This article is the third in a series about the sprawling story of Jeska, the planeswalker whose art was spoiled for the Commander Legends set. If you haven’t read them already, I recommend starting at the beginning.
Legions starts exactly where Onslaught ended – In order to stop giant deathwurms from destroying the continent and possibly the world, Jeska drew them back into herself and once again became Phage. The combined armies of the Cabal and Krosa had scattered, and Ixidor’s kingdom still stood undefeated. The battle was over.
Kamahl was hopeful that he could sway Phage away from the Cabal, having seen that his sister still lived within her. However, as soon as the transformation was complete, Phage turned a cold shoulder to Kamahl and made her way back to the Grand Coliseum to receive new orders.
Akroma, realizing that Ixidor had been eaten, took over leadership of Topos. Following Ixidor’s last orders, Akroma refocused her efforts on killing Phage. She found and brainwashed Braids, a high-ranking Cabal minion who was badly wounded in the battle with Ixidor. From Braids, Akroma learned secret information about the Cabal.
The scattered troops of the combined Cabal-Krosan army could not return home; because they had deserted and fled from the battle, they were fugitives. Among the deserters was Kamahl’s second in command, a Centaur named Stonebrow, and Phage’s second in command, a woman named Zagorka.1 Together they took command of the gathering troops, and they organized a search for a place to settle. They happened upon an enormous abandoned city neaby and decided to settle there.2 They named the city Sanctum, and Zagorka and Stonebrow led the people of Sanctum together.
After some time, the Cabal learned about the city of Sanctum and sent Phage there to win the people’s favor. Over time she became popular with Sanctum’s citizens, and established a gambling arena there.
One day, Akroma flew to Sanctum and declared to its people that Topos was at war with the Cabal and all who associated with it. She then found Phage and revealed that she had discovered Phage’s true destiny from Braids: Phage was destined to be the mother of Kuberr, the Cabal’s god, reincarnated.3 The people of Sanctum asked Phage to leave because of Akroma’s declaration of war, so she returned to the Grand Coliseum.
1. That… is a silly name
2. Very convenient.
3. No word on why Braids knew that info, or why Phage didn’t
At the Coliseum, the Cabal Patriarch informed Phage that their god was rewarding his loyalty by giving Phage to him as a prize. Knowing that her destiny was to be the mother of a god, Phage saw this as an opportunity: Phage was created by the Patriarch’s deadly touch, and as such his power made him the only man capable of touching Phage without dying. If Phage was going to conceive a child, she knew the Patriarch would have to be the father, so she consented to having intercourse with him.
Soon after, the Patriarch grew paranoid that Phage would overthrow him as the Cabal’s leader. She was the only one who could resist his power, and he feared that she would use that to usurp him. He planned to have Phage killed, unaware that she was then pregnant with the unborn reincarnation of his god.4
He sends Phage, along with three giant sentient beetle assassins, to finally kill Akroma.
4. How did Braids know if the Patriarch didn’t..?
After the unman (one of the sentient, incorporeal silhouettes that Ixidor used as escape portals) betrayed Ixidor to stay alive, it fled Topos with another unman. They wanted to have real bodies, and lives to call their own. Akroma sent another unman to hunt them down because they were traitors, but when it found them it didn’t bring them back. Instead, it joined them in their quest for bodies.
The unmen wandered from place to place, being rejected for their strange forms and their ties to Ixidor, and the three were eventually captured by the Cabal. The Patriarch gave them the bodies of giant beetles, and promised them real human bodies if they would carry out a mission for him: They were to help Phage kill Akroma, then turn on Phage and kill her too.
In Sanctum, Stonebrow grew restless. The city was being attacked by Akroma’s forces, and he felt that they needed to take an aggressive approach, but Zagorka disagreed. He left Sanctum on his own to kill Akroma himself.5 He attacked Topos directly, and he was immediately overwhelmed, defeated, and brainwashed to worship Ixidor.6
On her way to Topos, unmen-beetles in tow, Phage discovered the camp where Braids was held captive. She told the unmen-beetles to rescue Braids, then made her way to Topos to fight Akroma alone. When she arrived, however, she found that Akroma was missing; Akroma had left to find the rogue deathwurm which ate Ixidor, and she hadn’t come back. Before Phage could come up with a new plan, Akroma returned from her quest.
Akroma had found the deathwurm she sought and, unable to kill it, she let it eat her in order to look for Ixidor within. The deathwurm was so vast that she became lost in its intestines for days, until she finally found Ixidor. He was still alive, and cradling the corpse of his lover Nivea. He refused to leave. He showed Akroma the way out, and she returned to Topos to bring the news to its people. Finding Phage there, they began to fight.
Stonebrow arrived in Topos during the battle, and began fighting alongside Akroma. However, during the fight he returned to his non-brainwashed state and turned against Akroma. Phage was wounded, and the god growing inside her was taking some of her power, so she used this distraction to flee. Once he realized Phage had left, Stonebrow also fled and made his way back to Sanctum.
5. I can’t think of a single way that could go wrong.
6. Sad trombone sound
When Stonebrow returned to Sanctum, he found it very different than when he’d left. In his absence, Zagorka had taken sole leadership of the city. She led the people to reasonable prosperity, filling the city with people and keeping the peace. Citizens began finding strange glyphs all over the city, and the people were nervous, but Zagorka reassured them.
One day, however, the glyphs came to life and took control of the city.7 The living glyphs said that their master, the Numen Averru, was going to be reincarnated as the city itself (read here for a refresher on the Numena). The glyphs told Zagorka that she was to be Averru’s mother, and that they would keep her safe at all costs. Unfortunately, to do so they imprisoned her in the highest room of the tallest tower in Sanctum.8 Stonebrow did not know how to handle the situation, so he left for Krosa to ask Kamahl for his help.
7. “Maaaannn, I knew those glyphs were bad news!” – Everyone
8. I think Rapunzel and Zagorka are actually equally silly names
Phage made her way to Aphetto, the old Cabal capital. Her strength was drained by the speed at which the child inside her was growing, and she barely made it into the city before she gave birth. As it had been foretold, that child was the Numen Kuberr, reincarnated.
Meanwhile, the unmen-beetles had successfully rescued Braids and brought her back to the Patriarch. The Patriarch was furious at their failure to kill Phage, so he destroyed their beetle bodies and banished them from the city.
He sent several assassins to kill Phage, but the god-baby Kuberr intervened and saved her each time. Finally the Patriarch had his minions separate Phage from the child, then he tried to kill her himself. However, Braids came to Phage’s defense and killed the Patriarch.
Phage became the new leader of the Cabal, at least until their god Kuberr was strong enough to rule. To accelerate that process, Kuberr instructed Phage to attack Akroma with as many men as she could mobilize, because each death in the battle would increase his power and mature his body by a day.
Akroma learned of Phage’s amassing army, and assembled a military force of her own. As she marched her army toward the Cabal, Akroma found the exiled unmen wandering in the desert. She captured them, and gave the original two traitors human bodies in order to “properly kill them”.9 Before she could finish the job, the third unman teleported its now-corporeal friends to safety. It then closed its portal, ending its own life.
9. You know… like you do
The Final Battle
While Phage and Akroma were gathering armies and preparing for battle, Stonebrow had convinced Kamahl to help him. They made their way to Sanctum to win it back from the living glyphs. When they arrived, what they found was total chaos.
The two armies had collided in Sanctum, and the ensuing battle was a massive bloodbath. In the middle of the city, surrounded by death on all sides, Phage and Akroma fought one another savagely. Kamahl decided that, seeing the carnage Phage and Akroma had wrought, it would be better to kill his sister than to allow her to continue on this path. Wielding Soul Reaper, the weapon specially created to kill Akroma, he fought his way into the center of the city. Phage and Akroma were locked in combat with one another; each one’s focus was fully committed to killing the other, and neither was prepared for Kamahl and Soul Reaper. Kamahl centered himself, readied his blade, and brought it down…
Imprisoned in the tower above Sanctum, Zagorka listened as her people suffered and died. Her city was caught in the middle of a battle that it wanted no part of, between two forces that wanted nothing but the other’s destruction. She had been kept in the tower alone for some time; for how long, she did not know. All she knew was that all her questions were met by cryptic answers about the Numen Averru and the ritual that would reincarnate him. The immense suffering of her people weighed heavily on her mind, and she dreaded her role in the coming ritual; she decided to end her own life, to spite the mad god-wizard and the living city that held her captive. She flung herself from the window of her tower prison, and plummeted to the ground below…
In the instant before Kamahl’s weapon struck, Zagorka fell from above and landed on top of Phage and Akroma. The attack was already in motion, and Soul Reaper cut through all three women in a single slice.10 Their souls were absorbed and combined by Soul Reaper, and in a blinding flash of light, the weapon exploded. A magnificent figure floated in the air above the battlefield, surrounded by golden light. The battle instantly ceased as every soldier turned to marvel at this incredible being; her armor shone brilliantly, and her robes trailed like rays of sunlight against the sky.
10. T-T-T-TRIPLE KILL
To understand who that being was, and why she was created, I need to dive into some more of Dominaria’s history, and this article is already pretty long (and late). Next time on Lore Seeker, we’ll learn about the downfall of the Numena, Ixidor’s secret (that even he didn’t know), and how to find real friends when everyone you meet literally worships you!
The saga of Jeska continues here.
One thought on “Jeska, Part III – Phage’s End”
You are doing good work. Can’t wait to see how they try to represent Jeska as a planeswalker card.