Part two in our series of Planeswalkers continues with Chandra Nalaar.
This is Chandra Nalaar. She is a strongly assertive woman and one of the original ‘Lorwyn 5’ to usher in the new Planeswalker card type. She is a powerful pyromancer who uses her intense flames to assert herself and pick fights when need be. She has problems with authority and has made a reputation for herself as a troublemaker on several planes. She was born into a modest family on an as-of-yet unknown plane. Her mother was strict and her father was gentle. She didn’t get along with her two sisters but adored her elder brother who unfortunately died in a war. Even in her youth, she was fiercely independent and a powerful fire mage, both qualities that frightened her parents in no small part because a local peacekeeping organization had outlawed the unauthorized use of pyromancy.
Seeking to tame her wild streak, her parents entered into an arranged marriage with a local boy. Outraged at learning this, she set a large fire in her village and ran into the nearby hills. After taking some time to cool her head, she returned to the village to find it under siege by a local police force. Not believing that the damage done had been orchestrated by a single person, much less a young girl, they thought the village to be harboring illegal pyromancers. They rounded the villagers up and sealed them inside a burning hut as punishment for their insolence. Chandra fought back, but to no avail. The villagers all died and she was overwhelmed by the soldiers. They planned an impromptu execution, but at the last second she was saved by the ignition of her spark.
After wandering for some time, she found a monastery called Keral Keep on the plane of Regatha. The monastery was founded by the infamous planeswalking task mage, Jaya Ballard, as a safe haven and school for pyromancers and Chandra quickly made herself at home. As a way of re-thanking them, Chandra would use her planeswalking abilities to gather artifacts related to pyromancy for the monks at the keep to study. During one such mission, she stole one such artifact known as the Dragon Scroll from the plane Kephalai. She was able to escape the guards, but the keepers of the scroll hired the Planeswalker telepath Jace Beleren to track her down and retake the scroll. He found her on Regatha and they fought. Jace was eventually able to gain the upper hand with his powerful illusions and defeated Chandra, retaking the scroll and wiping her memory clear of its contents. Little did he know that the monks at the keep had already begun to make copies.
Shortly after that, trouble began to brew on Regatha when a local peacekeeping organization, the Order of Heliud, began placing heaving restrictions on unauthorized magic. These laws would outlaw the pyromancy practiced in Keral Keep and beast summoning commonly used by the inhabitants of the nearby Western Wood. The native elves sent a liaison, Samir, to consult with the leaders of Keral Keep. During one such meeting with Samir, Chandra attempted to destroy a shadowy ghostlike creature used as scouts by the Order; accidentally setting fire to a large part of the wood and attacking several Order soldiers in the process. Because of the unwanted attention this attracted, Mother Luti, the head of the Keral Keep mages, suggested that Chandra lay low for a while. Luti sent Chandra to retrieve the Dragon Scroll a second time since the monks studying the scroll believed that the original scroll might have some special uniqueness to it that the copies lacked.
She returned, but fell into a trap set by the scroll’s keepers. She destroyed the facility it was kept in, but was eventually tracked down and incarcerated by the soldier-mage Gideon Jura. She was able to escape from the Kephalai prison and wound up on the cursed plane Diraden. Gideon followed her, revealing himself to be a Planeswalker. They eventually came to rely on one another as their Magic did not work on Diraden as a condition of curse held over the plane. They confided in one another their hopes and dreams, and told of each other’s backgrounds. Gideon even told Chandra that he learned that the scroll she stole was originally from the mysterious plane Zendikar. They were captured by the plane’s ruler, the wicked Prince Velrav. Believing that he could gain the ability to Planeswalk by siphoning Gideon’s lifeforce, he began preperations to ritualistically sacrifice Gideon. However with help from Velrav’s imprisoned father, the king and rightful ruler, they were able to kill Velrav and break the curse, and return to Regatha.
They learned that in their absence, the Order had tightened its control over the plane and Chandra was shocked to learn that Gideon had actually been hired by the Order to track her down in exchange for access to a powerful fountain of white mana on the plane, the Purifying Fire. The Order gave Keral Keep an ultimatum; they would lay siege to the Keep unless they handed over Chandra. Knowing that the inhabitants of the Keep, valuing the ideal of freedom over all else, would never hand her over she chose to surrender rather than let them all die.
She met with the Order’s leader, a man name Walbert, who revealed that he did not plan to execute her. Rather, she would be offered to the Purifying Fire which would see the wickedness in her heart and strip her of all her magical abilities, to act as an example to all of those on Regatha not to cross the Order. Gideon, not knowing of Walbert’s sinister plans, researched the flame and told Chandra that those with a ‘clean soul’ would be spared its wrath. She confessed to him of her background and how she felt responsible for the deaths of everyone in her village.
That evening, when Chandra was to be fed to the fire, she realized that it was not destroying her Magic. Confessing to Gideon had left her with a clean conscience, and she saw an opportunity. She used the power of the flame to augment her own and destroyed the building the flame was kept in, killing Walbert and many others in its collapse. When she came to, she found Gideon, furious at her for her actions. She told him that the group that killed her village were an group of lawmages who valued order above all else, and reasoned that it was only a matter of time before the Order on Regatha overstepped its bounds and started murdering people that did not fall in line. She was not sorry for her actions and told him that she planned to go to Zendikar, to discover the origins of the Dragon Scroll.
On Zendikar Chandra was eventually able to learn that a vampire archaeologist named Anowon, the Ruin Sage was her best bet at learning the origins of the ancient Dragon Scroll. Eventually she was able to track Anowon down, and after tense negotiations, he agreed to be her guide. Anowon was a treacherous man however. Angered that a petulant child with no respect for the lore of the world, he attacked Chandra in her sleep, and attempted to kill her. She tried to fight him off, but her Magic failed her due to a peculiarity of Zendikar’s mana, known locally as the Roil. All seemed lost to Chandra, when suddenly Anowon was struck down by the mysterious shaman Sarkhan Vol.
Sarkhan had been sent by his master to guard the Eye of Ugin, the location that Chandra sought. In his madness, he thought that a pyromancer might be an appropriate offering to sacrifice to the patron of the eye, the spirit dragon Ugin. He agreed to be her guide and escorted her the rest of the way. Upon reaching the eye, Sarkhan revealed his intentions and transformed himself into a dragon to slay Chandra. Her magic was still unreliable, and she was saved by the unexpected arrival ofJace Beleren. His curiosity had sent him after the scroll much like her. He reminded her of some cryptic text from the scroll, and she was able to defeat Sarkhan with the invisible fire Magic that was the signature of Ugin, the author of the Dragon Scroll and the creator of the Eye at which they now fought.
Wary of the unlikely circumstances of them meeting like this, she spared Jace in his weakened state and left, vowing to discover who had set the three of them upon one another in the first place.
To see Chandra in action you can find her in Lorwyn, Magic 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, or Zendikar!