The Thaw

Another heat wave has hit the monastery. With the sudden changes between heat and rainstorms, you find it hard to determine what season it is, and your duties have been difficult of late. Still, you make time each week to see Issar Roon in his study, and tonight is no exception.

Hello again. I see you have been working hard in the recent swelter. Yet you find time to see this old creature. Touched. I am touched by your generosity. I shall return the favor by telling you a tale to cool and soothe your scorched body. It involves the Ice Age on Dominaria, of course.

The Ice Age lasted for thousands of years, but finally ended with an event known as the Thaw. The Thaw itself was a result of the casting of the World Spell by the planeswalker Freyalise. However, things were not as simple as they sound, for there was a time when many Dominarians believed the Thaw was only temporary.

When the Thaw began, the continent of Terisiare was thrown into disarray. Flooding split the continent into pieces, while disease and famine spread like wildfire. Plagues appeared from the night, removing entire towns from the living before dawn. Entire countries crumbled into dust, those who escaped such fates were drowned. It was not a pleasant time for Dominarians, and many grew angry at their gods.

There is one group in particular that stands out from the rest. Unlike the others, they did not cry out at the disease and death that became commonplace. They had no cares for the nations that fell. This group was enraged that the Ice Age had come to an end. They were called the Cult of Rimewind.

The Cult of Rimewind had thrived during the frigid years of the Ice Age; in fact, they revered the conditions. They studied the Ice Age as a scientist would study the human body, probing it and testing it. Their conclusion stated that the prolonged winter was beneficial to all, and set about determining how to best use it to their advantage. When it came to an end, the usually reserved Cult of Rimewind became furious and set about finding a way to stop the Thaw.

The Cult’s immediate solution was only temporary, casting spells to halt the Thaw and return Terisiare to winter. They knew it would not last, however, and their second-in-command, Heidar, dove deep into Rimewind Keep in search of a more permanent resolution. He found nothing that would stave off the impending Thaw.

Yet Heidar did find something deep in the earth, something that had been hidden there hundreds of years before. It drove him mad, and teased him with promises of winter’s return. It even led to his murder of the Rimewind’s leader, Gendrin.

Can you guess the source of this power, young student? It should not be difficult.

When you answer the old man’s question with a silent question of your own, disappoint flows over his face.

I thought perhaps you had been paying attention to my lessons on Dominaria’s history, but it seems I was mistaken.

What Heidar had found were Phyrexian etchings of dark power, left from the time of Gix’s religious following. The secrets they imparted upon the ice mage convinced him that to restore the Ice Age, he must use Phyrexia’s power. Heidar set about doing just that, and began a search for old Phyrexian machines left from the Brother’s War or planted by Gix and his followers.

Toward this end, and because of a growing awareness of the Cult’s actions, Heidar began to create alliances. He forged a pact with the Order of Stromgald granting him protection from a new alliance, called New Argive, between Balduvia and Kjeldor in return for corpses. He also allied himself with the vampire-queen Garza-Zol for her library. The Order bought him time, while the library provided him with the locations of Phyrexian relics strewn across the continent. When an enemy force did eventually make it to the Rimewind Keep, Heidar was prepared. He restored the Phyrexian beasts with ice crystals, and the Balduvian forces present were butchered.

The rest of Heidar’s plans did not go so well. He grew increasingly eccentric, lashing out at his newfound allies with the same fervor he showed his enemies. Garza-Zol realized the danger of such a man unbound by rules or loyalties, and sent an assassin to solve the problem. I am not sure how the man died, but it most likely was a quick death.

Without Heidar, the dreams of Rimewind were shattered. The Phyrexian beasts ran amok, but were quickly hunted down and destroyed. The Cult of Rimewind, leaderless, fell quickly to the enemies it had created. Once the Cult had been destroyed, shamans from Yavimaya cast a spell, removing the temporary winter and returning the Thaw to its natural course.

While there were still plagues and flooding to be dealt with, New Argive had solidified itself as the ruling nation of Terisiare. Over time, the plagues sputtered out and the flooding halted. The years after the Thaw saw the longest stretch of peace on the now-broken continent since before the Brother’s War, and in the end, the Thaw created much more than it destroyed.

There, has that done anything for the furnace you call a body? I hope it has. For now, I ask that you leave me be so that I may get some research finished.

With the old man’s story finished, you make a quick exit. While his dismissals are always final, you wish to leave the oppressive heat of his study before you forget his soothing story. Once outside, the air feels cooler, and you are able to relax as you make your way back to your stone room and straw palette.