Continuing in the vein of last Wednesday's Magic Arcana, today we look at the evolution of Mirrodin's blue environments - from some of the set's early concept sketches to the cards you see when you crack Mirrodin packs.
The blue lands of Mirrodin are dominated by the Quicksilver Sea, an interconnected system of shallow seas made of an otherworldly liquid (not actual mercury). The human Neuroks (seen in cards like Neurok Spy) and the Vedalken, an intellectual new humanoid race (depicted in cards like Vedalken Archmage), settle the blue lands and shape the landscape to their mystic lifestyles.
Left: An early concept sketch of the Vedalken spires. The Neuroks and Vedalken live in shining spires that rise up out of the Quicksilver Sea. The spires are structures made of quicksilver, raised up from the sea and made solid by Vedalken magic. You can also see Vedalken spires in the art of cards like Neurok Familiar.
Below: Another look at the Quicksilver Sea and the Vedalken spires (illustration by John Avon). Here you can see the roiling liquid of the Quicksilver Sea. The liquid is charged with lymph, the magical energy-fluid derived from blinkmoths (see cards like Blinkmoth Well). The Vedalken spires can also be seen below, connected with spidery bridges.
Right: A concept illustration of Lumengrid, pictured here between more Vedalken spires (by Mark Tedin). Vedalken civilization and knowledge transfer is coordinated by the Synod, a group of learned Vedalken elders. Lumengrid is the center of Vedalken life and the nerve center of the Synod (hence the blue artifact land Seat of the Synod, which depicts the city of Lumengrid). Both a city and a single structure, it is composed of interconnected walkways, tunnels, rooms and buildings housing all manner of Vedalken learning (see Fabricate and Disarm for interior views of Lumengrid). Humans (such as Lumengrid Sentinel) also live there, as well as drones of Vedalken manufacture (see Wanderguard Sentry).