Last week, we touched on Bolas’ history. This quick and dirty history lesson was featured on the official Wizards of the Coast website here. Thanks Wizards!
Today we are going to focus on a few of his Machinations, specifically those he entrusted to one of his more capable - if not loyal - associates, Tezzeret.
Tezzeret hails from Esper, the white-blue-black shard of Alara. There he had an… unpleasant childhood of poverty, death, violence and occasional brilliance. He became a master artificer, though never one particularly respected.
Some highlights include:
- he removed his own arm and replaced it with a liquid metal one in his search for power and perfection;
- he murdered the headmaster before he could be expelled;
- he used his abilities to pilfer materials to overcome his poverty;
- he mastered his trade in a fifth of the time it took most students.
It was his studies that led him to Bolas. Angry that he was not allowed access to the most sensitive of texts, he forced his way into their vault. He found only a decoy and guards waiting to punish him for his misdeeds. During the subsequent beating, his spark ignited and he found himself on Grixis (the blue-black-red shard). There he met Bolas, who offered him power in exchange for his service.
The Infinite Consortium had been created by Bolas using agents on a number of planes to expand his power and influence, and he placed Tezzeret in a position of power there. Tezzeret responded by organizing a coup and placing himself at the head of the organization.
This betrayal was not completely without cause. Tezzeret grew up in an incredibly regimented society, and those a the top had been agents of Bolas’ will. But regardless, the split sat right with exactly no one and each side prepared for conflict.
Tezzeret’s trump card was supposed to be Jace Beleren, and the plan backfired immensely. Jace was a talented young telepath who Tezzeret recruited in the hopes that he could counter the elder dragon’s mind magic. Unfortunately the young man proved insufficient and Bolas managed to force him aside. Following this failure, the two had a falling out which led to Jace fleeing while Tezzeret tried to have him killed.
Enter Liliana Vess - Jace’s on again/off again lover. Liliana was an ancient and powerful planeswalker and she put the two back on a collision course. This conflict led to Jace being imprisoned, tortured, and nearly lobotomized, but ended on the plane of Kamigawa where Jace got the better of the schemer - severing his arm and killing him.
So why was Liliana so adamant they fight? Why, because she had made a deal with Bolas, who wanted his consortium back. And everyone walked away happy. (except Jace, Liliana, the people of Kamigawa…)
Oh, and Tezzeret. But who cares what a corpse thinks?
Agent of Bolas
So as you probably guessed, Tezzeret did not meet his final end on the plane of Kamigawa. Bolas bartered for his corpse, and promptly reanimated his one-time cronie. Then he started using him again.
His first task was on Mirrodin. Mirrodin (subsequently New Phyrexia, previously Argentum) had been created by the planeswalker Karn, and was currently being overtaken with Phyrexians.
The Phyrexians are another entity of the great evils of the multiverse, and while I will spare you the full story, the brief is this: they were an ancient malicious interpanier empire. Urza (the original main Magic protagonist) fought them for years, losing much (including his brother Mishra) in the conflict. Finally he managed to destroy the Phyrexians.
...except that his trusty construct Karn’s heart was made of Phyrexian technology, and carried a seed of that darkness in its core. So when Karn made Argentum, it too had dark that seed. And thus, the Phyrexians returned.
Tezzeret reluctantly followed Bolas’ mission, and worked his way towards power over the Phyrexians. While he failed, he did assist with their conquest of the world, leading to the almost complete control of the plane by the Phyrexians.
That’s not fair.
A few years later Tezzeret followed his master’s instruction again and found himself on Kaladesh. Another artifact-dominated plane, Tezzeret conspired to congregate and confiscate the greatest inventions of the plain for his master.
The prize he coveted most was the Planar Bridge. The Phyrexians had once used portals like them to travel between worlds without a planeswalker's spark, and this invention would allow Bolas’ influence to grow and extend to every plain of the multiverse.
Unfortunately the consulate faced problems long before he had arrived. An underground resistance - run by Pia Nalaar, mother of the planeswalker Chandra - was already active before his arrival. As he assumed complete control and descended into tyranny, they rose in revolution.
Also unfortunate was the arrival of the Gatewatch. Between Chandra’s hatred of the consulate, and Jace and Liliana’s hatred of him, Tezzeret’s days in the sun were numbered. He fled following the bridge’s disruption, but first he had time to betray his master once more by Liliana the dragon’s location: Amonket.
Putting the pieces together
So now we are nice and caught up, and it is a good place to take stock.
Magic’s story has touched on a number of plotlines over the past decade, but behind the most serious existential threats to the multiverse - the Eldrazi Titans, the Phyrexians, and the Consortium - we find Bolas’ clawed talons.
But the question remains: to what end? Why do any of it?
Could it be that Bolas’ actions are merely a plot contrivance? A way to get this or that antagonist into position for their purposes? Yes, of course.
Could it also be that there is a grand plot to obtain true power with fourteen moving pieces? Absolutely.
Could it be both? Of course.
But one thing is for sure: Bolas is most comfortable working through proxies, patiently moving his pawns into position. There is no telling what he can do when cornered.
As the Gatewatch is soon to find out...
Written by Robert Trueblood