By BlueRam aka William
Note: Article put up a day late due to extreme power outages rolling through my native state of Ohio. I apologize to my handful of fans out there.

In a time when I was still naive, unaware of the realms that the multiverse contained, I allied myself with three creatures. Each one held what I believed to be immeasurable power. Each one was a trusted friend, with whom I waged war against my foes.

Kaalia of the Vast, the fiercest avenger, smote the enemies who stood before her with reckless abandon. Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund, brought ruination to my opponent’s ranks, devouring those foolish enough get within claw’s reach. Rith, the Awakener, sowed armies strong enough to rival that of the ancient eldrazi of Zendikar, and it was her armies that I wanted to preserve.

As the enemies I faced grew in power, I knew more power was needed to survive. My ambitions lead me to scour the multiverse for the strongest spells it had to offer. Kaalia grew fiercer as we obtained the mythical swords of Mirrodin, and learned tectonic shattering techniques to sever mana bonds. Karrthus’s flight of thundering infernos grew larger with each new world we visited, each new member fighting amongst themselves to get ahead in the pecking order.

Together we battled, together we grew. Everyone was getting stronger…except for Rith. Rith, who was a relic from a past that hadn’t seen the horrors that a Primeval Titan or a Blightsteel Colossus could bring. In the end, we opted to part ways, hoping that I would need her someday in the future.

Rith may have left, but I still needed her army.

The care of her troops was turned over to Ghave, Guru of Spores. In the heat of battle, he proved to be a strong, and intelligent leader, but above all else he was ruthlessly  efficient. Into battle he marched with hundreds, if not thousands of his saproling followers. When he was done, no one was left on the field of battle, cleansed of even his own subordinates.

As effective as he was, he quickly became too much for me to handle. His plans were far too elaborate for me to comprehend. His tactics were so thorough that the thrill of war was gone. There was no glory to be found with him around. I could tell that the feeling was mutual, as his patience often wore thin, reporting to someone who couldn’t follow his master plan.

Before Ghave could raise a coup against me, I cut him off from the power I lent him, giving half of it to his lieutenant, Rhys, the Redeemed, and sealing the other half away. It was my hope that cleansing my army from the power of ambitious black mana would be enough to curtail unwanted growths.

I was correct, but black mana was the true core of Ghave’s power, and I still wanted to use it.

It is a subtle force, a snake that whispers to me of greater things. Of battles won through effective and cruel means. To this day, I feared that I would yet give in to its demands.

Part of those fears were realised when another one of Ghave’s lieutenants came to me with a proposition.

Teysa, Orzhov Scion, had scarcely stepped on the battlefield before Ghave had been court martialed. While she had seen no action, she knew of his strength and she longed to have the power that he once commanded.

For months she waited for her chance, using the time to study Ghave’s past battles. She knew me well enough to know that I wouldn’t be able to resist the beauty that black and white mana give off when combined. She just needed a hook to catch me on.

The hook was found while rifling through my collection of spells. It was a souvenir I had obtained from my visit to the now restored Alara. Without a means to use it, however, I had stored the scroll in my display until it was needed.

She studied that scroll day and night, quickly drawing up ways to use the spell. When she was ready, she came to see me.

I was very fond of Teysa to begin with. We go back to before my commander days when we attempted to battle other planeswalkers on smaller scales. All I needed to hear was that she was ready to lead one of my armies into battle, and that she wanted to use Necromancer’s Covenant to do so.

More than that, she wanted to use necromancy as the theme of her army. She pitched the idea of reanimating an army of zombies, and sacrificing their un-lives to power a select group of champions who could use those sacrifices to grow in power or turn them into long term resources.

I had been considering this same idea for a while.

“But,” I began, “Grimgrin, Corpse-Born’s been wanting his own army of the undead for a while now. Why should I give you these resources?”

I still remember Teysa’s smirk.

“Because I’m a master of the un-life. Even if they’re soulless abominations, I can resurrect them as spirits who will continue to serve us. I’ve already obtained Vish Kal’s support for the plan as well. Who does Grimgrin have? He’s a mindless machine who can’t move without slaughtering his own soldiers.” She continued her coy smile. “But if he has someone willing to vouch for him, I’ll gladly concede.”

“Even so,” I grinned back, “you know you’ll be competing with Olivia Voldaren for resources and support, right?”

Teysa scowled. “That gluttonous wench? Outside of those designer boots she likes to sport around, she doesn’t have anything that I’ll need. Leave the blood suckers out, allow me to command the dead, and I’ll be fine.”

“In fact,” she said as she pulled out a scroll, “I’ve already taken the liberty of writing out my requests for you.”

Without even bothering with the list, despite Teysa’s objections, I shot it down. If we were going to create a new faction together, we would be doing it with what was available to us immediately, even if it meant less power in the short-run. I like Teysa, but I wanted to be sure that what we were working towards would work before investing large sums of resources into it. At the very worst, I could reserve her forces for weaker foes.

We quickly set to work, gathering various spells that could be used with the restrictions I outlined. I wasn’t going to let over-used spells into the deck if I could help it, but removal tends to be a necessary evil when compiling spells. Teysa was adept enough at removing targets, but I would allow her to use “staple” spot removal spells, such as Path to Exile.

But those wouldn’t be her primary source of power. No. As we talked, sacrificial effects became a requirement. Grave Pact became the primary means of dealing with threats. While Teysa said she wouldn’t work with ‘blood suckers’, she seemed more than welcome to allowing the Butcher of Malakir into her ranks.

Her legion of undead started with a cache of spells I had put away for a special occasion. Gravecrawler, Corpse Connoisseur, the Cemetery Reaper, Helldozer, and Corpse Harvester were all minions that were finally ready to see the big time, either gaining me some sort of resource advantage or by denying my opponent’s theirs. Should the battle take place in the Unholy Grotto, they’ll be back for more, allowing Teysa to strip more ghostly apparitions from their bodies.

Teysa considers Requiem Angel to be her personal avatar. They both possess the power to call upon the souls of the departed, but together they are somehow able to bring up two spirits for the price of one body. The implications bothered me, but I trusted Teysa to avoid anything too unsavory.

But what of these champions that Teysa spoke of? True to her word, Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter, had pledged his allegiances to her. Able to act as a sacrifice outlet for multiple creatures, he easily gathered enough power to restore our life force while killing our foes with his bare hands.

However, I was very pleased to see that Fallen Angel had joined her ranks. A former soldier in Kaalia’s ranks, she had been replaced for grander angels. I kept her around, hoping she’d find her place someday. Thanks to Teysa, she had. While Vish Kal absorbed the total power of his tributes, Fallen Angel gained a consistent power bonus (+2/+1 to be exact), meaning that the geists that Teysa conjured up from Fallen Angel’s first round of sacrifices would be worth twice as much power if she were to land a blow on my opponent.

The Phyrexian Plaguelord is a creature that lives off of using others. Given the right circumstances, he would even be able to get out a Blightsteel Colossus. Thoughtpicker Witch has been a pleasant surprise, preventing our opponents from using using tutoring spells to call up key components of their repertoire, and forcing people to use their Sensei’s Divining Tops defensively, least they lose one of the three cards they desperately wished to keep.

Teysa had done an admirable job picking out her soldiers, but I felt that more resources could be pulled from this sudden influx of canon fodder. Soul Warden and Suture Priest both serve similar purposes in giving us a life force cushion. However, the priest has been vital in preventing us from being overrun in squirrels.

It came to be that larger spells would be needed before Teysa was ready for battle. Army of the Damned came with few drawbacks considering that the army was simply a tribute to our champions, but Alliance of Arms was deceptively powerful. As battle would prove, when one of Teysa’s Champions was on the field, it became a way to band together allies to destroy a troublesome player once, and for all.

The time came for Teysa to finally lead the charge, answering to no one but myself. I would have liked to ease her into the role of commanding, but circumstances forced her into action against heavier hitting opponents.

It became apparent that Teysa lacked the punch needed to decisively finish her opponents, but the life gain, as well as her subtle threat level kept her in action until the battle had been whittled down to herself and Dakkon Blackblade. Fortunately, I had advised Teysa of the power of Nevermore, which promptly locked out Dakkon.

With the opposing general out of commission, Teysa was able to grind out a win through sheer grit and determination. She had managed to defeat foes that even Kaalia struggled against. It was from this point that I had the confidence to go all of the way with her.

Upgrades began immediately. Reanimation became a sub-theme amongst her ranks in order to create more spirits. Creatures that wanted to be reanimated came to join her, such as Necrotic Sliver and Angel of Despair. The mighty reanimation spells of Debtor’s Knell and the praetor Sheoldred, Whispering One were indentured into service.

Before I knew it, Teysa had quickly become one of my strongest generals, keeping opponents in check with her careful tactics of sacrificial zombies. Fearful of another Ghave incident, I stripped her off a few tutors, replacing them with spells that bolstered the cards already there rather than searching out ones that were in constant use. I would allow her no Academy Rectors or Enlightened Tutors, but allowed her the use of a Rune-Scarred Demon, as it could be reanimated.

I even persuaded her to allow the ultimate “blood sucker” Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, to serve with her. I often wonder if the two get along, as they are rarely seen together in actual battle.

The final addition came only just recently. My days of traveling across Innistrad are almost over, as I plan to return to Ravnica to seek out the other guild masters. But I was fortunate enough to come across the rare and valuable tome known simply as the “Grimoire of the Dead”.

I offered it to Teysa, but she was skeptical. The book was clearly powerful, but she felt that the enemy would be rid of it before she had a chance to unleash its total power. Suffice to say that I convinced her to give it a try, but at the expense of her Land Tax enchantment. While forming mana bonds is important for any mage, I needed to make sure the cost for her power didn’t overtake my ability to control or provide for it.

Teysa is a most trusted general who has won many  battles for me since that fated slaying of Dakkon, but I find I must stop myself from exploring unwanted avenues of power. Infinite cycles are no way to win. Only time will tell if her ambition becomes greater than my own.

I hope everyone enjoyed this little experiment in narrative deck pieces, I know I did since it also gave me an excuse to look up the Lord of the Rings soundtrack.

If you have comments, suggestions, opinions, etc, feel free to leave a comment below, email me at Wiehernandez(at)gmail(dot)com, or follow me on Twitter @BlueRam1409.

Join me next week as i recall a magical feeling that you can only feel at the pre-release.

Until then, keep an eye on those you trust most, least’ they covet your power for themselves.