Consortium Report: "The Incident at the Eye."

Posted in Savor The Flavor on January 20, 2010

By Jenna Helland

Jenna Helland is a designer and writer for the Magic creative team. She's a member of the story team, a creative liaison with design teams, and the author of the Theros novella, Godsend.

Location: Zendikar

Person of Interest: Anowon, House of Ghet

Age: Unknown. The most reliable sources indicate that Anowon is several hundred years old, but his exact age couldn't be verified.

Current location: Unknown

When possible, we used straight inquisition when interviewing witnesses. However, physical restraints and mind trawls proved necessary with several uncooperative subjects.

Zendikar is in the midst of a fundamental change to its geology and perhaps, its cosmology. We can provide no solid evidence that the recent incident in Akoum is connected to the increased instability on the plane, but all indicators point to a correlation between these events.

The Legend of Anowon

This much is known: Anowon is the scion of powerful vampire family in Malakir. He is an expert on ruins, runes, and ancient languages. In his relentless search for answers, he has left a trail of corpses from Tazeem to Akoum. Clever and callous, Anowon is a threat that requires serious attention:

Anowon, the Ruin Sage

During the investigation, it was a challenge to reconcile conflicting information. In settlements around Zendikar, Anowon is considered a renowned mage and benevolent scholar who leads expeditions from his base camp in mountains of Akoum. With the help of his followers, he's cultivated an image of himself as an expert in ruins and arcane languages—the man to go to with strange relics and hard questions.

But there are others who speak of Anowon's treachery. Many call him a thief and a murderer. In Malakir, vampires believe that Anowon is a ruthless power-seeker, yet they view him with grudging respect. And most importantly, some scholars and adventurers believe that it is Anowon who can stop the increased instability now afflicting the already dangerous plane.

The Murder of Bloodchief Tenihas

After obtaining protection from House Kalastria in Malakir, we were able to search the city's genealogy records, which are housed in a massive chamber underneath the Kalastrian section of the city. Given the vampires' preoccupation with lineage, the records were extensive. Unfortunately, we were unable to verify basic details about Anowon's life, including his age. Some records have been destroyed and many entries have been obscured by bloodstains or slashed with a knife to make them indecipherable.

During his early years, Anowon was "first son" of the House Ghet, under the tutelage of Bloodchief Tenihas. The exact method of his "birth" is not recorded, but Anowon viewed Tenihas as a father figure and the bloodchief seemed to hold his young heir in high regard.

By all accounts, Anowon was fascinated with Tenihas's extensive library, particularly ancient texts that allude to the enslavement of vampires by "famished gods." Apparently, this ancient servitude is a vaguely remembered but poorly understood aspect of the vampires' history. What happened to the tyrants is unknown. According to witnesses, it was this mystery that created animosity between Anowon and Tenihas, who didn't want his young protégé to unearth things better left buried in the past.

One night, Tenihas was brutally murdered in his own bedroom—his retinue slaughtered, and his treasure stores plundered. The only surviving witness swore that Anowon had killed his bloodchief in a fit of rage and then vanished. Anowon didn't return to his homeland for many decades, and in the intervening years, the legend of the killing of Tenihas grew to almost mythic proportions.

The Infiltration of Sea Gate

Anowon spent the next decades as sell-sword, honing his skills as a mage and warrior during dangerous expeditions. The most reliable information from this period comes from the Bala Ged Expeditionary House, where Anowon pledged his loyalty for a brief period. While hiring himself out to expeditions, he deciphered archaic language variants, inked hundreds of rune-scrolls, and collected hundreds of relics. Although the circumstances are lost to memory, it was during one of these expeditions that Anowon acquired a powerful scroll now known as the Dragon's Fire. Almost immediately afterward, Anowon renounced his loyalty to the expeditionary house and disappeared from Bala Ged.

A few years later, a young man calling himself Kejahar appeared at the Lighthouse in Sea Gate. He impressed the resident scholars with his magecraft and knowledge of the ancient world. He also possessed several powerful relics, which intensified the scholars' curiosity about the mysterious stranger. Based on several descriptions of the man, it's certain that this was Anowon in disguise. He soon ingratiated himself with the Lighthouse community. He traveled extensively with merfolk expeditions and spent untold hours in the Lighthouse Library, the largest collection of writings in Zendikar.

Despite having to deny his true nature as a vampire, this may have been one of the happiest times in Anowon's life. There are no indications of murders or thefts, and it seems that Anowon was genuinely seeking knowledge without dark motives. Then a young kor woman was killed and dumped in an alley near the Lighthouse. She was an acquainted with Anowon, and he was blamed for her murder. During the interrogation by the militia, Anowon's true nature as a vampire was revealed. The townsfolk beat Anowon nearly to death and dumped his body over the seawall. How he survived the dizzying fall into the Halimar is not known.

Because of his enforced departure, Anowon left many possessions at the Lighthouse, which the steward permitted us to view. Unfortunately, the Dragon's Fire scroll was not among the objects that Anowon left behind. But according to one of the scholars who read the scroll, it was the beginning of Anowon's preoccupation with the name "Ugin."

Massacre at Carnage Altar

His near-death experience at Sea Gate seems to have been a turning point in Anowon's life. From then on, he stole and killed indiscriminately to accomplish his goals. We discovered a witness to an event that is not common knowledge, even to Anowon's followers. A woman named Sabra says she encountered the vampire while on an expedition to Carnage Altar, a ruin in the jungles of Murasa. With Sabra's permission, we trawled her mind with spells, and confirmed that she is telling the truth. The ropey scar marring her neck also confirms her story.

Sabra was a new sell-sword on her first expedition out of the Murasa Expedition House. Her party had been hired to find a chest with this symbol:

Sabra was hired by a "Beyond Man," who provided the party with a map that led to a tomb below Carnage Altar. The expedition was plagued with problems from the beginning. Supplies kept disappearing, and their pack-hurdas succumbed to a mysterious sickness, probably from tainted water. One night, something dragged the healer from his bedroll and eviscerated him just beyond the light of the campfire—without anyone hearing a sound.

For the next few days, Sabra was sure that something followed their every move through the wilderness. Once inside the tomb, they located the chest, but were immediately attacked by a "nightmare abomination." When pressed for more information, Sabra described the creature as a cross between a hydra and a skeletal beast. Most of the party was slaughtered during this battle, but Sabra struck down the monster with a killing blow. Once she recovered the chest, a hidden foe emerged from the shadows and slit her throat. Falling to the ground, she glimpsed her attacker just before she lost consciousness. Her would-be killer was Anowon, of that she has no doubt.

After further research, we believe this chest contained crucial information about the Eye of Ugin, which many believe to be a relic hidden in the mountains of Akoum. Little is known about the mysterious Ugin. But by this time Anowon's quest for answers had become an obsession.

Origin of the League of Anowon

Now, Anowon sought the Eye of the Ugin with a singularity of purpose. Yet again and again, his quarry eluded him. From his base camp in Akoum, he gathered a group of rabble around him, searching endlessly for the eye and secretly killing anyone who got in his way. His widespread reputation as a ruin sage proved especially useful as adventurers would come to him for help and answers. He used their relics and knowledge to further his quest for the Eye. Many murders are lodged in the memories of his followers, and one can only imagine how many corpses of unsuspecting adventurers lay strewn across Akoum's rocky landscape.

And then Chandra Nalaar walked into his base camp.

According to one of his followers (another uncooperative witness), Anowon believed that Chandra had memorized a map that led to the Eye that he had long been searching for. He planned to guide her through the wilderness until they found Ugin's Eye, then kill her. But once Anowon and Chandra disappeared into the wilds, that was the last his followers saw of him until Jace Beleren and his guide met the crazed Anowon near the Eye of Ugin.

We have scoured the disturbed Eye and have been unable to determine exactly what transpired inside the chamber. Bodies were strung along the cavern walls. Reservoirs of blood pooled beneath crumbled walkways. There is an unsettling atmosphere and occasional tremors similar to the ones that threaten all of Zendikar. During a fight with a third planeswalker, Chandra Nalaar was engulfed in a white flame, but it is not known if this affected her physiology or magecraft. The alteration in the Eye indicates that something opened or was otherwise undone.

Anowon was last seen in a distressed state near the ruin. Further observation is warranted. The case remains open.

Threat Measure: High.

Report prepared at the request of Jace Beleren.

For more on the planeswalker story, see the Path of the Planeswalker graphic novel.

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