Liliana Vess
15, Aug, 22

Magic’s Next Major Villain Has Been Named!

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Between Nicol Bolas, Phyrexians, and the Eldrazi, Magic: the Gathering has no shortage of major villains. However, things would get stale if this powerful trio of threats appeared in every set. Magic’s four set-model has undeniably helped to keep things exciting. However, there’s sometimes still a need for an unimaginably powerful foe. While Phyrexians may be Dominaria United’s villain de jour, it appears they may not be the biggest threat to Dominaria. The next villain in Magic may have just been given their name.

The Raven Man

The Raven Man
The Raven Man | Wizards of the Coast

In one of the latest story segments leading up to Dominaria United, we got to learn what Liliana Vess has been up to since appearing as Professor Onyx on Arcavios. While the story suggests that Liliana was content with her new profession, she was still haunted by a familiar figure. That figure, The Raven Man, has been a malicious and mysterious guiding force throughout Liliana’s life. Thanks to the recent story segment, we now know this duplicitous figure’s name; Lim-Dûl.

This tantalizing tidbit of information was first revealed during a recent story leak from the Magic: the Gathering Visual Guide. Written by Jay Anelli, this visual guide is available to preorder on Amazon. Even if you don’t preorder the book, you can still browse through 20 spoiler-rich pages at your leisure. This is where we were first tipped off that The Raven Man was actually Lim-Dûl. However, it has been officially confirmed, and this leak has been verified.

This dramatic reveal has enormous ramifications for the future of Magic’s storyline, as Lim-Dûl is a tremendously powerful necromancer. From the latest story segment we’ve been given, it appears that Lim-Dûl may be coming back sooner than expected. Currently, Lim-Dûl’s consciousness is held within the ring of Mairsil and buried deep within the swamps of the Vess estate on Dominaria. In this ring, he is imprisoned alongside Mairsil, another cataclysmically powerful necromancer.

Phenomenal Cosmic Power, Itty Bitty Living Space

As yet unnamed Phyrexian creature
Wizards of the Coast

In the story chapter, Liliana tasted this incredible power while fighting back a Phyrexian assault force. Having been brought to Dominaria by visions of The Raven Man, Liliana was coerced and goaded into fighting these Phyrexian foes, with Lim-Dûl hoping Liliana would harness the power of the ring to win the bout. This was almost a very cunning plan by Lim-Dûl to gain greater hold over Liliana as her own Magic failed to match Phyrexian might. 

In the story, Liliana unleashed “a terrible blast of rotting light,” which debilitated the Phyrexian flesh. However, it wasn’t enough to kill. Despite the power that Liliana held to wither flesh with necrotizing corruption, the Phyrexian attackers kept racing toward her. This left Liliana with little choice but to harness the power of Mairsil’s Ring, just as Lim-Dûl desired. Thankfully, however, Liliana chose not to give into temptation, thinking, “I yield to no one,” as she instead harnessed power from around the Ring. 

Despite not fully tapping into the might of two nigh unstoppable necromancers, this gave Liliana the strength to decimate the Phyrexian forces. Unleashing a “roiling wave of black fog” that swept over her Phyrexian attackers, Liliana wasn’t just able to kill; she could control. While this reanimation was not absolute, Liliana only tapped into a faction of Lim-Dûl’s power. This should unequivocally show that Lim-Dûl is a force to be reckoned with, should he ever be set free. 

The Ring of Mairsil 

Elas il-Kor
Elas il-Kor | Dominaria United

While Liliana ended her visit to Dominaria by pushing the Ring of Mairsil deeper beneath the Vess estate, it may not stay there for long. As in the story, the Phyrexian forces laying within the estate’s swamps are after that ring too. Led by a Compleated Kor named Elas il-Kor, the Phyrexians are excavating to get to The Raven Man. It’s unclear exactly why the Phyrexians are after The Raven Man, but we can’t imagine it’s good news. 

While it may well be typical Raven Man deception, Lim-Dûl seemed scared of this prospect. If Lim-Dûl is to be believed, he didn’t tempt Liliana to Dominaria to corrupt her but instead to fight. “I called you to be Dominaria’s weapon. Fight for the plane that birthed you.” While Liliana is a powerful weapon, Lim-Dûl’s expression seemed to change upon facing that threat. In the story, “Lim-Dûl started to say something more, then stopped, eyes widening in what looked very much like fear.” We’re certainly expecting this to be more Raven Man trickery, but Lim-Dûl may actually be scared of the Phyrexians. 

Whether he’s captured by the Phyrexians in their excavation or harnessed as a weapon himself, it only seems like a matter of time before Lim-Dûl returns. If he does, this could spell disastrous consequences for whichever plane Lim-Dûl is on. As a mighty necromancer who’s waged more than a few wars in their time, we could predict a War of the Spark-Esque set fighting him in the future.

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