|Lifetime||~4580 AR-~4607 AR|
|Sources||A Planeswalker's Guide to Alara, Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn, see external links|
Elspeth Tirel was a planeswalker who wielded white mana. She specialized in the powerful magic of community and fortification--spells that build mighty armies, bolster them, and protect them from harm.
Elspeth was born on an unknown plane dominated by Phyrexians. Her life immediately prior to her ascension was spent as a prisoner along with many other beings, locked tightly away and tortured. In this prison, the phyrexians of her homeworld tended to those of their numbers they felt insane. Elspeth and her peers were a distraction meant to soothe the insanity of the flawed phyrexians. When her dark warden came for her, she responded instinctively with a powerful spell and planeswalked away. She was only 13 at the time. She spent the next few years of her young life seeking a place that was safe, suffering unknown hardships until finally she stumbled across Bant.
The Alaran Paradise
In Bant, Elspeth found everything that was missing from her life: community, love, and most importantly peace. She settled in the nation of Valeron and at 17 she began her training as a squire. In a short 3 years she was knighted, younger than almost anyone. Her fellow knights had no knowledge of her ability to planeswalk or of her origins, she kept the nature her origin and abilities secret and allayed any question concerning her birthplace, only admitting to not being from Valeron.
One day, two years after she had last used her abilities, her peaceful idyll was shattered when the broken body of a planeswalker crashed down near her outpost. With the help of Bant's balmgivers and Rhox monks, she nursed Ajani Goldmane back to health. Given his condition upon arrival, she thought she had found a kindred spirit and sought to convince him to stay upon Bant. Unfortunately, after a confrontation she was rudely proven wrong. Ajani left with only a dire warning to that their worlds were closer than she thought.
After this warning, her mind was continually troubled. Concerned with some of the distressing rumors she had heard, she went out with her squire Aran to search for evidence. At a Rhox monastery they found a Grixis incursion zone. The Conflux had begun for Elspeth. She rushed back to the castle she served and took part in a disastrous defense of her home. Aran fell to the enemy, and something in Elspeth finally broke. She cast aside all the rules of civil warfare that Bant cherished and unleashed her full powers, devastating her enemies and bringing Aran back to life. All the members of the castle looked at her with newfound respect and admiration, but she felt in their eyes was expectation and accusation, as if she betrayed them somehow. She stripped herself of her sigils as a result, feeling they were a weight too heavy to bear.
Her rank was not so easily given up though. She still led her platoon under the Knight-General Rafiq during the battle of Jhess to drive away the invading forces of Esper, but was brought low by her own ally under the command of an Esper mage. As a result of her injuries, she was no longer allowed to fight on the front lines, but she refused to let Bant suffer in strife. She sought some way to help and with that mind, she interrogated Gwafa Hazid in hopes of learning of who had manipulated the events behind the destruction of Giltspire Castle, which marked the start of the problems on Bant. What she learned shocked her, and she went to the assembled forces at the ruins of Giltspire Castle in hopes of defending it. Ultimately, she assisted Rafiq in killing Malfegor, effectively ending Bant's part in the Conflux war.
Despite how hard she had fought, her feelings had still been inexorably changed. She was brutally reminded that Alara was not her world, and she had no right to the position they had asked of her. Worst of all, Bant had been changed forever and was no longer the plane she cherished. With a heavy heart she planeswalked away.
Vengeance and Redemption
Elspeth's self-imposed exile brought her back to familiar grounds. She had spent some time in Urborg as a youth and she chose to return there, wallowing in her grief and anger. The environment suited her mood and to make money enough to eat, and perhaps to satisfy her fury, she began fighting in gladitorial pits, misusing her training as a knight to win. It was in one such match that Ajani once again found her. The appearance of the leonin distracted her opponent enough that he dropped his guard, allowing her to land a strike that revealed a familiar mark from her past on the warrior's body. Instantly enraged, she sought to strike down her foe, and only the timely intervention of her old friend managed to save him.
After the match, Ajani informed Elspeth that he had been tracking her, hoping to convince her to return to Bant. He scolded her, telling her that there was no honor in what she was doing, that ultimately she could still help Bant if she would just return and that she was wasted in a wretched place like Urborg. His pleas fell on deaf ears. Elspeth was without hope and she sent him away, telling him there was no point in fighting what was inevitable. Saddened, Ajani left, bestowing one last kindness upon her. He returned the armor she had left on Bant after Malfegor's fall, the armor she thought herself unworthy to wear.
Later that night, Elspeth found Koth. He demanded to know where she knew of his mark and she refused. He told her of the mark, that it was a reminder of the people of his plane, of those who had fallen to the phyrexians and his vow to stop them. The next morning, Koth took Elspeth to a ruined structure called The Tomb of Flesh. They spoke of their homes, of the places they cherished and once more Elspeth lamented Bant's fate. Koth used his geomancy to create a path to the tomb and conjuring a light, Elspeth saw a haunting image from her past and once more, terrified and chilled, she fled from the dark corners of the world.
Koth found her once more at the ruins of a castle, and asked her to come with him to The Heroes' Memorial. Once there, he gifted her with gems, telling her to trap her fear in them, but she simply stated that the past is not so easily forgotten. Here in the temple, Koth communed with the stone altar and learned only one thing: They must find Venser. The artificer was not hard to find, being a long standing target for the acolytes who tended the memorial. The pair went to see Venser and the pair were shocked to find a phyrexian vessel being rebuilt, improved in fact, to act as a planeshifting ship. When it became obvious Venser had no idea the powers he was meddling with, Koth flew into a rage and encased his head in a stone mask, coercing him to walk to Mirrodin. Elspeth was appalled at the sudden violent act, but Koth did not care, stating simply that he had no choice. He appealed to her once more to come and help him, to atone for her mistake. He did not wait for her answer, leaving her to make the decision herself.
The Quest for Karn
Elspeth followed Koth with his erstwhile guest, finally seeing the lands the Vulshok called home. Despite his dire warnings, she saw nothing particularly threatening and Venser continued his tirade against the geomancer. Koth broke off his argument with Venser long enough to tell the pair of the conflicts raging across the surface, and of the dark threat that threatened the plane itself. Koth sought an old friend to help him tell them of the true enemy, but what he found was the surprising spread of the Mephidross, stretching farther than he could possibly have expected. The trio look for Koth's acquaintance, but were ambushed by a group of nim. The companions quickly fought off the nim, but once again the dark images of Elspeth's past loomed in her mind, and with a doleful sigh, she told the arguing walkers that she cannot go any further.
Separating herself from her companions, Elspeth wandered until a Vulshok shaman took her in. The two conversed, and Elspeth once again lost herself in her past. This malaise did not go unnoticed, and the Vulshok berated Elspeth for her cowardice, telling her that she should be struck down for ignoring the enemies before her. Elspeth lamented that it would take more than her death to stay the Phyrexian infection. The Vulshok told the knight that if her word is worth anything, she should be fighting instead of talking.
These words took root within Elspeth, and she quickly found herself drawn to the source of the Phyrexian forces, Ish Sah. From here though, she learned her companions had not been so fortunate as she had. Tracking their location, she made her way to where they were held and cut a swath of destruction to them. With her sudden reappearance, the trio overwhelmed their captors and made good their escape. She prepared to finally put her fears to rest, not knowing the sheer number of the forces arrayed against them.
Elspeth, Venser, and Koth traveled to the Vault of Whispers, where they witnessed the emergence of a Phyrexian army that was invading the surface. During their observation, Elspeth froze when being in such close proximity to the Phyrexians brought back memories of her captivity, and was almost captured. After several hours, the army passed, and the three companions entered the Vault, following a Myr secretly sent by Tezzeret to guide them. It led them to Geth, and in secret, they followed him into the interior of the world. They came upon a butchering room in which they engaged massive Phyrexian butchers; Elspeth slew many, but they were outnumbered and managed to escape further into Mirrodin's underground through a meat shaft. When they emerged from the shaft they encountered Ezuri, leader of a band of Mirran rebels. While Venser insisted that they had to continue to find Karn, Ezuri said that he could allow them to go no further. He revealed that the Phyrexian invasion had profited him greatly, catapulting him into a heroic leadership position that he was loathe to give up. When Elspeth threatened Ezuri, however, the elf backed down and his followers fled after a display of Venser's meager magics. The companions continued on further towards Mirrodin's core, eventually being met by Tezzeret.
Tezzeret led the companions to a surgery room, where Elspeth, angered by the sight of Phyrexians experimenting on creatures, flew into a rage, slaying all the Phyrexians in the room in a matter of moments. They freed Melira, a Mirran born without any metal on her body, from the cages. Tezzeret said this was his gift to them; she was completely immune to phyresis. During the subsequent travels, Elspeth grew very protective of Melira. They began traveling back towards the surface, but were surrounded and attacked by a massive force of Phyrexians. During the battle, Elspeth was the center of the Phyrexians' attention, slaying most of them and creating piles of dead around her so high that the other companions lost sight of her.
The companions eventually reached the furnace layer, where the Phyrexians ignored any Mirran survivors, and found Ezuri's rebel camp. There they were welcomed, despite their previous encounter, and Melira's ability to heal phyresis was discovered. She healed all those in the camp that were infected by the glistening oil, healing non-stop for several days while Elspeth sat with her in the tent, speaking to her. Once everyone in the camp was healed, a council was called in which Ezuri, hoping to become more influential, invited Melira to stay with them while subtly telling the companions to leave. Melira said she would leave with the companions, however, and Elspeth and the others prepared to leave for the core to try to find Karn. While they were leaving, the camp was attacked by Tezzeret's Phyrexians, and the companions found a guide to take them further. They escaped the battle and followed the guide, of whom only Elspeth was trusting. After some time, Koth, angry at their lack of progress about the surface war, took Melira and left, leaving Venser and Elspeth alone with the guide. They hurried after Koth, but were ambushed by Tezzeret's Phyrexians. Elspeth went into a battle fury, wiping out the massive force, but just as she killed the last of them, an even larger force appeared.
The Phyrexians carried the Planeswalkers away, but while their captors were trying to figure out how to access a doorway, Koth and Melira reappeared and freed the pair. By the time the Phyrexians realized that their captives were gone, the companions were already running. Venser's strength, however, was wearing thin, and they were forced to stop. He was able to concoct an explosive from the metal on the walls and blow up part of the tunnel, sealing it temporarily, but it was only a matter of time before a group of Phyrexians, led by Glissa, broke through. While she was taunting them, however, Tezzeret appeared and his forces did battle with Glissa's, allowing the companions to escape and reach Karn's throne room uninterrupted. There, they found Karn corrupted by the Phyrexian oil, and Melira told the companions that his heart was corrupted. Venser told the others that he was already dying and had been for years, and that he was likely unable to last much longer. With his last strength, Venser gave his life and spark to Karn, curing the golem. Cured and lucid once again, Karn spoke with Elspeth, who told him that he could not kill all the Phyrexians. Karn replied that he knew, and that is why he needed their help; He asked them to begin organizing and leading the resistance with Melira to try to cleanse Mirrodin, no matter how long it would take. Purposefully and ready for the long battle ahead, the group left the throne room and headed back towards the surface to begin their war.
But the war on New Phyrexia failed miserably. Elesh Norn gained an increasing influence over the other praetor's forces and eventually seized power over Sheoldred and Urabrask's territories. This lead to the slaughter of the resistance, and in a last attempt, the remainders of their forces pooled together to strike at the hierarchy while that gesture might still have meaning. Koth led a force to plant a highly destructive spellbomb at a gathering of the praetors, but the mission went awry nearly as soon as it began. Their forces were decimated to the point that Elspeth wondered if she and Koth were the last "natural" beings on the plane. Surrounded by the Praetor's forces, Koth told Elspeth to leave, using his power to sink her into the ground so that she would have only one option left to her. He erected a shield to protect her from the blast, but the phyrexian forces finally broke through and a Phyrexian Obliterator grievously injured the trapped knight before she could leave. In a half lucid state, she planeswalked away, bleeding out from her near fatal wounds.
She awoke on Theros, a world she had been to before, drawn to the plane for the divine nature of the gods, in hopes they would provide stability. In the past, she had witnessed a battle between Heliod and Purphoros, and had taken her sword when it was knocked to the mortal world from Purphoros's hand. It was during this brief period that she met Daxos and earned the attention of Heliod. However, overwhelmed by the presence of the god, she fled, taking the sword as she went.
After Mirrodin, Elspeth landed at a temple of Pharika's worshipers, and wrote a letter to Ajani, rolled up in a bottle and then dumped in the bogs, a custom for the prayers of Pharika's worshipers. Once her strength was regained, Elspeth journeyed out, hoping to find a place on the world where she could learn of the gods and understand their abilities. This quest drew her to Akros where she joined a mercenary band to earn a place within the city. However, her presence had not gone unnoticed, for the sword she bore had been lost for years. When she found Heliod in his temple, he tried to kill her, but he was rebuffed by her magic, stunning the supposed King of the Gods. Threatened by her power and the sword, he transformed the blade into a spear he dubbed Godsend and commanded her to make her way to his main temple in Meletis.
However, the journey was not to be a peaceful one. Every god wished to possess the weapon and were driven to frenzy, manipulated in secret by Xenagos to fear what the others might do should they claim the blade. The caravan that Elspeth traveled with was set upon again and again until at last the gods nearly destroyed much of Theros in their blind desire. Kruphix commanded them all to return to Nyx where they would be unable to harm the mortal world, but Nylea was the only one aware of the threat looming upon Meletis even as he did so. Elspeth encountered Polukranos, a massive hydra which had slain countless warriors. Elspeth engaged the hydra with the help of Daxos, and succeeded where so many had failed, slaying it. This feat of heroism secured her place at the temple of Heliod in Meletis as the god's champion.
Journey into Nyx
Months passed as she learned what the priests of Heliod had to teach, but mostly she found she enjoyed the time spent with Daxos the most. They grew closer, but he seemed reluctant to answer her questions as she wanted him to. He pushed her away, using Heliod's dogma to keep her from learning too much. At last, they had an argument which seemed to drive a wedge between them, but Daxos apologized and asked her to travel with him. Together, they rode to the place they had met.
When they returned to Meletis, they found Anthousa waiting for Daxos, and stories of the Nyxborn attacking humanity. The only option they could find was to consult the ageless sphinx known as Medomai. He had nothing but dire predictions for the pair and a vision of Akros under siege. What the pair did not understand was that the vision was not of the future. Along with Anthousa, they rode hard to defend Akros. They found the unexpected, the minotaurs having constructed a giant wall to keep reinforcements out. As they spoke of what they could do, Queen Cymede suddenly barged in, saying that they had captured a satyr that demanded to speak to Elspeth.
She was led to the dungeons where she found Xenagos chained. He told her that he knew how they could destroy the army without ever battling, and she listened to him tell his plan. They would raise the river that ran through Akros and sweep the army away, but for it to succeed Cymede and Daxos would have to raise the river while the invaders were distracted. When King Anax heard this plan, he knew the perfect distraction and challenged the horde's leader to a duel, naming Elspeth as his second. The plan worked and Akros stood.
After leading the armies of Akros to victory, the king ordered a celebration which was held to honor her victory. Together, alone in their tent, Daxos and Elspeth finally realized their feelings for each other. But it was not to be. Xenagos appeared as they slept, thrilled with how well she followed his plan. He controlled her and brought back her darkest memory, trapped with the Phyrexian Obliterator looming over her, but she struck out and killed it... only realizing too late that she had just killed Daxos.
Outside the tent, the revel had been suborned by Xenagos, and as she fled, she saw Xenagos ascend into Nyx. She was met with scorn by the citizens of the polis, and fled for her life into the wilderness. Her world was thrown into chaos as even the god she had sought to understand turned against her. Heliod was wroth, believing she was implicit in Xenagos's plan and sought to destroy her.
Cast out, she found an unexpected ally in the Leonin. With the help of Brimaz, she reunited with her old friend Ajani. He was curious of what had befallen her, but she refused to speak of how badly she'd been hurt. Instead, she swore they would set things right, and Ajani agreed to stay at her side. To do so, they would have to travel to the mysterious temple of Kruphix at the edge of the world. They travelled by river from the Nessian forest to the Siren's Shipyard, seeking the legendary mariner Callephe. Standing amidst the shattered wreckage of ships, Ajani called up the legendary sunken ship known as The Monsoon, and to their surprise Callephe appeared as soon as her ship had risen from the deep.
She agreed to take them to the edge of the world, but it all turned to a lie. Kiora revealed her deception as soon as they reached the sunken city of Arixmethes. Thassa confronted them, intending to deal with the lying merfolk, but not before sending the pair on their way, wishing them luck. They arrived at the edge of the world, and the god Kruphix allowed them to pass to the gateway of Nyx, the shrine of Nykthos. To gain entry to Nyx, Elspeth had to undergo an ordeal sent from the gods, and Ajani urged Elspeth to take Thassa's ordeal, but she pulled away from him at the last moment and gained entry from Erebos.
She was suddenly elsewhere, back on Bant as she watched a husband she had never had depart their small cottage. She had lived with him for years, and she could not bear it as she realized it was false. It was only the start though, as she looked upon her son and daughter. The little girl, named Mina, urged her to drink from a golden goblet, strangely out of place, and she realized what it would mean to drink from that cup. Though it broke her heart, she smashed the cup and passed Erebos's ordeal.
Haunted by the memories of the life she had never lived, the pair set to the task at hand. They confronted Xenagos and battled the god, until at last Elspeth struck him down. As Xenagos's body fell back to Theros, Elspeth offered her life in trade for Daxos, a deal he took gladly. Ajani insisted they could escape, the battle had taken its toll, and Nylea warned the pair that they must flee before Erebos or Heliod found them. They managed to reach Nykthos again before Heliod appeared and using her own weapon murdered Elspeth. Ajani took his dying friend back to Theros and prepared to fight the agents of Erebos that were coming to claim his friend, but Brimaz's warriors ambushed him, pulling him away for his own good as his friend died.
As her life ebbed, she prayed to the god that had killed her, asking for peace at last. However, on Theros, death is rarely the end of a traveler's journey.
- Dauntless Escort 
- Ardent Plea
- Clarion Ultimatum 
- Commune with the Gods
- Crusade (Duel Decks: Elspeth vs. Tezzeret)
- Gods Willing
- Hall of Triumph
- Remember the Fallen
- Solidarity of Heroes
- Soul Parry
- Vanquish the Foul
- Worst Fears
Quoted or referred to:
- Archetype of Courage
- Guardians of Akrasa
- Knight of the Reliquary (Conflux)
- Mischief and Mayhem
- Pristine Talisman
- Reprisal (Journey into Nyx)
- Unwinding Clock
- Jenna Helland, Brady Dommermuth, Doug Beyer et al.. (April 23, 2009.) "Honor Bound, Part 1", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Jenna Helland, Brady Dommermuth, Doug Beyer et al.. (April 30, 2009.) "Honor Bound, Part 2", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Jenna Helland, Brady Dommermuth, Doug Beyer et al.. (May 06, 2009.) "Honor Bound, Part 3", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Jenna Helland, Brady Dommermuth, Doug Beyer et al.. (September 16, 2010.) "Gathering Forces, Part 1", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Jenna Helland, Brady Dommermuth, Doug Beyer et al.. (September 23, 2010.) "Gathering Forces, Part 2", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Jenna Helland, Brady Dommermuth, Doug Beyer et al.. (September 30, 2010.) "Gathering Forces, Part 3", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (January 06, 2011.) "Scarred, Part 1", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (January 13, 2011.) "Scarred, Part 2", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (January 20, 2011.) "Scarred, Part 3", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- The Lost Confession
- Planeswalker's Guide to Born of the Gods
- Inside R&D: Journey into Nyx, Part 1
- Magic Creative Team. (May 26, 2014.) "Journey's End", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.