Each day this week, we've been looking at a card that touches on some part of Dominarian history. We'll talk a bit about that history, show off the art, and discuss the flavor text. When we discuss the place in Dominarian history, we'll be using years before and after the Argivian Reckoning (AR), kind of like how we use BC and AD in the real world.
Today we're looking at some of the most spectacular art in the set, from Noah Bradley: Karn's Temporal Sundering.
And let's see the card itself before diving in to what's going on here.
To get a grip on what's going on, let's check out the art description that was handed off to Noah.
Color: Blue legendary spell
Location: The original Tolarian Academy (see ref)
Action: The silver golem Karn uses a techno-magical time travel spell that backfires horribly when the temporal aperture overheats and explodes. The result is a conventional explosion that also fractures time itself, separating the Isle of Tolaria into areas where time runs at different speeds—some much slower, some much faster. Slow-time areas are brighter, and fast-time areas are dimmer. In some slow-time areas, the original explosion is still going, tearing apart buildings and trees; in fast-time areas, the ruins of Academy buildings are long overgrown. One fast-time area is a dark gorge where Phyrexians have built their own horrible kingdom; we might not see this in much detail.
Central character: Karn is a silver golem, seven or eight feet tall. He is the epicenter of this explosion, unharmed. But he is screaming in horror at what is happening around him.
Focus: Karn and the temporal chaos he caused.
Mood: Ages ago, one golem accidentally shredded time itself.
So what does this refer to? Let's take a trip back into the era of Dominaria after the Flood Ages (2934 to 3285 AR) and into what we refer to as Modern History for Dominaria.
In 3285, Urza founded the first Tolarian Academy (where Teferi and Jhoira were both students, by the way). Shortly after, he also created Karn and the original skyship Weatherlight. He also, as it turned out, tried to build a time machine.
Because that always goes well.
Karn was made of silver, because silver was a material that could travel through Urza's time portal (obviously). Karn was meant to be the one to travel through time using Urza's temporal aperture and stop the Phyrexians from ever even being created. Sounds like a solid time-travel-related plan.
Shockingly, it did not go well.
Instead what happened was that the device exploded and time ran all kinds of different ways on Tolaria. I won't get into it, but it resulted in some pretty terrible things happening, particularly in the slow time areas.
This event created one of the many time rifts on Dominaria that were the focus of the events in Time Spiral, which took place near 4500 AR. During those events, Karn—now a Planeswalker—gave up his spark to seal one of the time rifts. But in giving up his spark, he became susceptible to the Phyrexian infection that had been living in him all along. And that was how we got New Phyrexia.
Oh, and by the way, Karn was also responsible for all of the Mirari nonsense we talked about yesterday, because he created the Mirari.
Karn was later restored to Planeswalker status when Venser sacrificed himself to save Karn from the Phyrexians at the cost of Venser's own life.
Considering how much of the Multiverse's history came out of Urza building a golem, giving it sentience, and trying to have it travel through time, I think everyone would probably have been a lot better off if Urza had just, ya know, not.