Welcome to the second season in Magic Untapped's "Who Is..." series.
In this eleven-part series, we explore the origins of the dragon who would become one of Magic: The Gathering's greatest antagonists, Nicol Bolas. In this third episode, we watch as Bolas -- newly a planeswalker -- hungers after two things: power and revenge.
Enjoy the show.
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Welcome back to “Who is” on Magic Untapped as we explore the backstory and evolution of Nicol Bolas.
The draconic planeswalker has grown in power and, as far as he is concerned, has finally slain his twin brother, Ugin. Now it’s on to even larger conquests as we see him rise to rule, only to be struck down by one of his own.
Over the years, Nicol Bolas found a favorite spot on Dominaria to which he would return over and over again. That area is the island chain of Madara and its Talon Gates where he had slain a demonic-leviathan planeswalker more than a century prior.
Since then, however, Bolas’ power had grown immensely and – thanks to the temporal rift caused by his battle with said planeswalker – his mere physical existence threatened to demolish the plane unless he anchored himself to local mana lines. And, as fate would have it, Madara was at the intersection of red, black, and blue mana – perfect for advancing Bolas’ endeavors.
The draconic planeswalker slew the then-Empress of Madara and took over as the nation’s ruler. He had his imperial shrine constructed on the exact place where those three colors of mana intersected. For the next 400 years, he would be known as the God-Emperor of Madara.
Near what would become the end of his reign on the islands, however, Bolas would create his own undoing. His imperial champion, Tetsuo Umezawa, became the dragon’s greatest threat. After being tested one time to many by Bolas, Umezawa rebelled.
He strategically went on an assassination spree against Bolas’ most trusted minions – specifically his regent, Ramses Overdark, and master assassin, Xira Arien – absorbing their power to hopefully become strong enough to slay the God-Emperor himself.
Bolas was furious over the death of his most trusted servant and abandoned his physical form on Dominaria to chase after Umezawa, who had fled to the Meditation Realm after killing Overdark. Bolas’ pursuit was exactly to plan for Umezawa, however, has he had planned for this to happen all along. With Bolas now lacking any physical form, the fleeing champion cast a powerful spell known that destroyed Bolas’ imperial shrine, thus severing the planeswalker of the mana he needed to manifest in Dominaria.
Now powerless and bodyless, Bolas was presumed slain by Umezawa.
Madara, now free from his tyrannical rule, enjoyed an uncertain freedom it hadn’t known for four centuries. The draconic planeswalker was not dead per sé, however, as his spirit was still tied to the temporal rift above Madara’s Talon Gates. Just off of the coasts of the island chain, the ghostly essence of Nicol Bolas’ life force lingered, trapped between the material world and the Meditation Realm.
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And trapped in spirit form between the planes is where the ever-powerful Nicol Bolas would stay until Dominaria’s unnatural temporal rifts began to grow in both size and number roughly a century later.
Next time, as Dominaria’s existence is threatened by the rifts, Bolas will reappear and seek revenge against the Umezama clan on their home plane of Kamigawa as “Who Is” continues on Magic Untapped.