Welcome back, Lore Seekers! Today I'm going to be talking about the Sagas of Dominaria United! Some of these Sagas are pretty self-explanatory, but others are not, and there are a lot of cool diegetic details built into these that are worth talking about!
Love Song of Night and Day
Love Song of Night and Day by Eli Minaya
The Love Song of Night and Day is a poem that appears in 18 pieces of flavor text from the Mirage block. The full poem is published on the Wizards website here, it was written by Jenny Scott, an editor at Wizards of the Coast at the time. The poem references the love between the night and day, and how night embraces its love, the day, every evening. This is obviously metaphorical, but the art shows the lovers together, embracing, as the man's cloak turns into the night itself after the poem. In the bottom most section, you can see Dominaria and the Sun in an eclipse, with the plane's two moons to the right. To the left? Jinuoe, another planet in Dominaria's solar system. Or possibly Jyr?
I'm not sure what this image is supposed to be from a diegetic standpoint (or as an in-universe artwork), but it's cool nonetheless.
Urza Assembles The Titans
Urza Assembles the Titans by Josu Hernaiz
Back during the original Phyrexian Invasion (in the aptly named Invasion block), part of Urza's strategy was to gathering planeswalkers to battle the Phyrexians, eventually pushing into Phyrexia itself and detonating soul bombs there. He even built each planeswalker their own custom Power Armor Gundam.
At the top of the art we have the Nine Titans themselves, from left to right we see Lord Windgrace, Taysir of Rabiah, Kristina of the Woods, Commodore Guff, Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury, Bo Levar, Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools, and Daria. The mission ended poorly, with Urza deliberately bringing along a treacherous Tevesh Szat so that when he turned on the others, he could use Szat's spark (see: Confound) in order to fuel the bombs that would ultimately destroy Phyrexia.
Below the eight other Titans is Urza himself, and below him is a stylized Phyrexia, a plane of nine nested spheres, decorated like a Phyrexian Portal Ship like the one depicted in Planar Portal and complete with the Mask of Yawgmoth. Very cool deep lore! The design itself, in-universe, appears to be some kind of painted wood cut shrine.
Founding the Third Path
Founding the Third Path by Chris Seaman
A couple of these Sagas set the stage for the upcoming The Brothers' War set. The Third Path was a group of scholars and mystics who came together during the Brothers' War to find a way out of the war that didn't involve siding with Urza or Mishra (hence: the Third Path). Rather than focusing on artifice, their studies led to the foundation of the modern schools of Magic on Terisiare. There are five main figures in this piece, each of which is presumably a major member of the Path. The top left figure is Hurkyl, with the same items as the figure in the original Hurkyl's Recall. The middle figure at the top is Feldon of the Third Path, holding the head of the construct he made of his wife, Lorna (also a member). The bottom right figure is Sunastian Falconer, who I believe is a new addition, placing him in the Brothers' War era. The other two figures aren't clear, but are likely Drafna, Hurkyl's husband and another founding member, and perhaps Lorna herself or the Archimandrite, the leader of the city where the Third Path lived.
The piece itself is some sort of frieze, either etched metal work or stone with what appears to be a lapis lazuli. Given the orreries intruding on the piece, it feels like a relic at some Tolarian College, or perhaps someplace metalwork is still being done, given the red spark-like blotches intruding from the top left.
The Phasing of Zhalfir
The Phasing of Zhalfir by LA Draws
The Phasing of Zhalfir refers to the same event from Teferi's Protection. The essence of the story is that when Urza was recruiting for his Nine Titans, he asked Teferi to be one of the first. Teferi declined, and ended up tricking Urza into helping him gather the power to phase Zhalfir and Shiv out of the timeline. Three centuries later, Teferi loses his spark restoring Shiv and is unable to restore Zhalfir as well. You can see Teferi at the bottom, devastated, with his homeland forever sealed away, just out of his reach.
This is easily one of my favorite pieces in the set, it's just absolutely gorgeous. In-Universe, this is clearly the head of a staff of some kind, like that of Hakim Loreweaver. There's a vibrant storytelling tradition for imparting history in the region of Jamuraa that Zhalfir comes from, and I feel like this must be a staff for telling that story.
Braids's Frightful Return
Braids's Frightful Return by Dominik Mayer
Braids, Arisen Nightmare was once Braids, Cabal Minion, a slightly less than 'with it' dementia caster that proved to be a fan favorite. Braids was thought gone when she was trapped in her own dementia space, a pocket dimension where casters kept their nightmare creatures. A couple centuries later, the Cabal, in an attempt to raise Demonlord Belzenlok back from the dead, or perhaps their original god, an ancient wizard named Kuberr. Hilariously, this continues to not work out for them as they hope.
The art here feels strongly of the kind of thing one scribbles onto a wall with chalk... and perhaps blood? For Braids, whose grasp on sanity is tentative at best, it feels an appropriate choice. Especially the almost child-like but horrific self-depiction at the bottom.
The Cruelty of Gix
The Cruelty of Gix by Volkan Ba?a
Gix was described as a Yawgmoth Demon, a Phyrexian equivalent in power to the modern New Phyrexian praetors, with the power to command vast swaths of Phyrexians. During the Brothers War, he came through the Phyrexian Portal the brothers accidentally leave open and founded the Disciples of Gix, a monastic order that worshiped Phyrexia and completion. After his failure to conquer Dominaria due to Urza igniting his Sylex, he spent years perfecting a sleeper agent program to weaken and usurp the plane in advance of an Invasion. He was stopped by Xantcha, Sleeper Agent, depicted at the top, who sacrificed her life to buy Urza the time he needed to defeat Gix. The aftermath of this event is what finally prompted Urza to get help with the war on Phyrexia, leading directly to the founding of the Tolarian Academy.
The art here was described in Dominaria United: Episode 1 - Echoes in the Dark, as a carving in the walls of the Caves of Koilos. It was created by the modern day followers of Gix's legacy as a source of religious worship.
The Elder Dragon War
The Elder Dragon War by Filip Burburan
I talk in detail about the history of Dominaria's elder dragons in Elders of Dominaria, but note that this was before Chronicle of Bolas came out and actually showed us the darned thing! In essence: elder dragon lore most came from Elder Land Wurm being hinted at being a dragon, but a fan site with access to insider information posted about an event called the Elder Dragon War where most of the elder dragons were killed or stripped of their wings to become wurms - based on unpublished flavor text!
Needless to say, there wasn't much else known about the event at the time, although the elder dragons from Legends were said to be the survivors. We learn in Chronicle of Bolas that it was a war instigated by Bolas himself, using his human minions to get the advantage on his rivals. This piece is a pyrography both in real-life and in-universe, a story literally burnt into the wood medium.
Yotia Declares War
Yotia Declares War by Fariba Khamseh
Another Brothers' War throw-forward, this piece depicts the fateful moment in the Brothers' War when Urza's side - still led by his father-in-law, the Warlord of Kroog, uses their thopters to ambush and ruin the peace talks with the Fallaji tribes. The leaders of both nations are killed, leaving both Urza and his brother Mishra essentially in charge of the war effort of their respective sides (it's more complicated than that, but I don't have a ton of space here.
In this piece, which could be a fresco but more likely a tapestry inspired by middle eastern designs, is likely an in-universe Fallaji work that serves as almost a propaganda piece. You can see Mishra's original Dragon Engine here as the Thopters drop their bombs, and the colors are all in various fabric patterns. It's a very clever use of materials.
The Weatherseed Treaty
The Weatherseed Treaty by Livia Prima
If you don't know already (and you WILL know by The Brothers' War), when Urza ended the Brothers' War by detonating the sylex, he destroyed the forest-island of Argoth. Well, nature doesn't forgive and forget so quickly, so when Urza went in search of Yavimaya's fabled wood to help him construct his skyship, Multani, Yavimya's Avatar captures him and forces him to relive all the pain he caused Argoth over and over for years. Eventually, Urza is able to communicate the imminent threat of Phyrexia, and how they were a far greater evil than he. Multani reluctantly agrees, and gives Urza the wood he was seeking - a piece of Yavimaya called the Weatherseed. With it, the Skyship Weatherlight - and Urza's alliance with Multani - was born.
This piece is adorable, it's clearly some sort of diorama, perhaps made with children's toys. You can see scale Thallids standing and watching the scene, with wood toy versions of elves and other creatures posed to watch. Perhaps instead of toys this is a small diorama akin to a cresh set, used by the people of Yavimaya to remember this momentous occasion.
The World Spell
The World Spell by Adam Paquette
The final saga depicts the World Spell. When Urza activated the sylex, Urza's Ruinous Blast ushered in an ice age that lasted for thousands of years. To undo the damage (and end the planar barrier that had sprung up around Dominaria and small number of other planes called The Shard of Twelve Worlds), the planeswalker Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury had a plan. She gathered the strongest druids of the Juniper Order, along with Jodah, the Unifier and Jaya Ballard, Task Mage to cast a spell that would reverse the effects, ending the Ice Age and beginning what we think of as modern Dominarian history. This piece is a neat bit of botanical art, using natural plants shaped just right to convey the idea of the image, which our brains process into the image itself.
More Flavor Coming Up
Next time, I'm going back to my flavor build articles. I've been dying to build Tetsuo, Imperial Champion and include as many characters and flavor nods from his story as I can! This seems like the perfect deck for the sort of flavor meets function I enjoy, so check it out soon!