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Liliana Vess is a human planeswalker and master of necromancy, using black mana to reanimate the dead, corrupt the living, and unlock power from death. She is charismatic, witty, and attractive, but profoundly egocentric. Though she appears to be in her 20s, she is actually over a century old. After the Mending, she made four deals with demons, two of whom being Kothophed and Griselbrand, to secure her youth and power.
Liliana grew up on a plane under the thumb of her father, a general and ruler of the lands he fought for. Even at this stage in her life, she was a temptress and more often than not, didn't care a thing for the kind of reputation that sort of activity would spawn. This infuriated those her father had entrusted to watch her, but her antics did not change one bit. Her privileged life would come to an abrupt end, though, when her brother Josu suffered a horrible corruption at the hands of her father's enemies.
As a test, perhaps as much to rein in the reckless girl, Lady Ana gave her the task of gathering the required roots to cure her brother. Unfortunately, she arrived too late, as her father's dark enemies had razed the groves where the Esis Tree had grown. She only learned of this fact when she encountered a strange man who claimed to be a supporter of her father. He offered his assistance, though he warned that her family would not want her to use his cure. She returned to the castle and despite the warnings of Lady Ana, she used the cure. Truly, it cured Josu of his affliction, but only at the cost of driving him insane and poisoning him anew. Since his condition had been wrought by Liliana's hands, she was cast from her home to wander.
Agents of Artifice
Liliana eventually found her way to Ravnica where she was a resident for some time and often acted as a freelance hire of Tezzeret's Infinite Consortium. She became acquainted with Jace Beleren whom she tracked down after his defection from the Consortium. She befriended the mindmage and his accomplice, Kallist Rhoka and eventually seduced Jace, having a torrid affair with him. Her loyalty appeared ironclad, staying with Jace even whilst he was in the throes of an identity crisis, believing himself to be Kallist. However, her motives eventually came to light as less than altruistic. She ultimately betrayed Jace, maneuvering him to fight Tezzeret even as he tried to run further from his troubles. Later, it is revealed that her actions were supported by Nicol Bolas, with whom she had made a bargain to free her of the demonic pact in exchange for control over Tezzeret's usurped organization. The deal amounted to naught in the end. Several times throughout her plot she considered backing down and running away with Jace, but each time her fear of her demons got the better of her affections for Jace.
The Hunter and the Veil
Kothophed gave Liliana the task to search for an ancient and powerful relic known as the Chain Veil from the ancient troll civilization of the Onakke upon Shandalar, a plane Liliana had visited before. On her way to the Onakke catacomb she was assaulted by a beast, and slew it, unknowingly earning the ire of Garruk Wildspeaker. Garruk attacked her in the temple after she had located the veil, and tracked her through the hidden tunnels until he was dispatched by the veil-enhanced Liliana.
The Veil's Curse
Reveling in the power granted by the Veil, Liliana assaulted a fortress on yet another unnamed plane and conquered it in short order. Sitting upon the throne, she realized that Kothophed had sent her after the artifact and should have expected her to use it for herself. She then planeswalked to Kothophed's sanctuary and confronts him. A fight ensued after she refused to relinquish the veil to the demon, and she blew him apart while his words echoed in her mind. She collapsed to her knees afterwards in pain as the tattoos that Kothophed himself had given her began to bleed.
The Raven's Eye
All throughout Liliana's life, an ominous conspiracy has followed her. From the poison she used to cure Josu to her acquisition of the veil, it was all seemingly orchestrated by the same mysterious figure, a being known only as the Raven Man. Even when pursuing her own business, she was never far from the veil's influence, unknowingly even being in the same room as the key to the veil's location once before, dispatching an angel sent to protect the world from the artifact's secrets.
After her battle with Kothophed, she sought whatever knowledge she could gain to end the constant bleeding and enduring pain that wracked her body and soul. She returned to the plane of the Onakke and ressurected the body of the wisest man who knew of the Onakke. However, her desecration earned her the ire of every citizen of the town and they tracked her to a farmhouse and set it on fire with her inside. Much to Liliana's frustration and surprise, the man she had raised did not act at all like the shambling corpse she expected, going so far as to bodily carry her higher as the fires spread, speaking in cryptic riddles centered around Liliana herself all the while. As the necromancer was about to give up and succumb to her woes, the corpse tilted his hand and revealed his true identity, that of the Raven Man himself. He used a vial of what appeared to be the same potion Liliana had used on Josu, and its golden glow spreads throughout her tattoos, turning them the same color and healing her wounds. Aware now of the being she had been speaking to, she stabbed him. Donning the veil once more, she planeswalked away.
Liliana traveled to Innistrad to deal with another of her demonic masters. However, Griselbrand had gone missing after a duel with the archangel Avacyn, leaving Liliana with the problem of searching for her tormentor if she wished to possess her soul once again. Unfortunately, she was not the only one hunting, as Garruk had tracked her to the world. He crossed her path once in Nephalia, but she raised a swarm of ghouls to defend herself. He slew all of the undead, but it was enough to allow Liliana to escape.
Her searches then pointed her towards the Church of Avacyn, and she refused to let them stand in her way. That search brought her to the high cathedral of the city of Thraben at the critical moment where an undead army, commanded by Gisa and Geralf, had besieged the city. Geralf killed Mikaeus the Lunarch, the highest official in the Church of Avacyn, and probably one of the few who could tell her where Griselbrand is.
With her purpose firmly in mind, she retrieved and resurrected the corpse of the dead lunarch, turning him into a zombie. Her machinations bore fruit, and she learned the resting place of her prey. Unfortunately, she could do little to free him from the Helvault herself, but she knew of ways around that. She wove a spell upon the Helvault and gave the choice to the cathar Thalia. The spell would either destroy the vault, or kill the soldiers under her command. The choice laid in Thalia's hands, and as Liliana predicted, Thalia chose to save her men.
The spell shattered the Helvault, freeing Griselbrand and Avacyn. Liliana then tracked Griselbrand down, slaughtering both angels and demons alike until she finally cornered him. Griselbrand attempted to bribe her with promises of power, but Liliana saw through his lies and used the Chain Veil to kill Griselbrand once and for all before leaving Innistrad.
Test of Metal
Liliana makes an appearance in Test of Metal, but given the nature of clockworking, the veracity of Liliana's appearance, and indeed the fact that many alternate reality versions of Liliana are used without any sign of the Chain Veil, makes it questionable if this Liliana is the same one pursuing the goals set forth in the Hunter and the Veil.
In this appearance Liliana has bound herself to Bolas's service, and was used as a pawn to further the Elder Dragon's goals. At one point she met Tezzeret on the plane of Bant and tried to warn him of a plan that Bolas had been working on; something that would result in the death of many planeswalkers. In the end, Tezzeret managed to free Vess from her bond to Bolas.
- Brady Dommermuth revealed that Liliana was born long before The Mending, and her planeswalker spark ignited before the Mending, also. Her deal with demons was made afterward, in an attempt to secure more power and longevity for herself.
- He also revealed that she made four different deals with four demons, but used the results from one deal to broker another.
- Demonic Tutor (Duel Decks: Divine vs. Demonic)
- Killing Wave
- Liliana's Caress
- Morphic Tide (Planechase (2012) Phenomenon)
- Rise of the Dark Realms
- Snuff Out (Duel Decks: Garruk vs. Liliana)
- Triumph of Cruelty
- Triumph of Ferocity
Quoted or Referred to in:
- Baleful Force
- Brink of Disaster (Magic 2012)
- Crushing Vines
- Duress (Magic 2013)
- Famine (Commander 2013)
- Grim Backwood
- Liliana's Reaver
- Liliana's Specter
- Mind Rot (Magic 2013)
- Rise from the Grave
- Veilborn Ghoul
- Brady Dommermuth. (February 19, 2009.) "Liliana and the Mending", The Wizards Community, Wizards of the Coast.
- Brady Dommermuth. (April 25, 2012.) "Ask Brady", The Wizards Community, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer, Brady Dommermuth, Jenna Helland et al.. (August 13, 2008.) "The Hunter and the Veil: Part 3", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer, Paul Lee, Jenna Helland et al.. (August 6, 2008.) "The Hunter and the Veil: Part 2", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Liliana Vess on the Planeswalker Minisite
- Doug Beyer. (October 24, 2007.) "Planeswalkers Unmasked", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Jenna Helland. (June 17, 2010.) "The Raven's Eye: Part 1", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast Product Page.
Ajani Goldmane () • Ashiok () • Nicol Bolas () • Chandra Nalaar () • Dack Fayden () • Domri Rade () • Elspeth Tirel ()