It's been a minute, but it's time for the return of D&D&MtG!
We last left our heroes at a fancy dinner at Tamiyo's Story Circle, in search of Narset and answers about why Tarkir isn't the way Tarjuk left it.
And the arrival of Sarkhan Vol had just been announced.
Tarjuk immediately attacked.
Ariel threw a Pause For Reflection at him, but he was holding a Stubborn Refusal, and Tamiyo tried to activate some kind of Tap Target Creature enchatment, but he had a Red Elemental Blast, which is what happens when you give players months to consider strategy and what opening hand they'd like.
Tarjuk grapples Sarkhan against the wall, who grins and turns into a dragon.
As they struggle, Tarjuk begins denouncing Sarkhan, accusing him of genocide. Sarkhan tries to take to the air, and a whole squad of soratami guards and wizards start preparing expulsion spells.
Sarkhan insists Tarjuk doesn't know what he's talking about, but he does recognize a Temur shaman. Tarjuk isn't having it, and as the explusion hits he slams Sarkhan with an Ovinize, and Walks away at random.
Tamiyo, Vanqwyn, and Ariel are not amused. Tebasha walks after Tarjuk to try to find him.
But Sarkhan finds him first, in a lichen-strewn pumice heap on Regatha. Far from being angry, Sarkhan is intrigued by Tarjuk's attack, and wants to talk.
Tarjuk repeats his angry accusations, but Sarkhan insists he killed no one. At least not by what he did to Tarkir.
"The Old Tarkir, that's still out there, somewhere. You and I have just walked away to somewhere there's a different Tarkir. You can't accuse me of killing anyone any more than you can accuse a man of slaying a village because he took you down the road to a different one."
Tarjuk rejects the explanation, and declares himself Sarkhan's enemy. Sarkhan likes that just fine.
And Tebasha arrives just in time to see him leave.
Tarjuk comes back to apologize, to find he's unable to Walk to Tamiyo's. Tarjuk and Sarkhan have both been banned.
Tamiyo is less rattled than she might have been. This is apparently not the first time something like this has happened. She calmly returns to asking where the rest of the party intends to travel.
Ariel: Onumbrica, to work on her book. Taoshan: Shandalar to find some answers about the Onnake soul posessing him.
Speaking of which, Taoshan is excite to try Ajani's Soul Magic, in the hopes that it can pull his soul and the Onnake soul from his body separately.
Not only Ariel and Venqwyn, but Ajani and the Onnake all seem to think this isn't a very good idea, but Taoshan is unconvinced. They insist at least that he do so under the supervision of Doctor Esther, back on Ravnica.
Later that night, Tebasha and Venqwyn are in the library, Tarjuk is camping out in the plains, and Ariel, writing in her room, hears a knock on the door.
It's Nashi. "Miss Ariel, please come quick, it's Ajani Sensei! Something's wrong!"
In Ajani's room, he's lying motionless, halfway fallen off the bed, breathing and staring at the ceiling. Ariel tries to heal him while Nashi goes to find Venqwyn.
Ajani's Malady proves confounding. Ariel can't find any injury, and he doesn't seem to be asleep.
When Venqwyn arrives (Nashi's direction-warping magic turns the spaces between the library and Ajani's room into an instantaneous, vertiginous blur) there's no sign of magical abnormality either, except a single discontinuity in his mana flow. Venqwyn tries Into the Roil to return it to it's owner's hand, but there's nothing to target: it's an Absence, not a presence.
But when Ariel takes a closer look with Ariel's Greeting, it's an absence that feels familiar: brittle, cold, and a little intoxicated.
Out the window, they notice mysterious lights in the garden below, and realize that Taoshan, the spell theif, saw a spell he wanted and was denied, and did as was in his nature.
Ajani regains consciousness, and they head to the garden.
Efforts to determine which is the real Taoshan fail, and the best containment anyone can come up with quickly is Venqwyn's Polymorphist's Jest, which at least keeps the both of them from trying anything in the meantime.
Ajani tries to take control of the spell, but it's still stolen. But perhaps if they simply wait for it to end, then both souls will return, and at least no harm will have been done?
Taoshan is standing motionless. Before him are two other Taoshans, each composed of heatless flame: one pearly and blueish, one crimson and purple.
Neither denies stealing Ajani's magic, but each insists the OTHER is the Onnake and took control to do it. "But it's fine! I just need to wait for the spell to end, get back to my body before he does, and Walk!"
Which is when both frogs hop for the body, apparently at the same time, and Taoshan Walks.
Leaving no sign which, or if both, or neither, version of him is in control.
So our heroes start the next segment of their adventures feeling betrayed, and with new nemeses somewhere out there in the multiverse!
@ajanionthespot at the very least, Taoshan is not our responsibility anymore. He has broken our trust and given up his last chance for us to protect him.
Ariel is angrier than she's been since she discovered Seth stole Project Lightning Bug, but I'm hoping Tigris and/or some combination of gods can persuade her that she didn't fail here and having one less person to be responsible for is not necessarily a bad thing
@ajanionthespot also it's not that we failed to determine which was the real Taoshan, it's that Ariel decided she didn't care because they'd both hurt her too much, and nobody else seemed to want to do the work
@ajanionthespot I'm surprised the Esther bit made it into the recap, I didn't feel like anyone was listening to me at that point
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