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Urza is a planeswalker originating from Dominaria.
Urza was born on the first day of the year 0 AR to a noble family of Argive, one of the three coastal kingdoms of Terisiare. His younger brother Mishra was born on the last day of the same year. Urza's mother died while giving birth to Mishra, so his father took another younger wife who did not like the brothers. Ten years later his father fell ill. Fearing the fate of his sons after his death, the father sent Urza and Mishra to his old friend Tocasia to serve as students at her archaeological dig.
Apprenticeship to Tocasia
Under Tocasia's guidance, the two brothers learned a large amount about the manufacture of artifacts from the archaeological excavations of the ancient ruins of the Thran, the mysterious civilization that ruled Terisiare thousands of years prior. During this time, Urza developed a talent for study. Rarely having a hands on approach, he would prefer to study the artifacts the excavations uncovered rather than participate in the diggings.
Over their years at Tocasia's camp, Urza and Mishra made several important inventions and discoveries. While the most obvious of these was the Ornithopter, the most important turned out to be the Caves of Koilos. A mysterious cave filled with old Thran artifacts, the Caves were also the location of a long-sealed gateway to Phyrexia, used in every Phyrexian infiltration and invasion of Dominaria. On their first visit, Urza and Mishra each acquired one half of the powerstone that had been holding the portal shut. Mutual desire for the other brother's stone led to a falling-out between Urza and Mishra, as well as the inadvertent death of Tocasia. With her death, Mishra ran away into the desert. With the encampment disbanding, Urza had to leave his precious artifacts and go elsewhere to seek his fortunes.
The Chief Artificer
After Tocasia's death, Urza moved to Yotia and put his skills with machinery to work as an apprentice to Rusko the clockmaker. Shortly thereafter, a public contest was announced by the warlord ruler of Yotia. Any man who could move a gigantic jade statue across a courtyard would be married to his daughter. Urza wasn't particularly interested in the daughter, but in an attempt to acquire a rare tome that was in her dowry, Urza built a gigantic machine to move the statue. He succeeded, but the warlord of Kroog was reluctant to marry off his daughter to a "weed", until he discovered Urza could build flying machines called ornithopters. As a result, Urza was wed to Kayla. However, being wed did not make him any more affectionate towards his wife - on the contrary, he left her bed on their wedding night to study the Thran book from her dowry. Having been appointed Chief Artificer by the warlord, he threw himself into his work for the next few years, working excessively to build and improve artifacts, much to the dismay of his neglected wife and delight of his father-in-law. He also met Tawnos who applied as his apprentice.
The Brothers' War
While Urza was inadvertently acquiring the reins of power in Yotia, Mishra was doing the same with the Fallaji desert people, becoming a close advisor to the Fallaji ruler over the course of several years. A series of double-crossings and sneak attacks quickly commenced between the two brothers and their kingdoms, soon resulting in an open war. An increasingly elaborate set of machines developed by the two brothers began to fight on either side, and the war slowly spiralled out of control. It continued for decades, destroying the continent, until the fateful day at Argoth when the brothers met face to face at the head of their armies. Urza discovered there that Mishra had been corrupted by Phyrexian influence, slowly turning himself from a man into a living machine. Filled with rage, he used magic for the first time and knocked his brother back. With his new power, Urza tapped an ancient Thran artifact, the Golgothian Sylex, and poured all his memories and emotions into it. The resulting sylex blast was one of the most traumatic events in Dominarian history. It slaughtered both armies, decimated the continent of Argoth, and altered weather patterns for centuries, eventually leading to an Ice Age. However, it did something more important than any of that - it ignited the spark within him and lodged the Mightstone and the Weakstone into Urza's eye sockets causing him to become a planeswalker, an immensely powerful immortal being, able to move around the multiverse with merely a thought.
Quest for Vengeance
Urza realized that, after he had destroyed his brother, Mishra had been completely corrupted by the black mana from Phyrexia. This realization filled Urza with grief, and pushed him to begin his lifelong hunt for retribution against Phyrexia, and its demonic ruler, Yawgmoth.
Exploring the Origins of Phyrexia
Urza, having just survived the massive magical blast using the sylex, was transformed in the maelstrom into a Planeswalker, a being of godlike capacities who can step between worlds, universes and planes as easily as a mortal man can step into another room.
Urza settled back to ground zero, and found Tawnos, his apprentice, sealed in a mechanical stasis chamber designed to hold Mishra, should they succeed in capturing him, that somehow kept him safe throughout the maelstrom. They had a short reunion, and Tawnos went off to tell Urza's wife, Kayla bin-Kroog, that Urza had died with Kayla's name on his lip. Kayla, knowing Urza through and through, would rather believe that he had died with Mishra's name on his lips, instead. She spent her remaining mortal days with her grandson, Jarsyl, and wrote the Antiquities War, a book that would become a very important source of history for Dominarians.
Urza wandered Dominaria for a time, and found another planeswalker, Meshuvel, who educated him in the ways of his kind. Their relationship didn't last, however, as Meshuvel attempted to trap Urza, as she "feared" looking at Urza's eyes(see above). Urza, at this time, had also developed many derangements, one of which was a fixation to destroy the Phyrexians as they had destroyed his brother.
Urza journeyed Dominaria for a few years more, where in every city he could hear curses against the Brothers and their War. Urza also took up wandering the planes, and in one plane he found Xantcha, a Phyrexian newt (a human-looking sleeper agent) who was deemed "defective" by the Phyrexians and left for dead. Urza heals her, and though Xantcha tells him honestly that she was born Phyrexian, Urza simply ignores her, believing she was captured from her birth-world, tortured, and brainwashed.
Urza then made a traveling companion of Xantcha and showed her the massive dragon engine that he planned to use in his conquest and destruction of Phyrexia. Xantcha had doubts that he would succeed, yet did not speak up, so he continued in his plan.
Unknown to Urza, Xantcha followed in the wake of the dragon engine and used Urza's raid as a chance to get her "heart" back from the keepers. According to stories circulated in Phyrexia, a Phyrexian newt's heart is said to be the repository of a newt's mistakes—whenever a newt commits a mistake, the Ineffable one, Yawgmoth, the lord of Phyrexia, makes a scar mark on their hearts. Too many mistakes and the heart is destroyed, and its owner with it. Xantcha didn't know if the legends were true, but she was afraid nonetheless, and acted to save her heart while Urza laid siege to Phyrexia.
Urza and his battered dragon engine successfully punched through three of Phyrexia's nine layers, but while at the fourth level (where Xantcha was), Yawgmoth, the sleeping lord of Phyrexia, suddenly invaded Urza's mind, and incapacitated him. Xantcha climbed onto the dragon engine, forced Urza to remember where he was, and made him planeswalk them out of Phyrexia.
Once outside Phyrexia, in a strange plane, Xantcha told Urza to burn Yawgmoth's name out of his mind, which Urza literally does. Urza and Xantcha spent the next few months dodging Phyrexian hunters as they planeswalked from plane to plane. Eventually, on an icy plane where Urza almost experienced defeat, he managed to planeswalk to Serra's realm, an artificial plane populated by warrior angels created by the planeswalker Serra. It is there that Urza spent five years being healed by the benevolent planeswalker before moving on to exploring the other planes for hundreds of years with Xantcha.
Ratepe was a young Dominarian recruited by Xantcha, Urza's Phyrexian assistant. Xantcha sought out Ratepe from a small nation in order to impersonate Mishra, Urza's long dead brother. Urza was becoming increasingly obsessed and guilt ridden over his role in his brother's death, so much so that he was abandoning his defense of Dominaria in the hopes of finding a way to undo it. Xantcha brought Ratepe, posing as Mishra, to Urza in the hopes of alleviating some of his guilt and allowing him to focus on defeating the Phyrexians. Thanks to Xantcha's coaching and Ratepe's ability to hear Urza's Weakstone singing to him, Ratepe was able to help shock Urza out of his guilt. He continued to help Urza and eventually became Xantcha's lover. Both Ratepe and Xantcha were killed when Urza fought the Phyrexian Demon Gix in Koilos. Ratepe and Xantcha's sacrifice helped Urza defeat Gix and also revealed to him the shared Phyrexian ancestry with the Thran.
Tolaria and the Time Streams
Though Urza got over his obsession with reversing his brother's death, his interest in the past was far from over. Having learned that the impending Phyrexian threat was more dangerous than ever, Urza created a vast school of magic and technology on the island of Tolaria: the Academy. From all around the world, Urza summoned the most talented artificers, sorcerers, mathematicians, and biologists to study in his prestigious school, including Barrin, Teferi, and Rayne. Using the information he had gleaned from Gix and the technology being developed by his genius resident staff, Urza began the creation of a time machine that allowed him to gaze into the past and see the ancient war that led to Phyrexian banishment.
By implanting Xantcha's heartstone (her only remains) into a silver golem, Urza created Karn, a being that could theoretically enter rifts created by his temporal disruptor and change the past. One night, Phyrexians, led by a sleeper agent on Tolaria, attacked and killed most of the students. Urza sent Karn back into time to change the past and succeeded. Tragically, while the Phyrexian threat was neutralized, the temporal vortex drew far too much energy and "exploded", destroying the majority of the Tolarian Academy, killing inhabitants, and covering the island in odd (and sometimes horrific) temporal disturbances. Only thirty-three survivors left the island, among them Karn, Urza, Barrin and Teferi.
After being distraught and guilt-ridden over causing another horrible explosion (the first being the Sylex), Urza eventually rebuilt the Academy and realized that the temporal rifts throughout Tolaria could be used to his advantage. He engineered magical-technological armor that allowed Tolarian researchers to finish decades of work in mere hours in fast-time bubbles. Water drawn from slow-time bubbles could extend a promising student's life by years. Armies could be grown in fast-time bubbles. For the first time, Urza had a viable means for gaining ground on the multi-millennial head start the Phyrexian invasion force had so long held.
At the same time, a Phyrexian force was trapped in a valley of fast-time bubble, unable to escape. There, they lingered, growing in strength and numbers, until they could escape and overrun the island. Much of the new Academy's efforts were concentrated on creating artifacts to counter the threat. They dropped bombs from the air, launched hundreds of artifact avians, but the Phyrexians simply repaired the damages, and grew new warriors at a hundred times faster than the Academy's best efforts, limited only by lack of iron.
Urza, seeking to expand his army to global proportions, sent emissaries to various kingdoms in Dominaria, to rally support. In Shiv, he obtained the aid of the great dragons Gherridarigaaz and her son, and a foundry to create new supplies of powerstones, and golems of adamantine Thran-metal.
Seeking new materials, Urza traveled to the great forest Yavimaya, but was trapped in slumber for years by Yavimaya's maro-sorcerer Multani. During his absence, the Phyrexian cell finally broke through the time-bubble and attacked the Academy. Urza, summoned by a desperate Barrin, awoke and tore through his prison, inadvertently bringing a little bit of Multani along in his mind. He led an army of reinforcements from Shiv to defeat the Phyrexian siege, cleansing the island of every trace of Phyrexians. Multani, having seen the battle first-hand, finally agreed to pledge Yavimaya's aid to Urza's cause, by aiding in building the planeshifting skyship, Weatherlight.
Atonement for Past Sins
To charge the massive powerstone to power the skyship Weatherlight, nothing short of the energy of an entire plane would do. Urza discovered Serra's Realm was decaying, a pure white mana plane corrupted by Phyrexian influence. He decided to undertake a multipronged effort: to evacuate the refugees of Serra's realm, to defeat the Phyrexian sleeper agents, and to use the energies of the dying plane to charge Weatherlight's powerstone. Knowing he himself could not stop the Phyrexians and the angels they subverted, the walker prepared a large force, consisting of the two dragons of Shiv, artifact warriors, and Weatherlight to transport them from Dominaria to Serra's realm.
While Barrin led the force against the unholy alliance of angels and Phyrexians, refugees boarded the Weatherlight, and Urza went to Serra's sanctum to confront the mad archangel, Radiant, who commanded Serra's angels. In the pitched battle, his Mightstone and Weakstone were torn from his eyes, leaving him powerless. However, when Radiant tried uniting both halves, the resulting explosion destroyed the sanctum and restored both stones in Urza.
With the death of so many angels in the battle, the planar decay accelerated. Urza managed to use the energies to charge Weatherlight's powerstone, and planeshifting away their battered army before the plane collapsed entirely.
With his victory, Urza thought himself forgiven in the many places he had brought trouble. He had done two great deeds, defeating the infestation in Serra's Realm, and the creation of unity between war-torn races. Also, with a vessel that could travel planes, Urza could amend many of his other faults on other planes.
Building the Legacy
Urza constructed an army of sorcery and power to resist the coming invasion. He called them the Metathran. He also began a project of massive scale which he called the Legacy. The centerpiece of this was the ship Weatherlight, commanded by none other than Gerrard Capashen, the end product of a long line of genetic experiments. Gerrard was the most important piece to the Legacy, and was Urza's greatest achievement. Along with the ship's crew, Gerrard began his quest to assemble the rest of the Legacy before the plane had completely become overrun.
Finally, the time had come. The moment that Urza spent thousands of years preparing for had arrived. With it came the entire Phyrexian force and all of Yawgmoth's might. The plan essentially forced Rath as a plane to merge with Dominaria. This left massive rifts throughout Dominaria which could be easily abused by the Phyrexian troops. As this plot unravelled, many of the plane's greatest warriors stepped up to face the threat as a united front. Some fought, while others came to the conclusion that they should just cut their losses. Teferi, taking this stance, decided to phase the entire continent of Jamuraa out of existence. Urza was not pleased as he felt the war could only be won with the entire plane fighting together.
The invasion was here, and nothing short of the completed Legacy weapon would end it.
The Nine Titans
The Nine Titan engines were huge artifact creations that were built by Urza to assist in the attack on Phyrexia. Each titan was controlled and powered by a Planeswalker and as such they grew to emulate that planeswalker's characteristics. There was one titan engine for each of these nine planeswalkers: Commodore Guff, Tevesh Szat, Bo Levar, Daria, Taysir, Freyalise, Kristina, Lord Windgrace, and of course Urza himself. The Titan engines were huge constructs with a vast arsenal of weaponry. They contained aeries of falcon engines (artifacts created by Urza to detect oil, dive towards it, and then once inside the Phyrexian burst apart and destroy it), rocket launchers located on the wrists, mana cannons, as well as colossal hands and feet that could crush hundreds of Phyrexians at a time. These weapons, combined with the formidable magical powers of the planeswalkers themselves, made each and every Titan engine a force to be reckoned with.
During the invasion of Dominaria Urza gathered the nine Titan Engines together with their planewalker operators and launched a counteroffensive against Phyrexia. Their goal was to destroy the heartstones which kept most of the Phyrexians alive. One of the planeswalkers, Tevesh Szat, betrayed the nine and killed Kristina and Daria. Urza's response to the betrayal, which he expected, was to seal Tevesh Szat within a soul bomb that he created. Similar to nuclear weapons, these soul bombs were the most destructive force yet to exist within the Magic universe.
Years of fighting the Phyrexians had left Urza cold, and (likely) more than a little mentally unstable. In an oddly Nietzschian way Urza had come to love and respect the Phyrexians as perfect creatures, even as he fought against them. Barrin realized this, and tried to convince Urza to pull away from madness. Barrin did not succeed. Torn by the deaths of his wife and daughter, Barrin cast one last spell, the same spell Urza inadvertantly cast using the Sylex and obliterated the Phyrexian-controlled island of Tolaria and immolated himself in the blast.
While in his counter-invasion of Phyrexia, Urza was approached by several angel-like Phyrexians and was convinced to betray his Planeswalker ally, Taysir. He triggered the same part of Taysir's suit, the "kill rubrik", that he used to kill Tevesh Szat. He was led to the seventh sphere, where he was presented with his brother Mishra, who had been tortured in this clockwork hell for thousands of years. He then proceeded to the final layer of Phyrexia to worship Yawgmoth, where he was joined by Gerrard, who was promised the life of his beloved Hanna.
Yawgmoth's second wave unleashed the very earth into mudlike creatures against the exhausted Dominarians. While the Dominarian coalition, led by planeswalkers Freyalise, Lord Windgrace, and Bo Levar, struggled to overcome the new threat, Yawgmoth transferred his essence from Phyrexia to Dominaria, enveloping the world in a cloud of darkness, destroying life at a touch.
Finally, when all seemed lost, Urza's decapitated head told Gerrard to take the Mightstone and Weakstone to complete the Legacy. While Urza did not live to see his Legacy destroy Yawgmoth, his face finally showed peace for the first time in forty centuries.
Urza's final sacrifice assured Phyrexia's separation from Dominaria, that led to Dominaria's salvation. But to an extent, Urza still lived within the new planeswalker that was Karn, the silver golem. Karn himself went on to create the artifact plane of Argentum, which was later modified and renamed Mirrodin by Memnarch.