For the last 29 days I’ve scoured the ruins of the unnamed civilization for powerful artifacts. I’m part of a long history of sorcerer-explorers who’ve braved these hostile wastes over the centuries.

Anything for some time alone with my thoughts. Time I can spend on my work.

It’s as you’d expect, red and iron rich, cold as fuck, dead. All attempts at terraforming ended in misery. Financial energy and countless man hours traded for loss of hope. What those willful creatures didn’t understand is that we can’t colonize this planet. Beings already did. We need to learn from them. Who were they? What did they do with there time here? Where did they go and when?

The tunnel I’ve descended into opens up to a room. It’s enormous, much bigger than any rooms we have on our world. Space must’ve been plentiful here during its golden age. I’ve gotten used to the feeling of my body in this expanse. Extending my arms and legs. Sprinting through the light-dust clouds, leaving the trail of lived existence suspended in my wake. I prefer this place to our world. I am not looking forward to porting home tomorrow.

The room’s outer skin peels to reveal crumbling walls. Fabric hangs from dry cracked wooden frames. Images hold fast to the outermost side of the fabric. Representations of human-like figures. Primitive. Gendered. Obvious power dynamics at play.

I’ve been calling these marked fabric artifacts “spells” as they so resemble the spells we have at home. They, too, have more space. They’re clarity is masked with attitude and guts.

I stitch them up so I can see them in their totality. It’s tricky. It sometimes takes days to put just one back together. The fabric has been preserved well but it’s so dry. So dry. I run the risk of destroying them with each touch. It’s worth it. Once I’ve got a spell together I spend the rest of the day drawing it over and over again on my light pad. Plastic printouts of the renders get pasted to the wall next to the spell itself and I compare them before starting another. Sometimes I don’t look at my light pad while drawing. I stare at the spell and let my pen drift over the glass surface, tracing my eyes’ path. I can feel the flesh of these ancient beings. They’re so beautiful. What did they think about? Were they kind to each other?

Many of the spells depict terrible battles. Countless acts of aggression. I prefer the spells with beings laying on the grass of a manicured wilderness. Some of the beings wear soft armor and others nothing at all. There’s aggression here too, but it’s secret. It shifts from being to being. The key is their eyes. They look at me and I can feel them.

I trace the imaginary lines that separate the edge of their bodies from everything else. They look at me and I can feel them. Will we ever know what happened here?

Tomorrow I port back home. Back to cramped civility. I can’t wait to show my friends these drawings.

I’ll show M first.



Matt Jones (born 1980, Rochester, New York) is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. He’s taken some time off from the game, focusing on his art practice, but continues to obsess with the mythology and art of Magic: The Gathering. As he plays less Magic his articles have become more about imagination and less about strategy.

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