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For thousands of years I planeswalked through countless worlds, Captain Vraska. They were strange and unruly, full of brutal societies plagued with violence and disorder. I used hieromancy to give these people the gift of stability; I created systems of governance to cure them of their chaos. I selflessly toiled to improve the Multiverse, and my gifts turned worlds from places of madness and brutality into structured bastions of peace! I founded countless systems of governance to shape the communal destiny of countless planes, and your rejection of my decree is most unwise. The law is meant to be followed. The law is meant to be followed!
~ Azor justifying his actions to the Planeswalker Vraska

Azor the Lawbringer is a character from Magic: The Gathering, referenced in the lore of the Ravnica block and serving as the hidden main antagonist of the Ixalan block.

Azor is a Sphinx of unknown origin and a former Planeswalker, notable for his mastery over hieromancy (law magic) and for establishing governments, codes of law, and sociopolitical systems across countless worlds.

On the city-plane of Ravnica, he is remembered as Supreme Judge Azor I and the founder of the Azorious Senate. On the remote plane of Ixalan, he is known as the legendary Last Guardian of the Immortal Sun.

History

Azor visited many planes in the Multiverse. Numerous ancient civilizations have legend of a semi-divine winged "lawbringer" figure, which can be traced back to Azor. Although his plane of origin is forgotten, Sphinxes on many planes show signs of his possible influence in their demeanor and culture. On Ravnica, Azor was the author of most of the written part of the original Guildpact, which established the ten guilds charged with controlling the city-plane and the rules that would govern their functions and interactions.

One of his client worlds was conquered by Nicol Bolas, which caused him and his fellow Planeswalker Ugin to search for a way to defeat the elder dragon. They met at an unknown plane at a place referred to as the Palace of Justice. Together, they devised a plan to get rid of Bolas for good.

As part of the plan to trap Bolas, Azor traveled to Ixalan and sacrificed his Planeswalker's Spark (the fundamental essence that allows Planeswalkers to travel between worlds) to create the Immortal Sun, a powerful artifact that prevented other Planeswalkers from leaving the Plane. Unfortunately for him, the plan failed when Ugin was defeated and left in a catatonic state by Bolas. Without Ugin's help, Azor was left trapped on Ixalan.

Ixalan

Azor attempted to bring order to the plane by bestowing the powers of the Immortal Sun upon whichever group of people would follow and enforce his rules. However, they all failed to live up to his standards, and in response he would take back the Immortal Sun from them, devastating their civilizations in the process.

He first brought the Immortal Sun to the continent of Torrezon, entrusting it to the care of a monastic order. The monks used it to create a thriving and prosperous society for themselves, but they strayed from his rules and regulations, and he took it back from them. Vowing to regain the Immortal Sun at any cost, the monks used demonic magic to turn themselves into vampires and launched a campaign of conquest across the world, becoming the fearsome and brutal conquistadors known as the Legion of Dusk.

Azor next gifted the Immortal Sun to a group of jungle tribes on the faraway continent of Ixalan. These tribes used it to establish the powerful Sun Empire, centered around the golden city of Orazca, but as they gained more power and territory, their leaders became increasingly corrupt. Once again, Azor took back the Immortal Sun, banishing them from Orazca; as a result, the tribes of the Sun Empire scattered among the jungles, reverting to a primitive lifestyle. This time, Azor decided to guard the Immortal Sun himself, and charged the River Heralds (a race of shamanistic merfolk) with preventing the Immortal Sun from ever being found again. They used their nature magic to alter the shape of the continent's jungles, mountains, and rivers, hiding Orazca even from themselves.

However, the Legion of Dusk and the Sun Empire - along with a rogue faction of River Heralds led by the usurper Kumena, as well as the loose alliance of rebels, exiles, and pirate gangs known as the Brazen Coalition - eventually rediscovered Orazca. A four-way battle for control of the golden city and the Immortal Sun ensued. Infuriated by the failure of the River Heralds, Azor came to the conclusion that only he was truly worthy to wield the Immortal Sun's power, and decided that he would completely wipe out all four factions and rule over the plane himself.

Before he could do so, however, he was confronted by the Planeswalkers Jace and Vraska. Vraska (who had suffered greatly at the hands of the guild system that he had established on Ravnica) attempted to kill him for disrupting the balance of countless worlds, but Jace stopped her. Since Jace was currently serving as the Living Guildpact of Ravnica, charged with enforcing the city-plane's laws and resolving disputes between the guilds, he was imbued with magical power over all Ravnican guild members, including Azor himself. Speaking as the Living Guildpact, Jace sentenced Azor to spend the rest of his eternal life in solitude on a desolate and uncharted island in the middle of the ocean, forbidden from ever interfering in the lives of sapient beings again. Azor flew away in silence, bound by his own law magic to obey Jace's commands.

Personality

Ixalan was to be ruled by whoever possessed the Immortal Sun, and I initially gifted it to a monastery in the east, in Torrezon. But they were not worthy, so I took it back, and gifted it to others. The Sun Empire was not worthy. The River Heralds, as evidenced by the awakening of Orazca, were not worthy. Only I am worthy, and so I must work further to perfect this system.

Azor was obsessed with bringing law and order to the Multiverse, and he was utterly convinced of his own righteousness, believing that he alone knew the most ethical and efficient way to organize any given society. As a result, he felt the need to force his own vision of perfection upon every society he encountered, imposing strict rules and elaborate (often convoluted) regulations governing almost every aspect of people's lives. He was willing to resort to extreme measures in his quest to 'perfect' the societies of the Multiverse, such as creating a magical failsafe (the "Supreme Verdict") that would wipe out all the guilds on Ravnica, along with much of the city-plane itself and a large percentage of its population, in the event that the Guildpact failed.

Azor's systems often failed to take human nature into account, yet when they inevitably collapsed or became corrupted, he would refuse to take responsibility for his mistakes, instead blaming and punishing his subjects for not living up to his impossible standards. He believes that his own value system is objectively superior to anyone else's, and he's completely unwilling (or unable) to acknowledge how subjective and arbitrary his rules are. Ironically, the fact that Jace was able to use his own law magic against him proves that even he couldn't entirely live up to his own standards, revealing him for the deluded hypocrite that he is.

In addition to his totalitarianism and perfectionism, Azor was also an extreme narcissist, constantly decorating his cities with portraits and statues and monuments of himself. This may indicate that, on some level, Azor was actually a deeply insecure person. Azor also seemed to be extremely lonely, feeling isolated from the world as a result of his intellect and immortality; this is further evidenced by the fact that Ugin was able to manipulate him simply by saying that they were friends. However, Azor's arrogance prevented him from admitting that he had a need for companionship, as he saw himself above such petty mortal concerns. This makes his ultimate fate - to spend eternity completely alone, devoid of any contact with other sapient beings - both tragic and fitting.

Trivia

  • Azor was first referenced in Magic: the Gathering's Ravnica block as the ancient founder of the Azorius Senate and the Guildpact. However, he did not actually appear in the story until the Ixalan block, released 13 years later.
  • In keeping with the anti-imperialist themes of Ixalan's story, Azor is a symbol of the evils of colonialism: He takes over 'primitive' cultures and restructures their societies to match his own values, with the justification that it's for their own good.
  • The name "Azor" is derived from a Slavic slang term for guard dogs, particularly those used in police and military service.
  • Some of the human aspects of Azor's appearance (particularly his face and his long braided beard) seem to be inspired by the ancient ruler Hammurabi, who is famous for being one of history's earliest lawgivers.
  • Azor's physical appearance almost strikingly resembles the mythical Sphinx.
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