Excalibur (4th series) #14

Issue Date: 
January 2021
Story Title: 
X of Swords, Chapter 15

Tini Howard (writer), Phil Noto (artist), Virtual Calligraphy's Ariana Maher (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), Mahmud Asrar & Matthew Wilson (cover artists), Jesus Saiz (variant cover artist), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Jay Bowen & Stacie Zucker (production), Annalise Bissa (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

On Otherworld, Jubilee is still with the injured Shogo at the base camp of the Green Priestesses. She gets a telepathic communication from Betsy, informing her that she needs to stay away from the Starlight Citadel. Betsy is preparing for a duel, this time with Isca the Unbeaten. King Jamie leads the announcements as the battle gets underway, watched by members of the Krakoan and Arakkii Swordbearers. The battle is over quick, as Isca shatters the Starlight Sword and then, to everyone's surprise, shatters Betsy, too, literally breaking her body into shards. Captain Avalon lashes out at Saturnyne, but Saturnyne is not bothered, she seems pleased to be rid the annoyance that was Betsy Braddock, before she announces that Cypher is the next combatant for the Krakoans, and he is led away by several White Priestesses – as is Bei the Blood Moon, his opponent. Cypher listens as Bei speaks in her native language, but is surprised as to the fact he can't understand her. Cypher is prepared for the next battle by the priestesses when Magik visits him. He confides in her how he is not prepared to do battle, while Magik leads him to the next fight – only it's not a fight – a wedding – and Bei is his bride. The other swordbearers of Krakoa and Arakko are the guests, with Saturnyne officiating the ceremony. Despite still being unable to understand Bei, Cypher takes his vows, as does Bei, before the ceremony is interrupted by Jubilee and Shogo the dragon. Shogo breathes fire at the Starlight Citadel, so Storm goes to talk to Jubilee, while Cypher asks Bei, who is preparing to go battle, not to hurt the dragon. Bei then kissess him. Saturnyne tells the Krakoans that they can earn an extra point if they bring her Jubilee's head, but Wolverine isn't having that. So Saturnyne transforms Shogo's dragonfire into fireworks to celebrate the marriage of Cypher and Bei. Shogo flies towards Saturnyne, infatuated by her, while Storm helps Jubilee to safety. Saturnyne seems pleased to have Shogo on her side, and awards a point to both sides for the successful marriage of Cypher and Bei.

Full Summary: 

The Forgiven Forest, which lies within Avalon on Otherworld, it acts as the base camp of the Priestesses of the Green. Jubilee is currently there, leaning against her child, Shogo, who is in his dragon form, recovering from injuries. A telepathic voice suddenly reaches out to Jubilee, 'I know it's early. Are you awake?' the voice asks, adding that they don't have much time, as there is going to be a duel, and they wanted Jubilee and Shogo to know, just in case. 'Betsy! A duel?' Jubilee exclaims as she sits up, assuring Betsy that she is awake. Betsy tells Jubilee that she hopes Shogo is healing all right, while Jubilee runs through the forest and looks out over the Starlight Citadel, which floats in the air, miles away. Jubilee asks Betsy who she is dueling and what is going on. 'Betsy, if I don't hear from you by noon -' Jubilee begins, but Betsy tells Jubilee that she needs to stay far away from the citadel. 'What's going on at the citadel? What the hell is all that about?' Jubilee asks, but Betsy can't talk any longer, and tells Jubilee that she has to go, as someone is here to see her.

At that moment, Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Captain Britain looks up from where she sits in a tent and asks 'Can I help you?' as a figure enters the tent. Isca the Unbeaten stands over Betsy and replies 'I don't think I'm the one that needs help, Betsy Braddock. Nine of Swords? An ill omen. It isn't too late for you to forfeit the duel and avoid certain death' Isca declares, before telling her that if she is going to fight, then she shouldn't humiliate herself out there. 'Are you joking? Get away from me' Betsy retorts. 'I was just giving some friendly advice. Unbeaten isn't just a name' Isca responds. 'That sword you carry, it's called Mercy, isn't it?' But Isca tells Captain Britain not to get excited. 'That one is just a name'.

Shortly, citizens of Avalon gather in a wooden arena, seated around the center of the arena, they look on, excited, in anticipation, while King Jamie Braddock declares '... anyway, that's enough about the Lady Saturnyne. I hope her little tourney goes very well. And I'm honored to help host it today'. He tells his loyal and beloved subjects that they could be anywhere else in Avalon today, but that they have chosen to be here, to witness a good old-fashioned duel. He informs them that the terms are to the death, and suggests they don't get attached, before welcoming their combatants. 'My own dear sister, Betsy Braddock of Krakoa, Captain Britain!' he calls out  as Betsy steps into the arena, a psi-shield at the ready on one arm, while carrying the Starlight Sword with her other hand. 'And dueling for Arakko...Isca the Unbeaten!' Jamie exclaims. 'Well, let's see about changing that, shall we?' he asks as Isca enters the arena, carrying her sword, Mercy, over her shoulder.

'#$%& her up, Captain Britain!' Cable calls out from the stands, where he watches with the other Swordbearers of Krakoa. 'Attagirl, Bets!' Wolverine exclaims. Apocalypse watches with his arms folded, while Brian Braddock a.k.a. Captain Avalon raises a hand for his sister. Gorgon and Storm stare straight ahead as Magik shoves her elbow into Cypher and asks him if he is watching, suggesting that he might learn something, as Betsy is a pro with a sword. 'I'm watching' Cypher mutters.

Betsy and Isca stand several feet apart and touch their swords together. 'Commence!' Jamie calls out, and the crowd goes wild, shouting and cheering, 'Destroy her!' someone exclaims. Isca motions for Betsy to come towards her, so Betsy leaps at Isca and slams her psi-shield into Isca's face. 'She's got this in the bag' Captain Avalon grins, but Apocalypse tells him that this is going to require some cleverness from Captain Britain. He remarks that he has come to trust the heart and passion of the young, Isca has had the benefit of time, and her skills are honed by centuries. 'Yeah, yeah, just holler for the lady' Wolverine mutters.

Isca wipes her face, 'Good' she tells Betsy. 'You listened'. She then leaps towards Betsy and slams her sword down on Betsy's psi-shield. The other Swordbearers of Arakko are watching from the stands, 'YAAAAH!' Bei the Blood Moon screams. 'Bring me her head!' Redroot the Forest calls out. With them are the Summoner, White Sword, War, Death and Annihilation. 'Can't lose? Just means you never learned how to fight' Betsy tells her opponent. 'That's where you're wrong' Isca responds as she raises her sword overhead. 'Come on then! Don't you want to give them a good show?' Betsy asks. Isca groans as she swings her blade – right into Betsy's Starlight Sword – shattering it! 'No! It''s breaking, something's breaking -' the shocked Betsy utters, before she too suddenly shatters into hundreds of small pieces, which clatter to the ground.

'BETSY!' Brian screams, while Storm and Wolverine look shocked. 'The hell's going on?' Wolverine asks. 'To the Unbeaten' the White Sword grin, and Bei the Blood Moon laughs. 'Oh dear. Is the duel over already?' Saturnyne asks as she steps into the arena and walks over the broken shards of Betsy Braddock. She is followed by several of her White Priestesses, and as Captain Avalon rushes towards her, Wolverine and Cable try to restrain him. 'What a shame. I was too late. Point – Arakko. Clearly' Saturnyne announces, before suggesting they let the priestesses handle this mess, and the swordbearers can all get back to the citadel, as there is a party to plan for. 'You greedy witch, you're meddling in your own games!' Captain Avalon snaps, before asking Saturnyne what she has done to his sister. 'I haven't done anything! She lost!' Saturnyne responds.

'So she's dead. They'll bring her back, darling. Oh. Except I suppose they can't if she dies here...' Saturnyne utters. 'I will KILL you -' Brian threatens Saturnyne, while Cable and Wolverine continue to hold him back. Wolverine tells Brian to settle down, and reminds him that he tried to kill Saturnyne already, but they aren't going to do that again no matter how mad they get.

'This... party you threaten. Is it a challenge? Speak plainly' Apocalypse instructs Saturnyne. Saturnyne remarks that it will be a challenge, all right – and that their little friend here better make sure he speaks every language. 'My card!' Cypher utters as the tarot card nesstled in his jacket floats out and hovers in front of his face. 'And quick' Saturnyne adds. 'Guys?' Cypher asks, before three smiling White Priestesses grab him and one of them tells him to come along. 'Hey, let go of me. Where are you taking me?' Cypher asks, before pleading to his companions for help.

Saturnyne smiles and tells the Swordbearers that Cypher will be returned to them in due time – but changed, irrevocably. 'I don't want to die!' Cypher calls  back. Storm turns to the others: 'We have not even mourned Betsy and we are losing Cypher! We must do something!' she exclaims. At the same time, Bei the Blood Moon finds herself grabbed by some of the White Priestesses. She growls at them, and snaps 'Unhand me, maidservants!' in her native tongue. Wide-eyed, Cypher looks over at Bei and asks if that is who he has to fight, unsure of what she is saying, he realizes that he can't understand her. 'Fools!' Bei snarls as she is led away, while Cypher asks if anyone can understand her. 'Farewell, brave combatants!' Saturnyne remarks. 'I will paint their tombstones with their blood' Bei snaps as she looks at Cypher. 'Nothing. That's fascinating' Cypher utters. He can understand the others, but not Bei. 'I've never seen anything like it. Say something else?' he asks her as they are both led into a tent. 'Do not shine the light of your sweet face on my and expect pity!' Bei declares. 'Wait, I want to understand her!' Cypher tells the priestesses.

Back outside: 'You had me worried Betsy would simply be humiliated, not destroyed!' Captain Avalon snaps at Apocalypse. 'And now they've dragged poor Douglas off for the kill' he adds. Apocalypse looks down at Captain Avalon and tells him that he does not know why he ever thought this journey would be without sacrifice. 'Some of will return home changed. Some of us will not return home' Apocalypse states.

In the Starlight Citadel, Cypher is seated as one of the White Priestesses removes his yellow jacket. 'I wish one of you nice ladies would just talk to me. I'm really good at talking, but it only works when other people talk back' Cypher tells them, but they just giggle as one of them places a white toga over his arms. 'Can you just tell me when to get out my sword?' Cypher asks, wondering if he can have a few minutes to practice with it first, explaining that he wasn't sure he would be called on immediately after another duel like that. One of the priestesses places a wreath on Cypher's head giggles as he remarks that he feels like he is being dressed for the slaughter. 'I don't like the giggles – this isn't funny!' he calls out. 'Aw, that's not true' Magik remarks as she stands at the doorway. She tells Cypher that she thinks he looks cute like that, and admits that she needs something to laugh about.

'Magik! Thank God you're here. I don't know why they're dressing me up! I can't fight in this!' Cypher exclaims. 'You can't fight at all' Magik smiles at her friend. She goes over to Cypher and he puts his hands on her shoulders as he asks her 'What are you all doing down there – what's going on?' Magik explains that they are all still in shock about Betsy. 'Is she for real gone?' Cypher asks, but Magik admits that they don't know. 'Am I gonna die?' Cypher asks, urgently. Magik tells her friend that she doesn't know, that no one does, but all of a sudden, it seems very possible. Cypher asks Magik what she came to tell him, and as they walk out into a corridor, followed by the priestesses, Magik explains that she came to see if he was okay. Cypher tells her that he is panicking, and asks her what she knows.

Magik informs Cypher that Brian is pretty inconsolable, as is everyone else, but she left them mingling with the Arakkii some more, but no one feels very friendly toward Isca. She adds that someone set up a bar and they are making cocktails. 'It doesn't really look like another duel. Maybe more dinner?' Magik suggests. 'Dinner?' Cypher exclaims. 'Bei is gonna hunt me for sport and serve me. Or I'm going to serve her!' he adds. Magik tells him that she really doesn't think that's it. 'I mean, a cannibal slaughter? They brought us a cake' she reveals. 'They brought... a cake?' Cypher asks, perplexed. Two smiling White Priestesses open a large set of doors, as Cypher suddenly realizes 'Oh my god, Illyana. Bei isn't gonna kill me -' and when he steps into a large room, he finds the Swordbearers of both groups standing on either side of an aisle, with an altar at the end, where Saturnyne stands, and Bei, her face hidden by a veil, stands too.

'Welcome, Douglas' Saturnyne calls out. 'We were worried you might leave your bride at the altar' Saturnyne adds. Cable gives Cypher two thumbs-up as the wide-eyed Cypher utters '- she's going to marry me!' Magik bids Cypher good lukc and asks him if he needs the talk. 'I mean, I'm self-taught, but I'll do my best -' Magik begins. 'No, no. I can do this' Cypher responds as he walks down the aisle, grinning, he looks up at Bei and tells her that he is so happy not to have to fight her, he could kiss her. 'Heh, well, I guess I am going to kiss you, right. Hoo boy' Cypher mumbles. Storm sits next to Wolverine and points out that Cypher looks relieved. 'Yeah, cause he can’t understand her' Wolverine remarks, adding that this is hell next to a quick death. Gorgon agrees, and starts to laugh.

Saturnyne asks Cypher to share his vows with the gathered, but Cypher tells her that he doesn't have anything prepared. 'I'm not even prepared!' he adds. Saturnyne suggests to him that he get creative. 'I hear you're a fast talker' she adds as she holds a goblet to him. Cypher takes the goblet, and looks at Bei, who holds a matching one. 'Bei the Blood moon. This is a little bit absurd, 'cause I don't know anything about you, but you're going to be my wife' Cypher begins. He swears to uphold his vow to Bei for the duration of this challenge, and will always be grateful that they got to do this instead of sword fight, because he isn't ready to die. Saturnyne tells Bei that it is her turn, and in her strange tongue, Bei declares that when the grim fog of bloodshed overtakes them, the beloved is the beacon that returns them to their better selves. She states that love is a fealty that cannot be broken, and that she will love Cypher with the force of the wave that crashes the shore and fights for him like the current that swallows the sand.

'You guys can understand her, yeah?' Cypher asks, turning to his companions. Apocalypse tells him that they are good vows and that he should accept them. Wide-eyed, Cypher looks up at Bei and remarks 'Yeah, I, uh, I do. I can't even understand her. She's... fascinating'. Saturnyne tells Cypher that she is glad he thinks so, and that he may kiss the bride. 'Oh, we don't have to do that. We hardly know each other, and I -' Cypher begins, an anxious look on his face as Bei removes her veil. '...didn't want to... uh... I forgot. You're so pretty' the wide-eyed Doug grins as Bei look down at him.

Suddenly, 'Look out!' a voice cries as a burst of flame is suddenly hurled into the ceremony room. Bei wraps her arms around Cypher, while Saturnyne and her priestesses run. The Swordbearers of Krakoa rush over to a large window, where they discover Jubilee is riding on Shogo the dragon. 'What's up, citadel?' Jubilee calls out. She jokes that she finished her lunch and Captain Britain didn't call her back, so she has arrived. 'We have a buddy system' Jubilee explains. 'What are they doing here?' Captain Avalon asks. Apocalypse begins to scan Jubilee's thoughts and explains to the others that it seems Jubilee has been sequestered in the exterior camp with her son, and only knows that Betsy had a duel, and then Betsy stopped responding. 'So she's gonna have her baby – that dragon – burn the damn place down?' Wolverine asks. 'Good kid he smiles. But Apocalypse explains that Shogo's dragon fire melts the very fabric of reality, so it killing them would be among the least of what it can do. Storm announces that she will go to Jubilee, and she flies off the balcony, supposing that if Jubilee will not reason with Apocalypse's telepathy, she will see her face-to-face.

'Bei, are you okay?' Cypher asks as Bei turns away from him and puts her mask back on over her face. 'What are you doing? You're not going out there? What are you going to do, fight Saturnyne? Fight the dragon? Bei, he's a baby, you can't -' Cypher exclaims. He looks concerned when Bei holds up her sword, and rubs his head, telling Bei that  he doesn't know if she can understand him, and he can't understand her, which is crazy for reasons she won't begin to understand. 'I've never had anyone be this kind of a fascinating mystery to me like you are. I have to concentrate to figure you out and even then I just stare. Um. What was I saying?' Cypher Bei turns back to Cypher as he asks her to please not hurt the dragon. Bei responds by grabbing Cypher and pulling him towards her, kissing him on the lips.

'If either team would like an extra point, they can bring my Jubilee's head!' Saturnyne calls out. 'You gotta get mine first, bub' Wolverine warns Saturnyne, while Storm reaches Jubilee and tells her that she does not understand what has happened. 'If any of us die here, in the Otherworld, we cannot be resurrected!' Storm explains. 'Storm? No way. Who else is here?' Jubilee asks. But before Storm can answer, Shogo opens fire, breathing a flame towards Storm. 'Shogo, no, that's a friend!' Jubilee calls out. Saturnyne and the Swordbearers watch from the balcony, where Wolverine declares 'That baby hurts Storm, he's gonna be in big trouble with me'. 'Oh, that's right. He's just a baby. Poor little thing. Come to Auntie Opal Luna' Saturnyne smirks as she creates a magical rope which wraps around Shogo's neck. 'Leave mother alone, yes? Come stay with Miss Saturnyne. Let me spoil you' she tells Shogo, while Jubilee realizes that something has got a hod of her son. 'Give that nasty dangerous dragon fire to me. I'll make sure no one gets hurt' Saturyne remarks, as the magical rope entwines around the dragon's fire as well – and Jubilee.

'Jubes!' Wolverine calls out, anxiously, while Saturnyne smiles, and Bei continues to kiss Cypher – and suddenly, fireworks burst into the sky above the citadel. 'Oh hey, fireworks. When did those start?' Cypher remarks as he and Bei stop kissing. 'Sorry, did we miss something?' Cypher asks. 'Shogo's headed down and he's got Jubilee! Storm, he's gonna buck her off – you gotta get her!' Wolverine calls out. As Shogo flies down towards the balcony, Jubilee protests, 'No! Lemme go!' she calls out as Storm pulls her away from Shogo. 'Shogo, baby, no, turn back!' Jubiee calls out to Shogo, while asking Storm to go after him. 'We have to go after Shogo!' Jubilee calls out, while Storm holds onto her and tells her that they won't let let Saturnyne hurt her son.

'Come here, little boy. You're lucky that weddings need fireworks' Saturnyne tells Shogo, putting a hand on his nose. 'And that your soft little brain is so susceptible to my magic' Saturnyne adds, before telling Shogo that now he is hers, she will give him whatever he wants. 'But if you'd brought your mother in here with you? I would have her killed in front of all her friends' Saturnyne declares, assuring Shogo that for now they can all be at peace. Saturnyne points out that they have a wedding to finish and asks where the bride and groom are. She finds Cypher and Bei kissing again and states that she thought they would both come out a pair of losers. 'A wedding, fireworks and my very own dragon. It's all got me in a good mood' Saturnyne admits as she raises a goblet to the newlyweds. Cypher and Bei break away from their kiss and smile at each other, as Saturnyne proclaims a point for each side. 'Time will tell if they remain happy about their victory' she adds, before asking if they should cut the cake.

Arakko 2 – Krakoa 1

Characters Involved: 

Apocalypse, Cable, Captain Avalon, Captain Britain II, Cypher, Gorgon II, Magik, Storm, Wolverine (all Swordbearers of Krakoa)

Opal Luna Saturnyne

Annihilation/Genesis, Bei the Blood Moon, Death, Isca the Unbeaten, Redroot the Forest, Summoner, War, White Sword (all Swordbearers of Arakko)

White Priestesses
Citizens of Avalon

Story Notes: 

This issue follows Marauders #15 and continues in Wolverine (7th series) #7.

Wolverine tried to kill Saturnyne in Marauders #14, but in #15 Saturnyne reversed time.

This issue features an excerpt from the “Crooked Caller”, recapping the battle between Captain Britain and Isca.

Also included in this issue is a data file on Blood the Bei Moon, which notes that for the first fifty years of her life, raised as a warrior, she never spoke, but on the day she did choose to speak, she levelled a mountain with the sound of her voice.

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