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Dominaria has long been the site of constant struggle. For countless millennia, the gods have seen fit to assail Dominarians with troubles beyond reckoning. Often these troubles come in the form of one man, or rather one being. Yawgmoth stands as the most famous and most notorious. Karona has followed in his wake. Kaervek, Lim-Dûl, Johan, Nicol BolasDominaria’s rogues gallery has never been lacking in a variety of tormentors. But for most Dominarians, the Brothers’ War appears as the earliest large-scale confrontation. The events of the Brothers’ War changed Dominaria forever, shaping it for all time. At the heart of the conflict was Dominaria’s “original” aggressor: Mishra the Destroyer.
As with almost all of Dominaria’s monsters, Mishra was not always thus. Mishra was born the youngest son of a wealthy nobleman. At a very early age, Mishra and his elder brother Urza displayed an almost obsessive competitive nature. Urza was the smarter one, constantly surprising his parents with his ingenuity. Mishra was the clever one, most assuredly “mother’s favorite”, always swinging things in his favor. Still, the boys enjoyed a virtually carefree life until Mishra’s mother’s death. Grieving for the loss of his wife, Mishra’s father elected to remarry into another wealthy familymore for his sons’ welfare than for his own needs. Shortly after being wed, Mishra’s father took ill. As he lay on his deathbed, Mishra’s father arranged for his two sons to be brought up in the charge of Tocasia, an archaeologist that he had been fond of in his youth. Urza and Mishra set out for Tocasia’s camp, located in the deserts of the Fallaji Territory. Mishra would never again return to his homeland of Argive, although his name would be heard in the country for years to come.
Mishra found Tocasia’s school to be a wealth of new experiences. The school’s primary role was to excavate ancient relics left over from the Thran Empire. These artifacts were incredibly useful, constantly sought after by the nobility of Argivia. Tocasia’s camp was ever the mediator between these nobles and the more aggressive Fallaji nation, who felt the incursion of the Argivians into their lands as an invasion of their homes and of their religious beliefs. The Fallaji regarded the ancient Thran as a race of gods, utilizing their mechanisms in order to enslave the unrighteous.
As the brothers grew older, each began to find a new way of life in the camp. Mishra was always very interested in the ways of the Fallaji, learning their legends, language, and culture. Urza took a different route. His interest in Tocasia’s artifacts began a long obsession with ancient relics, discovering ways in which they could be utilized and uncovering new uses for eons-old machines. One such machine would revolutionize transportation for the kingdom of Argive for the remainder of its brief lifespan.
On the day of Mishra’s birth, the camp had succeeded in repairing an ornithopteran old Thran flying machine that the Argivian crown would find particular interest in. During the machine’s first test-run, the brothers discovered a series of ancient Thran markings far into the desert. These markings displayed a variety of the sentient species of Dominariamen, elves, dwarves, minotaurs, and cat warriors. Upon further inspection, Urza made an even more startling discovery. The lines surrounding these paintings actually formed a geometric pattern, essentially pointing to a central Thran gathering place. The brothers volunteered to accompany Tocasia via ornithopter to this ancient city.
Arriving at the sacred cave (which was later named Koilos by Urza), the trio were besieged by one of the desert’s more notorious inhabitants. The ornithopter was attacked by a giant roc, a mindless beast that felt the artifact was a threat to its home. Through Urza’s ingenuity, the brothers and their mentor were able to escape the creature’s grasp. Taking shelter in a nearby cave, the trio came upon a wondrous display of an ancient Thran settlement. Delving further into the cave, the group eventually reached the Hall of Tagsin, an enormous room with a massive doorway in its center. As astounding as these new discoveries were, the brothers’ attention was more fervently held by an ancient glowing powerstone that surely must serve to operate the gateway. Against his brother’s protests, Mishra reached out for the wondrous stone, causing the crystal to split in twain. Although both brothers’ denied their part in fracturing the stone, it would be years before any Dominarian could decipher what this event would come to mean to their world. Though the brothers had no ill intentions, they had unwittingly unleashed a hell upon Dominaria more horrible than any ancient storyteller could ever devise.
Mishra was awakened from a comatose state by his mentor Tocasia. The old women cried in alarm, warning the brothers that their meddling had unleashed an ancient booby-trap. The brothers gazed in horror as a small legion of Thran guardians stumbled awkwardly toward the invaders. Urza attempted to use the energies emanating from one half of the powerstone to destroy the creatures, but only succeeded in enhancing their mechanisms. The trio fled for their lives, until Mishra tried using the powerstone half in his possession. Strangely, Mishra’s stone had the opposite effect on the killing machines. The Thran artifacts slowed their assault, apparently weakened by the energies of Mishra’s stone.
After another bit of ingenuity on Urza’s part, the problems of the roc and the pursuing machines were solved simultaneously. Unfortunately, that day’s ills were not so easily ended. Urza asked his brother to give him the powerstone half he held, hoping that he may be able to repair the ancient relic. Mishra adamantly refused, provoking a small conflict in which Mishra was wounded. Although Urza immediately regretted his actions, the two brothers began to argue as never before. Only Tocasia could begin to predict what horrors had been unleashed this day. For on the glorious day of the discovery of Koilos, a terrible fury had been unlocked between the brothers Urza and Mishra. This hatred would in time grow to encompass all of Terisiare, all of Dominaria, and in time all the multiverse.
Urza, Mishra, and Tocasia returned to the camp in silence. Days later, Mishra decided to remove his belonging from the building he had long shared with his brother. The two young men began avoiding each other at all costs, much to the camp’s delight. When a confrontation was provoked, the brothers would attempt to belittle each other in any way they could devise. One example of Urza’s cruelty came from his naming of the two powerstone halves. Urza’s stone was named the Mightstone, for it seemed to enhance the powers of any artifact it came in touch with. Mishra’s stone became the Weakstone, a pale comparison in Urza’s eyes to his own wondrous device.
On one particularly beautiful night, Tocasia’s diggers found Mishra sneaking into Urza’s building in the dead of night. The camp was awoken to the sounds of harsh words and violently movement, prompting Tocasia to intervene. However, just as Tocasia stepped into the building, a massive burst of force erupted from within Urza’s quarters. Mishra barely escaped with his life, but not before he witnessed his longtime friend and mentor was now dead because of his hated brother’s incompetence. Mishra fled the camp, wandering the deserts of the Fallaji territories for days. At last, he was found by the militant Suwwardi tribe and pressed into service as a slave.
Thus Mishra’s fate seemed sealed. Mishra would work in the heat of the sands as a rakiq, a lowly slave, for the remainder of his miserable life. But, alas, the fortunes of Dominaria saw fit to upraise Mishra from such a lowly position and set him on the path to tyranny. Mishra was discovered by Hajar, a longtime friend from his days in Tocasia’s employ. Hajar felt pity for his friend and sought to persuade the Suwwardi’s qadir to promote him from such a lowly status. After the qadir saw Mishra’s hidden worth as a scholar, the young man was pressed into service as a tutor for the qadir’s spoiled son.
After much turmoil, Mishra established an almost friendly relationship with the son of the qadir. However, Mishra was anything but satisfied with his new life. Mishra told the qadir’s son wondrous tales out of Argivian legend, and even a few tales that were not so ancient. Mishra confided in the young lad the worth of the Weakstone, the halved powerstone that was taken from him when Mishra was enslaved by the Suwwardi.
One night, as Mishra was having a frightening dream about metal that screamed and plants that dripped oil, he was awakened by the horrid scream of a monster straight out of legend. A mak fawa, a dragon of the Fallaji, had suddenly burst from the ground and began to assault the Suwwardi. Mishra could only stand dumbfounded, later horrified by a startling revelation. The mak fawa was not a being of flesh and blood. It was composed an artifact, incredibly lifelike and frighteningly familiar. Mishra had been awakened from a dream of a mechanical hell to behold a monstrous inhabitant of that realm before his very eyes. The Suwwardi rushed to defend the qadir, but were helpless before the might of the beast. The qadir himself was slain in the attempt, prompting Hajar to seek help from his friend Mishra. Mishra snuck his way into the Suwwardi treasury, eventually finding the Weakstone quietly singing and awaiting its master. Once the stone was in Mishra’s hands, the dragon engine began to act strangely. Mishra quietly came in contact with the monstrosity, only to find the engine bowing before his feet. The young qadir immediately promoted Mishra from rakiq to raki, a wizard of the highest order in the service of the Fallaji people.
“How is it the legged engines seem so much more alive than their wheeled counterparts? Simply, they were born, not made.”
In a matter of days, Mishra had propelled himself from slave to teacher to chancellor. His next transformation would be the most amazing yet. With the might of the dragon engine on their side, the Suwwardi began a long conquest of the surrounding tribes. Nothing could withstand the might of the young qadir and his mak fawa. The city of Tomakul, long considered the “capital” of the nomadic Fallaji, was one of the first to swear allegiance to the Suwwardi nation. With the majority of the inner desert in his grasp, the young qadir cast his gaze to the coastal city of Zegon. The Zegoni, however, seemed more than ready for the assaults of the mechanical dragon. Mishra’s monster was able only to walk within a half-mile of the city before it simply stopped responding. The qadir’s fury burned like the desert sands, but nothing could persuade the dragon to begin its assault. If Zegon were to fall, it must fall by means other than brute force.
Mishra’s opportunity came in the form of a fiery-haired cruel woman named Ashnod. Ashnod revealed to Mishra an artifact weapon of her own creation, a staff that caused a nervous reaction in its targets. The dragon was unable to attack Zegon while its legions were thus armed, but Ashnod’s defense was only passive. Ashnod admitted to Mishra that the staves would only work for a limited time, and soon the dragon engine would be free to destroy the city. Ashnod was entrusted by the Zegoni government to establish the grounds for their surrender to the Suwwardi forces. Mishra was impressed by the knowledge, but even more astounded by the sheer brilliance of this woman who shared such a passion for artifacts and their ways of controlling the populace. Mishra agreed to Ashnod’s promise of surrender, with one added stipulation: Ashnod would forever serve as Mishra’s loyal apprentice.
Slowly, the Fallaji had become a unified people under the qadir and his raki. As the Fallaji aggression continued, the coastal nations of Argive, Korlis, and Yotia had begun to take interest. The three nations requested the Fallaji’s presence at Korlinda, where the outlander nations and the desert people could establish the grounds for peaceful resolution. At Mishra’s request, the qadir reluctantly agreed to this strange proposal.
Arriving in Korlinda, Mishra served to announce the qadir’s intentions. The qadir demanded the return of the Suwwardi Marches to Fallaji control. These lands had long ago been conquered by the kingdom of Yotia and rightfully belonged to the Fallaji people. As shocking as this declaration was to the coastal kingdoms, Mishra’s own shock was far greater. There, standing in the ranks of the nobles of Yotia was Urza. Urza was no less shocked to discover Mishra as a representative of the Fallaji, and together the brothers decided to set aside time to speak of the past.
“The past exists all around us. The only question is whether we chose to dig it up or not.”
Mishra at last believed that his brother honestly sought to repair the damages of the past, but his faith was apparently misplaced. During the peace talk, the Warlord of Yotia flatly revoked the qadir’s demands, insulting the Fallaji people and their ruler in a rather juvenile display of aggression. A confrontation soon escalated, resulting in the death of the warlord. Mishra’s own people were savaged attacked by goblin bombs thrown from Urza’s legions of ornithopters. Mishra’s loyal dragon engine could only cover the Fallaji retreat. As the desert people ran for their lives, Mishra vowed once and for all to never accept his brother’s words as anything other than lies used by a jealous sibling.
With the qadir’s permission, Mishra and Ashnod took the dragon engine into the depths of the desert to once again explore the heart of the Thran Empire at Koilos. Once again in the chamber that once held the Might- and Weakstone, Mishra investigated the mysterious gateway more closely. With Ashnod’s aid, Mishra discovered the gateway opened up into a world he had long dreamt of but had scarcely acknowledged. Stepping through the portal, Mishra and Ashnod found themselves in a primordial jungle of heat and smog with sought to choke the life from their lungs. Mishra had dreamt of this strange new world for as long as he could remember, but now found himself in a reality far stranger than any dream. All around him, mechanical plantlife grow in a strange mockery of his own world. In the distance, a vast lake of oil seemed to offer sanctuary to whatever inhabitants this world could possibly house. Dragon engines rose from the lake, some much larger than the one that had terrorized the Fallaji for nearly a decade. Even more astounding, these dragon engines took a cue from the cousin and immediately bowed down to Mishra as their undisputed master. Such a strange world, full of wonders beyond imagination, could only also serve as a home to horrors the human mind could not easily comprehend. Mishra gave a name to this frightening and wondrous world. It was a name that had come to him only in a dream, but would haunt the dreams of the world of Dominaria forevermore. On that day, Mishra had entered Phyrexia. On that day, Phyrexia had entered Mishra.
“I dreamt of the wind, of a great dark wind. It swept around me, it spoke to me, and it carried horrible secrets it wanted to tell me.”
Mishra’s ponderings were immediately dissolved by a visage of horror that could only be contained in a child’s imagination. A demon, part monster and part machine, suddenly burst from the mechanical foliage and gave chase. Mishra and Ashnod fled in abject horror from the smiling demon, barely escaping through the portal back into their own saner world. Upon Mishra’s request, the pair immediately ventured out into the desert sun. There they found the small band of dragon engines from that horrid world, bowing in submission to Mishra the raki of the Fallaji.
The time had at last come for further peace talks, this time between the Fallaji and the Yotians only. Under the guise of peace, Mishra would find the revenge against his hatred brother that he had so long sought. The talks of peace went uncharacteristically well. In the warlord’s absence, Urza’s wife Kayla had become the warlady of all Yotia. Apparently, Kayla was in possession of far more wisdom than her impulsive father, in addition to being blessed by the gods with incredibly beauty. Mishra was welcomed to the city of Kroog as more than just a highly-ranked diplomat if a warring nation. He was welcomed into the arms of Urza’s family, no questions asked and none required. Mishra found himself in exactly the right position for his greatest piece of treachery.
Following a traditional Fallaji dance, Mishra found Kayla very perceptive to his charms. Apparently, Urza was not a very good husband, and Mishra was prepared to do nothing other than comfort Kayla in her distress. Mishra confided in Kayla that the Fallaji no longer desired control of the Suwwardi Marches. The nation would cease all hostilities for only the smallest trifling thing imaginable. If Urza would part with the Mightstone, the Fallaji nation would be the ally of Yotia until Dominaria’s last days. In the depth of night, Kayla stole the Mightstone and presented in to Mishra. In reward, Mishra was prepared to give Kayla exactly what her lonely heart most desired. In typical fashion, Urza chose just that moment to interrupt. Urza attacked Mishra, reclaiming the Mightstone and forcing the younger brother to flee the castle.
But Mishra’s forces were not sleeping that night. In the guise of retreat, Mishra led the Fallaji into the outskirts of their desert homeland. Mishra departed from the majority of his forces, leaving a trap that Urza was far too proud to ignore. Mishra received word later that Urza had followed Mishra’s forces in his damnable ornithopter, springing a trap in the form of a massive mechanical assault engine that immediately crippled Urza’s pursuit. Mishra returned to Yotia a day later with an army that had lain in wait for just this moment. Within a day, the once-proud city of Kroog was sacked and ruined. Although Mishra’s forces could not hold the center of Yotia, they had forever ended the threat the proud nation could pose in any future ordeals. Even greater, Mishra had utterly ruined Urza’s base of operations, his family life, and his reputation. Although Ashnod was apparently taken captive during the ordeal, Mishra was won his greatest victory. Even greater, the young qadir had thought to lead the assault in person, ending his life in a tragic and predictable display. With no other qadir present, Mishra was asked by the Fallaji nation to take up that mantle. He was very happy to do so.
One year later, Mishra had become the undisputed ruler of the Fallaji nation. Yotia was now no more than a smoldering sheet of blackened glass. Urza was far in the heart of Argive, no doubt plotting his revenge. Mishra’s chief lieutenant Ashnod had been returned safe from harm. A lesser dictator would have felt his life’s goal had been achieved. Mishra was miserable. In the distance, Urza plotted and schemed for his brother’s downfall. Mishra would not be satisfied until Urza’s head was ornamentally displayed as his footstool.
“He never hides. He plots. He plans. He is still in communication with the Yotian towns, I am sure of it, and the rebels act on his command. He is waiting for the right moment. For the moment of weakness. Of inattentiveness. And then . . . .”
With all of Mishra’s brilliant ideas having fled, the qadir of the Fallaji was willing to try anything to gain further revenge on his hated brother. The means to that end lay in Ashnod the Uncaring. Ashnod began research on a horrible procedure, essentially fusing the living and the unliving. Perhaps inspired by her time in Phyrexia, Ashnod began to fuse man with machine, creating legions of unthinking slaves that served only Mishra’s whims.
With a host of shambling monstrosities in her ranks, Ashnod led an assault into the nation of Korlis. Following Yotia’s defeat, Korlis had become little more than a vassal state for the Argivian nobility. Ashnod would make them pay for their allegiances with Mishra’s hated brother with their very lives. Mishra’s chief lieutenant entered Korlis’s borders only to return weeks later utterly defeated. Ashnod insisted that Mishra’s living hordes had been unwilling to follow the leadership of a woman, especially a woman who could create such horrors. With such dissention in their ranks, Ashnod’s forces were easy prey to a host of mechanical defenders constructed by Mishra’s hated brother Urza. Mishra dispatched Ashnod to the small nation of Sarinth, essentially placing his greatest lieutenant in as lowly a station possible. Mishra began to understand that in order for him to win this war, this Brothers’ War, he would have to do so with a decidedly new set of tools.
Mishra began to seek the council of an ancient brotherhood of machine-worshipping fanaticsthe Brotherhood of Gix. In the Brotherhood he found a wealth of ideas that had never occurred to him before. The Brotherhood also served as faithful spies in the courts of Argivia and Terisia City. As Mishra’s political influence grew, yet another grand turn of events presented itself.
Urza’s chief artificer, Tawnos of Jorilin, had fallen right into Mishra’s grasp. Mishra immediately set Ashnod to the task of torturing Urza’s longtime friend and discerning any plots he may be aware of. Weeks later, Mishra was himself the target of treachery most foul. Under the guise of torturer, Ashnod had provided Tawnos with the means of escape. Mishra’s loyal Gixian priests had provided all the evidence necessary to make Mishra believe his longtime ally was now a hated enemy. Mishra exiled Ashnod for all time, vowing her death if ever again they meet.
Mishra’s next target was the Ivory Towers of Terisia City. The Butcher of Kroog had long heard rumors that Terisia was in possession of a wealth of knowledge, knowledge he could turn to his advantage as a weapon against his brother. After much toil, Mishra’s forces succeeded in breaching the impenetrable walls of the Ivory Towers and laid claim to the knowledge therein. But this knowledge seemed to Mishra little more than a charlatan’s banter. The wise and powerful sages of Terisia had wasted their time for eons, amassing knowledge on a superstitious phenomenon known as magic. The sages believed that by harnessing the memories of the land, they could cause any number of things to happen. Men could fly, cast balls of fire from their hands, and disappear to uncharted realms with nothing more than the words of a fool and the blood of a goat.
With his health deteriorating, his resources dwindling, and his chief lieutenant now revealed as a traitor, Mishra’s mind became increasingly troubled. Distraught over their “beloved friend’s” health, the Gixian priests made Mishra privy to secrets they had long withheld. The Gixians explained to Mishra that they believed the body was a machine, and as a machine it could be improved to become more pure, more holy, and more deadly. With no other options left to him, Mishra fell right into the waiting claws of the Brotherhood of Gix. Mishra underwent a startling transformation. His flesh was fused with artifice. In appearance, he was decades younger, his health instantly rejuvenated. His strength became legendary; his wrath began to burn hotter than the fires of his workshops. Mishra welcomed his next confrontation with his brother openly. That opportunity would present itself in the form of a newly-discovered continent known as Argoth. Argoth was said to be the home of resources greatly desired by both sides of the escalating war. Upon this island would Mishra meet with his brother once last time.
“If you can’t catch them, cut the trees down from beneath them. Force them to fight on our terms.”
Days before the final battle would take place, Mishra was contacted on the shores of Argoth by his former apprentice and lieutenant, Ashnod the Uncaring. Ashnod begged for Mishra’s forgiveness and promised great things if he would welcome her into his court. The fiery-haired deceiver informed Mishra of an incredibly relic salvaged from the ruins of Terisia City. This relic, called the Golgothian Sylex by the few who knew of its existence, was capable of ending the war and cementing Mishra’s reign as ruler of Terisiare for all time. Mishra’s wrath was replaced with pure astonishment. Here stood his former lieutenant, whose name was still called upon in fear in the wails of the dying, was now proposing Mishra forget his artifact warriors and depend upon magical bowls for his victory. Mishra was so amused that he lifted Ashnod’s banishment, although he did not heed her words as more than that of a fool.
At last the day of Mishra’s victory had come. Urza’s immense army of mechanical creations was met with Mishra’s own mechanical army in a display that had not been seen since the days of the Thran. However, before the first blows of the war were come, an event took place that neither brother was prepared for. Mishra’s forces turned upon themselves, even as Urza’s own forces did the same. Ornithopter attacked Avenger. Transmogrant attacked War Machine. The battle was enveloped in a chaos that put the confusion of other wars to shame. But for Mishra, nothing could distract him from confronting the target of his eternal hatred.
“Hello, Brother. You’re looking unwell. Your machines have sucked the life out of you. That is your error. One of many. You’ve let yourself grow old, and your light is dimming. Shall we talk one last time, or must I slay you now? You think that is where the power is? You still covet my stone, Brother? Here, take it! You never realized true power, Brother. You never had to fight for your life. You were always safe in your world of devices and calculations. Now you see you went down the wrong path. You’ll die old and alone, and I will take your land sand peoples and inventions and bend them to my will.”
Amid the chaos of this war gone wrong, Mishra and Urza at last came face-to-face. Urza was horrified at Mishra’s changes, completely dumbfounded by what could make Mishra appear so strong while he had become so fragile. Mishra and his brother engaged in a short battle, with Mishra immediately gaining the upper hand. Just as Mishra’s ankh was drawn down to Urza’s throat, something beyond Mishra’s wildest expectations occurred. A flame suddenly leapt from Urza’s Mightstone, blasting Mishra’s flesh apart and spilling the mechanical tubing from his flesh. Urza could only stare in disbelief at the lengths his brother had gone in order to win their war. Mishra retreated to the safety of his own camp, prepared to unleash his next play against his brother. Mishra fused his body with that of his original dragon engine, becoming closer to the Gixians’ philosophy than even he was aware. As the Mishra-dragon charged up the hillside in an effort to trample his brother, something went horribly wrong. Urza stood with Ashnod’s Sylex in his hands, a blinding sea of light erupting from the center of the ancient relic. In an instant, Argoth was totally destroyed. Thus ended the life of Mishra the Destroyer.
Or did it? Over four millennia later, as Urza gazed upon the horrors of Phyrexia’s Seventh Sphere at the Dark Lord Yawgmoth’s behest, the planeswalker came across a most peculiar sight. There lay Mishra, still alive after all these years in eternal torment for his failure to give Yawgmoth possession of Dominaria during the Brothers’ War. Mishra begged Urza to release him from this damnation, but by this time Urza was completely enthralled in Yawgmoth’s service. Was this Mishra or just another of Yawgmoth’s perverted mutilations of reality? No researcher can tell, but whether Mishra died at the Argothian Disaster or lived on through the torment of the Seventh Sphere, the tale is not altered. Mishra was in truth nothing more than yet another of Yawgmoth’s unknowing servants, devoted without any knowledge to the cause of gaining the Ineffable a foothold in the world of Dominaria.
“Brother, save me. Grasp my hand. ‘Walk me from this place! We can both escape this hell. Take me to some grassy place where the wind blows, that I may die in peace. Take me away. He will allow it. He has told me. Take me, Brother. Brother! Please! If there is any humanity left in you, take me away! Come back! Help me, Brother!”