This is the fourth article in a series about the story of Jeska, the character who is in the spoiled planeswalker card art for the Commander Legends set. This story has a lot of moving parts – If you haven’t read the first three articles, I recommend starting at the beginning.
The False God
High above the city of Sanctum, a being of immense power hovered idly. Her name was Karona; how she got that name, she did not know, but it seemed the armies groveling at her feet knew it too. The moment she was born and rose into the sky, the vicious battle between the armies of Topos, Krosa, Sanctum, and the Cabal ended. Everyone threw themselves to the ground in worship, calling out her name and pleading for her attention, her favor, her will… Karona didn’t know who or what she was, and yet thousands of people groveled at her feet and begged for her command. It was all too much! She fled from their attention,1 and the assembled armies did their best to follow her.
Stonebrow, the Krosan Centaur who served as Kamahl’s right-hand man, was trapped under debris when Karona fled to the desert. Once her magical influence faded from his mind, he was able to free himself and take stock of the situation: The only people left in the city were those who were physically unable to pursue Karona, meaning that even the most powerful among them (Kamahl, Braids, etc) were vulnerable to her influence. The living glyphs that had taken over the city of Sanctum also remained, unfazed by Karona; their only goal was to guard the city until the Numen (god-wizard) Averru was reincarnated as the city itself.
Pursuing Karona into the desert, Kamahl tried to explain that there was no need for her to run because the people of Otaria (the continent) just wanted to worship her. Unfortunately, Karona’s newly-created mind had no way of understanding this concept; all she wanted was to discover who she was and what her life meant,2 and all those screaming people made it very hard to think. The people around them were literally killing one another just to get closer to her, and she wanted no part of it, so she fled once again. Flying at high speed let her escape, but the worshipful masses still followed her as best they could.
2. Dude, so #relatable
Finding Some Friends
Fleeing further into the desert, Karona happened across the two unmen who had betrayed Ixidor. Akroma had granted them human bodies in order to kill them, and when their compatriot teleported them away to “safety” they found themselves lost in the desert with no clothes or supplies. Karona found that they reacted to her mindfully, with no worship or groveling, so she gave them clothes and supplies and befriended them, happy to finally have someone who could talk with her rationally.
On the unmen’s recommendation, Karona made her way to the nearby city of Eroshia with her new friends in tow. When she arrived, the people of Eroshia erupted into fanatical worship just like all the others. She told the people there that the unmen were her prophets, that they were to be cared for, and that everyone should follow their instruction for how to worship her. She then left to explore the world alone, trying to find meaning in her existence.
As word spread that Eroshia had become the official place of worship for Karona, all peoples across the continent of Otaria gathered forces and traveled to the city to fight for her affection – Even the scattered barbarian tribes in the mountains joined together and made their way to Eroshia. The Numen Kuberr, now the leader of the Cabal, sent Braids with a small army to seize Karona and bring her to him.3
Karona did not find much understanding alone, so she decided to end her solitary journey and return to Eroshia. There she found the assembled forces of every nation in Otaria waiting for her. At her arrival, they immediately burst into violence, fighting viciously with one another just to get close to her. Fearing for her only friends’ safety, Karona grabbed the unmen and flew them high above the city to keep them safe. The unmen were shocked by the carnage on display, and they begged Karona to do something to stop the people from killing each other. Karona did not have a firm grasp on her powers, nor did she have any idea what to do; she was overwhelmed by all the violence, and by the knowledge that she was the cause. In a panic, she tore a massive chasm in the earth beneath the armies, then sealed it back up with all of them inside.4 Karona’s companions were horrified, but their protests fell on deaf ears.
Karona left the buried armies behind, seeking peace in order to understand her powers and her purpose. She came to realize that her powers were fueled by belief; anything others believed she was capable of, she became capable of. Seeking wisdom, she summoned a “god” for each color of mana: Fiers (the dwarf god of red mana), Multani (the green-aligned avatar of Yavimaya, the sentient forest), Yawgmoth (the black-mana-fueled god of Phyrexia), Lowallyn (the Numen of blue mana),5 and Teferi (a Planeswalker who is mainly blue-aligned, but uses white mana as well).6 She asked them for guidance; their advice was varied, but in the end (mostly thanks to Yawgmoth) she decided that her purpose was to embrace her godhood and crush those who would oppose her.
3. I can’t think of a single way that could go wrong.
4. Sad trombone sound
5. …the Numen who is currently dead? My research failed me as to how this makes any sense.
6. Why is Teferi in this group, and why is he here to represent WHITE!?
Meanwhile, in Krosa…
When Karona refused Kamahl and fled into the desert, Kamahl decided that she must be stopped. He made his way back to the Krosan forest, where he had hidden the Mirari sword, and reclaimed the weapon in order to kill Karona with it.
With the Mirari sword in hand, Kamahl made his way to Topos. He wanted to find Ixidor to acquire his aid in stopping Karona.7 He found the deathwurm which ate Ixidor, still sealed to the earth where Akroma had left it. He ventured inside and found Ixidor, still sobbing over the remains of his beloved Nivea and refusing to leave. Frustrated, Kamahl destroyed Nivea’s remains and sliced his way out of the deathwurm. Shaken from his grief-induced stupor, Ixidor followed him out. Ixidor stopped for a moment to wash the wurm-innards off him, but when he emerged from the river Ixidor looked entirely different. He introduced himself to Kamahl as Lowallyn, the Numen of blue mana.8
Lowallyn explained that he had seen great potential in Ixidor, so he infused Ixidor with his essence. As he grew in power, Lowallyn gained influence over Ixidor, but when confronted with his dead lover’s remains Ixidor shut Lowallyn out. When Nivea’s remains were destroyed and Ixidor snapped out of his grief, Lowallyn saw an opportunity to seize control, so he completely erased Ixidor. Taking over the body that was once Ixidor’s, Lowallyn was fully reincarnated as himself.
Unsure what to do with this information,9 Kamahl asked Lowallyn how to proceed. Lowallyn said he needed to meet with his brothers, so that they could deal with Mother together.
7. Not sure how he knew Ixidor wasn’t dead
8. With this new information, Karona talking to him makes even LESS sense!?
Before we reach the end of this story, I need to tell you a bit more about the history of the Numena. I gave a “Brief Aside” here about the Numena, and in it I said that “a cataclysmic event” destroyed their kingdoms and killed them. That was technically true, but it did gloss over a lot of details, which I will cover… now!
During the reign of the Numena, the three god-wizard-brothers often experimented with their magic. They sought a deeper understanding of the powers which they had stolen from the Primeval dragons. Eventually, they discovered a way to channel their power into entities with lives of their own. They didn’t just create living creatures, which was already easy for them to do; their power became something else, with a power and a mind all its own. These entities were not directly controlled by the Numena, but they were fiercely loyal to their creators and were driven to keep them safe. The entities cared for the Numena like a mother would care for a child, and eventually the Numena came to see them as such.10
Kuberr, Averru, and Lowallyn each created such a being. The three brothers stayed out of each others’ way as their kingdoms expanded, but eventually there were no more lands to conquer but each other’s. The three god-wizard-brothers went to war, and their mother-angel-guardians fought with one another too. During the battle, the three mothers somehow became fused into one entity, who was simply called Mother. Mother was the living embodiment of all magic on Dominaria, and the Numena’s armies instantly stopped fighting to worship her. Recognizing the immense power that Mother wielded, the three brothers joined forces to create a trap for her. It took all their combined strength to fight Mother, and though they eventually defeated her, they lost their lives in the process.
In the aftermath, the Numena’s magical essence was scattered across Otaria. It took millennia, but eventually those essences began to reform, allowing the Numena to communicate with people and grant them their power.
When Kuberr’s essence accumulated, he granted his power to the man who would become Cabal Patriarch. Through the Patriarch’s touch, Kuberr created Phage. Phage was the avatar of Kuberr’s will, a living embodiment of black mana, and was literally Kuberr’s mother.
Lowallyn’s essence accumulated in the desert, and when Ixidor showed up with a talent for blue magic he saw the opportunity to make his return. Lowallyn’s essence empowered Ixidor, and through Ixidor his power created Akroma. She protected Ixidor like he was her son, not knowing that her real master and creator was the blue Numen himself.
Averru took a different approach than the other two: Before his death, he created a spell that would draw his essence into magic glyphs that he spread throughout the city that would eventually be named Sanctum. When Zagorka led her people there, Averru felt her great compassion and leadership; the way she led her people, who had adopted his city as their own, was like a mother raising her family. When the glyphs came alive, overtook the city, and trapped Zagorka in the tower, Averru began channeling his power through her in order to be reincarnated as a living city.11
Phage, Akroma, and Zagorka were each imbued with the essence of a Numen. When the three were slain and their souls were absorbed by Soul Reaper, their combined essences once again became Mother. Just as before, Mother was the avatar of all Dominaria’s magic, but this time her name was Karona, and her sons were not around to stop her (yet).
10. Man, now I have Numa Numa stuck in my head
11. I have no idea what “living city” actually means, they don’t really cover it in the book
Kamahl agreed to help Lowallyn. He knew that his brother Kuberr was leader of the Cabal, living in the Cabal capital city of Aphetto. Lowallyn created a portal directly to Kuberr, and they stepped through it just in time to see Karona arriving at the city’s gates with an amassed army of worshippers. Kuberr escaped with them through another portal while Karona devastated the city.
Their escape portal took them to the city of Sanctum, and when they arrived the living glyphs there told them that Averru had returned. The city was no longer called Sanctum, but was instead named Averru.12 Together at last, the three Numena once again set a trap for their Mother.
When Karona arrived at Averru, the trap was sprung and Karona was trapped. The Numena began the ritual to seal Karona away forever, but before they could complete the spell, Kamahl had a crisis of conscience. He realized that while Karona was a powerful threat, once she was sealed away these three planned to destroy the world as he knew it and remake their old kingdoms. He interrupted their ritual for just long enough that Karona could escape along with her unman companions. The Numena were devastated, because now Karona would never fall into their trap again.They were certain that she would soon return and destroy them.13
12. Again, I don’t really know what that means
13. Talk about mommy issues amirite
There and Back Again
When Karona fled from the trap, she suddenly found herself (and her unman companions) in another plane of existence! She found that she could travel between realities, but she had little control or sense of “direction” between them. She went on a whirlwind tour of the multiverse, until she came upon a strange, lifeless plane made entirely of metal and populated only by machines. The plane had only one living inhabitant, who called himself Lord Macht. Macht informed Karona that he could also travel the multiverse, and he showed Karona the way back to Dominaria.
Karona immediately made her way home, gathered her followers, and brought them to the city Averru to kill the Numena. The three brothers were still weakened from their attempt at trapping Karona, and with her terrible power she quickly overwhelmed and killed them. The only opposition that remained was Kamahl, wielding the Mirari sword: Kamahl had immense power of his own, and the Mirari greatly added to it, but it was still no match for Karona. She took the Mirari sword from Kamahl and raised it over her head, preparing to strike him down…
Unknown to Karona, Lord Macht had followed her to Dominaria. Seeing her furious demeanor and terrible power, he reached out to Karona’s unman companions to help him stop her. The unmen were unhappy with Karona’s actions, but they felt powerless to intervene. However, with Macht’s instructions and encouragement, they were able to surprise Karona just before she struck Kamahl down, grabbing the Mirari sword in her hands and driving it through her torso. The great power of the Mirari sword caused Karona to collapse, and Lord Macht offered to take her and the Mirari away to his home plane for safekeeping. Kamahl bid a brief, final farewell to the dying god that was once his sister, then Macht took her away.
Upon returning to the lifeless metal plane, Macht removed the blade from the dying Karona. She should have died, but an immense power kept her alive: Jeska’s planeswalker spark!14 While Karona was ravaging Otaria, Jeska had been a conscious passenger inside her, helpless to intervene but aware of Karona’s actions. In fact, it was Jeska’s spark that allowed Karona to planeswalk between realities. Now that Karona was no more, Jeska was finally reborn as herself, with the power of an ignited planeswalker spark.
Lord Macht then revealed to Jeska that he was actually named Karn, and that he had created the entire metal plane (Argentum) and also the Mirari. Karn offered to take Jeska as his ward, to train her and to explore the multiverse together. She accepted, ready to learn more about the worlds outside of Dominaria. Before they left, Karn gave the golem that served as his castle warden dominion over Argentum, tasking it with maintaining it while he was gone. He also fused it with the Mirari, granting it all the knowledge and power that the Mirari contained.
With Argentum in “good hands”,15 Karn and Jeska set off to places unknown.
14. Shia surprise!
15. That’s a story for another time…
To Be Continued (One More Time)
That’s it for Karona’s story, as well as the story arcs of Odyssey, Torment, Judgement, Onslaught, Legions, and Scourge. We don’t know much about Jeska’s adventures with Karn across the multiverse, but we do get to see Jeska in action one more time, more experienced and powerful than ever. Tune in next time for the grand finale of Jeska’s story: The temporal rift crisis of Future Sight!