Tauren History Part Three: Legends and Legacies Long Forgotten

Welcome back to Tauren History 101. Today we look at the last of the Thunder Bluff Scrolls, and try to piece together the fragments of information they contain. Please keep in mind that almost none of the following assumptions and conclusions have been validated by Blizzard as being correct. This week, it’s a week of historical speculation!

The last of the Thunder Bluff Scrolls tells of the evolution of the centaur, the tauren’s most hated enemy, and the one with which they still do constant battle today.

Scroll Five: Hatred of the Centaur

Part one: As the mists of dawn faded and the Age of Memory advanced, the demigod, Cenarius, went his own way through the fields of the world. The Shu’halo (tauren) were sorrowful at his passing and forgot much of the druidism he had taught them. As the generations passed, they forgot how to speak with the trees and the wild things of the land. The dark whispers from the deeps of the world drifted up to their ears once again.


So Cenarius, after trying to teach the tauren the nature of the druidic arts, took off for one reason or another, and the tauren started to forget their druidic roots. It looks like I’m going to have to tweak the theory from earlier regarding Vordrassil – if there were any point where the tauren would’ve planted Vordrassil, it would have been likeliest to have been just before Cenarius’ departure, possibly even the cause of that departure.

There is also mention once more of the dark whispers from beneath the world. These references can only be attributed to the Old Gods, as many other races in Azeroth’s history speak of the Old Gods as living ‘under’ the world.

The Old Gods of Azeroth were long assumed to have been present since the dawn of time, however events in Wrath of the Lich King place them at a later point on the timeline that previously thought. They are malevolent deities, intent on sowing destruction and planting the seeds of evil wherever their reach can extend. After playing through WotLK, it is revealed that the timeline went somewhat as follows:

  1. In the beginning, the Titans created Azeroth, and took off.
  2. Some time after this, the Old Gods showed up and began wreaking havoc and messing up the Titans work.
  3. The Titans returned to Azeroth, and upon finding that destroying the Old Gods would mean destroying Azeroth as well, chose to imprison them beneath the earth.

Depending on which source you look at, there are up to five Old Gods that are referenced, although it has been implied that there could be more. Out of these five, only two have been named – C’thun, living beneath the earth in southern Kalimdor, and Yogg-Saron to the north.

The reason I bring up the timeline is that it seems to conflict with the tauren legends. We’ll delve more into that after we check out the rest of this scroll – for now, Cenarius taught the tauren the ways of the druid. Supposedly he passed on – but that isn’t really possible, as this all takes place thousands of years before the orcs and Grom Hellscream showed up on Azeroth and gave the demigod the axe. It can be assumed that he simply…left, for one reason or another, perhaps pulled by the night elves and the activities surrounding the Well of Eternity and the desire to help them.

Part two: Though the children of the earth closed out the evil whisperings, a terrible curse befell their roaming tribes. Out of the black lands of the west came a horde of murderous creatures – the centaur. Cannibals and ravagers, the centaur fell upon the Shu’halo like a plague. Though the braves and hunters fought with the Earthmother’s blessing in their hearts, the centaur could not be defeated.

This is the introduction of the centaur, a race of savage creatures, half-humanoid, half-horse, that plagued the tauren, hunting and killing without mercy. The origins of the centaur can be traced back to a couple of different beings – the most reputable reference points to the eldest son of Cenarius, Zaetar. In the dungeon Maraudon, players encounter the spirit of Zaetar, and he is credited as being the father of the centaur race – calling them his sons and daughters. The mother of the centaur race was Princess Theradras, one of the last bosses of Maraudon.

Yes, this lady:

theradras

Right. So as the story goes, one of the Old Gods Elemental Lieutenants, Therazane the Stonemother, had a daughter named Princess Theradras. Theradras met Zaetar, and the two hit it off…sort of. Accounts say that  Theradras seduced Zaetar, and the two began a relationship.

Yes, this:

theradras

Seduced someone. I…right, moving on! Zaetar and Theradras had babies. Lots of babies in fact – five tribes worth of centaur, the Magram, Kolkar, Galak, Gelkis and Maraudine. According to the story, these kids weren’t terribly happy with…well, being alive, being born, and being really twisted and ugly mockeries of the much prettier and more pleasing to look at dryads and keepers.  The centaur decided that their first act as centaur would be to turn around and kill Zaetar. Theradras, fearing Cenarius’s wrath upon her precious children, took Zaetar’s remains and his soul away to be with her in Maraudon.

The other being often assumed as being responsible for the centaur is Cenarius himself. There is a night elf legend that is told as follows (this version from a tauren storyteller):

Long, ago, the kaldorei god Cenarius bore three children, the centaur, the dryad, and the keeper of the grove. However, one son, the centaur, grew to despise his beautiful siblings, then all other creatures of the world, and challenged Cenarius. The centaur believed that he was the strongest of the three children, and that Cenarius refused to love him and instead doted on his other children.

In embracing his hatred and savagery, he struck his father in blind rage, trying to force his father to love him above all other creatures. In retort, the god cursed the centaur, stripping him of his beauty and powers, leaving him only with his hatred and anger. The centaur fled in rage, and swore a blood feud on all the creatures of the world. He reserved most of his hatred for Cenarius’ favored children, and thus the night elves drew his ire as well. We tauren too drew his anger, as he was jealous of our strength and power with the world, the same power he lost.

His children carry his anger, and destroy everything they touch, bearing their father’s hatred of all things of the world.

This vaguely follows what’s been spoken of by the tale of Zaetar – that the centaur were jealous of their prettier brothers and sisters, to the point of turning from Cenarius and following a path of destruction and hatred. However, the centaurs’ motives for attacking the tauren were simply that the centaur, stripped of their powers by Cenarius, were jealous of the taurens strength and affiliation with the earth and Cenarius.

Speculation by some suggests that the two legends are in fact one and the same – that the son called ‘the centaur’ was none other than Zaetar himself. Perhaps Zaetar was at one point a keeper, which is why his spirit and soul both reflect that of a keeper. He and Cenarius had some sort of argument, and the anger brewing within Zaetar erupted, causing him to attack his father. Cenarius took from Zaetar any and all power he made have had as a keeper, his son’s appearance warping as he did so. Zaetar, angry, ashamed and embarrassed fled to the outer regions of Kalimdor now known as Desolace, and encountered Princess Theradras there, fathering the centaur tribes and subsequently perishing to them.

Centaur history is almost as spotty as tauren history, but once the centaur began scattering from their point of origin, they made a point of hunting down and killing tauren, even though the tauren had nothing to do with their dubious origins.

Part three: The Shu’halo were forced to leave their ancestral holdings behind, and roam the endless plains as nomads forever after. It was held that one day hope would return – and the scattered tribes of the Shu’halo would find a new home under the loving arms of the Earthmother.

The tauren were forced to migrate by the centaur and scattered across the continent. The ancestral holdings spoken of in this part of the legend are a reference to Mulgore – well, not Mulgore as you know it in World of Warcraft today, but the location of it. Tauren scattering to the north can be presumed as having been the early ancestors of the Taunka branch that currently resides in Northrend. The others roamed, eventually settling once again in Mulgore thousands of years after the Sundering that split the continents into what we know today.

Read on for a recap of the Thunder Bluff Scrolls, and one theoretical interpretation of the origin of the Tauren!

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