SPOILERS: Read the newest story on MTG’s website “OF HAUNTING SONGS AND WHISPERED WARNINGS” before proceeding.
The very thing that drives any story you have ever read is the very thing that, in life, we pay least attention to.
Being a writer and a DM, I have had to pay precise attention to this little detail. For, contrary to the opinion of most readers and/or watchers of story content, not everything that happens in a story is a simple fabrication at the writer’s whim. In fact, very little of what happens is. Although most think that a writer of a story or a DM of a D&D campaign are the proverbial gods of those worlds, I have found it to be more of truth to call us the custodian of the story itself. But there are some elements that stand astride of the fine line between the two.
Most of the time, once the parameters of a given story are laid out, you find that either by choice or by happenstance everyone in this world/story have a motive. It’s sort of a nature/nurture argument, to be sure. For sometimes, the creation of a concrete motive in a main character can dictate the rest of the story. But, most of the time, it’s the boundaries set from the beginning that lead the motives of each and every character you come in contact with. In fact, if you don’t understand the motive of all characters in a story, how can you possibly continue to flesh out your world with any accuracy.
Writing lesson aside, MOTIVE is what brings us to the latest installment of MTG’s Zendikar Rising lore. Let’s look at the main three players.
Nahiri has lived thousands of years upon the world of Zendikar. She has possibly seen it at its best and has definitely seen it at its worst (AKA Eldrazi invasion). She remembers more things about Zendikar than most all of the other residents combined ever knew. She has a special connection with the history, people and the stone structures that no other has. She would ‘never harm’ Zendikar knowingly, but has a zealous headstrong nature that latches onto an idea and will never let go. AKA can’t admit when she’s wrong. In the current story, she either has knowledge that escapes all others or is operating under a Pollyanna view of the distant past and a misguided view of what the Lithocore will actually do for Zendikar.
MOTIVE: The Restoration of Zendikar as a place of peace and harmony that its residents find easier to navigate and grow in.
Nissa was also born on Zendikar. As an elf, she grew up with an uncanny connection to the elemental nature of this world. After witnessing the core in action, she has first hand knowledge that the core isn’t as pure a choice as savior as Nahiri contends (Exhibit A if it pleases the court).
MOTIVE: Protect the planet itself including its Elementals and the Roil, for this is the natural heart of Zendikar.
Let’s not forget Jace. He’s involved much like Nahiri; out of a guilt for failures in the recent past. But, as where Nahiri is dealing with mistakes made on Zendikar with the Eldrazi, Jace is still mulling over the most powerful menace in MTG right now, AKA Nicol Bolas. Although subdued and trapped for now, much like the Eldrazi, he was not completely dealt with as he is still alive and, therefore, a threat. Yes, deep down Jace is a nice guy, but his head is not in the same place as the other two (ie. Zendikar) and his motives are far from this plane’s well-being.
MOTIVE: Thinking he can procure the core for himself; he sees this as a chance to channel the power of a relic of unimaginable power into the death Nell of Bolas.
Now, it must be said that Jace has tossed his alliance with Nissa in favor of getting closer to the Lithocore and, therefore, Nahiri. He’s shown himself to be in this completely for himself and said above motives. AND both Nissa and Nahiri know this.
It is these three distinct motives that have led us to this place and time.
THE TRICK IS WHO’S RIGHT
Nissa has the best interest of the whole plane of Zendikar built into her motive, so it would be easy to say that she is the hero of the story. And she actually is, but only according to certain peoples and powers. For this brings in the MOTIVES of all of the other people involved. To the Elementals and those connected with them and the ROIL, Nissa would be doing the right thing, because they want to see Zendikar be, well, Zendikar again.
Now, that’s great for the elements, but what does this mean to the plane’s occupants? Now, although it would sound like what’s good for Zendikar would be good for its people, that may not be the case. For Nahiri, it’s the future of the people that matter. Too long have they been at the mercy of the Roil and the Elementals and she sees this as their prime opportunity to free themselves of this bondage and life and prosper once again. A peaceful Zendikar. Is that too much to ask for?
Sounds fair enough, right?
And, yet, we’ve seen the Lithocore expend its power and leave ash and petrified remains in its wake. Nahiri has cast a blind eye to all of this. That is why I think she is operating out of a flawed motive. She remembers a past full of puppies and rainbows. She is unknowingly forgetting any bad things that happened before the Eldrazi. Check the list down below that can be viewed also on MTG’S site in the side info: “Zendikar: Things have changed”
Obviously, Zendikar had more issues than simply the Roil and the Eldrazis. Rebellion, issues with an Archangel, war with the elves, giant sea monsters, the Dragons of Akoum, not to forget the Eldrazi Titan and the Roil itself; makes up quite a laundry list of issues that all center on the ancient, OPPRESSIVE civilization of the KOR.
What is up with this pic anyway?
THIS IS WHERE I HAVE QUESTIONS
When did the Roil take down that skyclave? Did the Roil exist before the coming of the Eldrazi? If so, was the Roils attack upon the skyclave stem from an enmity between them? And was this enmity justified?
Even the write up seen above calls the Kor ‘oppressive’ and ruling with an ‘iron grip’. Obviously, the rest of Zendikar, including the Roil, were not happy about the Kor nor their skyclaves. Tell us, once again, Nahiri how peaceful Zendikar was before the Eldrazi…I’m waiting.
This brings me to a major point. Nahiri says she’s Zendikar’s champion. But it seems that her interest isn’t the plane but the residents and, particularly, the Kor. She remembers a time of glory and dominion that the Kor had and, to her, it was peaceful (Que the Imperial March from Star Wars). Not so much for everybody else. Thus, we find a major flaw in her thinking and, therefore, motive. When she says ‘heal Zendikar, she means heal the Kor Empire. The only problem is that in doing this she may turn all of the plane into ash.
As to how long the Roil has been with Zendikar, during the last story of the Eldrazi and Zendikar there were already Lullmages who were trained in an ANCIENT art of calming the Roil. Ok, why are these necessary if the Roil just showed up? And, better question, how could there be an elaborate and trained priesthood unless the Roil is older than anyone is letting on. No, opinion here, but the Roil has always been with Zendikar and is natural. To subdue or destroy this is to destroy Zendikar. And Nahiri is not the champion of all of Zendikar, just the Kor. Sad.
Jace is the wildcard here. He has the power to topple one or both of the other planeswalkers. He, at least, has the ability to step in with a surprise illusion and take the Lithocore. His motives are flawed too. All he sees is an artifact to play with. Although the end result, in his mind, is the destruction of the greatest evil on the planes, Bolas, it’s still a danger to Zendikar. He has the best chance to do something truly dumb causing the plane and its people much harm. But, if he’s able to steal the Lithocore and get it offplane, it may be the best thing for Zendikar seeing that it isn’t a natural part of it. But, if you know Jace and his luck, it won’t be that clean.
Also, another wildcard.
Keep an eye out for Akiri and her crew (or what’s left of them) because she could be the surprise that takes Nahiri down. With Nahiri distracted, it would easy for them to get a killing blow in; just saying!
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