Magic: the Gathering is getting a makeover.

For decades, Magic has not only been the premier trading card game, but also one of the richest contemporary fantasy universes. The Multiverse, filled with planes inspired by mythologies from around the world, have become the settings for epic sagas featuring a variety of Planeswalkers, complex beings from around the Multiverse who have been gifted with the ability to travel between worlds.

Art by Chris Rallis

Now, in celebration of Magic‘s 25th anniversary, the creative team behind Magic‘s Multiverse is taking the story back to where it all began. The game’s next set and story arc will take place on Dominaria, where Magic‘s first decade of stories and expansions were set. Dominaria, to be released on April 27th, will feature a variety of beloved characters from Magic’s history both new and old. The set looks poised to both excite new players and nostalgic veterans alike, so to make sure that happens, Wizards of the Coast, the company behind Magic, has hired the award-winning The Element of Fire and Murderbot Diaries novelist Martha Wells to pen Dominaria‘s story.

When asked about the hiring of Wells and what it meant to return to Dominaria, Nic Kelman, Senior Franchise Narrative Designer of Magic: the Gathering said:

“Going back to Dominaria means a lot to Magic fans, and we knew what a big responsibility it was to craft the return. It was particularly exciting to work with Martha Wells, who is not only an amazing fantasy writer, but whose fiction debut was in 1993, the same year as Magic: The Gathering’s…and thus, Dominaria’s!

“25 years of lore is a lot to bring together and make fresh and exciting using both new characters and old, but Martha did a great job. We worked very closely with the worldbuilding team to ensure an authentic experience and couldn’t be more excited to share her work with our fans and hers!”

Mark Rosewater, Magic‘s head designer, continued:

“I’ve been playing Magic from the very beginning, so the chance to return to Dominaria is as much a nostalgic return home for me as it is for any of the players. The first meeting was us just gleefully listing all the fun things we could do. I can’t wait for fans to see what we’ve come up with for Dominaria – both in the set and the story.”

After the jump, check out an exclusive preview from Wells’ first Magic story and the first chapter of Dominaria‘s arc, to be released in full on Magic‘s official story website this Wednesday.

“Return to Dominaria” excerpt
By Martha Wells

Sadage, cleric of the Cabal, made his way to the doors of the high-vaulted worship hall of the Stronghold. Smoke from torches and incense burners formed a cloud above the cultists sprawled on the stone floor. They begged for entrance to the hall, begged for the favor of the Scion of Darkness within.

A group of dark-robed disciples approached from the other direction, picking their way around the moaning supplicants to meet Sadage. He recognized the leader as Needle, an agent of the Cabal tasked with infiltrating New Argive. As the group reached him, they dropped to their knees. “You’ve returned,” said Sadage, “I hope for a worthwhile reason.”

In answer, Needle unwrapped a large, black sword, holding it up for acceptance. “I bring you a gift for the Scion of Darkness.”

“A gift?” Sadage reached for it, but stopped, a breath of air between his gloved fingertips and the metal. A dark miasma clung to the blade. “What is this?”

Needle looked up at him, her eyes wide, the dark pupils dilated with reverence. “A fabled blade, a soul-drinker. The one who forged the sword killed an elder dragon and absorbed its strength—”

Sadage said, “Stop.” This close to the worship hall and its resplendent occupant, he couldn’t afford to let discipline slip. “Who used it to kill an elder dragon?”

Needle hesitated. The disciple at her side said, “It’s said it was the Planeswalker Dakkon Bl—”

Sadage made a sharp gesture. “It was Belzenlok! Belzenlok forged it. Belzenlok slayed the elder dragon. Belzenlok.

In a murmuring chorus, the group of disciples repeated obediently, “It was Belzenlok, Lord of the Wastes, Belzenlok, Slayer of Elder Dragons.”

Needle added, “This is his sword. Belzenlok, King of Urborg, Demonlord. I return it to him.”

“Very good.” Sadage took the sword from Needle’s hand. The contact made his skin burn, even through his gloves. “You have earned your reward.”

Needle smiled, trembling as she pushed to her feet. She pulled her hood down, baring her throat. Sadage lifted his hand and cast the spell. Slowly, Needle’s skin peeled from her chest as the violet spell light gently pierced her heart.

As Needle writhed in exultant death, the other disciples watched in jealous awe. Sadage opened the doors to the worship hall, ready to present the black blade to his chosen master, ready to collect his own final reward from the Demonlord.

art by Chris Rahn

Check out the full story tomorrow on Magic‘s official site.