The Gathering Storm

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The Gathering Storm
The Gathering Storm.png
Publishing Information
Author(s) Django Wexler
Preceded By
N/A
Followed By
War of the Spark: Ravnica

The Gathering Storm is a 20 chapter ‘prequel novel’ to War of the Spark: Ravnica written by Django Wexler.[1]

Publishing

In March 2019, it was revealed at the Emerald City Comic-Con (ECCC) that the prequel novel would become available through the website of publisher Del Rey (part of Random House) instead of at Magicthegathering.com.[2][3] The stories become available on weekly basis, by way of a newsletter.

Although billed as a prequel novel, readers of War of the Spark noted that some essential details were missing from the story of Greg Weisman's novel. Because these events (most notably Niv-Mizzet's death) were also taken for granted in the depiction of the cards from War of the Spark, it has been speculated that The Gathering Storm was originally intended to be released along with Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance.

Story

Django’s stories are mostly written from Ral Zarek's point of view, but some sections are written from Vraska's, Kaya's, and a Dimir thoughtstealer named Millena's point of view. Additional characters include Tomik Vrona, Teysa Karlov, Lavinia, and Niv-Mizzet. The Gathering Storm is set during the time period that the Gatewatch is away from Ravnica. His stories feature his new original character Hekara, a cheerful Rakdos emissary.[2] The prequel story was released on a weekly basis, starting in June 2019.[4][5]

Chapter Release date Summary
One June 5, 2019 Ral Zarek meets with Tezzeret, who presents him Nicol Bolas's offer to pay off a debt. Zarek refuses and they fight until Zarek realizes it must have been a distraction. Meanwhile, the Dimir thoughtstealer Millena, controlled by Bolas, infiltrates Nivix and plants a thought into Niv-Mizzet's mind (presumably the idea for the inter-planar beacon). After capturing the intruder, Niv-Mizzet sends for Ral. He reveals that he knew about planeswalkers all along, that Ral is one such creature and that Nicol Bolas is planning an invasion of Ravnica. He tasks Zarek with uniting the ten guildmasters to change the Guildpact and provide Niv-Mizzet with the necessary power to withstand Bolas. In return, Ral is promised the control of the Izzet League. He is also tasked to turn Project Lightning Bug into a beacon to call other planeswalkers to Ravnica.
Two June 12, 2019 With the help of the rot troll Jarga, and the kraul Mazirek and Xeddick, Vraska finds guildmaster Jarad vod Savo in the Devkarin rot farms. While the Cilia elves try to save Jarad, the Erstwhile lich Storrev betrays him. After Xeddick extracts all of Jarad's dirty secrets from his mind, Vraska petrifies him. Meanwhile, the planeswalker Kaya, hired by Nicol Bolas enters Orzhova to free Teysa Karlov. After killing a ghost that guards the prison, she finds the Teysa is unwilling to leave. Instead, Teysa and her aide Tomik Vrona point out that to return Teysa in a place of power, the Obzedat has to be killed without her obvious involvement.
Three June 19, 2019 Ral Zarek visits New Prahv to discuss Niv-Mizzet's plan with Supreme Judge Isperia of the Azorius Senate and the angelic guildmaster Aurelia of the Boros Legion. On his way, he notices the increased vigilance and apprehension of the Azorius army. Isperia introduces her second in command, the vedalken Grand Arbiter Dovin Baan. Baan reveals himself as a planeswalker and the threat of Nicol Bolas and the wish of Niv-Mizzet to become the new Living Guildpact is discussed. Zarek also reveals his suspicion that Lazav and the Dimir are in league with the elder dragon. Isperia and Aurelia agree to a guild summit. On his way home, Zarek is approached by the Azorius renegade Lavinia. She warns him that Bolas already has an organized network, spread through all the guilds. In his apartment, Zarek meets his lover Tomik and they enjoy a meal of curry. Because they are both highly placed, but in different guilds, they have to keep their relationship a secret. In bed, Zarak reminiscences about his youth. He had been a struggling rain mage at twenty-one when he was set up upon by some noble bullies. A tall, handsome older stranger, with his graying hair tied back in a queue, came to his aid and healed his nose. The stranger then offered him employment and introduced himself as Nicol Bolas.
Four June 26, 2019 Ral Zarek wakes from his bad dream when a Izzet messenger knocks on his door. In the letter, Niv-Mizzet orders him to meet with Hellas Vitria, a lieutenant of Lazav, who is open to discussing the possibility of leadership change at Dimir. When he arrives at his destination he finds Hellas Vitria dead and mutilated. Lazav, in the guise of a small child, is waiting for him and reveals that rogue agents have infiltrated the Dimir. Annoyed by this, Lazav agrees to attend the guild summit. Meanwhile, the Golgari guild leader Vraska considers her alliance with Nicol Bolas and experiences a hole in her thoughts. The kraul Xeddick removes the mind block created by Jace Beleren. She now remembers Ixalan, her friendship with Jace and her newfound righteousness. She also realizes that Bolas will invade Ravnica with his Eternal army. Ral Zarek, meanwhile meets with Hekara, who claims to be the Rakdos emissary and is send to be an observer and represent her guild at the summit. Then another messenger, a Golgari zombie, arrives to say that Vraska will attend as well.
Five July 3, 2019 Ral Zarek and Rakdos emissary Hekara visit the Selesnya Conclave to convince them to attend the guild summit. They meet with Emmara Tandris, who reveals that Trostani has unprecedentedly been in discord and that the guild is divided on their course of action. While Tandris advocates cooperation with the other guilds, glademaster Garo proposes an isolationist course. During their meeting, a servant girl tries to kill Tandris in an attempt to frame Zarek for and sow discord between the guilds. When they confront Garo about it, they are attacked again. Before the old elf dies, Zarek finds out that the glademaster had been possessed by Nicol Bolas. Meanwhile, Kaya and Tomik Vrona meet again with Teysa Karlov. Vrona proposes to enlist his friend Ral Zarek's help in distracting the Obzedat. After the Obzedat has been dealt with, the Orzhov should attend the guild summit to return the favor to Zarek.
Six July 10, 2019 Ral Zarek meets with Lavinia, who gives him information on Vraska, the mysterious new queen of the Golgari Swarm. Ral and Hekara then meet with Vraska, who explains her experience on Ixalan and how Jace Beleren wiped her memories so the elder dragon Nicol Bolas wouldn't know that she was against him. Ral is suspicious of her, so she asks for a chance to prove herself. Tomik then explains Teysa Karlov's predicament to Ral and asks that the Izzet attack Orzhova. Ral is willing to do so but is worried that the Orzhov will find out. He calls a meeting with Vraska and Kaya. On her way there, Vraska notices some Dimir corpses (part of Lazav's endeavor to reinstate his authority). Ral proposes his plan: Vraska should organize a Golgari raid on Orzhova, providing the necessary diversion for Kaya to assassinate the Obzedat. Additionally, this provides Vraska with a chance to prove herself. Everyone is in agreement, and the coup is set for the following day.
Seven July 17, 2019 Vraska, Ral, Hekara, and a Golgari strike team attack Orzhova to provide Kaya the opportunity to assassinate the Obzedat. The attack is successful until most of the Golgari rot-zombies are killed and the rest of the strike team is nearly overwhelmed. Hekara is forced to cut out a large piece of her skin when she is hit by an arrow with powerful death magic, but Ral manages to sear the wound with his lightning. Vraska, Ral, and Hekara then escape on a skyship-like vessel known as the Cloud-Lifter. Meanwhile, Kaya passes through the Orzhov defenses mostly without a problem, although she has some difficulty defeating a couple of giants. She kills the Ghost Council easily, but as she kills the ghosts, she feels all the Orzhov contracts physically weighing her down. Karlov, the head of the ghost council correctly guesses that his granddaughter is responsible for the assassination and he warns Kaya that Teysa is untrustworthy. After Kaya kills him she collapses under the weight of all the Orzhov contracts.
Eight July 31, 2019 Ral Zarek visits the Azorius Beacon Tower to meet with Dovin Baan. In the primary chamber of the tower, an Izzet team led by Chief Chemister Varryvort is preparing the Interplanar Beacon for its activation. Ral enters a safety sequence for the activation in the machine that only Niv-Mizzet and he know. Varryvort mentions that, once activated, the Beacon will stay active until its internal power reserves run down. Meanwhile, Kaya wakes up in an elaborate Orzhov bedroom, feeling the burden of the contracts. Teysa explains that Grandfather Karlov had unexpectedly held most Orzhov agreements personally, and that these were now transferred to Kaya. The guild had no choice but to acknowledge her as guildmaster. Not much later, Kaya is visited by an old man possessed by Nicol Bolas. It is revealed that Bolas has maneuvered her in this position, and that she now had to do his bidding in return for aid to her broken home plane, as originally agreed, but also for extrication from her current predicament. Bolas commands her to attend the guild summit. At home, Ral Zarek dreams about his youth. In the three years after becoming employed by Bolas, Elias's career had taken off in a way neither of them had imagined possible. Non withstanding their lavish lifestyle, they had grown apart because of Ral's secret missions for Bolas. During one of his enforcer jobs he was stabbed by a young boy. Returning home wounded, he found Elias in the embrace of another man. The shock ignited his Planeswalker's spark and he disappeared from Ravnica.
Nine August 7, 2019 Ral Zarek wakes up from his nightmare. He looks at the sleeping Tomik beside him, and realizes that their relationship has become public knowledge. Ral meets with Lavinia in her official capacity and a recovered Hekara. They identify Kaya and Vraska as the most likely suspects of being an agent for Bolas. Meanwhile, Kaya shortly escapes the tediousness of her new role as guildmaster, and frees a poor servant from his debt. She feels an ever so slight relief from her burden. In another place, Vraska is met by a Devkarin elf who turns out to be possessed by Bolas. Bolas notes that Vraska has deviated from her assigned role by helping Ral Zarek. He threatens to turn the Erstwhile against the Golgari, creating death and chaos for her people. Bolas then forces her to make a choice, for or against him. While making the choice, Vraska feels guilty towards her friend Jace.
Ten August 14, 2019 The guild summit commences at New Prahv. Guildmasters and representatives of all Ravnican guilds hear the request of Niv-Mizzet to change the Guildpact and grant him the power to fight Nicol Bolas. Many distrust his motives, and the meeting is adjourned. That night, Vraska meets Isperia in the conference chamber. Simultaneously fulfilling Bolas's demands and achieving personal revenge, Vraska petrifies the sphinx. After the delegates find out about the murder, their cooperation is dissolved and they return to their guilds. After Lazav pledges his guild's support, Ral Zarek and Hekara are left behind. Ral is desperate but then thinks up another way to achieve their goal, using the magic of the Implicit Maze.
Eleven August 21, 2019 Nivix is abuzz, whole the complete Izzet League cooperates on bringing Ral Zarek's plan to fruition. Ral is exhausted and dreams about his first planeswalk to an unidentified plane. Not knowing where he was, or how he had gotten there, he had found an apprenticeship with an old tinkerer who worked with electricity. He also had found a new lover in the tall and broad-shouldered Harith. After learning all that he could from the tinkerer Ghazz, Ral had worked with Harith to rob him. Afterwards, he had betrayed Harith and had left with all the loot. Ral presents his plan to Niv-Mizzet: the construction of artificial lines of energy to alter the design of the Implicit Maze, in order to alter the Guildpact that it substantiated. A machine that spans the Tenth District, enabling the ascension of Niv-Mizzet without the consent of all the guilds. The machines requires nodes in Gruul and Golgari territory. Aurelia and Dovin Baan agree to attack the Gruul Rubblebelt with their guilds, while the Orzhov and the Rakdos agree to attack the Golgari in the Undercity. Hekara, however, is having second thoughts about the necessity of attacking their former mate Vraska.
Twelve August 28, 2019 Kaya prepares to join the fight against the Golgari in person, despite Teysa Karlov's objections. In her room, Kaya releases another poor servant of her debt, but still feels the multitude of debt weighing her down. Meanwhile, the Izzet commanded by Ral Zarek, the Boros under the command of the minotaur Ferzhin and the Azorius confront the Gruul in the Rubblebelt. The Gruul are commanded by their new guildmaster, Domri Rade, who has disposed of Borborygmos. At the cost of many casualties, the old square that contains the Implicit Maze-node is eventually conquered.

References

  1. Mtgbooks@penguinrandomhouse.com, Magic: The Gathering books newsletter.
  2. a b Jay Annelli (March 18, 2019). "Storytelling in Magic: the Gathering Panel at ECCC 2019". Archive Trap Mini. Tumblr.
  3. Random House (March 2019). "Free Magic Stories from Django Wexler"
  4. Doug Beyer (April 12, 2019). "There's a lot of pre-War of the Spark Ravnica story material that will be filled in with Django Wexler's prequel stories.". Twitter.
  5. Chris Gleeson (April 18, 2019). "War of the Spark Story Hype". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.

External link