This is part six in our series exploring the life of Gideon Jura. Part one. Part two. Part three. Part four. Part five.

Until arriving on Amonkhet, the Gatewatch has enjoyed tremendous success in their endeavors. Planeswalkers are notoriously egotistical and stand-offish, so it must have seemed insane to think five very different Planeswalkers with completely separate goals and ideologies could work together for any length of time. And yet, their combined efforts killed the Eldrazi on Zendikar, drove Emrakul off Innistrad, and deposed Tezzeret on Kaladesh. The Gatewatch has stood triumphant after every battle, and it made them proud. That pride was the reason they chose to seek out Nicol Bolas on Amonkhet.

It wasn’t their only option. The Gatewatch’s newest member, Ajani Goldmane, cautioned them against it on Kaladesh. He had faced Bolas before and won, but still warned them not to go. Ajani wanted them to wait, gather their strength and face Bolas on their terms, not his. When it came time for a decision to be made, we can all guess who made the final call:

From upstairs, they heard everyone shout Yahenni’s name. Time to go.

Everyone looked at Gideon.

“I hear you,” said Gideon. “Both of you. But I don’t think we’re going to get a better chance at Bolas.”

“He’ll turn a whole world against you,” said Ajani. His voice rose, and his ears went flat. “You are going to get people killed!”

Gideon kept his chin up. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jace shy back.

Ajani fixed each of them with that ice-blue eye.

“Please,” he said. “Don’t go to Amonkhet. Not yet. Stay here, or go find allies elsewhere. In the morning we can pick a rendezvous point. We can meet up in a few weeks’ time, count our allies, compare notes, and plan our next move.”

They did not listen to him. One by one, they all agreed a direct strike on Amonkhet was the best move. Gideon was their captain, and if he had said otherwise, the other four would have deferred to his judgement. He was the one who ultimately made the decision, which means he is the one who is ultimately responsible for everything that came next.

When Nicol Bolas returns to Amonkhet, he lays waste to the entire plane. For decades, he had used it as a breeding ground for his Eternals, an army of undead warriors. But now that he has his army, he has no more use for the city, its citizens, or its gods. So the protective barrier around the city falls, and horrors begin to pour in through the desert. The Eternals begin to march through the streets, killing everyone in their path. And worst of all, Bolas unleashes his own gods to hunt down their kin. The strongest is scorpion god, which kills Rhonas, Kefnet, and after a lengthy duel, Oketra.

Oketra leapt between the basilisk and the scorpion god.

Hapatra’s chest cramped in pain. She looked up, and she cried out in horror. Directly above her, the scorpion god’s stinger was lodged in Oketra’s gut.

Hapatra screamed and heard an unfamiliar voice shout in grief at the same time. Gideon stood on the opposite end of the courtyard, his face the very picture of anguish.

Gideon is there to witness Oketra’s death, and it hurts him in a way no physical wound could. After years of searching, Oketra was someone Gideon could believe in. There was no hidden darkness in her, like there was in Heliod; Oketra was good, and noble, and true. Her very existence was dedicated to the protection of the innocent, and she fulfilled her purpose until it killed her. The only flaw in Oketra was that she was not strong enough. But neither were her ideals. Everything Gideon believed in failed him on Amonkhet.

Religion, something which brings people together and teaches them about right and wrong, was perverted by Bolas into a tool of domination. The mortal authorities on Amonkhet, who were supposed to protect their people, fell to pieces and offered the Eternals no resistance. Cooperation and solidarity achieved nothing that day. Those who stood together died, and those who stood alone, died. Honor, valor, and self-sacrifice made no difference, not that Gideon could see. As a final insult, the very angels of Amonkhet were corrupted by Bolas, and terrorized the people from the skies.

And the Gatewatch. Gideon had already done the impossible in uniting such different people. The Gatewatch was a shining monument of White’s core beliefs but they were powerless on Amonkhet. Their teamwork was no match for the flood of Eternals, and for every one person they saved, a hundred were slain. Their cooperation could not repair the Hekma, and their brotherhood could not bring Amonkhet’s gods back from the dead. In this midst of this devastation, when everything he had sworn by proved impotent, Gideon let his mask fall. Left with nothing, he reached deep down within himself and finally unshackled the only thing he had left.

When the Gatewatch faces Nicol Bolas in Hour of Devastation, Gideon is a towering mountain of fury. Red rage, with a side of burning hate and roaring vengeance. When he saw Bolas, there was only room for one thought in his mind: kill the dragon. It startles his allies, who have never seen him like this before.

Are you sure? Jace reached out to Gideon one last time, hoping there was a better plan.

We hit him with everything we’ve got. He will fall, Gideon thought back at him. Jace had never felt such an undercurrent of rage in Gideon, could feel his anger wrapped in Gideon’s normal stubborn determination. Jace was swept in its current, willing himself to believe they could be triumphant today.

Gideon charges Nicol Bolas without hesitation, but cannot compete with the dragon’s sheer mass. Bolas is not intimidated by him, and enjoys playing with his food, so he decides to pin down the furious Gideon and save him for last:

Nicol Bolas’s tail whipped around, lightning-fast, and its end slammed into Gideon and his invulnerable shield with the force of a charging baloth. Gideon sailed into a thick brick wall lining one side of the plaza. His shield kept him unharmed, but he had no leverage to do anything more than be whacked against the wall by Bolas’s tail like a ball hit by a stick, over and over as bricks flew and shattered with each impact.

The wall would crumble before Gideon did, but neither would be going anywhere for a while.

Gideon is completely helpless, and can only watch as the dragon proceeds to cruelly dismember his friends. This is his worst nightmare, and we have seen it before.

Let’s pause for a moment and retrace our steps to Innistrad, during the events of Eldritch Moon. I have not covered this part of the story in this article series, because Gideon came in only at the end and played a minor role. But in the short story The Promised End, there is an important moment we cannot miss. The Eldrazi Titan Emrakul is using her psychic powers to overwhelm the Gatewatch, and Jace is the only one who is able to hold her influence at bay. As he races through his own collapsing mind, he gets a glimpse of what his friends are experiencing in the grip of Emrakul’s torment. And his vision of Gideon is quite telling…

The central figure in the scene was Gideon. He was squaring off against some kind of celestial being who towered over him. Literally celestial—the figure was made of a starry night sky. The celestial figure had two large black horns framing a blue, non-human face. He wielded an impossibly large whip with a human skull in the handle. Gideon looked suitably Gideon-esque, square jaw, golden sural, and gleaming armor intact. But the look on his face was not the Gideon Jace knew at all. This Gideon looked worried, almost scared. There was anger on that face…but also fear. Interesting.

Around Gideon stood the other members of the Gatewatch. Chandra, her hands and head blazing. Nissa. Even a Jace. Surely I’m taller than that? The celestial figure spread his arms out wide, whip to the side. He spoke with a deep, resonating voice that seemed to bubble up from the ground. “And what is it you, Kytheon Iora, most desire? What do you truly want?”

The being is Erebos, the god of the dead on Theros, and the one who killed Gideon’s Irregulars. In a display of outrageous cruelty, he forces Gideon to admit his selfless persona is a ruse. When Gideon tries to give appropriately heroic answers to his question, Erebos strikes down his friends. Gideon says his greatest desires is to protect others, so Erebos kills Jace. Gideon gives another decoy answer, and Erebos kills Nissa. Gideon is helpless, and can only try again:

Gideon’s voice crackled with anger. “I want to defeat you, to tear you down so you can no longer…”

“No. You continue to speak lies.” Erebos’s voice, in contrast, was placid as a graveyard. Another lash of the whip, and Chandra vanished. “Must you lose everyone before you acknowledge truth, mortal? All your stubbornness to what end? You are determined to feel the most pain.” Erebos’s whip danced with its master’s touch. “What do you want?”

Gideon raised his head to the skies and screamed, “I want…” but before he finished his sentence the window went dark.

Jace stayed still, silent, stunned at all he had witnessed. Who is Erebos? What pain is Gideon going through? Jace had had no idea his friend was suffering this way.

This is Gideon Jura’s greatest fear: to watch helplessly as his friends are hurt because he is not truly the man he pretends to be. On Innistrad, it was only a nightmare, but in the Hour of Devastation, Nicol Bolas makes it real.

First, the dragon accepts Jace’s challenge to a mind duel, and crushes his brain like a tin can. Then, he calmly explains the situation to Liliana and tells her to pack it up and run, as they both know she’s going to die. And she does. Incensed by Liliana’s betrayal, Chandra hits Bolas with as much flame as she can, but it barely annoys him. He picks her up like a doll and squeezes her between his claws, shattering her ribs like sticks. Gideon has been forced to watch all of this as the dragon continually bounces him against the wall. It’s only when Bolas turns on Nissa that he is able to break free. He charges into Bolas flank and buys time for Nissa to planeswalk away, but by then, it’s just him and the dragon.

Nicol Bolas instantly overpowers him and belittles his vaunted invulnerability. He uses the tip of his claw to effortlessly pierce Gideon’s golden shield, sinking it deep into his shoulder. Amused by Gideon’s struggles, Bolas gives him a simple, almost bored ultimatum: stay and die, or leave and live. It says a lot that that Gideon has to take a second to choose between them.

Gideon was shocked to realize that a part of him yearned to stay. To no more feel the guilt of losing Drasus, Olexo, all his Irregulars. All the people he had seen die on Zendikar. He didn’t want any more death on his hands. He could just . . . let go.

Distressing images swarmed through his head. Drasus staring at him, spitting the word, “Coward!” Erebos looming over him, the laughter of the God of Death rattling in his head, “Yes, coward, come to me!” Chandra screaming at him, “Traitor!”

He could stay and die . . . or he could leave and live. And learn, and fight. Bolas did not think Gideon’s choice mattered. In the end, it was the dragon’s indifference that settled his choice. He would prove the dragon wrong.

He willed his body through the Blind Eternities, the hole the dragon left in his shoulder only the most visible of his wounds.

I think we can now guess Gideon’s true answer to Erebos’ question: Gideon Jura desperately wants to die. Nicol Bolas gave him the chance, but two things saved Gideon Jura’s life: guilt and defiance. He refused to fail in his duty, and he refused to let the dragon master him. On Amonkhet, White faith and Red rage failed Gidon in turn, but together, White honor and Red stubbornness gave him a reason to live. Still, the Hour of Devastation came at a terrible cost to Gideon. In a single day, both the illusions he’s clung to for years were shattered: he was not beyond harm, and he could not keep the people around him safe.

During the Hour of Devastation, Gideon failed as a leader, a warrior, and a hero. On Dominaria, he will have to find a way to put himself back together, in time to face the dragon again during the War of the Spark. Join me next week, where we will cover the triumph, death, and redemption of Gideon Jura.


David Walley is only a recent fan of Magic: The Gathering, but a lifelong spectator to stories. After discovering the Magic Story earlier this year, he was greatly impressed by both its strength and subtlety. In his articles, he endeavors to expand the Vorthos community by showcasing the story’s excellence to the average Magic fan.

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