Grixis is the shard of Alara without white or green mana. Without the colors of life, Grixis has atrophied to a decaying world caught in a downward spiral of parasitism. A sick, deathly world where the soil can be made of rotting flesh, ever under a stormy sky, everything about this world is somehow ‘wrong’. The sea, the land, the very air is choked with the stench of death, and living things are few and far between. Death reigns here, and Grixis has some of the most populous amounts of undead anywhere in the multiverse. Necromancers and demon lords and vampire nobles vie for power here, sucking what little sustenance there is to be had from one another while the average folk hide themselves away in fortifications not ever knowing if they’ll live to see the next day.
The Downward Spiral
The vast majority of beings that call Grixis home are either some manner of undead, or beings like demons and horrors that are neither alive nor dead. The few truly living beings that populate the world of Grixis are referred to as ‘vitals’ by the sentient undead, and are prized as a commodity by those who hold power on Grixis. The nature of Grixis is that of entropy; it was rather unique among the planes in the multiverse in that it was dying. The lifeforce, or ‘vis’, of the living beings on the plane helps offset and slow the process, and so necromancers and demons are on the constant hunt for the scant few holdouts of living communities to fuel their own lives and magics.
Before the Sundering, the land of Grixis was the home of the prosperous Empire of Vithia. When the Sundering split Alara, the mages of Vithia found themselves cut off from the green and white mana they used to fight off the forces of evil. The world came under the thrall of the wicked, and Vithia soon followed. The last free king of Vithia, a man name Sedris, saw no way out. He sold out his kingdom to demon lords in exchange for the immortality of lichdom. It is from the treacherous act that Grixis gained its name, the Vithian word for “traitor”.
One of the most frightful things to ever emerge from the lands of Grixis is the zombie warlord, Thraximundar. A violent force of destruction, Thraximundar is less a person and more a disaster, wandering from place to place, slaughtering all he meets. When the Conflux occurred, he was carefully aimed by the dragon Nicol Bolas towards specific populations to help sow the seeds of paranoia and war, a job he relished. Despite this, he holds allegiance to no one but his own madness, telling, as his name means “he who paints the earth red”.
The most wicked thing ever born of Alara, Malfegor was said to been brought forth when a demon raped a dragon. Malfegor was one of the few things left alive at the time of the Conflux that remembered Alara from before the Conflux. Malfegor is the most ancient foe to all decency on Alara. His quarrels with the archangel Asha is one of the more popular theories as to how the Sundering occurred in the first place. And while the people of Bant believed him to have been slain by their champion, the people of Grixis learned that he survived the hard way, when he used his power and influence to carve out a niche for himself larger than most. Under the guidance of Nicol Bolas, Malfegor gathered an army of the damned in preparation for war against the other shards, in exchange for the promise that he would once again be able to bring his wrath to soils beyond Grixis. In this duty he excelled, and his actions did lead to Nicol Bolas regaining much of the power he sought, but he was ultimately slain in the early days of the war by Rafiq of the Many aided by Elspeth-Tirel.
Nicol Bolas, quite possibly the oldest thing left alive anywhere, and the most powerful being to ever live anywhere, is a 25,000 year old Elder Dragon Planeswalker. The power of an Elder Dragon given a spark is beyond imagining, and for a time, Bolas lived as no one else could imagine, with the closest thing to absolute power that will ever exist. The Mending rewrote the nature of the Planeswalker’s spark, and Nicol Bolas was suddenly rendered very much mortal and with a very real limit to his power, and he did not care for it.
In his search for a way to regain his power, he came across the sundered world of Alara, and saw an opportunity. He knew it was only a matter of time before the worlds were rejoined, and anticipated that there would be a reaction of this rejoining; a Maelstrom of tremendous mana that he could harness to undo some of the damage done by the Mending. He made his home on Grixis, whose mana matched his own in color and intent, and traveled the shards planting the seeds of war, hoping to drive the people of Alara into a xenophobic frenzy at the sight of their new neighbors, whose spellcraft would fuel the Maelstrom.
He ultimately succeeded, and encountering surprising resistance from Ajani Goldmane’s avatar magic, decided Alara wasn’t worth the trouble and left shortly thereafter.
Grixis after the Conflux
Of all the shards, Grixis is easily the one most grateful for the shard occurring. To the normal people of Grixis, the Conflux represented hope in a way they had never known. There was soil beyond the horizon that wasn’t forever blighted with death and decay; they could live their lives without fear of horrors beyond imagining claiming them at any moment. No one in their right mind stayed behind, and overwhelming majority of living things left Grixis seeking asylum and a better life on one of the other former-shards.
To the monsters of Grixis, the Conflux representing a whole new world of prey. Too long had they been forced to drink life from a lifeless world, the Confux brought them whole worlds of new people, full of more life than they could calculate, to use and abuse to their own ends. Of note among these, was the series of massacres that fueled the ritual that birthed Nefarox, the new Overlord of Grixis in the absence of Nicol Bolas and Malfegor.