Of Monks and Mantises

Posted in Arcana on October 8, 2014

By Blake Rasmussen

Blake is the content manager for DailyMTG.com, making him the one you should email if you have thoughts on the website, good or less good (or not good). He's a longtime coverage reporter and hasn't turned down a game of Magic in any format ever.

In today's Uncharted Realms we meet Kuhnde, one of the many monks of Jeskai and one of the few who is capable of riding a mantis. The story contains two stunning pieces of art from Johann Bodin (Mantis Rider) and Igor Kieryluk (Highspire Mantis) that made it impossible for me not to go digging around in their art descriptions for more flavor. And these cards are certainly dripping with flavor.

Mantis Rider

Setting: Tarkir
Clan: Jeskai
Color: White/blue/red creature
Location: Sky (any outdoor Jeskai location, but in the air)
Action: Show a human male monk who rides a giant, white, flying, mantis. The mantis has its wings spread, and the monk balances deftly in the saddle, wielding a long spear or staff of some kind. They must be moving fast, because the mantis's wings are a blur and the monk's robes blow in the wind.
Focus: We need the monk to be visible at card size.
Mood: A mount for advanced monks who've trained for years

Mantis Rider | Art by Johann Bodin

Of course, we've also seen what happens when a Mantis goes out on its own.

Highspire Mantis

Setting: Tarkir
Clan: Jeskai
Color: White/red creature
Location: Jeskai mountainous location, near a fallen bell
Action: Show a giant mantis (but with no rider). It has pale exoskeleton, fading to red in places, with its translucent wings spread open. This giant mantis perches on a hilly peak in Jeskai territory, on top of a huge, vertical bell that has fallen into the snow of the peak. (This bell should look old and in disrepair.)
Focus: The giant mantis
Mood: A wild and untamed bug-beast.

Highspire Mantis | Art by Igor Kieryluk

Until reading this, I hadn't even noticed the bell the mantis was perched on. Those kinds of details are my favorite little bits to uncover in these descriptions.

Speaking of which, while cruising the Multiverse file for other monks, I came across a number of tidbits I wanted to share.

For example, most of the monks look like they're in some stage of kicking someone's ass. Or, in this particular case, someone's fist.

Deflecting Palm

Setting: Tarkir
Clan: Jeskai
Color: White/red spell
Location: see below
Action: This spell represents a Jeskai monk effortlessly stopping an enemy attack. Show Narset, the leader of the Jeskai. She is on an errand that is taking her through an enemy territory. A Mardu barbarian has tried to ambush her, throwing a powerful punch at her face, which she has simply blocked with her open palm. Her hand glows softly and the barbarian's forearm has violently broken from the force of his own punch. Narset's face is placid. This is not even an inconvenience for her.
Focus: The action of a blocked punch breaking the attacker's arm
Mood: You don't mess with a martial arts master.

Deflecting Palm | Art by Eric Deschamps

I hadn't even caught the bones breaking on this before! Brutal.

But not everything is going smoothly for the monks on Tarkir...

Crater's Claws

Setting: Tarkir
Clan: Temur
Color: Red spell
Location: Frozen lake in an arctic valley
Action: Show an enormous geyser of lava blasting up out of a frozen lake, maybe 30 feet (10m) high. The wave of lava is shaped like an arm, with three prominent, curving claws at the end, as if a massive lava elemental was reaching up out of the depths of the world and was about to savagely smash something. For scale, show a single, tiny Jeskai monk looking up at the lava claw, about to be crushed into ash.
Focus: The huge geyser of lava
Mood: The anger of the wilderness, about to punish mankind

Crater's Claws | Art by Noah Bradley

Poor monk. We can't leave them like that. Instead, let's leave them doing awesome jumping kicks.

Flying Crane Technique

Setting: Tarkir
Clan: Jeskai
Color: White/blue/red spell
Location: Any Jeskai location
Action: This spell represents a powerful, over-the-top martial arts move, in which several Jeskai monks all fly into the air and execute a series of acrobatic kicks and punches. Show three Jeskai warriors (perhaps a female human, a male human, and an efreet) who are executing this stunning assault. They leap fist-forward, maybe in all different body positions or maybe all united in some kind of combined attack. It looks artful—and deadly.
Focus: The Jeskai monks' attack
Mood: A furious attack, yet as poised and unruffled as a kung fu master at the same time.

Flying Crane Technique | Art by Jack Wang

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