Do You Want to Know a Secret?

Posted in Feature on March 5, 2002

By Rei Nakazawa, Magic Creative Text Writer

Everyone loves being let in on a secret. By shining some light into formerly dark corners, you gain a new understanding of things you thought were familiar. Knowing the storyline of the Urza's block and Invasion block, for example, surely made the Antiquities storyline look a lot different. But secrets, being secrets, are very hard to come by. A seemingly insignificant event on its own can take on extraordinary meaning if put into the right context. In The Secrets of Magic, top-notch writers share some of Dominaria's secrets with you, giving you a glimpse into dark corners of the Magic world the cards only hint at. What sort of secrets? See for yourself:

Obsessive Search, Torment: As this card amply shows in its art, the quest for knowledge can pull even the brightest mind into a power hunger rivaled only by the most selfish black mages. Paul B. Thompson tells a story of what may happen when that fever gets a grip. During the long Ice Age, a powerful wizard is dying. Scribes and rival wizards alike scramble to record his secrets before he expires. But one scribe in particular gains a bit of knowledge that he shouldn't -- a bit of knowledge that would one day have far-reaching consequences no one could ever imagine.

Plague Rats, Alpha thru Fourth Edition: The whole point of this classic card is a valuable warning: Creatures that are weak alone can become much more dangerous in numbers. Residents of a distant, shadow-filled land learn this the hard way when these vermin start overwhelming entire villages with a crippling disease. Philip Athans tells of a little girl, just one of the many orphans created by the dreaded rats, and a kind patron that she finds in the most unexpected place.

Elvish Scout, Christopher Rush, Fallen Empires, or Elvish Hunter, Susan van Camp, Fallen Empires: The elves have never been a race given to direct confrontation or close hand-to-hand combat. They instead prefer to attack from a distance, to observe the enemy's weakness, and take it out with a surgical strike. Nate Levin's elven protagonist, Kylor, is one of these scouts, sent by her clan to investigate a new human settlement on the outskirts of the forest. But on the way, she meets an odd character who helps her along in her journey -- a character that will be very familiar to many Magic players.

Goblin King, Seventh Edition: This card more than any other has always summed up the chaotic nature of goblin society. How else can you describe a culture where the main route to leadership is assassination? Jim Bishop tries with his look into the inner workings of goblin government. Though they're not too bright, the goblins have more than enough numbers and firepower to take care of a hapless army trying to get through their territory. When one of the goblins is captured, he'll have to do everything he can to survive.

Kukemssa Pirates, Mirage: Who hasn't dreamed of living a life of adventure or of roaming the high seas in search of gold and glory? These pirates live that dream, and the captain of the Burning Vengeance, according to Chris Pramas, even has his honorable side. When he and his band of cutthroats encounter a ship that might be trading in slaves, he keeps its captain captive until he can discover the truth. What he didn't count on was the presence of one very special stowaway. . . .

Far Wanderings, Torment: Imagine what it's like to be the druid in the art, looking out at the vast forest below. A sight like that can make you feel pretty small and insignificant, especially when you remember that, despite all its beauty, nature can be very dangerous. Cory Herndon definitely remembers that, and so will his characters, especially Tenya, the daughter of a powerful elf chieftain. She is due to be married to the son of a powerful human, which should cement an alliance between the two races. But one of nature's fouler children disrupts the wedding, and she and her would-be groom must learn to trust each other if they want to rescue their families from this terrible threat.

Seafloor Debris, Odyssey: The Phyrexian invasion left behind many victims. This card shows you just one of them, and it gives you an idea of the utter devastation that the Apocalypse left behind underwater. J. Robert King introduces you to a motley group of outcasts from the Vodalian Empire who are lucky enough to be among the few survivors of Yawgmoth's destruction. Left in the ruins of the once-mighty empire, this band must find a way to survive and rebuild, or die trying.

Balthor the Stout, Torment: Balthor's illustration gives you an idea of what the dwarf is like: hearty, an eager fighter, and a commander of great loyalty. Will McDermott's tale adds a little more meat to the background of this important Odyssey block character. When the Phyrexian invasion ends, most survivors return home to pick up the pieces. One dwarf, however, finds he cannot. Can he find a new home among a strange people?

Ambassador Laquatus, Torment: Think you know Ambassador Laquatus? His poisonous smile, his keen mind, and his endless ambition are all well-known. But what darker secret does his past hold? How did a merfolk come into the service of the cephalids? Vance Moore adds yet another crime to Laquatus's long list, as he shows you just how Aboshan and his cephalid empire came to rule the waters around the continent of Otaria.

Insidious Dreams, Torment: Evil dreams of many things: power, gold, knowledge. Its dark thoughts, and its insatiable urge to have it all, are admirably expressed in this card's illustration, and it's also what drives the main character of Scott McGough's story. A member of a powerful crime family, this young man is nonetheless a minor figure compared to his powerful mother and magically gifted siblings and cousins. His dreams of becoming something more are granted, and his actions will start a dynasty of evil that will last for centuries.

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