|Race||Human Planeswalker, Spirit (in Ghostform)|
Kaya, a.k.a. the Ghost-Assassin, is a Planeswalker with a growing reputation as an accomplished ghost hunter. She is also the nominal guildmaster of the Orzhov Syndicate on Ravnica. Kaya has a family name, but for some undisclosed reason, she can't use it. On Kaldheim, she was called Kaya Far-Traveler and Slayer of the Bloodsky Sire.
Appearance and characteristics
Kaya is a dark-skinned, young woman with dark hair. At the time of the War of the Spark, she is close to thirty years old. Kaya usually wears a thief's leathers and a pair of long daggers on her wrists. She is a confident, roguish duelist with the ability to become partially incorporeal, allowing her to slip through solid items and to touch and assassinate spirits. As an exception to the rule that planeswalkers can't bring organic materials across the Blind Eternities, Kaya is able to safely transport one creature or person, by ghosting into her spirit form and simultaneously extending her necro-magic to include her passenger, much like she does with her clothes or daggers. When she does this, it leads to a merger of body and personality. The process, however, tends to cause extreme nausea for Kaya and her passenger upon separating at their arrival point.
Kaya acts as though she is driven by a desire for money, but often her sense of justice is greater than her desire for personal gain. It just happens to be convenient when her personal and financial ambitions align. After becoming the Orzhov guildmaster, she released any debt she found unfair, taking on the burden of the debts herself, showing a remarkable degree of selflessness that wasn't fiscally aligned. She believes all beings deserve fairness, regardless of stature, and took her Gatewatch oath on that belief.
Kaya is centered in both black and white mana. When going intangible, the affected portions of her body turn a transparent purple. When going fully intangible, she notes it causes her heart to stop beating for the length of the duration, possibly being a threat if overdone. Kaya has the ability to see through, and undo, illusions.
Kaya's homeplane is Tolvada. She was born in a village with less than a hundred inhabitants. She is descended from a noble lineage, though she and her kin had never stood on ceremony. Kaya's family relationships can be best described as "complicated". She once had a relationship with someone called Janah. She doesn't miss Janah, but she misses the feeling.
The blue sky of Kaya's homeplane is shot through with scintillating cracks, like a zig-zagging rainbow, and the world goes a little madder every year. When she met with Nicol Bolas, he had promised her he would heal the sky in return for her assistance in killing the Obzedat on Ravnica. Looking back, Kaya suspects that the troubles on her homeworld have been created by Nicol Bolas himself.
Kaya initially appears on Fiora while taking an assassination contract for the ghost of Paliano nobleman Emilio Revari's mother. As she tangled with the spirit in its former home, she uncovered the reality that Emilio was directly responsible for his mother's death. Disgusted by this act of kinslaying, she ended her battle and led Emilio back into the house under the false pretense that the specter had been slain. Once the nobleman had been lured inside, Kaya revealed that she knew the extent of his crimes and left him to the wrath of his slain mother. With the Revari contract settled, she could now attend to a much larger payday. Her next job came through a contract from Marchesa to assassinate the ghostly King Brago. Utilizing her incorporeal powers, she successfully infiltrated Brago's dining room and plunged her rondel dagger into his spectral neck. In the aftermath of her triumph, Kaya was confronted by Brago's captain of the guard, Adriana. After several swings of Adriana's sword passed through Kaya's unharmed body, the ghost assassin retaliated with an elbow to the jaw. Kaya would leave Adriana otherwise unscathed, departing from the dining hall with remarks of Brago's tyranny.
Kaya resurfaced on Ravnica as part of the Orzhov Syndicate. Bolas hired her to kill the Obzedat and become guildmaster of Orzhov in exchange for him helping her "troubled family". Promised the support of Teysa, Kaya worked with Ral Zarek, Hekara and Vraska in an attack on Orzhova. While the others distracted the Orzhov troops and thrulls with an attack of rot zombies through the sewers, Kaya passed through the Orzhov defenses of the catacombs mostly without a problem, although she has some difficulty defeating a couple of giants. When she found them, she killed the Ghost Council easily, but while doing it she suddenly felt all the Orzhov contracts physically weighing her down. Through a loophole in Orzhov law, she had become the new guildmaster of the Syndicate. In addition, she discovered that Bolas has maneuvered her in this position, and that she now had to do his bidding in return for aid to her broken home plane, as originally agreed, but also for extrication from her current predicament.
Most of the Orzhov refused to acknowledge her status or respect her authority. Despite Teysa warning against it, Kaya freed many people from the debts they owed the guild, particularly the bound ghosts. On the other hand, she also heightened the tithes on the population to compensate for the economic losses caused by forgiving so many debts, raising them from 10% of people's incomes to 40%. This quickly led to riots, which had to be quelled by Azorius forces; in order to pacify the masses, she brought the tithes down to 18%. Kaya's habit of forgiving debts and raising taxes made her even more unpopular and caused Teysa to end their partnership, further undermining her position.
Kaya and Teysa attended the guild summit on behalf of the Orzhov, and witnessed its dissolution after the murder of Isperia. Afterwards, she helped Ral Zarek engage the Golgari, to conquer a location that was needed for his manipulation of the Implicit Maze. During the attack, she was almost killed by one her own priests who called her a traitor. As he returned to Orzhova, she found that the hierarchs had pressured Teysa to arrest her. With the help of Tomik Vrona, who thought that Teysa was making a mistake, Kaya discovered that all the hierarchs owned debts to the true heir of Patriarch Karlov. She turned the tables, had Teysa arrested and offered the hierarchs a deal.
War of the Spark
Ral Zarek activated the Interplanar Beacon to bring other planeswalkers to Ravnica for help, but it turned out that was exactly what Bolas was counting on. Once the Beacon was active, Bolas brought the Immortal Sun to Ravnica, trapping the planeswalkers there. Having become aware of Bolas' treacherous nature, Kaya defected from him for good.
Bolas' invasion began shortly after that, and the Eternals of the Dreadhorde marched forth from the dragon's Planar Bridge. She befriended Teyo Verada, a newly-ignited planeswalker who had just arrived on Ravnica. With the help of a Gateless street urchin named Araithia Shokta (nicknamed Rat), Kaya and Ral helped explain the situation to Teyo. Alongside many other planeswalkers and Ravnicans, Kaya fought against Bolas' forces.
She tried to rally the Orzhov Syndicate against Bolas, and she met with the Syndicate's ruling triumvirate, consisting of the human pontiff Armin Morov, the vampire tithe-master Slavomir Zoltan, and the angel warrior-executioner Maladola. She faced resistance from them, but the Syndicate's chief enforcer – the giant Bilagru – convinced them that Bolas posed an existential threat to all of Ravnica and, by extension, to the Syndicate's economic interests. (Unbeknownst to Kaya, Bilagru had been persuaded to help her by Orzhov representative Tomik Vrona.) Swayed by Bilagru's arguments, the triumvirate agreed to have the Orzhov Syndicate join the fight.
During the invasion, the trapped planeswalkers got together with Ravnican leaders to strategize. At Jace's recommendation, they decided to split up into teams to focus on specific tasks. Kaya, Teyo, and Araithia were sent to persuade the guilds that still remained neutral (Selesnya, Gruul, Golgari, and Rakdos) to join the fight against Bolas. They received an audience Emmara Tandris, acting guildmaster of the Selesnya Conclave, who initially refused their plea for help. However, her decision was overruled when Trostani awakened and ruled in favor of helping the Gatewatch. The group then went to speak with Borborygmos of the Gruul Clans, and Araithia convinced the cyclops to support their cause.
They were joined by Ral, who accompanied them to the Undercity. In Vraska's absence, the other leaders of the Golgari Swarm squabbled for control of her throne, but Vraska returned and united them. Despite Ral and Kaya's suspicion of the gorgon, Vraska pledged the Golgari to the fight against Bolas. With the help of Ajani and his team of planeswalkers, they were able to evacuate many civilians to the tunnels beneath the city, where they would be safe from the Dreadhorde.
After that, Vraska, Ral, Kaya, Teyo, and Araithia journeyed to Rix Maadi to negotiate with Rakdos. The demon lord was initially hostile due to the death of his emissary Hekara, and the blood witch Exava ordered the group to leave. However, the Orzhov representative Tomik showed up with Hekara's corpse, and the Rakdos cultists resurrected Hekara as a blood witch. After defeating Exava in a fight, Hekara used her newfound authority as a blood witch to lead the Rakdos against Bolas.
Once all ten guilds were on board, Nissa performed a ritual at the ruins of the Embassy of Guildpact: with the help of a representative from each guild, she was able to repair the leylines that empowered the Living Guildpact (which had been disrupted when Bolas destroyed the Guildpact Chamber by opening his portal there). Kaya served as the representative for the Orzhov Syndicate. Using a device that Niv-Mizzet had constructed before his death to preserve his consciousness, they were able to resurrect Niv and grant the power of the Living Guildpact to him. Niv came back to life just in time to save the others from the God-Eternal Kefnet: using his newfound power, Niv was able to completely incinerate Kefnet in a torrent of flame, although the strain of channeling enough energy to kill a god caused him to fall unconscious.
Kaya survived the battle and was present during the Planewide Celebration that followed. Seeking to atone for her past mistakes, she joined the Gatewatch. Later, she was confronted by Niv-Mizzet and the other guildmasters (with Tomik now representing the Orzhov Syndicate in her place). They decided to spare the planeswalkers who formerly worked with Bolas but defected before the battle, on the condition that they make amends by hunting down the planeswalkers who stayed loyal to Bolas or defected too late. As her penance, Kaya was assigned the task of assassinating Liliana Vess, who the guildmasters had condemned to death for killing thousands of Ravnican citizens with the Dreadhorde.
The hunt for Liliana
Still bound by the debt contracts she inherited from the Obzedat, Kaya contemplated declaring all those debts forgiven. But she knew that such an act would destroy the Orzhov, and feared that the delicate balancing act that was Ravnica would topple with it. The contracts also prevented her from planeswalking away. However, Tomik Vrona discovered a legal loophole that allowed Kaya to temporarily transfer her Orzhov contracts and guild responsibilities to him. With Tomik now the acting guildmaster, Kaya was free to planeswalk away for short periods, and so Kaya and her entourage along with Jaya Ballard set out on their quest. Kaya used her necro-magic abilities to envelope and transport Rat on their journey. The group first traveled to Gobakhan to help Teyo Verada, as it was his first time to intentionally planeswalk. Afterward, Jaya guided them to Caligo on Dominaria in search of Liliana but soon left after refusing to go further.
Liliana was found outside the House of Vess working in a nearby garden and in a trance. While Rat went off to learn more about the mansion and its inhabitants, Teyo attempted to remove the gold collar from Liliana's neck which jolted her back to her senses. Liliana fought against Kaya and Teyo but was knocked unconscious by Rat. They discovered that an imposter Liliana Vess controlled the estate by wearing a choker with a blue sapphire amulet that contained a large and very powerful djinn. Liliana regained consciousness and agreed to let Kaya kill her in exchange for defeating her imposter and freeing her people.
During the fight, Rat stole the sapphire amulet and destroyed it which released the djinn named Zahid. Seeking vengeance, Zahid attempted to kill Teyo who had been using his shield magic to contain the entity. While Rat retrieved the Spirit-Gem and returned it to Liliana, Kaya tried to kill the djinn but was knocked across the room. Liliana then used the Chain Veil to subdue Zahid whose only request was to take Liliana Vess as his prisoner. Realizing Zahid was referring to the imposter, Liliana agreed, but Kaya killed the mistress out of mercy. Zahid was forced to leave empty-handed.
After the conflict, Liliana answered Kaya's questions and was allowed to live, although proof of a kill would be needed. Teyo suggested that Liliana give up the Veil, who reluctantly did so with a little help from the Spirit-Gem. Before returning to Ravnica, Kaya and her entourage promised to meet Liliana in Paliano on Fiora. Teyo used his shield magic to transport the Veil and delivered it as proof of Liliana's death.
As promised, Kaya, Teyo, and Rat traveled to Fiora and met with Liliana who had changed her name to Ana Iora. There they began to help Ana on her path to redemption. Asked where they would go next, Kaya explained that she had unfinished business on her homeworld of Tolvada.
A well-paying, but unknown, employer hired Kaya to hunt a hazardous monster on Kaldheim that had already caused destruction on the plane. This monster turned out to be none other than Vorinclex, one of New Phyrexia's praetors. She joined up with Inga Rune-Eyes, the leader of the Omenseekers faction of humans on the realm of Bretagard and her crew. Reaching Aldergard forest, the party engaged Vorinclex who almost managed to defeat them if not for Asi, one of the members of the party revealing himself to be Alrund, God of the Cosmos. Alrund used his magic to create a mystical barrier between Vorinclex and Kaya's people and the praetor left Bretagard, with Kaya soon following by way of Cosima's longship.
Being steered to Gnottvold, Kaya didn't find Vorinclex. Instead, she found a gathering of trolls seemingly rallied to war by the god Valki. She quickly saw through the disguise and revealed the planeswalker Tibalt doing his dirty work. Tibalt set both the Hagi and Torga trolls up against her, and she only escaped them with the help of the just arriving Tyvar Kell. Meanwhile, Tibalt escaped, by creating an omenpath with the Sword of the Realms.
The pair followed Tibalt to Immersturm where they were accosted by a couple of demons. Because of this, they were unable to prevent Tibalt from creating a Doomskar before they managed to take the sword from him. Lead by Varragoth, thousands of demons streamed through a giant rift in space to attack another realm. Kaya felt defeated, but Tyvar persuaded her to stay and fight.
In Bretagard, Kaya, Tyvar, and the leaders of the Clans were advised by Alrund to take the Sword of the Realms to Halvar, so that the god of battle could end the Doomskar. Mounted on a giant raven, Kaya, Tyvar, and Arni flew toward Halvar, but near the destination they were attacked in midair by the demon Varragoth who wanted the Sword for himself. Kaya used her powers to save her companions from death, but they ended up falling close to the Dread Marn, Karfell's army. Arni stayed behind to slow the zombies while the two planeswalkers took the Sword. In the middle of the way, Tyvar heard the sound of the horn of Skemfar's army and separated from Kaya to warn his brother of what was happening. After separating from the elf, Kaya was attacked by Varragoth but was saved by Cosima. Even with the efforts of the goddess, the demon was only delayed. During the battle Kaya saw Koma enter into Bretagard after being expelled from Starnheim by the Valkyries and Niko Aris. The Serpent was responsible for closing Karfell's Omenpath and destroying several draugr (accidentally). At that moment, the Valkyries and Niko also arrived in Bretagard. Niko and Kaya ended up saving each other's lives during the battle. Near the location of Halvar, Kaya was attacked once again by Varragoth, but was saved by the elves. While Tyvar and the army of elves fought the demons and zombies, Harald helped Kaya to reach Halvar. Tyvar used his transmuting powers to strengthen his allies and hinder opponents and tried as hard as possible to stop Varragoth, but the demon was only stopped by Kaya who cut the demon's throat with one of the axes Tyvar had made for her. After the great battle and the end of the Doomskar, Tyvar met Kaya and praised her for killing Varragoth and promised that the skalds would not forget any detail of this feat when telling this saga. He told Kaya that he now was ready to walk the Multiverse and help those in need on other planes. Kaya met with Sigrid, Inga, Arni, Fynn, Niko and Harald after the battle. Sigrid says that they will have a lot of work to hunt down the delayed invaders that remained in Bretagard. Harald and the leaders of the Clans agree that elves and humans must live in peace until the elves manage to return to Skemfar. Inga asks about the monster Kaya was hunting and Kaya replies that he must be in other realms far away. Niko asks if one of these realms is called Theros. Kaya replies that they must talk.
Arlinn Kord goes to Ravnica to ask The Gatewatch for help in finding the Moonsilver Key. She finds and explains Innistrad's situation to Teferi, Kaya and Chandra. The three planeswalkers agree to help Arlin and head to Innistrad. Together with the cathar Adeline they decide to go to Thraben to investigate.
Kaya, Teferi, Arlinn, Chandra, Adeline and a group of cathars arrived in Thraben. The city was destroyed and full of zombies (the army Liliana used against Emrakul). Kaya entered the city alone to scout the place. She found a clue in a book about the whereabouts of the Moonsilver Key. The Key should be in the possession of the Betzold family. Arlinn and Adeline knew a bishop of the Church of Avacyn with that last name. They located bishop Worrin Betzold amid the ruins of a church. The group made their way through the zombies until they reached the bishop. Arlinn interrogated the zombie bishop and was given a name, Dennick. The group moved to Gavony, where the family had a mansion. They discover, when talking to an old lady, that the mansion was haunted. Kaya entered the ruins alone and killed the ghosts of the place, until she found the spirit of Dennick Betzold, who told the group the location of the Key. The Key had been given by an ancestor of Dennick to Sorin Markov. At Markov Manor, Teferi and Arlinn waited with Sorin for the vampire to hand over the Key so they can help restore balance to Innistrad. The vampire refused and attacked Arlinn when she mentioned Avacyn. The second time Sorin would strike, Sigarda appeared, answering a prayer made by the group before entering the Manor, and stops the attack. The angel says that the Key is in Sorin's quarters, and that she will stop the vampire giving the group a chance to get the Key. The party returned to the Celestus in possession of the Key. At this moment, Tovolar launched his army against the Harvesttide festival, but the witches' magical protections managed to stop the werewolves' advance. Arlinn told Kaya to take the Key to Katilda. As Kaya does, the wards fail. Teferi cast a spell to delay the sunset and hence the transformation of werewolves into their wolf forms. Planeswalkers, witches and cathars began their battle against the invaders to defend the humans.
- Kaya used two long daggers that shine with a pale-purple light and can become incorporeal like herself. They were destroyed in a fight with the trolls of Gnottvold.
- On Kaldheim she uses two bearded axes with the same effect. The metal of the axes was "cultivated" in the soil of Immersturm by the powers of Tyvar Kell, who presented Kaya with the axes since her daggers were broken.
Kaya the Inexorable variant art.
- Represented in:
- Associated cards:
- Depicted in:
- Quoted or referred to:
- Greg Weisman (November 2019). "War of the Spark: Forsaken". Del Rey.
- Django Wexler (July 11, 2019). "The Gathering Storm". Chapter Six.
- Kaya. Planeswalker Biography. Wizards of the Coast.
- James Wyatt (January 2019). "The Art of Magic: The Gathering - Ravnica". Wizards of the Coast.
- Roy Graham (January 13, 2021). "Kaldheim Episode 2: Awaken the Trolls". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Django Wexler (Septermber 11, 2019). "The Gathering Storm". Chapter Fourteen. Del Rey.
- Kelly Digges (August 3, 2016). "Laid to Rest". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Django Wexler (June, 2019). "The Gathering Storm". Chapter Two. Del Rey.
- Greg Weisman (April 2019). "War of the Spark: Ravnica". Del Rey.
- Django Wexler (July 31, 2019). "The Gathering Storm". Chapter Eight.
- Greg Weisman (May 29, 2019). "War of the Spark: Ravnica – Desperate Operatives". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Alison Luhrs (August 10, 2016). "Tyrants". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Blake Rasmussen (December 17, 2018). "Ravnica Allegiance Promos and Packaging". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Django Wexler (July 18, 2019). "The Gathering Storm". Chapter Seven. Del Rey.
- Django Wexler (August 28, 2019). "The Gathering Storm". Chapter Twelve. Del Rey.
- Nicky Drayden (February 20, 2019). "The Ledger of Hidden Fortunes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Django Wexler (August 14, 2019). "The Gathering Storm". Chapter Ten. Del Rey.
- Django Wexler (September 18, 2019). "The Gathering Storm". Chapter Fifteen. Del Rey.
- Django Wexler (October 16, 2019). "The Gathering Storm". Chapter Nineteen. Del Rey.
- Django Wexler (October 23, 2019). "The Gathering Storm". Chapter Twenty. Del Rey.
- Greg Weisman (May 8, 2019). "War of the Spark — Old Friends and New". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Greg Weisman (May 22, 2019). "War of the Spark: Ravnica – Rallying the Reluctant". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Greg Weisman (June 5, 2019). "War of the Spark: Ravnica – Operation Desperation". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Oath of Kaya
- Greg Weisman (June 12, 2019). "War of the Spark: Ravnica – Ashes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Roy Graham (January 8, 2021). "Episode 1: Travelers". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Roy Graham and Jenna Helland (January 27, 2021). "Episode 4: Into the Demon's Realm". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Roy Graham (February 03, 2021). "Episode 5: The Battle for Kaldheim". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- K. Arsenault Rivera (September 8, 2021). "Episode 2: The Motives of the Wolf". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- K. Arsenault Rivera (September 15, 2021). "Episode 3: The Fall of the House of Betzold". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- K. Arsenault Rivera (September 22, 2021). "Episode 4: Harvestide". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Procoretech (November 12, 2020). "Bored so enhancing bad photos of rubbish seems fine.. oh and, Bearded Axe". Reddit.
- Roy Graham (January 13, 2021). "Episode 2: Awaken the Trolls". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (January 3, 2019). "Is there any trivia you can give us about Kaya's presence on Ravnica?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (July 23, 2019). "Can I get some birthday trivia lore wise on Kaya?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Wizards of the Coast (August 4, 2016). "'Additional story contributions' credit for Monique Jones". The Official Magic: The Gathering Tumblr. Tumblr.
- Monique Jones (August 4, 2016). "6 Questions You Might Have About Magic: The Gathering's Kaya, Ghost Assassin Answered". Colorwebmag.com.