The Spirit Dragon counted down the years of his brother, the mortal dragon's life. Though brought down, humiliated, his power, his immortality, his very name taken from him, the mortal dragon was still very much a dragon. They had been in what was now called the Prison Realm for over thirty years, waiting for the mortal dragon to finally expire.
The mortal dragon was withered now, skin sunken in, boney, one of his inward horns had cracked off, much to the humiliation of the mortal dragon. Once his very symbol, now shattered. His left wing hadn't healed properly and twitched, or simply rested in awkward positions. The mortal dragon's long ears were drooped as his long neck craned his head downward into the pools of water he stood atop as though they were solid ground. The mortal dragon looked at his reflection, his golden-green skin had started to lose it's color, turning to a sickly yellow-grey. The mortal dragon shook with anger at his very visage, he was once the most powerful being in the multiverse and now he couldn't even maintain himself. He roared in frustration, rearing back his claws, bones popping before slashing at the water which did nothing but make a splash. The Spirit Dragon noted that his prisoner winced in pain.
Arthritis, thought The Spirit Dragon. Some days he wondered if the only thing keeping his brother alive was pure spite.
Though now his thoughts rarely went to the mortal dragon, The Spirit Dragon was thinking about the multiverse outside of this prison realm. He thought about Tarkir, the plane he'd dedicated so much time to, that the mortal dragon had ruined. The Spirit Dragon wondered if his emissary, Sarkhan Vol would be able to change it, to bring balance back to the plane. If he hadn't already, it was unlikely that he ever would. For all he knew Sarkhan Vol was dead, or at the least, was in his twilight years.
Then there was the Eldrazi, another problem The Spirit Dragon's brother had caused by trampling over his achievements. The Gatewatch hadn't listened to him, and hadn't sealed the Eldrazi away, killing two of the three titans. What were the effects going to be on the greater Multiverse as a whole? Whatever it was, the effects must be felt now, and he was stuck in here being a jailor to his egotistical brother.
You certainly made a mess of things, brother, The Spirit Dragon projected these words through telepathy. The mortal dragon just growled, muttering under his breath. The Spirit Dragon heard it clear as day.
"I would have cleaned it after I had achieved my goal," the mortal dragon muttered.
Had you achieved your goal, you would've been too powerful to care for the consequences, The Spirit Dragon retorted back. The Multiverse is a worse off place because of you and what you've done. I could be out fixing these problems, but no. I'm stuck here, as your jailor. The mortal dragon growled.
"Then why don't you kill me and be done with it?" the mortal dragon asked. "You've taken everything from me, humiliated me, left me broken. There's nothing left but to simply kill me."
There was a long silence. The mortal dragon was a pathological liar, but The Spirit Dragon had to wonder if this was the first time that there was something genuine in what he said. Did his brother truly want to die? He'd completely withered, and emotionally regressed. Where before he was all knowing, powerful, cool, collected, now he was alike to the same hatchling that he had twinned out of the same egg with again. Angry and afraid of everything.
He wondered if it would be better to kill his brother here and now. End his brother's suffering, and go back to being the guardian of the Multiverse.
"Do it," the mortal dragon sneered, "if I'm that insignificant to you, brother, then you waste your time every moment that I draw breath." The Spirit Dragon didn't respond. "Do it!" The mortal dragon roared.
No, The Spirit Dragon responded. I will not be goaded into killing you. Wretched as you are, I am not like you. I had no intent to kill my own brother. Don't think that I don't know what you're playing at, you hope to be killed so you have a chance to come back stronger.
"Like I have anything, I don't even have my spark, my very soul's power, I can never again be a planeswalker," said the mortal dragon. "I'm…" The words died on the mortal dragon's mouth. The Spirit Dragon, if he had a condensed physical from at the moment would have turned. He knew the inflections. It was from their first moments alive.
I'm Stuck. The Spirit Dragon heard the words inside his brother's mind. His very first words. He wondered if, had their misfortune upon birth never happened, would the mortal dragon have become what he had? The Spirit Dragon rarely gave the first moments of their life thought, but he was not the one who came out with a broken wing, trapped under a tree. Watching their sister be murdered in front of them. The mortal dragon had obsessed over this event in his life, The Spirit Dragon had let his mind go about to other things and didn't even bother to really discuss what had happened with his brother.
The somber note was interrupted. The Spirit Dragon spread his awareness back to the Spirit Gem back in the mortal multiverse. The gem had been taken and shrunk down to the size of a chicken's egg and hidden on a plane that nobody would go look for it in. He'd checked on it periodically, it had been thrown into a river on a plane that planeswalkers very rarely visited. It was a large plane, with a massive amount of mundanity to it, there was no magic on Earth, for whatever reason, whether it had been stomped out or it's arts had never been taught. Though the idea of the supernatural did exist there, but simply as a mythology.
He saw the white rocks of a riverbank, surrounded by oaks and evergreens, and looking down at the gem was a human child. She was rather skinny for her kind, though not out of malnutrition as far as he could tell. She seemed cheerful, dark hair in two braids, a bright blue shirt with an unrecognizable logo, she was tanned from long time in the sun.
The golden oval shaped sphere was in a sense, a gateway to the meditation realm now turned prison realm. The Spirit Dragon though had cut off the world almost entirely from the rest of the world, picking up the gem would only allow it's wielder to psychically project into the Prison Realm, not actually be there. Even then, thought Spirit Dragon, only someone with a spark would be able to actually wield it.
She touched the gem, her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she crumpled to the ground.
Then she appeared in the center of the pools, giving a loud audible gasp, her form was see-through but even as she took a step back at the sight of the mortal dragon, ripples waved out from her steps. The Spirit Dragon's thoughts came to a screeching halt. This had not been an outcome that he would've predicted. There was one spark carrier for every million individuals, and one had just happened upon the Spirit-Gem.
The mortal dragon craned his neck over and growled.
"Is this one of your tricks, brother?" he growled as he started to raise himself, moving on all fours he moved closer to the girl, who started to run. The mortal dragon chased after her, with the flap of his wings he came off the ground, and flapped awkwardly, before his lame wing brought him crashing down some thirty feet away, in front of the girl. His landing was clumsy, as he moved to go swipe at the girl, who cowered, covering herself, only for his bony claws to pass right through. The mortal dragon roared in frustration and the girl scrambled on her back to get away.
You cannot hurt her, brother, the Spirit Dragon's voice echoed throughout the Prison Realm in both of their minds, the girl glanced from side to side, trying to find the source of the sound before clasping at her ears. She is not actually here; this is only a residual image of her mind. You no longer have the magics to touch her mind. The mortal dragon gave a low rumbling growl as suddenly, from the pools, the water started to glow blue-green and take shape, twisting to make the form of the Spirit Dragon. The girl stared in wonder and fear as this ghostly dragon appeared before her. A lithe dragon, like his brother, his horns jutting outward instead of inward, his snout was longer and didn't have an almost human quality to it. Instead of long pointed ears The Spirit Dragon had a thin cobra like hood. He stretched his feathered wings out and glanced down at the girl. The mortal dragon left, limping away towards his own end of the pool.
Who are you? The Spirit Dragon asked the child. The girl sputtered for an answer, trembling, all of this must've been hard for her to take in. The Spirit Dragon was patient though as the girl finally gave her answer.
"Taylor," she said. "Where am I? What is this place?"
Taylor, the Spirit Dragon repeated. I am Ugin, and your mind is currently within the Prison Realm, made to keep my brother trapped away for the rest of his days.
"Prison Realm?!" Taylor quailed. "I didn't do anything, why am I trapped here?"
You touched the Spirit-Gem, an item of mine, which links directly to this realm. Said Ugin.
"I'm sorry," said Taylor, very small, "I'll put it back, I promise! Just please let me go."
Calm down, The Spirit Dragon sighed, You're not actually in the Prison Realm. Your mind has been projected into it. Your body is still at the river, thankfully the tide is low and you were still on the shore, otherwise, you might've drowned by now. Taylor gulped at that. I will send your mind back in just a moment, you will leave and not come back to this place. Taylor nodded. Do not touch the Spirit-Gem again, do not speak of it to anyone.
"Understood," said Taylor, she sounded like a child who'd gotten in trouble, she stopped to think for a moment, "but maybe you should get moved, so that nobody else in my camping group finds you. Is it possible for me to pick you up and not…come here?" Ugin craned his head to the side to look at Taylor closer.
An apt point, said Ugin. Will you bury the gem for me? Taylor nodded. She looked around at the meditation plane, at the blue tinted sky and the high mountain tops.
"Nobody else lives here?" asked Taylor. Ugin shook his head.
Just me and my brother. The whole plane is empty. Said Ugin. Taylor tilted her head.
"I never thought I'd get to see one of the other Earths," said Taylor.
No, this is not Earth, said Ugin, and what do you mean by 'other Earths'?
"Oh," Taylor looked to the side awkwardly, she clearly didn't want to annoy Ugin as she spoke. "Well, it's just there's multiple Earths, like I'm from Earth Bet."
And these Earths are identical to your own plane? Asked Ugin. Taylor thought for a moment.
"Well, the big difference between Earth Bet and Earth Aleph is that Earth Aleph doesn't have superheroes, they never showed up thirty years ago so everything's different there," said Taylor.
'Superheroes'? asked Ugin.
"People who have powers, like, lifting cars…you don't know what a car is, so I guess like flying, or shooting laser beams, or just doing everything," said Taylor. Ugin paused, according to her, this started thirty years ago, which would line up with…
This required further investigation. Which he couldn't do because of his current position as jailor. He looked down at Taylor, inspecting her. While there was not a lick of magic on her, she had a latent spark, she had potential.
Perhaps he'd found his proxy.
Taylor, was it? Said Ugin. She quickly nodded. Clearly not wanting to piss off the hundred-foot-tall ghost dragon. I've had a change of heart. I'd like to make a deal with you.
"Mister Ugin, my dad would be very miffed if I gave my soul to a ghost dragon," said Taylor. Ugin heard a snort and slight snicker off in the corner of the pools where the mortal dragon was.
Nothing like that, Ugin said, his voice slightly flat. It seems you won't have to bury my gem because I want you to keep it. I'll teach you the way to come and leave the Prison Realm without my help.
"Wow, I guess I'm friends with a dragon now," said Taylor. "Can I tell my friend, Emma?"
No. Taylor flinched. Ugin sighed again. This is meant to be a secret prison for him. Ugin emphasized by nudging his head towards his brother. If more people know about it, the more likely it is that he will get out. Taylor nodded, understanding. Ugin thanked his progenitor that his brother's first reaction to another person had been to throw a tantrum and not to try and win them over with guile. The first impression was everything and the mortal dragon had not made a good one on Taylor. But while I am in your possession, I want you to bring me more information about your world and these…superheroes.
"Okay," said Taylor, meekly agreeing. Ugin straightened himself out.
And in return, he then knelt down to Taylor, I will teach you magic.