This is the fifth and final article in our series about Jeska, the character featured in the spoiled Planeswalker card art for the Commander Legends set. If you only care about Jeska as a Planeswalker this is a fine starting point, but for her crazy backstory I recommend starting at the beginning.
Time Spiral/Planar Chaos:
The final arc in Jeska’s story took place during the “Rift Crisis,” the in-world name for the events of the Time Spiral block. For Jeska’s part in the story to make sense, first I need to tell you a little bit about what was going on:
Dominaria was in crisis, again. Rifts through space and time existed across the plane, growing in size and intensity. The rifts drained the plane’s mana, sucked people up, and regurgitated threats from the past, from the future, and from alternate realities. Each rift was caused by some catastrophic event, which almost always involved a Planeswalker; to close them, a Planeswalker needed to channel their Spark into the rift. This would result in the loss of the Planeswalker Spark, and usually death.
Teferi sacrificed his Spark to close a rift in Shiv, but survived the process. Lord Windgrace and Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury sacrificed their Sparks and their lives to close rifts in Urborg and Skyshroud, respectively. In Tolaria, a group of mages (Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, Jhoira of the Ghitu, and Venser, Shaper Savant) tried to seal the rift, but the damage was beyond repair due to the events of the Phyrexian invasion. Suddenly Karn appeared, said he would travel back in time to seal the rift before those events occurred, then disappeared again. The Tolarian rift was closed, but Karn did not return; moments later, Jeska arrived and asked where her mentor was.
The trio of mages explained where/when Karn had gone, but they didn’t know what happened to him. Jeska was suspicious of them, but Venser allowed her to read his mind to see that they were telling the truth. The trio got Jeska up to speed on the rifts and where they were, then informed her that their next stop was Yavimaya. Upon learning that her old home Otaria had a rift, Jeska protested that their priorities were out of line and Yavimaya was not as important. The trio stuck to their convictions, but Jeska teleported herself to Otaria.
Jeska explored Otaria, remembering her old life and observing the devastation that had befallen it since she’d left. She found that the Otarian rift was centered on the place that Karona had been born, and the rift was so large and powerful that she couldn’t even get close to it. As she explored the rest of the continent she was approached by Leshrac, a powerful necromancer and Planeswalker of pure black mana. He asked Jeska for her help closing the rifts, vaguely outlining a plan that involved Venser and a Keldon woman named Radha. She was interested in closing the rifts, but Leshrac was too “black mana-y” for Jeska’s liking so she decided not to trust him.1
Without any better ideas, though, Jeska decided to find Radha on her own. She succeeded quickly; Radha was half-elf and half-Keldon, and she led the combined forces of Keld and Skyshroud against invaders from the rifts. Jeska asked for Radha’s aid, but Radha wanted only to lead her people. Jeska challenged Radha to a duel for her help; if Jeska won using only her fighting skills and no planeswalker powers, Radha would agree to help her.
Before the duel could commence, an assassin attacked, killing one of Radha’s friends and wounding another. Radha was enraged, believing that Jeska was in league with the assassin, but she had already agreed to the duel; custom demanded the fight be carried out.2
The duel started poorly for Jeska; she was rusty because her planeswalker powers made melee combat mostly unnecessary, and Radha’s anger made her fight fiercely. Once she got warmed up, however, Jeska turned the fight around and won the duel. She told Radha’s war-horde that they were free to do as they please, took Radha’s unconscious body, and left.
While Radha was still unconscious, Leshrac approached Jeska again. This time, he offered her a powerful mask that he acquired from the Myojin of Night’s Reach,3 but again her aversion to black mana made her decline the offer.
When Radha woke up, she found herself bound and silenced by Jeska’s magic. Jeska wanted to close the rift in the Zhalfirin Void, the empty space where Teferi had phased his home Zhalfir out of existence to protect it from the Phyrexian invasion. Jeska could feel with her Spark that Radha also had a Spark, but it was not “ignited.” Radha refused to even try utilizing her Spark, so Jeska decided to find a way to use it for her… forcefully.
1. “Sounds great, but… you seem evil. No thanks” – Jeska
2. “I don’t want to honor our wager, but I do want to kill you now” – Radha
3. Yeah, that one! From Kamigawa! Weird, right?
While all this was happening, Teferi, Jhoira, and Venser had been pursuing their own goals. Venser also had an non-ignited Spark, but unlike Radha he used its power whenever he could. He had a device that harnessed the power of his dormant Spark to teleport, and he used that device to teleport himself and his allies to Yavimaya. There they found Multani, the forest’s avatar; Multani was badly damaged and barely able to communicate after he had merged himself with the rift in an attempt to close it. After a lot of arguing, they managed to rescue Multani, but as soon as they finished Teferi felt something terrible through the rift. He felt that something tragic was about to happen at the rift of Zhalfir; Venser teleported them there immediately, but it was too late…
Jeska had found a way to channel her magic through Radha’s Spark and into the Zhalfirin rift. Radha fought back, and when the trio arrived they also tried to stop Jeska, but in the end Jeska was victorious and closed the rift. Radha was badly hurt and unconscious, but alive.
When the rift closed, Teferi collapsed in despair. Jeska gloated to Teferi that she had closed a rift without sacrificing a life or a Spark, so really he should be thanking her.4 Teferi said that the rift was the last connection between Zhalfir and Dominaria, and without his Spark there was now no way to bring it back. His home was stuck, sealed into its own dimension, forever.5
Before the tragedy of the situation could sink in, Multani called the whole group back to Yavimaya. Jeska arrived first, with the unconscious Radha, and told Multani about her method for closing rifts. Multani found her method too violent, so he magically put Jeska to sleep. He then healed Radha, woke her up, and offered her the power of Yavimaya in exchange for her help. She agreed.6
4. She’s not wrong, that was very pragmatic
5. Oh… Oh no. Ooh. Ouch. Oh dear…
6. As far as I know, this does not become important later. It just happens. Idk
Venser, Teferi, and Jhoira discussed what to do with Jeska; Multani couldn’t keep her asleep and focus his power on the rift at the same time, but she was too dangerous to let her wake up. Multani decided to probe her sleeping mind and try to convince her subconscious to calm down.7
Unfortunately, when Multani entered Jeska’s dream he found that she was dreaming of her brother Kamahl, only he was not behaving like Kamahl. He was in a savage fit of rage, slaughtering friends and innocent creatures. Jeska was so upset by the dream that she burst into flames, then woke up and literally exploded. Multani’s body was completely destroyed, leaving only his mask. Radha and the trio ran from Jeska’s furious display, but Jeska grabbed Radha and Multani’s mask and made her way to the Yavimayan rift – she was sick of all the nonsense and wanted to close the rift immediately. Multani’s voice pleaded with Jeska in her mind to wait, but Jeska thought Multani had given her that terrible nightmare and was not willing to listen.8 She channeled her power through Radha and Multani, and the rift was closed, but Multani was killed. Only two rifts remained: Madara, and Otaria.
Leaving the Otarian rift for last, Jeska brought Radha (who was unconscious again)9 to Madara. There she was approached another time by Leshrac, who revealed that he was behind the assassin attack at Radha’s camp, as well as Jeska’s terrible nightmare. In fact, Leshrac had invaded Jeska’s subconscious when they first met, and he was was responsible for all of Jeska’s reckless behavior and single-minded actions. He paralyzed Jeska with a spell and used the mask from Myojin of Night’s Reach to absorb the power of Phage from Jeska’s body.10 Radha woke up and tried to attack Leshrac, but he teleported her away to a nearby mountaintop.
Conveniently, the trio were on that very mountaintop trying to formulate a plan, so Radha joined them and shared what had happened. With Jeska under his control, Leshrac would be nearly unstoppable, so they made a plan to rescue her.
7. Weird that mono-green Multani can enter her mind, but whatever
8. Remember a second ago when you entered her mind and she EXPLODED?
9. Can somebody check this girl for concussion? She is getting knocked out a lot
10. That was still in there, apparently…
Thankfully, Leshrac’s next move was to use his mask and Phage’s powers to absorb Nicol Bolas’ power and kill him.11 While Leshrac and Bolas were busy with an epic duel across the multiverse, Venser was able to rescue Jeska. When Leshrac and Bolas returned to Dominaria, it appeared as though Leshrac had won; Phage’s power had rotted away most of Bolas’ flesh, and Leshrac was preparing a final spell to kill Bolas. However, at the last second Bolas revealed that he had been toying with Leshrac for the entire battle: Leshrac’s mask had been just a copy the entire time, and Bolas had killed Myojin of Night’s Reach earlier and taken the real mask for himself. This meant Bolas was immune to the copy-mask’s power. Bolas then killed Leshrac and absorbed his power into the real mask.12 He used what was left of Leshrac’s power to regenerate himself and seal the Madaran rift.13
11. I can’t think of a single way that could go wrong.
12. Sad trombone sound
13. This whole thing is literally the most Bolas thing I’ve ever heard
There was only one rift left, and it was the biggest and most dangerous of them all: The Otarian rift, where the birth of Karona had torn a hole in the fabric of reality. The rift was so big that its effects reached across almost all of Otaria, and Jeska realized her previous method would not work to close it; to Jeska’s surprise, Radha and Venser volunteered to help, and together they channeled their energy into the rift. The rift was powerfully hungry, and despite having three Sparks working together Jeska realized that if they continued on, the others wouldn’t survive. She teleported them away to safety and flew herself directly into the heart of the rift, sacrificing her life and sealing it.14
When the rift closed, it sent a ripple through every plane of existence and through the Blind Eternities (the space between planes). Sealing the last rift completely changed the relationship between the Blind Eternities and the planes themselves; all Planeswalker Sparks were altered forever, and other forms of interplanar travel simply stopped working. This event was (and is) called the Great Mending.15
14. Seems like everything Jeska did was the best thing to do but nobody wanted her to do it
15. …and Bolas was NOT happy about it.
That’s a wrap on the tale of Jeska! She started as a barbarian, became an evil walking plague twice, died-but-didn’t, became the living avatar of all mana, died-but-didn’t again, and traveled the multiverse for centuries until finally returning to Dominaria and almost single-handedly solved the Rift Crisis. Not bad for someone you’d barely heard of, eh?
If you have any predictions about Jeska’s planeswalker card, leave a comment or tell us on Twitter!