This week’s Planeswalker Profile features
Liliana Vess is a powerful deathmage specializing in necromancy. Though she looks like a young woman, she is well into her hundreds, having bartered dark deals to extend her life beyond her natural lifespan. She is a well-traveled woman who has seen it all and done it all. Ambitious and self-centered to a fault, her multiple lifetimes of experiences have left her somewhat jaded and convinced that everyone is playing a game, looking out for number one. She aims to be the best player.
The daughter of a local general, Liliana grew up knowing the finer things in life, alongside her beloved brother Josu. She gained a reputation as the town flirt and lived her life by her whims and fancies, not caring what others thought of her. As a young woman, her brother was stricken with a magical affliction brought upon him by one of their father’s political enemies. Her caretaker asked of her to go into the woods and seek out an herbal remedy to the corruption.
Within the woods, she met a strange man who claimed to be a potent healer and supporter of her father. He claimed that the herb she sought had been razed to the ground by her father’s enemies. He gave her a curative of his own, one he said was as potent as the one that was lost, but warned that Lili’s caretaker would object to its use. He vanished into a murder of crows, and Lili made her way home. Lili gave Josu the cure, which did indeed ward off the poison to his body, but at the cost of poisoning his mind. She had been tricked by this “Raven Man”.
Some unknown time later, and to unknown circumstances, Liliana ascended. She lived for a time as a god. All-powerful, ageless, the entire multiverse at her fingertips. But it was not to last. A series of events taken by Planeswalkers on the plane of Dominaria known as the mending prevented the destruction of the multiverse, but rewrote the “rules” of being a Planeswalker in the process. They were no longer immortal, no longer all-powerful, no longer gods. Liliana was rendered mortal once more, and she was scared.
Her youth withered away, her infinite capacity for spell craft began to atrophy, Liliana was desperate not to die such a pitiful death. Though she was no longer all-powerful, she was still a well-read mage and Planeswalker. Using what power remained to her, she sought out a demon, and made a deal with it for power and youth. And then another. And another. And another. Once more she was young, but at the cost of being indebted to four wretched creatures.
She wandered the planes for a time, doing as she pleased, but frequently reigned in by her masters to perform dirty deeds. It was a precarious balance, she had her freedom but was ever reminded that she was on a leash. She was quick to put her talents to good use. On the plane of Ravnica, for example, she did “work” for the Infinite Consortium. When one of their agents,
The two lived life on the run with Jace’s close friend Kallist, but she knew that the Consortium would never let them be, knowing what they knew. She was quick to remind them of this fact. Somehow, their agents tracked Jace down in the impossibly large city, and the near death experience was all that Jace needed to decide to wage war against the Consortium’s leader, Tezzeret, directly.
This however was a ruse. She had been commissioned by the Consortium’s original leader, Nicol Bolas, to have Tezzeret torn from his throne and supplanted with someone that he could command, either herself or Jace under her guidance. In exchange, Bolas would help her with her demon problem. Jace managed to discover her secret, and left Tezzeret for dead, destroying all of his knowledge that would allow them to command the multiplanar organization with him. He left her, angry at her deception, but pitying her for being enslaved. With Tezzeret gone, and the secrets to the organization’s control with it, Liliana had nothing to barter with Bolas. She would have to find another thing to leverage against the demons.
Sometime later, she was tasked by her master Kothophed on the plane of Shandalar. She was to retrieve a relic known as the Chain Veil from the tomb of an extinct troll civilization known as the Onakke. On her way to the tomb, she slew a monster that assailed her, not knowing it to be a hunting aid to the druid
As Liliana made use of the Veil, she grew to realize the depths of its power, and thought to herself that it might be power enough to tip the scales in her favor against her demon masters. She met with Kothophed and, aided by the veil, destroyed him. She then collapsed, overcome with pain, as her runic scars began to ooze blood. In the aftermath, this pain never subsided. She returned to Shandalar, and dug up and reanimated the corpse of a scholar who was said to know a great deal about the Onakke. Unfortunately, she was caught in the act, and the locals didn’t care much for grave robbing so they chased after her. She and the no-longer-dead-man were cornered in a church. He was of no help, speaking in cryptic riddles, and eventually revealed himself to be the Raven Man that had deceived her all those years ago. Though he tended to her wounds, she would not allowed herself to be aided by this mysterious, treacherous foe. She destroyed the vessel he inhabited, wondering about the exact nature of the Raven Man, and walked away.
She next arrived on the plane of Innistrad, the home of her second master, Griselbrand. Though, no matter where she looked, she could find no trace of the monster. Garruk, however, was having more luck, having finally caught up with her. He cornered her in Nephalia, and for a moment seemed to have the upper hand. Unfortunately for him, his curse began acting up giving Liliana enough time to summon a swarm of the undead to aid in her escape.
Eventually she found a lead; a priest playing for both sides, a demonic cultist who had infiltrated the Church of Avacyn. She learns from him that there is only one who would know of Griselbrand’s whereabouts and that he is recently dead; Mikaeus, the Lunarch. She made her way to Thraben and infiltrated the tomb where he was buried. She reanimated his body and questioned him about the details. She learned from Mikaeus that about a year ago, Griselbrand had landed upon the Helvault and challenged Avacyn to a duel. They fought for a week, finally managing to injure one another. They could not be destroyed, but instead were sealed inside the Helvault.
Not wasting any time, she went to the Helvault, zombies in tow, and found it protected by the city’s guardian, the Knight-Cathar Thalia, and her soldiers. Though she knew no Magic to destroy the Helvault, Liliana knew she could give Thalia the choice to do it for her. She gave Thalia an ultimatum: The Helvault, or her men. She chose her men, and the Helvault was broken. All sealed within were freed, including Avacyn and Griselbrand. She tracked Griselbrand down to the hellhole he fled to, and aided by the Veil, destroyed him.
…Two down. Two to go…
To find out more about Liliana, you can check her out in the Planeswalker webcomics, and the novels Agents of Artifice and Test of Metal. To see her in action you can find her in packs of Lorwyn, Magic 2010, Magic 2011, Innistrad, and Magic 2013.