Monday, October 30, 2017


MTGinktober discovers itself at Day 30, "Found," starring Liliana, the Last Hope rediscovering her long-lost pushpin pal, Stuffy Doll!

Liliana was only five so she was understandably upset that everyone was paying attention to this freshly four-year-old interloper instead of her, just because it was his birthday--she would alternate between screaming, holding her breath, and knocking over the decorations that had been so carefully prepared by the grownups. But this was the first year Josu was really able to understand why everyone was showering him with attention on this particular day. He loved his sister very much and saw how angry she was about something today and that made him sad.

He decided to make her a doll that she could always be angry at--that would make her happy! While the grownups chatted and leisurely cleaned up after Liliana's latest riot, Josu raided the grownups' cloakroom to shred some sleeves and skim some stuffing from the clothing he found stored there. His tiny, little fingers could only fashion a crude little poppet out of these makeshift materials, but he made sure to decorate it with the especially colorful paints that one of the grownups had left in his coat while their owner, the dark visitor in extravagant robes, who was supposed to be cheerily painting faces at this very moment, was instead busy helping clean up toppled decor and grumbling with his peers the way grownups always mutter amongst themselves after a loud confrontation with a child.

That grave-voiced grownup, who seemed to float when he walked, wore rich robes that matched the coat currently being pilfered, and Josu noticed they both smelled of some bitter, smoky scent. They called him the Fancy Man. He had been just about ready to begin painting the excited, queued children's faces when Liliana's most recent eruption occurred. The afternoon party ground to a halt and the Fancy Man loudly declared while pointing a furious, accusatory finger, that this little girl's continuous, rude behavior has ruined the fun for everyone. No face paints! Thank you, most kindly!

At the end of that bitter finger's aim, Liliana instantly become the center of the multiverse as all the other kids turned to scowl at her in unison. Most of the kids were Liliana's age, so they knew how magical the Fancy Man's face-painting was, and had been waiting all year for his visit and their one chance to become their favorite legends, even if it was just pretend.

Liliana's normally pale skin was burning red, and she stormed off to her room in tears, "It isn't fair!"

By nightfall, after the party had died down and all the visitors and parents departed, Josu was told once again to stay away from his sister so that she could remain alone and undisturbed to think about how she chose to behave today. "Yes, ma'am."

With his forehead kissed and himself now alone, neatly tucked in bed and assured the coast was clear, he dashed off to grab his bag before sneaking out the window to climb up to Liliana's room one level up. She always left her window cracked at night so she could watch the moon rise and guide her to sleep, so Josu could easily hear soft sobs and gentle stomach growls well before he popped his head in to greet his sister. "Hi, Liliana!"

Liliana almost betrayed her excitement to have a visitor for the first time in what seemed like forever in a child's perception of time, but she turned away into her blankets in forced disgust, "HMM!" At this age, Josu could only recognize simply that his sister was angry. But she was always angry. He hopped onto her bed from the window and swung his pack to rest between them.

In an instinctive, hushed voice they always used to keep the particularly spank-prone grownups from knowing they were awake past their bedtime, Liliana hissed, "Go awa--"RRRrrrrr. Her stomach couldn't keep up the act.

"I brought you this," Josu whispered, unpacking a few chunks of cake and a couple sweetknacks he had wrapped up earlier. "Do you want to share?"

Liliana wolfed down the entire assortment. "Yeth."

"That's ok, I had some earlier in the party. Did you like the party?"

Liliana squinted her eyes, munching all the while, trying to calculate what this brat was up to.

"Me, too!" He chirped. "There was balloons and sweetknack and the Fancy Man was doing tricks! Remember?"

Still munching. More squinting.

"And everyone said, 'Happy Birthday, Josu!"--you know, like all at the same time?--and it was amazing! It made me feel so happy and good! And the food, too! It made me feel so, so happy, like super happy, though! So I think you should feel happy and good also, so I think it should be your happy birthday, too! So I got you food and I made you this! Boom!" Josu pulled from his bag the crude, little doll he had made, placed it between himself and his sister, and beamed with a smile, "Happy birthday, Liliana!"

The silly, little doll with its fancy, fancy colors disappeared the rest of the room as Liliana found herself transfixed by its button gaze. Her name echoed in her ears as the figurine gradually enveloped the entirety of her vision. By now it was almost as if the doll itself were chanting her name. It was whispering her name, wasn't it?

"Liliana!" Josu snapped her out of the reverie. "So isn't that great? Whenever you get mad, you can be mad at this doll! I tried punching him and yelling at him and he doesn't care and it's totally cool! Try it!"

A smile broke upon Liliana as she considered the possibilities. Every violent, angry thought she housed could focus in on this dumb, little doll and it was ok. You can't get in trouble for hating a doll. In one motion, wiping from her mouth some of the remnants--saliva and all--of her frantically devoured dinner, she wound her hand back just over her opposite shoulder and then backhanded the doll's stupid face with all her might! "Ha!" she blurted out, but instantly covered her mouth with both hands to stop the laughter from escaping any further. Josu did the same, sharing in the delight of torturing their helpless, mutual acquaintance. Stifling nighttime laughter, especially with a co-conspirator, always made laughing that much more challenging to suppress.

Josu gasped, "Liliana!" And pointed to her hand. She discovered she had a small cut where she had hit the doll. She must have nicked it on one of the doll's stray corners where different materials met at a sharp angle. But she just smiled and continued endeavoring to muffle her laughter in the growing moonlight.

"Hey, Josu, I think he's hungry, too! Omm nom-nom-nom nomm!" She rubbed the drops of blood along with tiny crumbs of cake from hand into the doll's mouth. The moon was full and near its peak through her window. "Happy birthday, Stuffy!"

"Oh, me, too! We have to say it together, just like at the party!" Josu slammed his hand into the doll until a small cut emerged, and then he rubbed his blood into the doll's mouth just like his big sister did. "Mmmm! So yummy! Thank you, Josu!" he squeaked. Liliana couldn't be smiling wider. "Ok, ready?" Josu giddily whispered to her.

Liliana excitedly grabbed Josu's hands, creating a ring around the doll sitting lifeless between them, and their arms bounced in sync as they counted, "1...2..3..."

The full moon shone through the very top of the window, gleaming upon the doll's dead eyes and its fancy, glowing paint.

"Happy birthday, Stuffy!"

Fun Facts: The story in strictly this illustration is that Liliana's going through her old attic and memories, and encounters her old plushie pal. For my depiction of Stuffy Doll, I borrowed the skull-like pins from his debut card in Time Spiral, but mostly modeled him after his Magic Online incarnation.

Easter Eggs: Junk is the old slang for Abzan's color scheme (GWB), though the reference started as "jank" in the pencils, a nod to the underpowered or inefficient cards that I tend to enjoy. To sell that this is Liliana exploring her old attic, you can see a tennis racket in the pencils of this piece, but I audibled into a Staff of Nin, a busted rare that Planeswalker-like, single-staffedly took me to one of my very first 3-0 Drafts in Japan. Since the attic is a place to store old, useless stuff, I included a box called "Hopes" in reference to her card name, but also for more poetic reasons. The other thing in Liliana's toybox is a Mirari, wonder how that got in there, pretty lucky, if you ask me. The attic is actually a slice of Triskaidekaphobia, and features 13 plants of wood and 13 knots in the wood. And get this, I just noticed, if you add the digits of TriskaDeezies's multiverse ID (409891) you get 31...which is 13 backwaaaaards!!

Not normal,


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