This week, Dom came over a few hours before our Team Draft League match and brought a sixer of Canada Dry. We a bit of draft strategy and a bit of flavor, discovering that we both enjoyed the storyline of the Khans of Tarkir block. (I highly recommend reading the many Uncharted Realms about this block’s story arc if you’re into that kind of thing.) Soon Forker arrived and, right behind him, our opponents for the night: Johnny and the Mnemonic Walls.

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Johnny, Hugh, and Pena.

While we were getting the draft set up, Hugh came up to me and offered me a choice: take the blue pill and the draft would end right there; or, take the red pill and follow Alice down the rabbit hole. I had no idea what he was talking about since he didn’t have any pills, instead in one hand he held pack of Khans of Takir and in the other a pack of Fate Reforged. Curiosity got the better of me and I took the red pill, or in this case, the Fate Reforged pack. I put down my seltzer and Hugh gave me a wide smile as he handed over the pack. As I opened it I thought, “Wow, Hugh is acting really weird tonight, I hope everything is ok.” But as I started going through the pack looking for my first pick some strange things began to happen. The lights began to dim and as I looked around, the other drafters seemed to be motionless. All of them except for Hugh who, still smiling, said, “Get ready for a bumpy ride, buddy, but I promise you that the trip will be worth it.”

The next part is hard to explain, but what I remember most was first, the darkness, and then a swirl of colors. Black, green, and blue being the most prominent. I saw glimpses of a great battle between two dragon gods, monks performing feats of acrobatics, and strange bird like humanoids. Vast expanses of water and jungle followed, but there were also subtle scents of rot and decay. I continued to encounter fearsome beasts and grotesque abominations along my way who agreed to escort me on my journey.

Not everyone I met was an ally, though. Another traveler, who was surrounded by green and white energy found me. It appeared I wouldn’t be continuing without a confrontation. I sent out my abomination to confuse my opponent while my beast rushed in. The tactic appeared to be working as the beast ripped apart his defenses, however this traveler had tricks of his own. A great dragon appeared and tore at the abomination, which sent it fleeing in terror. My mauler was not afraid, but the dragon was stronger and tossed him aside like a rag doll. With my defenses undone, it was only a matter of time before the assaults were directed to me. Seeing no other choice, I fled.

It took some time to regain my strength and for the minions with whom I travelled to return to my side. Their loyalty surprised me, but how much longer would they stay if we were challenged again and lost? This question was soon answered as another form appeared from the mists. This time, my opponent was shrouded in black, red, and white energy. As I approached him, I noticed that I knew this person. It was Hugh! I was relieved, since now I would have a partner in my travels. As I approached Hugh, he took a defensive posture and unleashed a storm of flaming arrows at me. I managed to take cover and shield myself. I called out to him and let him know that it was I, his friend Mandy Bongo, but he responded by sending forth a horde of warriors. Left with no other choice, I summoned my mauler, which made short work of his warriors, but he followed up with a troop of goblins. This went on and on for some time, with neither of us gaining any ground. Then, like a crack of thunder, I heard: “Draft’s over”.

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I was pulled from my battle with Hugh and found myself back at the Dojo. Johnny and the Mnemonic Walls had won the draft. Our struggle, now rendered meaningless, was abandoned. The rabbit hole was gone and all that was left were a bunch of janky commons and the uncommon no one wanted.

The next day when I saw Hugh, I asked him what would have happened if I had taken the blue pill. “I have no idea what you are talking about,” he responded. “You should probably lay off the Canada Dry next time we draft, though.”

Andrew Longo has been playing Magic: The Gathering at a mediocre level since 1994. He managed to get lucky on the backs of his teammates to win Grand Prix Providence. When not playing Magic he runs a D&D campaign, plays video games, and reads comics (a real triple threat for the ladies).

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