|Author(s)||J. Robert King|
|First printing||December 1999|
The Thran is the prequel to the Invasion Cycle, and actually to the entire Weatherlight Saga as well. It was written by J. Robert King and published in December 1999. It was republished in June 2009 as the first part of Artifacts Cycle I.
Before the Brothers' War.
Before the five colors of magic.
Before history itself, the plane of Dominaria was ruled by the Thran. They built machines and artifacts, the likes of which have never since been seen. But amid this civilization, a shadow took root, one that would stretch its arm across space and time.
The hideous evil of Phyrexia was born.
This book tells the story of how the mighty Thran Empire fell to internal struggles started by a lowly healer who would grow to become the god-ruler of Phyrexia and the greatest danger to Dominaria in history: Yawgmoth.
The book is divided into 4 parts, each starting with a chapter telling events of the Thran-Phyrexian War. The first three parts then go back in time to tell the events that lead to that war, the final part continues where the first chapter left off, chronicling the end of the war.
Part 1: The City
The book begins with telling the beginning of the Battle of Megheddon Defile, where an alliance of dwarves, minotaur, cat-folk, elves, Viashino, artifact creatures and humans called the Thran Alliance marches through the Megheddon Defile against the city of Halcyon from which Yawgmoth attacks them with Phyrexian creatures.
Then the story goes back 9 years in time, when the brilliant artificer Glacian is stabbed with a powerstone by the Untouchable Gix during a riot in the Mana Rig. Glacian falls ill and can't be healed by the Thran healers. His wife Rebbec uses her influence as the city's main architect to recall the exiled eugenicist Yawgmoth.
Yawgmoth discovers that most of the Untouchables, Thran who were banished to the Caves of the Damned under the city, are also suffering from the disease, which he names phthisis: a Thran-based word meaning "continual degradation". He brings Gix to his laboratory and studies him and Glacian. Yawgmoth discovers that the powerstones on which all the technology of the Empire is based upon cause phthisis, and that the Untouchables get the disease from the Mana Rig which is based on top of the caves. Gix escapes upon hearing this, wanting vengeance for his people.
Yawgmoth convinces Halcyon's elders to give him more funding and apprentices to study the disease. From the healer Xod he gains the idea to use metals to create a serum against phthisis.
Meanwhile, Gix leads a massive rebellion on Halcyon, with the Thran Temple, which is being built by Rebbec, wife of the hated Glacian, as one of the primary objectives. Yawgmoth manages to quell the revolt by offering free serum to the Untouchables. For his actions, Yawgmoth is made a member of the council of Halcyon and is allowed to make laws to regulate public health.
Part 2: The Empire
This part starts with the battle of the Null Sphere, where Yawgmoth and his followers capture the Sphere and launch it into the air, hoping to use its powers to control the artifact creatures of the Thran Alliance and send them against their masters.
Then the story goes back to six years before. Yawgmoth starts sending inflicted people down into the Caves of the Damned, and has healthy Untouchables return to the city, and is using this to eliminate his enemies from the city.
Glacian, in the meantime, starts to develop a multiple-personality disorder and is the only person not responding to the serum. While he is in a coma, Yawgmoth takes Rebbec on a tour across the empire, where they make health-corpses in the great city-states. Rebbec is becoming more and more torn between her love for her husband and her attraction to Yawgmoth.
Yawgmoth is diluting the serum he is giving to the Untouchables, which causes Gix to feel rebellious. Gix starts to send Untouchables, both healthy and sick, up to Halcyon. Yawgmoth uses this to get more funding for his research and complete control over the Halcyte Guard.
Then one day, the planeswalker Dyfed visits Glacian, wanting to meet the genius in real life. Yawgmoth walks in on the meeting and manages to talk Dyfed into aiding him. Dyfed agrees to find a plane where Yawgmoth can build his own paradise.
Then Gix leads another large riot on the city, but this time Yawgmoth is prepared. He has made an artifact, based on Glacian's designs, to control all powerstone technology in the city. With it, and the Halcyte Guard, he manages to stop the invasion and bully Gix into complete obedience.
Part 3: The World
On the third day of the Battle of Megheddon Defile, Yawgmoth kills the artificers in the Null Sphere until one of them succumbs and turns all Thrann artifact creatures against their leaders. The Thran Alliance army is slaughtered.
Two years earlier. Halcyon has been rebuilt, and a grand festival is organized to praise its savior. But then a strange group of delegates arrives. They represent 25 dwarven, elven, cat people, Viashino, and minotaur nations who have allied themselves with the human barbarians of Gulatto Meisha and the Thran city-states Losanon and Wington. They tell of the countless atrocities Yawgmoth has committed during his exile: poisoning entire nations and dissecting its leaders, merely to further his studies. The delegates tell the Thran leaders that they must strip Yawgmoth of his powers, or the alliance will declare war on them. The council votes, but it ends 50/50. Only because Yawgmoth and Rebbec are members of the council themselves, Yawgmoth can stay.
After this, Yawgmoth overthrows the council and imprisons its elders, as well as the delegates. Glacian convinces Rebbec to summon Dyfed and have the planeswalker transport the captured elders to safety. The planeswalker brings them to Mercadia, along with about two hundred of their goblin servants. Yawgmoth then has Glacian brought to the Caves of the Damned, which, the artificer discovers, are now sterile laboratories where the sick are experimented on, instead of damp caves where they are left to rot. Glacian doesn't know whether this is an improvement. He is welcomed by Gix, who is now the commander of the Caves.
Sometime later, also inside the Caves of the Damned, Dyfed opens a permanent portal to an artificial world that is an impossible blend of artifice and life. It is the plane in which Yawgmoth wants to make his paradise. Since he fights against phthisis, continual degradation, he decides to name this place after phyresis, continual progression. In other words, he names it Phyrexia. Yawgmoth binds himself to the plane, becoming a god while staying there. He starts to bring phthisis patients to Phyrexia, where they are implanted with empty powerstones that drain away their sickness. The newly arrived slowly begin to evolve as well, growing longer, thinner, stronger, and faster.
To try to gain Rebbec's trust, Yawgmoth declares he has found the reason why Glaican remained sick while others could be treated: there still is a sliver of the powerstone with which he was stabbed in his body. Yawgmoth removes it, but without Rebbec's knowledge, it also sticks two halves of a charge powerstone inside the man's wounds. These halves were once part of the stone that Dyfed broke to create the permanent portal to Phyrexia.
When the city-states of Orleason and Phoenon fall before the alliance against Yawgmoth, which its members are now calling the Thran Alliance, Yawgmoth casts his full attention on the war. He destroys part of the fleet at Phoenon and bombards the city, killing all attackers and defenders in it. Then he sets up a large army, consisting of the Halcyte Guard and people enhanced by the changes they underwent in Phyrexia, in Megheddon Defile. After managing to win the Battle of Megheddon Defile by using the Null Sphere, he drops a stonecharger, the magical equivalent of a nuclear warhead, on the fallen army. But as the people of Halcyon celebrate the victory, two more armies of the Thran Alliance appear on the horizon.
Yawgmoth holds a speech in which he tells the people of Halcyon to journey to Phyrexia and to be changed in that place as well. About half the population leaves, while the rest locks themselves in their houses. Dyfed shows up, telling Yawgmoth she is not pleased with the war, and that she is going to stop him. But when she is horror-struck at the absolute evil of the realm he has made, Yawgmoth stabs her in the brain with a powerstone dagger, scrambling her mind so that she can't even form a coherent thought anymore. With her mind pithed this way, she can't think properly and thus can't planeswalk. He plans to keep her alive, to dissect her, and find what it is that gives her godlike power.
Part 4: The Multiverse
During the last night of the Thran-Phyrexian War, both sides are preparing for the final battle, the Battle of Halcyon which will begin at dawn. Yawgmoth has his favorite war caravel rise high above the Thran Alliance and drops bombs at them. But as they descend, they are shot down.
Yawgmoth survives thanks to an armor designed by Glacian and is brought back to the city by a Phyrexian warrior with vicious claws and a gigantic mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth. Yawgmoth realizes it is Xod, the healer who gave him the inspiration for the serum so many years before. Yawgmoth remarks that the healer has become beautiful (in his eyes) thanks to his mutations.
Glacian dies. Cradling the dead body, Rebbec discovers Yawgmoth has placed the two halves of that powerstone inside her husband. Yawgmoth takes her to Phyrexia and uses his godlike powers to take possession of her entire being, finally learning how much she has grown to hate him over the years. Yawgmoth leaves to lead his troops again. After he has gone, Rebbec liberates Glacians body from the Phyrexians and kills the vat priests working on him and Dyfed, giving Dyfed the peace of death as well.
On Dominaria, Yawgmoth has stonechargers dropped on all opposing armies. His enemies are obliterated.
Inside the Null Sphere, the artificers have convinced their guards that the Sphere must rise higher to be able to absorb the energy from the death clouds the stonechargers leave behind before they reach Halcyon. In truth, the artificers plan to die of asphyxiation in the high altitude air, causing the sphere's controls to short-circuit, so the cloud will certainly destroy Halcyon.
In the meantime Rebbec had tried to install a propulsion device in the floating Thran Temple, to save civilians. But the temple falls as one of the first victims to the death cloud. Seeing this happening, Yawgmoth convinces all remaining inhabitants of Halcyon to journey to Phyrexia to be saved. As they arrive on the plane and discover what monstrosities they will become there, they try to flee again but are killed and used to create new Phyrexian newts.
Only Rebbec is left in Halcyon, holding the two halves of the powerstone Yawgmoth had placed inside Glacian. As she unites the pieces, she suddenly hears her husband's voice: his essence has been absorbed into the stones. Glacian convinces her to place the reunited stone back on the pedestal on which Dyfed broke it, to close the portal, and lock Yawgmoth outside of Dominaria forever. She goes to the pedestal-room and does that, even though Yawgmoth pleads her not to from the other side of the portal.
After that, Rebbec ascends the stairs out of the Caves of the Damned and walks into the white cloud covering Halcyon.