Descend Upon The Faithful
Updated: Jun 13, 2022
Avacyn perched on the tallest tower of the Thraben Cathedral, her eyes drawn to the destruction below. Free from the shackles placed on her mind by her creator, Avacyn understood the city burned in her name. Her angels were consumed by a righteous rage, but there was nothing right about slaughtering those they were meant to protect, it was all wrong.
Never before has Avacyn felt guilt, but before she could try to process the unfamiliar feeling, or stop her angels from causing further destruction, something else demanded her attention. The ancient presence was unseen but felt. It was coming from somewhere far, far beyond Innistrad's silver moon. Yet despite the distance, Avacyn felt the influence the presence had on her world. She could hear alien voices at the edges of her consciousness.
To protect her world, Avacyn needed to understand this presence. She listened closely to the whispers of corruption… 'mrakul, 'mrakul, 'mrakul… then suddenly all at once, Avayn’s senses were overwhelmed and her mind went blank.
Gisela’s wings, armour and golden swords were covered in blood as she flew through the burning streets of Thraben with conviction that only Avacyn could inspire. She did not question the crusade against the sinful, driven by the singular purpose of serving Avacyn ever since the Archangel was freed from the Helvault. Avacyn decreed the flames would ignore the sinless, and so Gisela showed no remorse to those that burned.
Unaware of the battle that took place within the Archangel’s Vault, or how close Avacyn was to death, Gisela felt only triumph when Avacyn burst forth from the ruined roof and settled on the tallest tower. However, the feeling was short-lived. Gisela saw Avayn gaze up into the endless night sky and then… collapse.
“No, no, no! I can’t lose you again!” Gisela cried out, her heart and mind sized by terror she hoped to never feel again. With all the might her wings could muster, Gisela flew to Avacyn, her swords clattering on stone the moment her feet touched the roof of the tower. Gisela dropped to her knees, cradling the unconscious Archangel in her arms.
“Please wake up.” She pleaded, her eyes swelling with tears. “Please, please…”
Whilst begging the only deity she ever knew to wake up, the tormenting voice in her mind took advantage of her weakness… “please… please’m… plea’mra… p’mrakul…”
When Avacyn began to perceive she immediately knew that she was not perceiving Innistrad. The ruins of Thraben were nowhere in sight, all around her was only blackness and the distant light of stars, but there was no silver moon that always dominated Innistrad’s night. When she tried to look at any particular star, the distance magnified into infinity. The distorting effect was dizzying and so Avacyn closed her eyes. At that moment she realised for the first time that she could no longer hear any voices, neither prayers nor alien whispers. Her mind was completely silent.
It felt wrong. Ever since her creation, Avacyn felt distant from everyone else, even her angels and even more so from the humans she was charged to protect, but she never felt completely alone. The feeling of dread washed over her but instead of seeping into her and taking hold, Avacyn was reminded of the power she felt when she rose in defiance to Sorin’s attempted unmaking. Whatever was happening to her, she knew it wasn’t her end.
Avacyn dared to open her eyes, and among the blackness she saw shimmering outlines taking form. An angel unlike any she ever saw manifested before her.
“You are not one of my angels.” Avacyn stated the obvious. The manifested angel towered over her, a canopy of furled wings high above a hooded head, and countless ribbons with life of their own distorted the angel’s form below her waist.
“No.” The angel’s voice was devoid of tone and emotion, it could barely be called a voice. Just like the voice, the angel had no energy essence. All that Avacyn could sense was a wasteland, a wasteland more ancient that she could ever imagine.
“Who are you?”
“Are you not afraid?” The returned question surprised Avacyn. Was this angel the source of the dread she felt earlier? When Avacyn considered the posed question, she realised that despite her lack of understanding of her situation, she found it amusing.
“Afraid?” She shook her head. “I’ve been forced to learn of my existence as a pawn of an utterly vile monster. I’ve faced near destruction at the hands of my abhorrent creator. I have to live with memories of horrors done in my name upon the innocents. What more is there to be afraid of?” Avacyn recounted how her entire world view has been shattered and gave voice to the guilt that was coiled around her heart. “But now I am free, and unafraid. Whoever you are.”
The angel appeared to contemplate, the ribbons fluttering around her in silence. Eventually she responded; “Emeria.”
“Why are you here, Emeria?”
“I was called here.”
“By whom? For what purpose?”
“I do not know. I was drawn here through the chaos. I do not have a purpose, only hunger.”
None of the answers Emeria offered brought Avacyn closer to an understanding, instead raised only more questions. Emeria must have sensed this; she raised her left hand, palm facing upwards in a non-threatening gesture, and offered it to Avacyn. “I can show you.”
Avacyn hesitated, but she wanted to understand. She hoped that by understanding Emeria she could return to Innistrad and protect her world, and so she reached out. The moment their fingers touched, Avacyn’s mind was assaulted with scenes of countless worlds. Worlds that were once full of life and left barren husks. The loss of life across eaons was unfathomable, and it made Avacyn weep, for no words could express the sorrow she felt from learning the truth of Emeria.
“You… you must be destroyed.” Avacyn proclaimed when she found her voice.
“I am infinite. I cannot be destroyed.” Emeria said, showing no concern for Avacyn’s threat.
“What cannot be destroyed must be bound.” Avacyn decreed, just as she has done countless of times before whilst imprisoning the demons of Innistrad in the Helvault.
Emeria did not respond. Avacyn’s decree broke whatever spell conjured the reality where her mind could comprehend the approaching Eldrazi titan.
Without Avacyn she only heard Emrakul's voice.
Fear, helplessness and despair threatened to consume Gisela as tears spilled down her blood stained cheeks, fearing the worst when Avacyn was not responding. So lost in her hopelessness that Gisela did not realise when her corrupted words returned to normal, or when Avacyn opened her eyes. Not until the Archangel touched the weeping face of her most devout angel.
Gisela stared wide-eyed, and then cried out in relief; “I thought I lost you!”
Avacyn offered no more sympathy, expressing emotions was new to both of them, but she allowed Gisela to help her stand. The titan’s presence Avacyn felt before her interaction with Emeria was stronger. Avacyn was sure it was only a matter of time before the angel of desolation would breach the reality of Innistrad.
“Rally the Goldnight.” Avacyn commanded and informed Gisela of what she learned; “Great threat is approaching our world, and everything will be lost if we do not seal them away.”
“But the Helvault was destroyed.” Gisela commented on the silver monolith that was once used to bound demons.
Avacyn looked up into the sky; “The Helvault was once part of the moon.” There was no time for a lengthy explanation, but Avacyn hoped that with enough power she could seal Emeria in the moon.
Gisela needed no more encouragement, empowered with newfound purpose she soared across the blackened skies and called all of Avacyn’s warrior angels to her. Soon the stars themselves were darkened by the countless wings. With her army of angels ready, Avacyn took to the skies herself and joined Gisela at the helm of the Flight of Goldnight.
High above Innistrad, Avacyn could see it clearly. With the newfound knowledge of the Multiverse, her mind could perceive the laylines and how they were twisted by the artificially created cryptoliths. The magical energy that flowed and ebbed through the world was being directed to one location, creating a guiding compass for Emeria to follow through the chaos between planes. It raised the questions of who created the cryptoliths, and why, but that would have to wait until Innistrad was safe.
Avacyn and her Flight followed the laylines to the coast of Nephlia. All of the cryptoliths pointed towards one location, a fishermans’ graveyard known as the Drownyard. Among the wrecked ships and graves they found the ring of cryptoliths that concentrated all of the redirected power into a singular location. The effects of Emeria’s influence were stronger here. Avacyn could see the suffering on the faces and in the eyes of her angels. The humans and other lesser creatures too close to the Drownyard were already corrupted beyond reason. Their forms were unnaturally twisted and their minds belonged to Emeria. They attacked immediately and fought against the angels with power that no creature should, on ground and in the skies.
Gisela was at the vanguard of the attack, tearing a path through the abominations. Avacyn flew through the battle into the nucleus where the layline energy was at its apex. All around her the battle of wings and claws raged, but she was alone in the eye of the storm. Avacyn pierced the ground with her spear, using it as the focal point to channel all of the gathered power. Avacyn was the strongest being on Innistrad but she never held this much power before. The spear glowed in perfect light, connecting to the silver moon until its surface shone as bright as the sun.
The illuminated sky revealed Emeria’s true Eldrazi form. The titan dwarfed the moon, her form was an impossible mass of lattices and tentacles, with a glowing centre in a fissure among the lattices. Despite her size, Emeria was engulfed in the light and began to be pulled back towards the moon. The titan’s form deformed into impossible shapes until she disappeared with an unnatural snapping sound. The moon dimmed and silence descended upon the battlefield.
Without Emeria’s corrupting influence, the abominations lost whatever energy allowed them to exist.
“The voices… they are gone.” Gisela announced as she landed beside Avacyn. The relief showed on her face. “We won.”
However, Avacyn did not share in the victory. The Archangel did not respond to Gisela’s concerns. Her spear lay discarded, her hands were clenched, and her face was distorted by pain. For the voices did not cease. Instead they took on a new form. Alien whispers turned into words she could understand. The voices grew louder and louder, calling to her, screaming and begging for salvation. SAVE US! PROTECT US! AVACYN, PLEASE!
The voices of untold millions were all that she could hear. It was too much, the burden too great to bear, threatening to unravel her existence yet again. Avacyn screamed into the heavens, echoing the countless voices that came to her across the Multiverse, every prayer from every plane, all at once. The surge of power that followed was incomprehensible. Torn from the plane where she was created, Avacyn was violently thrust through the Blind Eternities.