Number 1: I play a lot of EDH.
Number 2: I read A LOT of Magic lore.
Number 3: Theros is my favorite set!
Ah yes, good ol' Theros block; a plane of adventure filled with monsters and heroes. Where the night sky is actually Nyx, a realm of dreams and the subconcious. Where the devotion of the people brings Gods to life.
For those who need a refresher before Theros: Beyond Death drops, here's where things stand:
After the downfall of the Mirran Resistance on the newly corrupted Mirrodin (now New Phyrexia) Elspeth Tirel is forced to planeswalk away and awakens on Theros; a plane where fifteen Gods hold sway over what happens. Prime among these is Heliod, the "Lord of the Pantheon", who envies Elspeth because her weapon
Godsend was made to kill Nyxborn. Like the Gods for instance. After failing to kill her himself, Heliod held true to inspirations found in Greek mythology, and sent everyone's favorite Knight-Errant planeswalker to defeat the hydra Polukranos.
Elspeth had a very rough journey. Every God of Theros wanted to possess Godsend for fear of what could be done with the weapon. It got so bad that Kruphix, God of the horizon, forced all Gods back to Nyx so that they didn't outright destroy the plane as a result of their desire. Little did everyone know there was an unseen force at work, pulling the strings in hopes of toppling the pantheon Elspeth was prepared to serve. This was the doing of the satyr planeswalker, Xenagos. Despite this meddling Elspeth found the beast. With the help of
Daxos of Meletis (Meletis being an important Polis or city of Theros), Elspeth was able to slay the hydra.
In having done so she became
Elspeth, Sun's Champion and learned to praise Heliod. Months passed and her relationship with Daxos became quite personal. Returning one day to Meletis she learned Xenagos had already attacked the Polis, and planned further attacks on another Polis, Akros. Capturing the satyr, Elspeth interrogates him and learns how to defeat his army, ultimately preventing disaster from Polis Akros. The Akroan king announces a festival to celebrate, and the festival was so glorious that Xenagos ascended to become God of revels. But not before making Elspeth kill Daxos! Disgraced, Elspeth fled into the wilds.
With the help of
Brimaz, King of Oreskos, Elspeth was reunited with her long time accomplice, Ajani. Bid by Heliod to kill Xenagos, the planeswalkers set out to Nyx. Greeted by Kruphix at the
Temple of Mystery, they were ushered through the temple, into Nykthos, and made to submit to ordeals. Elspeth chose the
Ordeal of Erebos and was confronted with a future she could never have. Undaunted the two gained entry to Nyx and killed Xenagos!
Elspeth then traded her life so Daxos might live again, and Heliod stabbed her with Godsend. Ajani carried a dying Elspeth back to Theros and prepared himself to the fight the very agents of death that were coming to take his friend away, but Brimaz took Ajani away and she died. Praying to the God who mortally wounded her, asking for peace.
Elspeth's death encouraged Ajani to upset the Gods' power by making everyone stop believing in them. He travelled Polis to Polis telling Therans how their God killed his own champion for fear of her power, and how as creations of belief, they must be turned away from. To further honor his fallen friend, Ajani wears Elspeth's cloak.
So, with all that in mind I want to speculate about what Theros: Beyond Death is likely to have in store for us as a narrative. Working strictly with what we know we can infer a few things about the next time we visit the land of the Gods.
The Power of the Gods will be Diminished
Thanks to Ajani's actions, the gods have been dragged down a road where they potentially have little devotion remaining. Faith of the people sustains Godhood, so if the Therans turn away, how will the pantheon react? Or maybe the Gods won't be left behind so much as they are changed. In theory, as the public outlook on morality and principle changes, so too will the Gods. Of course, Heliod might just as likely rain down punishment on every Polis in an attempt to rule through fear.
Elspeth Returns but Seeks No Vengeance
YES. Elspeth is probably coming back. When she does I don't think it's in her character arc to want or seek retribution from Heliod and the other gods. My rationale is that Elspeth is haunted by the atrocities of war. In her dying moments she just wanted peace, so unless there is a reason for her to put her armor back on, I don't think Elspeth will. Part of me thinks she will try to make the vision she had during her ordeal happen; she wants a family. Maybe that will be the path that leads her to again take up arms.
Reunited and It Feels So Good
The one person in whom Elspeth showed any sort of romantic interest is alive, in a way. When Elspeth made the deal, she ensured Daxos could live again. Unfortunately, he came back as a returned, a being escaped from the underworld. Usually Returned don't have memories and are just shadows of their former selves with no personality to speak of. Daxos is a special case, however. While Elspeth is trapped in the Underworld, Daxos searches for his beloved endlessly, wearing a golden mask twisted into a depiction of grief.
Will Elspeth break Daxos' golden mask and bring him back to life? Could this generate enough indignation in ELspeth to have her fight Heliod again?
Indulge me on this one, because it might just be wish fulfillment on my part. In a way if there is a rebellion against the gods, Xenagos would sort of be a martyr because at the end of the day, that kind of world is exactly what he wanted. Xenagos wanted to upsurp the gods and make people realize that all of this worship in the end is worthless. I can't help but feel with Ajani's actions in the end Xenagos was proven correct. We already know Xenagos won't be coming back but that doesn't mean his actions will be forgotten, nor his message. Perhaps the other Setessans, from his homeland, will take up the cause.
Ajani Returns the Cloak
I don't think I'm going out on a limb theorizing Ajani will probably be in Theros: Beyond Death as honoring Elspeth is incredibly important to him. Specifically Elspeth, whom he held as she lay dying, led to him travelling Polis to Polis, preaching Therans should turn away from Heliod. So not if but when they are reunited I personally think it would be a nice touch of pathos if Ajani returned the cloak. That doesn't have to happen but I do think it would be a great visual and a great heroes' reunion. Her cloak has always been a part of her armor, a gift from her knighthood days on Bant.
It would be weird if she didn't get it back.
Elspeth gets Godsend Back
Elspeth's weapon is the most absurdly powerful weapon on Theros for one reason: it kills Nyxborn. Heliod was fighting to keep his throne from
Purphoros, God of the Forge when he acquired the blade. And of course, he did stab his OWN champion for crying out loud! Who else is he willing to run through? I imagine Heliod at this point is paranoid and is probably threatening to stab just about anyone, God or mortal. So... who better to work their way out of the Underworld and snatch up the weapon than our hero? Which leads us to our final, exciting possibility:
Elspeth Might Kill Heliod
Poetic justice is one hell of a drug. I think after everything Heliod has put Elspeth through, it's perfectly fair that the Sun God's days be numbered and his own metaphorical sun begin to set. Let me make this abundantly clear; if it were my choice, I would have Elspeth kill Heliod.
Sadly I don't think that is liable to happen. If it does, that decision comes with serious ramifications for the plane because the God of the Sun is, well, dead. The power vaccum may kill the Therans LITERALLY if Heliod dies; 50/50 shot the sun goes with him. But if he were trapped, rather than killed...
Trapping Gods is most certainly a thing. In the original Greek Myths, Hephastus once created a golden net to catch Ares and Aphrodite in an act of adultery, Zeus trapped the Titan Prometheus and kept him
Chained to the ROcks for giving fire to mortals. If Elspeth can't kill Heliod then she will definitely find a way to restrain him and keep him for exerting dominion over the plane.
With that, I'm gonna end this article here it has been wonderfull getting to come in and write this all out so tell me what you think! Do you believe Theros: Beyond Death will be Heliod's last sunset or do you think Elspeth will make her own Caged Sun? Let me know on Twitter what you think of this absurd mess we find ourselves in.
Thank you so much for reading and until next time friends, have a good day!