History of Dominaria part 2

The History of Dominaria, Part 2

Chris CornejoMagic Story

Last week we started recounting the history of Dominaria. There’s a lot to that history, so here’s how we were going about splitting it up:

Part 1: Dragons and the History of the Multiverse (Alpha-Antiquities)

Part 2: The Brothers War (Anitiquites, Urza’s Saga-Urza’s Destiny)

Part 3: Dark Times (The Dark-Visions, circling back to Legends…and also Coldsnap, I guess)

Part 4: The Weatherlight Saga (Weatherlight-Apocalypse)

Part 5: Various Apocalypses (Odyssey-Scourge)

Part 6: Timey Wimey Wibbly Wobbly Rifts (Time Spiral-Future Sight)

Part 7: Mending (Dominaria, and lore that touched on the entire Magic storyline post-Future Sight)

We already covered parts 1-4, but while we’re technically covering less chronological time this week, there’s A LOT that happens — so let’s get straight to it.

Part 5: Various Apocalypses

The era immediately following the Phyrexian Invasion was filled with turmoil. Most of the lands of Dominaria were devastated in one way or another, and so most of the remaining population made their way to the relatively untouched lands of Otaria. Given that the story of Magic is one of conflict and everyone was now gathered there, Otaria didn’t remain pristine for long.

First, there was the Mirari. Karn, Urza’s silver golem and part of the Legacy, had discovered his own Planeswalker spark during the Phyrexian invasion and left Dominaria to go shape a home for itself (spoilers for a completely different storyline later: this did not and continues to not go well). 

He wanted to keep tabs on his old home, so before he left, he created several probes that allowed him to check in on the place. Most of these probes worked just fine and went unnoticed by most people. One of the probes, however, malfunctioned, and became a conduit for vast amounts of mana. 

Known as the Mirari, this silvery sphere became a grand MacGuffin for the plot for a while as various factions vied for control of the powerful artifact. After the Mirari had changed hands several times and caused a whole lot of chaos, the barbarian Kamahl took it to the Krosan forest and planted it in the ground. 

This caused a lot of weird mutations and mana fluctuations — enough that Karn briefly returned to take the defective machine back to his new home of Argentum…later known as Mirrodin, and as at least one more name after that. But that’s a tale for another time.

The third great cataclysm (don’t worry we’ll get to the second in a moment) to befall Otaria had its roots way, way back in the time of the Numena, that group of wizards I briefly mentioned near the beginning of Part 1. Near the end of their reign, their power was so vast it manifested in a godlike being they called the Mother, though the entity became known to most as Karona

Immediately sensing the threat posed by Karona, the Numena banded together to defeat her, destroying themselves in the process. However, being extremely powerful wizards, each of them laid contingency plans for their return.

After eons, the Numena managed a rebirth — their souls contained within new bodies. The same was true for Karona, although her soul was split into three fragments. 

Those three fragments happened to be three figures at the heart of a war (here’s that second cataclysm, although it was immediately eclipsed by what’s about to happen): Akroma, an angel of vengeance created by one of the risen Numena, Ixidor; Jeska, Kamahl’s sister who had been turned into Phage through the foul magic of the Cabal; and Zagorka, the leader of the city of Sanctum. At the end of the war between Phage and Akroma, all three were slain simultaneously, allowing Karona to be reborn in a flash.

Karona wreaked havoc wherever she went. A being of pure mana who was fueled by worship, she could do whatever her followers believed of her. Determined to hunt down the Numena and fully ascend to godhood, she destroyed several Otarian cities and caused trouble across the multiverse. 

She was eventually defeated by an alliance of the remaining Numena, Kamahl and Karn. Her death resulted in the revival of Jeska, now a planeswalker with a spark of her own.

While all of this was happening, Slivers overran the island on which they were created and spread to the mainland of Otaria. A number were in the proximity of Karona’s rebirth, which fused them into the Sliver Overlord

While most of the focus was on dealing with Karona, this event led to Slivers spreading all across Dominaria, adding to the long list of threats one could encounter in these repeatedly shattered lands.

Part 6: Timey Wimey Wibbly Wobbly Rifts

By this point, Dominaria had been through a lot on a near-constant basis for a long time. It turns out that having frankly irresponsible amounts of cataclysmic mana flowing through the place in huge bursts focused on singular locations had some unexpected consequences. Namely, rifts.

Throughout all of this tumultuous history, going as far back as the Elder Dragon Wars, sites of momentous events had formed rifts in the fabric of time and space. These rifts cut the surrounding area off from its mana, causing anomalies in the landscape and side effects in those who tried to use magic near them — especially planeswalkers.

Karona had become a focal point for all mana on the plane, and with her demise, the mana returned. But instead of flowing throughout the land as it normally did, it now flowed through and to these time rifts. This devastated the landscape even further and increased the danger posed by the rifts. Life became a struggle for survival across all of Dominaria.

The rifts had always been portals of a sort to different realities — alternate pasts, presents and futures. Now, those realities started to bleed through the rifts, and many were lost at the same time as things came through to an increasingly ruined Dominaria.

Teferi, being a time mage and having directly caused one of the rifts to form when he phased Zhalfir out of harm’s way, became determined to fix the plane and seal the rifts. Recruiting the help of every remaining planeswalker on the plane he could find, they set about the arduous task. While ultimately successful, for many of them, it did not go well.

Teferi restored Shiv (which had phased out with Zhalfir) to its rightful place and sealed the rift there at the cost of his planeswalker spark. Freyalise died and sacrificed her adopted home of Skyshroud to restore Keld. Lord Windgrace also died sealing the rift over Urborg

Leshrac also died, but not by choice. Nicol Bolas used him as a sacrifice to seal the rift over Madara (because Nicol Bolas isn’t very nice, as it turns out). Although, to be fair, Leshrac had tried to kill a lot of the planeswalkers immediately beforehand. Karn was temporally displaced while closing the Tolarian rift.

And then there was Jeska. The last remnant of Karona and her immense power, Jeska sealed rifts over Zhalfir and Yavimaya, although, as has become a theme for everything on Dominaria, at a great and terrible cost. 

Zhalfir remained phased out, perhaps permanently. Radha, an ally of Jeska’s, was partially drained of her life force and lost the potential of gaining a planeswalker spark. Multani, the guardian of Yavimaya, was severely weakened.

But Jeska wasn’t finished yet. With the help of Venser and Radha, Jeska went to close the final rift over Otaria, the one caused by the death of Karona. Facing and sacrificing her own power, Jeska died closing the last of the rifts, saving Dominaria.

Part 7: Mending 

The closing of the rifts became known as the Mending, as in addition to allowing mana to flow back into the land and letting it start to heal, it had an even greater effect on the multiverse as a whole. 

Pre-Mending, planeswalkers were astoundingly powerful immortal beings, able to shape reality with little effort and move between planes at will. Post-mending, planeswalkers were now as mortal as anyone else and had to expend great energy and power to planeswalk at all.

As for Dominaria, an era of relative peace gave the plane a much needed respite. Mana flowing throughout the land hindered by the rifts let nature flourish and allowed the weary inhabitants time to rebuild much of the civilization that had been lost. 

New Benalia, Femeref, New Argive and even the rebuilt Tolarian Academies have allowed humans to thrive, while the wilds of Yavimaya and renewed seas have allowed elves and merfolk to flourish once again. The landscape is still littered with ancient artifacts and old scars of conflicts long past, but Dominaria has benefited greatly from an age of relative quiet.

What comes next

That age was largely marked from a meta level by the fact that Dominaria ceded the spotlight to a host of other planes as Magic expanded its multiverse. Being the featured plane of the storyline rarely works out super well for the plane in question.

So, if any fictional folks on Dominaria are able to break the fourth wall, they might be getting a little nervous. The previous set on the plane, Dominaria mostly served as a reintroduction to the plane after a prolonged absence and an expansion of the cast of characters, without much conflict to sweep over the land. 

However, previews for Dominaria United start next week, and The Brothers War follows in the winter. Magic’s story has come home, and so the question now becomes… what will become of Dominaria, now?