The Stone Killer [The Story of Kaalia]
Updated: 4 days ago
Reborn in the charred remains of the fallen, Kaalia is now a force of retribution, hellbent on slaying the demon who stole everything from her. You may recognize her as the cleric with an affinity for dragons, angels, and demons, but this wasn't always the case. In this article, I will tell you the tale of a small girl simply named Lia, a runt in possession of an odd gift, one that will set her on a path with destiny.
On the plane of Alara, years have passed since the Conflux, the event that brought the shards of Grixis, Esper, Jund, Naya, and Bant crashing together. This event resulted in the chaotic years that led to the destruction of much of the peaceful shard of Bant. Our story takes place with a generation of kids who see the ruins of Bant and don't know of the jewel this land once was. One such child of this generation was Lia. Born small and deformed, she would spend much of her time fondly looking upon the old ruins with the spark of imagination.
She would dream of knights and kings in an effort to forget the pain of rejection she faced from the other kids.
Lia was often openly mocked by the other children, and so spent a lot of her time alone, watching the other kids as they played. Lia wished she could just make the mean children disappear. In those solitary moments, looking on, she would hold a pebble in her hand and, at her will, it would crumble to dust. This power always seemed like nothing more than a fun trick, but her mother always told her young daughter that all great mages started somewhere and that she should be proud of what she could do. Lia would look down at her deformed fingers and think about trading in this useless power just to look normal like the other kids.
Lia and her family lived in a small village at the base of an old Bant castle. Lia's mother would tell her stories of this land before everything turned upside down. Now, the castle looked like nothing more than a crumbling shell of what it once was. One day, while out playing among those ruins, Lia felt something watching her, and when she turned to see what it was, she managed to only catch a glimpse of a cat's face. One that seemed oddly human.
Scared, the young girl hurried home. When Lia returned to the village, she wanted to tell her mother what she had seen out there by the old ruins, but had to wait, as her mother was consoling one of the women from the village. It would seem that two hunters never came back home last night. Finally, when everyone left, she was able to sit down with her mother and father. Lia told them what she had seen, and by the look on their faces, they seemed to know what she meant. If they did, she would never know, though, as they hurried her off to bed, telling her that everything was going to be OK.
The next day, there seemed to be a buzz about the village as all the adults spoke in hushed whispers. They all tried to act normal around the children, but Lia knew something was up. Nonetheless, Lia decided to play around the outside of her house, running circles and imagining she was an eagle high in the sky. As she made her way around to the back of the house, she was abruptly stopped and knocked off her feet. A sack was soon placed over her head, and the last thing she saw before everything went dark was another one of those catlike faces staring her in the eyes.
When the bag was removed from Lia's head, she found herself in a cave surrounded by more of the strange cat people. At the center of them was a female who introduced herself as Nira, apparently their leader. Nira explained that her kin were Nacatl, and more specifically, those of the Sunstrider pride. She told her how they devoted their lives to the great teacher Ajani, and how they swore to keep these lands safe. Lia didn't seem to know what this had to do with her and demanded that she be let go. Nira told her that they needed Lia's help and that if she didn't help them, there would be nowhere left for her to run. She spoke of the demon who was gathering the bones of the living for a ritual of power: a ritual that would make the demon Nefarox more powerful than she could imagine. Worst of all was that in Lia's absence, her entire village was taken by Nefarox to be harvested for this ritual.
Left with no real choice, Lia asked how she could help, even though she wasn't sure how a little deformed girl could be of use. Nira revealed that it was her that Lia had seen that day in the ruins and that she had been watching her for a while. Nira recognized the power that Lia possessed, and that even in its infancy, it still would be more than enough for what they needed to do. Lia was a stone killer; she may be turning pebbles to dust now, but eventually, she would be smashing through castle walls. The pride needed Lia so that they could destroy the hellkite skeleton at the center of the ritual. If she could destroy the keystone that held the creature's skeleton together, the ritual would fall apart.
There was no other way. Lia made a brave face and agreed to help.
Nira grasped Lia's hand, and as per the tradition of the Nacatl, gave the young girl a new name. She would now be granted the name Kaa, a word which meant power, and so from then on, she would be known as Kaalia.
Before the sunset over the mountains, the Sunstriders, along with a freshly named Kaalia, came to the old arena where the hellkite skeleton was set up for the ritual. Kaalia and Nira waited behind some rubble overlooking the ruins. This place that once held games was now nothing more than a haven for a dark cult. Kallia was nervous, but Nira knelt beside her, confident and ready. When the sun finally set, the arena began to fill with people clad in black robes. Across the way, a red light flashed, signaling to the pride that the time to strike was now. Nira descended into the arena with Kaalia close behind. As the Cultists got into place, a wretched, huddled man crested a large platform that overlooked the whole arena, a toothless grin across his face.
The Cultists began to shriek and chant in unison until those chants turned to screams.
Their outstretched palms split open and blood came pouring forth, but instead of falling to the ground, it rose into the air as if it were raining in reverse.
At this point, Nira and Kaalia had made it to the top of the hellkite skeleton. Kallia was nervous, but Nira assured her that everything would be alright. She must stay focused, for if the bones were to fall, the ritual would be over. Kaalia stood over the keystone, calming her mind and preparing herself for the task at hand. The wretch on the platform looked on infuriated. He rushed the pair but was stopped by Nira. The Sunstrider fought him off as best she could, but for a thin old man, he was unnaturally strong. Nira fought with everything she had, always yelling back to Kaalia to finish it and destroy the keystone.
Despite the chaos, Kaalia managed to calm her mind. She pictured the walls of an old Bant castle crumbling, and in turn felt the keystone crumble under her fingers. She had no time to rejoice, though, as the man finally pushed his way past Nira and screamed, “You're the final number! Your blood will light the fuse!” Then he gripped the girl's arm and threw her from atop the hellkite. Nira jumped out for Kallia and wrapped her body around the small girl, cushioning her fall. As the small girl wept over Nira's dead body, the skeleton crumbled to the ground, bones rained in splinters. After the last bone fell, the ground began to shake and a huge explosion sent Kaalia crashing against the wall.
From the cracks in the earth ascended the horrific demon Nefarox, his figure like a nightmare beyond anything Kaalia could ever imagine.
Kaalia fought to hold onto consciousness as the screams of death filled the air, but eventually, everything slowly faded to black. When she finally awoke, all was silent save for the ringing in her ears. When Kaalia scanned her surroundings, all she could see were bodies scattered about, skin charred and lifeless. She crumpled down and wept for her family. The demon would pay for what it had done. Kaalia would not stop until she could get revenge for the dead.
No one knows what happened to Kaalia after that, but if we look on the card Kaalia the Vast, we see the quote: “I'll have my revenge if I have to call on every force from above and below.” It is obviously a pretty large leap from the small child Lia making pebbles crumble to a Cleric with four wings. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the short story that explains if anything happened to Kaalia due to the ritual or Nefarox.
I think perhaps something did happen to her. Maybe the ritual and burst of power affected her in some way.
It is really hard to say what exactly happened to her next, but it does spark the imagination as to what her adventures must have been since this time, which made her into the character she is now. It is important to note that, since the Conflux, there are angels and demons on Alara, so the possibility of her interacting and gaining the favor of these creature types isn't too far-fetched.
[Edited by Cameron Davis]