The recent discovery of trans-planar arteries, commonly termed "Omenpaths," following a natural phenomenon on the plane of Kaldheim, has reinvented and revived metamechanical studies in a way we will be grappling with for generations to come. Prior to these "Omenpaths," only individuals known as "Planeswalkers" were able to survive trans-planar travel, leading some to theorize that the Multiverse was flat, and that all planes of reality outside of Innistrad itself had been destroyed at some point in the distant past. As this is obviously no longer the case, scholarship surrounding the planes must be resurrected to help us better understand the cosmological forces around us.

It is my belief that every plane of existence has its own rules of magic, a theory which was proven to my satisfaction by the Phyrexian invasion, in which their forces were unable to adjust to Innistrad's natural magic. We are not the only plane to play home to zombies and spirits, yet these fierce invaders were too slow to change their tactics and could not penetrate our magical defenses. They were still carrying the magic of their homeworld, a place whose name has been given multiple ways in the scholarship, and it was not compatible with the magic of our home.

The second part of proving this theory is removing myself and my sister from Innistrad's embrace long enough for our magic to begin adapting itself to the natural rules of another plane. Through this process of "naturalization," I will be able to determine the safe duration of any such journey, before we begin to lose connection to our roots …


Art by: Chris Rahn

It was hard to say who was more surprised by the Cecani siblings' willingness to undertake the side mission to Thief's Folly—Oko, or Geralf. To Oko, Gisa's excitement about all those beautiful bones no doubt seemed like just another piece of the dizzy chaos she presented to the world, the woman who had never worried about consequences in her corpse-centric life. To Geralf, her excitement made sense, but not when it came with the potential for hard labor, and more, not when it came with the prospect of spending time alone with her brother.

Geralf had his own reasons to accept the mission. Geralf always had his own reasons. And he tried to keep them firmly in mind as he followed his cackling, spinning sister behind the stable, to the soft, spongy ground created by mucking out the stalls and dumping the rain barrels. Most of this land is acrid and dry, but people have a way of creating softness wherever they go.

And Gisa has a gift for finding corpses, whatever species they may be. She hunches down, hands on her knees, tattered skirt dragging in the muck, and whistles a cheery little tune, something high and trilling in a major key that makes his ears hurt and his flesh crawl. He learned long ago not to listen too closely when his sister started to whistle. She didn't compose her tunes as much as channel them, and they weren't meant for the living.

The ground in front of her began to heave, pulsing like some horrible, half-rotten heart. Gisa stood, still whistling, and the creature she'd been calling ripped itself out of the earth. It looked like a griffin, if a griffin could be made from the front end of an eagle and the back end of a manticore. Its tail waved in the air, rotting stinger still wickedly sharp and oozing a curdled, doubtless lethal poison.

Gisa went to the creature, stroking its beak lovingly. It nuzzled into her hand as she cast a venomous smile at Geralf. "All right, brother dear, your turn," she said. "Or did you forget the conducting wires?"

"You know I've used my stock of viscus vitae," he said, refusing to rise to her bait. "I'll have to obtain a mount via more mundane methods."

"You're going to buy one?" She made the word sound obscene.

"No," he said and walked through the back door of the stable, returning a moment later leading a massive draft jackalope by the reins. He stepped into the stirrup and swung himself up onto the saddle, smiling at his sister and her scorpion. "Now we should be off, before someone notices I've borrowed their bunny."

"Your powers are useless here. I don't understand why you're trying. My magic works exactly as it always has."

"That may not always be the case, sister, dear. If I'm correct, your time is running short."

Gisa huffed, glaring at him as she climbed onto her griffin creature, and the two of them were off, riding across the wide-open plains of Thunder Junction toward their distant, unpleasant destination.

Even as an emptied wine bottle will have traces of wine remaining on to flavor the next liquid it contains, it is my belief that those who tap into planar energies are vessels of a kind. We are filled with the power of the planes where we are born, and while on those planes, we renew that power regularly, preventing it from becoming dilute. Should we leave our original domains, we will begin to "water down" the energies we contain, diluting it, until one day, the original magic can no longer be detected and has been entirely replaced by the energy around us.

To travel too long between planes is to risk the loss of your original alignment and acquire something new …

Are you saying my zombies are going to change to be whatever kind of zombies this place has normally? Don't be such a liver-sucker! I would never let that happen! My zombies are the best kind of zombies, and they're what I'm always, always going to call, and you can tell your stupid theories to stay away from me!

Art by: Chris Rahn

They rode without interruption or distraction until the sun began going down, and even Gisa was forced to acknowledge that trying to follow the map to Thief's Folly in the dark was a terrible idea. They made camp near a large rock formation, building their fire where it was least likely to attract attention, and seeing to their steeds before settling to a rough meal of bread, cheese, and dried meat. Gisa's manticore-griffin didn't seem to care whether it was running or resting, while Geralf's jackalope was clearly relieved to be hitched away from her abomination. The living could have such delicate sensibilities.

Geralf was pleased to see Gisa eat without prompting. She sometimes seemed so removed from the experiences of the living that he worried he'd eventually find her shambling with her own hoard, having starved and risen again out of sheer stubbornness. She would do well as a revenant, but a living sister was easier to maintain a rivalry against without the other stitchers making fun of him for it.

He settled with his back to the stone, withdrawing his monograph from the pouch where he kept it and flipping to where he'd left off. Across the fire, Gisa perked up.

"What's that?"

"A work of signature scholarship, and none of your concern," he replied. "I'm simply documenting my observations on the differences in planar energies between our home and Thunder Junction."

"Sounds boring," she said, wrinkling her nose.

"To you, I'm sure it would be. For me, it's enthralling."

"I'm smart enough to understand it!"

"I'm sure."

"I just don't want to right now!"

"Of course not, dear sister. I need to note down some observations; I'll take the first watch. Get some beauty sleep. You clearly need it."

Gisa wrinkled her nose at him but stopped arguing as she turned and flopped down on her bedroll, back to both him and the fire. He waited for her breath to even out, then looked to the shape of her mount, which was still standing. Fascinating. Her wellspring of Innistrad energy had yet to run dry. Everyone he'd spoken to whose planar origins were different from his own described zombies as temporary creatures, shambling things that collapsed as soon as the necromancer who'd called them was distracted. Only on Innistrad did they seem to play by the rule of perpetual motion.

Wouldn't Gisa be offended when her beloved dead began to topple over if not attended? The thought was a pleasant enough diversion to focus on as the hours counted down to midnight that by the time he had to wake his sister for second watch, he was in quite good spirits.

Gisa, naturally, viewed this with suspicion. "What are you smiling about?" she asked.

"Just the future, sister dear. Just the future."

He slept peacefully after that.

Morning found their fire burnt to embers and Gisa gently snoring as she cradled her beloved shovel. An assortment of Thunder Junction's wildlife teemed around her feet, bones showing in patches through their decayed flesh. She'd been busy before she fell asleep, and Geralf couldn't even find it in himself to be angry with her; the small force of animal zombies would have provided sufficient warning had anything come to attack them in the night, and the fact that she'd called them before passing out meant that they'd technically been guarded the whole time.

He still planted the toe of his boot squarely in her ribs, startling her awake. "Sister! You can sleep when you're dead!"

Gisa woke like an angry badger, already snarling as she lunged to her feet. "Sleep is for the living, flesh-fixer! The dead endure in glorious restlessness!"

"Whichever you prefer, you fell asleep when you were meant to be on watch!"

"Nothing attacked us."

"Luck is not a plan." He moved to his own mount and stepped up into the saddle. "Come. Thief's Folly is waiting for us."

"All those glorious corpses," she said, almost dreamily, and climbed onto her griffin.

They rode off into the dawn, Gisa's mismatched zombie army hopping, scurrying, and slithering after them.

I have been watching my primary subject (Gisa Cecani, Ghoulcaller, Innistrad) closely for signs of her exhausting her original magical reserves. As yet, they have remained undiluted, her workings continuing to adhere to the natural laws of her homeworld. I remain convinced that this will change, given a sufficiently lengthy exposure to Thunder Junction and the powerful elemental magic of the place. Once her workings begin to warp, I will return her to her original environment and document how long it takes for her internal reservoir to restore itself to an Innistradi baseline …


Several hours' hard ride brought them to the top of a bluff, below which sprawled the necropolis of Thief's Folly. In some ways, it looked like any other necropolis: a high stone and iron wall around fields of tombs, graves, and mausoleums. Someone had gone to the trouble of planting trees but hadn't gone to the trouble of watering them. They were long dead, their branches reaching bare and blackened toward the cloudless sky.

The architecture of the tombs and design of the grave markers were a patchwork amalgam of dozens of planes, some which Geralf recognized, others which were a mystery even to his curious, information-oriented mind. The siblings gazed out over the graveyard for a long and silent while before Gisa, inevitably, shattered the moment beyond repair.

"This doesn't make any sense," she objected, voice sharp and shrill.

"You're not one to define sense," said Geralf. "What about it do you have a problem with?"

"Thunder Junction was uninhabited before the Omenpaths, and those didn't happen until after the invasion, so how can this place be so built-up and so big? Why? I don't think this whole plane has made this many corpses." She folded her arms, seemingly determined to sulk. "I don't like it when people play silly games with dead things, unless 'people' means 'me.'"

"It's odd …" allowed Geralf. "But we know people have been hiding things here. Perhaps they felt the need for set dressing to complete their masquerade. Let's find the map and get back to Oko before we borrow any more problems."

The path down to the graveyard gates was smooth, easy to follow, and there were hitching posts outside the wall, unoccupied save for a distant riding lizard that had been tied by one corner, well away from where they were going. Gisa and Geralf both tied their steeds to keep them from wandering off, then turned and stepped at the same time through the open gateway into Thief's Folly.

Gisa practically purred as they moved into the presence of so many dead, looking almost obscenely at ease. She spun a circle, arms spread wide. "Can't you feel them, brother dear?" she asked. "So many, and so peaceful in their slumber! Well, we can fix that for them soon enough, can't we? Oh, and so many flavors! Like a candy shop full of corpses, each one more delicious than the last."

Geralf frowned, looking at the nearest grave markers. "Some of these bodies were brought here from off-plane," he said. "These dates don't make sense otherwise."

"Oh, a lot of my new friends are too old to be here, and some of them were buried elsewhere, then moved. They're not all happy about that." Gisa's smile sharpened. "They'd like to have words with the people who held the shovels."

"Why would someone do that?"

"Does it matter?" Gisa went traipsing off into the field of graves, whistling a happy little song. Geralf frowned after her, then went back to studying the nearby grave markers, trying to understand what they weren't telling him.

Most were written in the way of the corpse's homeworld, with a line of clarifying text in the simplified script that was commonly used for signage in Thunder Junction. The majority also had small sigils etched into the corners of the marker, symbols he didn't know and didn't fully understand. Looking at them logically, they could almost be read as an equation—

Or an incantation.

"Gisa!" He turned as he shouted, scanning the nearby graves for his sister. He found her some six rows in, shovel in hand, whistling away. If he was reading the sigils correctly, by the time she was that deep, the incantation would be very well developed. "Stop! Back away!"

She shot him a sour look and kept digging, whistle growing insistent. The ground heaved.

Geralf began to run toward her.

The ground heaved again, harder, pulsing with sickly energy.

Gisa cackled.

Geralf wrapped an arm around her waist as he ran by, jerking her away from the grave. She shouted something he couldn't quite make out, flailing to break his hold, but stopped fighting him as the grave erupted, expelling not the single corpse she'd been trying to animate but what looked like a centipede made from hundreds of bodies fused together, flailing and squirming, writhing as it lifted the first thirty bodies or so of its length into the air. Its many arms grabbed for Gisa. She smacked them away with her shovel, beginning to run alongside Geralf.

"Did you do this?" she demanded.

"I'm not the one who decided to trigger a necromantic time bomb! Run now, blame later!"

"Blame later," Gisa grimly agreed, and they fled deeper into the necropolis, the unspeakable corpsipede following behind.

The Slickshot Gang encouraged loyalty if not close friendship among its members. They were meant to have each other's backs when trouble arose, and a transgression against one of them might as well have been a transgression against all of them. They fought together, but for all that, they, like everyone else on Thunder Junction, died alone.

Stella Lee had been fond of Lucy Bluff and had missed her funeral due to a job that couldn't be cut short when she got news of the other woman's death. It was a tragedy, but she reckoned the dead didn't have very full schedules, and so it was two weeks after the burial, and she had just now come to show her respects. Her riding lizard was tied safely outside the gate, and there'd been no one else in sight when she showed up, which was a surprising bit of grace for the world to give—Annie had warned her that there might be an ambush if one of their rivals caught wind of the fact that she was out there on her own—and now here she was, confronted by the grave of what had been a laughing, living woman not long before.

"You always said you'd die before you went back," she said, awkwardly setting her flowers on the headstone. "Well, suppose this means you got your way. Look, Lucy, I know this ain't the time to say anything—"

A sudden commotion in the graves off to the east had her tense and reaching for the whip at her belt, ready to defend herself. Ready to defend her friend's grave, if it came to that. Thief's Folly had its own defenses against graverobbers, according to the stories she'd heard, but people seemed to take that as an invitation to bury all manner of precious things alongside their dearly departed, and that just meant the thieves kept coming back, looking for an easy score.

Cautiously, she moved toward the sound. It distinguished itself into two voices, male and female, yelling at each other for all that they were worth.

"—weren't so useless, we wouldn't be in this situation!" shouted the woman. "What good is all your science if you can't stop some stupid worm!"

"If I had an angel available, I'd show you what useless is!" yelled the man. "I'm not the one who went poking around a grave that had been sealed against necromantic interference! Just couldn't keep your hands to yourself for a minute, could you?"

"Oh, wah, wah. I need my angel blood or I'm useless. Wah, wah!" mocked the woman. "A real ghoulcaller doesn't need that sort of thing! We just need the shovel and the song, and everything works!"

"Which is why your aforementioned 'stupid worm' is determined to swallow us!"

"It feels like I'm still singing, like it still has my song." The woman's voice dropped for a moment, hurt and unhappiness overtaking mockery. "It hurts."

Stella stepped around a crypt, and found herself looking at two pale, dark-haired people in tattered clothing. The woman held a shovel; the man wore a monocle. They were quite clearly related, and just as clearly on the verge of attacking one another.

"What's this I hear about angel's blood?" she asked, hand still on her whip.

Before either of the startled siblings could reply, a vast amalgamate worm that appeared to have been made by fusing hundreds of dead bodies into a single entity reared up from the crypts behind them. It came crashing down, smashing grave markers and sending bits of broken stone in all direction.

Stella blinked. "That is not something you see every day," she said.

"Not unless you're really, really lucky," said the woman.

"Run," said the man, grabbing the woman by the arm and charging straight toward Stella. Recognizing a good idea when she heard one, she spun on her heel and ran with them, back toward Lucy's grave and past it to the necropolis wall.

The corpsipede followed, stopping at the wall to rear up and roar, then slinking away, apparently patrolling the limits of its range. Stella breathed heavily, leaning forward with hands on knees, and focused on the disheveled, angry man in front of her.

"What is that thing?"

"Big," he said.

The woman scowled, breaking free of the man's hold. "Annoying. I wanted that corpse! One of my verses is still caught in it, and it won't let go."

Stella had no idea what that meant, and so she let it go, focusing on the man. "That thing going to stop any time soon?"

"I doubt it."

Meaning they would lose Thief's Folly, and all their resting dead. They would lose Lucy, who deserved better. Stella sighed and straightened. "You said angel's blood?"

"Yes," he snapped. "What of it?"

"You need anything else?"

That seemed to give him pause. He gave her a thoughtful look, then asked, "Lamp oil?"

"I think I can help you out." She gestured for the pair to follow as she turned toward her lizard.

The woman scoffed, twirling her shovel like a baton, and didn't budge until the man grabbed her arm and hauled her along with him as he followed Stella to her steed.

"My gang's been running a lot of medicinals lately," she said, opening one of her saddlebags and beginning to rummage through it. "Nostrums and the like that may or may not help with what ails you, but sure do sound impressive. This one's made with angel's blood. We get it off a supplier from—well, never you mind where we get it. Trade secret." She twinkled as she held up the bottle. "Normally this stuff comes pretty dear, but for you, I could be persuaded to cut a deal—"

The corpsipede roared again. Stella winced. "You know what that thing is?"

"No," said the man, eyes locked on the bottle in her hand. "But it's getting bigger."

"It's using my song to suck the bodies out of their graves," said the woman petulantly. "Those are mine."

"I got friends in this boneyard. You going to stop that thing?"

"Yes," said the man.

"Then it's on the house." Stella tossed him the bottle, following it with her backup supply of lamp oil. "Luck's my game, and it looks like today, you're my ace in the hole."

The man's eyes lit up as he caught the two bottles, filling with captive lightning. He looked to the woman. "Let your griffin go," he said. "I need it."

The woman made a huffing sound, and he gestured roughly toward the necropolis wall. She sighed and nodded, and he turned, running off into the distance.

"He gonna come back?" asked Stella.

"My corpse-coddling brother? Not likely," said the woman.

"You know how this happened?"

"Not a clue."

"You lying?"

"To the living?" The woman snorted, seemingly offended.

"Mm," said Stella. She produced two bottles of birch beer from her saddlebag, tossing one to the woman. "Might as well pass the time until your brother doesn't come back. I'm Stella Lee, by the way."

"Gisa," said the woman, eyes narrowed. "Cecani."

"I may have heard that name before," said Stella.

"Maybe," agreed Gisa.

They stood there, listening to the corpsipede roaring inside the necropolis, and waited to see what was going to happen next.

What happened was the corpsipede tested the wall but came no farther, forcing them both to move about ten feet away. Gisa looked unnervingly serene when this happened. Stella kept the woman between her and the creature, preferring to be eaten last. Wild laughter rose in the distance, followed by Geralf walking back into view, leading a horrifying construct behind him.

It had the wings and stinger of a manticore but with a broad chest formed by stitching at least four smaller bodies together. It stood on multiple legs, and its head was a terrible combination of fleshy and bony bits. The beak was really an unnecessary final touch. It looked at the two women, making a curious clucking sound. Gisa looked back, unimpressed, while Stella took a step behind her.

"What's that going to do?" Gisa asked. "Peck it back into the grave?"

"Something like that," said Geralf. He clapped his hands, and the thing took to the air, soaring over the necropolis walls. "Now, while the beast's distracted, we move."

He spun and ran through the doorway back into the necropolis. Laughing wildly, Gisa followed. Stella blinked, tossed her empty bottle aside, and followed them. She couldn't leave Lucy and the other Slickshots who'd gone to the ground for this thing to harvest. It simply wasn't done. Loyalty had to go past the grave, especially in a world where the dead didn't always go to their final rest.

So, they ran, past the specter of Geralf's terrible creation flying circles around the roaring corpsipede, deeper into the necropolis.

"Gisa!" snapped Geralf. "You need to find out what's twisting your magic. It's stealing from you. Take back what's yours!"

Gisa nodded and stopped running, starting to whistle. It was a jaunty, ear-splitting tune; Stella wanted to listen and wanted to cover her ears at the same time.

It went on and on, and in the distance, the corpsipede shuddered, bodies dropping away from the central mass with every note. The thing was getting smaller. It was still more than large enough to slaughter them all.

"Gisa …"

She whistled a long, trilling note, then stopped. "There," she said. "I've taken back what's mine."

"Now, find the magic that isn't yours," he said imperiously.

For a moment, it looked like Gisa was going to argue. For a moment, Stella was direly afraid that was the case, and they were all going to die because of some pointless sibling spat that had been here long before she was, and would doubtless be ongoing long after she was dead.

"Please," she added with a note of desperation.

Gisa, who had been inhaling to object, stopped. Then she began to hum. This was a lower note than her whistling, and it made Stella's bones ache. Geralf grimaced, apparently no more comfortable than she was. Seemingly unconcerned by the still massive corpsipede behind them, Gisa began walking serenely between the graves, still humming to herself.

The corpsipede had been knocked off balance by the loss of much of its mass, but it was recovering quickly and began staggering after them, even as Geralf's beast attacked again and again. Gisa continued to hum and walk, sometimes spinning in place, apparently lost in a dream. Stella started to step toward her, but Geralf cut her off with a gesture, shaking his head. Stella quieted, frowning, and they followed Gisa through the necropolis, not looking back.

Gisa stopped when she reached an above-ground crypt whose design was comfortingly familiar to Geralf's eye, seemingly Innistradi. He stepped past her to the crypt door, pressing a hand flat against it.

"I can feel the necromancy coming from inside," he said. "It tingles." He tried the door only to find it securely padlocked shut. "But how are we supposed to get in?"

"I've always found violence an excellent answer to that sort of question," said Stella, finally pulling the whip from her belt, uncoiling it. "Step back, science boy. This would sting."

Geralf stepped back. She cracked the whip at the door, blue lightning dancing along the length of it. When it struck the padlock, the shackle popped open and the lock fell away, leaving the door easy for Geralf to open. Stella shrugged.

"Just lucky that way," she said.

Geralf opened the door, but it was Gisa who shoved her way inside, knocking him out of the way in her hurry. "Steal my magic, will you?" she muttered. "Thief. Robber."

"Ain't the two of you graverobbers?" asked Stella, following Gisa in.

"Can't steal what's been abandoned to rot," said Gisa. "Do you say an apple farmer is robbing the trees?" She kept moving around the crypt as she spoke, poking into corners, as intent as a bird dog on the hunt.

"Gonna say the answer you're looking for is 'no,'" said Stella.

"Exactly. We don't rob graves. We respectfully harvest them. We're the good guys here."

Stella didn't dignify that with a response.

"Got you!" crowed Gisa. She grabbed a Canopic jar from a small table in one corner, hefting it over her head before smashing it to the floor. The sound made both Geralf and Stella jump. Gisa ignored them, crouching to sweep the shards aside.

This revealed a heart, greenish and clearly decayed, but still beating in a slow, terrible rhythm, and a desiccated centipede that writhed as she got close to it.

Outside the crypt, they could hear the corpsipede growing closer, still roaring. Geralf's creation didn't make a sound, making it clear how the fight had ended.

"Hurry, sister, dear," said Geralf.

"Grow up," snapped Gisa, and drove her shovel into the heart, splitting it cleanly in two. The centipede kept writhing, and outside, the corpsipede kept coming. Gisa straightened and stomped on the centipede, grinding it under her toe. There was a terrible squelching sound from outside. Stella moved to the crypt door and peered out.

"That thing's collapsed," she reported. "Geralf, your thing's missing an arm, and it looks like it's picking itself a new one out of the mess."

"I'll sew it on before we leave," said Geralf. He pushed back the stone lid covering the crypt's occupant and reached inside the sarcophagus, rooting around until he came up with a map. "And fortunately for us, whoever thought booby-trapping a necropolis was a good idea was exactly the sort of person who'd be trying to conceal something. Gisa, we can go."

"Good. I don't like this graveyard," said Gisa, wrinkling her nose. "It's boring."

"You two aren't exactly on the up-and-up, are you?" asked Stella.

"Is anyone in Thunder Junction?" asked Geralf.

"There a reward for your capture?"

"I don't know. Shall we ask my reanimated friend?"

Outside the crypt, Geralf's creation screeched.

Stella sighed and sagged. "I suppose there's no captures between friends."

"A wise choice," said Geralf.

He and Gisa left the crypt together, picking their way through bits of the collapsed corpsipede back to the wall. Geralf's jackalope was still tethered to the hitching post, and so after he had given his creature—and the new guardian of Thief's Folly—a new arm, they mounted up and rode off, their voices drifting behind them as they resumed their eternal argument.

"You're taking up too much of the saddle!"

"If you don't like it, you can walk."

"I wouldn't need to walk if you hadn't taken my horse apart."






Some things never change.

It's unclear how long this "planar acclimatization" might take. It's entirely possible that for most people, it will never be a concern, as few are likely to travel outside their homeworld for extended periods of time, and even those who do may return home when they feel themselves changing, believing it to be a sign of illness rather than adaptation. It may also be a matter of training and inclination. A ghoulcaller is a ghoulcaller wherever they go, but necromancers may use the same energies in different ways. Laying traps, for example, which requires a silence beyond the ghoulcaller's nature.

This does raise the possibility of powerful new magical forms brought about by combining planar energies, and hitherto unknown magical forms that were previously beyond imagination and are now within our grasp …


We have power, and we can go wherever we want. We just need to fill the Multiverse with zombies, and everything will be wonderful.

You'll see.