“Life grows everywhere. My kin merely find those places where it grows strongest.”
Nissa was born in Bala Ged, one of the seven continents of the plane of Zendikar. It is a continent notorious for its dense jungles and dangerous marshes. As a child, Nissa was plagued by dreams that she believed to be visions of an impending doom that awaited Zendikar. Nissa and her mother were the last Animists left on Zendikar, with Nissa being the only one to have visions of the future.
According to the chief of the Joraga Nation, Numa, the animists somehow angered the plane, resulting in their death by what is presumed to be the Roil.
Due to Nissa’s visions of a terrible darkness, Numa confronted Nissa and her mother, stating that she posed a threat to the entire tribe and that Zendikar sought vengeance by killing the remaining two Animists, and ordering them to leave. Nissa wanted to hate Numa for this, but deep in her heart she knew that he only wanted what was best for his people. She always thought that the visions she had were messages from Zendikar telling her that the plane would soon have its retribution. When her mother left their house, Nissa packed up and fled, thinking that this would save the tribe.
Once Nissa was far away from the tribe, she was met by a glowing stream of light and and life: it was the soul of Zendikar, communicating with her. It filled her head with visions of pain and suffering. The vision left Nissa unconscious and she was awoken by her friend, Mazik, who tracked and followed her. She explained to him that Zendikar was suffering from reasons she needed to discover. Once Nissa regained her strength, they set out to search for answers.
Halfway through their journey, a group of vampires attacked them. The pair tried to run away with the assistance of the of the soul of Zendikar, but Mazik got stuck in a bog, allowing the vampires to catch up to him. Looking back, Nissa saw her friend in danger and was suddenly filled with a strange sense of power. She touched the the land, channeling its energy. She hoped to only pull out a few roots to trap the vampires and give themselves an opportunity to escape, but instead of roots, Nissa got much, much more. Connecting with the plane she summoned an elemental, and unleashed it onto the vampires. She knew that her connection with the land would help save Zendikar.
“The elements understand better than anyone that actions speak louder than words” -Gideon Jura
A few days later, Nissa and Mazik encountered the Roil, a force of Zendikar that devoured anything and everything in its path.
Knowing she had to do something, Nissa once again reached out to the land around her and tried to connect with it. She connected deeply with the land and although she did manage to calm the it she did find out something she did not expect. When Nissa connected with Zendikar she realized that the plane was afraid and that the Roil was only a defense mechanism the plane used against the mysterious looming threat. With this knowledge, Nissa and Mazik once again set out to find the answer to Zendikar’s suffering, but this time, they were lead by an elemental that had come to Nissa after she tamed the Roil.
The elemental lead them through the mountains of Akoum where the threat that was inflicting pain on the Zendikar was waiting. As they climbed, the elemental and Mazik grew increasingly weak and were unable to go on. Wishing Nissa luck and strength, they began climbing down the pass and Nissa pushed forward, ready to face whatever lay ahead.
As Nissa climbed she called upon Zendikar to give her strength to push past the dark magic that seemed to shroud the peak of the mountain. Nissa pushed through the dark magic reached the peak to find the source of the plane’s uneasiness, a monster known as the dark knot.
With the help of Zendikar and her newfound abilities, Nissa tried to obliterate her enemy but the foe proved to be too much for even the power Nissa had through her connection with the plain. She was barraged by wave after wave of dark pulses until she could no longer hold her defense.
Feeling nothing but excruciating pain, Nissa knew this battle was lost, and she let go. But she did not die. She was sent spiraling into a void, seeing only swirls of white light and feeling no sense of direction. And then, she felt the ground. It was immediately clear that she was no longer on Zendikar. Her planeswalker spark had ignited.
She was sent to a plane with two aspects, called Lorwyn and Shadowmoor. Lorwyn was described as “ an idyllic world where nature thrives in its most pristine state. The sun never drops below the horizon, and midsummer never ends.” whereas Shadowmoor was its exact opposite, a world of constant twilight and twisted images that mock their original, Lorwyn form
Here Nissa made an instant connection with the plane and had a vision of the Great Aurora, an event that only occurs every few centuries which triggers the change between Lorwyn and Shadowmoor. When Nissa awoke, she was greeted by many staring eyes. A pack of Dwynen elves confronted her and forced her to join their hunt. But Nissa’s involvement didn’t last long when she found out that the elves were hunting and killing innocent boggarts, the only goblins known to be on Lorwyn. Nissa was about to confront the Dwynen about this, but The Great Aurora arrived and transformed Lorwyn into its counterpart, Shadowmoor. At first Nissa was tempted to learn the dark secrets of Shadowmoor and discover what it had to hide but she managed to find the strength to planeswalk home.
Nissa’s travels and return to Zendikar
Curious to learn more about the magic of the Multiverse, Nissa’s studies led her to many locations. Among these was the plane of Ravnica, and a metal world where she was forced to stop her explorations and return to Zendikar in search of guidance. In Ondu Nissa came to the Tajuru elves, the largest faction of elves on Zendikar, in hopes that she would be able to study with them. The leader of the elves, the speaker Sutina, saw in Nissa great talent and potential and appointed her Captain Leaftalker of a northern village named Mosscrack. When she arrived at the village she was met with suspicion and distrust but just as back in Joraga, but she convinced herself that she didn’t care. Despite all the negativity she endured here there were bright sides the most notable of which being her friendship with a man named Hiba who introduced to her the beauty of music, something she knew she’d miss when she returned to Joraga, where such things were forbidden.
Nissa and the Rise of the Eldrazi
Nissa eventually made her way back to Joraga where she explained to Numa what had happened and found a small measure of peace. But her peace would soon be shattered as the villages of Zendikar were slowly being silenced. An emergency meeting was called to determine the cause but the meeting was interrupted: an Eldrazi brood attacked, killing Sutina in the process. With Ondu left without a leader, Nissa took up the mantle and immediately set out to investigate the strange chain of disappearances and Eldrazi attacks. But Nissa’s mission was doomed. The group she had chosen to aid her was attacked, and all of her companions were slaughtered. Nissa would have been killed too if not for the timely arrival of Sorin Markov, the vampire planeswalker.
Sorin helped Nissa heal after the attack and once she was ready to move on, Sorin insisted she help him find the Eye of Ugin. Nissa agreed, if for nothing else to avoid facing the shame of having her squad wiped out. During their climb up the Akoum Mountain, the pair ran into Anowon, a vampire sage, and demanded he help them locate the Eye. The group passed through the Graypelt Refuge where Nissa encountered her old friend, a merfolk named Khalled. Khalled provided provisions and supplies to the group anyway he could and sent them towards the Makindi Trench.
In the trench the trio encountered a huge number of Kor refugees, among which was a group of goblins that traveled with a Kor woman named Samara. The goblins explained that she was a “witch vessel” for a spirit trapped in a crystal she was carrying and that she spoke in many twisted languages, which fascinated Sorin and Anowon. The group was also on their way to the Eye of Ugin, so Sorin suggested they travel together.
Eventually the group came to the Zulaport. The trio decided to stay the night and find some way to cross the ocean in the morning, but a vampiric death attributed to their group sent them fleeing to the sea. Nissa stole a boat and summoned a massive behemoth to pull the boat and help her cross the ocean. The party soon regretted their hasty departure, as whatever food was on the boat was soon exhausted and the goblins traveling with them began to disappear. Nissa could not sleep without dismissing the behemoth, and with no food or sleep, she was forced to repeat her hard learned Joraga fasting mantras to survive. During this time, Sorin finally told Nissa the nature of their mission as well as admitting to being a planeswalker much like her. Sorin told her that the great gods of the past, and the progenitors of the brood, the Eldrazi Titans were bound beneath Tal Terig, the puzzle tower that rose hundreds of feet upward from Akoum’s basin, long ago. It was his mission to make sure they stay that way. The next morning, they approached the beaches of Akoum.
The bays of Akoum were littered with shipwrecks and crystal reefs, but the greatest threat came from the Moon Kraken that ruled those waters and went by the name of Brinelin.
The kraken demanded tribute from their boat, so Sorin casually killed one of the remaining goblins to satisfy the great creature. That tribute was found lacking, so Sorin had to reveal more of his true nature. Brinelin remembered Sorin, and was somewhat terrified to find him on Zendikar after so long, but would still not let the group pass. Since Sorin’s intimidation had failed, Nissa tried to be diplomatic. She spoke of Sutina, who had been friends with the kraken, and told Brinelin of her death. Saddened by the news of his friend’s death and angered by the return of the brood, Brinelin finally agreed to lead them safely through the crystal reefs.
Once the group arrived at the Eye of Ugin, Sorin’s plans completely changed from what he was expecting. Instead of Nissa assisting him with reinforcing the spell that help the Eldrazi, she smashed the main hedron and released the Eldrazi titans. She assumed the titans would simply flee and leave the plane behind them but she couldn’t have been more wrong. Sorin, livid with Nissa for not heeding his advice and instructions washed his hands of Zendikar, leaving the plane to its fate.
Becoming the Worldwaker
Two years after the release of the Eldrazi, the battle finally reached Joraga. Under attack from Ulamog and his brood, the village was decimated and Nissa was the only survivor. She was saved by Hamadi, a member of the Graypelt refuge. Nissa was guilt ridden knowing that it was her fault that the Eldrazi lay waste to Zendikar and in turn, destroyed her home and its inhabitants. She realized that it was not just Zendikar but the entire multiverse that was now in danger.
Hamadi informed her that a Pathrazer of Ulamog was running rampant through a few nearby refuges so together, along with a few soldiers from the Graypelt Refuge, they sought out this monster.
The group found the monster attacking a nearby refuge and immediately ran in to help. The Pathrazer of Ulamog proved to be a dangerous and powerful adversary;Nissa had to delve deep into her powers if she were to defeat it. She tapped into her roots and the land around her and commanded Zendikar to help her take the Eldrazi down. Nissa found that she was connected the entire plane of Zendikar, earning her the title of “Worldwaker”, a direct translation from the nickname “Shaya” given to her by Hamadi in the Graypelt tongue.
One of the Elementals that Nissa was able to summon was different: it did not return to the land after a battle. It became her companion, and she named it “Ashaya”. If she was the Worldwaker, then it only made sense that the elemental was “The Awoken World”. Ashaya showed Nissa that she was one with Zendikar. As long as Zendikar was in danger, so too was Nissa. And as long as the world was fighting back, so too would Nissa.
“Ashaya’s conviction filled Nissa and the glowing leylines that ran through her bubbled up with power”
Battle for Zendikar
After a battle with Ulamog’s brood, Ashaya was ripped apart and Nissa lost her connection to Zendikar. While wandering aimlessly in hopes of reconnecting with the plane, she reached the Sea Gate, only to find that it almost taken over by Eldrazi. She assisted several Kor and Merfolk, but the number of Eldrazi was too great, and they would have surely been overrun if not the arrival of Gideon Jura. Gideon brought Nissa to Jace and she instantly recognized him to be planeswalker. Jace and Gideon led her to a refuge they had set up to be safe from the Eldrazi and Nissa once again tried to reconnect with Zendikar. After attempting this for several hours, Nissa decided to journey to the Khalni Heart, a magical flower that is an outgrowth of the soul of Zendikar.
Nissa traveled into the depths of the devastated continent of Bala Ged and found the Khalni Heart in a Surrakar cave. Through it, she rekindled her connection to the plain but Ob Nixilis, a former Planeswalker, wanted the flower to reignite his spark. Filled with the elemental power of Zendikar once again, Nissa bested Ob Nixilis and escaped with the revived Ashaya.
Nissa arrived just in time to join Gideon’s army in an attempt to retake the Sea Gate. The city was taken back from the Eldrazi but the great titan Ulamog was fast approaching. Gideon and Kiora’s forces took the titan head on in order to buy time for Nissa to raise sunken hedrons from the ground as a way to trap Ulamog. With the help of Jace, they trapped Ulamog in a circle of floating hedrons.
For a moment,with Ulamog trapped, everything seemed to be fine. But on the horizon a new horror was approaching. Summoned by Ob Nixilis, the Eldrazi titan Kozilek, was heading straight for the Sea Gate. The hedrons fell and the titans along with Ob Nixilis defeated the planeswalkers. The trio was to be imprisoned and tortured.
The imprisonment didn’t last for too long however, as Chandra finally arrived to Zendikar and freed the trio, and using their combined efforts, drove Ob Nixilis from the plane.
After being saved by Chandra, the four planeswalkers understood that alone they stood no chance against threats such as the Eldrazi. They each swore an oath to protect the Multiverse from whatever endangered it, and the Gatewatch (perhaps better known as the Jace-tice League) was formed.
Battling the Eldrazi on the frontlines alongside Kiora and Nissa, Jace decided, against the warning of Ugin, that the Eldrazi must be killed in order to be stopped once and for all.
Chandra offered her help and exclaimed that she would be able to burn the titans and destroy them. She tapped into the power of Zendikar and let out a massive burst of flame that extinguished the Eldrazi, eliminating them from the multiverse.
After the defeat of the Eldrazi titans, Nissa planted the seeds of Bala Ged she once had received from the vampire straggler: Jaddi tree, Kolya tree, Red Mangrove and Bloodbriar. Under her care, the land Zendikar would be on the road to recovery.