Welcome to the second season in Magic Untapped's "Who Is..." series.
In this ten-part series, we explore the origins of the dragon who would become one of Magic: The Gathering's greatest antagonists, Nicol Bolas. In this eighth episode, Nicol Bolas executes schemes on both Zendikar and Kaladesh with varying results.
Enjoy the show.
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Welcome back to “Who Is” on Magic Untapped as we highlight Magic: The Gathering’s iconic draconic planeswalker, Nicol Bolas. I’m Barry White.
Bolas’ agent, Tezzeret, has assumed control of a powerful artifact with which non-planeswalkers can venture from plane to plane, and the Gatewatch – the group of Planeswalkers who have banded together essentially to fight evil – have discovered that Bolas’ base of command is the plane of Amonkhet.
But beware, for the hour of devastation looms...
The Gatewatch, now aware of his whereabouts, travel as a group to the plane of Amonkhet to take him on once and for all. Unbeknownst to them, Amonkhet is the very location that, generations before, the scheming planeswalker Nicol Bolas had reshaped with himself as the central figure in their mythology.
Not too long after the Gatewatch’s arrival, Bolas returns. In the time since his previous departure from the land, the plane had nearly brought itself to ruin with myriad peoples dead, having been found “worthy” and given an unnatural eternal unlife as members of Bolas’ eternal army. Even the plane’s old gods, since reduced to mere puppets doing the dragon’s will, have perished (save for one).
Bolas’ schemes now all almost running themselves, the dragon is able to pay the group the attention they’re due.
After some time on the plane – some of which was spent hunting down and slaying one of the demons with which Liliana Vess is under contract – the Gatewatch finally do encounter their draconic foe. Each planeswaker attack Bolas in their own way with Chandra Nalaar using her skills as a pyromancer, Gideon Jura relying on his strength and invulnerability, Nissa Revane using the power of nature, Jace using his telepathic skills, and Vess raising an army of zombies to do her fighting for her. They are no match for Nicol Bolas.
Condescendingly, Amonkhet’s God-Pharaoh easily handles the group, neutralizing Jura and nearly dispatching Revane and Nalaar. He allows Beleren to enter his mind, only to crush his own mind instead, sending the telepath fleeing the plane. To Vess, for whom many years ago he had brokered a demonic pact to her benefit, he offers an opportunity to retreat and study her powerful artifact, the Chain Veil, under his guidance. She gladly accepts and flees home to Dominaria.
While on Dominaria, Vess (with the help of a very understanding Jura), destroys the final of the four demons holding her contract. Her friends then depart from the plane and Vess tries to follow, only to discover she cannot. Bolas then materializes and informs her that in slaying the four demons with whom she had been contracted, the contract defaults to the broker – Bolas himself – whom essentially tells her to obey or die. Now bound to the dragon, Vess follows Bolas off of Dominaria to unwillingly do his bidding.
As for Beleren, when he planeswalked away from the battle against Bolas in Amonkhet, he arrived dazed and confused on the plane of Ixalan. There, the telepath is greeted by Vraska, a gorgon planeswalker from Ravnica.
Bolas had previously sent her to the plane in search of an ancient artifact called the Immortal Sun – the very same artifact that his twin brother, Ugin, and Ravnican planeswalker Azor had hoped to use centuries ago to trap the draconic planeswalker when he was first rising to power. The artifact has no effect on planeswalkers who enter the plane on which it resides, but it prohibits them from ever planeswalking away, thus trapping them forever on the plane.
She eventually locates it and alerts Tezzeret, who arrives and uses his stolen Planar Bridge to spirit the device away. After all, Bolas has plans for the device on Ravnica.
So now we have Nicol Bolas with a team of planeswalker allies, an army of the eternal undead, a planar bridge to allow for travel between the planes, and an artifact designed to trap planeswalkers? That can’t be good.
Join us next time on “Who Is” on Magic Untapped as we see how this all goes down in what’s known as War of the Spark.
I’m Barry White. Thanks for watching.