Who’s Who in Khans of Tarkir
Magic’s story is in a weird transition phase right now. This is the first block where none of the story will be told via books (e-book or otherwise), and entirely via the weekly Uncharted Realms story. To that end, Wizards is trying to put more story highlights onto the cards to help. Not as much as during the Weatherlight Saga, when every possible thing short of Gerrard making a ham sandwich showed up on a card, but somewhere in a happy middle.
To that end, I thought I would help point out some of the more noteworthy people on Tarkir and why you should care about them. I’m not going to be listing every named character in Tarkir, because while some of them have shaped the setting, but have very little direct impact on Khans of Tarkir’s block story.
The hero of our story. Sarkhan Vol was born into the Mardu Horde, but never really felt at home there. He revered the extinct dragons of Tarkir, but the Horde saw them as objects of ridicule; “We’re alive and they’re dead, how great could they be” and the like. This never really sat well with Sarkhan, who left the Mardu on a journey of self-discovery. He eventually found kindred spirits among the Temur Frontier, who revered the ferocity of the dragon. They believed the dragon to be the pinnacle of life, powerful beasts beholden to no one but themselves.
While Sarkhan ultimately agreed with their philosophy, he found that they were ultimately chasing ghosts; worshipping the memory of a long-dead thing. He resigned himself to his miserable fate and returned to the Mardu, where he rose through the ranks as a soldier and powerful mage.
Before one particular battle, he meditated; a skill he picked up from the Temur, to ease his tortured psyche. This time, he was touched by the spirit of a long dead dragon, who deemed him worthy and taught him long-forgotten dragon magic. This experience overwhelmed Sarkhan, who in a trancelike state and immolated the battlefield, friend and foe alike. He ascended into a Planeswalker and left .
While away, he found a dragon powerful enough to be worthy of veneration, Nicol Bolas. But Bolas did not act like how Sarkhan thought a dragon should. He drove himself mad with uncertainty and began hearing voices. He became convinced the voice was that of Ugin, another ancient dragon Planeswalker. Ugin’s voice bid him to return to Tarkir, to right a great wrong that had been committed.
Sarkhan returns home, coming into conflict with Zurgo Helmsmasher, who believes him a traitor, but eventually finds his way to the the corpse of Ugin. Ugin was slain a thousand years ago in a battle with Nicol Bolas, but his bones remain an object of great magical importance, and it is here where is story will continue in Fate Reforged.
Zurgo Helmsmasher is the current Khan of the Mardu Horde, where he leads them into their glorious never-ending battle of self-sustainment in accordance with the Edicts of Ilagra. He was present at the battle where Sarkhan ascended, and his point of view is different than Sarkhans. What he witnessed was a mage gone mad, slaying ally and enemy alike and consuming himself in his own Magic. A fate deserving to a traitor.
In the time since then, he rose through the ranks to become the Khan, and was most displeased when he learned that Sarkhan survived the experience. He hopes to track down Sarkhan, and exact a fitting punishment on the treacherous mage.
Chianul, Who Whispers Twice
The Dragonclaw is the title bestowed upon the military leader of the Temur, the one who is most powerful and most capable in leading the temur into defending their existence and continued way of life. The One Who Whispers Twice is the Dragonclaw’s spiritual counterpart, the one who leads and advices the Temur on all matters relating to their culture and spirituality. The current One Who Whispers Twice is an fifty year old mage named Chianul.
Chianul has been the One Who Whispers Twice for some time, predating Surrak gaining the title of Dragonclaw. He met Sarkhan in his youth, and taught him much in the realms of spirituality and of the Temur way of life. Chianul is a gifted seer, and has visions of an alternate present where the dragons of Tarkir are still alive. He belives that the return of Sarkhan Vol, thought dead, is a sign of great importance.
He believes it is his duty to lead Sarkhan on a spiritual journey to a point on Tarkir to repair the broken world.
Millenia ago, the vampire Planeswalker Sorin Markov assisted Ugin in a matter of multiversal importance. The two of them, along with the Lithomancer Nahiri, sealed away the Eldrazi titans. The Eldrazi are beings of the aether, naturally existing in the void between planes, the Blind Eternities. From their the ravage planes, draining them of all life and moving onto the next. The three of them managed to seal away the Eldrazi on Nahiri’s home plane of Zendikar.
They agreed to meet up once more several thousand years later. Only Sorin showed up, and between the weakening of their seal and outside interference from the natives, the Eldrazi broke free and laid waste to Zendikar. Sorin returned to Tarkir, Ugin’s homeworld, hoping to find out why he did not appear on Zendikar at the appointed time.
What he found was his worst fears, that Ugin had been killed. Sorin is now beside himself with grief, Ugin was one of the most powerful and learned Planeswalkers to exist. He fears that with Ugin gone, no one experienced enough (and willing enough) exists to help him deal with the Eldrazi menace.