The Shadow Mage

I know not what strange force continually brings the path of my life in line with that of the Carthalions. Sometimes I think that it is because it was a Carthalion who killed me.

His name was Jason Carthalion, and when we were growing up in the glacier kingdom of Storgard several thousand years ago, we were best friends. As we came of age, we became the sorcerer-champions of our respective clans. As the clans came to battle-spurred on in secret by the vile Tevesh Szat-so did we, and so it was that Jason took my life that day in the snow and ice. I, Freyalise, bear him no malice for this. In fact, I am grateful – for my spirit did not die, and I was reborn.

I had become a planeswalker, and also a deity. The folk of Terisiare, seeking hope in the midst of endless winter, worshipped me as a nature goddess. They were mistaken, of course, but I did not see fit to disabuse them of this notion. I took to the role of goddess gladly, and aided them when I could.

Eventually, another Carthalion came along. His name was Jaeuhl, and at a critical time he stopped Tevesh Szat from making the Ice Age eternal even as I worked towards its end. Jaeuhl succeeded, embodying the strength and pluck that are the hallmarks of the Carthalion line. When Jaeuhl married the ley druid Kaysa, the blood of the line was mixed with that of the Fyndhorn druids, fusing two great destinies into one mighty path.

A path that has, at long last, brought us to this point. The point at which a Carthalion stands before the horror of Ravidel, and seeks a conclusion to an ancient skein of events which threaten all of Dominaria. This young man's name is Jared, and it is his story I wish to set down, on the eve of the greatest battle of his life. He is only sixteen years old.

Jared was born to Adam Carthalion and Gwendolyn Mor (daughter of the planeswalker Grenfell). Lord Adam Carthalion was a man of great power in Corondor, but sadly he was also a man of great weakness. Carthalion and his spellsquire Ezer both foresaw that a terrible storm was coming to their land – the same storm that we are now in the eye of, on the eve of battle. But Adam did not know just what form this storm would take, nor when it would occur, and so he made a mad bid for the power of a planeswalker. He hoped that with this power he could save his beloved land...but the search for power corrupted him. He sacrificed Gwendolyn to Ravidel in the hopes of receiving that which he sought. He did not, and Ravidel soon demanded the sacrifice of Adam's infant son, Jared.

At last, Adam came to his senses and refused. Thus it was that he faced Ravidel's army at the Battle of Aster Fall. The two dueled, and in the end Adam was slain. To this day, some say to this day Adam's ghost haunts the plains of Ephren. Jared, less than a year old, was taken from the scene by Ezer and raised in secret among the street urchins of Arathoxia. There he grew up in poverty, a rag boy teased and taunted for his pale scarred face, before he learned that he had the power of a planeswalker.

Eventually, Jared learned enough to realize that Ravidel was responsible for his family's fall from grace. Jared sought him out, and with the aid of the planeswalker Liana, he engaged Ravidel in battle. Ravidel was badly wounded, and fled. Jared set out to wander Corondor and learn more about himself and his power.

It was not long before he met the planeswalker Kristina of the Woods, and she became first his mentor and then, some say, his lover. She showed him the power and the beauty of each of the colors of mana, and led him to understand how they all fit together into the grand design of life. Jared came to master each form of mana, and swiftly grew into a powerful planeswalker. It was Kristina's secret hope that soon Jared would be able to face Ravidel and destroy him once and for all.

Within the White Woods, a powerful being of the earth told Jared that he was a Ley Druid, and that one day he could well be the Elder Druid of Corondor. Jared had always imagined that he'd live out his life as an all-powerful planeswalker, but he accepted this new information with interest. His time with Kristina had shown him the benefits of a peaceful life, a oneness with the land, and perhaps his dreams that night were of a time to come when battles and wars would be at an end.

Deliberation proved to be a luxury he could ill-afford, however. This being also informed Jared that Ravidel was pursuing Liana in the hopes of taking from her the Moxes, magical artifacts of tremendous power. Jared found Liana, who gave him the Moxes for safekeeping. Sadly, she was soon slain by Ravidel.

Ravidel and Jared now found themselves as active opponents once more. In the dueling chasm of Corondor, the two faced each other across the battlefield. Jared was not alone. Kristina stood at his side, as did the planeswalker Altair and the nightmare, Caliphear. The resulting conflagration led to Altair's death and Jared's defeat. In the end, Jared had an opportunity to slay Ravidel, but it would have meant sacrificing one of his allies. Wisely, this was a price Jared was not willing to pay. Killing Ravidel would have saved many, but it would have cost Jared's own soul, and it would have cost Corondor the man who would perhaps become its Elder Druid and greatest protector.

So it was that Ravidel succeeded in taking the Moxes from Jared. The young Carthalion has tasted defeat many times, but every time he has ventured forth to the next battle with courage and skill. His greatest battle is now at hand, for the storm his father foresaw is at last battering our shores.

I have lived among the woods of Corondor for lifetimes, and I have come to love this place dearly. I know that Ravidel is the greatest threat Corondor has ever known. And yet I am torn – for it is the planeswalker Tevesh Szat that I would sooner see destroyed. Szat has dogged my path, and brought great misery to all he has encountered. My mind is sure that Ravidel is the greater evil, and yet my heart wants to see him succeed in his goal of destroying Tevesh Szat. I am conflicted.

Soon, then, I will encounter this new Carthalion. I wonder what he will say, this man whose lineage has crossed my path time and again. I wonder what I would say, this planeswalker whose desire for vengeance against Szat does battle with my wish to save Corondor from Ravidel.

Perhaps Jared and I will simply say nothing. We will look into each other's eyes, and our destiny will be decided. Ravidel or Tevesh Szat? Both or neither? Jared or Freyalise? Who will live, and who will perish? I sense great things in Jared's future, yet I also sense the potential for great loss. As for myself, I can no sooner see my own future than I can see the wind.

I hope that in the midst of war, time will allow me to get to know this Carthalion. I have great faith in him, that he will make the right decision and live to fulfill his destiny. If he has even half the mettle of his forebears whom I have known, then all will be well.

If only I could be as certain as I sound.

Prepare yourself, Jared. The moment of your greatest testing is here. Once and for all, the Carthalion line must prove itself to be possessed of the best qualities that beat in every heart and loom large in every spirit. I only hope that you and I will choose wisely, and that the tragedy of Storgard will not be repeated.

I hope, I hope. But I shall write no more this night. I must prepare for the dawn, and the battle to come – as must you, Jared Carthalion. As must you.