Scourge Through The Looking Glass

If you want to know what happened in Scourge the novel but don’t have the time to read the whole book, this is your source for a storyline update unlike any you’re likely to find on the internet – three hundred and ten pages are summed up in just over five thousand words.

As I lengthily stated in my last article, the card set of Scourge inadequately portrayed the storyline that was put forth in the novel. Therefore, anyone who has an interest in the goings-on of Dominaria would be advised to read J. Robert King’s Scourge, especially since this is going to be the last Magic set taking place on this plane for a while. However, as I started with Legions, this tri-annual installment of”Through the Looking Glass” will take a look at the parts of the novel not covered in the”Real Story Behind” feature. So, if you want to know what happened in Scourge the novel but don’t have the time to read the whole book, this is your source for a storyline update unlike any you’re likely to find on the internet!

Legions left off with the combination of Phage, Akroma, and Zagorka into a shining figure to which all mortals are drawn. This powerful entity knows herself as Karona, but has very little other knowledge of herself or anything else at the outset of Scourge. She is very much like a newborn child – with nearly God-like powers. Wherever Karona goes, people follow her. Across continents, nations wage war with each other to claim Karona as their own, devoting all their resources to this new life form. Common people are so enthralled by her, in fact, that they trample over each other to get close to her, causing hundreds of deaths wherever Karona encounters these throngs of admirers. Although Karona finds these senseless deaths distasteful, she does not attempt to stop them right away, and she certainly does not see them as dangerous.

However, there are those who can see the peril that Karona represents. Elionoway, an elf leader of the city of Sanctum (now incarnated as the body of the numen Averru) tries to convince everyone who will listen to him that it is dangerous to pursue Karona. Yes, he fells her ethereal pull, but he can resist it as few can; however, with his help, many are, in fact, able to maintain some degree of self-control when Karona is not actually in sight.

Additionally (and to more effect), the ancient god Averru also wants to stop Karona. In the form of a mountain city, Averru calls those within his borders to hear a history lesson of sorts in order to recruit them to his cause. I find this part of the story very interesting, and so I shall quote to you the background information that Averru presents to his follows.

When the world was very young, it was clutched in Primeval claws.

At best, the mortal races were slaves. At worst they were food. But a mighty king rose among the mortals, King Themeus, who sent his greatest sorcerers to bind the Primevals and free the world. First bound was Rhammidarigaaz, who fell to the sorcerer Averru. He gained all the magical might of the bound dragon and became the first and greatest of the numena. After him were bound Crosis, who fell to Kuberr, and Dromar, who fell to Lowallyn. They gained the sorceries of the vanquished and thus became the second and third of the numena.

Averru saw the new danger: The Primevals tyrannized the world because they held all the magic among them. Should there be a fourth and fifth numen, the five sorcerers would be tyrants anew. So he and Kuberr and Lowallyn, for the good of all the world, joined to slay the fourth and fifth sorcerers. Thereby they ended tyranny and began the age of mortals.

For a thousand years, they ruled the world. Averru dominated the mountain at the center of Dominaria, and from his chambers he woke fires that rivaled the sun. Kuberr dominated the everglade lowlands to one side, and his fetor fed the fires of his brother. Lowallyn dominated the seas on the other side, and his creatures sported beneath the light of Averru.

Averru was the first and greatest of the brothers, and he saved the others countless times from disaster. After a thousand years, their lives neared an end, and this would be disaster not just for the numena, but for the world they had freed. Averru thus devised a great spell. It would give him a new body, incorruptible and ageless, by which he might remain and keep all the world safe forever. He chiseled the spell into his mountain home, and when the time was right, these petraglyphs themselves would emerge and combine into a titan that would be Averru.

The brother-sorcerers were jealous. They wanted new bodies as well. They worked their lesser magics and failed utterly. Kuberr could only take over the body of an infant in the womb, could only gain strength and power through human sacrifice, as any mere mortal. Lowallyn could do even less, manipulating the mind of one who had gone mad and thus living vicariously through him They knew their spells would leave them puny and helpless, unable to stand against the ruby titan of Averru. And so, they came to make war upon their sorcerer-brother. They came to claim his magic as their own.

Kuberr and Lowallyn came, intent on stealing the great spell of Averru. Whatever part of the city they captured, they chiseled out the name of Averru and carved in their own. They so fouled the spell that it gave physical form to none of them, but to another being.

Karona. Here was the tyrant Averru had feared, a creature who held all magical might. There was but one way to destroy her, and that was to destroy himself and the other two numena.

There were no bodies for the numena. They who had freed the world, who had ruled it in justice and honor for a thousand years, were scattered upon the wind. They lingered, weak and silent, for thousands of years. Slowly, they gathered power, gained mortal servants, and revitalized their ancient magic. They were determined to live again. So too was Karona.

Interesting, no? I also think it’s relevant to point out that this is Averru’s side of the story. Although another one is not presented in the novel, I definitely have a feeling that this recounting of the ancient days is a bit biased. Nevertheless, I’m sure it gives a fairly accurate representation of the early days of Dominaria. It also provided enough evidence for General Stonebrow to join Averru’s cause against Karona as it did for the rest of the individuals congregated inside the walls of Averru.

However, Averru isn’t the only one getting friends. Sash and Waistcoat, who used to be unmen made to serve as emergency escape spells for Ixidor, were newly given bodies at the end of Legions, yet don’t have enough experience being human to be totally engrossed in Karona. Yes, they’re very taken by her, but they can still keep their heads when around her. This behavior is so unlike all the rest of the people that Karona takes Sash and Waistcoat to her as friends. For the rest of the novel, they spend much time together, with Sash and Waistcoat developing into her”prophets.” They’re fairly dunderheaded, but Karona can’t see this (even if those who find they must go through the two men to speak to Karona do), adding both setbacks and advantages to her search for self-knowledge.

Meanwhile, yet another force has taken made himself resolved to destroy Karona: Kamahl. He realizes that he must regain the Mirari sword (which he left buried in the heart of the Krosan Forest in Judgment) and use it to kill the newest scourge of Dominaria. When he reaches the place of burial for the sword, he discovers the ghost of Balthor! Remember that Balthor gave Kamahl the sword (that later Kamahl combined with the Mirari) after having forged it from Urza’s very own staff. He was later killed and resurrected by Braids, meeting his doom once again after failing to kill Kamahl. Taking a third stab at life, Balthor’s spirit serves as a guide for Kamahl – a guide that has been waiting several years for Kamahl to return to the forest to claim the sword.

With Balthor’s guidance, Kamahl makes it to the resting place of the Mirari sword: Laquatus’ body. Like everything else in the area, Laquatus’ corpse has grown to immense proportions – and, of course, when Kamahl pulls the sword free, the corpse animates and fights Kamahl. Naturally, Kamahl wins and comes out of the subterranean lair alive. He and Balthor leave the forest and enter the adjacent desert.

There, Kamahl begins to attempt to master the Mirari sword, for he knows that if he can’t overcome its might right away, it will sweep him away in its call for glory just as it had several times in the past. Engaging in a dangerous kata that taxes Kamahl physically and mentally, Kamahl nearly kills himself while in a Mirari-induced frenzy. Balthor saves him just in time – but consumed by the sword as he is, Kamahl thinks that Balthor is trying to take it from him. Kamahl strikes the spirit with the powerful weapon, killing Balthor finally and permanently. However, in this tragic loss, Kamahl comes back to his senses, dominates the Mirari sword in a massive surge of will, and emerges the victor. Nevertheless, he is forced to cope once again with another murder caused by the Mirari’s influence. Partly in memory of Balthor (who gave him this advice), and partly after having realized that he will definitely need help in defeating Karona, Kamahl sets out to rescue Ixidor from the death wurm in which Kamahl knows he resides.

As Kamahl sets out for Topos, Karona follows the advice of Sash and Waistcoat and travels to the magical town of Eroshia. There, among the adoring masses, Karona establishes her headquarters, with Governor Dereg of Eroshia becoming her most fervent worshipper. While musing inside Governor Dereg’s mansion, the Eroshians help make Karona an important discovery: After searching for all her life (literally!) for the answer to the question,”Who am I?” Karona arrives at the correct conclusion that she is Magic – the embodiment of all of Dominaria’s magic.

While she muses on this important discovery, Karona sends Dereg, Sash, and Waistcoat as envoys to the three armies encamped outside of Eroshia. The Cabal, the Order, and a group of barbarians have followed Karona to this city in order to bring her back to their homelands. After an unsuccessful round of parley, Karona takes Sash and Waistcoat to their next important assignment. Having transported her prophets to a deserted mountain clearing, Karona begins the quest to determine what she is capable of. After finding that she can do anything Sash and Waistcoat ask her, the three learn that truly, Karona can do whatever mortals believe she can do. For example, if Waistcoat thinks Karona can make the ground disappear, then she can (and does).

This is most unfortunate for the mass of people who rush the mountain clearing in search of Karona. Unable to turn around with the crowds crushing them from behind, the folks in front of the surge begin to fall down the abyss that Karona has just created. As usual, Braids has led her people to glory – however, her ability to do so is brought to a close when Karona returns the ground to its normal state in order to prevent more deaths. (Yes, that means that Braids is dead – and yes, King did it pretty much as abruptly as I reported it.)

Upset by the deaths she’s caused, Karona flees the scene of the mass entombment to another deserted mountain peak. There, she experiences by far the coolest part of Scourge: Tired of the way mortals kill and maim each other to get to her, Karona determines to meet others like her. So she creates five portals, one for each color of mana, and withdraws figures from Magic’s past one by one, looking for a god or goddess like herself.

First, she meets Multani. Multani quickly informs Karona that he is not a god, but he does serve the goddess Gaea, who is the world. Multani tells Karona that she is the opposite of Gaea, Magic as opposed to the World, and that whereas Gaea is the World, Karona’s essence is to draw from it. Karona realizes sullenly that she is the”death” of Gaea, and concludes,”Gaea rejects me… So I will reject her.” She sends Multani back to Yavimaya and continues her search for an equal.

Next, Karona summons Fiers from the mountains. When Karona asks if Fiers is a god, he tells her that to the dwarfs he is, and that he is welcomed by them wherever he goes – though he is, in fact, only a planeswalker. When Karona says that she is welcomed wherever she goes as well but that death is always the result, Fiers concludes that Karona hasn’t found her home, and Karona sends him back to his.

Now, then. This is what I’d been waiting for for two years. Karona turns to the black portal, and… Well, it’s best described as a direct quote from the novel. (Note that Karona always talks in all-caps.)

This time, all was still. Even the crocodilian shadows ceased their swimming. The trees stiffened as if frightened. Above their mossy tops, a volcano showed. A presence lurked there – a fell ghost as large as a mountain. It was not a true power, but once it had been. It spoke in a sepulchral whisper:

“I know you. We’ve been bosom companions, you and I. For nine thousand years, I was the keeper of artifice, and you the keeper of magic.”


“The world did not receive me. Those I chose turned from truth to perversions. I persisted. I built a whole world for them to inhabit, and when they would not, I built another world to bring my people to them. I came myself, embraced all of Dominaria, welcomed every last creature into my touch, but they reviled me. They called me, ‘destroyer,’ and Gaea cast me down.”


“She is jealous of us; it is as simple as that.”


“You have called me, but I cannot leave the lands where my essence is gathering. Instead, come to me. We will be friends in an unfriendly world. We are the same, you and I.”


“I was a god, truer than any. I will be a god again soon. Only come to me and help me, and I will have a companion forever.”

“WHAT IS YOUR NAME?” asked Karona.

Only silence answered from the circle.


“Names have power, Great Lady. Come to my lands, and I will tell you my name.”


“I am Yawgmoth.”

Sash clamped his hands to his ears, but he could not shut out the sound that came from Karona’s mind. A billion billion shrieks – every dark enchantment, every horrid sorcery and deadly intention bore that name. Yawgmoth was indeed the destroyer, and he had nearly obliterated the whole world.

Karona held her hands before her and screamed.

“Come to me, Karona, and we’ll divide the world between us, and you will never be lonely again.”

The stony circle slammed shut and fused with the rock. The sound reverberated through the heavens.”

Wow. Well, that settles it – Yawgmoth definitely did not die during Apocalypse. He’s very weak, but he’s gaining power. And he’s still on Dominaria. In November, Mirrodin will take Magic players to a new plane for a while; personally, I’m very excited that even the possibility exists that Yawgmoth will await us when we return to Dominaria.

After Yawgmoth, of course, the next individual Karona contacts must seem anti-climactic. Out of the blue portal steps Ixidor, who by this time has been rescued by Kamahl, has realized that he is now, in fact, the ancient sorcerer Lowallyn and not Ixidor anymore, and is on his way to meet up with Kuberr and Averru in order to learn how to destroy Karona. Of course, Ixidor/Lowallyn doesn’t tell any of this to Karona, claiming to be simply Ixidor, earning him a peaceful return to his quest.

Finally, Karona pulls a figure from the white portal and meets a black man. That was the only clue I needed to figure out that Teferi had come to meet Karona – and I was correct. Teferi tells Karona that he has hidden Zhalfir and part of Shiv, waiting for a safe time to return to Dominaria. Although he is (quite likely) a planeswalker, he is not a god, and Karona sends him back to his hidden lands to wait until the newest threat to Dominaria (Karona herself) is no longer so dangerous.

Having found no kin to help her through her journey of introspection, Karona decides to follow the most promising path. She, Sash, and Waistcoat all agree that Ixidor is not revealing all he knows, so they decide to follow him.

Although Lowallyn (formerly known as Ixidor) knows that Karona is quite likely following them, he does not swerve from his quest with Kamahl to rejoin his brothers to unite against her. At last, the two of them find Coliseum Island where Kuberr is following in his father’s footsteps by trying to conquer the world with arenas. While Lowallyn tries to convince Kuberr that he should take an active move against their Karona, is point is made for him when she arrives. Her power is too much for the massive building and the structure collapses, destroying a hundred thousand lives in a few short minutes. Fortunately, Kuberr, Lowallyn, and Kamahl managed to escape to Aphetto, where Lowallyn’s reminder that Averru owes Kuberr some money initiates their journey towards Averru City.

Of course, the brothers are reunited, as are Stonebrow and Kamahl. When the three ultra-powerful sorcerers put their heads together, they arrive at a plan to destroy Karona: They decide to make use of her eternal search for kin by making an illusion of another being like her to lead her to a trap. They need Kamahl, however, to carve the words of Averru’s spell with his Mirari sword, and he refuses to do it unless the three sorcerers swear only to banish Karona from Dominaria, not kill her. He is afraid that one tyrant will be replaced by three. They agree to his terms, and spell is completed. Just as Karona arrives at Averru’s city, Arien takes flight above its citadel.

However, as might be expected with three power-hungry mages, Kuberr, Lowallyn, and Averru break their word and begin to kill Karona when she obliviously draws near Arien. Furious that the brothers betrayed him, Kamahl sets Karona free by believing that she can escape. Since her powers are based on faith, Karona does manage to flee Dominaria without the added effect of being banished, as Kamahl wanted.

Once Karona leaves, however, those she left behind realize that something terrible has happened, for a society built on Magic can hardly survive when Magic herself leaves the plane. Averru goes silent, Lowallyn and Kuberr lose their power, Locus (Ixidor’s land of creation) begins to crumble, and all manner of magical places and things go dark. The very land becomes devoid of mana, and Dominaria begins to starve of the magic it’s been so accustomed to holding richly within it.

Meanwhile, thrown unexpectedly in the chaos between worlds, Karona (who also brought Sash and Waistcoat along with her) grabs for memory-lines of people who had traversed the planes in the past. First, she follows the line of Gerrard Capashen to the plane of Mercadia. Initially, she is welcomed by the Mercadians, but when she mentions Gerrard’s name, she is associated with him (the saboteur, as they call him) and the Cho-Arrim and is sentenced to death. Not responding well to death threats, Karona grabs her prophets and flees.

Next, she follows Weatherlight’s line to Serra’s Realm. (Remember that all of Serra’s Realm was contained in the core of Weatherlight.) Karona actually comes face to face with Serra, who claims that Karona is too much like Urza in that she drains power from the plane she has worked so hard to keep stable. She also tells Karona that she is Dominaria’s magic and that Dominaria is her only home. Back in the Blind Eternities (the world between worlds), Karona seeks a line that leads to Dominaria and finds one: She is afraid, but she follows the line of Yawgmoth, hoping it will take her home.

Well, of course it wouldn’t be interesting if she didn’t stop off in Phyrexia! The world of nine spheres is gutted, though creatures still lurk there. Karona muses on the similarities between her and Yawgmoth – how they’ve both caused great destruction to Dominaria and may one day be cursed by all its inhabitants. Just as Karona is musing that Phyrexia could be her new home, she hears,”Stay, Karona. You need shelter, and I need magic…. Rest here, Karona. I’ll rebuild you, and you’ll rebuild me, and together we’ll return to Dominaria. Come to me. My arms are open.” Enticed though she is, one of her friends reminds her that Arien, the illusion that almost ended her, used the same phrase to call her.

Having escaped from Phyrexia, Karona quickly grabs onto another planeswalker’s line, mostly to prevent Sash and Waistcoat from dying. She follows a silver thread to a line of beautiful, artificial complexity. She meets the creator of the world, Lord Macht, and finds that the desire he once had has been dimmed. She also discovers that this very man is the source of the Mirari! When he was still avidly searching the multiverse for understanding, Lord Macht fashioned a number of probes to be sent into other planes. Although Macht’s interest in his probes later died, the power of the probe did not diminish, and it turned into the world-changing artifact that Dominaria came to know as the Mirari.

After conversing with Lord Macht for quite a while, Karona determines to put desire back into his form. Embracing him completely, she succeeds in this task, turning Lord Macht from a dull gray prisoner of his own world to a bright and shining master, filled with the passion that burns within the Mirari. In unplanned repayment, Lord Macht also helps Karona discover what her own desire is: She wants Dominaria.

Not one to argue, though he is perhaps saddened by this news, Lord Macht sends Karona back to Dominaria with the ease of a planeswalker. Karona appears in Eroshia and demands to be worshipped. Those who do not bow down to her die. Nearly everyone bows, and a few (led by the crafty Elionoway) escape. Everyone else is destroyed.

Meanwhile, back in Averru’s city, Lowallyn and Kuberr are trying their best to enjoy being mortal. (And would you believe it, they do that with alcohol!) However, Kamahl does not join in their activities. Instead, he engages in a kata much like the one he used to master the Mirari sword after rescuing it from Krosan. As the blade whirls around him with such speed that it seems a sphere of metal has been created around him, Kamahl is actually transported from world to world. When he stops his kata, he finds himself in Argentum, the same silvery plane that Karona just left. There, Lord Macht tells Kamahl what he must do and how he must do it. His task: To destroy Karona.

As Kamahl returns to Dominaria, Karona arrives at the Cabal city of Aphetto. Here, she delivers the same ultimatum given to the Eroshians. However, as she expected, the Cabal are much less likely to take kindly to her than Eroshians. After she’s dismissed by a little boy who is magically channeling all of the Cabal’s leaders (Kuberr, the First, Phage, and Braids), she airlifts five hundred”faithful” citizens out of Aphetto and buries the rest, much to the distaste of Sash and Waistcoat. Truly, her two prophets are definitely having second thoughts about the glory of Karona now that she’s killed around 110,000 people in about a day. In fact, when her five hundred new followers bow down to her,”Sash and Waistcoat double over in nauseated praise.”

In fact, Sash and Waistcoat reject the notion that Karona is their friend. They do, however, accept her as their god and still carry out her wishes. Karona’s next target is, naturally, Averru’s city, and Sash and Waistcoat are sent inside to five Kamahl the same ultimatum given the last two cities. Kamahl responds by trying to convince Sash and Waistcoat to reject Karona and her dread work. He tells them of his”secret weapon” (the Mirari sword), allowing them the decision of whether or not to tell Karona. He then instructs them to tell Karona that she should come meet him, and he will deliver his answer to her ultimatum personally.

However, Sash and Waistcoat do tell Karona of Kamahl’s plan: To use her own magic to revive Averru, draw her in, and destroy her. She goes to meet Kamahl with no intention of losing to him.

The next battle is really quite interesting. Karona nearly destroys Kamahl, but Kuberr and Lowallyn divert her spells to recharge themselves. Sensing a large attack coming on, the trio runs inside the citadel, where the doorman Averru waits for enough spells to be cast to reawaken him. Kamahl makes it through the door with Stonebrow, but Karona encases the entire citadel in a large block of stone. In order to free Lowallyn and Kuberr, Kamahl uses his sword and Stonebrow uses his hoofs to break through the rock. They reach Lowallyn, who then helps them reach Kuberr. Far too long has passed, however, and Kuberr is actually found dead. In his death, though, Averru stirs.

Lowallyn then animates the stone, making it into a magmatic colossus that he sends against Karona. Unfortunately, Karona sends the titan right back at them. Lowallyn leaps in front of the monster, allowing it to step on him. As a final spell, Lowallyn removes the spark of life from the creature, saving Kamahl and Stonebrow but allowing him to die in the process. And with this death, Averru reaches his highest peak of power.

Averru then tells Karona that his plans have been carried out and that he will now kill her and take her power. Karona agrees that her power should be given to Averru – and she rushes his great central eye. Averru is overloaded by the immense surge and dies once more, just as his brothers had. Now, only Kamahl remains to fight Karona.

And fight he does! He refuses to bow to Karona, telling her that millions of others would rather die fighting as he is prepared to do than bow to her. Karona smacks the Mirari sword out of his hand and asks him again if he will bow. He says no, and Karona prepares to destroy him.

However, before she strikes the final blow, the Mirari sword emerges from her chest! Sash and Waistcoat strike her down, all the while begging for forgiveness. Sash and Waistcoat tell Karona that Lord Macht spoke to them and told them how to make things right again. Karona accuses Lord Macht of wanting her power, but Sash and Waistcoat testify that he only wanted to return to Dominaria what is rightfully its.

As Karona dies, Dominaria is returned to its previous state of magical wealth. As her life is nearly expired, Lord Macht himself appears and takes Karona (and the Mirari sword) away from Dominaria. Sash and Waistcoat are left to begin their lives anew after only a year of life – nearly all of it in the company of Karona. Similarly, Kamahl and Stonebrow find that their grand purposes have been fulfilled and plan to spend a life of blissful wandering around the world. Truly, the characters so wracked by misery the past saga have found peace.

As an epilogue to the story, Lord Macht transports Karona back to Argentum and heals her. However, in doing so, her glory as Karona fades. Lord Macht explains to her:

“There is a single reason that all of this has happened… The first stroke of the Mirari sword should have killed you, but it didn’t. The touch of the First should have slain you, but it didn’t. The Soul Reaper that unmade Akroma and Zagorka should have unmade you, but it didn’t.”

Karona opens her eyes to look at Lord Macht, and the eyes of Jeska, Kamahl’s sister who has borne all of these transformations, view him.

“You became the conduit for all magic on Dominaria, rose to become a goddess, and even survived the Mirari sword again . . . all for one reason.”

That reason, Jeska realizes, is to become a planeswalker. After Jeska realizes her true identity, she finds out Lord Macht’s. Yes, readers, as you suspected, Lord Macht is, in fact, Karn!

Karn and Jeska prepare to leave Argentum in order to explore the multiverse. As an interesting conclusion (and perhaps a tantalizing hint about the next story), Scourge concludes with the following:

It would take a while to learn. She had walked the Blind Eternities, of course, but she had never simply stepped world to world to world.

“Are you sure Argentum will be safe?” Jeska asked. She glanced fondly around the courtyard, elegant in silver and glass.”This place has become my home.”

Karn gently took her hand.”We won’t be gone long. Even if we were, the guardian will keep everything in order.” He nodded toward a metal man who sat within the guardhouse.

Jeska smiled.”He’s an ingenious creation, Karn, but he’s only a machine.”

“So was I, once. And he’s more than a machine. The Mirari has suffused him. He’s living metal, now.” Karn cupped his hand beside his mouth and whispered.”He needs a chance to prove himself, and this is it. You need a chance, too.”

“Is this the way?” Jeska asked tentatively, clutching Karn’s hand and thinking of other worlds.

Karn nodded his encouragement.”Take me out there.”

Jeska stepped from the mirror planes of Argentum, taking Karn with her.

They crossed the multiverse as easily as children stepping across stones.

So, there it is, friends: Three hundred and ten pages summed up in just over five thousand words. I hope, as always, that this summary has provided a firm grounding for those interested in the story but without the full desire to read the entire book. Of course, this recounting will have its imperfections – but that only goes further to encourage all Magic players to get more in tune with the world in which we play our game. However, as long as Magic players continue to stray from their local booksellers’ Magic section, I will continue to report on the goings-on of the background of Dominia!

Daniel Crane

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