- This page is about the novel. For cosmological concept, see Time stream.
|Author(s)||J. Robert King|
|First printing||April 1, 1999|
Urza Planeswalker has enlisted the most brilliant minds from across Dominaria to study at his academy on Tolaria. Together they work to bring to life the greatest artifact weapon Urza has ever devised, hoping to use it to defend their home from an imminent Phyrexian invasion. But treachery and tragedy stalk the tiny island, as Urza and his followers seek to manipulate time itself.
Part One – School of Time In the remote isle of Tolaria Urza Planeswalker presides over an academy of artificers and mages. The academy pursues various projects but only Urza and the mage master Barrin know its true purpose, to prepare for the Phyrexian invasion and build a time machine that will allow Urza to help the Thran defeat the Phyrexian threat in the past. To do the latter Urza creates a silver golem and gives it Xantcha's heart. The heart allows the golem to develop emotions and learn as no other artifact can, taking the name Karn from the Thran word for mighty. Karn is initially apathetic about his life as an artifact that will most likely be replaced and is harassed by students like the immature Zhalfirin mage Teferi. The golem does find a friend in another student named Jhoira, an artificer from Shiv. Through progressive experiments, Karn is able to go back a day into the past but suffers from intense heat when doing so. The experiments also cause small time rifts that sicken the students but gradually get worse.
Jhoira discovers a shipwrecked man named Kerrick on the beach and hides him, trusting the secret only to Karn. During one of Urza's time experiments into the past Karn sees a shadowy figure steal powerstones. Following the intruder outside the academy, he sees that it is Kerrick and watches him contact another figure and ask for a squad of Negators. Returning to the present Karn informs Urza and the planeswalker springs into action but it is too late. The Phyrexian Negators massacre most of the students and teachers including Jhoira, Teferi, and Barrin. Karn grieves for Jhoira until Urza reappears and orders Karn to go further back into the past to stop Kerrick. Karn enters the machine and is successful in stopping Kerrick, but the temporal energies surge as he tries to return and cause a huge explosion that levels the academy. Urza is able to planeswalk fourteen teachers and students to safety in the instant before the explosion and Karn leads thirty survivors out of the rubble. Urza considers it a good trade since Barrin survives in the new timeline but Karn sees the destruction and considers it an unforgivable trade.
Part Two – Times Returning Ten years later Urza and Barrin return to Tolaria with a new class of students. Their initial forays into the island are disastrous as fast and slow time rifts litter the island and kill those that cross into them. They are only saved with the help of Jhoira, who survived the explosion and lived in the ruins over the past decade developing an intimate knowledge of the area. Jhoira has managed to stay youthful by drinking slow time water but is furious at Urza for his time experiments and shows him a deep, heavily fortified chasm of fast time where time passes at ten times normal speed. Urza realizes that Kerrick and the surviving Phyrexians are stuck inside. Within the fast time bubble, K’rrik has been growing new Negators but is limited by a lack of metal. He recognizes Urza and renews his efforts. Outside, Jhoira guides Urza to the ruins of Tolaria and shows him a pocket of extreme slow time with only one occupant, a young Teferi still running from the flames of the explosion.
After a year of construction, Urza decides to assault the Phyrexians. Using a large dirigible to bomb the chasm, the attack does serious damage but not enough to fully defeat K’rrik, who manages to lure the dirigible just low enough to destroy. Urza and Jhoira survive but Jhoira falls into a coma for several years. When she finally awakens Jhoira conveys a breakthrough machine that allows them to funnel fast time water into slow time areas to allow safe travel between them. This method is used to save Teferi and later to allow the students to conduct experiments at varying time speeds. Teferi is at first angry that everyone he knew has grown up while he is still a boy but over the ensuing years matures into an able mage.
Urza decides to attack the Phyrexians with a fleet of mechanical falcons to avoid human casualties. After years of preparation, he commences the attack but is himself caught and dragged into the fast time area, surviving only because of his planeswalker resilience. K’rrik captures Urza and repeatedly disembowels him to prevent him from focusing as the negators fight back against the falcons. Karn sees Urza fall into the chasm and rushes into it, fighting off negators to reach Urza and bear him out of danger. As they escape Urza laments that he has only given K’rrik more metal and powerstones in his failed attack. Observing outside, Barrin realizes it will now be a full-scale war, but for every year they prepare K’rrik will have ten.
Part Three – Journeys Ten years later the new Tolarian academy has repelled five Phyrexian invasions and slain hundreds of negators. Urza leaves the defenses to Barrin and travels to Shiv to investigate a massive but inactive Thran Mana Rig. He makes peace between the local Viashino, Goblins, and fire dragons Gherridarigaaz and Rhammidarigaaz. He also employs them to work the rig and brings Teferi and Jhoira to oversee the production of new Thran metal constructs and powerstones. Urza designs a massive flying ship that can planeswalk and quickly strike Phyrexian targets. To complete this ship Urza realizes he needs a special kind of wood from the forests of Yavimaya and decides to go on his own to retrieve it. At Tolaria, Barrin urges Urza to bolster their defenses as the Phyrexians keep developing but Urza dismisses his concerns and expresses confidence that Barrin can defend the academy.
In Yavimaya Urza is led to the forest's avatar, the spirit Multani. The avatar is cold to Urza, remembering the devastation the Brother's War brought to Argoth and its spirit Titania. Urza apologizes but is ensorcelled by Multani until he is encased in a tree and forced to feel the pain he inflicted upon Argoth. This continues for three years until Barrin is finally overrun in Tolaria and sends a beacon to Urza calling for his aid. The visceral image of students in Tolaria being slaughtered shakes Urza out of his imprisonment. Multani attempts to recapture him but is instead stuck within his energy as Urza planeswalks away, first to Shiv to gather warriors and then to Tolaria to fight. In the battle, Multani observes that Urza protects all the life in Tolaria from the Phyrexians. Understanding the true danger is K’rrik, Urza descends into the fast time chasm and Multani sees the horrors of Phyrexia. K’rrik disables Urza but Multani lends Urza his strength and together they are able to kill the Phyrexian. Multani animates Tolaria's forests and the remaining negators are destroyed.
Part Four – Between Angels and Devils With alliances secured on Dominaria and his skyship under construction, Urza focuses his attention on Serra's Realm. Since his visit with Xantcha centuries ago, Serra's Realm has been under siege from Phyrexia. Unable to wipe out the black mana, Serra abandoned the plane and it is slowly deteriorating without her presence. Urza investigates the plane and is taken to see the archangel Radiant, leader of the angel and human forces in Serra's absence. Radiant reprimands Urza for bringing the Phyrexians to Serra's Realm in the first place but allows him to observe their purification armies. On one of their missions, Urza sees that they use soul torches that glow yellow in the presence of Phyrexians but is horrified when the armies slaughter civilians that Urza knows are not Phyrexian. When confronted Radiant labels them, dissidents. Urza offers to take the refugees, any and all sleepers among them included, but Radiant refuses and declares him a Phyrexian.
Urza repeatedly returns to Serra's Realm to evacuate hundreds of refugees to Dominaria and learns that Radiant's soul torches are being charged with white mana from the plane's inhabitants that her sleeper Phyrexian war minister Gorig is converting into black mana. Once a critical amount of white mana is siphoned off the plane will collapse. Urza collects some of the torches but is unable to find the main mana battery.
In Dominaria Urza's skyship is completed. Urza christens it the Weatherlight and names Karn the Master of Engines and Jhoira the Captain. Urza's plan is to planeswalk the ship filled with artifact constructs and both Urza and Barrin riding Gherridarigaaz and Rhammidarigaaz, respectively, to Serra's Realm. There they will fully charge the Weatherlight's powerstone with the white mana battery and save the remaining refugees. The whole group planeswalks to Serra's Realm and finds it on the verge of implosion. Angels attack immediately but Urza realizes that every angel they kill merely hastens the collapse of the plane. Barrin defends the Weatherlight from a monstrous Gorig and sees that the Phyrexian actually is the mana battery. Almost defeated, Barrin manages a desperate ray of command spell that tricks Gorig into impaling itself on the Weatherlight and charging the powerstone. Meanwhile, Radiant challenges Urza to single combat and kills Gherridarigaaz. Urza attacks her but Radiant gains the upper hand by ripping out Urza's powerstone eyes. Radiant takes the stones to her palace but then tries to rejoin them, causing an explosion that destroys her and reconstitutes Urza. With the Weatherlight loaded to bear Jhoira, Karn, and Barrin barely escape Serra's Realm as it finally collapses.
Months later Jhoira still commands the Weatherlight with Karn in the engine room. The Serran survivors are partially settled in Zhalfir, where Teferi has been working to end the civil war in the area. Jhoira and Teferi maintain their friendship but realize the war is not yet done. Barrin reflects that Urza is now finally sane. He understands his past and has atoned for his actions. Moreover, he is able to have true friends as opposed to just companions.
The story continues in Bloodlines.