Building on my last History of Dominaria article where I recounted the history of the first half of the Sagas, this week I will be doing the same for the remainder, and introducing you to the story of this trip to the plane. If you are interested in more of the story of Dominaria, check out my first installment of the History of Dominaria series and tune in next time when I will be going over the entire present story from Dominaria block and get you all caught up.
The Flame of Keld
The Keldons are a brutal, war-loving race of warriors on Dominaria, but before they became the Keld they were a group of refugees fleeing the Ice Age. Despite many of his people turning back, one refugee named Kradak led the people to the summit of the mountain where he formed a connection with the land. The first chapter represents the desperation of the Keldons as they gave up everything to escape the cold. The mountain gave Kradak the power over fire and he was able to share the warmth with his people—this allowed them to survive, which is alluded to in the second chapter. Eventually, the Keldons prospered and the connection to the mountain extended to all of its people, which is inferred by the third chapter. The art in The Flame of Keld is created to look like a furnace covering in front of a flame, which depicts Kradak becoming the first warlord of Keld by claiming The Flame of Keld.
The Eldest Reborn
The Eldest Reborn refers to Bolas’s retcon transformation from elder bookworm into the fearsome Elder Dragon of today after resurrecting from death at the hands of Tetsuo Umezawa. The art of the Saga shows the Dragon’s return at Talon Gates. The chapters are all references to abilities that Bolas has demonstrated over the years, such as forcing the opponent to sacrifice creatures in Cruel Ultimatum, discarding in Wit’s End, and losing control of their permanents from Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker.
Triumph of Gerrard
Gerrard Capashen was the main character of the Weatherlight Saga. In that block, we learned that Gerrard was the product of a genetics program by Urza to create the perfect human to battle the Phyrexians. Born in Benalia, his family was killed at a young age and he went to train with many of Dominaria’s famous characters including Karn, Multani, Rofellos, Mirri, and later Captain Sisay aboard the Weatherlight.
During the Phyrexian invasion, Gerrard’s love, Hanna, was infected and eventually died from the wounds. Yawgmoth, the Phyrexian ruler, offered to resurrect her if Gerrard joined him (you can see what appears to be Hanna in Yawgmoth’s clutches in the art of Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering).
To prove his loyalty to Yawgmoth, he was forced to fight in a Phyrexian Arena against Urza, who had been stripped of his powers after also defecting to the Phyrexian side of the war. Despite losing those powers, Urza bested Gerrard multiple times through unconventional tactics but was forced to restart, and eventually Gerrard beheaded him. Gerrard realized that he had been tricked by Yawgmoth, who had not actually resurrected Hanna, and he took Urza’s head and fled back to Dominaria. Harnessing the Legacy Weapon, Yawgmoth was eventually killed by the Weatherlight crew along with Gerrard. Although he died, his descendants live on into present day in Raff and Danitha.
The art of Triumph of Gerrard depicts a statue erected to commemorate the victory of the Weatherlight over Yawgmoth. Specifically, Gerard is piercing one of Yawgmoth’s tentacles with a Weatherlight shaped spear. The chapters tell the story of the strongest warrior becoming more powerful and then eventually ascending into an angelic persona.
Chainer’s Torment, which shares its name with one of the novels from Odyssey block, depicts the story of Chainer, a pit fighter and member of the Cabal, a crime organization and cult on Dominaria that ruled the shadows. Chainer found a mysterious artifact that spoke to his subconscious and offered him power, but he resisted and instead offered it to the Cabal Patriarch. The Patriarch was impressed with Chainer’s loyalty and rewarded him with further training to control the nightmares inside of his mind, and Chainer formed a deep bond with his mentor and another fellow fighter. The Patriarch sacrificed Chainer’s mentor in a ritual to gain political favors and Chainer used his new abilities of conjuring nightmares to claim the Mirari for himself. Clearly becoming corrupted by the artifact, Kamahl attempted to free his friend from the spell of the Mirari. Chainer conjured all of the nightmares from his own mind and all of those around him to prevent his friend from interfering, but he lost control of the Mirari and his body was consumed by the nightmares and he died.
The card itself tells the story of Chainer controlling the Mirari for the first two chapters for his own gain before becoming overwhelmed by the power of the Mirari and turning into a nightmare in the end. The art depicts a tomb of a man succumbing to his own nightmares as he is wrapped in the Mirari.
The Mending of Dominaria
The Mending was the biggest singular moment in Magic lore history where the time rifts from Time Spiral were sealed and planeswalkers became nerfed from their god-like status to the angsty versions we know and loathe today.
The placing of cards from the top of the deck (future) into the graveyard (past) and returning creatures from the graveyard (past) to hand (present) in the first two chapters represents the fluidity of time’s flow during the events immediately preceding the Mending. The last chapter demonstrates the rebuilding of the planes across the multiverse after the Mending by the inhabitants.
The art depicts a memorial to those the people of Dominaria recognized for saving the plan through the Mending, namely Lord Windgrace, Teferi, Karn, and Freyalise. Although Jeska was the one who actually cast the spell that caused the Mending, she did so at the cost of Zhalfir, and she was not remembered fondly for that decision and was left out of the monument.
The Mirari Conjecture
The Mirari Conjecture art and story is said to represent a scientific approach to unlocking the secrets of the powerful artifact by the present day Tolarian researchers. The art shows the major historical moments when the Mirari was used across Dominaria. The first two chapters represent the scientists reverse engineering the past uses to learn more about the mechanics of the artifact, and the final chapter is the success of the researchers in duplicating the original function of the Mirari. The chapters of this one are on the weaker side of the lore connections—but the amazing art makes up for it.
Rite of Belzenlok
Belzenlok is a new character that we have not encountered before this visit to Dominaria, but he has already been influential to the overall story as he was one of the four demons—along with Griselbrand, Razaketh, and Kothophed—with whom Liliana made a pact in order to secure her youth and power after the Mending. The Cabal summoned Belzenlok from his prison in the Abyss accidentally when they were attempting to resurrect the embodiment of avarice and profit to lead their organization. The Cabal are known for sacrificing their members for the good of the organization, and this is represented by the third chapter requiring a sacrifice once Belzenlok is summoned, most likely at the expense of the Cabal Clerics from the first two chapters.
I’ll go into this in more detail in my next Dominaria article on the present day story, but Rite of Belzenlok is also an allusion to the abilities on Lord of the Pit, whom Belzenlok claims to be (along with many other antagonists throughout Dominarian history). Notably, the art is reminiscent of Dirge of Dread, also by Seb McKinnon.
I really believe that the Sagas were a hit in terms of game play, lore, art, and balance. I hope that they continue this type into future sets to tell the stories of other planes as well. Which Magic stories from the history of other sets do you think would make exciting Sagas? As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to the discussion in the comments!