A Fairy Tail and Studio Ghibli crossover I wanted to draw~ Lucy as Chihiro/Sen (Spirited Away), Juvia as Sophie (Howl’s Moving Castle), Levy as Kiki (Kiki’s Delivery Service), and Erza as San (Princess Mononoke). Now I have to draw the guys. Just imagine Gajeel as Tombo lol
Sometimes when I write into the black hole of the internet, I tell a story about love. Sometimes I tell stories about my dogs. More often than not, I tell stories about me, because that’s just how it works when lonely people are allowed to have keyboards.
This story rather cleverly combines all three. Or maybe it doesn’t, depending on how much you take things to heart.
You wake up and it’s Christmas morning. Just like any kid, you rush out to the family room to find tons of presents under the tree. But the two that catch your eye is that huge penny farthing with a gigantic red bow on it, which sits right next to the tree, and the automata monkey sitting directly in front of the tree.
Giorno greets you with a ‘Merry Christmas’ as he sits up from the couch. He was waiting for this moment when you would wake up, but insists that you have his spot on the couch. The Don decides to bring the automata closer to you so that you could get a better view, and then he starts to crank the musical contraption.
“Now watch closely, Jojo. This one’s special.”
You swear it was magic, but you’re too mesmerized by a live dancing monkey to even question it. But as the music from the wooden box slowly faded, so did the animated creature revert back into its original wooden and cloth form.
In the midst of Fate Reforged previews, we’re learning about the old Tarkir, a time when Dragons ruled and Ainok drooled (OK, the Ainok probably still drool.) The Tarkir Sarkhan Vol grew up in is very different from the Tarkir he now roams. Many facets showcase the differences between Tarkir’s present and past, but one of my favorite ways is via the basic land art. Usually I wouldn’t take time to talk about basic lands during a preview week, but this is pretty cool. Each basic land in Fate Reforged is a fast version of a basic land from Khans of Tarkir. Whoa. Exact same location, ~1000 years apart. Today I’m going to be looking at each pair of lands, by clan, and talk about how time has changed Tarkir.
The Best Defense is a Good Defense
The Abzan Houses are tough. They revere the endurance of the Dragons of old, knowing that they will always win if they are the last ones standing. Their mighty fortresses rise out of the shifting desert sands, monuments of inevitability.
In Fate Reforged, the Abzan are represented on a Plains and a Swamp. As you can see below, the Khans of Tarkir land is on the left and the Fate Reforged one is on the right. I’ll start by looking at the Plains.
Plains by Sam Burley
In the present, we have an aforementioned mighty fortress. Thick walls and towers line the city, protecting the Abzan within. But this wasn’t always so. In Tarkir’s past, we see the same city, but without as many defenses. Well, defensive structures. Instead, the few towers are all mounted with gigantic bows. You know, the kind of weapon suited for fighting Dragons. As a testament to the endurance of the Abzan, their city walls have stood strong for a millennium.
Swamps by Sam Burley
The Abzan Swamps tell a similar story. In the past, the city isn’t even built yet. The Abzan are only just walling in the putrid pools and inhabiting the less-desirable areas of the desert. But the Abzan are tough. They can live in fetid bogs. Better to fight off Leeches than Dragons!
Put together, Fate Reforged’s basic lands give us an idea of just how stalwart the Abzan are. Centuries later and their citadels remain, paragons of endurance.
Misty Mountains (Not the Middle Earth Ones)
The Jeskai Way is an order of Monks seeking enlightenment. Their quest is reflective of the cunning Dragons they fought in days of old. After centuries of meditation, their monasteries balance at the peaks of towering spires and crashing waterfalls.
Islands by Florian de Gesincourt
Fate Reforged shows the Jeskai settlements on Islands and Mountains. Above are the Islands, showing present-day Tarkir on the left and past Tarkir on the right. At the core, the Jeskai are scholars. You can’t get to their schools without some thought and effort. But it wasn’t always that way. In the past, we see the monasteries in the middle of the white spires. As time has worn on and the Jeskai began fighting ground-based enemies instead of beasts of the air, their settlements have crept up the vertical slopes. It’s also a neat reflection of enlightenment, as the Jeskai of today are smarter and more cunning of the Jeskai of the past. Basically, their minds are more elite, on a higher level of intelligence.
Mountains by Florian de Gesincourt
The Jeskai Mountains tell a similar story. Settlements that covered a valley are now only a few, elite temples on the tippy-tops of ancient spires. But these Mountains also tell a different story, that of Tarkir’s decay. Sarkhan Vol believes present-day Tarkir is a mess. A plane blighted by the sickness of war. It’s in a state of prolonged decay, an empty shell of what it once was. Sarkhan’s interpretation of Tarkir is here. What was once a vast settlement is now but a few lonely structures.
The Jeskai story is one of increasing discipline, intelligence, and elusiveness. They have learned from the Dragons that being hard to get to is an important trait of survival.
A State of Decay
The Sultai Brood are ruthless. They slaughter, trick, and torture whomever they need to in order to maintain an opulent life of gold, gems, and pushing slaves into crocodile pits. Death is their currency, which is an economic system they learned from the acid-mawed Dragons that razed their lands.
Swamps by Adam Paquette
In Tarkir’s present, Sidisi rules from within the opulent ruins of the palaces of old. If a crumbling temple sinks into the swamps, just get your sibsig slaves to build a new one! That’s the mentality of the Sultai, always moving onto the next, shinier thing. This lifestyle takes its toll, however, as wealth is not infinite. Just look how fancy the palaces were in the past. Now, the destruction wrought by the clan wars has left the Sultai empire a shadow of what it once was.
Forests by Adam Paquette
A similar theme is present in the Sultai Forests. In the past, their palaces stood out, rigid structures in a sagging jungle. But the riches of the Sultai are drying up. Their reservoirs of gold are shrinking. Sidisi lacks the staggering wealth of her ancestors. Even the might of the old Sultai crumbles along with Tarkir.
Sarkhan believes the people of Tarkir were better when the Dragons were around. The state of the Sultai estates reflects this. For better or for worse, the Sultai just don’t have the power they used to have.
The Mardu Horde scrapes by, sustaining on stolen goods and pilfered meals. They ride about the barren wastes and empty mountainsides, always on the move. Every day is a challenge to claim enough resources to survive.
Mountains by Noah Bradley
Times weren’t always so tough for the Mardu. They were always a nomadic people, but they used to have massive tent-villages that moved with them. They would settle here and there, only migrating when it was necessary. Kolahgan and her lightning brood, however, were the main source of necessary migration. Staying on the move meant better avoiding the swift strikes. The Mardu eventually forgot what peace looked like, and now scrape by in little pockets of war. What were once vast camps on the slopes have been reduced to temporary hovels.
Plains by Noah Bradley
If you want to do stuff, there’s nothing worse than being bored. That’s pretty similar to how the Mardu feel in Tarkir’s present. Sure, the past has all this smoke and fire and stuff, but that meant something to the Mardu! In Sarkhan’s view, it made them better people. That hardship gave Tarkir a dynamic, thriving ecosystem. Now, as the present day Mardu Plains shows, there are just rocks in empty fields.
The Mardu were mighty warriors, thriving in the highlands of Tarkir. Without Dragons to fight, they have degenerated into scavengers and petty thieves. Sarkhan knows his clan can be better than this.
The Call of the Wild
The Temur Frontier is a dangerous land filled with savage beasts, rumbling avalanches, and frozen precipices. It’s a dangerous place, and only the hardiest Temur can survive. They are constantly adapting to shifting seasons, crumbling landscapes, and a world in a state of flux.
Forests by Titus Lunter
Really, the Temur are probably the best prepared clan to survive a Dragonless and Dragonful Tarkir. They are the clan of adaptability. Temur Shamans constantly commune with the past, present, and future; time is just another natural process that the Temur change with. Fate Reforged’s Temur lands (the Forests above and Islands below) are the most dynamic in the cycle. The same location exists in two different states, with new trees replacing the old ones long gone. In Tarkir’s dying timeline, the Temur adapt and survive better than most.
Islands by Titus Lunter
In the winter, magnificent ice pillars stab at Tarkir’s landscape. Spring brings a melt, only to cycle back to the frozen wasteland again. The Temur know this better than anyone, and their tragedy is that they are forced to fight their fellow Tarkirans (Tarkirish? Tarkans?) instead of the mighty Dragons. So much savagery gone to waste.
The story of the Temur is the story of adaptability. While all the other clans struggle after the fall of the Dragons, the Temur have always had a rough life. For them, the wilderness is always a harsh teacher.
This is Basically the End
With the rumbling dragonstorms and warring clans, Tarkir was a plane inhabited by powerful men and women (and Dragons). After Nicol Bolas put Ugin where he lay, the clans fought the Dragons to extinction. Great leaders were replaced by petty facsimiles. Sarkhan Vol now holds the power, and desire, to reforge Tarkir’s fate (See what I did there?) Only time will tell how his actions will change the plane of Dragons.
Until next time, planeswalkers, don’t let Earth be the next Tarkir.
Gia drives up to a house out in country. Elijah had given her the address. She hops out her car and walks up to the porch. There is a gigantic red bow on the front door. Suddenly out of nowhere she feels Elijahs hands on her hips he had snuck up on her. “Slick move buddy.” She grinned at him and he hugged her tighter.
Imagine your icon showing up at midnight on Christmas morning, with a gigantic bow on their head. Then with a smile they say sorry to wake you up, but this fat man in red dropped me off here. He said something about you needing an amazing present this year