Author’s Note: Enjoy the story and R&R.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to or of Magic: The Gathering.
Emrakul may be imprisoned in the moon, but Her drones live on. Delve into the Delver of Secrets’ secrets.
On Zendikar, the brood lineages dried out after being severed from their respective Titan’s presence.
On Innistrad, however, Emrakul was not dead, but sleeping, imprisoned in the great silver moon by a desperate, powerful spell. Yet Emrakul wasn’t trapped because the Gatewatch triumphed. As evidence of how little they knew, how cosmically unaware they were, Tamiyo had relayed to Jace Beleren the unnerving truth: Emrakul had merely enslaved her body and thoughts and chosen a different spell from her forbidden scrolls – a spell Emrakul also altered – to imprison Herself.
They hadn't stopped Her. She merely chose to hold off. For whatever unknown, more terrifying reason, it was not yet Her time.
The drones She created remained. Shadows retreated, not purged.
Before leaving to consider the next plan of action, Jace stayed to ponder Emrakul’s lingering effects on the plane, as well as to reduce the locals’ burden nearly kicking the bucket (again). Humanity’s survivors gathered around Sigarda as their new central (if temporary) figure of hope, and began the miserably routine business of rebuilding.
One of the investigations Jace was taking part in dated back to before Avacyn was freed from the Helvault. A dignified scholar who’d since had his projects and even name expunged from memory had turned up mysteriously missing, something that made Jace squirm based on his own history of memory replacement.
The last entry of the laboratory notes recovered read cryptically:
Unfortunately, all my test animals have died or escaped, so I shall be the final subject. I feel no fear. This is a momentous night.
Jace was informed the scholar was a studier of insects, his laboratory a collection of framed butterflies, jarred giant grubs, needle-mounted beetles, and caged mantises. The other focus of his experiments was said to have been teleportation magic, which, while not unheard of on this plane, didn’t have widespread applications in a largely uneducated agrarian populace.
Technology here was mostly believed the apparatus of mentally insane corpse crafters and a tool of temptation by demons.
There was innuendo spoken about the scientist. That in his failure to perfect the teleportation procedure, he discovered a more fascinating subject in need of perfecting through his alchemy.
On-edge peasants swore they saw a creature flying by their places of dwelling. A praying mantis with the head of man, preying on their livestock, which church officials dismissed (likely to themselves) as crows or a vampire.
About the same time, investigators tracked leads to a second, smaller research station filled with waxy insect sheddings and additional notes. The penmanship was less legible and less coherent, consistent with the physical handicaps inspectors imagined a half-man, half-bug monster might possess.
One line read: Metamorphosis is a process.
The final pages of the experiment log were blank, book abandoned on a desk, the open pages flipping in the wind from a shattered window.
It appeared the aberrant researcher had “metamorphosed” into the perfected form he sought.
Come the Lunarch Inquisition, the stories revived.
Any scientist will tell you, for a theory to be respected, its theorizer must share his method and findings.
That’s when the docent of perfection migrated from animals to kidnapping humans.
Jace pictured the piteous intellectuals locked in hanging cages, the horrible insect horror pouring arcane mixtures between smoking test tubes to transform them into bug-people, just like his earliest inquest transformed him.
Should such a situation present itself, Jace deemed it sensible to get in touch with Chandra. She’d torch the blood-thoraxed creeper, making up for his lack of firepower.
Except, when Jace followed the clues to the third lair, he realized they’d need a bigger stick.
Emrakul’s corruption. The former delver of secrets reached his final iteration, where calling him a “him” no longer seemed appropriate.
Except the “head” – a featureless clump of unfinished tentacles – the rest was still vaguely insectoid. The Eldrazi had six legs, but its wings were fused in part to the carapace under Emrakul’s familiar mesh. If it flew anymore, Jace postulated it would fly only due to Emrakul’s disregard for gravity, and not the originating specimen’s morphology.
Hard at work worked the three unwilling lab rats, winged, antennaed, and a sort of hive blending green solutions in beakers in their little insect-hands.
Not much “mind” left to control.
The takeaway Jace took from this was to not fight battles you couldn’t win.
If only Jace arrived at the same conclusion later instead of persuading the Gatewatch to foolishly go after Bolas on his turf.