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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Serra's Realm

Quick Status — Serra's Realm
PlaneSerra's Realm
Related SetsUrza's Saga, Urza's Legacy

Written by member Squeeman

“Created planes fail. They cannot evolve. They dare not grow. They are doomed from the moment of their creation. I understand that now . . .” —Urza Planeswalker

Purify, by John Avon Overview
Serra’s realm is monument to the protection of one ideal, one eternal goal: preservation. Every facet of the plane was created to preserve beauty at its peak. Serra’s realm was heaven. No mortal would likely have been able to gaze upon it without forever being moved by the sight. This plane has played a major part in the history of the Dominarian Nexus, as well as that of Ulgrotha, even though it is far removed from both. In addition, this world is where Serra, one of the most influential planeswalkers ever born, began to finally began to realize her aspirations of perfection.

Geography/Physical Attributes
Plains, by Rob Alexander The geography of Serra’s realm is an uncertain thing. The land of the realm is made up of a series of meadows, separated from each other by sky, and often by slight difference in altitude. These meadows float continually through the air in a preset, ordered pattern, never straying or colliding with one another. It is impossible to actually walk off, or even reach the edge of one of these meadows. Should one head towards the edge, one would find oneself eternally going in circles and returning along one’s original path. There are an unknown number of these meadows. It would not be impossible for there to be even an infinite amount. The grass in these drifting meadows is eternally ripe and golden. The rocks are dun colored. Each seems the same as the others, and yet each is somehow unique. There are trees and bushes, though these are not as common as the rolling meadows. The bushes provide berries, though all their outer branches bear thorns, preventing the desecration of the ambient perfection of the plane.

The sky of the plane is fixed in an eternal golden sunrise. The sunrise seems to come from every direction equally, so navigational directions such as north, south, east and west do not truly exist. Clouds hang in all directions. These are never storm clouds, but beautiful, heavenly bodies that reflect the golden sheen of the rising sun. The very air of the plane has the capacity of sustaining life, negating any need in mortals to eat or drink, although tiredness still comes naturally as a result of having been awake. Music can be heard throughout the realm, a sweet symphony of the tinkling of glass chimes, and the immortal song of the beautiful angels.

Serra's Sanctum, by Ciruelo Although the plane has some communities (albeit strongly conservative ones educated by Serra and culturally identical), the area of the most concentrated population is Serra’s Sanctum, an enormous palace. This place is the center of the realm- not so much geographically (as there is no edge to the skyline, and there are no concrete lateral directions) as it is the seat of power. From here, Serra used to extend her power over the entire realm, nurturing it and its people. The palace is similar in shape to an upside down question mark. It is large by any standards, dwarfing even the highest of mountains found on natural planes. A seemingly endless spiral staircase winds up the middle.

There are three parts of the Sanctum truly worthy of note. One is the main plaza. In the center of this plaza is a great fountain, five stories high, carved with ornate angelic statues. On this fountain are engraved the words Art, Discourse, Freedom and Peace, which are the ultimate virtues upon which Serra based her realm. The next item of interest is the Cocoon. This is an oval structure, full of white mana, and imbued with all its properties. This used to be the resting place of Serra from which she would maintain her plane without having to be distracted by more mundane things. It is believed that any being of a white mana base who rests in the Cocoon will be healed of any possible ailments that affect it, as well as having all non white mana influences dispelled. The third place of interest is the Aviary. When Serra was the matron of this world, this was her private sanctuary within a sanctuary. Lenses adorned the walls. From this vantage point, Serra could look out upon her realm, a paragon of perfection itself. Only planeswalkers could actually make sense of all the images projected to the mind through the lenses. When Radiant came to power in Serra’s realm, she had mirroring spells cast upon the lenses so that she could ever see herself rather than be driven mad by the power of an entire world—something only planeswalkers can bear.

Befoul, by Pete Venters In the last centuries of the existence of Serra’s realm, the greatly increased presence of black mana began to destroy the image of infinity and eternity. An end appeared in the previously endless sky, looking somewhat like a curve in the distance. The drifting meadows began to look more dull and decaying. The once warm summer winds that blew throughout the plane were replaced by the brimstone stench of Phyrexian glistening oil. Much of the landscape was covered with isolated towers, built as strongholds in the war between Radiant and the rebels under Urza’s protection, as well as refugee camps and towns. Finally, when the plane was destroyed and it essence used to power the Weatherlight’s Thran crystal, nothing was left of the splendor and paradise that was once Serra’s Heaven.

“From womb of nothingness sprang this place of beauty, purity, and hope realized . . .” —Song of All, canto 3 The time between events on Serra’s realm is difficult to quantify, as the inhabitants have not got a very clear perception of it. How can one count time when there are no natural markers to aid one? There was no nighttime on Serra’s realm. The sun was eternally pasted in the sky, never moving to indicate a shift. Thus, there had never been a way to break down time on that world until it finally began to wane, and timing was of the utmost importance to all who valued their survival.

Planar Birth, by Adam Rex Needless to say, however, the plane is old. So old, in fact, that it was already complete in its creation at the time of the fall of the great Thran Empire on Dominaria. Although it is not known when it was first created (its creator has departed the realm of the living and all of its natives probably see this point as the beginning of all events in the multiverse), it is known that Serra once beheld a great tragedy, possibly on her home world. After witnessing whatever foul devastation she had witnessed, she left the natural planes to create a sanctuary, where such tragedy could never occur again. She desired to see no more suffering, so she built a place where suffering could not enter uninvited. All the landmarks and concepts that make up Serra’s realm were created to be at the peak of their possible beauty. Every tree, rock and cloud was created to be perfection. The most perfect of all was the eternal sunrise, symbolizing new birth and dawn. At the same time, it means that the world is devoid of constant renewal, for fear of losing something that might never again be seen. Serra’s ideals of art, discourse, freedom and peace were made ambient in every facet of the plane.

Next, Serra peopled her world. Whether or not the first humans of her realm were imported or created, it is known that the latter is true of the Serra angels. These winged beings were the manifestation of Serra’s ideals.

Serra then undertook the education of her people. Births were rare, as not often were people more devoted to each other than to Serra. However, Serra was not jealous. When a child would be born, Serra would personally see to the child’s education, and place it in a nursing area, along with its peers. Eons passed in this way, and it seemed that the world would last untainted forever.

Healing Salve, by Heather Hudson However, many millennia after the founding of the plane, Serra sent some of her angels to rescue a pair of plane-wanderers. One was a mighty planeswalker and the other was a Phyrexian newt. Serra felt pity for the planeswalker, Urza, and let him heal inside her Cocoon for five years (Dominarian time) under the vigil of the Sanctum custodians. The newt, a thing called Xantcha, was a black mana based creature. Xantcha’s mana influence had a corrupting effect on the white mana world. Although Serra could easily control this influence as long as Xantcha cast no spells, she was made uneasy by the newt’s presence. Whether by the decision of Lady Serra or of conniving factions beneath her, Xantcha was sent to die on a strip of drifting meadow far from the Sanctum. After some time imprisoned on this patch of and under the guard of one of the Lady’s lesser, though favored priestesses, Xantcha tried making use of a levitation artifact in her stomach. Unbeknownst to both Xantcha and Serra, this artifact used black mana as a power source. The use of the artifact caused two landmasses to collide for the first time in the history of the realm. Soon after, a troop of angels came to destroy the newt and its vile artifact. They carried a huge weapon, called the Aegis, which released strong bursts of energy onto Xantcha and the hapless priestess. Luckily for Xantcha, however, mercy was one of the virtues that Serra held in highest regard. Before the angels slew Xantcha, the Lady intervened personally, bringing it to the Sanctum, where it was reunited with Urza.

Serra knew that Xantcha could not remain in her realm. She bore the newt no hatred, fear or enmity, but felt that it could not stay without jeopardizing every goal towards perfection that she had ever achieved. She volunteered to planeswalk the newt to a natural world where it would never unintentionally be a cause for destruction again. Xantcha turned down the offer, and chose to stay with Urza, wherever he should go, threatening to kill herself if she could not. The planeswalker and the Phyrexian left together soon after, their emotional interdependence to strong to be severed by any means short of death. The departure of the newt was not the culmination of the problems the world was to face.

Absolute Grace, by Jeff Miracola On the heels of Urza came an extraplanar army of horrors from Phyrexia. The Phyrexians had tracked Urza up to Serra’s realm while he had rested in the Cocoon. Now, they found a world rich in mana that could be converted to a source of power more potent than any ever found before. Led by the highest demon of Yawgmoth, Gix, the Phyrexians assaulted the plane en-masse, with demons, witch engines, and the most deadly of all, the sleeper agents. Eventually, the Phyrexians were beaten back by celestial hosts. It was during this war that one of Serra’s greatest champions, the angel Lady Selenia, was lost to the Phyrexians.

Unfortunately, it was too late for the world. The mass presence of Phyrexian black mana based creatures had caused the plane to start decaying irreparably, and more quickly than ever before. It was then that Lady Serra realized that her world was doomed. Nothing could be done to prevent its eventual collapse. However, she could take her followers, whom she loved as children, to another, natural world, where they would be safe for all time. She had been wizened by the lesson that maintaining true perfection for eternity is impossible. She proposed a mass world exodus to bring her people to safety. Not all agreed with her, though. Her strongest opponent was Radiant, an archangel fiercely devoted to her home. Radiant had seen many of the greatest warriors of the world perish or vanish in the war against Phyrexia, and was not about to give up. She was disgusted with Serra’s escapist tactics, and managed to convince a huge number of the denizens of the plane to remain behind. Serra and her followers left. Radiant and hers remained.

The people that remained on Serra’s realm were disorganized and no longer had a matron figure to unite them under one voice. Radiant, now leader of the realm, had to resort to promises of hope and glory to keep the people of her land inspired. She could not afford to rule by faith and ideals as Serra had. Now, she brought her people under an iron grip that both she and they resented.

Then, the further rapid decay of the world brought a terrifying fact to Radiant’s attention: some Phyrexians still remained on the plane. These Phyrexians were obviously sleeper agents, Phyrexians who wore the guises of other races to pass unnoticed while they sowed discord. A wave of terror and paranoia struck Radiant’s court. Anyone could be a sleeper agent. Little did she know that Gorig, her own advisor and most trusted ally, was a sleeper agent. He coaxed her into organzing militant groups of angels that would scour the world for the enemy. With these armies, Radiant unknowingly sentenced to death many innocent Serrans. Many angels and humans fled, starting refugee camps in the more remote areas of the plane. Using strange artifacts provided by Gorig, the armies would then capture the souls of their victims and store them. Each stored soul contained a fraction of the power making up Serra’s realm. Gorig planned to have these sent back to Phyrexia where the white mana would be converted to black, and would provide nigh ultimate power.

In the midst of this reign of terror, the planeswalker, Urza returned to Serra’s realm. He saw the state of decay that the plane had fallen into, and renewed his acquaintance with Radiant. She was at first defiant, for he had been the one who first led the Phyrexians to the plane. However, he reasoned with her, convincing her to consider an offer of aid, and to loosen the paranoia filling the heart of almost everyone in the world. Gorig, however, felt threatened by Urza’s presence- indeed, should Urza succeed, all his plans concerning this plane, and those of his masters, would fail. He managed to trick Radiant into a state of xenophobia and self importance so great that she went utterly mad, and declared war on Urza and his allies. Urza resolved to save at least those angels who had retained their reason, and they gathered on a distant meadow to await salvation. That salvation came in the form of the Weatherlight, a flying ship from Dominaria, and one of Urza’s creations. The ship was attacked by an army of angels, led by Gorig. While the Weatherlight, loaded with refugees tried to escape, Radiant, totally consumed by vanity, killed Urza with the aid of her angelic retainers. Tearing the powerstone eyes from his head, she escaped to Serra’s private Aviary, now become her throne room. Just as the archmage, Barrin, destroyed Gorig, Radiant pieced together the Mightstone and the Weakstone. The act released resurrected Urza, and released a burst of light that reflected on all the mirrors in the room, creating such an intense heat that the archangel was destroyed.

Urza, knowing the demise of the plane was imminent, collapsed it into the powerstone fueling the Weatheright, thus imbuing it with the power of an entire world. He did this with a heavy heart, knowing full well what his mere presence had caused the people of this world to suffer through, although he knew in his heart that he ultimately had no choice. Thus was paradise lost.

The refugees saved from the collapse were brought to Dominaria, where they were greeted with mixed feelings throughout the world. The largest group settled in Benalia, where they founded the city of Devas. It is unknown where Lady Serra went immediately after she left with her followers. However, she did eventually choose to remain on the plane of Ulgrotha, where she founded a new clergy, and used the lessons learned from her past.

Worship, by Mark Zug Serra’s realm was ruled by one religion—the worship of Lady Serra. Whether this had been Serra’s original design or not is unknown. However, her people were devoted to her. Even Radiant, who constantly argued with Serra felt that the world had been better under the planeswalker’s rule.

Serra's Hymn, by Rebecca Guay Most of the beings of Serra’s realm loved her above all else, and loved all others equally, except those who threatened the plane’s sanctity. However, every so often, beings would fall in love. Should these people create a child, they would give it over to Serra to receive an education in the matters that were important in the plane. Children would be raised together with their peers, allowing bonding experiences to happen, both between peers, and between the children and the Lady. Many women would enter the Sisterhood of Serra, which was a group of priestesses devoted to its goddess.

Art and music are two things highly valued by Lady Serra. They are ambient throughout the plane, and the inhabitants are encouraged to embrace them. It is even possible to vaguely hear tinkling music in the wind. Every piece of architecture has angelic designs and images of worship and idealism.

The Song of All is one of the most important and influencial pieces of literature from Serra’s realm. The Song of All is a ballad that recounts the entire history of the plane, from its creation, to when the author no longer took abode there. The Song was most likely written by one of the inhabitants of the realm. It is divided into several hundred cantos.

It is almost impossible to explain the philosophy of Serra’s realm without paralleling it with that of Phyrexia. The similarities are as follows:

  1. Both planes were led by a patron (or matron) figure.
  2. The rulers of both were theocrats.
  3. Both planes embraced the ideal of mercy and pity for those more wretched than oneself.
  4. Both planes revolved strictly on a firm system of order, including a respected hierarchy.
  5. In both, one was expected to know obedience and follow it unquestioningly before all other impulses
However, the similarities are merely general guidelines. While Yawgmoth, lord of Phyrexia embraced pity, his wish was to transform and improve all the wretched beings of the worlds. Serra, conversely, believed in acceptance and mercy borne of understanding. Yawgmoth’s hierarchy was one of cruelty, where the higher classes had the right of tyranny over the lower. Serra’s hierarchy barely existed beyond the moral obligations given to one of a certain post. In Yawgmoth’s world, free will did not exist, unless it was a mistake- the result of a failure. In Serra’s world, free will existed and was accepted, although there was never need for a difference of opinion until the realm started to collapse, and the debate whether to leave or stay began. Finally, on Serra’s realm, there is the emotion, love. Such a thing could never exist in the mind of a perfect product of Yawgmoth’s will. Only Xantcha, of all the Phyrexians ever created, was capable of true love.

Catastrophe, by Andrew Robinson Humans
Whether the humans of Serra’s realm were originally brought from another world, or whether they were created like the Serra angels is unknown. However, they are one of the two main races of the world. They do not serve below the angels, but as equals, possibly even surpassing them in ranks occasionally.

Herald of Serra, by Matthew Wilson Angels
The angels are creatures of light and holy fury incarnate, mixed with the capacity to love, feel mercy, and even forgive. They are the incarnation of Serra’s ideals, and they worship her fervently. There are several different types of angels, with different ranks. The angels are Serra’s creation. Aside from different angels, and rankings, there are many orders of angels. The most famous of these are the five orders of Law, Grace, Duty, Reason, and Truth. Angels of each order strive to maintain the balance of the colors of magic. In Serra’s realm, the orders of Law and Grace were the most important, as they controlled the levels of red and black mana (respectively) in the realm, and were at the forefront of the Phyrexian War.

“Life's balance is as a star: on one point is Law, and Law must be upheld. If the knots of order are loosened, chaos will spill through. Next to Law is Duty, and Duty must be obeyed. If the frame of Duty is broken, none shall weave life's fabric. Opposite Law is Grace, and Grace must be preserved. If the strands of Grace are unraveled, its design will be lost, and the people with it. Next to Grace is Reason, and Reason must be retained. If the web of Reason comes unwoven, madness will escape. Above them all is Truth, and Truth must be set free. If the wings of Truth are clipped, the voices will fall silent . . .” —Song of All, canto 167

Archangels are the greatest of the angels, the ultimate beings in the heavenly hosts. They are normal angels, only stronger, more holy, and have a higher standing.

Paragons are angels who are the epitome of a certain virtue. It is unknown how many paragons lived in Serra’s realm, but there was at least one known to Xantcha, who encountered the paragon Kinidiern.

Copyright © 1998 - 2014 and Matthew Manley