The Legends of Zendikar Rising

Posted in Feature on September 15, 2020

By Ari Zirulnik

It's official: with Zendikar Rising (and its two Commander decks) bringing a total of 19 new legends to the game—Magic now has over 1,000 legendary creatures!

Whether you're running one as your commander or windmill slamming it pack 1, pick 1 in a draft, we think it's important for you to know who it is you're playing with. This article gives a little backstory on each and every legendary creature in the set and will link to any further reading, should it be available.

LEGENDARY HUMANOIDS OF SEA GATE

Akiri, Fearless Voyager

Akiri, Fearless Voyager
Akiri, Fearless Voyager | Art by: Ekaterina Burmak

Akiri is arguably the greatest line-slinger on Zendikar, blazing new trails and surviving falls that would prove fatal to anyone else. In the past, she served as guide to a band of kor, but she was forced to watch helplessly as an Eldrazi attack took the lives of her comrades. This event hardened her, and she swore to fend for herself from then on.

Once the Eldrazi were defeated, for lack of anything better to do, she found herself involved with the reconstruction of Sea Gate. She fell in with a party of adventurers who struck forth in search of rare materials needed to complete the city. Among those adventurers was the merfolk Zareth San. Connecting with Zareth and other adventurers helped her open up once more, and her desire to fend for herself slowly became a desire to protect those closest to her. Sea Gate completed, she now spends her days traveling between the expeditionary house and the Skyclaves in the company of her found family.

Read more about Akiri:

"The Red Route"
"Episode 2: Race to the Impassible Bastion"

Zareth San, the Trickster

Zareth San, the Trickster
Zareth San, the Trickster | Art by: Zack Stella

Zareth is among the top rogues on all of Zendikar. If you need something stolen, well, he's probably already taken it for himself. He believes life is unfair and the only way to get ahead is to lie and take until you have everything you need. He grew up without much and lost the little he had in the battle against the Eldrazi.

He became involved with the reconstruction of Sea Gate, thinking it wouldn't be hard for things to go missing in all the hubbub. To his own surprise, he found himself genuinely invested. He had intended to leave as soon as the city was completed, but he discovered a compelling reason to stay. During the restoration, he found a true connection with Akiri, Kaza, and Orah. Working with his new comrades gave Zareth a sense of purpose and belonging he hadn't felt in a long time.

Read more about Zareth:

"The Red Route"
"Episode 2: Race to the Impassible Bastion"

Kaza, Roil Chaser

Kaza, Roil Chaser
Kaza, Roil Chaser | Art by: Ekaterina Burmak

Kaza is a thrill seeker and master wizard. She looks down on more indirect magic and believes that bigger is better. If explosions and fireballs and giant boulders can't solve your problem, you should probably ask someone else. She's also a bit of a tinker and was able to cobble together a flying wizard's staff from technology she found in the Skyclaves.

She involved herself with the Sea Gate restoration efforts after Zareth and Akiri saved her from an elemental attack (that she totally had under control—trust her). She realized things could get even more out of hand with a full party and agreed to help them with their explorations. She was shocked to find out how well she got along with her teammates and would to anything to protect them, as long as that anything can be done via force.

Read more about Kaza:

"Episode 2: Race to the Impassible Bastion"

Orah, Skyclave Hierophant

Orah, Skyclave Hierophant
Orah, Skyclave Hierophant | Art by: Heonhwa Choe

Orah is a kor cleric who is deeply connected to ancient kor civilizations. He lived his life in awe of the past, learning what he could from the various ruins. Over time, he became quite the master cleric, among the best on Zendikar. Ironically, the past took everything away from him. When the Eldrazi returned, his family was lost in the struggle.

Listless, he wandered the plane. When the Skyclaves rose again, he took it as a sign that he must rise again himself. Orah realized that the easiest way to get inside of a Skyclave would be to join the Sea Gate restoration efforts, as they frequently sent parties to explore the ruins for supplies. He found a vacancy in Akiri's party, and then found much more. He couldn't shake how much Akiri, Zareth, and Kaza reminded him of the children he had lost—and vowed to protect them as if they were his own.

Read more about Orah:

"Episode 2: Race to the Impassible Bastion"

Anowon, the Ruin Thief

Anowon, the Ruin Thief
Anowon, the Ruin Thief | Art by: Magali Villeneuve

In settlements around Zendikar, Anowon was considered a renowned mage and benevolent scholar. With the help of his followers, he cultivated an image of himself as a man of knowledge—the person to go to with strange relics and hard questions. He didn't like the answers he found after leading planeswalkers to the Eye of Ugin led to the release of the Eldrazi.

In the years since the appearance of the Eldrazi, Anowon's fortunes, and his reputation, have been in steady decline. Numerous adventurers have made claims that he stole the credit for their expeditions and discoveries, not to mention stealing some of the precious finds they uncovered. With the rise of the ancient kor Skyclaves, Anowon has dedicated himself with renewed purpose to deciphering the secrets of this lost civilization . . . and rebuilding his own power and prestige.

Read more about Anowon:

(This story coming soon)
"Journey to the Eye"
"Awakenings"
"Enter the Eldrazi"
Zendikar: In the Teeth of Akoum
"Consortium Report: 'The Incident at the Eye'"

Obuun, Mul Daya Ancestor

Obuun, Mul Daya Ancestor
Obuun, Mul Daya Ancestor | Art by: Chris Rallis

To the Mul Daya nation of elves, the spirit world and the mortal realm are equally important, equally real, and equally present in daily life. The spirits of the dead are full-fledged members of the Mul Daya nation, and Obuun is first among them.

In life, centuries ago, Obuun led the elven rebellion against the Bala Ged Skyclave. In death, he is the key advisor to Speaker Hazzan, the leader of the nation. Even though Obuun has been dead for ages, it in no way impedes his influence. On the contrary, the ancient elf spirit holds an unparalleled mastery of both the spirit world and the forces of nature. Speaker Hazzan's influence is heightened by his close relationship with Obuun, but he would lose his honorable position if he were ever seen disagreeing with Obuun or disobeying his commands.

Read more about Obuun:

(This story coming soon)

Tazri, Beacon of Unity

Tazri, Beacon of Unity
Tazri, Beacon of Unity | Art by: Chris Rallis

In her youth, Tazri encountered a dying angel. Wounded in battle against vampires, the angel asked Tazri to end her suffering. Tazri killed the angel in an act of mercy and took her halo so she would never forget, or forgive, what she did.

Nineteen years later, Tazri was the primary advisor to Commander Vorik of Sea Gate. When the Eldrazi awoke, she found herself fighting alongside Gideon Jura—and she wasn't happy about it. When Commander Vorik lay dying, he named Gideon his successor. This infuriated Tazri, who should have been next in line.

She partook in many battles against the Eldrazi and ultimately survived their assault thanks to the power of the halo and the soothing, forgiving angelic power within. Restored by the angel's grace, Tazri took her rightful place as commander of Sea Gate and led the final stand against the Eldrazi. She led the reconstruction of the city, which had been destroyed in the battle. With the assistance of the angel Linvala, Tazri convinced the expedition houses to work together, and now Sea Gate shines once again.

As a new age of exploration dawns on Zendikar, Tazri will see to it that her city and plane flourishes.

Read more about Tazri:

"The Blight We Were Born For"
"Zendikar Resurgent"

Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate

Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate
Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate | Art by: Wayne Reynolds

Millennia ago, the angels agreed to keep watch over the imprisoned Eldrazi. As time passed, they became lax in their vigilance and allowed the creatures to escape. Although the Eldrazi were reimprisoned by Nahiri, the angels had failed. As penance for their mistake, all the angels began to wear their halos across their eyes, symbolizing their blindness and providing a constant irritation that reminded them to remain watchful. Except for Linvala.

Linvala believes that the halos blind the angels from the day-to-day problems of the people of Zendikar. As her peers flew high above the plane, keeping an eye out for potential dangers, Linvala descended to the city of Sea Gate and offered to help lead the restoration project. She quickly allied herself with Commander Tazri, and the presence of an angel was more than enough to solidify Tazri's leadership.

OTHER LEGENDARY HUMANOIDS

Drana, the Last Bloodchief

Drana, the Last Bloodchief
Drana, the Last Bloodchief | Art by: Tyler Jacobson

Drana is a vampire bloodchief of House Kalastria. When the other vampires were subjugated by Eldrazi, Drana led the vampiric resistance against them. She retook the city of Malakir for a time, only to lose it to the enemy hordes. Nearing defeat, she combined forces with Gideon and Tazri, ultimately leading to the Eldrazi's defeat.

As the only survivor of the first generation of vampires, Drana holds unquestioned leadership over vampire society as it rebuilds from the devastation of the war against the Eldrazi. In a desperate attempt to repopulate vampire society, Drana is trying to discover the means to create new bloodchiefs, since only a bloodchief can create a new vampire. Her desire to rebuild her shattered race makes Guul Draz particularly dangerous for non-vampire visitors.

Read more about Drana:

"Memories of Blood"

Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats

Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats
Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats | Art by: Anna Steinbauer

Zagras is Drana's right-hand. Her word is his bidding, and his loyalty is unquestioning. He has devoted himself to scouring the Skyclaves in search of the means to create new bloodchiefs. This is the source of his loyalty—Drana has promised Zagras that should he find the secret of creation, he will be the first to receive its gifts.

His abilities as a rogue are not to be underestimated. He navigates the dangerous hallways of the Skyclaves with ease. Many adventurer parties have woken in the morning to discover their own rogue missing and a nearby Zagras ready to offer his condolences—and his services.

Taborax, Hope's Demise

Taborax, Hope's Demise
Taborax, Hope's Demise | Art by: G-host Lee

In the wake of the Eldrazi's rise, many people of Zendikar feel that their gods have turned against them. In desperation, those who are already inclined toward wickedness and depravity increasingly turn to the worship and service of demons. Of all the demons, Taborax has amassed the largest following, his cult believing he could singlehandedly protect them from a potential Eldrazi resurgence. Sometimes he shares a small taste of power with his "most devout," but Taborax makes certain he receives much more in turn.

Moraug, Fury of Akoum

Moraug, Fury of Akoum
Moraug, Fury of Akoum | Art by: Rudy Siswanto

Some minotaurs, like Moraug, forego all the trappings of civilization and live in the wilds, embracing their bestial nature. He lives as a predator, feeding on whatever animals he can catch—or on humanoids if no other prey is available.

His horns have grown wild and cruel—perhaps larger than any minotaur in history. A black market exists for minotaur horns, and ones as large as Moraug's could keep a person fed for the rest of their life. Many would-be poachers have found the horns they seek—brutally impaled through their sternum.

LEGENDARY ELEMENTALS

Omnath, Locus of Creation

Omnath, Locus of Creation
Omnath, Locus of Creation | Art by: Chris Rahn

Omnath is a being of pure mana, a manifestation of Zendikar's chaotic, primeval forces that is capable of wreaking massive destruction. When the Eldrazi awoke, Omnath began to change. Like a human body fighting a disease, Omnath began to adapt to deal with the Eldrazi threat. It absorbed more and more mana, embodying not just the might of the forests and jungles, but the fury of the mountains, the unrelenting seas, and the life-giving plains of Zendikar.

The Eldrazi are gone now, but Omnath is still growing. What is its goal? If it is truly Zendikar incarnate, what does the plane want . . . and how will it get it?

Ashaya, Soul of the Wild

Ashaya, Soul of the Wild
Ashaya, Soul of the Wild | Art by: Chase Stone

Ashaya was summoned by Nissa to fight the Eldrazi. Nissa named the elemental Ashaya, meaning The Awoken World. Unlike other Elementals, Ashaya did not return to Zendikar when the battle was completed. In their time together, Nissa realized she was one with Zendikar, and Ashaya showed her how to wield the leylines of Zendikar and the power of the land.

Phylath, World Sculptor

Phylath, World Sculptor
Phylath, World Sculptor | Art by: Victor Adame Minguez

Elementals are physical incarnations of the primal natural forces that make up the plane of Zendikar. Many are pieces of the plane—plateaus, islands, or expanses of water awakened to fight the Eldrazi. The longer the Eldrazi rampaged across the plane, the more active and violent these elementals became, and the destruction of the Eldrazi has not entirely settled them.

Phylath is the exception. From the moment of its "birth," Phylath has only created—never destroyed. Deep within Murasa, Phylath tends to a peculiar little garden, one populated by living plants it has cultivated. It tends to this small society with a delicate touch never before seen in an elemental. Is Phylath a strange aberration? Or is Zendikar itself changing?

Yasharn, Implacable Earth

Yasharn, Implacable Earth
Yasharn, Implacable Earth | Art by: G-host Lee

Yasharn awoke as a direct response to the return of Kozilek. It is the will of the Makindi Trenches and has rampaged ceaselessly since its awakening. The rise of the Skyclaves brought much attention to ancient kor ruins, but Yasharn's presence has kept Makindi completely untouched.

As Yasharn tramples across the land, new growths spring up from its footprints, including strange fruits and flowers never before seen on Zendikar. They bloom for a brief and beautiful moment, before the elemental doubles back and crushes them beneath its massive, verdant hooves.

LEGENDARY MONSTERS

Verazol, the Split Current

Verazol, the Split Current
Verazol, the Split Current | Art by: Daarken

Magosi is the tallest waterfall along the Umara River, plunging almost 300 feet over a sheer cliff. The portage near the top of the waterfall is a popular resting point for travelers, but it is hardly a safe refuge. Verazol, a massive, twin-mouthed serpent, dwells in a deep, aquatic cave behind the cascade.

Verazol effortlessly swims up and down the waterfall, hunting at both elevations. While the top mouth will happily gorge itself on hapless travelers, the bottom mouth prefers to feed on the fish that spawn at the waterfall's base.

Read more about Verazol:

"The Magosi Steps"

Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager

Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager
Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager | Art by: Filip Burburan

Grakmaw is a massive hydra that lurked in the shadows of a fallen Skyclave for centuries. Completely blind due to living in complete darkness, the hydra's other senses are extremely sensitive. Grakmaw feeds primarily on the giant centipedes and other insects that skitter about the corridors.

When the Skyclaves rose once again, Grakmaw discovered a new source of food—adventuring parties. The few adventurers that survive the climb to the entrance Grakmaw guards never seem to find the exit.

Read more about Grakmaw:

(This story coming soon)

Charix, the Raging Isle

Charix, the Raging Isle
Charix, the Raging Isle | Art by: Viktor Titov

When Iona destroyed the Tazeem Skyclave, huge chunks of it fell into the ocean. One particular piece of ruin, housing a powerful and forgotten kor artifact, landed on a clutch of crab eggs. The eggs were all crushed—except for one. That egg hatched and, denied normal food, gorged itself on the energy of the artifact. It grew larger and explored the surrounding ruins, finding new artifacts upon which to feed. When the Skyclaves rose once more, many of the Tazeem ruins emerged from the ocean. Its lifestyle and food supply interrupted, Charix has breached from the depths in search of sustenance.

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