It’s that time again! A new expansion, a new set of flavor texts! I believe that our friends in the continuity department are starting to arrive at an equilibrium about how much the flavor texts on the cards will represent the storyline. The general consensus seems to be that the cards will mostly reflect environment while still exploring some element of the storyline. Thus, I have decided to continue my trend of having one article focus on the flavor texts’ relation to the story (The Real Story Behind…) and then a follow-up article that functions as a more intensive look at the novel (… Through the Looking Glass). So, with that having been said, let’s take a look at the flavor texts of one of the most exciting sets in Magic history!
Tower of Champions
~The ur-golem runes tell of the transformation of Mirrodin’s warden from silent guardian to merciless god.~
Let’s start from the beginning, which actually takes place back in Scourge. My article Scourge Through the Looking Glass reveals that Karn survived the final battle of Yawgmoth’s invasion and created his own plane called Argentum. It was perfect in a way the silver-golem-turned-planeswalker heartily appreciated. When Karona was turned back into Jeska, Karn took her with him to explore the multiverse, leaving the Warden (which had once been the Mirari) in charge of Argentum. In The Moons of Mirrodin, the novel accompanying the Mirrodin expansion, we learn that the Warden (who was called Memnarch) studies Argentum for countless ages, finally deciding that he needs to put his own mark on the world. Naming the world after himself, Memnarch sets to work on Mirrodin.
Tower of Eons
~Its etchings tell the ur-golems’ stories of an entity able to force life into a lifeless plane.~
Although the novel doesn’t explicitly inform the reader what Memnarch did to the plane, his machinations are obvious: Drawing from his experiences as the Mirari, Memnarch uses his power to gather life forms from Dominaria and implant them into Mirrodin.
However, Memnarch’s actions obviously go afoul when the creatures try to thrive in Mirrodin. Most references to Memnarch are negative in nature, perhaps stemming from long-held resentment toward this god-like figure.
Tower of Murmurs
~Etched on its surface are warnings from a long-lost race of ur-golems pushed to the brink of extinction.~
Also, amidst the creatures being deposited on Mirrodin are a race of artificial golems. Followers of the storyline so far cannot discern where the golems came from or what their purpose was, but what we do know is that almost all of the golems are out of commission and have been for quite a long time.
~On Dominaria, a scavenger. On Mirrodin, a predator.~
An example of the life deposited on Mirrodin is the Atog here. This flavor text also allows us to take a look as to why living in Mirrodin isn’t so hot. Contrary to everything natural on Dominaria, Mirrodin is entirely made out of metal. The trees are metal, the grass is metal, even the oceans are liquid metal. Metal is as essential to this world as plantlife is to Dominaria. And this makes the metal-eating Atog very prosperous.
~”What do you mean, we’re out of stuff to melt down? Give me your leg.”~
However, not only the landscape of Mirrodin is infused with metal – the very lifeforms of the plane themselves are comprised of part flesh, part metal. For instance, elves are known to have completely metallic forearms and hands, resulting in very strong metallic claws as fingers. Also, the feet of some creatures are entirely made out of metal as well. Nearly every life form on Mirrodin (plant or animal) has at least some metallic component. This gives the society and interactions of the creatures of Mirrodin a much different dynamic than existed in Dominaria.
~Instinctively drawn to the light of its”mother-sun,” each slith follows that sun’s path around Mirrodin.~
Another distinction between Dominaria and Mirrodin is Mirrodin’s number of moons. As indicated by the title of the novel being The Moons of Mirrodin, the moons of Mirrodin play an important role in the goings-on of the plane. There are four moons (also called”suns” by various races) above Mirrodin: Red, blue, white, and black. Each is associated with a geographical region of the world and also the color of mana found in those areas.
~”There’s a secret at the heart of this world, and I will unlock it.”~
So, now that the mood is set, we can begin to meet our characters. The main character of the Mirrodin cycle is Glissa, an elf from the Tangle (a metallic forest). For the most part, she’s your average Tangle elf except for on thing: Glissa has”flares” of increasing intensity about a life not her own. These memories are interfering with her daily life – in ways she can’t begin to imagine.
Tree of Tales
~Tel-Jilad, sanctum of the ancient trolls, keepers of the secret of Mirrodin’s origin.~
The Tree of Tales literally contains upon it the history of the Tangle and its inhabitants. However, as this flavor text implies, the trolls (who keep the Tree of Tales) are the only ones with access to this information. Therefore, they have a great deal of information about the origin of the world and the nature of the life therein that the elves do not possess.
Trolls of Tel-Jilad
~”The secret of this world weighs upon us, and we have been shaped by time and duty to bear it.”~
In fact, on a regular basis, the elves’ memories are purged in order that the trolls can have complete control over record-keeping in the Tangle. However, the elves trust the trolls completely, for the trolls have never shown the elves reason to believe that the order of things should be any different from the way it is. So why is Glissa stolen from her home and brought to the Tree of Tales?
~Once a century, the levelers rip through every corner of Mirrodin, obeying the commands of an unseen master.~
The leader of the trolls, Chunth, tells Glissa that she is being targeted by the levelers, the most feared creatures in the Tangle. Chunth tells Glissa that every one hundred cycles (years), the levelers murder the Tangle’s fiercest warrior. This time, Chunth seeks to protect the Tangle’s greatest fighter by keeping Glissa away from her house. However, Glissa doesn’t want to see her family murdered. So, she steals a sword from Chunth and runs back to her house. With adrenaline pumping and a sword of great power in her hand, Glissa dispatches a number of levelers. However, she then finds that her family has already been slaughtered and there are far more levelers than she can ever hope to overcome. She fights valiantly until the levelers mysteriously turn around. Glissa gets caught on one and rides it, unconscious, to its destination.
~”We protect our homelands. Why should they not protect us?”~
Glissa awakens to find a goblin freeing her from her captivity on the leveler. Together, they decide to seek some answers to Glissa’s questions from the kha of the leonin in Taj-Nar. On the way, they encounter one of the deadliest differences between Dominaria and Mirrodin: Knee-high grass that is razor sharp and just as strong.
Needless to say, the two of them get through the razor grass and make it to Taj-Nar. However, they do so only just before an attacking horde of nim (Mirrodin’s zombies) reach the gates of the city. However, since the gates are closed, Glissa must fight off the nim while Slobad (her goblin friend) locates the hidden passage he knows of in the door. Together, they enter the city and are promptly taken captive.
~”The wisdom of the elders is just as much a weapon as a sword or spear. We must learn to wield it.” -Ushanti, leonin seer~
Glissa and Slobad are taken to Ushani, the seeress of Taj-Nar. She reacts violently to Glissa, claiming that she must be killed lest she destroys the world.
Raksha, fortunately, is an old friend of Slobad’s and does not have the visitors killed, despite Ushanti’s advice. However, he is not above putting the pair in danger. Glissa’s story makes Raksha realize that the leader of the nim is, perhaps, a contributor to the assassination attempt on Glissa’s life. He therefore sends Slobad and Glissa, unable to spare troops of his own, into the Mephidross in order to seek out this common enemy.
Vault of Whispers
~Ish Sah, den of the warlord Geth, commander of countless nim.~
Glissa and Slobad slog though the muck of the Mephidross, barely able to go on through the overpowering stench of the swamp. During their journey, the pair comes across a large object in the mud. They pull it up to discover that it’s a construct unlike anything Glissa had ever seen.
~Since they haven’t seen their original master for millennia, golems are eager to take orders from anyone.~
Slobad, however, recognizes the artifact as a golem, an artificial man the likes of which hadn’t been seen for countless cycles. Slobad applies his tinkering genius to the golem and eventually gets him somewhat functional. However, the travelers are attacked during Slobad’s surgery.
~Called”the Dross” by its inhabitants, Mephidross is home to the nim, Mirrodin’s mindless, ravenous undead.~
The mindless undead are, in fact, controlled by someone with a mind. Glissa figures this out and kills the man who is controlling the nim, bringing the friends to safety. However, they are attacked again – this time by a much fiercer beast. With the help of the golem (who Slobad fixes during Glissa’s battle), the monster is destroyed, and its master is taken captive. With the help of Yert (the creature’s controller), Glissa, Slobad, and the golem are able to gain an audience with the lord of Mephidross himself.
Barter in Blood
~”In the game of conquest, who cares about the pawns if the king yet reigns?” -Geth, keeper of the Vault~
Glissa confronts Geth, the mastermind behind the nim attacks on Taj-Nar. She demands information of him, but he refuses to answer her, relying on his vampire to nullify any threats she may make. However, once Glissa cripples the vampire with her mighty weapon, Geth is forced to cooperate with her. Glissa discovers that Geth was paid a vial of serum to engage in his evil activities, though what the serum is, Glissa doesn’t know. Glissa forces Geth to promise not to attack the leonin anymore, and then she, Slobad, and the golem head back to Taj-Nar.
On the way, Glissa and Slobad find that the golem can talk. Throughout the rest of the story, they discover that the golem’s name is Bosh and that he has been alive for a long, long time – though his memory is extremely limited. As the story progresses, though, Bosh becomes a friend to Glissa and Slobad and his memories begin slowly to return to him.
~Kuldotha, wellspring of molten metal, temple of the goblin horde.~
After returning to Taj-Nar and fighting off an attack of constructs sent to assassinate Glissa, Glissa returns to the Tangle. There, the same creatures attack again, resulting in the death of Chunth. With the troll’s last breath, he tells Glissa that the world is hollow and that this information is very important. Therefore, Slobad takes Glissa and Bosh to the Great Furnace, which is an immense cavern below a metal mountain. Here, Slobad introduces Glissa and Bosh to the Krark clan of which he was once a member. Unfortunately, the”proper” goblins attack the cult’s hiding place. Our three heroes help defend the Krark clan and bring them to safety. After identifying the man who’s trying to kill Glissa as a vedalken, the party sets out for the Quicksilver Sea.
~Information pumps like blood through vedalken society.~
In a town on the shore of the Quicksilver Sea, Glissa comes in contact with Bruenna, a disgruntled semi-slave of the vedalken (along with the rest of her people). She tells Glissa that the vedalken thrive on knowledge, seeking always to become more intelligent. The serum that Glissa stole from Geth contains essence of blinkmoth. (The blinkmoths are the”stars” in the sky.) The serum gives the vedalken heightened awareness as well as knowledge, giving them access to the secrets of the ancient world. Bruenna doesn’t know why the vedalken are trying to kill Glissa, but she agrees to help Glissa find out by taking her to the Knowledge Pool inside Lumengrid, the home of the vedalken.
Using one of Bruenna’s inventions (a kind of submarine that can be pulled by Bosh), the four make their way to Lumengrid. However, they of course encounter resistance and have to fight their way through. During the process, Glissa is forced to consume the serum (which she needs to make the Knowledge Pool work) in order to save Bosh. Having rescued her friend, Glissa and the others continue their way to Lumengrid, eventually making it inside.
~”The simplest way to plan ahead is merely to be ready for everything.” -Pontifex, elder researcher~
Once inside Lumengrid, Bruenna and Glissa are captured by Pontifex, Bruenna’s father’s old boss who had him killed when he learned too much about serum. Just before he kills Glissa with a spell, Slobad’s and Bosh’s distraction is set off, resulting in a shocking explosion that rocks the entire undermetal structure. In that time, Glissa and Bruenna make Pontifex their captive, and they make him take them to the Knowledge Pool.
In the area of the knowledge pool, the company comes in contact with Janus, one of the most powerful vedalken. Glissa destroys his guards and, with the help of Pontifex (who discovers through being knocked into the Knowledge Pool that Janus is going to betray Memnarch, the god of the vedalken), kills Janus. Pontifex takes Bruenna and Glissa captive again in order to deliver them to Memnarch, but Slobad and Bosh show up to save the day.
Bosh carries the human, elf, and goblin through a secret tunnel beneath the Knowledge Pool. When they emerge, they face a seemingly endless tunnel into the center of the world. As they begin their journey, Bosh enigmatically informs Glissa that he remembers more of his past.”What do you remember?”
And thus ends The Moons of Mirrodin. As you can see, the flavor texts of this set tie into the overarching story better than the Onslaught cycle, while still not overstepping the boundaries that have been created between the cards and the novels. Like Legions’ slivers, the Myr are an addition of the cards to the storyline but aren’t as immense a component as the Riptide project (and thus do not incur my disapproval like the previous set did).
And if you want to see the details that I left out (such as Glissa’s secret love and the dangerous aerophins), be sure to check out my next article!