Saturday, 11 May 2019

Champion's Trial

Writer - Scott McGough
Cover artist - Kev Walker
First printing - November 2003

The book starts with Nicol Bolas in the Blind Eternities, recapping the situation after the previous two books. He is unable to trace Tetsuo. We then find the former champion alongside Kolo Meha, Wasitora and her kittens hiding near the village of Sekana. Together they make a plan to take down the kentsu, newly crowned regent Ramses Overdark and emperor Bolas himself. Overdark sends kentsu troops to Sekana to lure Tetsuo out, but they are destroyed by Meha and the nekoru. For this failure Bolas robs Overdark of the use of his body, paralyzing him but putting his mind in direct contact with all his minions.

The army isn't doing any better on the Edemi's. Jorgan Hage has one part of the army attack the remaining rebels under Lady Caleria while another part attacks the Sylvan Library, still under control of Ayesha Tanaka. Ayesha utterly defeats them, attacking them with wood golems, strangling them by taking control over the leather in their armor, and supercharging the growth of the reefs around Kusho to destroy the fleet there, leaving the army just enough ships to retreat from the island. Hage is teleported to the mainland by Overdark to avoid the slaughter. Lord Magnus's spirit, which is still in the Library, is pleased that Ayesha's ingenious use of its powers killed so many kentsu, but still wants his seat back, so the two make a deal. Ayesha relinquishes control, but is transported to Kusho with the means to heal the island's mana lines and her own mana addiction. Going there also allows her to seek vengeance on the killers of Kei.

Xira Arien is send to Umezawa manor to kill more innocents, but is held off by his servants long enough for Tetsuo himself to arrive. A wounded Xira flees into the nearby swamps where Tetsuo stalks and eventually kills her. While doing so he strengthens his links to the black mana surrounding his mansion. Before going home he had enchanted Meha with a spell allowing him to travel through the Gitte-Yatay mountains at superhuman speed, enabling the Bogardan pilgrim to establish links to their red mana quickly. With this new power Meha destroys Overdark's manor. Meanwhile Wasitora and her young destroy another kentsu legion.

On Kusho Ayesha meets Tor. They cure the island and start looking for Halfdane. They fight him for a while, until they manage to freeze him in a pond. While the shapeshifter is mesmerized by his own reflections, Tor destroys him with a black spell. Tetsuo had told him he was not supposed to use black mana at this point in his training, but he reasons that since his master is no longer the imperial champion the old rules no longer apply.

Tetsuo makes his way to the imperial shrine. He summons a meteor storm that kills all the kentsu soldiers stationed in front of it. Jorgan Hage survives and attacks him, but Tetsuo strikes him down. He then takes the Aerathi's warhammer and launches it into the upper atmosphere with a spell before entering the shrine. There he fights Overdark while Bolas watches. There are some twists and turns, but eventually he decapitates the assassin and absorbs the energy released by the death of such a powerful magic user. He uses this magic to open a portal to the Meditation Plane and uses an ancient spell he and Ayesha uncovered to go there physically. Bolas can only follow him by leaving his body behind while his mind goes into the plane. Tetsuo then calls down the hammer from the sky. The impact is devastating, shattering the Gitte-Yatay, destroying the imperial shrine and Bolas's body, and breaking the flow of mana on Madara, which Bolas needed to be able to manifest there. He then uses his mastery over the Meditation Plane to overpower Bolas and seemingly kills him, although the dragon promises to return one day.

In the epilogue Tetsuo, Meha, Tor, Ayesha and the nekoru are all gathered at Sekana. They discuss that now many factions are fighting over Madara in the wake of the emperor's fall. Everyone agrees that Tetsuo should take up his old mantle again, but this time as champion for Madara itself.

Unfortunately the Legends II cycle ends with its weakest installment. It's not that the book does much different than the previous two, but where those managed to find a nice balance between the huge spectacle of powerful wizards facing off on the one hand and keeping a sense of threat and tension on the other, here the powerlevels of the main characters really go off the scales. All the good guys are throwing around such ridiculous amounts of power that all sense of threat is lost. Up until the very end, when Tetsuo faces down Overdark, there is never any real problem for our heroes, they just stomp enemy after enemy after enemy. It feels almost like the cast is just showing off...

Now, there is actually an explanation given for all of this. Ayesha is able to use the Sylvan Library in ways Lord Magnus never could due to her (blue mana aligned) ingenuity. Tetsuo and Meha are strengthening their ties to the mana of Madara before facing their foes, thus greatly increasing their power. The destruction of Overdark's mansion by Meha is a deliberate move to cut him off from the mana it used to generate. Which is all really cool in theory. McGough has put a lot of effort into creating a realistic image of what war would be like in a world where magic works this way. But the fact that supposed masterminds Overdark and Bolas never thought of this makes them feel rather stupid. Not to mention the fact that gaining a massive power-up by casting a super-speed spell and racing around the mountains for a while seems... a bit too easy compared to what we see in the rest of the canon?

Far worse though, are the huge pacing issues these power-ups cause. Yes, Tetsuo has to spend time in the swamps to gain power, but that results in several chapters of Tetsuo hunting down an essentially already doomed and defeated Xira Arien, only to plow through the entire Kentsu, Hage, Overdark and Bolas in quick succession at the end. Xira is only dealt with on page 177 of a 306 page novel. Is it really worth it to devote so much time to the defeat of a single henchman and a bunch of random army forces only to then stuff the killing of Nicol Bolas, the super-uber-mega-badguy in just 6 pages?

The battle against Overdark is still cool, with a few neat turns, but Bolas and especially the kentsu get taken out like punks. This could actually be seen as damaging to the larger continutiy. The kentsu are apparently bad-ass enough that Keldons, the most famous warrior race on Dominaria, will buy them off rather than fight them, and Nicol Bolas is the most ancient and powerful planeswalker around (Ugin hadn't been introduced yet), who according to Scott McGough on the forums could defeat Yawgmoth in a fair fight, yet both of them get taken out by this one dude? Okay, one dude with the help of a handful of friends and some cats. But still! Why did Urza come up with all those schemes spanning centuries when he could've just recruited Tetsuo and let him handle things?

It feels a bit like Scott McGough wanted to ramp up the awesome factor some more for the finale, but ended up with a book that was all fireworks but a bit weak on the story front. It is by no means one of the worst Magic stories out there, it still has very cool individual scenes and fun characters (the nekoru kittens join Kolo Meha in the ranks of Scott McGough's best funny-yet-powerful characters) but it is an unfortunate stumble in the final stretch of the trilogy.

There is one more thing that deserves mention here: the use of Magic's colors in this trilogy. More than any other story since the Ice Age trilogy (The Gathering Dark especially) do these books embrace the rules of the game and use them as a basis for their plot and setting, in ways that make perfect sense. Of course rulers would put their headquarters in locations with abundant mana. Of course the establishing of links to that mana and denying your opponent access to it would be major strategic aims in war.

But it goes even further than that. McGough introduces the idea that Bolas is so ancient and powerful that he can no longer safely manifest on planes. When he took over Madara "a minor physical manifestation wiped out all of the then-current nobility and half of the standing army", and that was after having his catspaws working for centuries to "infuse his presence" into the world. He needs blue, black and red mana to manifest, which is why the imperial shrine is at the edge of the mountains, near a river and between two swamps. It is also why he orders just an occupation for blue mana-rich Kusho but the utter destruction of green and white mana-rich Argenti.

This dependence on certain types of mana is of course based on the upkeep cost of the original Bolas card, and not something we've seen before or since with any other planeswalkers. It's a bit strange. At the time we didn't know of any quite as ancient as Bolas, but in later stories Ugin and even Bolas himself don't seem very bothered by this limitation. I'll keep an eye out for any mitigating circumstances to explain this away in future reviews. Well, in the reviews of Time Spiral and Fate Reforged at least. I imagine that post-Future Sight we can just use the Mending as an excuse for why this isn't a thing anymore.

Even though these ideas weren't really followed up upon in future stories, I must commend Scott McGough for using the game mechanics in this manner. It gives this trilogy a uniquely Magic: the Gathering-based flavor which you couldn't find in any other fantasy setting. And it certainly incorporates the colors into the story in a much more clever way than Odyssey block, where they were little more than a checklist of locations through which the Mirari had to travel.

  • Madara was founded by a warrior who styled herself a god-queen. This will be referenced (spoilers!) at the end of the Kamigawa cycle.
  • Lady Caleria's full name is Ohabi Caleria, and she has ruled Argenti's human population for nearly a decade.
  • Tetsuo studied in the tsunami-nito school, first mentioned in the flavor text of Eternal Warrior. He invokes this when he gives Meha the power to run across mountain tops to quickly establish mana links, which is a pretty liberal interpretation of granting vigilance.
  • Xira Arien is from a eumidian hive-society on Jamuraa. As I mentioned before, the Dominaria Story Podcasts specifically place these on the central part of the Jamuraan supercontinent.
  • Waisitora spend nearly all of her life in the jungle of Jamuraa and has only encountered other nekoru once. That time they had been awed by her use of green mana. This will be elaborated upon in The Monsters of Magic.
  • The real Barktooth Warbeard shows up in this book, tied up in a cave, just for his impersonator Halfdane to kill him. It's one of the more pathetic showings of a printed legendary creature. Last novel Halfdane also killed Ragnar, but at least he had gotten some scenes of him healing in first.
  • Kasimir's true name is Shasido Mayasi. He was once a marshal of the kentsu, until his commanding officer ordered him to waylay Tetsuo on his road to the imperial shrine to claim the tile of champion. Kasimir was defeated by the young Tetsuo, which shamed him, so he went to the Edemi's and started a new life as Kusho's protector.
  • Overdark's manor is protected by Zalgadib, an efreet from the deserts of Suq'ata
  • While watching the nekoru Kolo Meha thinks to himself that they will take over Madara unless Tetsuo has a plan for them. Even if he did though, that plan may have been derailed by the invasion and/or the rise of Karona, as when we next see Madara in Time Spiral the nekoru have taken over the place.
  • At the end of the book Caleria is again preparing to attack Madara, this time to exact reparations, the Aerathi are claiming a blood debt between them and Tetsuo and Ayesha, other conquered tribes a out for plunder and revenge, and rich citizens are trying to buy up legions of the kentsu for their own gain: there are already three people claiming to be the new emperor.
  • At one point Halfdane becomes an Evil Eye of Orms-by-Gore and admits even he doesn't know what it is exactly. Just that it's tough enough to survive Tor's spells.

Let's talk about the small things first:
  • Bolas says about Dominaria that "he had spend some time there, long, long ago, when he was young and not fully formed". Which is pretty much in line with his eventual origin story.
  • Caleria has treaties with "other white-mana nations", which is why the Church of the Holy Nimbus (no further explanation on who they are or where they are from) and the "noble Akron Legionnaires" are fighting for her. Previously the Legionnaires had been described as just mercenaries, but perhaps they've turned over a new leaf since then.
  • At one point Bolas takes Overdark to various planes to spice up their conversation a little. They include a fire realm, a mechanical hell, a big desert, the bottom of an ocean and a mountain almost reaches to space. According to Scott McGough these are supposed to be Wildfire, Phyrexia, Rabiah, Segovia and a final unnamed plane. He admits he didn't know much about Segovia and thus made it a generic underwater realm rather than a teeny tiny plane. It's not that surprising he didn't know about Segovia's size, as that information came solely from a single issue of The Duelist.
  • There is no mention of Halfdane's Tolarian origin, known from his flavor text. The closest thing we get to an origin story is when he says "Those who found me called me Halfdane, and one day they died for it". I guess he is actually very old and predates the founding of the Academy. That's how I usually explain away difference between the original "land of illusions and shapeshifters" Tolaria and Weatherlight Era Tolaria.
  • At one point Halfdane says he "drunk the blood of sacrificial virgins in the bowels of the earth with the high priest of Gix and rescued fair maidens from the gleaming towers of Benalia, all in the same week". This is weird, as the Gixians went to Phyrexia in the wake of the Brothers' War, but Benalia wasn't founded until centuries after the Ice Age. Dominarians have a habit of resurrecting old religions though, and there are even people calling themselves Disciples of Gix in the current story era, so I guess the Gixian religion popped up again in post-Ice Age Dominaria. Perhaps reintroduced by the Phyrexians to pave the way for the Invasion?
  • And, of course, we will get into the problems with the characters that appear both here and in the Legends I trilogy in a separate article.

Now. The big problem: the Meditation Realm. In the previous books it was introduced as a place used by the servants of the empire for all sorts of things. Here we get to see Bolas directly interact with it and some major problems arise. He can't detect Tetsuo when Umezawa is in the realm, which is why he couldn't find him at the start of the book. He says it can only be reached from Dominaria and that it is not a full plane, but a "psychic construct, a dimensional annex connected to Dominaria". He can't planeswalk to it, only project his mind into it. Oh, and the biggest problem of all, the only reason we get for Tetsuo being able to overpower Bolas is that "here, in this place, with this weapon, I am capable of truly wonderous things". Clearly Tetsuo has more mastery over the plane than his enemy.

None of which makes any kind of sense if the realm actually belongs to Bolas.

Now, when Bolas's Meditation Realm was introduced in Planeshift it was possible to explain away these issues. We know Bolas's spirit/essence/ghost/whatever hung on to some sort of afterlife and was eventually resurrected in Time Spiral. Perhaps that time bonded him with the place and gave him control over it. And maybe the Mending loosened it from Dominaria, allowing his minions like Sarkhan and Tezzeret to reach it from other planes. Problem is though, that since then the new depiction has been featured in flashbacks, and now its earliest chronological appearance is in Chronicle of Bolas, where it is instrumental in Ugin becoming a Spirit Dragon and where Bolas takes it as his headquarters millennia before Madara is even founded.

So how to reconcile these two depictions? The Dominaria art book has a suggestion: rewrite the ending of Legends II completely! There it is stated Tetsuo destroyed Bolas's body, after which Bolas's spirit fled into "a pocket dimension he had created, his Meditation Realm", only for Tetsuo to defeat his spirit as well (no explanation on how). This is as close to a canon explanation we have, but it is very unsatisfactory to me to have to mentally rewrite ever mention of the Meditation Realm when I read Legends II. Not to mention that the idea of Bolas creating the realm was proved wrong immediately afterwards in Chronicle of Bolas. So let's see if we can think of something better.

I tried to come up with some fanciful theories for why Bolas would not recognize his own realm, but as Ugin is either dead or buried in hedrons (depending on the timeline) at this point, I really couldn't imagine anyone capable of doing that to old Nicky B. So, the only real save is... there are two meditation realms. I'm a bit ashamed to even suggest it, as the Legends I/Legends II inconsistencies can also only be solved by introducing the idea of there being multiple Tor Wauki's throughout history, but it is genuinely the only way I can make sense of this all without completely rewriting the ending of Champion's Trial.

Perhaps we could try to make it a little less coincidental by theorizing that the Meditation Realm of the Madarans is some sort of echo of the original, perhaps created by past imperial minions trying to reach their emperor? And perhaps the whole reason Bolas survived was because he "died" in a place so similar to his home base? This last paragraph is complete and utter fanfic though. The official explanation seems to be that Bolas didn't die in the way Champion's Trail says he did, but I'm tentatively putting "there is a second meditation realm" in my personal head-canon.

It's kind of weird that this trilogy is on the one hand a very important part of the Magic canon as it introduces Nicol Bolas, who would become one of the franchises main villains for years and years, yet on the other hand it is isolated in its own little setting, and everything that would connect it with the larger story becomes such a continuity tangle that we have to go "that has to be a different place/person that just happens to have the same name", isolating it even further!

And speaking of continuity tangles...

Alright! Timeline talk! This is an interesting one, at least if you are a bit like me, so... to the three people that are like me: strap in!

Legends II, Kamigawa, Mirage and Homelands are all tied together through various (sometimes vague) continuity references, but for the longest time this interlocking lore blob was very difficult to connect to the rest of the timeline. Recently it has become a bit easier but there is still a lot open to interpretation. Let's start at the beginning though.

Legends II itself has little that places it on the timeline. A few things, like the mention of Keld, place it in that big "between Ice Age and Invasion" period. Later sources, like Nicol Bolas's appearance in Fate Reforged, narrow it down a little, but that still leaves us with a several century gap.

Luckily for those who wanted to build a timeline though, Scott McGough was very active on various message boards, and on one occasion he mentioned that in his mind Legends II happened around the time of Mirage. There are a few issues with this post of his though...
  1. He makes it very clear that this is just his idea, even saying that "the canon at Wizards might say different".
  2. He gives 3820 as a date, because he is replying to a fanmade timeline that put Mangara being trapped in the Amber Prison at that point. Looking at the actual Mirage sources though, that date is way too early for that event!
  3. As I've discussed recently, the Mirage story itself is hard to date, with the ~50 years on the official timeline not really matching up with the 200 years between Teferi phasing out and the war ending given in most versions of the story.
  4. And finally: whether you go with the 50 year version or the 200 years version of Mirage... the entire Legends II trilogy takes place in a few months at most, so what exactly does "closer to the events of Mirage" mean?
For all its problems, it was the only thing we had to go on so people really clung to it. The post mentions him wanting to use these characters in future stories "from the period immediately preceding the Invasion", so people tended to assume it meant Legends II happened around 4200 AR, and took that as gospel. Which is one of the reasons I found it so amusing that Ethan and Kelly gave so many qualifiers for their personal theories in the Dominaria Story Podcasts. If the Vorthos hivemind wants something to be gospel, they'll take it as gospel guys, no matter how carefully you word your statement!

Back to the issue at hand. So we have a vague post on a forum which most people take to mean Legends II happens around 4200, but which at best just places it in the 4000-4200 "traditional present" period. Not very precise, but there are a lot of sources for which we can't get any more specific dates than that, so that's fine. But then Kamigawa comes out, and suddenly the placement of Legends II becomes a lot more relevant.

Spoilers for Kamigawa to follow.

You see, that block ends with Toshiro Umezawa being dumped on another plane, in a place that has just been conquered by a queen styling herself a goddess, an obvious reference to Madara. In Champion's Trial we read that Umezawa manor had stood for almost 400 years "since the earliest days of Madara's first emperor", and Scott McGough, once again in a forum post, confirmed that he intended that to be the gap between Kamigawa and Legends II.

So now we have approximate dates based on approximate dates, with multiple forum posts as our main reference material. Not the most solid of bases. McGough did clarify, in an MTGSalvation post this time, that in that first post I mentioned he intended for Legends II to happen "in the 4000s", which at least takes that 3820 date of the table. (If you follow that link, please ignore the post Scott is reacting to, which was written by... eh... me. In it I'm quoting very, very, very outdated information, basing my placement of Legends II on the fan-made timeline and my placement of Mirrodin on the some flavor text, both of which have been thoroughly debunked in the 14 years since that post went up!)

So Legends II seemed to happen between ~4000 and ~4200, and Kamigawa between ~3600 and ~3800. That's at least something to place on the timeline, although it might give the impression that there could be as little as 200 years between the two, which was not intended.

Then Time Spiral was released and things got a lot more complicated. That story wanted to tie previous blocks together by blaming their events on the time rifts on Dominaria. But since Kamigawa happened some time in the past it's tie-in was further qualified in the novel by saying the ringing of the Apocalypse Chime in Homelands somehow echoed through the oldest rift (at Madara) to disrupt the barrier between the mortal and spirit realms on Kamigawa. Here is what Nicol Bolas says on the matter:
"The schism became a source of misery before Karona's War by a millennium or more. When poor, mad little Ravi rang her terrible bell and the Garden ceased to exist, the echoes of that destructive chime reached far and wide, all the way to the Talon Gates and the rift they attend. The tolling of Ravi's chime opened the rift wider and deeper, extending it all the way across the cosmos to another realm. When it reached this new place, a place where flesh and spirit existed in perfect balance, the rift disrupted that balance. It also created a link between this world and that one, a path for any suitably powerful and opportunistic spirit to tread. Soon such a spirit found that path and used it to come to Madara, and once here she cursed it with the plague Umezawa."
...and this is what the Future Sight fat-pack booklet added:
"Because Dominaria is a planar nexus of the multiverse, the effects of these rifts spread beyond Dominaria, affecting other planes in unexpected ways ... On Kamigawa, the damage weakened the veil between the utshiyo (material realm) and kakuriyo (spirit realm). This enabled the daimyo Konda and his moonfolk accomplices to use powerful magic to pull an aspect of O-Kagachi, the kami of all kami, through the veil, thus beginning the Kami War"
So now we have to consider Homelands for this timeline placement, and oh dear... Homelands used to be one of the most annoying stories to place. It has a similar problem to Mirage in that it got ~330 years on the official timeline, but the comic came with a 600 year timeline. The difference is that Mirage's story at least had a clear end point. With Homelands it is entirely unclear how those two timelines match up. Should I ignore the prologue? The epilogue? Does one cover the comic story and the other the set's story? It was so bad that after my initial review of the comic its placement moved around on my timeline several times as close readings of other sources I reviewed kept changing my mind!

We finally got some firm dates on Homelands thanks to Dominaria, as the Story Podcast mentioned Serra died in Sursi around 3800 AR, and the Dominaria art book got even more specific, mentioning she arrived there 3780 AR. The official timeline starts at 3800, so we can infer that that timeline covers the set's story and the comic timeline covers the comic's story which ends with Serra's death, and we can then calculate that the ringing of the Apocalypse Chime happend around 3200, which is indeed slightly over a millennium before Karona.

We're not out of the woods yet though. Because what does this mean for Kamigawa, and by extension Legends II? We know from Kamigawa sources that Konda had to do extensive research before taking That Which Was Taken and triggering the Kami War, so the Kamigawa books don't happen instantaneously after the ringing of the Chime, but how much time passed between them? Bolas says that Toshi was dumped on Madara "soon" after, but he also once said he killed Ugin "not so long ago", which turned out to have happened 1280 years in the past, so he's not the most reliable narrator when it come to timing.

Essentially, there are three options.

  1. The Kami War happened within a generation or so after the ringing of the Chime, which due to approximate nature of the dates would mean it would also end up at ~3200 on the timeline. Legends II then happens at ~3600, completely throwing out Scott McGough's idea of having it happen concurrently to the Mirage story, and keeping Nicol Bolas dead for quite a few centuries.
  2. Legends II happens around the time of Mirage. To keep Kamigawa as close to the ringing of the Chime as possible, let's say ~4000 rather than ~4200. This means Kamigawa happened around ~3600, meaning the border between the mortal and spirit realms was disrupted for 400 years before someone finally took advantage of it.
  3. The Kami War happened around ~3200, Legends II happens in the 4000-4200 period, and we disregard the supposed span of 400 years between them. Perhaps the Umezawa's didn't build their manor until they had been in the region for a few centuries.

Until further sources come out I think which one you pick really comes down to personal preference. The MTGSalvation timeline goes with the first option. Personally I'm more enamored by option two, as it keeps the most stuff in-continuity, and because keeping Nicol Bolas dead for the shortest possible time just seems safe. He's the sort of character you'd expect to turn up in flashbacks a lot, so keeping him out of circulation for the shortest possible time just seems like a good precaution to prevent future continuity issues.

I've had a quick look through Time Spiral and Future Sight to see if there is any reference to just how long Bolas was out, but it doesn't get more specific than "centuries". I'll keep my eyes out in future reviews of stories featuring Bolas to see if there happens to be a throwaway reference to just how many centuries he was gone, but I'm not holding my breath. For now I will use option 2 for my own timeline, but as with other events where we really can't be sure I will explicitly mention the possible other placements as well.

Oh, and one final note, Madara was founded 400 years before this story, but Bolas only took over a century and a half ago, after the empire had been in decline "for generations" already.


  1. One possible answer for the Meditation Realm. Pre-mending, it's like the Ghost Quarter on Ravnica or the other planes from when Dominaria was in The Shard, in that it's basically an overlayed plane that's just part of Dominaria, thus people are able to access it through meditation or powerful spells. Post mending, it gets shunted off into it's own place and has some of it's properties altered.

    Additionally, anything Bolas says regarding the plane being his and he the master of it can just be assumed to be Bolas lying through his little goblin teeth, since it's Ugin's realm, not his.

  2. Thanks for getting to this series! I read the first two books when they came out, and wasn't able to get a copy of the 3rd when it went out of print, only to find a reasonably priced used copy a year or so ago, but didn't get around to finally reading it - so I resolved to finally get through it last week when part 2 came out, and finished yesterday just in time for this article!

  3. Glad to see this continuing! I think you meant Planar Chaos though not Planeshift, since we already did that part of the Invasion cycle. xD
    I do find a bit of odd humor in it being the 3 most vague blocks (Mirage, Legends, Homelands) that tend to give the most timeline trouble. Something almost funny about that.

  4. Respectfully, is there ANY reason to doubt option 3?

    Noble families in the real world mostly build new residences at times when they are not desperate refugees, after all.

    1. In-Universe? Nope. We only see the very first moments of Toshiro on Dominaria, so we don't officially know he was the one who founded the manor.

      The only strikes against it are Scott McGough's comments saying he intended the stories to happen 400 years apart and inserted the age of the mansion to indicate this.