The Lore of Monarch: Clues and Speculation
War dawns on the continent of Rathe.
What was once peaceful will shift to chaos. Heroes will rise and fall, and times will change. But as darkness looms over the horizon, we must ask a simple question: Why?
The lore and story of Flesh & Blood is wonderful for many reasons, but the one that captures my attention the most is the mystery that surrounds it. Not many things within the lore are cut and dry, often requiring pieces of a larger puzzle to be put together to fully understand it. The intricate connections between characters, places, and events are subtle at the best of times, and complete speculation at the worst.
So, where does that leave us with Monarch? What are these mysterious monstrous beings? Where are they from? What is attacking Rathe? Why is war breaking out?
While I do not hold all the answers (and no one will until Monarch is released), I will attempt to analyse what clues we have been given to assemble a reasonable theory as to the exciting story that is to come.
For many years, the citizens of Rathe have lived in relative peace. However, as is the case with life, our perception of peace can be deceiving. In the years leading up to the events of Monarch, tensions have been rising, both between societies across the land and the supernatural powers that permeate the world. Rathe is no stranger to war, and war seems to be on its doorstep once more.
The main combative tensions are primarily amongst the generals of Volcor, the various clans within Misteria, and between the knights of Solana and the brutes they encounter both within Solana’s boundaries and in the jungles of the Savage Lands. While important to the overall story of Flesh & Blood, I believe these clashes are not the main focus for the narrative leading into Monarch. As these groups fight amongst themselves, a greater threat is on its way to wreak havoc on those unable to see it before it is too late.
The reasoning behind my thinking is that Viserai’s story has been pushed to the forefront of Flesh & Blood’s lore, as Viserai was heavily used for promotional material for Arcane Rising. Viserai also received his own lore article to expand his story for Crucible of War, as well as the Arknight Shard receiving its own card in the form of that set’s Fable. This clearly emphasizes the importance of his journey in the overall tale.
Within his tale, Viserai is seemingly drawn into a dark deal with an unknown entity, possibly the entity that resides within a stained glass window known as Whisper, and is driven mad, tearing his way through a horde of creatures from the Demonastery. The blood of these fallen abominations fueled a series of arcane sigils, activating a spell that began to bind Viserai with chains. This ritual seems to be a way for Whisper to use the power of the Arknight Shard for themselves, but as to why they wanted this power is unknown for now.
Viserai manages to fight off the restraints placed on him, taking matters into his own hands by grasping at a tether of aether connected to the stained glass window, and shattering it. This shattering of the window turns the newly formed gateway into a strange dark portal, with the other residents of the Demonastery watching “the realization of their long-awaited plans.”.
The doorway is opened. Behold, íArathael. - -Exerpt from "Return of the Shadow"
Meanwhile, strange violet storm clouds gather over the wastes of Volcor, and massive demonic creatures begin assaulting the city of Solana from seemingly nowhere.
I haven’t told anyone this, but I’ve noticed something happening to the aether, recently. It feels wrong, somehow. Warped. I don’t know how to explain it; I just can’t shake this feeling that something big is going to happen. - -Kano, "Smoke and Mirrors"
Throughout the many backstories released up until this point, one theme seems to be present amongst all of them; the flow of aether is changing. Aether is the energy responsible for the magic present within the land of Rathe, allowing those with an aetheric affinity to harness the energy to shape as they please. This aetheric affinity is not always passed down through the generations, but it often is. Sometimes those born into families without an aetheric affinity will develop one, and those born into families with an affinity can be born without one.
As evidenced in the stories told so far, while aether can be manipulated easily, this also opens it up to becoming volatile or severed. Kano’s backstory shows us that spellcasters can possess the ability to turn off the use of aether, whether through the use of wards, or with the quick reaction of a counterspell.
So what could be the reason for such a shift in the dynamic that is aether? This leads me to the next topic of this discussion, and one that can definitely be left up for debate:
Beware that which lies within the shadows, for its reach may extend beyond the physical plane. - -Drawn to the Dark Dimension
The Dark Dimension is a personal theory I have had for some time now. Similar to the Shadowfell from the popular roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons, I believe Rathe has an alternate dimension: a dark side to the light that is Rathe. The dichotomy between light and dark is something referenced heavily in many of the stories, flavor text, and artwork within Flesh & Blood, and this has become quite pronounced with the key art and flavor for Monarch.
There are a few things that lead me to believe that Rathe has a dark reflection of its world. The most glaring of these hints is the card aptly named Drawn to the Dark Dimension. The artwork depicts a creature reaching out through a portal of some kind, with the flavor text of the card hinting that this creature is reaching between dimensions. One creature from the lore that shares a similar ability is one known as Mortis, a mutant-like monster that resides in the halls of the Demonastery. It has the power to appear from the shadows, but perhaps this is merely the observation of someone unaware of another dimension which the creature could use to disappear and reappear as needed.
And in abandoning the Light, I am consumed by the Shadow, and gifted true power... - -Eldon, Lost Knight
That excerpt is the flavor text on the Runeblade card Tome of the Arknight, and shows what many of those who reside in the Demonastery long for: true power. To be consumed by the Shadow can grant them their wishes, but where would this Shadow come from?
The answer to this question can be deducted through looking at what the current world of Rathe embodies; Light. The shining beacon of Rathe, the city of Solana, worships an entity that shows itself as Light. That which guides the people of Rathe and protects them from Shadow. As the story of Flesh & Blood is one of duality and balance, there cannot be Light without Shadow, and this Shadow is what I believe to be the dimension known as iArathael.
Within Viserai’s story, a portal is opened to a mysterious dimension, one in which a demon emerges from. To get to this dimension appears to be the goal of many of the residents within the Demonastery; a world full of Shadow to harness for themselves.
With the world of iArathael now connected to Rathe through a strong portal, the volatile state of aether will be thrown off balance, as Shadow begins to consume Light. But what exactly does iArathael look like? If we continue to view this realm as a dark reflection to Rathe as the Shadowfell is to the Prime Material Plane in Dungeons and Dragons, the landscape would be very similar, albeit with twisted distortions of Rathe in their place.
Perhaps we have already seen a glimpse of iArathael…
I woke in darkness, amongst a ravenous legion. My body birthed from the shadows, my talons formed by the night. And as I grew my hunger too, and the world of the Master filled my mind.
Child, let's bathe in the blood of the monarch, let's dance on the grave of the light.
The first teaser we were shown for Monarch was a series of runes which, when deciphered, gave us a hint as to the nature of Monarch’s story. A ravenous legion, birthed from shadows, talons formed by the night, is coming to attack Rathe; to extinguish the Light.
We have seen a common theme amongst most of the stories told so far from the first three sets; strange creatures and monsters are appearing from seemingly nowhere. In the backstories for Ira, Bravo, partially in Kano’s, and even in card art from Crucible of War, these creatures are appearing all across Rathe, and are not exclusive to one region. I believe many of these beings that are now appearing across the land are the same that are featured in the artwork for the card Ravenous Rabble (Arcane Rising).
As for who is controlling these creatures to attack, we can only speculate that a “Master” of some sort is behind this army of shadows...
Darkness, the canvas of the universe. Light, the brushstroke of creation. A forbidden power hungers to eclipse existence, wiping the canvas clean. The soul of Rathe stands resolute, a ray of hope to the artisans of civilization.
So, with all of that information collected and theories speculated, what do we think will actually occur during the storyline of Monarch?
I believe that the world of Rathe will forever be changed by the invasion of creatures from iArathael. Monarch is hyped to be the set that completes the core vision of what the game of Flesh & Blood should be like, and I believe that the lore will follow a similar suit. With the spoiling of card types Light and Shadow, the battle between both will be permanently embedded within the storyline and the world at large.
Perhaps the world of Rathe will permanently merge with iArathael, or the scars of this new war will give way to pockets of Shadow that permeate in multiple areas of the land. Perhaps the change in the flow of aether will affect how spellcasters cast their spells. Or perhaps darkness will overtake the world, giving way to a new normal for the heroes of Rathe…
Regardless of the direction Monarch takes us, I am unbelievably excited for its release. To see the final part of the core of Flesh & Blood makes me even more motivated to dive even deeper into the lore, and is making me fall in love with the game all over again.
So what are your opinions on my theories? Do you agree with my thoughts, or do you believe something else to be more likely?
If you are craving more Flesh & Blood lore content, check out my Youtube channel DeadSummer Art, where I create high quality videos that dive deep into Rathe and its many intricate parts.
For more updates on my upcoming projects, be sure to follow me on both Facebook and Twitter.
Remember, play hard, and hit harder!
Kale, alias DeadSummer, is a lore fanatic from the south-west of Western Australia. Growing up on video games, and developing his identity through many forms of nerd culture such as MtG and DnD, he eventually branched out to expressing his creative itch through video creation, specifically revolving around the lore for Flesh & Blood. He prides himself on creating high quality video content to spread the story of Rathe to as many fans as possible.
I love how much effort goes into the lore and how things are tied together. I'm sure there are many things to be revealed over time.
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