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Authors: Cory Herndon

The Fifth Dawn

BOOK: The Fifth Dawn
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A darkness at dawn …

Intent on fulfilling her destiny and revenging herself upon the Guardian of Mirrodin, the elf Glissa must once again dare to cross the forbidding lands that surround her. Accompanied by her loyal companions Bruenna, the human mage, and Slobad, the goblin tinkerer, she must plunge into the depths of the world.

There the party will come face to face with Memnarch and his minions, followers who will stop at nothing in their pursuit of Glissa and her power. There they will see the world of Mirrodin itself fulfill its long-delayed destiny.

Cory Herndon completes the story of magic and madness that embraces a world of metal.


Many thanks to:
My collaborators and co-plotters Will McDermott and Jess Lebow, authors of the first two parts of this story—
The Moons of Mirrodin
The Darksteel Eye
, respectively; Peter Archer, who offered me the chance to run my third elf heroine in a row through the wringer and was patient enough to edit every single final version of the manuscript; Andrea Howe, the mightiest error-hunter in the Tangle, who pointed out someone can’t climb out of the hole and still be at the bottom of the hole; Brady Dommermuth,
Creative Director, who kept me honest; Scott McGough, who knows what sounds right in a surprising variety of circumstances; Bayliss, Remo, and Ripley, my advisors on leonin behavior; the guardians of the
Magic: the Gathering
storyline past and present; the designers and creators; and everyone that makes sure those cards and these books get out the door.

Extra-special thanks and love to Stephanie Poage Miskowski, who provided support, advice, reality checks, and reminded me to eat when I locked myself in the office for weeks at a time.


For Richard Herndon, artificer-in-training.

Wake up.

The voice slithered through the tangled mess that was his mind.

Mind. Yes, that was the word. A mind that seconds before has been cold, dark, and dead. A mind that was somewhat shocked to be aware of itself once more.

Wake up, now.

The voice became a little more insistent. Urgency played around the soggy depths of his brain. The hissed words coaxed a little more clarity into his mind.

Yert’s mind.

He was Yert. What was a “Yert?”

It was … his name. He was a man. A … Moriok. A Moriok man called Yert. A controller of nim. A controller of a mighty reaper that was, like him, dead. Though Yert’s death apparently hadn’t taken hold.

Visions flashed behind Yert’s eyes as optic nerves sparked inside his brain. He saw images of a strange world, an organic world of soft earth and flesh creatures, horrible and horribly unprotected from the elements. A white stone city filled with humans—tanned and leathery in gleaming silver armor—appeared, then was gone in a sudden burst of white light. Now open seas of some thin, translucent liquid covered the strange
landscape, and verdant stands of trees exploded in clusters amid rolling green and gold fields. A flash. Yert saw a grim-faced man with no hint of metal on his skin, a flesh-and-bone warrior swinging a savage chain in a grimy pit. A third burst of white light, and he stood on the command deck of a massive living vessel, cutting through miles and miles of the translucent liquid he’d seen before. He knew somehow that it was as corrosive as acid, and the experience of touching it, even in his vision, made Yert’s skin tingle.

This physical sensation was lost in yet another flash. The mental scene shifted to show him another fleshy human, this one a magician with a strange hat, call forth nightmarish things made of skin, hair, muscle and tendons. Monsters pulled from thin air without a scrap of metal to protect their hides, yet as savage as a nim zombie, plated with some kind of grayish white mineral.

The magician in the odd chapeau disappeared, and Yert’s vision filled with a perfect silver sphere floating in swirling blackness.

Another flash.

Now Yert hovered over a gargantuan globe that he knew was Mirrodin, even though it was a Mirrodin he had never seen. Everything on this world was pure, glittering metal, a thousand shapes of silver, gold, and copper. Not a hint of corrosion was apparent. Fractal shapes hovered in the sky, casting mathematically complex shadows across the perfect surface. Soon, those shadows began to stretch and distort, disrupting the beauty of the world and spreading across the surface like living things. These shadow-shapes began to take on colors and strange forms, as all over the plane of Mirrodin an imperfect, organic life took hold. Tiny flashes like a million stars winked into existence on the surface, and suddenly the plane crawled with sentient beings that had not been there seconds before.

Seconds. Second. That was a unit of time, Yert’s brain managed for him. And time … well, time was time. At the moment, he had plenty of it.

Yert’s inner eye still soared over a much-changed Mirrodin. He took in the blackened swamps of the Mephidross and the glittering, snarled, verdigris vegetation of the Tangle. He mind leaped into open space, and Yert soared over the glittering red spires of the iron-and-copper Oxidda mountains; the dazzling and fluid surface of the Quicksilver Sea punctured by the blue spires of the Lumengrid; and the blindingly bright razor grass plains of the Glimmervoid. Yert saw it all at once.

The Mephidross was his home, the swamps. Instead of letting the vision-ride pull him along, Yert focused his inner eye on the Mephidross.

Why did the thought of home fill Yert with such panic? The swampland of Mirrodin, with its snarl of rusty, tangled, wiry branches, thick black water, and smoldering smoke-spire chimneys that spewed charged green mist into the fog—all of these things were familiar, should have felt comforting, but Yert could not contain the fear they drove into his gut. He instinctively sensed that he belonged in that swamp, but could not imagine going back. Something in there hated him, and the feeling was mutual.

Had he gone completely mad?

Yert, the voiced slithered in his awakening consciousness.
Yert, wake up. Wake up NOW.

Yes, Yert thought. Excellent idea.


Glissa and Slobad lay on their backs in the melted wreckage of the Tangle, exhausted, battered, and drained. Neither the elf girl nor her goblin companion said a word, relishing the simple pleasure of breathing, the smoldering calm left in the wake of Memnarch’s storm.

Or maybe it was fear. Talking about it meant it had happened.

She thought about the friends she’d lost and felt warm tears begin to form in her eyes, and decided silence was golden.

The new green moon cast an emerald glow over the blasted forest, darkening the copper trunks of shattered trees and dulling the normally glittering verdigris leaves to gray. Glissa rolled her head lazily over to look at Slobad. The diminutive artificer, a resourceful goblin who had been her constant ally ever since the death of her family, had one hand draped over his eyes. His vision was remarkable in the dark and sensitive to the light, but the glow of the green moon was anything but glaring to the elf girl.

“Slobad?” Glissa asked. “What’s wrong with your eyes?”

“It’s bright!” the goblin said. “You go blind, you keep staring at that, huh?”

“It’s not that bright,” Glissa observed with a grin. Good old Slobad. He would grieve when there was time. She wiped her own eyes and let her head loll back to gaze up at Mirrodin’s newest satellite. “In fact, I’m staring right at right now.”

“Slobad take your word for it,” the goblin replied groggily. “Right now, Slobad just need a little shut-eye, huh?” After a few moments, he added, “Besides, in sleep, Slobad don’t have to think.”

Glissa tried to do the same, shut her eyes for just a moment and try to relax. She failed utterly. Instead, she stared at the new moon until her eyes started to play tricks on her, making the glowing green globe appear to pulse like a beating heart.

This was no good. She painfully called on stiffening muscles to prop herself up on one elbow, and poked Slobad gently with the back of one clawed finger. “Hey, Slobad. Are you asleep yet?”

“Uh-huh,” the goblin grunted without moving. “Elf eyes not getting any better, huh?”

“We have to go. We have to check.”

“Check what?”

“We have to check out the lacuna,” Glissa said. “That blast might not have been enough—”

“Memnarch? You crazy?” Slobad replied, apparently forgetting how often he’d answered that question already. “Big ugly has to be dead, huh? That tower was right between moon and the core.” Slobad traced a lazy line in the air with one rusty claw. “You saw what that thing did to Kaldra? You saw that, huh?”

“Of course,” Glissa said, “I just wanted to make sure. Memnarch is so…ancient. We hardly know anything about him, really. We don’t know what it might take to kill him.”

“If ol’ crab-legs still kicking, would have sent levelers, huh?” Slobad insisted, obviously settling the issue, at least for himself. Glissa was too tired to argue the point. Even if Memnarch had survived the blast somehow, he couldn’t be in any shape to attack her. And with the new moon in the sky, Mirrodin’s self-proclaimed Guardian had lost his chance, she hoped, to capture Glissa’s “spark.”

BOOK: The Fifth Dawn
7.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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