You arrive in the evening at your usual time. The door is cracked open, a sliver of golden light slipping into the corridor. A quiet scratching comes from within.
You push the door open without a knock as a soft scream of resistance from metal hinges announces your arrival. Issar Roon does not turn, but a voice greets you.
I have a special lesson planned for you tonight, but you must wait. Have a seat. I will let you know when I have finished.
You do as the old man asks. As you wait your eyes rove across the room. His study has changed little over the two years you have been coming here, save for the sizes and colors of the books stacked upon the floor, desk, and shelves.
The question of how long the old man has been using the study appears in your mind for the first time. You turn it over slowly, as if it were a delicate globe of glass ready to shatter at the slightest pressure. The quiet scratching continues.
Eventually silence takes over the study and the old man turns toward you.
He struggles to get up. Every little shake of his legs and arms as he pushes upward betrays the effort such a simple action takes. Once up however, the old man seems perfectly stable and surefooted.
The old man grabs a gnarled cane, most likely an old tree branch shaved of smaller twigs, and shuffles out the door. His steps are small but quick, and you find yourself having to keep up lest you fall behind.
A chill in the air marks the middle of autumn, and justifies your heavy wool cloak. The old man wears little other than his thin robe.
You follow the old man through a twisting passage you have never taken before, in a direction tangent to the main living quarters. After a few minutes thin stone stairs lead you below ground before another twisting passage swallows you. The floor slopes downward slightly with each step, and the air is heavier than above. Every so often the old man makes a turn, right or left, and then continues forward once again.
After the fifth (or was it the sixth?) left turn you become unsure of your ability to find your way back. Each passageway looks the same. Your footsteps echo off the bare walls.
Finally, after what seems like an hour of walking, one of the turns leads you into a straight stone corridor. The hall is empty of all but two lines of torches that fade into the darkness. A ceiling higher than four men on each other’s shoulders soak up what little light they provide. Every ten paces a door is set on either side. Magnificent stone arches accentuate the entranceways, yet they are not carved. Whoever built them wanted simplicity, not elaborate decoration.
The old man walks past the first half a dozen doors before turning right into one identical to the others. Within you find shelves overflowing with books, parchments, and scrolls, each stacked so close to the other that a grown man must slide sideways between them.
It is here you will find many answers to questions about the Multiverse, but I have not brought you here for the books tonight.
The old man points beyond the shelves. Through a cluttered row you can make out an empty space furnished with a mahogany table and chairs.
After squeezing past the shelves, only knocking two books off in the process, you are able to get a better look at the space beyond. It is wide and open, the antithesis of the room’s entrance, with more than enough free space to walk or sit. The floor is covered with an ancient rug, larger than any you have ever seen, but it is the table that is most impressive. A deep red, the color of dried blood, with each leg carved in the shape of an animal’s. Muscles bulge and hair bristles along each making it seem as if the table was ready to run away, if only it could fit past the shelves.
We are not using the table either. Look above.
Doing as you are instructed you realize that you’ve missed an entire facet of the room. Just above head height a row of paintings lines the empty study space. Each canvas is framed with a different wood, none of which you recognize; one so green that you are sure it is leaves and not wood that make up the trim; another, a luminescent white that seems to pulsate, illuminating the painting within it.
The old man shuffles to one on the near side. When you follow the old man you notice small letters written into a small, smooth piece of the frame: Ivory Tower.
This is the city of Terisiare. You remember my previous lesson, yes? These Ivory Towers are what kept the city from falling for so long when Mishra assailed it with his army. They were renowned for their beauty, but praised for their strength.
A quick shamble, and then another painting: Durkwood Boars.
Durkwood is a place much like the countryside beyond these walls. There are giants, unusual creatures, and a few elves yes, but it is also a calm and peaceful place. Wedged between Llanowar and Benalia it enjoys their protection from much larger and darker threats.
Another painting, this one with a frame thin as your smallest finger: Segovian Leviathan.
Segovia is a queer plane in a sea of planes that are considered abnormal by many in the Multiverse. The Segovian Leviathan is comparable in size to that of a Dominarian elephant, which is not that far off from elephants on your world. The whales you see? They are like minnows in the cloister’s fountain.
The fourth is held by a light wood, speckled with gold: Amrou Kithkin.
This is a very rare painting. Amrou Kithkin hardly ever leave their communities, and allow few to enter. Shorter than humans, with a large nose and hairy feet, Dominarian kithkin are simple and honest. Currently, they are struggling to rebuild their homes after the Phyrexian Invasion.
The next frame is ash black, smooth, and devoid of any ornament: Nevinyrral’s Disc.
This was a powerful artifact created by the necromancer Nevinyrral. When he lost a war against Bogardan in ancient times he activated the magical disc, eradicating his creations and weapons so that they could not fall into his enemy’s hands.
An unrelated fact that I often remember when looking upon this canvas is Nevinyrral’s other great creation, the Necromancer’s Handbook. It is considered the oldest and most comprehensive tome of necromancy produced on any plane in the Multiverse.
Finally, you arrive at the mural with a glowing frame: Serra Angel.
There are actually two types of Serra Angels; those born of a warrior’s soul, followers of the goddess Serra, and those who follow the late planeswalker Serra. Like Serra and the goddess, many confuse the two.
This particular depiction is believed to be of an angel beholden to the planeswalker. Though Serra is dead and her plane collapsed, Urza managed to bring many of them safely to Dominaria. They continue to protect the innocent and righteous there, in the name of their beloved planeswalker.
The old man finishes his short lesson and starts toward the door.
You are more than welcome to remain here and study the texts, but you will have to find your own way out.
The old man laughs, a sound that comes out as a wheeze between hiccups.
You hurry to follow.