A Brief Recount of the Fall and Rise of Urza

There was once a vain and obstinate man born on a distant island nation to a noble father with a noble name. Noble too was his countenance, which spoke singularly of self-assuredness and gave not a hint of timidity. Alas, neither wealth nor name would pass to the son, and as his endless seasons stretched, not even the lineal form, the mien of his ancestral phylogeny, would fall heir to this man. Ousted by a mother who bore him not, he was a son cast into the desert; deserted, he was a son no more. Yet even in that familial desolation, estranged from all semblances of aristocracy, he still carried the spirit and animus of the high-born, the strength to stand tall and the adamantine certainty his position was ever unerring.

He would go on to become many things, but he would always be himself. He was a teacher, a friend, a general, an avenger, always an artificer, a mad man, a martyr, a living paradox of savior and harbinger. So many things was he, yet such was the reason for why he was many other things not. He was a wedded man, yet not a husband. He was a father to son and machine, yet a father to none. He was a counselor, but never the counseled. Through sheer force of will he has garnered many titles, names and even faces, but one name encompasses them all. He is Urza, Urza Planeswalker.

In the year 4205 of the Dominarian calendar, a great evil befell the entire plane. The Dark God, Yawgmoth, the Father of Machines, the creator-master of the Phyrexians manifested in his physical form above the five colored landscape of the world to face its denizens in open combat with his armies of twisted horrors and abominations of metal-flesh. The conquest of this plane was, to Yawgmoth, a symbol of his ultimate conquest own completion. Dominaria was his homeland from which he was deposed by foes oldest in his memory, foes from the time when he was a mere mortal man. Though he created his own dominion in the form of Phyrexia, a machine world of oil and darkness, Dominaria was his true homeland. Without subjugating this world, it could be said that Yawgmoth would have failed to achieve his first best victory. And for this reason he descended on all in the form of a death cloud, engulfing the globe. Yet his victory was not to be.

Urza was there. Yawgmoth unleashed countless Phyrexians of every shape and unshape into the skies, the mountains, the seas, and even the bowels of Dominaria herself. But Urza was there with a united coalition, merfolk in the sea, elves in the woods, men in the plains, goblins and minotaurs across the mountains, Metathran reverse engineered Phyrexians on the frontlines, and together with Urza himself leading nine great planeswalkers in suits of power armor.

Yet Yawgmoth ensnared Urza with promises of knowledge on Phyrexia during The Assault of the Nine Titans. The Father of Machines deemed it fitting to pit in single combat his adversary and his adversary's greatest creation, Gerrard Capashen the rogue master-at-arms, who was bred for the purpose of defeating Yawgmoth. It was a gory irony a malignant mind could still savor. Within the Phyrexia Arena, Yawgmoth had let mortal man and immortal planeswalker battle as equals for his amusement and in relish he saw to it that Urza was beheaded by Gerrard. Yet in defeat, Urza has ever brought ruin to his enemies, just as he has brought despair to his allies in victory.

Though he fell to madness and succumbed to the temptations of betrayal, Urza's machinations would bring salvation. In arrogance did the Dark God enhance Gerrard in the vein of his Phyrexians, unknowingly sealing his own doom. For a while Gerrard was too blithely ensnared by the honeyed promises of the black creature, but just as quickly did the raw heroism genetically bred into his being reawaken and orchestrate an escape with the head of Urza. On Dominaria once again did Urza reawaken as sane as he could be. Only in defeat could Urza have collected all the pieces of Yawgmoth's demise.

Not even the Father of Machines could envision the how the cogs of Urza's creations came together, for in his eyes they were a pittance that paled in comparison to all that he created. But such was the Legacy Weapon, a machine of impossible parts that formed together and made sense only in labyrinthine mind of Urza.

In each was a wealth of history and legends unto themselves. The frame was the Weatherlight, the skyship built by Urza's two hands and infused with the heart-seed of Yavimaya. The furnace was the Thran Forge and Power Matrix, ancient reactors of a lost civilization. And the fuel was the Mightstone and Weakstone, the legendary powerstones that were the eyes of Urza, the power source of Phyrexia's first cage and the instigators of the Brother's War. But more than that was the living parts of the Legacy. Karn, the Silver Golem, Gerrard, and even Urza himself were inscrutable pieces of the grand machine. Though you most likely know not what these things are, let at least their echoes remain in the annals of history: Ramos, the Thran Tome, the Juju Bubble, the Null Rod, the Skyshaper, the Salvation Sphere, and the Heart of Xantcha.

The Legacy Weapon resonated. None could see how such foreign parts could come together to form a weapon capable of mortally destroying a god, yet when the stones were ripped from Urza's head and united a voracious light appeared. It was a blinding light that sought to consume darkness, an inversion of white's healing nature that penetrated to the very heart of Yawgmoth and unmade him at his very core. That to touch upon Urza is to be swept away in paradox salvation and destruction was a fact not even a Dark God could escape; Thus ended the Invasion Cycle of Dominaria.

That day Gerrard and Urza disappeared from Dominaria and a monument to their sacrifice was erected in the swamps of Urborg. Some still spit at the name of Urza for his role in the destruction Argoth, the bringing of the Ice Age, and heralding the destruction of multiple planes. However, others call him a hero who was the sole engineer of Phyrexia's downfall. But none forget him, for the name Urza travels through the annals of time.

Here is where the story of Urza ended in the minds of most, but he is still out there. When Urza first ascended to the form of a Planeswalker at the end of Brother's War in the sylex explosion, the Mightstone and Weakstone created an artificial conduit to his inner spark, the core of the planeswalker. When the legacy weapon activated with the stones made whole once again, Urza's natural conduit was vitalized and animated. Thus Urza walked…

Chapter 1

"Some men just want to see the world burn."

Under the stars on a moonless night in mid-November there was a distant deep rumbling across the whole of Arnor. In the heart of the region the heavens were suddenly hewn, leaving a gash of pure light and ethereal fire. What followed was a wave of flashes and thundering cracks like lightning loosed from a fresh storm. An aurora covered the hills and put shame to the moon.

Across the whole of Middle Earth, the first to discern the skyward disturbance was an elderly hobbit just out of his middle years at seventy. He lived in an unimpressive little smial or more commonly known as a hobbit hole in the hummocks on western borders of the Weather Hills in the sleepy hamlet of Weather Willows. The hamlet housed a dozen families of hobbits, who were either too un-hobbit-like to be accepted amongst the more 'decent' hobbit folk or were simply to impoverished to afford a more well to do hobbit hole in nearby Hobbiton or Buckland. They were all more or less pariahs.

Still the families made do with what little they had. The smials were smaller than one would expect to be comfortable, but were still built with strong wood foundations. The furnishings were more modest and consisted of little in the way of gold or silver, but what was there was handmade, sentimental, and thoroughly cozy. More than half of the families were farmers, as hobbit cherished most the delectable and pipe weed for their smoking. There was an old ale brewer, who doubled as carpenter, dentist, and on occasion the Mayor. There was a pair of brothers, who kept a small orchard and a forge as well as doing odd jobs around the village. The merchant family sent and brought goods from neighboring villages. And lastly there was old Pilberry Realmfoot, the retired old hobbit who lived in the front of the hamlet with his wife. A cantankerous sort of hobbit he was. With a receding hairline, wrinkled high cheekbones, gnarled-like-a-tree brow, farmers tan and narrow eyes, one would never expect the picture perfect old hobbit was known for his fleet-footed-ness and sharp senses, which he liberally used to catch neighboring children trying to pilfer crops.

Pilbert was in his pantry looking for some good leaves for a spot of a tea when he felt the tremors, a barely noticeable clinking of the cups against the plates on the kitchen counter. And suddenly the cracks began in earnest. Abandoning his search he rushed back into his bedroom to look out the window. There were great tendrils of light spreading across the hills, slowly curling up against one another like giant marsh blossoms vines exploding into miniature moons. The old cairn up on Weathertop seemed to be the center of it and the Weather Hills could be seen clearly as far as Bree that night.

"Penny! Get over 'ere 'and take' a gander at that!" the old brown hobbit gruffly shouted from the circular window. "Ye 'ave ta see this!"

To the side of the window was a worn but sturdy oaken bed currently inhabited by a groggy hobbit, very much annoyed at her husband's antics once again. "What is it this time, you old grimp? Another Took boy covered in the cabbages again?" she moaned.

"No, ye' biddy. Jus' get up and c'mon over 'ere already!" With a sigh, she rose. "Pilbert Realmfoot, I've got a garden to tend to in the morning and your breakfast to make! So, if this is nay another one of-" However, before she could say another word, the dazzling swirl of lights finally caught her attention, leaving her in wide-eyed stunned silence

"Now what do ye' suppos' tha' is?" Pilbert asked his wife as he pointed to the Weather Hills. "I don't know," she responded quietly after nestling beside her husband by the window. "My family has moved from Gondor to the Blue Woods and we've no nay seen anything like that before." The old couple could honestly say this was the most peculiar sight they had ever seen in their life. She was a little a frightened. And as for Pilbert, he was, while just as alarmed, a bit excited.

Weather Willows' position on the western border of the Weather Hills obstructed their view of what was happening past the taller hilltops. Most of the modest homes there were built into the hummocks, swampy short fifteen meter high hills. However, there was a noticeable haze of black smoke crawling round the mounds like a great misty serpent. To the sharp eyes of Pilberry Realmfoot the hills were like an inverted wildfire with the tendrils of white light burning away at the hilltops. He also noticed the "fire" visible on the crests of the hills was curiously spreading inward rather outward and seemed to have their points stabbing into the earth as if the fuel for its burning were coming from the sky.

The old hobbit suddenly hopped up closer to the window and pointed out a pair of hobbits cautiously coming out of their whole. To his wife, he said, "Penny, look. There're the Gladdenfield brothers coming out of their hole on their porch." Pilbert undid the window latch, stuck his head out and shouted, "Oy! Farny! You see wot's goin' on in the hills?"

The curly brown haired hobbit solidly responded, "I'd have to be blind and deaf if I didn't, wouldn't I, Realmfoot?" Farny was a stout hobbit, heavily muscled around the arms and upper body, which were just as heavily covered in fat. None could look at his wide nose, short jaw, awkward curly mustache, and mutton chops and call him handsome. But doughtier hobbits than Farny Gladdenfield were hard to find. He stood there with his suspenders only half done, leaving his overalls to droop on his plump heaving paunch.

"You've got any idea what tha' is?" The elder hobbit asked. Pilbert squinted at the bright blue light emanating from the smoking hills.

The other replied, "No idea, but whatever it is, it's got the chickens and dogs spooked right good." A pair of floppy eared mutts were barking frantically from the back of their hobbit hole. "Maybe the Valar are having a pissing contest after drinking too much elven wine."

"More likely their wives got wind of something they didn't like and are putting them in their place," added his brother. The two chortled at the notion.

However, Pilbert saw through their jibe. He could tell the two brothers were only putting on a brave face from the trickles of sweat glistening from the sides of their heads. No doubt they figured this for as ominous a sign as he did.

Though the same could be said of most hobbits in the Willows, Farny Gladdenfield and his lankier more solemn-faced younger brother, Maerport Gladdenfield or better known as Mort, were not your typical hobbits. Hobbits mostly liked to keep to themselves. Mind your own business and keep the peace and peace will keep to you as most in the Shire say. Except, Farny and Mort's idea of keeping to themselves was keeping watch over all of the hamlet and the hills like a blue jay in nesting season. The brotherly duo was as tough as hobbits came, a consequence of their Stoor heritage.

'Stoor' in the old tongue means large or tough. Stoor Hobbits came from the east by the Anduin River next to Mirkwood and in the lived in the Gladden Fields, the lands of the brothers' namesake, but eventually came to the Shire. The Stoors migrated west like the tiny Harfoots and the taller Fallohides to all merge as one community. However, centuries ago the family of Farny and Mort was sundered from their kin as a consequence of many unfortunate events involving the fall of their matriarch and an unknown foul hobbit whose shameful deeds marred their names so badly they spoke it no longer. Left alone and nomadic, they fought their upwards from Dunland in the south, the family repelling orc and raider alike, to finally make it to the Shire, only to be ostracized for their strange dialect and violent tendencies.

It was not unusual for the occasional brigand to make their way out into the hills and woe to them when those two, who were as close to a sheriff as the hamlet got, found them. Folks round the Weather Hills joke the brothers must have dwarf blood in them, for they were certainly stout enough and kept watch over every apple like a ruby and their honey like gold. Seeing those two brave hobbits sweating was not a good sign to old Pilbert Realmfoot, like a croaking canary in the mine.

Suddenly the Luigi-like Mort grunted, "Farn look; it's dying down." He gestured to the hills and bumped his brother's shoulder. The burning white tendrils were leaving the hilltops, leaving slithering trails of charred earth and being drawn towards a single point to the south. The ominous rumbling had also grown more distant.

The group of hobbits just stared, watching the event in anticipation, hoping for its peaceful dissipation. Alas, it was a hope left unfulfilled. Although gone from the nearby hills, the light seemed to be coalescing into a single point at the ruins of Weathertop, the ancient tower built by men ages ago. What more, the rumbling then turned into a sinister sort of grinding. It was noise that vibrated through the air into the very core of the nervous hobbits.

Farny took out his long curved pipe from his pocket, lit it with a match and puffed a bit. Just standing in the middle of the plain grass road, he watched the light's waning in gruff contemplation. He thought, this could be the end of this strange affair and all could just return to their beds and sort out the mess in the morning. Of course, it could just as well mean for the worse, given no one could honestly say they knew what was happening.

Farny blew out a large cloud before snuffing it out again on a nearby fence post. "Let's climb around the hills and see what's what, eh Mort?" he chanted crabbily. It was a statement that carried a tone of exasperation, rather than fear. Farny's Stoorish side always came out like that, carrying equal parts sarcasm and equal parts bravery. However, in light of the extreme unusualness of the circumstances, Mort raised an eyebrow to that. Farny knew his brother, and without even looking the expression he knew was on his face explained, "We'll need to know if we want to know what to do. That is unless you want to run away with your tail between your legs."

"Ye' daft Farny!?" someone suddenly shouted.

Old Pilbert had slipped out of his hobbit hole across the grassy path in his old beige pullover pajamas and white waist-tie robe. "This is exactly why the folks at Hobbiton think yer' all mad. A pickaxe and hammer t'aint goin' do you any good against a wave fire." The old hobbit was surprisingly spry, thought Farny. Any who didn't know the wrinkled hobbit would take him for an invalid with his normally hunched posture and soft steps. And before Farny could assay any further, Pilbert was a single pace before his face and waspishly flicked him on the nose.

"Oy!" Farny rubbed at the tweak and frowned.

"You smell that?" Pilbert asked.

Still rubbing, he sniffed. "Smoke."

"Right, smoke." If Pilbert wasn't most well known for being the grump of the small hobbit hamlet, he was known as the keen-eyed. The dozen hobbit families around the Willows all enjoyed the game fowl he brought down with his trusty sling over the years. "I migh' not have the same spring in me step I use ta, but I tell ye now, these eyes don't lie. And they be tellin' me that smoke ain't just any wee bonfire. The whole of the Weather Hills are covered in that miasma and it's going to stay covered well past tomorrow. You try to cross between those hills and …" Pilbert ran his thumb across his throat. "Well you understanding me lads? Anyone caught in that is going to suffocate faster than Eru can fart."

Farny frowned. "You don't need to tell me about no dangers, but that's all the more reason we've got to take a look," he pointedly explained. Farny took on a more serious tone. "That is unless you think the whole village should pack up and abandon their homes right now. But you can be sure other folk, big-folk, are going to be attracted by this- this- commotion and when they find a suite of empty hobbit holes, none of us should be surprised to find a ruined home. Besides, panic's going to settle in unless we find out what's going on."

Pilbert took in the scene around the neighborhood. The small community of hobbits was beginning to stir, peeking out of their holes and shouting amongst themselves. Things were going to get dicey soon, no doubt about it. But still, the idea of abandoning one's comfortable hobbit hole was one nobody in the village was going to be keen on taking up. No hobbit here or anywhere for that matter most likely would. In the Willows, where folks nary had enough for a proper feast-day, hobbits treasured their few possessions.

All the terrible lashing fiery tendrils were gone from the sky now, the bright aurora like lights merging completely into a single bright point in the distance. One could liken it to a lighthouse on a hill if the flame were replaced with the moon. But perhaps it would be safe now just to take a closer look if you kept a hills distance. So the choices were leaving their homes and all their valuables, hunkering down and hoping this passes like a winter storm, or chancing a gander at what just lay over the hill then deciding what was wiser…

In front of the old hobbit's scrunched face of contemplation, Farny suggested, "How about you 'rouse the folks up and get them ready to dash if trouble comes our way, eh Pilbert? We'll go the long way around and be back in a couple o' hours."

Scrutinizing the brothers closer, Pilbert countered, "What now? 'Couple o' hour, ye say? Well I say it'll be a right pain in the arse keeping you slow oafs out of 'harm's way' when I run back in one hour to find ye both wandering in circles in the dark."

However, before either brother could absorb the implication of PIlbert's words, Peony Realmfoot had charged out of her hobbit hole in her nightgown and pink sleeping cap and twisted her husband's gnarled ear with her firm fingers. "Oh no you don't, Pilberry Realmfoot! You're not chasing Tooks in the garden this time you old frog," she shouted. "Do you still think you are just a stripling fresh on the march!?"

"Confound it woman, let go o' me ear!" Pilbert shook himself out of his wife's grasp. "There's nary a lad from the Shire to the forest of those twice cursed elves tha' can outrun me." To prove the point he squatted down and did a black flip far too acrobatic for his hunched form. However, there were some unpromising cracks that followed his landing. "See?"

Yet his wife of three decades was not impressed. She knew her husband well and his history, a history no other hobbit in the Weather Willows or the whole of the Shire for-that-matter knew. He was a scout. He fought with the big folk against the invading orcs from the fortress in the North and she was reminded more than once of his gallant roles, spying out the positions of troops of orcs and laying out death for more than one foul being in the stealth of night. But what did all that adventure and heroism get him? A lifetime of worn joints, a tiny hobbit hole in the edge of nowhere, and a forgotten joke in his name amongst soldiers forgotten more. In Penny's eyes he didn't need to be a hero. He just needed to be home.

"I 'see' an old hobbit, who thinks he has an army at his back." She scowled. "Ye' don't have to this sort o' thing no more. Just come inside and we'll bar the doors through the night like every other sensible hobbits doing!"

He balled his hands in frustration. "Ye don' understand, Penny-"

"I don't understand what!?" She put her hands on her hips with a flourish. "There's no reason why we can't just bunker down and put a hobbit up on the water tower to keep watch. There's smoke, there's fire, and there's … there's Eru knows what else up there." She turned to the brothers and said, "And you two! If it weren't like holding onto boars, I'd have you by the ears too and drag you back into me hole with ye both!"

Farny and Mort looked at each other. What she was saying was sensible, but there was a problem to that. They weren't sensible hobbits. For them, this was as much a matter of pride as it was for the safety of the hamlet. If they couldn't even take a look at what was happening how could they still this home and still hold their heads high?

"Penny," Pilbert began.

"Don't Penny me!" she roared. "I put up with a lot of nonsense from you Pilberry Realmfoot! But you give me good reason why I shouldn't drag back into this hole by the crook of yer nose!"

"I've got a feeling." Penny blinked. It was a simple enough statement to anyone else. But to her she knew it meant something important to Pilbert. He had a feeling when he parents were ill, he had a feeling when they avoided that wight on the road to Bree, and he had a feeling when he first saved her from a pack of wargs. Pilbert gazed into her eyes and continued, "I don' have any idea what's happening, dear, but I just feel like- like … I'm a part of it.

The brothers suddenly returned from their hobbit hole with their lanterns, picks and other tools. Farny looked on the scene between the old hobbit couple and said, "It isn't my place to tell what a hobbit he can and can't do when he's still walking on two legs, but if yer keen on coming fer' ours'ake you can listen to your wife and hunker down. Gladdenfields can take o' themselves."

But then Pilbert move from his wife's side and cried out, "Ye'll be eaten by Neekerbreekers 'fore you make it cross the Midgewater if you plan on passing through it in the dark." Although the light from the top of cairn was still bright, the initial glow had receded and the marsh could still be labyrinthine.

"We know the way through the marsh as well as you, you old goat," Farny retorted.

Pilbert snorted. "Ye might have known the way, but funny thing 'bout those marshes are when it rains just once the sludge moves 'round and then you step on the wrong puddle and you might just as well be stepping on into the Brandywine." Pilbert pantomimed a fast sinking hobbit with his hands. "That muck is still four feet deep or more this time o' year and you don't have the luxury o' the high water to mark the way. And let's not talk about the beasties that walk there at night!"

South of the Weather Willows was the great Midgewater Marshes, a derelict maze of round short leafed shrubberies popping out of an expanse of dirty bog. The Gladdenfields tended to stay out of the marsh. The swamps were not known as a place of great productivity. You couldn't farm it and the natural plants around the Midgewater were valuable only to an herbalist or a healer. Bog iron was beneath the waters for any with the patience to gather it and smelt it, but the brothers preferred the quarry in the hills to the muck. However, a good hunter or trapper could make use of the abundance of wildlife that roamed there and Pilbert at the ripe age of seventy still trekked out there often.

Mort gazed out at the receding light and suggested, "Couldn't we just cut straight through the hills like we normally do?" Pilbert snorted, "Aye, ye' might. But ye' might also burn and roll into the smoky valley just as well."

Suddenly a murder of crows- no ravens – were fleeing the hills. A strange omen, a flight of ravens is. Ravens flocked to death and away from death… Penny had returned to the porch of her smial and stood with crossed arms and frown. She knew Pilbert wasn't going to just let be and go back into their hole once he had his mind on something, whether it was plain stupid or dangerous.

The Gladdenfield duo and her husband continued arguing, but she knew how it would end. They'll soon be a trio and off stumbling through the dark in the marshes to find miracle-be if Eru knew what. She noticed she was sweating a cold sweat. She was no coward, no hobbit that lived here on the outskirts could be accused of such, but this just didn't feel right. It was rare for her instincts to clash with her husbands, yet every womanly fiber in her being was telling something bad was going to happen.

"Penny? Did you hear what I asked Penny?" Pilbert had the look of a worried husband.

"Huh? What?" She snapped out of her reverie to find Farny and Mort, already laden with their packs and lanterns and her own Pilbert garbed in his brown tunic, leathers, and gloves. "No, Pilbert I didn't. I- Don't go."

Pilbert looked at his wife. "What's the matter?" He stepped closer and took her hand. "It's not like you to be spooked. You didn't look this pale even when we spotted the wight stumbling 'round the west road."

She tried to put her feelings into words, yet they only seemed to congeal in her throat. "It's just that- I think- I've got a bad feeling, Pilbert."

Pilbert knew his wife cared for him and he knew he should console her. "I know what you mean, love. But it's just gonna be a peek over the side o' the hill. We're not going to do anything out of the jumble. Gather the lassies and tell them what's the up and up and we'll be back before you can finish smoking a kipper. Promise."

His wife gave him a deep stare. "Be safe."

"I will. No heroics. Proper hobbit all the way unless there's a life to be saved." Penny gave a dry chuckle. There was an 'unless' or 'if' somewhere along the way with her husband. "I'll be happy with a proper Pilbert. Just … just come back."

Pilbert slicked back his smooth brown hair or at least what was left of it from his receding hairline and gave his wife a peck on the cheek the way he did in his youth, much to the embarrassment of their on looking Stoorish neighbors.

"Let's hope we're not playing moth to the flame," Mort dryly muttered.

Chapter 2

"A bloody dawn broke over a scabbed and tortured world."

It was quite a miserable experience to be marching through the marsh at night. A pox of flying biting insects added to the confusion, barely staved off by the burning torches and lanterns the three hobbits carried. Every step taken was through sloshing bog water and mud, and the haze running off the hills was getting thicker the closer they got to the hills. The tall round shrubs growing all across the marsh obscured their sights as well.

"I wonder what's more odd," Mort choked out through the smog, "The glowing ball of made of glowing pieces of the sky or three hobbits trekking through the marsh at night?" Even I have to draw the line somewhere, he thought to himself.

A mistimed step splattered a spray of mud across Mort's face. "Depends on who you ask. It wouldn't any surprise me if the Hobbiton folk found missing breakfast a more appalling notion than a burning mountain." This evoked a good chortle from both Pilbert and Mort. Then, rumbling from Farny's own protruding stomach sounded. "Course I wouldn't say no to an after dinner snack right 'bout now."

In a pure deadpan, Mort stated, "You wouldn't say no to a snack if there were three charging orcs, an oncoming monsoon of purple piss, and the snack was balanced on Pilbert's hairy naked arse.

The stouter hobbit gave a grumbling *harrumph.* "Nothing wrong with a hobbit that likes his meals. It's far better than a hobbit that needs the sauce because he can't get any asshole!"

"I only need me drink, because I'm stuck looking at your ugly mug all day long."

"Well why if you think it's so ugly why I don't introduce you to my fi-"

"SHUT UP! The whole lot of ye!" Pilbert had enough. "In case you two love birds forgot, we're marching through the marsh and it would be quite a bad idea to draw attention from the local inhabitants. Understand me?" Taking point, he lead the group onwards.

The two brothers sulked a bit, but fortunately there was never love lost between bantering brothers.

Farny spotted a spot of cracked mud that seemed dry and sturdier to step upon. As soon as he put his weight upon the dirt he suddenly found himself chest high in mud. Beneath it was a sinkhole filled with an unknown depth of soft wet mud. "Farny!" shouted his brother.

"Don't step there!" Pilbert roared as he turned to shine the lantern on Farny. He pointed out a spot by a slumping log. "The dirt looks dry and cracked, but you can tell from the log it's soggier and deeper than you think and keep the lantern on the trail, Mort! You don't want to trip on a root or stone and find yourself in the same mess!"

"Alright, maybe it is time to cut down on the sweetrolls," nervously chuckled Farny. "Well anytime you want to pull me out…" The rotund hobbit knew enough about the bog to raise he hands and stop moving, lest he sink down even faster.

"Hold yer' horses!" The endless flight of neekerbreekers was blocking Pilbert's sight. They'd neglected to be rope on this journey, quite a perilous mistake they've found it now. "Damnation! Rope! You always have it until you actually need it!"

Mort was frantically searching around for a stick, a branch, anything with which to extend his reach. "Why isn't there a single blasted tree in this marsh!?" Desperate, he tries tearing at the tiny branches of the nearby tall shrubs, but in vain, they are all too short to be of much use. Pilbert rushes up to the panicking hobbit and shouts, "Oh out o' the way, lad; let me do it!"

"What are you-?" Before Mort could ask his question, Pilbert grasped his cane tightly and revealed from it a glint of metal. Within the fat gnarled stick was a short sword, stained yellow and black, but to Mort's forge-trained eyes, unquestionably sharp. He saw the older hobbit inhale deeply and grasp the hilt with two hands and in a blink of an eye, the blade was swung.

Farny up to his sternum now irritably cried out, "What are you two doing over there!" However, his question was answered by the sound of cracking wood and the sight of a rolling bouncing marsh shrub the size of wagon. He thought to himself, "Oh please don't roll on top of me." Closing his eyes in anticipation he found that the shrub was perfectly rolled next to his side for him to grasp and pull on.

A sweaty Mort popped his head from behind the shrub. "Yank yourself out, Farny!" he shouted through pants. He had obviously just pushed the miraculously cut giant foliage over.

Grunting, Farny slowly but steadily gripped the many tiny branches of the needle leafed plant, pulled himself out of the muck hole and crawled onto more solid ground. Breathing hard, he spluttered, "A close one, that was." He saw Mort and Pilbert were doing the same, sitting on the ground and breathing hard. Then he noticed the deep slash, which felled the shrub. The trunk had to have been a foot in diameter. Mort gestured at Pilbert, who was still wielding his unsheathed sword. Pilbert gave him a wide sly grin. "I fell more than trees when I was younger, lad." He lifted his blade for him to see, a pommel-less fat straight blade with a wicked yellow glint. "Trusty machete, never leave home with it."

Mort and Farny had what was nearly a wide eyed stare. The elder Gladdenfield said, "You're full of surprises. Anyone ever tell you that, Realmfoot?" To think he had something like that stuffed in his old dirty stick, he thought. "Maybe I'll even tell you about some of them someday." Pilbert laughed.

Having rested for a few a minutes, Pilbert rose first and said, "C'mon, the both of ye. I don't like to think what swamp-spawn heard our shouting." The two brothers showed they concurred with grunts and nods. "Let's hurry on now; we should be more than halfway there now."

The marched onward, but from behind, Farny bellowed, "How much farther till we get out of this sludge pit? Between the bugs and bushes, I can't make out one hill from the next."

"And it's only a matter of time before fatty finds another hole to fall into," added Mort.

"Don't you two start again! Just look at that last hill by the light, we'll be more than three quarters of the way through now." Pilbert pointed with his walking stick at a dull hill across from Weathertop. "We'll crawl 'round that hill and spy out what's happening on the cairn. Follow where I step and we'll be through soon enough." Without warning, Pilbert began to bound through the marsh in leaps that truly surprised the Gladdenfields.

The two frizzy haired hobbits picked up their pace and ran after the elder through sloshing muck and dried green-brown shrubberies. "I think there's more to that old hobbit than coney hunting," whispered Mort between gasps. "Aye, we know he traveled with the big folk before settling down here, but never did say what he did with the big folk, did he?" responded Farny.

Mort nodded between his hops over more fell logs. "Just between you and me, I think he was a soldier." His brother gave him a look of incredulity. "A hobbit soldier?" The words sounded like an oxymoron together. Even in the times of homelessness for the Stoors, no hobbit in Arda, no matter how fool-hardy ever went looking for trouble in anything as foolish as a war. Sure there were fights, brawls, bandits and rogues, troublemakers and the plain stupid, but a warring hobbit?

"Well maybe not a soldier, but I've seen things in that hole he calls a home. There were crests on his junk, soldiering marks and what not." explained Mort. "And look at him now. That's not the stride of any hobbit from the Shire, I tell you."

Farny turned to closer look at the old hobbit leading them through the swamp in the dark. "You are definitely onto something. Don't know what, but something."

The sound of three pairs of sloshing bare hairy feet echoed. Without warning, a foul odor of epic proportions wafted out of the haze and assaulted the hobbits' nostrils. The hobbits stopped. "Blargh! What is that stench!?" On top of being was still shaken from his disgusting near-fatal dip in the filthy mud, misfortune continues to find Farny. "It's like deep ass out straight out of a donkey's butthole!"

Pilbert frowned and quaveringly said, "Oh no. Not again. It's those little round freaks again."

"Little what?" Mort asked just before he started gagging as well.

From their flanks the group heard belching noises emanating perhaps thirty or forty meters away. "Bleh! It's a like a stew of shit piss and crap!" cried Mort. "Where is it coming from?"

"That'll be the boglins," Pilbert muttered. "Nasty little critters they are, the size of your head with a face to match their smell. There!" Pilbert jabbed towards the shrubs at dozens of ball-like creatures. It had no legs, but instead two elongated four-fingered clawed hands. Some of them had two bulbous eyes and oozing green warts, while others were cyclopean with scales of sickly purple, and others still looked crushed pies with fangs. They were clinging to the shrubs on their left and right, waiting to amass enough to swarm their prey. "Quick! Run! Mort, you're on the left and Farny on the right!"

The hobbits dashed forwards through the marsh's swampy water away from the din of squelching cries to the best of their ability, staying in a v-formation the way Pilbert instructed. They took large strides and kept up a furious pace, but alas, in the swamp the boglins seemed to glide. Finally a fishy one-eyed boglin came too close to the trio, hoping to take a bite of sweet hobbit flesh; however, it instead found the taste of Farny's vicious pickaxe, a spinning piercing swing that tossed it three feet back. Much to the disgust of the fleeing hobbits, half a dozen of the pursuing goblins descended on their dead comrade, doing unspeakable things to its corpse. Yet this did reduce the number of boglins chasing them. Pilbert's swung his short sword handily, every blow striking true, and Mort sent more than one beast soaring with his iron hammer.

"Make for the hill! Once we reach solid ground they'll be less inclined to chance blows!" Farny and Mort nodded, still swinging haphazardly to dissuade their legless bity pursuers.

They ran until the smoke from the center of the hills was beginning to get too thick. Pilbert released a whooping cough as his eyes began to water. But nevertheless, he signaled with his hand and told the brothers to soldier on through the haze. "Over there, near the trees," he managed through his coughs. His companions brooked no complaints and sprinted forwards.

"So what now?" choked out Farny.

Mort added, "If the smoke doesn't smother us, we still won't see a hog's arse in that fog!"

"Don't be such grimps. There! Push past this last slope and we'll finally be close enough to see the source of this madness!" Pilbert held his can aloft like a soldier's saber and charged the hill.

Both brothers hesitated a moment. "This is worse than the stories," whined Mort, looking at the top of the smoking hill. "At least the adventurers in those stories had fair damsels and hordes of gold to look forward to at the end."

"Aye, but then I'd pity any poor lass that ends up having to look your dirty mug," jibed his brother. Farny looked over his shoulder to see a majority of the boglins cannibalizing their own dead. He scowled in disgust and thought, "Valar or Morgoth, even gods make mistakes."

Farny saw his brother open his mouth, but interjected, "Nevermind, get goin' 'fore those things finally decide your face is less disgusting than one their mashed kin." Mort wanted to retort but saw the obvious need for haste. The two took in a precious breath of air and leapt pass the wave of smoke.

On the hill, the grass was charred at places and left untouched at others. It was odd. Pilbert pondered upon the nature of the thing that could cause such destruction. A wildfire could feed on the dry grass for a day and more, roaring well for all to see. Yet this burning did not spread, but rather appeared in a great spread from its inception and burned inward on itself. He reached out to touch a darkened patch of weeds and was surprised by a spark of white flicker from the smolders and the intensity of the heat still lingering on the inauspicious patch of char. If a hobbit were to fall onto one of those patches he'd be lucky to get away with a few burns. Looking up at the ominous light atop the cairn again, he knew the fury of this flame still lived on in one form or the other. Lived on….

The journey upward was innocuously perilous. Were they not tailing their elderly companion, the brothers would have plowed on like oxen with no care for the heat. And they would have plowed straight into unburning flames. Fortunately for them Pilbert adroitly navigated through smoke and slopes, avoiding the worst of the lingering hotness with well-placed pokes of walking stick and instinct. The path up was taken in silence, for the smoke acceded to none to speak freely. What more, the rumbling they heard earlier that night was audible again. It was not until they were near the summit of the hill that they were free from the smoke's choking grasp.

"By the Valar!" cried Mort. "Look at that!" And at the summit they saw it. The tendrils of light that violently danced in the sky did not dissipate. They were all here, encircling the base of the tower like a hurricane. Weathertop Tower was being torn apart. The movement s of the tendrils were wholly unnatural, like a fly, flowing for a moment and darting at another.

The hobbits were speechless. Wisely they took to crawling behind the summit. There was a fell beauty to that luminescent tempest. Though the hobbits did not know it, this was the final dregs of the Legacy's deathblow, the power the slew a dark god. And while dregs it may be, the Valar themselves would struggle to replicate what was happening right then on the Weather Hills.

"Well we've seen … it," Farny choked out, "but what we're going tell lads back home… I'm more stumped than an autumn willow."

"Do you think this is a wizards doing?" suggested Mort. "Like that time out in Hobbiton."

His brother scoffed. "You mean the fireworks? I know they were impressive for a holiday, but this… Don't know anything that could do this except maybe…"

"The Valar," finished Pilbert. "Or Eru himself." The three then watched in solemn silence, not making a sound. The brightness was hypnotic and the sound almost deafening. It was only a few minutes, but they stared for what felt like an eternity.

"Wait, what is that?" Squinting hard, Pilbert pointed towards the light's zenith atop the tower.

"What is what?" the two brothers said in unison. It was blinding to stare directly at the lights. Pilbert, however, could see past the glare and noticed a dark silhouette floating in the center of the radiant sphere atop the cairn, like a sunspot. "I think it's a person. There, in the middle of it."

"What kind of person?" asked Farny. Pilbert shook his head. "Don't know but, he feels familiar."

The two brothers looked at Pilbert, unsure of what to do. The old hobbit was entranced. "What DO we tell the folks back in the Willows?" Mort asked.

Farny gave the swirling madness one more glance before turning to his brother. "Well it don't look like it'll be spreading anytime soon. It's burning in on itself far was we can tell. Let's just go home and hunker down till this blows over. It's not like this is a bandit camp or orc raid; we can't do anything about it. It's not a wildfire or storm. Let's just get all the folks to hunker down over the next couple days and see what happens."

"Hey you hear me, Pilbert?" The old hobbit was still staring, though a bit more wide eyed. "I said, 'ya hear me.' What's the matter?" He muttered something. "What?"

"It's coming," he said softly.

"Eh? What's coming?" A growing look of alarm was forming on the old hobbit's countenance. Like a wet cloth, he snapped onto his feet and shouted, "The tower's coming down!"

They all looked to see that the grinding light had torn away the vital foundations of Weathertop and the entire tower was collapsing, and much to the hobbits dismay it was falling towards their direction, stonework, magical churning lights and all!

Between the tower and the hill they were sitting on there was at least a league or more of empty grassland, more than enough space to avoid the falling debris. However, that was not taking into account the addition of the force of the magic, a fact that delayed the hobbits' flight by many precious seconds. After the tower touched the earth, like a leviathan, it started to slithered upwards and obliterated all around the hill. Farny squawked and dragged his brother by the collar to the left, the two rolling clumsily down. Pilbert, coming to his senses, flipped towards the right.

The party was separated. On one side two rolled through char and burning. On the other the one carefully tumbled down directly into the path of a crashing tower.

In the mind of Urza…

The Legacy is the culmination of five thousand years of artifice and magic, my magnum opus. I don't believe words uttered from even the most passionate and profound could broach the sheer vastness of its sublimity. I created it solely for this day. I am Urza Planeswalker, an artificer of the capital plane, Dominaria. Today is the day my world is invaded by its ancient foe, the Phyrexians. They crawl and scramble across every continent, every island, and even skim across the open oceans like bloated steel ants, each an abomination unto itself and all together are horrors undreamed even in the nightmares of the most depraved. However, aboard the sky ship Weatherlight, the Legacy stands as the last hope.

I shall explain in more depth about what the Legacy is. It is not as simple as a machine assembled to release energy. In earnestness, I do not truly understand the entire workings of the device, but to the extent that I do, I would call it a living idea given tangibility. There are basic mechanical parts of course, like power stones, engines, and mana rods, but it utilizes living beings synchronized with artifacts, like Karn whose core is the sentient heart of Xantcha, Gerrard, and even the spark of a Planeswalker, myself. And as we give ourselves over to it, we become formless light, the Legacy complete.

To the eyes of one from outside of its luminescence, the shimmering sky-covering blossom appeared to be an elemental of pure white mana, light alive. However, its nature was not so simple that it could be described with banal concepts like beauty, purity, piety or whatever nonsense. The Legacy was the antithesis of the evolving machines of darkness that was Phyrexia. It was holiness' evolution to a new form. It was an angel's violence meshed with the mad passion of intelligence with the purpose of fury and the untold growth of the wilds.

And within was another manifold of transcendent nameless intricacies, though I submit this may have been hallucination on the part of my addled mind, having been torn from its physical form. Its outward wails and roars sounded like a parochial village or perhaps just a group of rabble-rousers, but a happy crowd in either case. They are the conjecturing voices of the Thran, the civilization of artificers from which I based my work. There missioned in are the voices of my friends. And beside them was a noble and melodic beckoning of a woman's lyrical siren, the voice of the Weatherlight. Imbued with living wood, the skyship was alive as well. And of course there was the booming voice of Gerrard, the embodiment of heroism, my child by eugenic design. It is reasonable to assume I may have been out of my senses at the time, but just the same, I heard them as clearly as the shepherd hears his bleats of his flock.

The voices- my voice cried out for a singular thing. Our purpose, our resolve, our very reason for existence was the destruction, the unmaking of this contaminating beast. Yawgmoth, now the shapeless death cloud above Dominaria, dredged his dark tentacles a hair's breath away with willful languidness, slowly engulfing the Weatherlight. He was noxious in every sense of the word, but such sheer power, such indomitability, such … hubris. He brought his core, his true essence of his being, next to us. Who were we not oblige? The Legacy burst forth from the Weatherlight's power matrix and penetrated deeply like a spear. Then I felt it. I felt Yawgmoth scream. He was being consumed by our combined fury from within, particle by particle, true annihilation.

I expected to be consumed as well, used up like a spell. The Mightstone and the Weakstone, the source of fuel for my Planeswalker's spark were spent the same way as all the other parts of The Legacy. Without them I expected to dissipate the same way all spells do when they use up their source of mana. Yet to my great surprise, the voices remained, though echoes now. Bringing himself so close to the Legacy allowed us to obliterate Yawgmoth without using up all our energy. However, the Legacy was now on a rampage, seeking for a foe already vanquished.

Perhaps I had merged with the Legacy because the chief source of energy was those two legendary powerstones, which had stayed within my skull for so long we may have truly become one. At any rate, I still had consciousness. I found I could still control this chaos. And I knew if I didn't exercise that control soon, Dominaria could very well be devastated by my hand again, half the world destroyed like with the Sylex Blast. With no corporeal form, I fastened my will to the pure energy of the Legacy as one being and walked, leaving my native plane.

However, I was sightless. All my senses were turned inwards, as there were no eyes to see with nor ears to hear with. When a Planeswalker travels between planes, he must first cross between the Blind Eternities, the empty void between planes. Staring into it is not unlike staring at the night sky if one were inside of the sky and each star erupted with volcanic starlight. For all its nothingness, there could be violent physical forces exerting its weight on you and there was no direction as simple as up and down. The extra-dimensional nature of its existence would rend creatures from a three-dimensional plane to the bone. The Legacy was like a ship caught in the wild gales of its own power. It was a turbulent journey, completely unlike the normal smooth movements I could have made with a physical body.

For untold moments we drifted until in a heaven cracking force I sensed we had penetrated the barriers of the Aether and descended above the skies of an unknown plain. I had hoped to come to a barren place, where the raging fires could burn out peacefully. But alas, I sense it is a verdant landscape, permeated with life and vigor. The wild mana was still searching, scorching away all black mana and elements aligned with it in a blind fury to unmake anything and everything Phyrexian.

However, I am alive; I am a part of this savagery. I can reconstitute myself and end this tumult. The spark within me is an emptied basin and this power is a flood; I need only guide it into me. Though the power here is enough to break a god, it is a familiar power. I need only to… yes… I have sight. Moss covered stones and broken ramparts … This is a ruin of some sort, an empty ruin. It'll be fine to center the entire Legacy here. It's just a matter of time and concentration.

That's all a planeswalker is really, concentration. There are planeswalkers who choose to forgo the body altogether and exist in the Aether as pure energy, but most retain the form of their birth as an anchor to affirm their identity. I am of the latter, so the energy pulled from the white mana soon morphed into my recognizable blue robe with purple lining. My hands were returning as well, clad in the same Thran plate gauntlets. My staff… was still with Karn. A pity. It would have helped in this task.

The mana was upwelling in my spark. Time seems to pass differently when I reform my body. This isn't the first time my physical body has been destroyed and I've had to put myself back together, but this is the first time I've had to use so many foreign sources of mana to do so. Whether hours or days, I could not tell much time had passed at that moment. However, I could see that as the mana strands of the Legacy united, the excess power was tearing away at the base of this tower.

Fatigue was beginning to set in. It takes a great deal of strain to fatigue a planeswalker, but I suppose strain would be a soft way to describe the series of sundering events I've experienced. But to give in and flee would mean the release of this havoc into this world, a travesty of wasted potential and life.

The stones beneath my feet were crumbling. I could feel them now, since I have feet again. I grit my teeth and spread my arms to widen my influence over the flow but it was a tempestuous spiral of pinnacle might. The telltale sounds of implosions from below further foretold of the inevitable collapse that was occurring now. A combination of the interweaving tendrils of the Legacy's mana and my body locked me in place atop the tower as a focal point.

However, to resist the torrent of power and protect myself, I shaped the white mana still settling in my spark into a spherical shield. Alas the tower began to fall, its foundation disintegrated. By pushing enough of my influence into the remaining sentience of the Legacy, I was able to suppress its burning desire to hunt down black mana and instead had it seek out energy native to Dominaria still lingering from our entry into this plain above the hills. However, to my surprise, instead of bearing upwards, the toppled tower roiled like serpent upon the grassy hills. I spied the target it stalked, an aged little kithkin, wide-eyed and surprised as a beeble in a broiler. We were barreling straight into him now with myself at the head.

Perhaps it was reflex or perhaps an exercise in reckless compassion, but I did not want my first act on this plane to be an act of murder. It would be a sour taste to the triumph over my eternal foe, which was supposed to signal an end to death. So I pushed as much power as I had into the shield I had formed and stopped the tower and the swirling energy mere yards away from the tiny kithkin. I do believe all my joints exploded under the pressure of that task.

As I hovered in front of the diminutive creature and dammed the flood, it loudly quavered out "Wargh! What!? What are ye-!?" However, I had no time to answer; the force did not allow me the leisure of even opening my mouth. The shield prevented the tower from smashing the kithkin, but acted as a funnel for the mana to more rapidly condense into my body. The sensation of having one's insides filled to the brim with refined white mana is difficult to convey, but I liken it to being able feel the process of disintegrated while the body maintains its form. Quite painful and debilitating to say the least. I saw a rapid series of flickers- no … I was the flicker. Everything was becoming sandy, static-like. How ironic. I'm being absorbed back into the Legacy, aren't I?

The little kithkin gave me an inquisitive little stare, almost like a cat ready to pounce. He was still on the ground, but he seemed torn between fleeing and addressing my plight. Funny little fellow … a pity he'll likely perish with me. The flames of the Legacy are not easily extinguished and will burn on for years when they escape.

Suddenly the kithkin sprang up and leapt beside me. He thrust his little palms forward and cast a gilded light. It was so small it was laughable and could barely be called a spell, but its little pulse did the job and shrouded me for a moment. There was sweat on his leathery brow; magical exertion was something he was obviously not used to. And staring directly into the Legacy was not someone faint of heart could do, though the wisdom of the act… Such mettle from such a little folk was surprising.

Its little spell provided protection for only a fraction of a second, but that was enough for me to stabilize enough of myself. In solid form again, I pushed directly against the roiling tower with pure blunt magic and produced another shockwave. However, the final residues of the Legacy dissipated, and what I couldn't absorb I grounded itself into the hills. There was a series of smaller concussive pulses of white energy around us as it went. And it knocked the poor kithkin clean out, as well as put an inauspicious glowing white to his eyes. As for myself, it was sheer exhaustion that left me unconscious.

Pilbert Realmfoot 2W

Legendary Creature - Kithkin, Scout

Pilbert Realmfoot can't be blocked by creatures with power 2 or greater.

WW Tap: Pilbert Realmfoot deals one damage to target attacking or blocking creature. Tap that creature. It doesn't untap during its next controller's next untap step.

"Aim for the side of the groin and they'll be down twice as long!" ~ Pilbert


Chapter 3

Urza awoke to find himself laying upon a dingy squat bed, one with grey linens and an in-ornate wooden frame. The room was likewise drab; a plain end table on one side and a splintered wardrobe by the other, each laden with half-spent candles, brushes, combs, and various knick-knacks. There was a mechanical methodical-ness to Urza. From the moment he opened his eyes he was alert; there was no instance of grogginess or confusion, only clarity. Urza existed in assuredness whether he was right or wrong. The world conformed to Planeswalkers, not the other way around. Observation brought him to the obvious conclusion, the kithkin folk had brought him into their abode.

Urza tried to recall the kithkin. They were a demure folk, well-traveled and fleet-footed but otherwise a completely dismissible race. They dwelt upon the Amrou plains in northern Dominaria, bothered no one and was in turn bothered by none… Until the Invasion of course. The secondary waves of Phyrexian witch engines contaminated the fields when Teferi and he were closing a second ambulatory portal, spearheaded by a commanding Praetor. It must have been Bo Levar or perhaps Lord Windgrace that had scorched it into a barren glass desert with his lent Power Armor. After that, they scattered about to neighboring regions like nomads.

He rose and headed out to the den through the tiny doorway. To find a lady kithkin, grey at the sides of her hair and a couple wrinkles under the eyes, but otherwise still healthy. However, she sat by a window with her head in her hand in an apparent pose of tired distress. She was absorbed in her own thoughts, not even noticing the virtual giant of a man now staring at her from across the room.

Urza cleared his throat in a stern, though not forbidding, tone.

"Oh!" Penny lifted her head in alarm. "You gave me a start. I thought you'd be out until a' least noon. Last night I- we…" Penny didn't know where to begin. Just a day ago life was as it ever was in the Willows.

"Tell me how I came to be here if you will," spoke Urza in crisp tones.

It is now that it should be mentioned; Urza is an omni-lingual being. People across the world and the ages speak in different tones, dialects, and words but in all sentient beings there is only the language of the mind. A universal language exists in mind of all beings, which Urza is most fluent in. When Urza speaks, it is in the words of the being he is addressing, unless it is to himself, in which case he speaks in the common tongue of Dominaria. It is not unlike Saruman's voice of persuasion that tugs at the heartstrings of those he speaks to. Both passively utilizes magic on the mind to reach in and tweeze out the hidden meanings. It is an uncommon trait, but most famously found in another well-known wizard across the multiverse known as Albus Dumbledore. But I digress…

Penny continued. "Last night when … all that madness was going on, my husband and a couple of other hobbits went into the wilds to find the source of it all. When they got to the old tower south of the hills, they found you." She rose to get a tea tray on the stone counter. "From what I got from the ramblings of those two oafs, you were blocking the- the- magic light from crushing my husband, before it knocked the both of you clean out." She poured two cups of steaming tea and offered Urza a chair.

Urza crouched down and squatted upon what amounted to a high stool. "Yes, I remember some of that. The old [kithkin] who cast the spell."

Penny quirked an eyebrow at his statement. "Spell?"

"Your husband cast a spell of protection to aid my absorption of the [magic]. It was quite brave of him when he could have simply fled," Urza taciturnly explained.

"Wha- That's nonsense!" she spluttered. "I know my husband a bit queer sometimes, but he's no conjurer!"

"Take me to him," instructed Urza. "He was exposed to more than any single [kithkin] should be." However, Urza noticed Penny was reticent. "I'm Urza Planeswalker, trust me." The statement left Penny with a sense of foreboding. She still didn't know who or even what this man was; he could be an agent out of Modor for all she knew. He stood there almost regally and fixed an expectant stare upon her. Still … woman's intuition told her he wouldn't do any harm for now.

"My name is Penny Realmfoot. C'mon then." She straightened herself subconsciously to match Urza's demeanor, and lead him through a side hall into the master bedroom. In it was a larger bed with white linens, hosting a very still and elderly hobbit. However, upon closer inspection a very slight rising and fall of his chest could be seen, moving in time with a portentous wheeze.

Penny stood worryingly at the doorway, clammy hands clasped together. "It's been about six hours since we put him to bed, but…" She turned up to look at an impassive Urza. Without another word he pushed past her to take a closer look at the hobbit.

He kneeled next to the bed and examined Pilbert with the precision of a surgical mechanic. Exhaustion was his first diagnosis. Pallid skin, shortness of breath, and excessive sweating were all signs of mana exhaustion. It wasn't surprising his wife didn't know her husband could cast. Even that small spell had drained his reserves of mana; he must not have been practiced in the art of spellcraft. Wizardry depended on will and skill. An adept wizard could craft spells of volcanic proportions drawing only on the most meager of mana from the mounds. However, were that the only blight the little [kithkin] incurred he would be fine with rest, water, and care. The glow in his eyes belied a much more auspicious affliction.

Penny watched Urza work a couple feet away. The old human looked like he had a healer's touch if only for a slight roughness. It would be a blessing if he could cure her Pilly. What amounted to medicine in the Willows little more than bushcraft really and more than one hobbit has suffered from the time it took find a healer in Bree or elsewhere. "How- How is he?" she stuttered.

However Urza continued examination in silence, his countenance not giving the barest hint of emotion. It was unsettling, but Penny didn't interrupt. It was not until after two more thorough inspections of her husband before the stranger finally made a sound. He tsk-ed and said, "Madam, come take a look at this."

Urza held one of her husband's eye lids open for her to see. Penny came closer and looked over his shoulder. She frowned. It looked like the eye had a film of white; older hobbits eventually- No - Something else was there. "Do you see it?" It was a light. Deep within the pupil a tiny fleck, but Penny couldn't describe. It was akin to showing a man born blind a rainbow. The light was white but it wasn't. It was… quite beautiful. Enchanting really.

"It's dangerous."

Penny snapped out of it and quickly turned to Urza. "What do you mean?" she demanded.

He answered, "That is the light of a power that upheaved a world. And what you saw consume the sky the night before."

Penny shuddered. Not because she understood why the strange human was reverent of last night's chaos, but because that chaos was inside her tiny little Pilbert. "Can he- will he-"

"I can help him, madam," finished Urza. It seems the light of the Legacy had seeped into the [kithkin] when he stood before it. How strange. Disregarding the fact he should have been removed from this plane of existence for bathing in its light, that body should not have been able to contain its power, no matter how minute. The Legacy was an amalgamated creation of Dominaria, and it should have rejected any creature of a foreign plane. This bodes more study. First to keep him alive, thought Urza.

Penny saw a thin white mist emanate from the air around her husband and smelled the scent of jasmine. It was a calming and refreshing smell. Almost instantly the paleness receded from Pilbert and his breath became more regular. "Oh, Pilly!" she loudly whispered before kneeling down and grabbing his hand.

"The worse of it has not passed yet," Urza said. "Do you have a forge in this village?"

"A forge?" Penny took a short moment to think about that. "Just across the road, the hobbits have a small forge for smelting and blacksmithing. Why?"

"I'm an artificer," Urza said coolly. "I'll need my tools to fix your husband." Saying nothing more he rose and smoothly exited the bedroom. Penny stayed with her husband, simply glad he was no longer in any apparent suffering.

From Eriador to Arnor, when one heard the word hobbit-hole, the word comfort was not far off. Not the same, however, could be said of the Gladdenfield hobbit-hole. The unlike walls were covered with cracks, smudges and haphazardly hung tools. And though the hardwood floors were just as worn and cracked, it wasn't as noticeable under the copious amount of dirty clothes, spoons, plates, rags, scrap metal, wood planks, bottles, and so on. Near the far end of den was an ornate polished black stone fireplace, where half washed britches hung from a makeshift clothesline by the fire. In the back of the hobbit-hole was a hallway, where a grimy bathroom hid behind an equally grimy purple laced curtain, hung atop the doorway.

Directly across from the bathroom was the bedroom. There laid two snoring hobbits, tired from an excursion that left one neck down in mud and both with unconscious-body-dragging duty. Mort was lying in a hammock tied to a bedpost and a chair laden with more junk, mainly ores and rags. Farny slept face down on a large filthy muddy bed, muffled snores echoing throughout the room.

Urza sniffed. He was reminded of a goblin barrow. However, this was not the first filthy hole he'd had to crawl through and certainly wouldn't be the last.

He did not truly need to be here. In the first place the old kithkin was at an age where the tiny amount of the Legacy's energy within him wouldn't matter. Of course it would kill him in time, about thirty or forty years, but the lifespan of the average kithkin hardly made that matter in this case. Secondly, gratitude and obligation were arbitrary concepts in Urza's eyes, mental shackles created to satisfy the need for emotional indemnity and hamper the greater purpose. No, he was here to discover the reason why the grizzled little creature was able to absorb that power at all. Or at least he was in this mess heap to procure the means to that.

Urza crept past the den. He slid his hand across the wall as he walked, brushing against the hodgepodge of tools. The tools were all inferior quality, dented iron here and makeshift handle there, but he could tell from personal experience every hammer and tong here has known intimate use and each injury on their bodies came not from weather or age but from the battlefield forge. Urza thought he could like the owners of these, despite their lack of hygiene.

He felt like these tools himself right now, a man worn and used to the nub. He'd have to recreate all his assets again, his filters, his lenses, his factories, the mana rigs … At the tiny doorway where the two hobbits slept, he most missed his staff, which he could have used to knock on the somewhat green and perhaps moldy wood. He settled for tapping his iron boots on the floorboards.

The response he received came in the form of a confused grunt and a very squeaky series of rectal exhalations.

Urza scowled. Resorting to knocking, he raised his hand knocked on the shabby wall once.

Farny and Mort experienced the equivalent of a roaring tremor, reverberating completely within the confines of their bedroom. Two bleary eyed hobbits then began to scramble on the floor and huddle in the corner as they sputtered half spoken questions to one another.

"Good [kithkin], I have need of your forge."

Farny and Mort, having just returned from a very tiring all-night excursion in addition to dragging two unconscious heavy folk through the side of the smoggy hills, had only slept four hours or so. In unison they muttered, "Buhhhhh?" and gave Urza a blank stare.

Urza raised an eyebrow. "It is necessary for the health of your companion?" he continued. However, he merely elicited another vacant stare along with some drool. Sighing he said, "Me - need – bang – iron," in broken pauses and pantomimed hammering. The two pointed to a narrow door by the side that lead downwards, much too short for Urza to pass through without crawling.

Urza instead chose to move in the direction of the door and dignifiedly "walk" into the forge, phasing out of existence before the two hobbit's eyes.

The two sat there wordlessly for a minute. "Mort."

"Yeah, Farn?"

"I think I need a drink."

"It's lunchtime," Mort said in a lecturing tone.

Farny responded, "You're right." He stood up and dusted himself off. "I'm goin' need a couple drinks." His brother sighed and ambled after his stumbling sibling, thinking he was probably going to need more than a couple of drinks to deal with his drunk brother this early in the day.

Urza phased into existence amongst an even more cluttered circular basement room, with a large forge across from the stairs, connected to a hodgepodge chimney curling outwards.

Suddenly he was overcome with a coughing fit. His body was wracked with pain and he was forced to clutch at his sides. A consequence of reigniting his spark in such a foreign way, he supposed. It wasn't the first time he had his entire body destroyed. A planeswalker's physical body was merely a conduit for him to exert his power; His planeswalker's spark was his true body and his was fluctuating erratically because it was literally shorn and then mended with a flood of four kinds of mana. He estimated it would take him a few decades of subjecting himself to mortal limitations, eating, sleeping, and such, but he would be as strong as ever eventually. For now, he would have to be conservative with his power and forgo planeswalking altogether. Even intra-planar planeswalking had destabilized his power; he would hate to imagine how he'd fare in the Blind Eternities.

Urza hovered over the scraps of metal and ore jumbled across the room. They weren't anything special, only iron, copper, bronze, and a few ingots of silver tucked away in the corner. However, there was enough here to remake his staff. A wizard without his staff was hardly a wizard at all and an artificer without his artifacts was even less so.

Urza approached the furnace and waved his hand over it. The hearth kindled to life and began to blaze as hot as it could. The drab coals turned to into red hot suns, filling the entire room with a fierce swelter.

Without even turning to look, Urza telekinetically felt for the materials he wanted, copper, zinc, tin, manganese, lead and so on. The ores around him exploded for his efforts, the specific metals bursting forth in their pure form. He then began to move his hands in the manner of an orchestral conductor. The metals flew over the flames as if of their own volition, melting into floating liquids before converging over the anvil.

The tools of the smith laid around him, hammer and tongs, but Urza needed no such thing. At the level of a Planeswalker he merely willed the metal to fold, applying telekinetic pressure drawn directly from the blue mana around the Shire. Metals heated and cooled at his will and layered themselves over and over, becoming unwieldy dense. The beginnings of the shaft and head of the staff was taking shape, a hollow tube filled with incalculable miniscule gears, sprockets and other recondite machine parts.

Although only mere moments had passed, the equivalent of days of work had been done before the copper tone staff took its final shape, an ornate rod with multiple sleek sections that lead up to a curved halberd-esque top with three small radial powerstones encased in pure quartz glass. Telekinetically summoning it to his grasp, Urza meticulously inspected each nanoangstrom of the staff for uniformity before he whirled it around to upright position and gave the floor a satisfactory tap with his new artifact.

Now, onto the matter of the little kithkin… There was no blanket cure for his condition as far as Urza was aware of. Perhaps there was, but being afflicted with mana poisoning amalgamated in the manner the Legacy combined its powers was an area of study not even Urza gave much consideration into. However now at the forge, un-beset by Phyrexian foes or faultfinding friends, he considered the possibilities.

Not of a cure, a pointless endeavor in his mind, but an advance in artifice. More than fifty percent of the Legacy's initial payload went into destroying Yawgmoth, an additional fifteen or so percent was lost to the tidal forces of the Blind Eternities, thirty percent went into reigniting my spark, and the rest was loss to the entropy of Arda… and of course inside the kithkin, Pilbert. That would make Pilbert the last creature alive he could objectively use to study the final product of his opus.

Urza wasn't finished. His white whale was slain, but his heart won't be satisfied until every sea it has swum in and spawn it has spawned is cleansed. He picked up a hammer and began to pound.

"Bleh!" sputtered the bleary-eyed hobbit. "The swill's spoiled!" he declared before taking another sip.

Mort didn't bother to give his brother a response. It wasn't worth the trouble when what he would get out of his mouth was no different from what he'd get from staring at his brother's arse. Instead he put a dented kettle atop the coal burner in their kitchen and began to boil coffee.

The two went about their morning routine, pretending there wasn't basically a giant wizard in their basement pounding away with their materials to make Valar knows what. They sat at the rickety table in front of their front window, just sipping away at their preferred beverages, half asleep but still alertly looking at the stairway leading down.

"What do you think he's doing down there?" Mort asked. "A golden penny and a half if I knew," his brother muttered.

"Ye don't think he's wrecking anything important?"

"Wouldn't surprise me. Big folk ain't got respect for another hobbit's property. Course' there isn't precious down there to talk about."

"The silver?"

"…well guess it's time to take a gander at what Mr. Tall and Blue is clanging about in our home."

However, before Farny could even fully rise from his seat he saw his impromptu guest had deigned to squat up the tiny stairs back into the hallway, wielding a brand new bronze colored halberd staff.

The two hobbits were able to get a clear look at the human now that it was neither the dark of night nor the moment they just woke up. He was quite obviously elderly, deep crags liberally decorated his face, but at the same time there was no aura of decrepit-ness that typically followed old age, no sense of worn finality. Quite the opposite, he exuded an imposing, almost dominating, quality similar to a storm.

The hobbits unconsciously rose from their seat as he approached their table, thumping his staff all the way along. "Good [kithkin]," Urza began, "you have my gratitude for your service and your contribution."

The Gladdenfields didn't really know what to say. They were gruff folk and coarse at the best of times. Self-awareness of this stilled their tongue in the presence of such a figure. Until finally Mort simply uttered, "Are you a wizard?"

Urza replied, "Not quite. I am an artificer." From his pocket he placed an odd shaped hammer, round at the top with flat sides.

The brothers moved in to look more closely. It was pure silver. Farny lifted it up to the sunlight to examine it more closely. He was surprised by the heft of the little thing; it felt like it weighed more than two stone and yet… he hadn't needed to exert much effort to lift it. Upon closer inspection, what had originally seemed like a perfectly smooth service was covered in endless tiny engravings. And looking even closer, he could see there were even more engravings within the engravings, infinitely onwards. It was fairly hypnotic. "Would you look at that."

The planeswalker said, "It will help you with your craft, if you choose to use it," and opened the old thick door to leave.

It was quiet in the hamlet in spite of last night's strangeness. There were only fifteen families or so living by the hills. That was a good thing for Penny, because of the state her husband was still in. The wizard had done … something, which had thankfully alleviated his symptoms. She sat quietly now, holding his hand as he slept with even breaths again. It wasn't something she wanted to experience again.

Penny came from a poor hobbit family. There were no Took, Brandybuck, Bolger or any other great hobbit blood lineages in her clan. Her parents were simple trader folk, moving trade goods from one part of the Shire to another. It was a risky enterprise that could have amounted to wealth had the market for foodstuffs not turned sour. War was a common part of life across Middle Earth and for farmers and towns that meant that armies, both friend and foe alike, could at any time come traipsing through and commandeer supplies for their campaigns. Depending on the sensibilities of the soldiers, this meant either a lean winter or complete devastation for a community. Penny's family ran afoul of soldiers during trips to the outlying communities of Gondor and Rohan multiple times, dealing unrecoverable financially blows to the traveling hobbits.

You wouldn't be able to picture it now, but the leathery lady was a pure naïve little hobbit girl in her youth. It was the long process of itinerantly eking out a living in small towns and wayfaring in the wilderness with ailing parents that tanned her. There was simply something antithetical about a hobbit living a nomadic life in discomfort; it was almost entropic. That is until she met husband to be.

Penny first met Pilbert in the flat lands of Dunlending, taking an unmarked trail to avoid the wild men. His and her tale was one of romance worthy to be in a bard's song by its own, filled with exploration, dangerous beasts, dramatic rescues and snobbish suitors, and deep mysteries. That's what Pilbert was to Penny, her mysterious savior to change the drudgery of traveling into something else, an adventure. However, she rarely ever told anyone about their life; she didn't have any family left to confide in and hobbit folk would at best find her to be a bit touched and at worst a contemptible liar. But in the end it didn't really matter; it didn't change the fact she had a long happy life with her husband.

She sat down beside him on the bed and stroked the tufts of hair left on his head. She thought to herself, "Who are you really, Pilberry Realmfoot?" In all the years she's known her husband, his past has always been the most mysterious part of him. He told her his family came from a place called the Amrou Plains, though neither she nor anyone else has heard of such a place. He spoke of it seldom except in times of inebriation; he described endless fields of golden wheat, blue roofed houses built from marbled white brick, and the queerest sounding hobbit-folk she'd ever heard that could still be called hobbits. In fact, it wasn't too uncommon for her husband to speak in tongues and call himself kithkin…


Penny was startled by the knocking. It came directly from outside of the bedroom. "Who-" she began but she already knew who, the human that had been dragged into her home alongside her husband. "I have completed my work," he said unhelpfully. The hobbits of the Willows might be ill-mannered, but this man had the social graces of an orc. "I see…" she replied.

With no other word of explanation he thumped and clanged his way towards her husband. She rose to confront him, but before she can say a single word more he'd put a finger in front of her mouth to shush her. Her! No woman in the entire Hamlet would dare match lungs with her and now this- this- visitor had the gall to shush her like some stripling!?

She took in a lungful of air and met his face to teach him his manners, but then… but then she met his gaze. It was not threatening, but it instantly took her breath away. It was as if she suddenly opened her eyes and found herself at the precipice of a deep valley; all air is sucked out of you. She wouldn't flinch if the a band of orcs were here, but this ma- no this creature was different. Before she knew she had moved, she was atop of Pilbert, shielding his body with her own.

The scientific minded planeswalker was annoyed at the irrational, yet not unfamiliar gesture. He said in his least daunting tones, "this will help him." Urza shifted his cloak to reveal a single ring. The alloy was thick and ornate, covered with engravings across the whole of its width and length, and gemmed with five equally cut rectangular jewels. The color of the metal was off-gold, neither pretty nor luxurious looking. However, the five gems in contrast fluctuated in color constantly, the core of them becoming red for one moment, then blue, then black, then green, then white and thing any mix of the five.

A person would have to be blind and addled not to feel the magical energy radiating from the thing. Penny looked down at her sleeping husband before she turned to Urza and asked in a harsh whisper, "Wha- what is that?"

"A magic ring, dear lady," Urza explained, keeping the sarcasm out of tone. "Please put this on the middle finger of his left hand."

"I'll do no nay such thing! You- you- you may have helped Pilly before, but you still have not told me a single thing about WHO you are! What happened last night!? Why are you here!? And what has happened to my husband!?" Penny's pent up anxiety, anger, and fear had finally reached a crescendo. "This idiot loaf goes runnin' off into the night with not a thought for his poor wife- AND on a feelin' no less! The chicken's run off, the ceiling's crackin', and-"

The old hobbit lady continued to rant for another minute before Ura interjected. "This will save his life." The words stopped Penny cold.

She looked at Urza again, trying to discern any hint of deception or malice in general. There was none. Yet, perhaps more worrying was the inscrutable nature of his being. However at that time she could broach no argument to herself when her husband lay unconscious. Perhaps if her stress hadn't built to such a crescendo, she would have rationalized with herself and considered her husband was already in less danger and to let this stranger beholden them more with magic, the pinnacle of dangerous arts, was likewise at the height of foolishness. Alas, she swiped the ring from Urza's offering hand and with just a moment's hesitation, slipped it onto Pilbert's gnarled finger.

The effect was instantaneous. A swirl of colors radiated from Pilbert with enough brilliance to force Penny to draw back and cover her eyes. "Wha-" was all she managed to utter before the lights filtered through the ornate ring and she heard Pilbert gasp.

Through the cracks of her fingers, Penny whispered, "Pilbert?" The light was dim again, too dim to see properly in fact. "Penny?" he said raspingly. "Where are I can't see you in the dark."

"I'm here." She went over to the window to open the curtains. "Where? Get the light; I can't see a darn thing."

The sunlight of midafternoon caressed her face as she turned. "You old frog, what are ye' doing scaring your wife like that! Can't you tell-" She turned to look at Pilbert and gasped.

"What? What is it?" Pilbert struggled to get up, feeling his way to the bedpost. "Confound it! Get the light!" Penny replied, "Pilbert, y- your eyes."

"What about them?" She moved to his side and touched his face gently. Her husband's eyes had turned milky white.

Urza finally emerged from the corner he retreated to and said, "Let us sit in the den. We have quite a bit to discuss."

Ring of Legacy's Key 3

Legendary Artifact

R (Tap): Deal 1 damage to target creature.

W (Tap): Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player.

U (Tap): Target opponent reveals his hand.

G (Tap): Target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn

B (Tap): Target creature gets -2/-0 until end of turn.

Chapter 4

The sound of that staff hitting stone was tinny, just like everything else about the man. It was a sharp clank that resonated in a way unlike any metal Pilbert had ever heard before and ironically it was the guiding sound he followed as he lead Urza through the Shire.

The "rifting" as Urza had come to call it had left him nearly blind. A semi-colored tunnel vision was all he had left to go by for the most part unless he used … it. Like most hobbits out in the Willows, he was queer by the standards of probably both hobbit and men alike, but this ring was something even the eccentric folk didn't like. To him, though, it was a necessary crutch. And that unnatural opaque whiteness- well... Pilbert was used to dealing with folk who had trouble with oddities.

It hadn't taken long before he found out he could use the ring, restoring his sight to what it was and then some, among other things. But the ring wasn't some trinket; it reached into him and pulled something out to do whatever it was it did. And when it was done, he felt magic; Urza called it, "The Legacy." But Eru only knows what a confounded wizard blathers about.

"Keep up, halfling. The night looms," barked Urza. Pilbert furled his brow in annoyance and retorted, "Ye' already the' reason why I'm chewed harder than leather round'a goat in the Willows; I don't need ta' hear it from you too!" and widened his strides to stand side by side with Urza.

While Penny was an open minded hobbit for the most part and magic wasn't anything that curled her stockings, she did not like it when her husband kept secrets. It's not as if he was purposely keeping secrets, though. The spells he knew were simple wardings that stopped beasts and other spells of certain elements, a thing his parents strangely thought was something all hobbits should know. Not quite so, as he found out later in life.

Pilbert continued shouting at Urza. "I still don't understand why you couldn't just magic us over to Hobbiton if you want to see those maps so badly!"

"A matter of personal health and distance. Not even a man like I can go through a sundering like that completely unscathed." Urza had tried to walk through the aether and into the Blind Eternities, but there was something in this plane that prevented him going far without straining. In earnest, he had trouble planeswalking from the flight of stairs in basement dwelling of the Gladdenfield brothers. It wasn't something he was prepared to push without first recuperating, a thing he was inclined on doing now that he had time.

Yawgmoth was gone, he mused. That much he was certain of. After all, he saw its very essence stripped from his Phyrexian core and used like a goblin grenade to destroy his body. He had time now to explore and rest … at least for a little while.

Phyrexia was still there out there. Without their god to lead them they'll fall into disarray and wither for a time. But would they perish with the mere passing of time like ephemeral mortals? No.

Long ago when the first incarnation of his academy was built on Tolaria, a Phyrexian sleeper agent, a newt, had infiltrated and trapped itself in a fast time bubble on the ruins. Although the creature could be considered one of the least empowered of the sentient Phyrexians, over the course of a few thousand generations, even without knowledge of Phyrexian flesh-artifice, Kerrick created an army of Negators from virtually nothing, capable of directly challenging Urza for a decade. The entire ruined plane of Phyrexia left to its machinations? The madness would spread again. Across the whole of the multiverse, there were doubtlessly scattered infiltrators, newts, stray Negators, the Rathi remnants and the lines of potential Evincars, and the Overseers and Praetors of the Inner Circle. Each a seed, waiting to blossom into aberrations of unliving chaos.

He would recuperate and start over again here. Until every last Phyrexian, every last drop of glistening oil, was eradicated from existence, he would stand vigilant and rebuild his armies. And for that purpose he was now traveling with his new diminutive companion to Hobbiton. There they procure and study outlying maps and lore of this plane in the region from an acquaintance of Pilbert's.

Pilbert had become Urza's not quite willing guide, grumbling as he lugged his heavy pack, envious of whatever spell craft Urza had used to ferret his away. The irony of the situation was not loss on the hobbit, his eyes having been rendered to their current state.

"Not long now. We can see the smoke from the hobbit holes now. It'll good to see Bella again. She is Penny's cousin by adoption on her mother's side, but family trees ain't out by the wayside. T'was my patron for a while during travels in my youth too and a finer friend than these old bones deserved."

Urza snorted. "You'll soon find 'old' to be a relative term, Pilbert."

"Aye, but we can't all be wizards, can we? Say, what are you doing?" Pilbert had just noticed that every few meters Urza was flicking little round bits of metal into the grass, scattering them all around the Shire. They looked like bird beaks.

"Let's just say I'm doing for myself what that ring does for you," Urza replied, eliciting an irritated grumble from the hobbit. "Wizards and their babbling speech," he thought as he trudged on.

Finally the borders of Hobbiton came into view, the old mill grinding away, the circular array of grassy hills and knolls shimmering rays of green alongside the sinking orange of the sunset, hobbit folk jollily clambering with their various wagons, tools, and supplies to clean up for the night. Pilbert was silent at this point.

He, being who he was, was never welcomed in the large part by the "proper" hobbit families. Whether he had been employed to do the odd repair job, been sought out to track down a lost pet, or even when he had found the occasion treasure to peddle, there was always an undercurrent of disrespect when he dealt with Hobbiton folk. And what more, the people whom he dealt with were also subject to that disrespect. For that reason, he has avoided visiting Belladonna Took for over eight years, since her husband, Bungo Baggins, passed away at the untimely age of eighty.

Pass the wooden entryway, a group of younger hobbits were shiftlessly loitering on a stone fence and the sudden shift in attention was as palpable as a shattered bowl. The whispers and murmurings were louder than jeers and shouting could have been to Pilbert. However, this time he felt it was more likely that his tall grizzled companion with literal otherworldly ornate dress was the cause of the furtive conspiring of his fellow hobbits rather than himself.

Pilbert waved his cane about and gave cantankerous growl. Like startled rabbits the hobbits began disappearing into their holes, peering through rosy curtains with eyes, some curious, some nervous. However, if Urza was bothered by it, Pilbert would eat his boot. He had barely known the man for more than a month, but he'd already come to know his character. Haughty and overbearing and veiled with such a mysterious air of constant urgency, you'd think he was the wizard straight out of a hobbit-nan's bed time story, despite all his claims to be an artificer or whatever nonsense. He was magic through and through in Pilbert's eyes.

"There we are now, Bag End. First Smial from the far left," Pilbert pointed out as they reached a fork in the path. He took a few quickened strides and said, "I think it'll be better if I knock. You've spooked enough folk just by being here. Don't need them squirreling up by yer' oversized man-hand's bangin'."

"By all means," replied Urza simply. In all honesty, Urza was never good with social nuances. He was stoic or perhaps, in spite of his nearly six thousand years, he just couldn't truly master the art of geniality.

Pilbert approached the round lacquered woodened door and rapped vigorously with the knocker. The sound of footsteps pattered from inside the home. "Just a moment," a disgruntled voice said. And no sooner a wide-cheeked curly brown haired hobbit in a light striped shirt and suspenders appeared with an annoyed look. "Yes? How may I help-" he began before looking at the towering figure of Urza and pausing, mouth agape.

"Bilbo me' lad!" shouted Pilbert and drawing his attention away from the looming figure.

Bilbo squinted his eyes at his impromptu guests for a second before asking quizzically, "Unc- uncle Pilbert?"

"That's right lad" replied Pilbert. "Sorry to be dropping in on you at this late hour announced, but we just happened to arrive at sunset and well… I think you'd know how Hobbiton folk would take to folk from the Willows in their Inn.

Bilbo frowned at that, half towards how he imagined his fellow Hobbiton hobbits behaved and half towards how he might look to his other hobbits. But courtesy, thy name is hobbit. Bilbo ushered his two new guests in and offered to take their coats and pack, though Urza gestured to signal his ease.

Pilbert took off his boots, another quirk that differentiated him from hobbits in general, his penchant for large sturdy shoes.

Bilbo's home was readily agreed upon in the whole village to be coziest hobbit hole anywhere east of the Great Smials. Soft light illuminated the wide room from hanging chandeliers, hard wood echoed the footsteps of the three against the pristine white stone walls and a long lacquered oak table awaited in the dining room, laden with the copious cornucopia of pies, cheeses, fruits, and seething fish on silver plates.

The three walked through the atrium and seated themselves in the dining room. "How have you been, Uncle?" Bilbo inquired, "And what happended to your eyes!?"

"It's a long story, Bilbo," tiredly replied Pilbert.

"Alright... Come in and sit down; I haven't seen you since…"

There was half a second of awkward silence before Pilbert finished, "Aye… Since Bungo's funeral. Poor old Bungo; it wasn't his time. But where's Bella? I'll have to apologize for not visiting properly all these years."

Bilbo twiddled a fork, looking down and muttered, "Um… she passed two years ago."

Pilbert's eyes widened and Bilbo noted the queerness of his pupils. "No! Not Bella- She was so vibrant! And Took blood is known to be more than a little long lived."

"I guess her heart couldn't take it. You know… with dad gone."

"Why didn't you send anyone out with letters? I could have- I-" Stony scrunch game over his features. "I should have at least been there to see her off."

"Ponto was in charge of getting letters out to family friends, but I guess since you lived past Bree he didn't manage. He's always been a flaky lad, that one," Bilbo guessed. He noticed Pilbert clasp his hands with a tremble. "She went peacefully. I know she wouldn't have held it against you, Uncle."

"Aye, aye… she was as gentle as she was fierce. I supposed that would mean ye' be the master of Bag End now?" Pilbert scooted over and patted Bilbo on the back. "Well then it'll be proper to be talking to ye now more than ever," he blustered to try to move the topic onward for now. But he would do it later. He'll get Bilbo to point out Bella's last home and bring flowers for her and Bungo. It was the least he could do.

All the meanwhile Urza sat stoic and unassuming, awaiting his companion to properly introduce him. He observed the swinging emotions of the little kithkin before him. He was not annoyed at being ignored. On the contrary, he was a natural observer, and brooked slights the arrogant would have thrown tantrums over. Gainsay on the other hand… well fools will be fools.

They were a vital folk, though the Dominarian strain were no doubt hardier and more blooded than the locals of this plane. The most tranquil phases of Green had seeped into them here, but he imagined the Amrou would still accept them… some of them.

"Now let me introduce you to a new-" Pilbert paused for a moment. "-friend of mine. This is Urza, Urza Planeswalker.

Though even a divine would not have found a shift in the countenance of Urza, he was actually startled a bit when the diminutive little kin called him a "friend." Urza could tell it was not a mere word spoken out of platitudes. One does not age millennia upon millennia without developinga discerning ear for lies and platitudes. There was genuineness in the proclamation no matter how awkwardly said. Urza was not a likeable man and he knew it, his directness an affront to most, but despite that and misfortune that had already brought, he was truly a companion in the little man's eyes. How curious.

Urza didn't know how to feel about that, but he was certain there was some use to it.

"A lot of things happened out east of the Shire," Pilbert explained to Bilbo. "Did you see the lights a couple months ago?"

Putting down a pint of tea, Bilbo replied, "How could I have not seen it? It was night turned into day. Some of the mouthy few in the Inn started ranting about how a wizard must have blown himself up or even how the Valar must have returned from the oceans in the west."

"I'm not sure if that's nearer or farther from the truth," said Pilbert. "In any case, my friend here was at the heart of that and… well I'll let you explain yourself, since you like the sound of your own voice so much."

Urza raised his bushy white eyebrow at that. "Mr. Baggins," he began in a thick oratory tone. Bilbo gulped looking up at the tall human.

Bilbo stammered, "We-, well, well a pleasure, Mr. Planeswalker. I- I- I am the-"

And in a sudden more affable tone Urza continued, "I am merely a lost traveler who wishes to return home. You needn't recoil like a mouse before a snake."

The elder hobbit scooted behind his nephew and slapped him on the back. "Oh don't look down on little Bilbo yet; he's braver than you'd think. A regular adventurer in the making, this one is." Bilbo snapped his head to Pilbert with a startled look of disbelief.

"Don't listen-! I am a dignified and respectable hobbit of the Shire and-" A quick swat from Pilbert's cane came down atop Bilbo's head. "And you used to sneak into the woods, pester wild dogs, steal the Sackvilles' potatoes, and pee into the-"

Flustered, Bilbo rose and frantically waved his arms in front of his piffling uncle. "That's quite enough," he sputtered. "I am sure Mr. Planewalker doesn't want to hear about those stories. Much too crass for polite conversation." Smirking, the older hobbit raised both his hands in front of him in acquiescence. Now, pretending he was once again just meeting his guest, Bilbo dusted himself off and assumed the manners of a proper host, fears forgotten in lieu of maintaining his image of proper hobbit.

"I am Bilbo Baggins, master of Bag End. How do you do Mr. Planeswalker." Urza in all his taciturn glory was forced to lift the corner his mouth in amusement. "I am well, master hobbit. I will thank you for having me in your home. And just Urza will do. That is my name."

Bilbo preened. He was always glad to entertain polite guests. "You are very much welcome. What can I do for you, Mr. Urza?"

Urza began to explain, though in terms the hobbit could understand, the basics of his journey from Dominaria to Arda. A plane became a foreign land and Phyrexians seemed to be Dark Lords. Now Urza, who was strangely unable to planeswalk outside of this plane, was stranded in Middle Earth. He had many hypotheses on why, ranging from his own exhaustion to natural complexities in this plane's aether to barriers put in to place by greater entities.

He gave Bilbo the loose definition of what an artificer does, but the hobbit pictured a magical tinkerer more than any sort of grand architect or engineer. There was quite the twinkle in Bilbo's eye at the mention of mechanical falcons, dragons, and flaying machines, but the nuances of the biological sciences, fabrication, and mana assembly was considerably beyond Bilbo's depth.

"But why have you come to me?" asked Bilbo. "I'm certainly not unsympathetic to the plight of the lost, but I'm just a regular hobbit." A hobbit that does little more than manage land, stocks and rent at that, he thought. "If you need a hobbit that's capable of guiding you through Middle Earth, I don't think there's anyone more capable than Uncle Pilbert, right there. Bilbo still remembered the fantastic stories of his Uncle's time in the north.

Pilbert gave a wide grin. "Quite right, lad. But we're here for one of the heirlooms I left your mother. They were a set of travelers tools and a folio meant to record the ways of the land as one traveled. I'm sure you remember the stories she told you, gallivanting hobbits and wolves abound."

Bilbo nodded. "I think I know what you're talking about." He rose from his seat and trotted out to the parlour. By the round window rested an ornate chest with floral carvings and a sturdy lock. "My mother's hope chest," he explained. "It hasn't seen much use since my parents moved into Bag End, but..." Rummaging through sets of linens and dresses, he pulled another box, rectangular and flat. "She told me to open this if I ever wanted to travel beyond the Shire, but … it just never came up."

He put it on a side table and opened it. The lamp lit room seemed to glow brighter at the tools reveal.

Urza came closer and inspected the artifacts, using his finger to slide over each. "A braidwood sextant, a traveler's amulet, a wander's twig, a surveyor's scope, some adventuring gear and … an arcane folio," he intoned.

"You know what they are?" asked Bilbo. "I am familiar," responded Urza.

Pilbert peered with thoughtful eyes at that as well.

No one knew where his family came from, himself included, yet the words Urza used were the same dialect his mother and father had used to describe the tools, words no other should know unless he himself told them or … he was aware of their origins. Now Pilbert wouldn't call himself the sharpest knife in the drawer, but when a magical wizard man blows himself up out of a godly or perhaps godless conflagration, hits you with a magical tsunami, AND knows words unspoken by none this side of Middle Earth, it has to be more than a coincidence.

"I used these in my youth more times than I can count before I settled down with your Aunt Penny," the elder hobbit explained. He moved around Urza and lifted up the book. "But this is what ye'were lookin' for, eh?"

The folio was part of an arcane book that recorded the terrain of your travel. On the first two pages of the book every step you take was mapped, until about two hundred leagues or so before replacing what was written before. However, Pilbert knew there was more to it than that. His father used to show him maps of places he'd gone long ago on that folio, but not how to activate the map. There were words scrawled haphazardly across the pages, but they were in letters his parents never bothered to teach him. They were funny like that; even the dialect they spoke privately was unlike any he'd heard again on Middle Earth, but here was his clue.

"As you've described, Pilbert," Urza replied. In his time at the Realmfoot residence with Penny and Pilbert, they discussed just what and where spheres of Middle Earth, its moon and sun and earth, originated. However, despite Pilbert's well-traveled history, a single kithkin would only know so much. That was until he mentioned an artifact he carried with him, a magic book that recorded the history of his travels. That could be vital to deciphering the riddle of his imprisonment on this plane.

Pilbert laid the book on the long desk by the window alcove and hanging lamps, "Well look here, Bilbo." He gestured for his nephew to come over. "Bella wrote a message for you when ye' were still a lad." That got Bilbo's attention. "What?"

He hopped from the doorway and next to Pilbert. "Here," he pointed, "on the margins of the folio-" Bilbo wasn't an overly sentimental hobbit, but message from one's deceased mother?

It read: "My Dear Little Adventurer,

I am so happy you've decided to spread your wings and go beyond the Shire. Your father is a good hobbit, but his love of maps and his love of travel are truly disproportional. But you, my son, are a Took as much as you are a Baggins. Now that you are out in the wild, I want you to be safe.

Your uncle left these tools to me and they've served me well. Each will show you the right and safe path to take. Keep the gear on tightly whenever you reach new lands and you'll find your blade sharper and your armor stouter.

Right now, as I'm writing this, I'm watching you crawl underneath the table legs in the dining room, playing forest ranger. Remember that there are things out there that scary and mean, but you have to brave as well as smart. Run when you must and cut what you must. And most importantly, come home. The Shire and Bag End will be waiting whenever and wherever you are.

Your Loving Mother,

Belladonna Took Baggins

"She never told me," Bilbo whispered. "I always thought she was proud of me being like dad." Pilbert reached and patted his shoulder. "Now don't be like that; you're a fine hobbit. And your mother could be no happier knowing you're well, safe, and happy."

"But I remember that day," Bilbo replied with a chuckle. "I remember the day she's talking about here- when I was crawling around the tables. I used to love playing like that, pretending I was on surviving in some deep dark place. I'd set up the little toy men and dwarves dad bought and pretend to sneak past them with my 'treasures' from the kitchen." He moved across the parlour and caressed a walking stick. "I think she expected me to leave the Shire."

Pilbert took a draft of his tea. "I don't doubt she planned for it. You are her son after all." Bilbo had for the most part always followed the way things are, maintaining reputation, supporting the castes, building the image of the romantic hobbit hero, like his father… "If you spoke to your grandfather you know how many of your cousins and uncles have quietly left for the byways, despite what the Tooks will tell to people outside the family. And your own mother has had more adventures than she'd care to tell dear old Bungo-"

Bilbo moved and caressed the fine wood walls. "So you don't think… think she would be disappointed in me?"

"Oh now, laddie, don't think like that. If she saw something she didn't approve she would have said something. She wasn't the kind of woman to hold her tongue; you know better than me," reassured Pilbert. "This was just something she kept for you in case you decided you had more Took than Baggins in you."

This was a turning point for Bilbo. He was filial to a fault and for that reason he had ingrained the essence of what it meant to be a proper hobbit into every facet of his life, but if his own mother didn't really care… "Then what's the point? What did they really expect from me?" he whispered to himself.

"And what did you expect of yourself?" questioned Urza. Both Pilbert and Bilbo turned to see Urza looming over them. "For what do you live your life, Bilbo Baggins?" Urza's tone was neither dismissive nor accusative. He had asked that question with the cadence of a stern proctor.

"What, what do you mean?" stammered Bilbo. Urza reached out and tapped Bilbo on the crown of his head. "You are not your mother nor are you your father. You are Bilbo. Do you understand?"

Bilbo shrank under Urza's piercing blue eyes. "No?"

It was uncharacteristic for him to freely give advice with no purpose, but Urza had learned recently in the last millennia that instinct had its place and his told him to speak. "You are the son of your mother and father and the product of what they've done to raise you; they can want for nothing more or be any less proud of what they've made you. What now, Bilbo, is the question, what do you want?"

Bilbo looked up with more attention. "What I want?"

Urza nodded in response. "A man or a hobbit, no matter. What you choose to be your destiny is what will measure your worth. For whatever reason you choose, Bilbo, choose what your soul believes to be true and you need not fear regret."

Bilbo pondered for a moment and looked at Urza again. Though he still looked awfully stern to the tiny hobbit, he accepted his good intentions and thought better of the man. "I'll keep that in mind, Mr. Urza. Thank you for the advice." He stepped aside and continued, "I believe I will retire for the evening. You've given me a point to think upon."

"Thank you for the meal, lad," Pilbert said with a smile. "All this serious talk. Let an old man tell you that time is better spend on serious action than serious mental chicanery." He had regained his grumpy tone. "Well in any case, a little rest now will do us all a bit of good." Bilbo waved goodnight, smiling at his uncle familiar piping. "What's a meal between family?" and led the way to the guest rooms. However, Urza did not move to follow."

"I wish to study the tome into the evening. -And some of the maps in your study if that is fine with you, Mr. Baggins." Bilbo replied, "Oh. Well it's quite alright with me. The candles are on the shelf alongside dining room and living rooms if you need them."

"Much appreciated," Urza hummed, but he had already awkwardly half sat and half knelt in the stool by the window lamp after picking up Pilbert's family tome.

"Well… Goodnight." The hobbits quietly trotted off to their respective rooms.

Pilbert was starting to think Urza was little more than a glorified Farny with all his tinkering. He was certainly as amicable as one of the Gladdenfields. But there was something… kindred about them. Forgetting the fact that he had blinded him on his first night on Middle Earth, tied his health to this garish magic ring, and has shown himself to know words none but his own mother and father knew, there was still- No. It wasn't so much that he was connected to the wizard, but rather he was disconnected from Middle Earth. But not with Urza, or the magic that he flooded Weathertop with. He wanted to know more.

However, he was sharp enough to know that the wizard- artificer or whatever was as free with his secrets as a bee was with its honey. Now he needed to find what smoked Urza's senses.

Urza put on his spectacles and carefully pondered every contour of every line the folio could remember from its journey onto this plain. He had quickly ascertained the kithkin's origin and thus its affinity with the Legacy or more specifically Dominaria's mana. The question was "how did he get here" and more importantly if they could leave. The answer was, as always, a resounding maybe.

However, time was now on his side. This plane or at least this region of it was completely free from the stink of glistening oil, the blood of the Phyrexians and the tell-tale sign of any sleeper agents planted by Yawgmoth. That meant any activities he chooses to do here will not easily summon Negators or what would eventually be another invasion. They hounded him on every plane he ever went to with Xantcha.

Urza knew the Phyrexian menace will eventually spread again from seeds such as that, but for blank newts, ones given only the rudimentary knowledge of Phyresis, it would take between 20 thousand to 50 thousand iterations of development before they could ever be a threat again.

Of course, that's not accounting for whatever specializations the local technology of the plane or what the remaining Praetors of Phyrexia itself are doing. Though Urza couldn't see where they'd find another "Father of Machines," it was still a possibility…

Urza turned the pages of the tome to read the notes on the margin. He could look up what appeared to be diary entries from when the kithkin first came to this plane. Most of it was sentimental ramblings, very sweet, but not pertinent to the task at hand. … … … What was this?

"The ambulator has broken. We were swatted down like a fly into this plane, but thankfully it seems to be hospitable here. There's even smallfolk here…"

"Where would kithkin get an ambulator?" he thought to himself.

800 years. He would stay on Middle Earth for 800 years. That was enough time to rebuild his logistics and turn his attention to research. Teferi had left him his final research and conclusions on time travel and phasing. Yawgmoth had imparted a small measure on the knowledge of Phyresis when he baited him into betraying the Coalition. Urza began to mentally itemize all the things he would need to do.

First will be to rebuild the academy. The crater will do; it's infused with the mana of Dominaria to a degree and then it'll be possible to create sections of slow time and fast time. The Thran eugenics research will need new incubators, but the local genus will do. Converting the cultural memories and creating an artificial attachment to Dominaria on a foreign plain will be an obstacle but… Ah! The next iteration of the bloodline project can be continued if the DNA and mana blend can be summoned.

Urza began to sift through the old Bungo's maps. Expeditions will need to be carried to categorize the local fauna and perhaps flora. Another plane with humans, elves, goblins, and the ilk meant a traditional five pentagonal mana array, but the data from the surveyor myr he had scattered thus far contradicted that notion. I may need to transplant species beyond what the eugenics call for to balance the array… Here. Urza pointed towards the western oceans. Merfolk will do nicely.

Urza furled his brow. The geography of this world was clearly artificial in spite of mana readings that showed it to be a natural planet like Dominaria. That meant either other Planeswalker or something else. Either way they'll need to be … dealt with. So much to do…

In the back of the smial, a poor hobbit was mumbling to himself, "Perhaps ,tomorrow, I shall go on an adventure."

Brainstorm U


Draw three cards, then put two cards from your hand on top of your library in any order.

Author Notes:

Why did I write this story? I wanted to explore Middle Earth and alter the story from the very beginning, while at the same time keeping it as canonically correct as possible. That's a difficult thing when you start to take into account all the additional histories from the games and movies.

I am not going to pick some insignificant character to focus on as he meanders through someone else's adventure. Same old dragon, same old Balrog and Gandalf falling off the same old bridge. Dull. I want someone who is beholden to neither man nor god. I want someone powerful enough to challenge anyone in his way and not only in a physical and philosophical sense.

You always see the main character use the "Attack Its Weak Point" trope: Smaug has his lost scale, Sauron has his ring, the Death Star has its exhaust port, Rand Al Thor uses "The Sword that Isn't a Sword" at the end, and so on. Not with Urza. He'll see your indomitable army and raise you an inscrutable army of stupid screaming machine falcons, as he works on an insane time travel plan and hedges his bets by assisting an array of morally questionable people whose research he plans on yoinking to fit into his own plans. Plans, plans, plans, and more plans that can all combo into each other when his initial plans inevitably fuck up, because he is stubborn and takes advice like a strainer takes water. And that's when it gets fun. (It was always his plan to trick Saruman into making metathran instead of orcs, let Saruman believe he can defeat Sauron, and turn them both against the Valar, before letting them be betrayed by Sauron so he can use the corrupted istari soul as a bomb to collapse the gates of Valinor and finally start his campaign against Eru in earnest. Not really but something like that.)

Pilbert and the folk in the Weather Willows were all supposed to be minor characters before I realized I couldn't focus on Urza without the tedium of watching him work. His forwardness and outlandish ideas are fantastic when you first see him conceptualize them and see them come to fruition, but the inbetween, like what he does in "Bloodlines," is just not fast paced enough. Considering how slow a writer I am and compounded with that?

Pilbert can be seen as the foil to Tolkien's hobbits, swarthy, uncouth, aged and harboring hidden savagery. The original working title was "Challenger of the Rings," and every point and addition is a jab at Tolkien's themes. Pilbert also needed to be a believable character in that it was possible for him to exist. If Urza did not come crashing into Arda, he would have passed his days away quietly in his damp hills, his history would have remained an uncontentious mystery, Bilbo would never have opened his mother's hope chest again, and all would be the same. The canon is untouched.

But I know there are a lot of problems. John Trimble once said, "Nine-tenths of all writing is rewriting" if you want to be any good. I kept that up for the first half of the story and I still want to rewrite it five times to polish boring parts, keep the characters from sounding awkward, get rid of those pesky and jarring sudden emotional changes in the character's tone. And writer's fatigue got to me in the second half, which left me just saying "screw it."

Now the accent fades out, Urza doesn't say enough, I skipped the introduction dialogue between Urza's explanation to Bilbo, and I probably forgot/repeated details I shouldn't have.

Didn't even grammar check the last part.

Well… I'll deal with it eventually.