First, I would like to gloat that I predicted this less than 24 hours ago. I would like to, but, in all reality, the idea was brought to my attention by a helpful redditor. Still, it made sense yet opens up more questions than answers.
Professor Onyx is a planeswalker sporting mono-black. This is odd from the very beginning; seeing that the five schools are all built upon the enemy color foundation. And, although a cool card, Professor Onyx carries none of the flavor of Silverquill, the college of sharp wits and style, nor does she look like she would be a part of Witherbloom. No, she brings an ominous feel to the school as well she should. She’s Liliana, after all.
Yes, our Professor Onyx is none other than Liliana Vess. Last we saw of her, she was hiding away in her own personal Purgatory; contemplating on her long and dark life. She had just betrayed the Gatewatch and, although she turned on Bolas in the end, she was still being hunted for her part in the War of the Spark. The ghost assassin, Kaya, was given the job of hunting her down, but, in the end, she returned with only the chain veil. It seems Liliana was living under the name Ana Lora and was left to fade into the MTG sunset.
But wait, that wasn’t the end! Apparently, something else is going on in sweet miss Vess’ life. Whatever her past, she has suddenly, abruptly and without explanation, showed up at Strixhaven as a professor. Everything from there is left to our conjecture and speculation. They should know better, shouldn’t they?
So why is the question.
Liliana is still allied to the would-be assassin who spared her life, Kaya.
After what happened in Kaldheim, Kaya may have called in help.
Getting information that Strixhaven may be the Phyrexian’s next target either by her benifactor, through the seers in Kaldheim or some other source, she calls in some one who can get inside. Liliana’s prowess with magic is formidable and would be a prize for any school. And this would explain her taking a disguise. She’s playing spy in order to save the school, the plane and the multiverse from whatever Elesh Norn has planned.
But there’s a problem with this theory. But we’ll get into that in a moment.
Liliana has been called upon by the same anonomous benifactor who paid Kaya to look in on Kaldheim
Or possibly, she’s being paid by the same, deep-pocketed patron that sent Kaya to Kaldheim. Which brings up all sorts of questions.
Who is this patron? They definitely have the resources aka THE CASH to fund this kind of operation. The only clue we have is that he OR she paid Kaya with coin originating across the multiverse of MTG. And, for all we know, Kaya’s failure to slay the beast may have her outside this little operation.
And thus we come to the little problem.
Having Liliana infiltrate a school of this caliber seems like the long game. It’s not just something you do overnight. The plans of Professor Onyx may have been under way not long after the events of War of the Spark. Which makes one believe that the Deep Pockets that is funding this operation has a lot of TIME on his hands, if you know what I mean.
But there is something that bugs me about these options unless time travel is involved. Liliana is a teacher in this school. That’s something that doesn’t happen overnight. And a professor is a high profile position to use as a spy platform. Why not disguise yourself as a student? A librarian? Something that will draw less attention…unless…
Liliana has always been associated with Strixhaven as a professor and shares its mysterious goals
This goes back to my original questions about Kasmina who is also in the next set as, at the very least, an ‘Enigma Sage’. Sage, again, being another word for learned or teacher, insinuates what the MTG world has long suspected; that Kasmina is connected to Strixhaven.
But, like much of what was revealed in these two cards, it opens up more questions than answers. Let’s go back to the original write-up on Kasmina, shall we?
“Kasmina is the leader of an ancient, secret order of Planeswalkers, a shadowy cabal with mysterious aims. Her larger goals are unknown, but her recent obsession is recruitment. Her preferred method is to identify what she calls “embers”, non-ignited Planeswalkers. She helps these mages to discover their potential, even if it means causing trauma to ignite their spark, and then indoctrinates them in the ways of her order. She is preparing for a looming conflict that dwarfs the War of the Spark.”
Now, either Strixhaven is this ‘secret order’ and ‘shadowy cabal’ or we have more to worry about than we thought. However, everything else said there screams a school of magic motif and leads me to believe that Kasmina is working toward some greater good using the school to facilitate it.
Although the ‘larger goals’ of this shadowy, secret entity are not known to us, everything else seems to paint Kasmina as some sort of underground change agent. I mean, the last sentence alone defines her as the head or member of an organization that is setting about to prepare for some cataclysmic event ‘that dwarfs the War of the Spark’. Wait…what?
But, after calling Kasmina a hero, we see her methods as not only unorthodox, but boarder-line sinister. Her ‘obsession’ is recruitment. If Strixhaven is the dark organization she belongs to, she is seen as the head recruiter or ‘head hunter’. And her targets are something called ‘EMBERS’ or pre-spark planeswalkers. She’s hunting potential planeswalkers to teach and train to ready them for what’s coming.
Now that would be all well and good, if it weren’t for her actual methods. In Kasmina’s attempt to intoduce young ’embers’ to their spark, she is even know to bring them to the point of trauma to do so. And, once the spark is ignited, it is her place to ‘indoctrinate’ them in the ways of the order. (Indoctrinate is hardly ever used in a good context)
One thought is that she and Liliana have been in cahoots all along; both working for the School and their secret ‘cabal’. But, if so, when did all of this begin? During War of the Spark? Before? After? If BEFORE, does that mean Liliana’s part in Nicol Bolas’ insidious plan was simply a means to get inside to help stop him?
But, seriously, in a school, surrounded by ancient knowledge and teachers and students in search of as much knowledge, tomes and magic items is the best place to incubate a thinktank for the apocalypse. And WAIT did you say ‘DWARFS’ War of the Spark?
Liliana is after something at the school
Maybe our Professor Onyx is just a guise for Liliana to infiltrate the school for her own, dark motives?
After War of the Spark, things were left in a strange place for her. And, since, Wotc has given us the silent treatment on what to expect concerning her future. It seems almost as if they’re trying to hope we forget that one War of the Spark novel that left her in a lurch; something akin to limbo. And maybe they’re trying to retcon the whole story? I’m not sure. But, if she IS up to no good, it’s going to roll back all of that talk of redemption and take Liliana to a dark place that wouldn’t make sense story-wise.
Bottom line? I don’t think Wotc is ready to make Liliana the bad guy just yet. She will dance the edge in the grey area, at worst. In fact, I expect them to sell her as a hero or anti-hero in Strixhaven. So, she’s probably either been a part of the school longer than we know or this whole Phyrexian business has her infiltrating it to see what they could possibly want at the school. My bet is the college of Lorehold has found something ancient and powerful and our favorite necromancer is there to make sure it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Strixhaven storyline? I’m interested in your thoughts. I mean, we don’t speculate in a vacuum, ya know! Leave comments here or hit us up on social media. But, most of all, KEEP ON SPEUCLATING!