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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

#MtG's #Zendikar plane as a #13thAge setting - Part 2: Icons


This post is going to be big, because I want each Icon of Zendikar to receive a treatment comparable to the Icons of 13th Age if not more extensive. However, it would take me too much time to post all Icons altogether, so I'm going to update this post over time, adding Icon over Icon, or possibly even expanding on Icons I already wrote about, although I will try to limit that.

I'm gonna post a small index here at the start of the page, with eventual updates on existing entries, so that if you're interested you can stay up to date. I will also share on Google+ and Twitter each time I make a change to the page.

CONTENTS:
 - 0 - Brief introduction
 - 1 - The Loremaster
 - 2 - The Vindicator
 - 3 - The Stoneforger
 - 4 - The Chronologist
 - 5 - The Treespeaker
 - 6 - The Surrakar
 - 7 - The Shield of Emeria
 - 8 - The Acquisitor
 - 9 - The Ruin Sage

Welcome to Zendikar! :)







Brief Introduction


As those of you who followed the project might have understood, I'm going to abandon the direction I took during the first "Icons Intro" post, where I brainstormed lots of possibilities for Zendikar Icons, and instead follow at least the general direction I found out in the "Quick Icons" post.

I'm basically going to rely on existing characters of the Zendikar world, except for one which is a "collective" entity.

Most of them were not formally intended to be unique figures in the Zendikar world, but more like particularly specialized "character classes", so to speak.
However, their uniqueness as single characters in the setting was more than hinted at in all cases right from the source material, so what I'm doing is just "pushing" that uniqueness a bit and add some old-fashioned fiction to round-up the character and the aspect of it that make him or her an Icon in the 13th Age sense of the concept.

I will also possibly add some things (or entire Icons) that are not present in the canonical 13th Age "pantheon", whenever I think it will be needed to nail better the spirit of Zendikar.

I hope you'll enjoy knowing about this characters as much as I did and do!


The Loremaster

When people in Zendikar speak about The Loremaster, they mean without a doubt the Sea Gate Loremaster. A few other (mostly self-appointed) loremasters are known, but they will never be "The" Loremaster, at least while the Sea Gate one is alive.
As much as his name would seem to imply it, though, the Loremaster isn't famous because he knows everything of Zendikar, and he admits it perhaps even more than many other scholars. Adding that nobody does, and nobody ever will.
The Loremaster is famous because it's by his relatively limited but vast knowledge that the city of Sea Gate is standing as the pinnacle of Zendikar's civilization, and it's thanks to him if there are figures in Zendikar called lullmages, able to sooth Zendikar's dangerous "moods", thus allowing a degree of safety in a few but well-placed havens, without which Zendikar would probably already be devoid of lifeforms less than extremely resilient, such as all the sentient races.

QUOTE
"The day we understand Zendikar's secrets may be the day those secrets will end with our lives, but the act of trying will make the same lives last longer, other than more worthy to be lived."

Usual Location
In Sea Gate, normally in his personal studio in the archives of The Lighthouse.


Common Knowledge

In addition to his specialty works on academic wizardry (he co-funded the Kabira Academy), the Loremaster has wrote yards of scrolls about the Roil, about all the known ruin sites of Zendikar, and even about the cosmos surrounding Zendikar, a field in which he admits the Chronologist has a far higher level of insight, given the powers he and only he seems to be acquiring from it.
All expeditions seek the help and counsel of the Loremaster, but the Chronologist, a close fiend of his and the de facto ruler of Sea Gate, urges him to stay in Sea Gate as much as he can and not give out precious information to people with interests that go too far beyond, or originate too far from, the city.
Zendikar knows that the two powerful mages are linked, and that the Loremaster will not betray the Chronologist, but they also know that the thirst of knowledge of the Loremaster is too strong to be quenched for long, and that if someone finds some place, artifact, or phenomenon of interest for the Loremaster, he or she will unquestionably gain his attention, and probably also his extremely valued counsel and knowledge.

Allies

As said, the Chronologist is not only an ally, but in some way the only figure with some authority over the Loremaster. Since most people don't understand the powers of the Chronologist, the majority tends to think that the Loremaster would have no reason other than unfathomably large economical interests in respecting and executing the will of the Chronologist. The truth is very different, and a mind such as that of the Loremaster has little use for material richness anyway.
He is also obviously an ally of the Kabira Accademy, which he co-founded decades ago, but doesn't like at all the increasingly zealous Church of Ondu, and its "face", the Vindicator, who has managed to exert more and more influence inside the Accademy, in the recent troubled times.
He is curious about the results of the Ruin Sage's archaeological investigations, but he is worried about knowing so little about his identity and his works.
He counts the Stoneforger among his allies, although he's more amused than interested in the Kor and their knowledge, deemed "a bit too mystical", and downright "formally unacceptable" when it comes to the Lightcaster, who he still considers an ally, more because of his other allies' esteem of her literal "flashes of insight", than for his.
He also keeps particularly quiet when the Acquisitor hits the pamphlets of Sea Gate, avoiding comments that many around him request, and this has lead some speculators to believe he has a secret ally in the Acquisitor as well. She, obviously, couldn't be found for a comment on the matter.

Enemies

Although there's nothing like an overt war, which would probably prove catastrophic for the Loremaster and Sea Gate itself, the Treespeaker and basically all the Joraga elves are not at all fond of the Loremaster and his "walking a forest too many". So in the very few occasions they come into (distant) contact, the two authorities manifest a lot of reciprocal tension. Thanks to the friendly neutrality of the Tajuru Speaker, and the Tajuru themselves (who are the most populous of the three elven nations), conflict is kept in check.
A similar although even more distant "cold war" exists with the Shield of Emeria, who is literally blocking the access to one of the most coveted ruin sites of all Zendikar: Emeria, the Sky Ruin.
It is not clear if Iona even knows about the Loremaster: her dogmas have a much higher priority for her than knowing who is trying to go against them, and even the Loremaster, in a glaring exception to his normal conduct, is ignoring the Shield of Emeria quite a lot, considering she should be a subject of his studies due to her role in the world.
Another case entirely is the relationship with the Surrakar, one of those few "things" that the Loremaster doesn't fully understand in Zendikar. They, in turn, understand quite well that he is trying to mingle with forces that are larger even than his vast mind, so they indirectly oppose his expeditions when they can.
The Bloodchiefs are obviously enemies of the Loremaster, being themselves auto-proclaimed enemies of every being that survives thanks to a certain content of liquid red blood. However, the talks with the Bloodchief of Ghet are not as sterile as they were before his fall among the vampires, and there are those who say that the Loremaster is attracted by the knowledge that an alliance with him could bring to the Great Lighthouse Library.
Last but not least, the Tyrant and the Five, being enemies of civilization, are probably the most openly recognized enemies of the Loremaster, although again, especially those who know something about Ob Nixilis of the Three, think that the Loremaster might be tempted to know what he knows, and that an alliance would be the only way to do so. They probably should know better that the Loremaster knows better than to ally with a demon on a whim. Or wouldn't he..? 

History

As virtually all famous people in Zendikar, the Loremaster lived most of his life as an adventurer working for the expeditionary houses. Actually, everybody knows that he can't stand being in his studio trying to decipher the mysteries of the world for too long. He believes in first-hand experience just as any other merfolk. And he still acquires that experience by adventuring, with the Halimar Expeditionary House, the house that is sponsored by and sponsoring of Sea Gate itself.
The loremaster's first famous adventuring company left a mark in Zendikar's history because it was the only company formed exclusively by mages. During those years, the Loremaster passed more time studying his own companions than the world around him. And while doing so, he wrote a book; a book in which he demonstrates the very first theorems of wizardry known to the world, basically inventing Lull Magic. With this particular subset of wizardry, that existed before the Loremaster but never managed to be formalized and consequently teachable, the adept lullmage is capable of interacting with the Roil and the natural geomagical processes of Zendikar and calm them temporarily down, to a level compatible with the life of the average humanoid.
This happened a century ago. Now, every company of adventurers or relic hunters around Zendikar includes at least one lullmage, and the Halimar Accademy as well as its derived Kabira Accademy in distant Ondu, train neophyte lullmages in large numbers.

The True Danger

As long as the Chronologist manages to limits, with whatever means he's using, the thirst of knowledge of the Loremaster to not-unsavory sources, and until the Loremaster won't know something that could make him lose his sanity, Zendikar's civilized poeples have in the Loremaster a living library worth more than ten times the Great Lighthouse Library.

The Kabira Vindicator is the paladin that has become increasingly popular not only in his city of Kabira and the lands where the Kabira-based Church of Ondu has managed to become popular, but in whole Zendikar, especially since the recent rumors of war with an unknown enemy have begun to stir every community on the globe.
He is highly charismatic, he is a master of combat and tactics, and the height of his conviction, they say, is matched only by the narrowness of his sight.
When strange creatures began to menace Ondu, he mastered an army the likes of which Ondu had never seen, and he vanquished them so thoroughly that he decided to go and help other lands as well. A laudable effort, but some scholars are not convinced that bringing so many people close to this new threat is actually a good idea, and the most knowledgeable experts in the field of Zendikar's hedrons are also very worried about Kabira's use of those strange artifacts, an activity that under the Vindicator's guide has become one of Kabira's signatures.

Related Minor Icon: The Kabira Evangel

QUOTE
"Pre-Kabira scholars studied the hedrons with a reverence that approached blasphemy, neglecting the Gods. The people only needed a brave example to understand that the artifacts are there to be used other than studied, and that the extreme prudence they had with these magical stones, they should have it towards the Great Three gods, as only they can help us fight this new plague."

Usual Location
Kabira, when he is not on some crusade around Zendikar.

Common Knowledge

The Vindicator is either loved or hated. And his recent success indicates that he is mostly loved, especially by the most defenseless in Zendikar. Nobody before him ever brought the Church of Ondu to its current level of popularity, and because of this, for many simple-minded the Vindicator is nothing short than a prophet of the Great Three gods. A vision that he probably wouldn't dismiss much.
The most informed and figures close to him, know about the Vindicator's thirst for power and fame, and they either fear it or use it to their advantage. At the Kabira Accademy, they tend to think they can use him, so they support his crusades with their graduate lullmages and battlemages. What they really want is to use his bravery and single-minded conviction to study the hedrons he encounters during his crusade with an unprecedented level of depth. A depth considered disrespectful by some, extremely dangerous by others.
It is true that thanks to him some new properties of the hedrons have been uncovered, but all but the foolest know that it was just the tip of the iceberg, and that the recent strange activity and "awakening" of the hedrons could be a sign that they are not to be mingled too much with.
Voluntarily blind to the critics, the Vindicator travels from land to land in Zendikar with an ever-increasing amount of followers, that is quickly becoming the greatest single military power that the eternally divided peoples of Zendikar have ever seen before.
In the mean time, nobody still understands well the origin of the monsters that the Vindicator is battling with, and the Vindicator himself even less than most.

Allies

The Vindicator counts most of the protectors of civilization among his allies. The Chronologist, as the highest recognized power of humanity, is of course first of the list, since at the end of the day, power is the language that the Vindicator understands best. As such, he diplomatically keeps a positive attitude towards the Loremaster, even if some of the keenest critics to his campaigns have come from him.
The closest ally of the Vindicator has to be the Stoneforger: the Kor mystic shares the Vindicator's piousness, and would like to be as inspiring as him among the scattered Kor, instead of just being sought after for her weapon-making prowess, which is also of course the true reason for which the Vindicator favors her so much.
Although the Vindicator rewards the Stoneforger's friendship (and the cheap weapons she produces for him), and publicly manifests a great deal of sympathy towards the pious Kor, the Lightcaster, the most revered religious figure of the Kor, didn't speak good words about the Vindicator in her flashes of foresight, something that he has decided to ignore, trying to limit the public interest on the matter.
The Treespeaker is somewhat neutral towards the Vindicator, or even mildly supporting, as long as he doesn't touch Bala Ged in his crusades. After all, he has been protecting the Tajuru and the Kazandu elves from many a monster incursion, so the Speakers of both elven nations hold him in great esteem, something that the Treespeaker can't ignore.
The Shield of Emeria is of course a figure that the Vindicator reveres, being an angel, but she wouldn't count him as an ally, just as she doesn't count any non-angel as such. Or maybe because of some other reason nobody has understood yet.
Even the Tyrant, Kazul, has recently manifested some respect for the Vindicator, since a war between his mercenaries and the paladin's army would have been too costly for both sides. So the ogre even decided to grant safe passage into Murasa to the Vindicator, under some undisclosed terms. 
Needless to say, the Vindicator list of allies is a testimony of his ability as a politician.

Enemies

The Ruin Sage and his amanuensis patience in uncovering, studying, and translating ancient scripts and artifacts makes the Vindicator nervous. He is a promoter of the old relic hunting ways that, in his views, made Zendikar too vulnerable to the supernatural dangers.
The Surrakar are all but unknown to the Vindicator, since he hasn't yet touched Bala Ged in his travels, but he wouldn't regard them as much more than monsters if he did. And the same can be said about the Five, and the Bloodchiefs of course, which he considers responsible for the recent invasion of monsters, even if he knows nothing about them, except for their races, which is quite enough for the Vindicator to pass judgment anyway.
Last but not least, being an enforcer of the law first and foremost, the Vindicator openly opposes the Acquisitor, especially since his best ally, the Stoneforger, has put a price on her head for unknown reasons.

History

The Vindicator's career as an adventurer lasted very little. He passed much more time training and politically-maneuvering to make himself a name among Kabira's law enforcers, and he never associated with any Expeditionary House, partly since he was too busy in Kabira, and probably also because Ondu never had any influential one, with Javad Nasrin, the Ondu Relic Hunter, being mostly an independent player. 
In one of the very few adventures he had, in his "rogue period" between the law-enforcing and the involvement with the Church of Ondu that culminated with his nomination as paladin, the Vindicator randomly discovered that the hedrons could be tapped for power by some types of magic, and that they could become defensive devices against some of the new monsters that had begun to plague the lands. And that discovery changed his life. 
It's because of that and the subsequent interest generated in the leaders of the Kabira Academy that the Church of Ondu took him in such a great esteem all of a sudden. He has been the reason of the Academy and the Church near-fusion recently, especially since after acquiring a position in the Church's Council, he proposed and obtained The Merge: a formal union of the Kor and Merfolk faiths, something that was practically always enacted (their two trinities of gods are clearly one and the same), but that was never formalized and vocally promoted to the masses. 
The Merge was actually another of the Vindicator great success in political maneuvering, actually. Because by formally declaring it a heresy to discriminate the two faiths, it forced some of the competing merfolk scholars and kor clerics to smooth the edges of their conflicted relationships, thus silencing much of the opposition in the fusion of Academy and Church. As much as the political move was tactically perfect, though, what the Vindicator lacked was long-term strategy and awareness of his surroundings. In fact, very poorly known but clever figures both in the Church and the Academy gained much more than the Vindicator from that move, and he has always been an instrument in their hands, something that the obviously limited mind of the Vindicator either finds right for him, or that he just ignores completely.
Maybe, after the political success of his crusades, his popularity just got to his head for good.

The True Danger

The moment the Vindicator or the mages and clerics in his crusades will open, destroy, or use the wrong hedron, or the right hedron in the wrong way, there is no telling what may happen.
In addition, there are talks of monsters that feed on humanoids and even on the emotions of humanoids. There is also no telling on what could happen if during a large crusade involving many soldiers, inspired the way only the Vindicator can inspire, meet such strange enemies.
Basically, the Vindicator may be aiding the monsters that he has vowed to exterminate.



The Stoneforger

A prodigious mystical figure among the Kor, and an incredibly sought-after figure in Zendikar by anyone else, the Stoneforger has brought the land-focused specialized magic of the Kor to a new level of power, by magically forging perfect weapons out of simple stone, at seemingly no cost other than her concentration and a fraction of her unfathomable mystical powers.
Such an easy way of forging weapons has literally changed the balance of power in Zendikar, and many powerful players previously completely uninterested in Kor mysticism have seriously and quickly started careful diplomatic relationships with the Stoneforger and the Kor community that she protects.

Related Minor Icon: The Lord of Cliffhaven

QUOTE
"Talib, Body Of The World, has decided to reward our prayers by giving me the power to forge weapons from his flesh. We should unite by the bonds of our faith, take a moment to pause from our sacred pilgrimages, and try to understand why has this gift been given to us, and not to others."

Usual Location
Cliffhaven, the largest and perhaps only non-nomadic Kor community of Zendikar, situated along the heights of the Makindi Trenches, in the Ondu mainland.

Common Knowledge

The Kor know perhaps even less about their prodigious Stoneforger than other interested parties, like most of the human-dominated settlements of Zendikar, and even the war-like Joraga elves.
What the Kor know is just that the Stoneforger is a mystic, a lucky blend of mage (artificer, actually) and priest, and that she might be a chosen of Talib, "Body Of The World", the Kor deity of the earth, which since the Great Merge ordered by the Kabira Vindicator, is considered one and the same with the Merfolk deity named Cosi, "The Trickster".
The Kor respect the Stoneforger ability, but being minimalist survivalists, they are not very interested in the powerful weapons that she can create, and follow her more due to what she represents religiously-speaking. As such, she didn't manage to attract many more Kor than those who were already living in Cliffhaven, although under her guidance and thanks to her weapons, the now famous Knights of Cliffhaven have become a force to be reckoned with.
The other interested parties instead, know that with the right guidance and with little payment other than promises of friendship, prtoection, and support, the Stoneforger can create magical wepons of untold power. 

Allies

Whoever wants weapons wants to be an ally of the Stoneforger. Few have managed to actually gain her friendship though. 
The Vindicator, with his charisma, religious significance and prominence, and diabolical political ability, has managed to be one of those few friends, also thanks to the relatively short distance between Kabira and the Makindi Trenches that host Cliffhaven.
The Treespeaker has also smartly started fruitful diplomatic talks with the Stoneforger, apologizing for the many past "incidents" of bands of Joraga elves battling (and invariably winning the battles) against the Kor, in many parts of the world. A truce has been signed by the two, and the naive Stoneforger has already rewarded the Treespeaker with elven swords much more perfect than those produced by the elves until now. And which of course they still call elven, although they are now technically kor...
The Chronologist and Loremaster, with their isolationist politic centered in the inner sea of Tazem, the Halimar, on which Sea Gate thrives, have had little contacts with the Stoneforger, although she considers them allies because of what she knows about them. Should they need any metal-made, rock-extracted favor, she would be glad to help.
The Lightcaster, is perhaps the only ally of the Stoneforger that doesn't have any interest in her magical productions. There has been few to none foresights on the Stoneforger from the Lightcaster though, and the two have met only when very young. So their alliance is as strong as it's also irrelevant.
She doesn't know anything of the Surrakar, although there are those who say that the Surrakar Spellblades may have been forged in ancient times with the same methods used by the Stoneforger, so a connection is not out of question.
As most Kor, she has seen the Shield of Emeria personally, but as most Kor, she doesn't have much of an opinion on her, only reverence. For her, the Shield of Emeria is basically a sacred location, more than an individual. And that's probably the definition closest to the truth.
In a twist of morality, she considers the Five to be just "lost children" of Talib. Apart from Ob Nixilis, the Fallen, who is not native of Zendikar, she is close to the truth, at least theologically speaking. It is not known if this lack of enmity from her part would make them any less likely to destroy her, fiven the chance. Who knows of demons, knows that they would probably take the opportunity to manipulate her, and there is talk of how Ob Nixilis may want to indirectly have her forge an artifact that could free him from his planar bonds.

Enemies

She considers the vampires to be enemy of the Kor (one of her few political insights right on the spot), and as such she would never work for the Bloodchiefs or for the Ruin Sage. If she knew that the Ruin Sage is a vampire...
She also used to consider the elves, and as such the Treespeaker as an enemy, and she still holds a grudge for the kor that have been killed years before, but she hopes nothing bad will happen now that the truce has been signed.
She also regards the Tyrant as an enemy of the Kor, since he blocks the easiest passage into Murasa, a continent home to many sacred pilgrimage destinations of the Kor. However, few among the Kor ever use the easiest passages, being so adept at flying with their kite-sails and wing-works, so it's a light enmity in the end.
The only enemy that the Stoneforger is actually serious about is the Acqusitor, on whose head the Stoneforger even put a prize. Nobody knows why, but everybody suspects that the Acquisitor might have stolen a powerful item made by the Stoneforger, that for some reason she is not able to replicate.

History

The Stoneforger is relatively young, for a Kor, and the powers that made her important are even younger. So there is not much history behind her, if not the history of the Kor peoples of Zendikar, and especially Ondu, which most consider the homeland of the Kor.

The True Danger

The Stoneforger being literally a living forge of magical weapons is a danger by itself, especially considering she is so young and naive. She may produce the perfect weapon for the wrong warrior, and the balance of powers of Zendikar depends a lot on her.

The Chronologist is one of the most enigmatic figures of Zendikar. He has been mostly unknown until a dozen years ago give or take two, although he had always been part of the high society of Sea Gate. Then, quite suddenly, he became very influential in the higher spheres of the city government, until the Council of the Enclave even gave special powers to him, making him the de-facto ruler of Sea Gate, an unprecedented political position.
Amidst the chaos that rules in the wilder parts of Zendikar, and that was threatening Sea Gate as well, the city has been doing very well since his rule started (although he despises the term and calls himself a counselor), and nobody outside of figures very close to him knows exactly why and how.

QUOTE
"I haven't been doing much apart from counseling and regular magical wards maintenance. What makes a city, and a state, safe, is the collective effort of all its most brilliant minds and able bodies; and the time to put these together into a single cohesive force."

Usual Location
The Lighthouse, at Sea Gate, in Tazeem. He never leaves the place.


Common Knowledge

There's really little in terms of truly "common" knowledge about the Chronologist. People agree he is a man in his sixties, he is very close to the Loremaster, and he has a conspicuous reserve of riches under many forms. Some say he gained the favor of the Enclave because of that, some say he was just a rare case of actually competent person within an aristocratic class that has always been deemed useless, being Zendikar a world in which actions surpass the power of status very often.
People old enough to remember something about his youth also know that he had been a powerful mage since his greenest years, and that he never stopped being active as a mage, although never beyond the city-state limits. He also has worked in the administration of the city nearly all his life, so some people say they are just rewarding him for a life of exceptional service.
What most don't know is that the true power of the Chronologist has come to existence only relatively recently, right before the Enclave Council elected him as First Counselor, and that this recent new power is the very reason he was given such a high degree of freedom in administrating the city.
Nobody knows what triggered this new power, but some say it's some kind of astromancy, which means he could possibly be a good diviner wizard. They are not far from the truth speaking of results, because yes, he basically have extremely good predictive powers, but nearly nobody knows that the way he achieves this is by controlling time itself. The fact that he's openly called the Chronologist because of one of his previous administrative positions hasn't sounded many alarms in people's heads, but with time, the smartest are beginning to understand that he took the Chronologist role to a whole new level...

Allies

A famous political (and magical, for those who know the truth) quote from the Chronologist is: "Given enough time, anyone can become an ally." It's a bit cryptic, although still meaningful, in an exquisitely political context, but it acquires new meaning if considering that he can actually expand time. Basically, the Chronologist can find an ally in any of the other powerful players of Zendikar. His sympathies, however, are much like those of his close friend, the Loremaster. The only difference is that he actually holds in great esteem the Lightcaster and her truly divinatory powers, because they complement his time-expanding powers. And on a similar note, he is also much more fond of the Shield of Emeria, compared to the Loremaster, because he knows how to exploit her abjuration magic at best.
Not all his allies know about his power, but the most important and/or "difficult" allies (such as the Treespeaker, the Acquisitor, and some even say the Bloodchief of Ghet) do, and since they knew, they became much more loyal...

Enemies

The Five are not beings that would care much about going against his powers, being creatures infused with Black Mana, so he decided to keep the secret from them, and use their ignorance to his advantage. While the Chronologist is in Sea Gate, the Five have little to no chance of corrupting anyone in the city. The time itself is too much against them...
The Bloodchief of the Kalastria, Drana, is not a powerful enough figure for the Chronologist to bother much, and although she envies the authority of the Chronologist, she doesn't need much attention from him to be kept at bay in her homeland of Guul Draz, so he applied to her the same strategy he enacts with the Five. The Bloodchief of Ghet, instead, deemed much more powerful by the Chronologist, after having heard secret pieces of foresight from the Lightcaster, is a player the Chronologist is interested about, mainly because left to his devices, he may be a corrupting force greater than any of the Five. As such, although he is an enemy, the Chronologist keeps a secret agenda involving him.
The Tyrant is even less of a powerful enemy than the Kalastria Bloodchief, but his sphere of influence is too far from Sea Gate to be influenced by the Chronologist, so he is actually a thorn in his side when it comes to commerce and communication to and from Murasa.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Vindicator is a near-enemy to the Chronologist, although he wisely doesn't display this enmity to anybody. But the Chronologist is very aware that if the Vindicator comes in contact too much with the unknown monsters that are plaguing the wilderness, and while doing so he also interacts with too many of the hedrons that dot the landscapes of Zendikar, the time-controlling powers will not be enough to contain the chaos that will ensue. So the Chronologist openly acknowledges the Vindicator as a precious ally, but secretly maneuvers against his campaigns.

History

The years of adventuring are long gone for the Chronologist, and his deeds are less than clear in that field.
What everybody seems to acknowledge is that he had a particularly static life, geographically speaking, seldom going out of the city limits, but always quite busy within them.
It's probable that his "late blooming" could have something to do with his "slow" approach to knowledge and magic. His list of accomplishments in the area of city administration though is so long that only the current true chronologist (that is, the person now occupying the position he became famous for) could make a full list of them by extracting the enormous amount of information densely spread around the approximately 40 annals in which his activities were recorded. A task that would probably take more than a chronologist to be completed.
Even if all his contributions were known though, nobody could disagree on the fact he worked very much in the most invisible background of the city. The changes he brought are perhaps more recognizable by the long-lived Merfolk, who had a better time-scale to understand them. And in fact, it's not a coincidence if the fully Merfolk-composed Enclave held him in such esteem even before his powers reached the "critical point" of time-controlling.
A more evident and understandable part of his history, by the point of view of the people, is (or was) his well known marriage, recently ended with the death of his wife, whose family was not aristocratic. They had always been considered an unusual couple, but a very united and loving one, and people found it strange that his power could have gone up so high after the emotional catastrophe he must have gone through when she passed away.
His close bonds with the Lightcaster started shortly after the wife's death, leading some to believe that he was not that involved with his wife after all, and putting him in a bit of a bitter light among the simple people of Sea Gate. Nothing could be farther from the truth, people close to him say, but the truth was not disclosed to anybody, or nobody has talked about it yet. He was always famous for being very protective of his privacy, and for being a man of few words. So it's not probable that anybody will ever know, or tell, the truth about his feelings for his wife, and the strange coincidences regarding the Lightcaster maiden.

The True Danger

The highest danger that Sea Gate, or actually all the civilized parts of Zendikar, is the eventual passing away of the Chronologist. The Enclave knows this, and they keep him under constant medical and magical attentions. If he falls, the time for Zendikar will run short; literally. Fortunately, though, he also has power over his subjective time. So even if he seems a man well past his healthy years, it is improbable that he could die for natural causes anytime soon. Unfortunately, though, death by natural causes is one of the rarest events in Zendikar...



The Treespeaker

The elven nations of Zendikar have always been divided, for as long as any elf alive can remember. Each nation has a speaker, a leader of sorts, although elven nations kind of lead themselves. The Treespeaker is a relatively young elf who has managed to get recognition from all nations, at the cost of not truly being the speaker of any, not even her Joraga's.
She is a prodigious druid and claims to speak for the forests first, and for the elves consequentially, since they live in symbiosis with the forests and have the same interests. As such, she became the representative of the elves to outsiders, and uses her natural charisma, rare for a druid, to engage in diplomacy with all the powers of Zendikar, always reminding them that the true powers of their world are not up for parlay.

Quote
"While we discuss of your commercial routes, ruin expeditions, and outpost protection, the Roil has probably blocked the routes, swallowed the ruins, and lifted your precious outpost up to the clouds. Learn from the elves' success: don't talk, just act."

Usual Location
She can teleport from some of the most roil-infused trees to others of the same kind. So she can be in the Tangled Vales of the Joraga or the Guum Wilds of the Mul Daya in the jungle continent of Bala Ged, in the Tajuru-dominated Vastwood and Oran Rief of Tazeem, or Harabaz Forest of Murasa, the sparsely populated Turntimber of Ondu, or the Jaddi Forest under Kazandu, dominated by the Kazandu Splinter elves. She usually doesn't spend more than a week in each of these. It's easier for her to find who is looking for her, than the contrary.

Common Knowledge 

Among the Joraga, she is rumored to be a chosen of Nissa, the outcast who can walk worlds. She is trusted just because she's never been seen in company of that dangerously cursed witch.
The Tajuru view her with less pride but more admiration than her very kin, with their Speaker Sutina regularly consulting her and delegating her as ambassador, something that the reclusive speaker of the Joraga does only rarely, and the ghost-touched speaker of the Mul Daya never does, since the Mul Daya believe to have no business with powers of the material world. The Treespeaker doesn't discuss this, but still maintains close bonds with singular Mul Daya Channelers and Oracles, but who she believes to be the powerful weapons. The Kazandu Splinter elves use her more to know news of their lost brothers than to give news to them, and are light-weights in the balance of power anyway.
What the non-elven world knows of her is very little. They assume she is a leader, not knowing that she has little to no authority over the true speakers, and no veto powers especially. She doesn't explain this of course, bluffing them and into treating her with the uttermost respect, if not fear, due to the elves' ruthless reputation.

Allies

She considers the Surrakar to be her greatest allies, although the feeling is not always mutual when conflicts arise with elves that ignore her requests of non-violence towards the creatures. However, the Surrakar still know they can call her for help, although the same is not true for all other elves.
The Chronologist is also an important ally, although they only communicate through animal messengers since he doesn't even go to the near Oran-Rief.
The Bloodchief of Ghet has a truce with her, that obviously doesn't hold true for the Kalasttia, who even prefer elven blood over humans', or the feral Nirkana who hunt the elves just for sport, since they only feed on animals, but find non-sentient creatures too easy too kill.
The Five also have a (very brittle) truce with her since she managed to imprison one of them, but it's more like a cold war, and they don't even care much about their "brother" (they're not brothers in fact)

Enemies

Even if she has been so open to other races, that  doesn't make the Treespeaker less of a Joraga elf. As such, she has a natural tendency to make a lot of enemies.
The Loremaster, being many times the patron of the Halimar and Tazeem expeditionary houses can only be considered an enemy, just as the Ruin Sage for the same reasons, although if the Treespeaker knew he was a vampire (it's unknown to most who do not see him in Akoum), she would probably hunt him down, something she wouldn't do to the Loremaster, firstly because she wouldn't be sure she could win, and secondly because in the end she considers him useful against other enemies.
Among these enemies is the hated Tyrant, whose blockage of Murasa is extremely irritating to the Treespeaker, being the Murasa island-continent predominantely populated by elves.
Less overt enmity exists with the Lightcaster, who is seen as a "wrong" fore-teller, compared to the elven Mul Daya oracles. The enmity is light because she is fine with the Lightcaster giving wrong counsel to other not-so-liked figures, such as the Stoneforger, with whom a truce exists, but one that the Treespeaker believes very little in, since she just can't conceive peace with forces that she considers inferior. And the naive Stoneforger is surely one of these, without counting that the Kor in general have been enemies of the elves in a not-so-distant past, and these things are not forgotten easily by the elves, especially not by the Joraga.
The Vindicator is perhaps one of those important figures with whom the Treespeaker would battle overtly, if it wasn't because she thinks she would not win without too many losses, and because he's proving useful against the new monstrous threats appearing all-around Zendikar. She vowed however, that if he will crusade into Bala Ged, she will personally make short work of him.
The Shield of Emeria lies in a similar position in the elf's spectrum: she would be an enemy if she wasn't so powerful, and if she didn't prove useful against other more urgent enemies. In fact, angels gave a hard time to elves in the past, and although The Shield hasn't personally battled with them, the paranoid Treespeaker sees it as a possibility.
The Acquisitor didn't steal much from elves (since they don't have much to be stolen), but is secretly hunted by the Treespeaker in order to discover what kind of super-weapon she stole from the Stoneforger, and eventually stealing it for the elves. Needless to say, the Treespeaker may be good at keeping her intentions secret, but the elves are not, so the Acquisitor already understood the threat and keeps away from the most elf-dense regions.
The Five still count as enemies even if there's the truce. No elf can really be at peace with demons, being their very essence so contrary. And the same applies to vampires and their Bloodchiefs.
So we could say that with the exception of the truly befriended Surrakar, the Treespeaker has only enemies: she just decided which enemies she can't readily defeat, and made them temporary allies.

History

The Treespeaker hasn't got much of a history. Her life-changing event was knowing Nissa Revane, the planeswalker. A fellow Joraga, she was ostracized for her supernatural powers and went on to live with the Tajuru. Among her powers was that of summoning elves to her side, and she mostly chose Tajuru of course. The Treespeaker however was the only Joraga exception. Nissa must have understood her potential and made her one of her chosen. They meet in secret from time to time, but nobody can tell how much of Nissa's will does the Treespeaker enact. According to her, it would be none: she only enacts the will of the forest. Not that the two wills may not be one and the same.
The rest of the Treespeaker history is ongoing. She gains power by the day, battling constantly against the enemies of the forests and the new unnatural threats that are crawling into Zendkar from who knows what abysses.

The True Danger

As long as the Treespeaker manages to maintain a balance between the warmongering Joraga, the peaceful Tajuru, and the occultist Mul Daya, the world won't succumb to the elves before it succumbs to something else.



The Surrakar

The Surrakar are reptilian-amphibian humanoids considered "on the verge of sentience " by the few scholars that "studied" them in their main habitat, the half-flooded caves of Bala Ged appropriately named Surrakar Caves.
Truth is, the few scholars who got there kept a very safe distance from them, and they were probably right to do so, but that also meant not understanding that the Surrakar are not only well past sentience,  but they also possess unique empathic psionic powers that keep them emotionally linked among each other, and even with the primal energies of Zendikar itself, and nobody knows what more.

Related Minor Icon: Tuktuk, The Returned

QUOTE
 (Few Surrakar speak, and nobody has managed to spread knowledge of those who do, yet.)

Usual Location
The Surrakar Caves complex and the Bojuka Bay area in Bala Ged, and many other swampy locations, such as the Hagra Cistern complex in the swamps of Guul Draz, the Harabaz Forest in Murasa's Sunder Cove, and the remote mangroves of the Jhwar Island, off the coast of Ondu.


Common Knowledge

No knowledge about the Surrakar is common at all, except for their reputation for fierce territoriality, not being able to speak (not true, in part), impressive stealth for their super-human mass and size, and their habit of scavenging objects from the shores near their homes, predilecting magical ones.
A few expert adventurers also know that magic and magical objects go haywire in close proximity of the Surrakar, but nobody knows why. A few religious merfolk believe they are connected with Cosi, The Trickster, and that their strange power is an extension of the deity's tricky will, and consequently an extension of Zendikar's will, in a way.
What the few travellers cautious and patient enough could discover after establishing a mental contact with them (or simply talking with the ones old enough to have developed speech) is that they consciously aid Zendikar's natural forces in keeping arcane powers under control, to save it from an unspeakable catastrophe involving the gods waking up from their slumber and destroying the world as we know it, by devouring the vital energy of Zendikar itself, all denizens included. The few who would believe such things, are seldom the few who could manage to know about them, and this is why it's not actually common knowledge.

Allies

The Treespeaker has close ties with the Surrakar and can count more of them as friends than she can count elves, even.
They also know about the Loremaster and know he could prove a powerful and supportive ally, but they only saw him during his adventuring days of old (when he managed to become a near-mythic figure among them), and didn't manage to establish contact with him, managing only to leave him with a lingering but mild curiosity about them. They sense he's still alive with their collective psionic powers, but they can't manage to contact him.
A figure they may try to contact, who could become a "bridge" between them and the civilized world (in particular the Loremaster) is, surprisingly, the Acquisitor. In fact, she is among the few people who could get close to them for some reason (like "acquiring" some relic from the swamp, or its dwellers), and who could be sensitive enough to understand the Surrakar.
Other unlikely allies may be the Bloodchiefs, since the Surrakar are not usually preyed upon by the vampires, but and they know more about the Surrakar than many others, mainly because they share the same lands, and because their unnaturally long lives gave them the necessary time to know the Surrakar.
The same could be said about the Ruin Sage, whose possibility to become aware of the Surrakar and their motives is only hampered by the usual geographic distance between them. But the Ruin Sage also leaves Akoum sometimes, so things may change with the right conditions.
The only other important figure who could ally with the Surrakar may be the Lord of Cliffhaven,  if he had reasons to mingle with the small populations near Sunder Bay, not very far from Cliffhaven. He knows about them, and he would need very little push to propose an alliance with them. He'd basically just need to discover that they are not mindless hulks.

Enemies

Anyone who attacks a Surrakar risks becoming an enemy of all the Surrakar,  due to their empathic links.
The Vindicator is close to be considered as such, due to his crusades having affected Surrakar once or twice. Pity, since both the Vindicator and the Surrakar share the enmity with aberrant monsters.
Among the other Icons, though, none is currently an enemy of the Surrakar, possibly for the same reason they are not allies either: lack of mutual knowledge.
The Five are perhaps the only ones who can occasionally be true enemies of the Surrakar.

History

The history of the Surrakar is the history of Zendikar. They evolved from creatures that inhabited Zendikar before any other important ones, and only the Kor share their native status, although they evolved much later. The history of the Surrakar is also the history of Zendikar in another way: they are connected with the land and can perceive its will, its thoughts so to speak. Unfortunately, not even the closest friend of the Surrakar,  the Treespeaker,  has had access to the vast mental records of the Surrakar regarding their history, but whoever could manage so would learn more about Zendikar than any non-Surrakar before him or her.
The only being with similar knowledge compared to the Surrakar, is the most unlikely one: Tuktuk, The Returned, the "half artificial" leader of the Tuktuk clan. Being infused, or better yet literally fused with the knowledge of the ancient ruins' creators, Tuktuk has another point of view on the same ancient times that the Surrakar remember. However, Tuktuk has never left Akoum, one of the continents that are devoid of Surrakar presence.

The True Danger

If nobody will ever realize the potential and the vast knowledge of the Surrakar, understanding Zendikar and the forces that are menacing it might prove simply impossible. And if the wrong people managed to tap this knowledge,  the end of the world might even come sooner.



The Shield of Emeria

The angel known as Iona, the Shield of Emeria, is one of the most visibly powerful beings in all Zendikar. Her sheer size and aura of white magic can be too much for mortal eyes to withstand.
However, she is also one of the most cryptic beings in the world. She is clearly not sharing her purpose and agenda with anyone, and most of the theories on her are exactly this: theories.

QUOTE
"The riches and knowledge you seek, you will never find here, for as long as I exist. The reason is not for you to peer, and the power to get past me is not yours to wield."

Usual Location
Only one: Emeria, the Sky Ruin, the gravity-defying pieces of what appears to have been a fortress or large temple, in a distant past.

Common Knowledge

Emeria is the name of both the sky ruin and the Merfolk deity of the sky itself, the equivalent of Kamsa, the Kor deity of the wind.
Everybody assumes that Iona is in some way an exarch of the deity, and because of this, many venerate her perhaps with even more conviction, due to her material presence; although few have managed to see her in person,  due to obvious difficulties in reaching the Sky Ruin.
The Kor and the Merfolk are both the most spirituality-oriented and aerial of the "big five" races of Zendikar,  so many of them (at least proportionally) have seen The Shield of Emeria during pilgrimages. The Kor virtually never ask the angel any questions,  both because they respect the being more than others, and because their spirituality is not rational, and they don't feel the need of answers.
The Merfolk instead have a rationality-oriented way of approaching faith, and many have tried to find answers by asking Iona direct questions. But she has been extremely cryptic or downright silent about nearly all questions,  to the point of becoming menacing.
Everyone managed to understand she is guarding the site for an extremely important reason, but the reason has always remained a mystery. A few scholars have begun to theorize that, since so few may actually pose a danger to the angel, she may be actually protecting everyone from something horrible coming out from the ruin, instead than towards it.

Allies

Iona doesn't disclose with her followers who she considers ally or enemy. She doesn't need any ally to accomplish her task, so the true question is who would consider her as an ally, more than the other way around.
The Lightcaster is, like all clerics of Kamsa, a follower of the Shield of Emeria, although during her trances, she becomes very agitated when referring to the angel, as if she was close to some danger, like other scholars theorize.
The Vindicator is also, of course, openly praising Iona as one of the "great weapons of the gods against aberrations", but is quite puzzled and even a bit disappointed about her evident unwillingness to leave the Sky Ruin. She would be great if she crusaded with him, he reasons, but staying up there in the sky he doesn't understand what utility she might have. He doesn't share these sentiments anyway.
Basically any Icon not set on delving into the Sky Ruin and willing to let her be and do her thing, is at least
a non-enemy. Nobody knows yet if there could be a higher level of allegiance with the Shield of Emeria than "non-enemy".

Enemies

As already implied, anyone can become an enemy of the Shield of Emeria. However, the Five (being demons) are the natural enemies of the angels. In particular, the Halo Hunter, the one among the Five that has been imprisoned by the Treespeaker, is a very real threat for the Shield of Emeria.
As such, the Treespeaker could potentially also become a very dangerous enemy for Iona. Fortunately, even if their spirituality is very low compared to Kor or Merfolk, even Elves know better than just releasing a demon, and killing an angel that has not attacked any intelligent creature, yet.

History

The Shield of Emeria is nearly as old as Zendikar itself. To know her history is one of the secret wishes of all the scholars of Zendikar, and it's no easy thing, given how little she speaks.
There are some ruins that speak of the past however, through sculpture, engravings and paitings, and angels play a part in many of the epic scenes depicted.
They are shown battling with indiscernible foes, sometimes titans even larger than they are. And some of the depictions seem to imply that the angels lost the war. However, we see angels on Zendikar, and not those strange ancient enemies, so something must be amiss.
Most scholars think that the battle depict the long lost primordial culture of Zendikar, the one that littered the world with inexplicable structures, sometimes cyclopean in size, sometimes smaller but still enigmatic. If this culture is responsible for the paintings and engravings that depict this long lost history of the world, the inferred victory over the angels may just be a sort of propaganda favoring the artists, and not depicting reality. Or at least this is what scholars think.
Some of the old engravings and sculptures are said to depict the Shield of Emeria, but she's also accompanied by seemingly even more powerful angels, even more gigantic, never seen by any of the scholars in present day Zendikar. Maybe the angels really did lose some war in a distant past, and Iona is just one of the few survivors of a once much more powerful line of angels.

The True Danger

If the Shield of Emeria is prevented from being what she is (a sheld), whole Zendikar might face a gruesome death.



The Acquisitor

The Merfolk thief called The Acquisitor, also known by her proper name, Thada Adel, has become a living legend in all the civilized parts of Zendikar.
She basically adapted to Zendikar's lifestyle better than others: precious relics litter dangerously trapped and guarded ruins, lots of expeditionary houses sponsor adventurers to go risk their lives to recover the artifacts, so what is the safest way of getting the goods? Stealing from those who recovered them of course.
The Acquisitor is known to work both on commission and independently, and to be quite unreliable when working on commission, since she's basically a kleptomaniac, so she will want to have at least a piece of the treasure for herself, even if the commissioner pays a lot.
Some think that her form of kleptomania is also deeply connected to her Merfolk Roil Sense, and that she can basically read objects' histories and inner workings. If true, she would also be an invaluable informant when ancient relics are involved.
The truth is that she has quite a lot of contacts, so a lot of her knowledge comes from third parties. Many of which seem to be based at the Lighthouse Great Library and Academy, even though for the laws of Sea Gate, she has a high bounty on her head.

Related Minor Icon: The Enclave Cryptologist

QUOTE
"What's yours is mine."

Usual Location
Unsurprisingly not known. She is most probably based in Tazeem, but since she travels mostly by sea, her hideout may very well be in the Depths of Halimar, although maybe far from the largest deep Merfolk communities, since they are among the most targeted by her heists. Unless she lived right under their noses, which is not improbable.

Common Knowledge

Unsurprisingly, there are many rumors about The Acquisitor. Nothing is for certain, although some points seem to be common enough across the stories to be considered at least near to the truth.
Among these few points is the origin of Thada, nearly always said to be in the Depths of the Halimar. Then many talk about her lonely condition, since she has been around for quite some years, but nobody ever claimed to be a love interest of her, except for very drunk people. Along with the suspects of homosexuality (something Merfolk get a lot from humans and other races), or of her being a Cosi's Trickster (a cursed and outcast Merfolk, normally female and sterile) there are claims of her coming either from a very noble family or a very irrelevant and poor one.
All of this is due to the fundamental incomprehension of Merfolk society, especially those that dwell in the deep communities. Basically, they are so independent and solitary, that very few form true families and relationships, and even the concept of coming from a rich or poor family and the relative status coming from this is a rather alien concept for deep Merfolk.
It may however be true that Thada Adel could be strange even for Merfolk standards, especially since the rumors of her being a Cosi's Trickster come more from Merfolk than others. And even the claims of her being more attracted by females may be true, since there is an Enclave Cryptologist that is famous for being a fan of her in the Lighthouse entourage.
A bond with this cryptologist may also explain the insights of the Acquisitor about relics and magical devices, since even if she is in contact with the Loremaster as others say, if he passed time together with her, somebody would have found out already.
It is also commonly said that the Acquisitor may be endangering the unstable equilibrium of the arcane devices of Zendikar, something that worries both Chronologist and Loremaster quite a bit.
Connected to that, there are also rumors of her having some kind of pact with one or more of the Five, and also some agreements with the Ruin Sage. Rumors that worry a lot of people in the Merfolk Enclave and the Church of Ondu. But again, some people such as the Enclave Cryptologist, and some Lighthouse scholars go as far as to publicly dismiss these claims, evidently to try and avoid a large-scale witch hunt against the Acquisitor, who is hunted enough already for her heists.

Allies

If the rumors are true, the Loremaster, the Chronologist, the Ruin Sage, and even The Five have some kind of connection with the Acquisitor. Of course, the contact with The Five is highly in doubt, especially because the stealthiness of Thada may not be enough to be safe from even one of The Five.
The Surrakar often try to make contact with the Acquisitor, but nobody knows if they managed to do it or not.
In general, anybody who needs to "recover" some object, may become an ally of the Acquisitor. But everybody knows that few alliances can last with her, because if somebody pays more, she might as well steal from somebody she worked for just before.
Perhaps the only true friend she may have could be the Cryptologist that defends her cause in the Enclave. She denies these claims, but it doesn't mean much considering the context.

Enemies

The Stoneforger has issued a true bounty on her head, dead or alive, an event of high profile due to the usual demeanor of the Kor. The Vindicator supports the Stoneforger of course, just as the Lord of Cliffhaven does, but more for political and egoistical reasons than anything else (in fact, he actually appreciates the Acquisitor's supposed interference with Zendikar's magical devices).
The Ruin Sage is sometimes tempted to hunt her down just to find her secret hideout and supposed hoard of relics, since she basically competes with him on his searches. However, she is mostly interested in valuables, usually devoid of the scripts that the Ruin Sage seeks.
The Tuktuk have heard that somebody could have contracted her to steal Tuktuk itself, so they decided to declare her an enemy of the entire tribe.
The Treespeaker is instead a much more secret enemy, who hunts her mainly because she is curious about what she could have stolen from the Stoneforger.
In Sea Gate, despite the supposed good relationships with Loremaster and Chronologist, the Enclave formally condemns the Acquisitor.
It is unclear if the Bloodchiefs are also hunting the Acquisitor for something she has stolen, or if she's just hunted by vampires as anybody else. After all, she surely visited vampire lands in Guul Draz more than any other Merfolk, so she could simply be more often selected as a possible prey. Or maybe not: it's very difficult to peer into Vampire businesses, let alone finding if someone stole something from them.

History

The story of the Acquisitor is rather short compared to most of the Icons of Zendikar. Her age, like just about everything else about her, is unknown, but her feats and her descriptions all point out to a rather young Merfolk. Her first famous heists date back to twenty years ago, that considering the age of Merfolk and their development rate, might mean that she could be in her fifties, or slightly less if she began early, like it's probable.
Being so young, she missed the "golden epoch" of Zendikar's more prominent icons, when the likes of the Loremaster, the Ruin Sage, and the Treespeaker were adventurers. She is seen as a newcomer of course, and although many are interested in her, mainly to take back what she stole from them, little is known.
The Cryptologist, as predictable, is the only person that gave out a bit of details. She testified in the High Court that Thada Adel's stolen artifacts have been used for extremely important causes in the recent past, such as "fixing" a mana leak in the Enatu Temple, or modifying the dangerous Roil peaks in the Hagra Cistern, possibly being responsible of the flooding of the Ghet district of Malakir, thus basically dividing the vampire families, with supposed advantages for the "prey races".
Other feats attributed to her were the finding of the Cipher in Flame in the Glint Pass of Murasa, and of the Khalni Stone that powers Ora Ondar, the Impossible Garden, in Akoum.
None of these have currently been proved, but the expeditionary houses are already organizing expeditions to prove this, with the sponsorship of authorities such as the Kabira Conservatory, and the Enclave: both interested in either disproving or even deleting from history, if true, these alibis for one of the most troublesome characters of Zendikar's recent history. Although the Cryptologist will surely oppose these efforts, at least those of the Enclave in which she has acquired some credibility during the years.

The True Danger

If the Acquisitor ends up allying herself with the worst parties of Zendikar, providing them with important and perhaps powerful arcane relics, there is no telling what might happen to the entire world as we know it.


The Ruin Sage, also widely known with his name Anowon, is a peculiar vampire. One of the very few to have made the continent of Akoum his home, he has created an association that is competing with the Expeditinary Houses, especially in Akoum, named in fact The League of Anowon, and is much more interested in the translation of old texts and runes, than in the actually recovery of relics, which he thinks are mostly over-appraised. He has grown increasingly thirsty of knowledge in the recent years, and he has attracted a lot of adventurers to his League, adventurers that sometimes never made it home, not because of the usual incidents in the dungeons, but because of another thirst Anowon has, besides the thirst of knowledge...

QUOTE
"The Three shall [convene/return?], and the Eye [illegible] shall produce its[utter/sheer?] fire, and the [illegible] shall Rise, and this Time no Soul shall[ascend/perish/escape?]"
—Notes found near the Crypt of Agadeem, translation by Anowon the Ruin Sage

Usual Location
Except when he leaves for some expedition, usually to Ondu or Murasa, Anowon can be found at his base camp in Akoum, known by the same name as his association: the League of Anowon.

Common Knowledge

Interestingly, Anowon is not widely known as a vampire. Actually, very few know he is one. Partly thanks to the near absence of vampires in Akoum, and partly because he is a capable mage (and warrior, for that matter), Anowon is not recognized for what he is... Until it's too late!
He even exchanges knowledge with the Kabira Conservatory in Agadeem (Ondu), and the Academy detachment in The Enclave of Tazeem, but always from a distance. In Kabira he would fear the zeal of the Church of Ondu and the Vindicator if he was recognized, and in Tazeem, and in Sea Gate in particular (where in fact he avoids even correspondence collaborations), he avoids it because he might be personally recognized, because of events of his past there.
Another place he stays very far away from, and that because of this don't know much of him, is Guul Draz, the homeland of vampires. It appears that other unfinished businesses of his past make him loathe the place.
So all in all, only very few of the most loyal League of Anowon members know about his nature, while the rest of the world that knows about him, knows him as a human linguist and knowledgeable explorer.

Allies

The Ruin Sage is a loner, for obvious reasons. There are rumors about an alliance with the Acquisitor, but being both of them among the least understood personalities of Zendikar, it could be far from the truth.
The only alliances of the Ruin Sage depend on the other side not knowing that he is a vampire. And are those with the Loremaster, and the Enclave Cryptologist.
There is some collaboration with the Tuktuk goblins, who are impossible not to cross roads with in Akoum, but Tuktuk The Returned himself (or itself) is not yet very well known by the Ruin Sage. A pity for both, because they could find many interests in common and even common purposes. Although they could be misguided and dangerous purposes.
The Surrakar are another possible ally that is not yet happening. The day the Ruin Sage discovers the truth about the Surrakar and has enough time to interact with them, a nice alliance and a lot of useful knowledge for Zendikar could come out of it. 
At least one or two of The Five could very well be allies of the Ruin Sage, but if true, he would keep this completely secret.

Enemies

For the same reason he lacks allies, Anowon also lacks enemies. He lives too isolated to have enemies, and that's his plan.
He had managed to make the whole city of Sea Gate his enemy in the past, so one of his very few allies, the Loremaster, could easily become an enemy if he knew he is the same vampire that was banned from Sea Gate and thrown out of the seawall, years before.
It could be said that Tazeem is enemy territory for the Ruin Sage, as well as Guul Draz, since the Bloodchief of Ghet would kill him without hesitation probably, after what he has done to his own bloodline. But again, he should first recognize him. Lots of years have passed, and Anowon has changed his appearance a lot.
Most of the Icons would be enemies if they knew who and what he is, but none of the Icons know, and he thrives on this.

History

During his early years, Anowon was "first son" of the House Ghet, under the tutelage of Bloodchief Tenihas. The exact method of his "birth" is not recorded, but Anowon viewed Tenihas as a father figure and the bloodchief seemed to hold his young heir in high regard. By all accounts, Anowon was fascinated with Tenihas's extensive library, particularly ancient texts that allude to the enslavement of vampires by "famished gods". It was this mystery that created animosity between Anowon and Tenihas, who didn't want his young protégé to unearth things better left buried in the past. One night, Tenihas was brutally murdered in his own bedroom—his retinue slaughtered, and his treasure stores plundered. The only surviving witness swore that Anowon had killed his bloodchief in a fit of rage and then vanished. Anowon didn't return to his homeland for many decades, and in the intervening years, the legend of the killing of Tenihas grew to almost mythic proportions.
Anowon spent the next decades as sell-sword, honing his skills as a mage and warrior during dangerous expeditions. He then pledged his loyalty to Bala Ged Expeditionary House for a brief period. While hiring himself out to expeditions, he deciphered archaic language variants, inked hundreds of rune-scrolls, and collected hundreds of relics. Although the circumstances are lost to memory, it was during one of these expeditions that Anowon acquired a powerful scroll now known as the Dragon's Fire. Almost immediately afterward, Anowon renounced his loyalty to the expeditionary house and disappeared from Bala Ged.
A few years later, a young man calling himself Kejahar appeared at the Lighthouse in Sea Gate. He impressed the resident scholars with his magecraft and knowledge of the ancient world. He also possessed several powerful relics, which intensified the scholars' curiosity about the mysterious stranger. Based on several descriptions of the man, it's certain that this was Anowon in disguise. He soon ingratiated himself with the Lighthouse community. He traveled extensively with merfolk expeditions and spent untold hours in the Lighthouse Library, the largest collection of writings in Zendikar. During this time Anowon made a connection between the Eye of Ugin and the secret past of the vampires that Tenihas had so carefully protected. Despite having to deny his true nature as a vampire, this may have been one of the happiest times in Anowon's life. There are no indications of murders or thefts, and it seems that Anowon was genuinely seeking knowledge without dark motives. Then a young kor woman was killed and dumped in an alley near the Lighthouse. She was acquainted with Anowon, and he was blamed for her murder. During the interrogation by the militia, Anowon's true nature as a vampire was revealed. The townsfolk beat Anowon nearly to death and dumped his body over the seawall. How he survived the dizzying fall into the Halimar is not known.
His near-death experience at Sea Gate was a turning point in Anowon's life. From then on, he stole and killed indiscriminately to accomplish his goals. Anowon now sought the Eye of the Ugin with a singularity of purpose. Yet again and again, his quarry eluded him. From his base camp in Akoum, he gathered a rabble around him, searching endlessly for the eye and secretly killing anyone who got in his way. His widespread reputation as a ruin sage proved especially useful as adventurers would come to him for help and answers and he used their relics and knowledge to further his quest for the Eye.
[Quoted from MTGSalvation Wiki]

The True Danger

If the Ruin Sage finds out the Eye of Ugin, based on the translations he made, there is a serious possibility that he will unleash an apocalyptic evil on Zendikar. At the same time, if he understands better the matter, with the help of other people or beings of great knowledge, he might avoid this.