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Greven of Rath
Throughout the history of the violent, Phyrexian-controlled plane of Rath, there have been more than a few evincar’s, or rulers, of the plane. These evincars, wielding power on a par with the demons of Phyrexia, have countless multitudes of subjects. From Davvol to Crovax, the rulers of Rath have never had a shortage of powerful beings subject unto them. Yet, none of these have achieved the reputation that has been earned by one manGreven il-Vec.
Greven was born during the reign of the fifth evincar to a common house among the Vec tribe, which lived somewhere near the outskirts of the Skyshroud Forest. Little is known of Greven’s past, save that he is a reknowned traitor of his people, favoring the promised power of one of the evincar’s soldiers over the impoverished lifestyle of a Rathi rebel. Greven was branded il-Vec, meaning "one who is a traitor to the Vec." Greven worked loyally for the fifth evincar until around 4200 AR, when a young, but immensely powerful, being challenged the plane’s master for control of Rath. The young upstart, imbued with powers from Phyrexia, ultimately bested the fifth evincar. This man, barely in his twenties, was to become the most feared, hated, and calculating evincar to ever occupy the throneVolrath.
Greven continued rising rank by rank up the ladder of the Rathi army, by performing a series of assassinations, eventually acquiring a position aboard Predator, a Phyrexian cruiser designed to be the flagship for the eventual invasion of Dominaria. It is not known how Greven acquired the attention of Volrath, but the soldier was taken to Volrath’s laboratory to be completely altered into a Phyrexian being of superhuman power. More than Greven’s physicality was changed on that day. Greven’s destiny was set before him. Greven acquired a height of near seven feet, and became so physically fit that he could bend steel with his limbs. Trained with the use of a polearm, Greven became the undisputed second-in-command to Volrath’s entire army, and was given the position of commander on-board the Predator. Assisting him was First Mate Vhati il-Dal, a traitor to the Dal tribe.
With all the power at Greven’s disposal, mastery over the most powerful human army in the known multiverse, and a promised position of second to the future ruler of Dominaria, Greven appeared to have achieved complete and utter bliss. But appearances in Rath are always misleading. Greven was a slave to Volrath, who had implanted an artificial flowstone spine in his servant. As evincar of Rath, Volrath had complete mastery over the putty-like flowstone substance which covered the plane, able to shape it to his will or alter its composition, including density and, unfortunately for Greven, temperature. By merely willing it, Volrath could cause Greven’s spine to become blazingly white-hot whenever the commander displeased him. Volrath made sure to use this liberally. Disgusted with his present condition, Greven became moody, withdrawn, and hateful, scorning all those around him, especially Volrath. Greven saw fit to belittle, insult, and humiliate those in his command. For his commanding officers, Greven had no remorse for failure; torturing or slaying those who disappointed him.
"Fear rules those weak enough to accept it."
In the year 4205, the planned Phyrexian invasion was merely months from beginning. However, Volrath was anything but an unquestioningly loyal to Phyrexia. Pursuing a personal agenda, Volrath magically planeshifted Sisay, captain of the flying ship Weatherlight, into his clutches in an effort to attract the attention of Volrath’s hated step-brother, Gerrard Capashen, who had a mysterious connection to the Weatherlight and the gathered magical artifacts known as the Legacy that were contained in her hull. Volrath contacted Selenia, an angel in the service of Phyrexia, who was masquerading as a servant of a noble of Urborg named Crovax. Within mere days, Gerrard and his crew arrived aboard Weatherlight, much to the delight of Volrath, who dispatched Predator and Selenia to attack the ship, steal its Legacy, and kill Gerrard Capshen.
Greven achieved an almost methodical success during his raid on Weatherlight. Predator, far lager than that of the magical ship, unleashed hundreds of moggs, mutated goblin creatures, upon the unsuspecting Weatherlight mere moments after it had entered Rath. These creatures swept through the ship’s crew and stole much of the Legacy, including its keeper, the silver golem Karn. They also severely damaged the Thran Crystal, which empowered the ship to planeshift away from Rath once its mission was complete. Greven himself took part in the melee, battling with Gerrard Capashen for a brief time. Disaster emerged in the form of Vhati il-Dal.
Distraught over his mistreatment at the hands of his commander, Greven, and eager to gain that envied position, Vhati fired the ship’s cannons directly at Greven. Vhati, however, was a poor shot, and only succeeded in disrupting Weatherlight’s balance, sending Gerrard flying through the air to fall to his death in the Skyshroud. Satisfied with his claim and eager to extract his vengeance upon the treacherous Vhati, Greven and his moggs returned to Predator and set sail for the Stronghold. Needless to say, Greven immediately slew Vhati il-Dal, throwing him overboard to share in Gerrard's fate.
"The fall will give you time to think on your failure."
Greven had little time to enjoy his pirated Legacy artifacts, however, after he discovered that Tahngarth, a Talruum minotaur in Weatherlight’s service, had stowed away aboard Predator in an effort to rescue the silver golem Karn. Greven battled with Tahngarth for a time, the two quickly learning to despise each other, as they were far too evenly matched. Greven eventually emerged the victor and arrived before Volrath to present his prize. Volrath was extremely pleased upon hearing of Gerrard’s demise. The collection of Gerrard’s Legacy, which Volrath had long coveted, only added to his pleasure. The addition of Tahngarth and Karn to his dungeons made the evincar ecstatic.
With a glee he had not felt in decades, Volrath asked Greven of the face that Gerrard wore when the commander slew him. Greven admitted that he was unsure, as Gerrard had fallen to his death. Volrath then made Greven’s spine grow so blazingly hot, the proud commander wailed in anguish. When Greven could understand Volrath’s words again, the evincar told him to prepare the Stronghold’s defenses for an inevitable counter-attack.
"Volrath is a harsh master. My reflection is a constant reminder of that."
Greven took small solace in the knowledge that soon Tahngarth of the Talruum Minotaurs would become a Phyrexian monstrosity and serve Greven as his first mate, replacing the cowardly Vhati. Greven manned his awful ship, with every intention of ending the life of Gerrard Capshen when and if he finally arrived at the Stronghold. Greven didn’t have to wait long, for in the next day came reports of an incursion into the Stronghold. The Rathi army had other things to concern itself with, however, for the Stronghold was under attack by the Vec, Kor, and Dal rebel tribes, along with the formidable army of the Skyshroud elves under the command of their leaderEladamri, Lord of Leaves.
Predator maintained its surveillance, however, eager to find and destroy its noble twin Weatherlight. Greven finally located the magical ship above the Stronghold gardens. Predator employed a brief skirmish with Weatherlight, including an attack by ornithopters manned by mogg goblins. Greven only toyed with his prey, waiting for a clear sight of the hated Gerrard Capashen. Greven’s wish was attained, as Gerrard, the traitorous Starke il-Vec, and the rescued Sisay of Weatherlight and Takara, daughter of Starke, fled from the Stronghold through its gardens. Greven would have his revenge on Gerrard, and rather than destroying him with Predator’s powerful ray cannons, Greven opted instead to confront the Capashen directly.
Just before leaping from Predator, Greven noticed two figures falling from the helm of Weatherlight. Greven landed in Volrath’s gardens, forcing Gerrard to confront him. Greven was even more pleased to find that Mirri, a cat-warrior and Gerrard’s best friend, was fighting a losing battle against Crovax, who had become a vampire after being forced to slay his guardian angel and true-loveSelenia. Greven knew that Gerrard must make the decision of either fighting him and hope to save the cat-warrior, or flee to Weatherlight and leave her to die. Greven savored the knowledge that Gerrard’s honor would prevent him from leaving his friend to die at the hands of Crovax.
Greven and Gerrard fought once again, and Greven meant to end it for good. The fight was cut short when Gerrard used a daring maneuver to strike Greven enough to disengage from the fight. Mirri was dead, and with her, Gerrard's reason to fight. The Capeshan fled for the safety of Weatherlight where, already, his crew waited for him to board. Greven howled his rage, and prepared to board predator in order to pursue this man that had defied him twice now.
"I will flay the skin from your flesh and the flesh from your bones and scrape your bones dry, Gerrard. And still you will not have suffered enough."
Predator did its best to overtake the smaller Weatherlight, but the ship had been imbued with a powerful artifact that Greven knew nothing of, and thus was able to escape Rath by flying into an ancient portal which Greven believed to be obsolete. Greven watched in helpless rage from the Predator as the portal slammed shut in Weatherlight's wake, crumbling into a rain of stone and metal onto his own ship. Worse yet, was the displeasure Greven knew this would bring his master.
His ship near utter destruction, Greven had no choice but to return to the Stronghold and await Volrath’s judgment. Fortunately, Predator’s crew located a young mage named Ertai, once in the service of Weatherlight, who could perhaps explain more of what happened this day to the furious evincar. Predator, with the aid of Ertai’s magic, barely returned to the Stronghold. It would be nearly a month before the ship would be fit to be called the Scourge of Skyshroud once again.
Greven made his return to the Stronghold in a state of chaos, and found the once flawless soldiers of Rath in much the same state. Locating Dorlan, chamberlain of the Stronghold, Greven made an inquiry into what could cause such uproar within the structured palace of Rath. In addition to losing the captives Tahngarth and Karn, Dorlan then told Greven what he had waited nearly five years to hear: Volrath had departed from his position as evincar of Rath. Apparently, Volrath had taken his feud with Gerrard Capashen so far as to leave his post as future ruler of Dominaria in order to pursue his quest for vengeance.
Greven knew that immediate changes must be made in order for the invasion of Dominaria to take place as planned. Greven then contacted the Phyrexian overlords, who apparently were already aware of Volrath’s treachery. The overlords promised to dispatch their emissary, who would make the changes to the Stronghold that were necessary in the last few months before the fated invasion. The emissary would briefly serve as a rallying point for the Rathi troops, would increase flowstone production to maximum levels, and would determine several candidates for the new evincar of Rath. If Greven and his army knew the truth about this new emissary, perhaps the course of Dominarian history would have been altered. The emissary would also serve as a "lens," allowing the very god of Phyrexia, Yawgmoth, to view the everyday activities of his Stronghold as if he were there.
Greven, Dorlan, Ertai, and Predator’s chief sergeant Nasser arrived within moments in Volrath’s Dream Halls to await the arrival of the Phyrexian emissary. The torturous shapes of the Dream Halls seemed to herald the arrival of a new being of immense power. This being, however, was hardly the new emissary. It was Crovax of Urborg, making the claim that he was the new evincar of Rath. Greven would surely have slain the vampire on the spot, had he not sensed the machinations of Phyrexia within the young noble.
Further dispute was not allowed, however, as the Phyrexian emissary chose this moment to arrive. Standing nearly eight feet tall in brown armor that covered its features, Greven and his troops stood in abject awe of one who had been found worthy enough to occupy a most trusted position as this being had claimed. The emissary then stepped out of its protective armor, revealing its true form to the world: a young elven woman barely reaching a height of 5’5'Belbe.
As emissary, Belbe immediately set about ordering the necessary preparations to be made. Crovax was to set out training to contest for the position of evincar. The same was said for Ertai, with whom Belbe had noticed a peculiar magical aura. This invitation was also extended to Greven il-Vec, who quickly turned the offer down, preferring the more stable position of Predator’s commander to the master of Rath. Seeing as how five of the six previous evincars had been slain after achieving the status that Crovax coveted, it appeared that Greven made a wise decision.
'The sword-wielder may die, but the sword will always be taken up by another'
While Ertai continued his training, Crovax took a massive Rathi force to destroy the elven rebel forces that occupied the Skyshroud Forest. Meanwhile, Greven would attend to the rebuilding of the Phyrexian flagship, Predator. It was during this time that Greven was approached by a stranger, a Kor man in the service of the Fishers of Life, spies serving under the Stronghold for its previous evincar. This man, Furah, informed Greven that Eladamri had rallied the Kor, Vec, and Dal tribes of Rath against the Stronghold, with the intention of conquering their dictators caught up in the current disarray between leaders. Immediately disappearing after his message was sent, Furah departed for realms unknown to Greven.
Crovax had left the Stronghold with only half its standing army, and Greven reported his concerns of a second attack on the Stronghold to Belbe. It was Ertai who arrived at a brilliant idea: take half of the il-Vec, il-Kor, and il-Dal tribes living within the Stronghold’s City of Traitors hostage. This would more than dissuade the inhabitants of the Stronghold from following Eladamri’s lead and rebelling. Greven set about seeing to this task, quickly taking captive over five thousand of the Stronghold’s still-loyal citizens.
At last the moment Greven had strived to achieve had arrived, and Predator was airborne once again. Predator flew to the outskirts of the Skyshroud, finding Crovax’s army in a state of defeat. Greven found that the Stronghold force had met with disaster amid the Skyshroud, and Crovax had apparently deserted them to their own fate. Within days, Greven’s displeasure had completely disappeared with the capture of the one man that Greven had spent nearly thirty years seekingEladamri, Lord of Leaves.
Predator led the battered Rathi army back to the Stronghold, claiming the Skyshroud rebel leader as its prize. Greven made his return to the Stronghold more triumphantly than Crovax had, but found his structured home in a state of hellish frenzy. While he had been away, Greven discovered that Crovax had returned to the Stronghold and, after learning of the hostages gathered within the City of Traitors, had personally slain all five-thousand of them.
Ertai had been slightly altered from his constant infusion with Volrath’s black-mana chargers, increasing his claim to power, if only marginally. However, Belbe had still not chosen who would be Volrath’s successor. It was at this time that Greven once again met with Furah of the il-Kor, a man who was apparently much more than he appeared. Furah made a devastating revelation to Greven, one that would change the contest for the position of evincar completely. Furah was not a common il-Kor spy, but was in fact the one man Greven fearedVolrath.
Volrath told Greven little of his encounters with Gerrard Capashen on the far plane of Mercadia, where he masqueraded as the rescued Takara en-Dal. The shapeshifter instead made simple orders for his attempt to return to his previous position. Greven had little choice but to obey his master. Indeed, Greven would greatly enjoy the return of a more calculating, stable evincar to favored victor in the competition for the throneCrovax. While Greven and Volrath made the necessary arrangements, Crovax had taken over Greven’s Corps of Sergeants, and had slain Chamberlain Dorlan and any others who would oppose him in the future struggle for dominance over Rath.
Greven presented the captured Eladamri to Belbe. After gazing at Belbe’s features, Eladamri had gone berserk, lashing out in a frenzied attempt to slay the emissary. Greven later learned that Belbe had been created and compleated from the corpse of Eladamri’s daughterAvila. Greven set about the joyous task of torturing Eladamri, but was quickly interrupted by dreadful news. Predator had once again been nearly destroyed, this time by soldiers apparently in the service of Rath. This, however, would have to wait for a later time: the election ceremony was to take place.
Belbe had put her decision off for as long as possible. Greven had refused to compete for the position of evincar. Ertai was simply not yet powerful enough to directly challenge Crovax. It appeared that the Urborgan noble was the only logical choice. Part of the power that Yawgmoth had imbued Crovax with was that, unlike a true vampire, Crovax could directly absorb the life essence of all those he had slain directly into his being, increasing his power. After the deaths of the five thousand captured denizens of the City of Traitors, Crovax was now more powerful than any could have ever anticipated. The time had come for Crovax to be crowned as evincar of Rath.
Just moments before Crovax would be crowned, a magical sphere of mana burst into the room, taking control of Belbe and forcing her to flee the throne room of the Stronghold. Crovax followed the Phyrexian emissary and returned shortly with her, anxious to achieve his rightful position. Just as Crovax was about to achieve his ultimate goal on Rath, the ceremony was interrupted by Greven il-Vec, who made the claim that there was still one candidate who had not yet been considered. From the gathered crowd stepped Furah of the Fishers of Life, quickly changing his shape to that of Volrath, sixth evincar of Rath.
Belbe proposed a duel, Volrath versus Crovax, with the victor earning the seat of evincar. The two agreed, and quickly set about attempting to slay each other. Volrath’s return was not fated to be, however, as the newly liberated Ertai entered the throne room. Ertai had a difficult decision to make. Under Volrath’s rule, Ertai would be slain immediately for his part in the incursion of Weatherlight into the Stronghold. If Crovax was to be crowned evincar, Ertai would suffer a similar fate, but would perhaps continue living if he could be of some use to the Vampire. Ertai made a desperate gamble and summoned his magic to slow time around Volrath just as the shapeshifter was about to gain the upper hand.
To the eyes of the crowd, it appeared as if the former evincar had merely stumbled. To all but a few, Ertai’s meddling was apparent. Within moments, Crovax had won. Belbe awarded him his prize: the position of evincar of Rath. Crovax was content to allow Ertai to live in his service. Greven, however, had just traded the monster he knew for the one he didn’t. The first task of the newly crowned evincar and, indeed, the last urgent task before the Phyrexian invasion, was to rid the Stronghold of the rebels that had infiltrated the palace under the masquerade of loyal Rathi soldiers.
Crovax, Greven, Belbe, and Ertai all gathered near the Dream Halls, where the Rathi rebels and their leader Eladamri were held up inside. Belbe made a desperate gambit with Crovax, stating that she could coerce the rebels into surrender. Crovax agreed, apparently seeing fit to let Eladamri slay Belbe, a task that Crovax would eventually have to complete himself. Belbe entered the Dream Halls, never again to return. Crovax’s soldiers burst into the room after some time, finding three Rathi rebels and the corpse of Belbe within. Eladamri, Takara, and the Vec woman who had been recently captured were nowhere to be found. Crovax smiled. He couldn’t care less.
With Crovax’s newfound position of ruler of the plane of Rath, things had definitely changed. Greven maintained his position as commander of Predator, eager for the deaths of Gerrard Capashen and Tahngarth of the Talruum minotaurs. Ertai had been taken to Phyrexia, and had been Transformed into a four-armed creature requiring life-essences to cast his dark spells. Crovax had increased in power nearly a hundredfold, and would soon become ruler of Dominaria. And Volrath, the once-proud ruler of an entire realm, lay dead.
Greven bided his time on Rath until the day every servent of Phyrexia had awaited arrived: the planar overlay of Rath onto Dominaria had come to pass. Arriving with the Stronghold on Crovax’s homeland of Urborg during the second wave of the Phyrexian attack, Greven maintained silent vigil over his home. This would not last, however, as Weatherlight, altered by her time on Mercadia, arrived intent on the destruction of the Stronghold that had been a living nightmare for many among her crew. This was something Greven il-Vec could not allow.
Boarding Predator intent on the demise of the Weatherlight, Greven felt a presence within him that had never before invade his mind. Greven il-Vec had long been a puppet to the whims of three evincars, and it appeared that this day was going to be no different. Crovax, Lord of Dominaria, was now in possession Greven il-Vec’s body. With a host of Rathi soldiers, Greven boarded Weatherlight, nearly slaying its rear gunner, the goblin cabin hand Squee. This was but a foretaste of the battle to come, however.
While his soldiers kept the crew of Weatherlight at bay, Greven strode to a battle he had long awaited. In a frenzy not seen on Weatherlight since her time on Rath, Greven and Tahngarth engaged in battle. However, under Crovax’s control, Greven was not at his best, and was unable to compete with the Phyrexian-altered minotaur. Bisected at his spine, the bane of his existence, Greven il-Vec was slain and thrown to the ruined Predator, to crash land atop the Stronghold.
Greven had died as he lived: a slave to a brutal master that cared nothing for his welfare. The puppet had been cast to the fire from a puppeteer that had new toys with which to play.
"Rage is the only freedom left me."