Odric crouched down below the window.

"What should we do Thalia?" Odric asked in a whisper. "We can't stay here, they will discover us."

"We cannot leave either Odric," Thalia retorted. "There are far too many to fight. We wouldn't get two steps outside the door."

Before Odric could respond a black, talon-like gauntlet smashed through the window grabbing a Serra by the neck and pulled her through the window. Serra quickly cast a blast of light causing the person who grabbed her to let go. Serra fell several feet before crashing to the ground. She staggered to her feet and began to run back to the shop where Thalia and Odric were rushing outside to help her.

"Halt my lady," a voice demanded from somewhere behind her. "Go no further and no harm will come to you or your friends."

Serra stopped, she had recognized the voice immediately.

"Avacyn," she said as she turned to face the archangel. Serra could barely recognize the archangel, her polished silver armor and spear were now tarnished by blood, her once well-kept clothes were tattered and fraying, her pure white wings were now turning blood-red at the ends and her once piercing white eyes were now a crimson red.

"It is I my lady," Avacyn said as she landed in front of Serra. "I have been sent to retrieve you, Thalia and Odric for my master."

"But you sent me here to find..."

"That was before my master freed me," Avacyn said as she extended her hand out to Serra. "Now come, he awaits your arrival."

"And if we refuse?" Thalia asked from behind Serra.

"Then you will die where you stand," Bruna retorted as she landed behind Thalia and put her spear across Thalia's breastplate. "Now drop your weapons."

Thalia and Odric dropped their weapons.

"Now, if you would come with me my lady," Avacyn said as took Serra's arm gently in her own. "Our master awaits."

The angels led the three away. A figure emerged from the shadows of a nearby alley and silently followed the group.

***

Avacyn and the angels led the group into a tunnel deep beneath the Cathedral of Thraben. The tunnel looked ancient, older than the cathedral above it and much less used. The walls were coated with dust and cobwebs, torches long extinguished still hung in their holders.

The tunnel opened into a large chamber, the stones in the walls were noticeably cleaner than the ones in the tunnel with no dust or cobwebs on them and the torches on them were lit. On the floor in the center of the room was the silhouette of an angel that had been burned onto the floor.

"What is this place?" Odric demanded of the angels.

"It is strange," Serra said as she surveyed the room. "I can feel that a powerful white magic spell was cast here."

"You are correct, Lady Serra," a voice said from the far end of the room. The angels pushed Serra, Thalia, and Odric to their knees as the person entered the light. It was an old man, the sight of whom sent a shiver down Serra's spine. She could sense he was a master of the darkest of black magic.

"Who are you?" Thalia demanded.

"My name is Yawgmoth," he said as he approached the group. "but you need not worry about such trivialities...

"Yawgmoth," Serra said as she suddenly realized she has heard of him. "I know of you."

"You do, do you?" Yawgmoth stated inquisitively as he approached Serra. "How is that?"

"A man came to my realm, he was on the verge of death but we nursed him back to health. He returned to his home to rally his forces to fight against you."

"Urza," Yawgmoth said with disgust. "What did he tell you of me?"

"He said you were the master of machines and flesh and a bitter enemy of his home."

"Oh Urza," Yawgmoth said with glee. "How you sell me short. He is right about me being the master of machines and flesh. My plague swept across this plane making it easier for me to take control of it. I planned to kill the angels and demons with it but it seems they are immune to disease. The archangels like Avacyn are even immune to my death magics, so I put them under my influence."

"Why is that?" Odric asked.

"Enough questions from you," Yawgmoth said as he signaled the angels to take Odric and Thalia. "It is only Lady Serra I am interested in."

Avacyn and the other angels stepped forward to grab Odric and Thalia.

"Stop, Avacyn," a voice said from the entrance to the chamber causing everyone to turn. Serra could see that it was a vampire but unlike others she had faced, this one was ancient and powerful.

"Vampire!" The archangels said as they readied their weapons.

"Avacyn, do you not remember me?"

"No," Avacyn asserted as she readied her spear. "You will pay for your trespass into my cathedral!"

"Then you truly are lost," Sorin said with disgust as he raised his sword to Avacyn. "So be it."

The vampire began uttering an incantation as the angels charged him. Avacyn made it a few steps before she dropped her spear and crumbled to her feet. The other angels stopped and let out cries of pain, their pale skin darkened and turned to ash before it was blown away by a breeze. Avacyn's hair and feathers lit as if they were becoming embers on a dying dire, smoke and ash began to bellow from her heads and wings as she was undone.

"This is not how I intended this day would go," Yawgmoth said as he took a step back away from the group and began to conjure a black spell. "I will kill you, vampire, and take Serra with me!"

The vampire advanced into the room with his sword pointed at Yawgmoth.

"You made me destroy my creation," the vampire said as he stepped between Serra, Odric, and Thalia. "I will rip your throat from your body."

"Hmm, you seem different from the rest of your kind," Yawgmoth goaded. "Are you a progenitor?"

"I can see you are not of Innistrad," the vampire said as he took another step closer to Yawgmoth. "I am famous across this world. There is no mortal who does not know who I am or who does not know my family name. I am Sorin Markov, grandson of Edgar and heir to the Markov bloodline. I am the planeswalker guardian of Innistrad and your foul presence will not linger here anymore."

Yawgmoth took several steps back until he could feel the cold stonewall against his back. Sorin charged with his sword held above his head.

"I feel I have overstayed my welcome here," Yawgmoth said as he pressed harder against the wall. "Until next time, Sorin."

Yawgmoth's body moved through the wall as Sorin brought his sword down. The sound of steel striking stone echoed into the chamber and the tunnel behind them.

"He is gone," Odric said as he stood up.

"Yes," Sorin said sullenly. "But the damage he has inflicted here will be felt across Innistrad. Without Avacyn the power of the church will wane, its protective magics will begin failing and the people will be slaughtered by the evil of the world once more."

"What if we remake Avacyn?" Serra asked as Odric helped her to her feet.

"It would do no good," Sorin said as he put his sword in its sheath. "People have seen what the angels have done, they would have lost faith in them. We would need to give them a new symbol to put their faith in."

"Serra," Thalia said as she stood up. "They can put her faith in her. She is able to use powerful white magic and while she may not have been born of Innistrad she still feels a deep connection to its people."

Sorin's eyes turned to Serra but she did not feel the same repulsion she had with the other vampires of Innistrad. She could sense he had good in his heart despite his vampiric nature.

"I will be the symbol for your people," Serra said as she placed her hand on Sorin's shoulder. "What do I need to do?"

"Follow me," Sorin said as he led the group out of the chamber.

***

The group exited the main entrance of the Cathedral of Thraben and entered into the courtyard. The sun had risen since they were taken into the chamber beneath the cathedral and it seemed to shine brighter than it had on the days since Serra arrived on Innistrad.

"Are you ready?" Sorin asked as he turned to face Serra.

"I am," Serra said with a smile.

"Alright, close your eyes," Sorin said gently. Serra closed her eyes as he placed his hands on her the sides of her head. "Now focus, pull as much white mana as you can into yourself."

Serra began to reach out with her heart, she could feel the energy from the sun and the land pouring into her. White mana powered white magic spells and she had always enjoyed the feeling of warmth and reassurance it gave her.

"Good, now keep your eyes closed and remain focused on gathering white mana."

Serra nodded to show she understood, she knew Sorin was about to cast a major white magic spell.

Sorin began to speak an incantation, one similar to the one he used with Avacyn but it was different. The one he spoke in the chamber was one of unmaking, the breaking of a spell that he had previously cast. The one he spoke now was of creation, he was casting a powerful enchantment on Serra.

As the incantation reached its climax Serra could feel the white mana conform into an enchantment, one that would renew the faith of Innistrad and give them the power they needed to defend themselves.

A powerful rush of air ripped through the courtyard as Sorin reached the end of his incantation knocking him, Thalia and Odric off of their feet. As they looked up they saw Serra glowing with a faint white aura and surrounded by rays of light from the sun.

"The ritual is complete," Serra said as she lifted her hand to the sky. The clouds overhead parted as hundreds of angels descended through them. "I will protect your people and restore order to Innistrad. Go, find Yawgmoth and end his treachery."

Sorin grinned as vanished from sight. Thalia and Odric watched in awe as the angels landed around them and bowed in front of Serra.

"Go forth!" Serra decreed to the angels. "Protect the innocent, rally the righteous and beat back the evil of this world!"

The angels took flight in silent unison. Angelic wings made of stained-glass sprouted from Serra's shoulders.

"Where are you going?" Odric asked gently.

"To help the angels in healing this world. It is only in the absence of light does darkness thrive and the light has been gone from this world for far too long."

"What should we do?" Thalia asked as she stepped past Odric.

"Rally the cathars, restore order here in Thraben and the surrounding countryside. I will lead the angels into the provinces to wage war on the monsters that plague them."

With a flap of her wings, Serra took flight.

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