Welcome back to Archive Trap, the unofficial guide to Magic: the Gathering. Today we continue our discussion of The Ice Age, the period of time that began when Urza caused the Sylex Blast at the end of The Brothers’ War which caused huge ecological upheaval on Dominaria. It also created the Shard of Twelve Worlds, a magical barrier that prevented travel - by planeswalking or portal - in or out of the shard. The Ice Age ends with Freyalise’s casting of the World Spell, bringing down the magical barrier and thawing out the world. In Part I, we talked about the Fallen Empires and the Dark, both of which took place before the cold truly settled in. In Part II, we are going to dig into the Ice Age proper, with a lengthy summary of The Eternal Ice and the old Armada Comics. I have to say, before delving into this topic, the Ice Age was a period I knew the least about, and once I dug in I'm finding it's my favorite era of Dominarian history.
Lim-Dûl: Because WotC typographers love the u-circumflex and hate you.
Lim-Dûl's Vault by Wayne England
Setting the Stage
- Ice Age (Armada Comics)
- The Eternal Ice
- Soldev: The (sort-of) Untold Story
- Tea and Biscuits with Pete Venters
Following The Dark, the climate change that began with the explosive finale of The Brothers’ War has made permanent changes to the face of Dominaria. Several of the main characters from this era are, or could be, still alive, making it definitely relevant for today's audiences. I discovered during my research for this article that the lore for the period is a bit complicated, as the novel and comics do not exactly agree on what happened, which leaves a certain character's fate in limbo. As much as I love this period, it is also the most opaque period, with tons of characters that never get more than name-dropped (if that.) Also, many resources were lost when Wizards of the Coast shut down their old website's archives. This was especially apparent for Coldsnap, as the story could only be found on a mini-site that no longer exists and in the pages of the Player's Guide. I spent most of the summer tracking down all the pieces I needed to put this together, and I hope you all enjoy it.
Please note that my disclaimer regarding pre-revisionist lore is still relevant here. The comics and the novels both compliment and contradict one another, so where they conflict the most recent story will take priority. As last time, Multiverse in Review does an excellent job sorting these conflicts out, so I won't be diving into them in detail.
The Ice Age was not a hospitable place to live.
Soul Burn by Rob Alexander
The continent of Terisiare has changed much since The Dark. The City of Shadows, what was once known as the College of Lat-Nam located in the far west region of Terisiare, is now the School of the Unseen. Not much else of note exists in the west anymore. In the east, what was once the region known as Argive (later Giva Province and home to a number of independent city-states) is now the Kingdom of Kjeldor, made up of the cities of Kjeld, Krov, and Soldev. To the west and north of Kjeldor lies Balduvia, home to the semi-nomadic Barbarians living near the Kher Ridges. The Sardian Mountains are now known as the Karplusan Mountains, and lie to Kjeldor’s north. They are still home to plenty of Orcs and Goblins.
To the south of Kjeldor is the Fyndhorn, a vast forest made up of what was once the Scarwood and the Shattered Islands. The only named settlement in the Fyndhorn is Kelsinko. Further west, in what was once Yotia, is now the Adarkar Wastes. The Adarkar is a mysterious region populated with mechanical sentinels and other strange creatures. To the Adarkar’s west is Yavimaya, a sentient forest that has grown up in the time since the Brother’s War and is currently populated by sentient gorillas. Finally, to the north of the Adarkar, in what was once the Conclave of Mages (and before that, the Monastery of Gix) lies Tresserhorn, the keep of the Necromancer Lim-Dûl. Even further north is the Boreal, a region so cold that few people live there, home of the Ronom Glacier.
For more on the geography of the Ice Age, including a map of the continent, check out The Wiki.
At some point after the events of the Fallen Empires, survivors from Icatia made their way to Terisiare and established the Kingdom of Storgard. Unfortunately for them, Tevesh Szat was not content with wreaking havoc on Sarpadia. Szat follows the survivors and begins to manipulate their king. In order to destroy this new kingdom, they engineer a battle between Freyalise, then a mortal pyromancer, and Jason Carthalion, a nature mage. Jason appears to kill Freyalise and Storgard is almost completely destroyed in the battle. In the aftermath, the survivors flee the ruins of their city once more. Among them is Oriel Kjeldos, who goes on to be a founder of the city of Kjeld and the nation of Kjeldor. The city of Kjeld eventually becomes the ceremonial home of the Kjeldoran royal family, with the main capital moving to the larger and more cosmopolitan Krov. Krov is home to the Royal Academy of Mages, the premier magical institution on Terisiare outside of the School of the Unseen, with whom they have a somewhat strained relationship. The city of Soldev is later founded on what is believed to be the ruins of Storgard, and becomes home to a great number of artificers in the tradition of Urza and Mishra, looking to use their devices to improve lives.
The Kingdom of Kjeldor has an alliances with the Elves of Fyndhorn, in which Kjeldor fights off Orcs that threaten the forest and the Elves train Kjeldoran healers in their ways. The Human Druids of the Juniper Order have renounced the cities of Kjeldor and migrated to Fyndhorn at Freyalise’s behest. The Druids and Elves eventually unite under their shared faith in Freyalise, and later become something of intermediaries between Yavimaya and Kjeldor.
Much of the conflict of this period is between Kjeldor and their neighbors, the Balduvian Barbarians. Generations of conflict have left bitter tensions on both sides. These tensions are exploited by the necromancer Lim-Dûl to keep the two nations focused on each other instead of him. Both nations are threatened by the necromancer, and also by the hordes of Goblins and Orcs that descend from the Karplusan Mountains to raid Human settlements. At the time of The Eternal Ice, the queen of Kjeldor has died only recently, leaving her young and untested son on throne. Kjeldor is rife with military factions (divided into various orders), all of which are clamoring for primacy. The new king, Darien, has only enflamed tensions and resentment by his attempts to be even handed and failing to name a new general. Many begin to look back at the glory days of Kjeldor and its great general, Marton Stromgald.
Jaya Ballard's card was a prototype for the Planeswalker card type.
Jaya Ballard, Task Mage by Matt Cavotta
Freyalise is a half-elf Planeswalker native to Dominaria. She was born in the Kingdom of Storgard during the Ice Age. She was a pyromancer until her ascension, when she was defeated by a nature mage and took up that mantle for herself. She became a nature goddess to the people of Terisiare and would later be responsible for casting the World Spell, which would end the Shard and allow Planeswalkers to leave once more. She would go on to play a role in the Phyrexian Invasion as one of the Nine Titans recruited by Urza, and she later sacrifice herself to seal the time rift above the Skyshroud Forest. Given their similar natures and concepts, it's possible that Freyalise was the inspiration for Nissa.
Kristina of the Woods is a Human Planeswalker native to Corondor on Dominaria. She is involved in a number of the comics and is the lover of a number of different characters over the years, most notably the Planeswalker Taysir (who becomes extremely jealous of her other relationships.) She is one of the Nine Titans but is killed “by accident” by Tevesh Szat. Unfortunately for Kristina, she ends up being little more than motivation for other characters.
Leshrac, also known as the Walker of the Night, is shrouded in mystery. While we know he was active on Dominaria during the time of the shard, and would later return just prior to the Mending, his origins are completely unknown. In fact, it is unclear how much of Leshrac’s pre-revisionist history is intact. What is certain is that he enlisted the Necromancer Lim-Dûl to create an undead army for him, but that Lim-Dûl wasted that undead legion on his vendetta with Kjeldor. We know he wished to escape from the Shard, and that he successfully arrived on Shandalar with Lim-Dûl, but what happens from there is unclear. In the Shandalar comics, he was run off Shandalar with days of his arrival, while recent stories set on Shandalar mention a city called Lesh, named for a dark God (heavily implied to be Leshrac) - suggesting he had been there much longer. It is possible that he came back later, but given that modern Shandalar does not bear much resemblance to the one presented in the comic, I'm leaning against the comic’s interpretation of events. Regardless, Leshrac returned to Dominaria a thousand years later only to be defeated by Nicol Bolas in an epic plane-spanning battle. His essence was used to seal rifts on Dominaria, but it is not clear if he survived the process or remains imprisoned in the Mask of Night's Reach. Signs point to no.
Tevesh Szat is a Human Planeswalker native to Dominaria. He lived in Sarpadia as Tev Loneglade with his sister, but after her murder he turned to madness and assumed a more draconian form as well as a new name, the Doom of Fools. He engineered the fall of the remaining Sarpadian civilizations, and later the home of the survivors, Storgard. He was trapped in the Shard with all the other Planeswalkers and allied himself with Leshrac to escape to Shandalar. While he doesn't appear in The Eternal Ice, like Leshrac he was run off Shandalar relatively quickly. He would later reappear during the Phyrexian Invasion, where Urza would insist on making him one of the nine Titans despite the others' protests. Szat’s inevitable betrayal was part of Urza’s plan to justify killing the Planeswalker and use him to power an ultimate weapon against Phyrexia.
Jaya's favorite nickname for Lim-Dûl is Dim-Bulb.
Lim-Dûl the Necromancer by Matt Cavotta
Jaya Ballard is a Task Mage, a magical mercenary with a limited number of spells at her disposal. She is smart, cunning, and stealthy, and uses her magic sparingly, cannily observing that most mages don't even consider non-magical threats or solutions. At some point in the past, she was hired to steal from Jodah, Archmage of the School of the Unseen, but was caught by the ancient Wizard. The two struck up an unlikely friendship, and became lifelong friends. Her collected flavor text can be found in the article Jaya Ballard, Task Mage. Without spoiling my next article too much, Jaya eventually becomes a Planeswalker herself, and is the inspiration for the Keral Keep monastery on Regatha that Chandra Nalaar calls home.
Jodah is about two thousand years old during this period of the Ice Age. He has ascended through the ranks of the School of the Unseen to becoming its head, the Archmage Eternal (the eternal part refers to his longevity.) In order to stay sane with the weight of thousands of years on his mortal mind, every 100 years he needs to use his magic mirror to store his memories. He restores them shortly afterward, and the restored memories lack the same weight of lost family and friends. Despite his best efforts, his reputation proceeds him, although Jodah himself is still humble. Having lived for so long, everything feels like something he has done before, leading him to occasionally make mistakes a less experienced person would not. Because of this, Jaya makes an excellent foil to Jodah with her brash youthfulness.
Lim-Dûl is a necromancer of considerable abilities. He was once just a cowardly soldier under Marton Stromgald’s command, deserting the army after his squad is killed. Near death and stumbling through the snow, he happens across the ruins of the Conclave of Mages and takes shelter inside. There he finds Mairsil’s ring, with Mairsil's mind still intact. Mairsil worms his way into Lim-Dûl's mind, granting Lim-Dûl power but restricted to the black mana Lim-Dûl has an affinity for. The two go on to terrorize the continent with undead soldiers, although it is not always clear where Marisil ends and Lim-Dûl begins. In exchange for even greater power, Lim-Dûl becomes a servant of the Planeswalker Leshrac, who intends to use Lim-Dûl to escape the Shard with an undead army in tow.
Saffi was a joke referencing this one line of flavor text.
Lhurgoyf by Matt Cavotta
- Arcum Dagsson - A master artificer and leader of the city of Soldev.
- Avram Garrisson - A man whose bitterness over being denied the position of Kjeldor’s General leads him to form the Knights of Stromgald.
- Barrinalo - A young scribe who will become vitally important to Dominaria's survival (and eventually changes his name to "Barrin.")
- Chaeska - Lim-Dûl’s most trusted and loyal undead servant.
- Darien, King of Kjeldor - He is the, uh, King of Kjeldor.
- Gerda Aegesdotter - A mage from the School of the Unseen who stages a coup against Jodah.
- Gusta Ebbasdotter - The royal mage of Kjeldor and Gerda’s cousin who helps her with the coup, but regrets it.
- Ib Halfheart - A goblin tactician transported through time during Time Spiral.
- Jason Carthalion - The green mage responsible for nearly killing Freyalise.
- Jarkeld - A Kjeldoran General of great renown who died in the Adarkar Wastes.
- Kaysa - Elder Druid of the Juniper Order at the time of the World Spell.
- Lovisa Coldeyes - The leader of the Balduvian Barbarians.
- Marit Lage - An mysterious otherworldly eldritch being sometimes mistaken for a Planeswalker, slumbering beneath the ice.
- Marton Stromgald - A renowned Kjeldoran General who has been turned into an undead thrall of Lim-Dûl.
- Saffi Eriksdotter - An young woman who cannot seem to catch a break.
- Skeleton Ship - Lim-Dûl’s ship, presumably, but there is no lore on it I can find.
- Varchild - A young and conflicted Kjeldoran military leader.
- Zur the Enchanter - A renegade mage from the Royal Academy who believes he has discovered the secret to eternal life.
Story of the Ice Age
The Fall of Storgard
Some centuries before The Eternal Ice, the King of Storgard, a survivor (or descendant of a survivor) of one the Sarpadian Empires, turns out to be a worshipper of Tevesh Szat (known as the Doom of Fools.) Szat pushes him to engineer a fight between Jason Carthalion and Freyalise (who is a red mage at the time.) Jason defeats her with green magic, and she vows to embrace the green as she seemingly dies, but in reality, she ascends as a Planeswalker. The city is destroyed, and the survivors leave, led by a woman named Oriel Kjeldos, founding what will become Kjeldor. Elsewhere around this time (give or take a few hundred years), Kristina of the Woods and Leshrac duel. Leshrac forcibly summons Arcades Sabboth, who is killed in the ensuing battle.
Note: For Want of Ink mentions that Kjeldor was 'carved out' by King Kjeld of the Ruby Clan (one of the clans of Storgard, Freyalise also belonged to this clan.) It's not clear if Kjeld was Kjeldos' descendant or if her founding of Kjeldor was retconned. Ultimately, it doesn't matter much.
Jodah's perspective on Planeswalkers is refreshing.
The Eternal Ice cover art by Gary Ruddell
For Want of Ink
Pharon, a wizard as ancient as the kingdom of Kjeldor, (and implied to be older - having been old enough to remember Storgard) is finally dying. To record his wisdom, the Sorcerer's League hires a group of scribes to record his final words. Among them is Barrinalo, a journeyman who is fascinated by magic. Over their time recording the dying mage's words, old Pharon will only respond to Barrinalo. Out of nowhere, Pharon begins to relate his most powerful spell, Obliterate (aka the Blare of Doom), the very spell with which Urza leveled Argoth. In a private moment, Barrinalo learns from Pharon that the wizard had foreseen Barrinalo's great future - and that the young scribe must travel far away to attain it.
In Pharon's final moments, all the inkpots of the scribes go dry. Barrinalo, sitting next to the old wizard, commits the whispered final words to memory. When he is brought ink, he reverses the instructions for the protections a mage needs to survive the blast. The spell requires a spark of life to cast, and consumes the user, so without the right protections it is fatal to the user. Not wanting the spell in the hands of the petty mages of the Sorcerer's League, Barrinalo gives over the false directions when one of the mages threatens him. As he leaves Kjeld for his destiny, the inkpot at the gatehouse runs dry before he finishes signing out, marking a new name - Barrin - for his new life. Days outside the city, he sees an aurora in the distance, and decides one of those petty mages must have blown themselves up.
The World Spell
Well over 2,000 years after the end of The Gathering Dark, Jodah wakes up in a strange room. He doesn’t remember anything after his apprenticeship to Voska. He is informed by a large servant, Cheaska, that he is at Tresserhorn, the keep of Lim-Dûl. Cheaska takes Jodah to see his master, and a confused Jodah follows. Lim-Dûl informs Jodah that he has been magically summoned from his time to lead Lim-Dûl's summoned team of scholars. He tells Jodah that there is a barrier around their plane (the shard), and no way to escape save for a rogue plane. This rogue plane moves through the multiverse like a comet, passing freely in and out of the shard. In theory if one could get there while in the shard, they'd need only wait for the rogue to pass back out of the shard to escape. He wants Jodah to do two things for him in exchange for his continued existence as a summoned being: learn if escape is possible on this rogue plane, and devise a way to kill a Planeswalker.
Jodah believes Lim-Dûl's threat and takes charge of Lim-Dûl’s Library, with an army of summoned scholars helping in his research. One day, he stumbles across the undead form of Marton Stromgald, who gives Jodah a cryptic warning about Lim-Dûl, but at the time it does not register. After weeks of research, he discovers the secret of Shandalar, the rogue plane that would allow escape from the shard. Lim-Dûl is pleased with his efforts, but seems distracted. Jodah discovers why in short order: Lim-Dûl is a servant of the planeswalker Leshrac, and Leshrac was not pleased by Lim-Dûl's lack of progress. Jodah overhears Lim-Dûl presenting his findings to Leshrac, only for Leshrac to reveal he knows what else Lim-Dûl is up to - hunting for a way to kill a Planeswalker. As punishment (and to keep his head appropriately bowed), Leshrac curses the Necromancer. Antler stubs appear on Lim-Dûl’s forehead, and continue to grow throughout the story (this is different from the comic, where they're not a punishment.)
Jodah doesn’t realize something is wrong until one of his scholars begins acting strangely. He starts to investigate the young man, and finds that rather than pages of notes, the scholar just doodles all day. Rather than reading assigned research, the scholar has been reading a risque novel from the library. When Jodah finally confronts the scholar, he finds it is not a man at all, but a young woman. She introduces herself as Jaya Ballard, and she proceeds to (forcibly) snap Jodah out of his stupor. She reveals that Jodah is in fact the Archmage Eternal of the School of the Unseen, that he is over 2,000 years old, and that he was kidnapped in the middle of ritual involving his mirror to keep his own sanity. Lim-Dûl has been drugging Jodah and taking advantage of the interrupted ritual.
So, let me talk for a moment here about this mirror. Voska, Jodah's first mentor, gives it to his young protege back in The Gathering Dark. The mirror itself has the ability to reflect and amplify spells. But it turns out, that is not all it can do. When Ith caught a glimpse of the mirror, he sudden regained a measure of sanity. It is not entirely clear why that happened until Jodah’s use of the mirror is discussed. It turns out, living long past the normal human lifespan wears on a mind, especially when you outlive every person you know and love over and over again. With the mirror, Jodah can store those memories temporarily and then take them back, allowing him to retain his sanity by removing most of the emotional impact of those feelings (but not all.) He does this about once a century, and it’s during this brief vulnerable period that conspirators struck and sold him out to Lim-Dûl.
The Ice Age novels do a great job illustrating Planeswalkers from a mortal's perspective.
Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury by Adam Paquette
Back to the story. Jaya and Jodah fight their way out of Tresserhorn and up to a nearby Safe Haven (a magical transportation network Jodah has inherited and kept secret.) Because Tresserhorn is located on the former site of the Conclave of Mages, they flee for the very same Safe Haven that Jodah used as a young man. Unfortunately, Jodah passes out in withdrawal from the drug Lim-Dûl had been dosing him with. Jaya just barely fights off a Minion of Leshrac sent to recapture them, and realizes that she cannot take on another one. Jaya is a Task Mage, meaning she’s a mercenary with some magical powers, but at this point all she can muster are a few burn spells. Knowing she is in a desperate situation, she calls on help from a very unlikely source: Freyalise. Jaya had been given a talisman as part of her payment for helping out some of Freyalise’s followers, the Juniper Order, but she had been reluctant to use it. After all, summoning a Planeswalker for aid can be just as bad as summoning a demon. But now she feels as though she is left with no choice.
The meeting does not go quite as planned. Jaya has to try a few times to get Freyalise to understand the situation they are in, as Freyalise thinks they are just looking for help escaping (Planeswalkers are not exactly great listeners.) Eventually, she convinces Freyalise to stay and help by implying that Freyalise owes Jodah. Freyalise realizes she knows Jodah… and she is not keen on the Archmage. Freyalise suspects what I just mentioned, that someone kidnapped Jodah while he was removing his memories. Jaya and Freyalise negotiate a deal in return for healing Jodah, the terms of which are not fully revealed. In the end, Jaya is given the location of Jodah’s mirror to restore his lost memories.
Leaving Jodah with a Balduvian friend, Lovisa Coldeyes, Jaya travels to Krov to break into the Royal Academy of Magic. The mirror is in the possession of Gustha Ebbasdottir, Royal Mage and head of the academy. Jaya sneaks in using suprisingly mundane methods - a grapple and rope, counting on the mages being too arrogant to consider defending against non-magical means. She is right, and after some bluffing inside, she reaches the Royal Mage’s suite at the top of the Academy’s tower. She sneaks past Gustha, who is communicating with her cousin Gerda - Jodah’s second command at Lat-Nam and a co-conspirator in the plot. She finds the mirror in Gustha’s apartment with the aide of the cutest little owl familiar (meep!). On the way out, her possession of the mirror trips every alarm in the tower, but with her quick thinking and the help of a friend, she escapes the city on the back of an Aesthir (giant bird creatures.) Her friend takes her back to the Balduvian Outpost of Lovisa Coldeyes, before setting off herself.
Jaya uses the recovered mirror to restore Jodah’s mind. With two thousand years of memories and experience returned, he is the most powerful mage on the plane (minus Planeswalkers, of course). Remembering his time with Lim-Dûl, he realizes the necromancer has a plan in place to destroy the nation of Kjeld. The necromancer plans on raising an army out of the nation’s corpses, one which will only grows stronger as it destroys the outer settlements while marching on the capital. Jodah’s plan is to unite the Balduvians and Kjeldons in an alliance to fight Lim-Dûl. This is easier said than done, as the Balduvian Barbarians and the Kjeldorans have centuries of animosity between them. He leaves for the capital of Kjeldor, Krov, with a tentative agreement from Lovisa.
I love seeing old Ice Age cards re-imagined by modern artists.
Kjeldoran Outpost by Noah Bradley
At the capital, Jodah navigates a delicate political situation. Before he can even make his appeal to the King, Gustha demands Jaya be imprisoned for breaking into her tower. Jodah seemingly sells Jaya out, appeasing Gustha who is terrified Jodah will seek vengeance on her for her part in the plot. Jodah is far too practical for revenge, and once he is assured she is no ally of the necromancer, he begins to cultivate a pleasant working relationship with Gustha. It turns out that she and her cousin merely used the opportunity to secure more power for themselves. With Gustha's aide secured, Jodah turns his attention to King Darien. Darien is young and untested, and has every faction in the city (and there are many) whispering in his ear. A cause to rally behind is exactly what the young king needs.
Jaya, meanwhile, is shackled with the same anti-mage bracers the Church of Tal used thousands of years earlier (made of watersilver, but implying the ability to make it has been lost). Jodah sneaks down after her and frees her, casting an illusion to fool the guards into thinking she's still locked up and angrily pacing. He asks her to go do what she does best - hit the town, work the taverns, find out what the sentiment for the king is on the street. Jaya happily obliges, and quickly stumbles upon a plot to assassinate the king by various factions in the military.
Let’s take a second and talk about why people want to kill the king. Like I mentioned before, Darien was a new and untested king. His mother had a rather firm hand, but in the years since Darien took the throne he has constantly put off things like appointing an overall general for his armed forces. There are a lot of factions in the Kjeldoran military, and so the move was meant to forestall further political problems. Except, it only caused resentment in the ranks for their ‘weak’ king, and in no one more than Avram Garrison. Garrison was thought to be the obvious candidate for general, but the death of Darien's mother changed all that. In his anger, Garrison allied himself with Marton Stromgald - a legendary general from more than a generation ago. Unknown to Garrison, Stromgald was an undead thrall of Lim-Dûl. Jaya stumbles across this when she realizes all the military men in the city are suddenly heading out to a secret rally, and then finds Garrison’s right hand, a woman named Varchild, refusing to leave with the other men.
Jaya stealthily follows the military men to the rally. It turns out not only is there a plot on the king’s life, but that he is supposed to die that night. Jaya is discovered by some guards and has to flee across the rooftops from their pursuit (just as all the soldiers in the rally drink what is obviously poison, killing them all and making them servants of Lim-Dûl like Stromgald.) Freyalise decides that this exact moment is when she wishes to have words with Jaya. In her irritation with Jaya for not being available that very moment, she instantly dispatches the soldiers chasing Jaya and demands to know how Jaya is filling her end of the bargain.
Make Kjeldor Great Again.
Stromgald Crusader by Volkan Baga
Back at the King’s Banquet, Jodah is introduced (through Gustha) to an artificer from Soldev named Arcum Dagsson. Arcum has invented a machine with dire predictions about the weather (namely how they are all going to die regardless of Lim-Dûl.) He wants Lat-Nam to confirm his findings. He and Gustha contact Gerda through Gustha’s device, and Gerda is horrified to learn that Jodah's mind has been restored. Jodah decrees her punishment (ironic in the extreme): the position of Archmage while Jodah is away, which she always wanted... but will turn out to be less glamorous than she believed. Her first task? Allow Freyalise, who has appeared at Lat-Nam out of thin air, access to the school’s archives. Giving Gerda exactly what she wanted turns out to be the best revenge, as Gerda will spend the next twenty years hating her job.
This is when Jaya busts in and announces the conspiracy against the King. Everyone rushes back to the palace to find Varchild and a few loyalists defending Darien against a wave of Stromgald Cabalists. Jaya had made a stop on the way back from being chased across the rooftops, getting the loyal soldiers to rally to their king. The mages save the day, and Darien begins to show some backbone. He agrees to unite with the Balduvians, and promotes Varchild to general on the spot. Kjeldor prepares for war. Eventually, the combined forces of Kjeldor and Balduvia come together... although not literally, as it takes some wrangling just for them to fight in a single formation. The army camps out in the path of Lim-Dûl’s army, preparing for a final battle, when Freyalise arrives once more demanding the last piece of her bargain with Jaya: Jodah’s mirror.
Jodah is furious, as the mirror would be a valuable tool in the coming battle, but when faced with the wrath of a Planeswalker and the knowledge that this is the price for having his life saved, he acquiesces. Freyalise leaves, but not before warning them that the dead do not sleep, and that Lim-Dûl’s army has stolen a march on them in the night. Frantically, they rally the forces of the alliance in time to fight the undead onslaught. The battle rages back and forth, until earthquakes quickly devastate both sides, leaving the field to Lim-Dûl and Jodah while the rest dig themselves out of the ensuing avalanches. At this point, Lim-Dûl’s antlers have grown large enough to hunch his body over.
"For the Raven Man's reveal, I will keep watch."
Oath of Lim-Dûl by Douglas Shuler
As the two size each other up, Jodah reveals that he knows Lim-Dûl’s true identity: Mairsil. Lim-Dûl/Mairsil is amused. Stromgald had told Jodah that he must have done something to really anger Lim-Dûl, but Jodah had not been able to think of what until he realized where he had seen the necromancer’s ring before, on the usurper of the Conclave.
Quote fromLim-Dûl made the first move with a blizzard of spells that arched toward Jodah on raven-winged trajectories.
Jodah gets the upper hand against Lim-Dûl, as Mairsil is only as strong as the vessel he inhabits. Given that Lim-Dûl does not have an affinity for all five colors like Mairsil did, he no longer has access to his full suite of powers. Jodah attempts to lock him down with magic, but eventually both mages run low on mana and spells. As it looks like he will be defeated, Lim-Dûl summons his patron Leshrac. Leshrac is not pleased with Lim-Dûl. The necromancer’s army lies broken, and Leshrac had not supplied the power to create such an army with the intention it be squandered on petty feuds. It was meant for the conquest of Shandalar. The rogue plane has finally grown close enough, and he commands Lim-Dûl come as well, to rebuild the army. Leshrac severs the hand with Mairsil’s ring and transforms his necromancer pet into a painful ball of flesh. In a flash, the two are gone.
Jodah screams in frustration, but Jaya reminds him they won even if he didn't get to deliver the killing blow - Lim-Dûl is still gone. Together they head to Yavimaya, summoned by Freyalise, where the Planeswalker announces her plan: she needed access to Jodah’s archives to discover the secret behind the Sylex Blast (back during the Brother’s War), and she needs the mirror as part of the spell. This has some interesting implications, as it means Obliterate is more widely known that Barrin believed.
Note: In the comics, Kristina of the Wood and Kaysa were also present, among other less notable characters.
Jodah berates the god-like being for wishing to unleash another wave of devastation on the world, and Freyalise offers another way out: Jodah’s Safe Haven network. With it, Freyalise can disperse the impact of the spell across the continent, shunting the damage through hundreds of safety valves. Knowing he would save the world but lose a major tool in the process, Jodah reluctantly agrees, so long as she listens to him afterward. The spell works, and the ice begins to recede across the plane. Freyalise listens carefully as Jodah scolds her for her arrogance (he has a way with Planeswalkers), and she returns the mirror and leaves… but not before warning him to think carefully before using it again. The mirror has not been returned unchanged, and a shadow lurks behind the reflection in the glass now.
This spread features the five pre-revision Planeswalkers that matter.
Ice Age #2 spread art by Rafael Kayanan, Rodney Ramos, and Eric Hope.
- Ice Age #2-4
These issues of the old comic take more or less concurrently with The Eternal Ice, with the problem that The Eternal Ice outright contradicts some sections. While I wanted to note some background details, it is unclear what if any of this is still canon. Because the old comics involve a string of characters who only appear in the comics, I am keeping this relatively high level.
Around the time of The Eternal Ice, a planeswalker named Faralyn calls a summit of Planeswalkers during the Ice Age. Invited to the summit were Freyalise, Kristina of the Wood, Taysir, Leshrac, and Tevesh Szat. Chromium and a young man named Ravidel were present but had been brought along by others. The summit was a trap, and the old rivalries between the various ancient beings flare up. It turns out that Faralyn, a being thought to be benevolent, was anything but. He set up the conflict so that he could use the resulting energies to power his escape to Shandalar. Leshrac and Faralyn escape to Shandalar (note that this is incongruous with The Eternal Ice, where Leshrac escapes with Lim-Dûl), while Chromium and Ravidel perish. Kristina is able to revive Ravidel, but he hates her for it (he had found peace in death) and swears vengeance, becoming a Planeswalker himself. Freyalise arranges for Jaeuhl Carthalion (this lineage tended to be main characters in many of the comics) to battle Tevesh Szat. Szat surprises them with the revived Lim-Dûl at his side, but the two end up fleeing to Shandalar themselves. Freyalise and Kristina work magic together and cast the World Spell.
Of course, much of this does not work in context with The Eternal Ice. I’ll turn you over to Multiverse in Review’s excellent analysis on the subject. While I have only recently read the comics, Squirle has been discussing these events for years and knows them inside and out. I highly recommend it if you want to delve deeper into pre-mending lore, especially the comics and anything else pre-revision.
Thanks for reading! While the Ice Age has (sort-of) ended, the stories of Jodah, Jaya, and Lim-Dûl have not. Next time we talk about the period known as the Thaw, when we learn that suddenly melting a frozen world can be more disastrous than a long-term freeze. Next Up: The Ice Age III: Alliances and Coldsnap.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments or on the forum, and we will address it in future updates. Have a suggestion for something you want to see? Let us know, and we may address it in a future column. You can also follow me on twitter @Jay13x or Archive Trap Mini on Tumblr.