This week I’m going to be doing something a bit different. I’ve talked a lot about Dominaria’s story, but up until now I’ve avoided talking directly about the continuity problems that arose in the latter half of the Dominaria Saga. Partially this is because while I’m just as prone to knee-jerk reactions as the next person, I try to avoid spreading mine from a public platform.

So that I don’t spend my entire article rehashing exactly what controversies I’m talking about, fellow hipster Beck did an excellent breakdown of the issues a few weeks ago. The short version is that both of Jace’s brief appearances in Dominaria present him as a very different character from the one we saw at the end of Ixalan’s story.

Most of the arguments I’ve seen on this topic basically boil down to people either stating that Jace’s portrayal was fine or terrible and then explaining why they think that. That’s fine, as far as it goes. But I wanted to go a step further and offer an alternative. So today I’m going to try my hand at writing an alternate version of the Weatherlight scene, one that keep’s Jace’s character consistent with his Ixalan version while also serving the needs of Liliana’s emotional arc in Dominaria.

Before I dive in, I will be pulling lines directly from both Return to Dominaria Episode 9 and Wool Over the Eyes, interwoven with my own writing. I don’t intend any infringement on either Martha Wells or R&D’s Narrative team; I’m just trying to stay as consistent with the original works as possible.

Now, let’s get into it.

*    *    *

As the Weatherlight sailed over Yavimaya, Gideon told Chandra about their plans and what they had accomplished so far. They were sitting with Liliana and Jaya around the big table in the compartment below the bridge. As he finished, Chandra said, “But you still don’t have a way to kill Belzenlok without the Chain Veil, right?”

“He didn’t tell you about the Blackblade,” Liliana said, with an irritated glance at him. “It’s a sword that slew an elder dragon, and Gideon is too delicate to allow us to use it.”

Chandra winced, but said, “He is a demon, Gideon. We’ve seen what a demon can do to a plane.”

“Exactly,” Liliana said. Jaya just looked thoughtful, her chin propped on her hand, but she didn’t voice any disagreement.

Gideon hesitated. He didn’t want to argue with them, not when they had found Chandra again and were talking over their plan like sensible people. They had allies, a strategy, everything they needed to kill Belzenlok, except the weapon to do it. He said, “I can’t—”

A sudden blaze of blue light shone through the cracks around the compartment’s door, then a muffled thump of displaced air made them all flinch.

Gideon shoved out of his chair and grabbed for his sword. The rasp of steel from the other side of the door told him at least two people had drawn swords. There was a crackle behind him and suddenly the small room felt like an oven. That would be Chandra and Jaya getting ready to fight. Or maybe just Chandra, he realized as the older pyromancer stepped past him without a flame in sight. It would seem that Jaya knew better than to conjure flames belowdeck.

A nervous laugh sounded through from the next room. “Wow! I’ve never planeswalked onto a moving object before—what exactly are we riding in? How is it powered? How fast are we going?”

That voice… Gideon dropped his sword and charged through the door, skidding to a halt as he took in the strange scene that had somehow unfolded.

Teferi, Arvad, Jhoira, and Shanna stood there, spells and weapons leveled at a ragged-looking man who was wearing nothing but a pair of sunbleached blue shorts, gesturing randomly around the room and apparently oblivious to the fact that he was standing on what had been somebody’s lunch tray.

And yet it was unmistakably Jace, even if he looked like he’d spent the past few months under the tutelage of an Akroan drillmaster and hunting rabbits with his bare hands. Gideon felt tears well up at the sight of his old friend.

Jace grinned, the expression strange and yet somehow fitting on the normally dour mind-mage. “Gideon! I’m not dead!”

Without thinking Gideon lurched forward to envelop Jace in a hug, but Jaya stepped in his way. The older woman regarded Jace for a few moments, then turned to face Gideon with a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, one frizzy eyebrow raised.

“Who’s the bookworm?”

Just then the room’s other door burst open and Raff spilled in, nearly dropping his spellbook as he tried to perform some arcane gesture that clearly demanded both hands.

“Stop, it’s all right! He’s a friend!” Gideon shouted.

Raff let the blue light fade from his hands, disappointment written across his face. The hulking silver golem stepped through the doorway after the mage, his expression unreadable to Gideon. “More friends Jhoira? You said you introduced everyone already.”

Gideon let out a sigh. “Everyone, this is Jace. He’s a friend of ours, and another member of the Gatewatch. Jace, I’ll introduce everyone later. It’s getting crowded and I’m still learning names.”

Teferi flexed his fingers and stepped back, clearly not pleased to be startled. “He should knock first, next time.”

Shanna called over her shoulder, “It’s all right, Tiana!”

An ear-piercing shriek spit the air right next to Gideon’s head, and Chandra launched herself at Jace in something halfway between a hug and an Akroan wrestling tackle. Both of them wound up on the floor, Chandra’s head still flickering.

“What happened to your clothes?” Chandra rattled out at top speed. “Where’ve you been? How’d you get here? Last time I tried ‘walking onto a ship I boiled one of those lakes in the sinkholes that keep showing up on Ravnica—the whatchamacall’em, zygotes. No idea why a skyracer was flying over one of those, but it sure beat going splat in the middle of the tenth, even if that crab-elf-squid thingy got really mad at me for it and I really shouldn’t be burning right now.” There was an audible “poof” and her hair went out.

“It’s good to see you too Chandra.” Jace awkwardly returned her hug. “Could you get off my legs? I’d like to stand.”

“Oops, you got it.” She popped up off the floor and bodily lifted Jace to his feet before crushing him with another hug.

“Right, one question at a time.” Jace dusted off his half-shredded trunks, still grinning ear-to-ear. “I got stuck on a plane that prevented planeswalkers from leaving. It took a while to recover my memories and work a way past…” his expression soured, the uncharacteristic joy disappearing behind a severe mask. “It’s not important. I came here to warn you. Ajani wanted us to meet and regroup, but Bolas is preparing a trap for Planeswalkers.”

Gideon felt the sick inevitability of it. “A trap?”

“That sounds like the old lizard.” A sudden chill made goosebumps ripple up Gideon’s back, and it took him a moment to realize that Liliana had just stepped out from behind him. He’d noticed her unnatural chill before, but never to this degree.

Jace’s expression was grim and remained grim as he explained what he knew of Bolas’s plan. Finally, he gestured urgently. “We have to go immediately—Ajani and the others will need all the help they can get.”

Behind Jhoira, Raff whispered, “He wants them to go to where the trap is? Isn’t that the same as being caught in the trap?” Shanna shushed him.

“Will you and Chandra come with me?” Jace demanded.

Liliana frowned. “What about me?”

Gideon should have expected something like this. But he didn’t feel their situation had changed. “If this is true, we need Liliana at her full power more than ever.”

Jace shook his head, clearly frustrated. “You don’t understand. You can’t trust her.”

“Oh, yes he can!” Liliana protested, more baffled than angry.

And barely any time ago I was thinking how calmly we were discussing our plans, Gideon thought wryly. Keeping his expression calm, he said, “I do trust her, Jace. We’re committed to destroying Belzenlok, and we have everything we need to attack his Stronghold. It has to be done, and not just to free Liliana. He’s close to taking over all of Dominaria.”

“There’s no time.” Jace let out a long breath, and his expression went from grim to a bleakness that Gideon had never seen on the younger man’s face. “He’s invading my home Gideon.”

“Jace, that won’t work,” Liliana said wearily. “With my powers weakened, I can’t help you. Not fully. We’ll end up routed again, or worse. Just like on Amonkhet, at Bolas’s mercy.”

“You betrayed us on Amonkhet!” Jace yelled. “Were you ever going to fight Bolas, or were you just keeping up appearances since we helped kill your demon? How long did you bother sticking around after he destroyed my mind?” He blinked, his eyes darting to Chandra before returning to rest on Liliana with a disgust Gideon didn’t fully understand. “Not even a minute. I should’ve known.”

Liliana rocked back a step, speechless for the first time Gideon could remember.

“Yes, she fled,” Gideon said. “I did to. You’re smart, Jace. You know we didn’t stand a chance on Amonkhet. You knew that as soon as Bolas appeared. She was the only one smart enough to get out without getting hurt. That doesn’t make her a traitor.”

“You don’t understand.” Jace rubbed his temples. “She doesn’t care Gideon. She’ll use you until she doesn’t need you anymore and then she’ll abandon you. If you’re lucky, you’ll even survive it. Helping you, or me, or Ravnica or anyone else doesn’t enter into the equation.”

“I don’t think she will.” Gideon sighed. “Jace, we have a plan, we have a commitment to our allies, and we’re ready to kill Belzenlok. I have no intention of repeating my mistakes on Amonkhet. You said the Eternals will be Bolas’s strike force on Ravnica. If that’s true we need Liliana to shut them down.” He paused deliberately. “Unless you want Ravnica to be the next Amonkhet.”

Jace was obviously unhappy. He turned to Chandra. “Chandra, will you come with me?”

Chandra looked back at Jaya, who watched them thoughtfully, then glanced up at Gideon. “My plan was . . . not as great as I thought, but I have a chance to get what I need now. To learn a bit more. About myself. I—I must see this through here.”

Jace let out his breath in resignation. “Meet me on Ravnica. I hope you two don’t get hurt.” He stepped back. As blue shadows rose up around him, he looked at Liliana.”I told you I recovered my memories. I didn’t tell you I recovered all of them.” The shadows flew into a whirlwind and he was gone.

There was a long moment of silence. Then Raff said, “Are all Planeswalkers like this?”

Teferi cleared his throat, took Raff’s arm and turned him around, leading him away toward the bridge. “You should have seen us in the old days, much more exciting.”

The others followed, Jaya pausing to give Chandra an approving nod as they left Gideon and Chandra alone with Liliana. Liliana pulled out a chair and sat down, dropping her head into her hands.

Gideon tried to think of something comforting to say, but everything he could think of sounded like an empty platitude. After a moment, Chandra propped her hip against the table and said, “So I guess we need to hurry.”

“She’s right.” Liliana looked up at Gideon. “You said we had everything we need to kill Belzenlok. Does that mean you’ll agree to using the Blackblade?”

Gideon hesitated. The blade was a soul-drinker. Not that Belzenlok had a soul to drink. But there was no time to waste looking for some other method. Delay meant endangering the other Planeswalkers Ajani had gathered, meant the Cabal gained more footholds on Dominaria, made it harder for Jhoira and Shanna and all the others fighting them to root them out. He said, “If we can find it in the Stronghold, I’ll use it.”

He might have expected Liliana to look triumphant, or to gloat a little over his change of heart. But she just looked tired, and said, “Thank you. For this and . . .” She looked away, uncomfortable. “For . . . everything.”

Gideon smiled a little. From anyone else, it would have sounded grudging, but he knew how hard it was for Liliana to say those words. “You’re welcome.”

*    *    *

Not bad, if I do say so myself. Obviously this is far from perfect and I wound up having a word count about 500-600 higher than the scene that Wells published, but it also keeps the joyous and slightly goofy side to Jace we saw in Ixalan while also making it pretty clear that his harsher lines are in there specifically because of how toxic his relationship with Liliana was.

I know this is pretty different from my normal content, so I really want to hear what people thought of this week. If you enjoyed my dive into what is basically fanfiction or want o make sure I never touch the subject again, let me know via Twitter.

Levi Byrne has been with the game since Worldwake and has a rabid love for fantasy writing that goes back decades. Despite some forays into Legacy he plays Commander almost exclusively, and has a love for the crazy plays and huge games that make Magic what it is. He was the go-to advisor of his playgroup on deck construction for more than five years before joining Dear Azami.

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