Theros Beyond Death: Chapter 1 | TokensForMTG: Best custom tokens for your game!

Theros Beyond Death: Chapter 1

6. 2. 2020

Dear friends, today we launch an exclusive series that you find only on TokensforMTG.com. In the weeks to follow, you could read the Theros Beyond Death story here. Or, to be more precise, its version coming from the heads of our affiliated MTG-blog authors, Jan Charvát and Jan Adam. Because, save for some crude outlines, we got nothing from Wizards.

blog image


Foreword

In case you ask – yes, it seems completely silly. A return to Theros, an inevitable follow up and possible conclusion to poor Elspeth’s story, taking place on a literal world of myths and epic hero  stories, the story almost writing itself  - about the heroine escaping from the Underworld to face  her once patron, later murderer, a selfish and perfidious self-proclaimed king of the Theros gods, Heliod , to have a reckoning – does not have an official story???? To understand this absurdity, you have to look more broadly.

In the last two years, we have seen a dutiful and caring approach to Magic story. The Wizards gave us and excellent Jace and Vraska focused story of Ixalan, purely by the Creative team. Short stories from Dominaria followed, written by professional Martha Wells. Amazinc Chronicles of Bolas by Kate Elliott, and great worldbuilding stories by Nicky Drayden.  The first clouds showed themselves with War of the Spark, though. The book by Greg Weisman began “in the middle of things” and many people found it lacking. The prequel stories by Django Wexler (covering the gap)  were published after the book came out, but compensated that by their great quality. Throne of Eldraine brought another unpleasant surprise – there was just an e-book, nothing free. Kate Elliott, however, did a great job again and the story of Garruk,  the royal twins and the mischievous fey Oko was again amazing.

But then the second part of War of the Spark came – WotS:Forsaken. I’m not gonna go into details today here,  I just say that if the first part caused disappointment in the community, the second one outright an outrage.  It was not so much about the quality of writing itself (though the fact that Weisman is primarily a screenwriter played significant role here), but, above all, about not quite a few controversial decisions how some characters were handled (regarding their character growth, representation etc.) and what directions had some storylines taken (sometimes going against or outright nullifying long-built developments).  And to insult to the injury, shortly after Wizards announced that there will be no official Theros Beyond Death story, just the one “told on cards”. That was another heavy blow for the story fans, and they let Wizards know their opinions on the social media. In response, Wizards made at least the expanded story comments to some cards and after the set was out, also a short, crude summary of what (should have) happened in the story. But even in this short summary they managed to anger people by controversial statements, and everything erupted again…

It was at the end of January, when Mark Rosewater gave us a clear answer. The negative backlash of the community was so strong that Wizards decided (according to Franchise Team boss Jeremy Jarvis) to delay publishing more stories until they thoroughly analyze what went wrong, to avoid it in the future. That however meant they were going to miss the publication window for Theros. The next set, Ikoria, will have an e-book again, and e-book should be a future standard story output. The Theros stories will be published in the future in a yet unspecified form.

But before that happens, we decided to take things into our own hands. Both our authors are experienced translators, familiar with Magic and its stories. And when Wizards  gave us just crumbs, why not to draw from the experience and use them to build own strory, based on the official outlines and own invention? Whether and how they succeeded – you can find for yourself in weeks to come. Enjoy!

 

 


 

 

 
"Tell me, O Muse, of the God of Sun, who every day from the sky observes us,

whose wrath befell the prideful Olantin and let it sink into the sea.

But hard times now have struck the brightful God, and his own pride is cause of it.

For he alone has killed his own Champion, his daughter e'er obedient,

fearing she would be to his own power threat. A Fool!

By doing this his fate was sealed by Klothys, God of Destiny,

Eternal Guardian of Titans — those dared to claim to be god-like.

Now the Weaver-Goddess expels him from Nyx and into Underworld, where about utmost punishment will decide.

All these things, pray thou, daughter of starlit Nyx, tell unto us."

 

 

 

Prologue

 

Ages ago, in times even the gods have forgotten, there wasn't anything in Nyx. While the seas and lands of Theros, plants and animals, sun and moon, everything was as we know it today, the night sky was starlit, but plain, without brightful colors. The Nyx existed only as a transparent envelope of the plane of Theros.

At those times, the people still were more animal-like. They didn't cultivate fields, although the soil was fertile, they didn't breed sheep or goats, although the land was full of livestock. They didn't build cities and didn't revere gods, because there weren't any. But even in those days, the metaphysics of Theros was as we know it: the thoughts and emotions can manifest in Nyx. And so began the existence of Titans, beings created not from thoughts, but from primitive emotions — hunger, fear, anger, or pain. Being very strong, but short-lived, emotions created Titans in a similar way. They were powerful, but without influence outside of Nyx.

During generations, people became more developed, they began to use tools, create first tribes, and settle to places suitable for comfortable life. Also in their minds the more abstract thoughts emerged, and from these thoughts the Gods were created. And it were the Gods, who gave the Nyx its colorful essence, thanks to their own abstract nature.

We do not know how exactly all of this happened (and Meletian philosophers are arguing about it to this day) but general opinion is that Kruphix, God of Horizons, was the first one created, when people first asked themselves "I wonder...". Later on, other gods appeared, according to people's specific thoughts. When the first copper veins were found in the mountains, Purphoros, God of the Forge, was born. When fishermen first put their primitive carved boats to the sea, Thassa emerged. Nylea was also one of the first, when people started to hunt. Klothys, God of Destiny, was born from their thoughts about the future and the past, and Erebos was born, together with all of the Underworld, when the people realized the inevitability of death. And from the reverence for the sun and its nurturing rays, Heliod raised his Khrusor for the first time.

So it was that in those times, both Titans and Gods were present in Nyx. But unlike the Gods, Titans were still animal-like, like the emotions that created them, and Gods were bothered by them. They cannot destroy them utterly, because the primal emotions were and will be still present in the world. Instead they tried to overpower them and were successful. They banished them out of Nyx and into the physical world of Theros. At that time even the Gods didn't know the metaphysics of the plane, and thought they get rid of the Titans for good, but they were horribly mistaken. The Titans were powerful in Nyx, but in physical realm they were invincible, and quickly began to sow chaos.

When the fields and villages of people were devastated, they raised their faces to the starlit Nyx, to the Gods they saw there, and began to pray for help. Eventually Kruphix, the wisest of Gods, realized the fundamental truth about the nature of Theros and Nyx, and the relation between Gods, Titans, and people's emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. He explained that to his brothers and sisters and persuaded them of the necessity to help. So the Gods descended from Nyx to Theros and began to fight Titans. Having known they cannot destroy them, they banished them into the Underworld. There, from the plane's hottest heart, Purphoros himself forged mighty chains and bound the defeated Titans. And Klothys, God of Destiny, volunteeredherself as their keeper, hopefully for all eternity. In those days the Gods decided to help mortals, and started to rebuild the ravaged plane. And so the Golden Age began, when people have learned the benefaction of civilization, and in return they supported the Gods with their devotion and faith, and the Golden Age remains to this day.

And the Titans are bound and imprisoned, also to this day, in the Underworld, for should they escape, they will ravage the plane of Theros once again.

 

 

CHAPTER I: Elspeth

 

Heliod looked almost human, with his dark hair and piercing eyes, but he was encircled by an aura of brilliance that made it hard to gaze upon him.

"My champion," he said. "Give me my blade."

The Godsend flew from her hand even though she tried desperately to keep hold of it. She was weary, so terribly weary she almost couldn't sense anything.

"I cannot permit you to live," Heliod said. "You are too much like the satyr. Your eyes have seen things I can't fathom. And a champion cannot know more than her god. I am lord of the pantheon. I am the greatest of these!"

Heliod's light flared even more and blinded Elspeth, so she cannot see him striking her. At the Godsend tore into her flesh, terrible pain struck her whole body, and not only body, but also the soul. The pain was ravaging, searing, mutilating. The Godsend was destroyed in the very moment of strike, broke in half and lost its divinity, but the pain remains, it was growing stronger and stronger...

Elspeth woke in the middle of the night, dripping with sweat. This nightmare was pursuing her night after night, and Elspeth cannot understand why. She clearly remember this dreadful moment, and also all that followed. The quick journey from Nykthos to the physical realm of Theros, Ajani's desperate face, and her journey to the Underworld, where Erebos, God of the Dead greeted her and sent her to Ilysium, underworld realm that was build as an accurate copy of Theros. Almost accurate. The life here was meant to be a reward for previous heroic life, meant to be similar to mortal life, but without the burden of any sorrow and suffering. Which indeed applied to others, but not for Elspeth. After a brief reflection, Elspeth fell asleep again.

So it went... day after day, night after night. The nightmares persisted, most often about her death, but sometimes they were different. There was the one about her killing Daxos, believing he is a Phyrexian monster, and also the oldest one, about her childhood on her home plane, ravaged by Phyrexians, where she was imprisoned and forced to watch how her people were tormented and murdered.

However, the daily life in Ilysium was quite like the normal, mortal life, and Elspeth became accustomed to it. Even better was that here, in the Underworld, there was no hunger, cold, or pain. The whole countryside was in perpetual spring. The meadows and cypress groves were blooming and full of alseids, and forests, mountains, and rivers were buzzing with wildlife. There weren't any cities though, not even villages, but Elspeth was not alone. There was a lot of other people, human, sphinxes, centaurs, satyrs, tritons, even minotaurs. All of them remembered everything good from their previous lives, and their bad and painful memories were slowly becoming pale, until they would disappear. But again, all of this didn't apply to Elspeth.

***

Heliod looked almost human, with his dark hair, piercing eyes, and blazing Khrusor in his hand, but he was encircled by an aura of brilliance that made it hard to gaze upon him.

"My champion," he said. "Give me my blade."

The Godsend flew from her hand even though she tried desperately to keep hold of it. She was weary, so terribly weary she almost couldn't sense anything.

"I cannot permit you to live," Heliod said. "You are too much like the satyr. Your eyes have seen things I can't fathom. And a champion cannot know more than her god. I am lord of the pantheon. I am the greatest of these!"

The light from Khrusor flared even more and blinded Elspeth...

Elspeth woke in the middle of the night, dripping with sweat. This nightmare... wait, something was different. Never before there was Heliod holding Khrusor, he every time just take the Godsend from her...

***

The nightmares kept returning. Sometimes the two other ones, but the third one prevailed. And every time it changed a little bit. Every time, a new detail emerged. And every time, although it seemed impossible, the dream became more tangible. Over time Elspeth started to hear surrounding sounds, smell, and even the heat from Khrusor.

She couldn't grasp it, until she had met Kyra, a sphinx and a philosopher, who still remained curious about everything, even here in the Underworld. When Elspeth told her about her nightmares, she said:

"Dreams can be a peculiar thing, Elspeth. They are one of the oldest things that people know, and many sages and philosophers were thoroughly studying them, but even to this day, the dreams are able to surprise us again and again. Philosophers argued for generations about the meaning of dreams and their proper interpretation, but I always thought that it does not matter at all. There is no such thing as 'proper interpretation' of a dream, but you certainly should thing about them, and more importantly, thing within them. When you are sleeping, you are free of your physical body, which could help you to get a different point of view."

Elspeth followed her advice and tried. The nightmare were more and more detailed, and more tangible. Even her weariness, while still present, was somehow lesser. It was as if the dream itself encouraged her to defy Heliod, to change the result. Elspeth tried many times. She tried to run away, but she cannot move. She managed to keep holding Godsend...

***

Heliod looked almost human, with his dark hair, piercing eyes, and blazing Khrusor in his hand, but he was encircled by an aura of brilliance that made it hard to gaze upon him.

"My champion," he said. "Give me my blade."

Elspeth got hold of the Godsend with both hands and tried to not let it fall. Heliod scowled, drove the Khrusor into the floor, grasped Godsend with both hands and brutally wrenched it from her.

"I cannot permit you to live," Heliod said. "You are too much like the satyr. Your eyes have seen things I can't fathom. And a champion cannot know more than her god. I am lord of the pantheon. I am the greatest of these!"

The light from Khrusor flared even more, and Elspeth raised both hands to defend herself against the expected stab. Suddenly she felt her hands touching something solid and blindly grasped it...

 

Elspeth woke in the middle of the night, dripping with sweat. After a moment she realized she is still holding something. When she  looked down in astonishment, she spotted a long handle of a spear, black as a moonless night, but also surrounded by darkness, which were slowly dripping or evaporating from it. The spear looked familiar, and it took another moment for her to realize why.

Except for the ceaseless darkness surrounding it, the spear was indistinguishable from Heliod's Khrusor.

 

to CHAPTER II: Ashiok

 

This fan-fictionis unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

New at store

Squirrel MTG token 1/1

NEW

1.99 $

+ -
Thopter MTG token 1/1

NEW

1.99 $

+ -
Vampire MTG token 1/1

NEW

1.99 $

+ -
ALL 166 NEW PRODUCTS

Previous blog posts

Previous post main image

Become an ambassador and get rewards!

5. 2. 2020

Are you a fan of us and are our tokens an essential part of your games? Help us to…

Find out more