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The Gateless - Kalyn Shigley (2/28/2013)

Saria still had nightmares about the Battle for Barbu Rooftop. Her squadron's orders had been to kill all of the Gateless rebels, and they had. They had slaughtered all of them.

To be honest, it hadn't even really been much of a fight. Twenty angels against a small group of unprepared humans… the Gateless hadn't stood a chance. And that made it worse somehow. It made Saria feel like Dimir assassin rather than a high-ranking Boros angel.

During her waking hours, it was easy enough to ignore the urge to revisit those gruesome memories, but when sleep came…

Well, she didn't have to think about that now. She was going to be busy tonight. Her sister angel, Cinder, had said she wanted to talk about something important, and it was almost time for her to arrive.

And there was the knock on the door. Prompt, as usual.

“Saria,” Cinder smiled as Saria led her inside, “It's so good to see you. We've been so busy lately…” Her thoughts trailed off as she shook her head sadly.

“Please, sit down,” Saria offered, motioning the seat next to her. Cinder did so, and Saria sat down across from her. “You said you had something big to talk about?”

“Yes,” Cinder said, examining her hands, “But I'm not really sure how to start.

Saria waited for her friend to say something else, but Cinder did seem rather tongue-tied. “Perhaps you should start at the beginning,” Saria suggested.

“Yes,” Cinder agreed. “I'll try that.” She took a deep breath, then said quickly, “I think Aurelia is leading us in the wrong direction.”

The simple statement hit Saria like a blow. She had never believed Cinder would question Aurelia's leadership, and all she could do at first was stare. She was probably quite a sight, with her eyes wide and mouth agape, but she was so distraught by Cinder's words that she didn't care what she looked like.

She was still speechless when Cinder continued, “Please, Saria, just hear me out. Don't you remember when -”

“Hear you out?” Saria interrupted, regaining her voice at last. “You are talking lunacy. Aurelia is a great leader. She is strong, she is good, and most of all, she fights for the well-being of the people of Ravnica!”

“You mean like the people on the Barbu Rooftop?” Cinder asked calmly.

Saria could think of no response to that. Wasn't she having a difficult time with that as well? Maybe there was something Aurelia had not told her, something that kept the battle from making sense. Yes, that must be it. There was no other explanation.

“Well, that was different,” Saria protested. “Those people were not innocents - they were rebels.”

“But how do you know they aren't right?”

“What kind of question is that?” Saria spat. “They are Gateless, guildless. They want to destroy everything we are working for.”

“What are we working for?”

“You know what we're working for.”

“Not anymore. Do you?”

“Of course I do,” Saria said.

“Then what is it?” Cinder challenged.

JusticeSet: Fifth Edition
Ruth Thompson
During your upkeep, pay WW or bury Justice.Whenever any red creature or spell assigns damage, Justice deals an equal amount of damage to that creature's or spell's controller.
and the good of all of Ravnica,” Saria said defiantly, but the words felt hollow in her mouth.

“Don't you see?” Cinder asked patiently, as if she were explaining a riddle to a child. “What if the guilds aren't what's best for Ravnica?”

“You're talking foolishness,” Saria told her. “Without the Boros, this city would crumble. Ravnica needs the guilds.”

“I'm not talking foolishness!” Cinder insisted. Then she calmed herself, running a hand through her wavy, auburn hair. She closed her eyes for a few seconds. When she opened them again, Saria could see the passion burning in them, and it frightened her.

“Look,” Cinder said, “I know Razia was a great angel. I know she stood for wonderful ideals, but I don't think Aurelia is great. Didn't you hear what she said the other day? “Having conviction is more important than being righteous.” The Rakdos have conviction. You don't want to be like them.”

No, Saria did not.

“All I want you to do,” Cinder continued, standing to leave, “Is to think about what I've said. Keep my words in your mind, and…” she grabbed Saria's hand and placed a small object into it, closing Saria's fingers around it. “…Keep me in your heart.”

And then Cinder, Saria's best friend in all of Ravnica, was gone.

Saria opened her hand and turned the object over in her fingers. The failing afternoon light filtered throught the window, making the silver gleam as she played with it, turning Cinder's badge bright red as the sun slowly sank below the buildings. Scar
ScarSet: Shadowmoor
Pete Venters
Put a -1/-1 counter on target creature.
let, like blood. Like the morning of the battle…

They swooped gracefully onto the rooftop, swords ready, hair whipping in the wind. The Gateless were surprised, and they had barely started to stand when Firemane Revana cut the first of them down.

The battle was over quickly, before Saria could think about what she was doing, but the cold, dead stares seemed to follow her, accusing her. The children's stares bothered her the most, until she saw a pair of eyes that condemned her even more.

Cinder's eyes. Dead and cold.

Saria awoke with a start, clutching the badge so tightly that the metal bit into her hand. She had to find Cinder.

* * *

The next morning, Saria started looking in the only place she could think of - right outside her door. She had dressed in her most nondescript clothes, hoping not to attract notice. It was lucky (or did Cinder plan it?) that she would not be missed at the guildhall today. It was her one day off each week.

The day was bright, the city beautiful, but Saria couldn't see through her dark mood. She tried harder to focus on Cinder. She would not let her friend be one of the casualties of a poorly planned and unnecessary rebellion. She had to find her.

At first, all Cinder saw was gleaming streets and smiling citizens, but as she wandered farther from Court Street, the city got darker, and less people smiled. Saria had never been this way - she'd never had reason to - and it surprised her how poor some of these people were. There were no guild symbols here, and some unfortunate people lived in makeshift tents in the alleys. They dressed in rags, and their dirty faces peered beseechingly out at her from their fragile shelters. This looked nothing like the Ravnica that Saria knew.

This Ravnica needed help. They needed her, and they needed the Boros. Or rather, they needed what the Boros claimed to be. Why wasn't her guild trying to help these people, rather than chasing down thieves who targeted Orzhov coffers. Everyone knew the Orzhov had plenty of gold to spare.

Her thoughts were interrupted when she turned a corner and saw what she had been looking for. A humble, wooden door stood at the end of this alley, with graffiti scrawled over the archway. “The Ten Shall Fall,” it proclaimed.

Saria knocked hesitantly on the door, not knowing what to expect. A panel in the door slid to the side, and a suspicious eye looked out.

“Who are you?” the owner of the eye asked warily.

That was a good question. She had been Saria, Second Lieutenant to Squadron 13, third in command to Firemane Revana. Was she still?

“I am Saria, friend to Cinder. I believe she has recently joined your ranks.”

The eye stared a her for a moment. Then the panel slid back into place and Saria heard locks being undone from the inside. Finally, the door opened wide to reveal a young man in his twenties. He smiled at her, and offered his hand.

“Forgive us for our suspicions,” he said, “She told us you might come. Please, won't you share a small breakfast with us?”

Saria did not want to eat what little food these poor people had, but she did want to find out the whereabouts of her friend. She nodded and let the young man lead her inside.

“We have little to offer,” he told her as she followed him past rooms of busy people, “But we would be honored to have such a guest as yourself. Please,” he said, gesturing to the seat of honor at the dining table, “Have a seat.”

Saria couldn't think of anything else to do, so she sat. The chair was worn, but surprisingly comfortable nonetheless. The young man sat across from her.

“Food will be out shortly,” he told her, “But until then, why don't you tell me why you are looking for Cinder?”

She had wanted to bring Cinder back, convince her that she'd made a mistake, but Saria was beginning to wonder if Cinder really had made a mistake. It seemed there was much she didn't know. She supposed that was the right answer.

“I don't know,” she said honestly.

The young man smiled. “That's alright,” he said, “I expect you'll find out soon enough.”

“But look,” he said, noticing something behind her, “The food is done. I hope you can look past the simplicity of the meal. We have few ingredients to work with.”

“I'm really not hungry,” Saria said, waving off the server who had just bustled into the room. “But thank you for your generosity.”

The server, a girl about thirteen years old, looked at the young man, confused. She had clearly been told to serve their visitor, and was hesitant to do otherwise. The young man nodded at her.

“We insist,” he told Saria, “And I would rather you did not offend us with a second refusal.”

Offending these people wasn‘t something Saria could afford if she wanted to find Cinder. She felt bad taking what little these people had, but she didn't really see another option. She'd just have to find a way to repay the kindness later. She sighed in resignation, and nodded reluctantly at the serving girl. As soon as the girl placed the food in front of her, Saria realized she actually was quite hungry. The food smelled wonderful.

The man smiled at her as his plate was set in front of him. “I don't know where your friend is right now,” he said, “But I do know where she will be this afternoon. There will be a gathering in our central building shortly after midday. Cinder requested that I escort you there.”

Saria, surprised, looked up from her fried potatoes and indrik meat. It seemed Cinder had planned for everything, but perhaps she had simply known what Saria would do before Saria knew herself. It bothered her a bit that her thoughts were so transparent, and she wondered if anyone else in her squadron suspected she was haunted by the events of Barbu Rooftop. Well, there wasn't really much she could do about that right now. Right now, she needed to find Cinder.

“When do we leave?” she asked, eager to get moving.

* * *

“So, have you decided yet why you are looking for Cinder?” the young man, Tivot, asked Saria as he led her through the back streets of the city.

“Well,” Saria considered, “I'd like to talk to her.”

“I gathered,” Tivot said with a smile. “But why do you want to talk to her?”

Saria felt like a child taking a test. She already could feel the eyes of the alley boring into her back, and these prying questions only made her feel more anxious. She usually didn't really think about what she did, she just did it.

“I want to understand her choice,” she said finally.

He looked at her, a question playing in his eyes. “What is there to understand?” he asked calmly. “She agrees with us, and you do not.”

Saria's temper flared at the assumption. “How do you know I disagree?” she asked harshly.

“Do you agree?”

That was a good question. To be honest, the more time she spent with these people, the more she regretted participating in the Battle for Barbu Rooftop, and the more she regretted being a Boros. The city was falling apart, and everything that Razia had stood for was going to ruin behind the scenes. Yes, she decided she did agree that something needed to be done, something other than slaughtering the only people who spoke out about the suffering, but she still wasn't sure that she wanted to join the Gateless movement.

“I'm not sure,” she told him.

Tivot just smiled a small, knowing smile.

“We're here,” he said finally.

Saria was surprised when she looked up and saw the Transguild Promenade
Transguild Promenade
Transguild PromenadeSet: Return to Ravnica
Noah Bradley
Transguild Promenade enters the battlefield tapped. When Transguild Promenade enters the battlefield, sacrifice it unless you pay {1}. {T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
across the street from them. This was a nice part of town, though it was not maintained by any one guild. There were many public buildings here, mostly cared for by volunteers from among the ordinary citizens, and it was one of these that Tivot led her to.

“Ladies first,” he offered, opening the door and bowing smoothly. She wasn't precisely a lady, but it was a kind gesture and Saria decided she liked Tivot. She hoped she would like the rest of the Gateless as much.

The building was a simple hall, used for meetings of various kinds. It wasn't very big, certainly not as big as the Boros guildhall, but it was in good shape. But there was something odd - it was empty.

Saria whirled to look at Tivot, wondering what was going on. She hoped she wasn't being tricked.

When Tivot saw her look, he laughed out loud. “No,” he said gently, “There's no ambush. We just have to be careful. I'm sure you remember what happens when we aren't careful enough.”

She did. She hated to think of it.

Tivot crossed the room quickly, glancing around him as he did. Saria followed closely behind, and she almost ran into him when he suddenly stopped about two-thirds of the way across the room and bent down. She caught herself just in time.

He pressed a spot on one of the tiles of the floor, then bent down and whispered something at it. Immediately, the tiles underneath them started shifting, no, rippling was a better word. The tiles were turning into some kind of liquid, and they were becoming more and more transparent. They turned into some kind of smoky glass, and Saria could almost see through them to the chamber below.

All of a sudden, they slid through the glass, like a skyknight flying through a cloud, and landed on a platform. Stairs stretched downwards before them, and Saria could hear voices coming from the room beyond. She looked up at the glass, trying to see the room they had dropped from, but the ceiling had reverted to its original state. It was easy to see how this chamber had remained hidden from the Boros.

Tivot motioned for her to follow him down the stairs, but she didn't need prodding. She thought she recognized one of the voices. She took the stairs two at a time, using her wings for balance.

The room she emerged into was bigger than the hall above, and this one was filled with people. Saria would never have thought the Gateless was such a powerful movement. And there were so many angels! The Orzhov had never had very many angels, but the Gateless had easily twice their number, maybe more!

And there was Cinder, standing with her back to Saria and talking to a few other angels. At first, Saria didn't know who they were, but she quickly recognized them as Rhen and Diza. Revana had told her Rhen and Diza had been killed by the Gateless! How wonderful it was to see them alive! Saria wondered what other lies Revana had told them, trying to rally her forces against these people. It didn't matter now. Saria could never go back to the Boros after seeing what she had seen, after knowing what she knew now. She would stay with the Gateless, and she would protect the citizens of Ravnica, as she had sworn to do so long ago.

She half-ran, half-flew, to join her new allies.

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