Well hello again readers! It’s been awhile, for which I have to apologize – holidays, family, and other commitments have kept me away from the blog. There will be a return to the history segments soon, but for now, it’s time for a little old fashioned speculation. As I’ve been playing World of Warcraft, and as I’ve been reading about the impending Cataclysm, I started picking up on a few clues here and there on possible future directions for Warcraft lore that may have some stunning implications. While the folks over at Blizzard back none of this, I thought it’d be fun to take you all down the oft times confusing, but terribly fun road of lore speculation. So let’s take a break from the history, sit back, put on our tinfoil hats and take a really good look at the events presented so far in the game, and where they may lead.
The Old Gods
One of the largest players to date in World of Warcraft lore are these mysterious figures called the Old Gods. If you are a raider, chances are you’ve met and killed a couple of them in your raiding lifetime – C’thun, down in Ahn’Qiraj, and Yogg Saron, up north in Ulduar. But where did these Old Gods come from, and why are they here?
The Old Gods are, simply put, pure evil. These are malevolent deities that were said to have ruled Azeroth in the past – long before the Well of Eternity, long before the introduction of the night elves. While the nature of the Old Gods is well known, what is sketchy at best is the timeline in which these events took place. Some Warcraft lore suggests that the Old Gods were present when Azeroth was created, and their activities were responsible for drawing the Titans to the planet in the first place. Other lore, generated from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, suggests that the Titans created the world, took off for parts unknown, and were called back because the alarms were being raised due to these nasty critters. As the lore currently presented in Northrend is the most current, this is the timeline I am going with.
The Titans are creatures of order and organization, of creation. The Old Gods are the exact opposite, creatures that seek nothing more to bring about chaos and destruction. In Wrath of the Lich King, it is revealed that the ‘Curse of the Flesh’, a disease that was created specifically to break down and assimilate the Titan’s creations, was placed upon Azeroth’s creations by the Old Gods. News of the Curse soon reached the Titans, and they returned to find the little world of order and perfection that they’d created in absolute chaos. The Old Gods ran rampant, their lieutenants, the Elemental Lords, assisting them in razing the world. A great war ensued, and the Titans were triumphant – but there was a catch. The Titans discovered that the Old Gods and the Curse that they placed on the planet could not be removed without destroying Azeroth itself.
Making planets is pretty hard work, and it’d be a shame to throw all that hard work away. So the Old Gods were imprisoned, deep below the earth where nobody could get to them, and left to rot for eternity. The Titans then put in a few safety measures and precautions, and created The Forge of Wills to re-create the seed races that had been weakened by the Curse.
Unfortunately for Azeroth, Old Gods are not so easily taken care of, and this has resulted in a small series of events that is, if my theories and speculations are correct, about to avalanche into something a heck of a lot messier than races up and turning fleshy.
Depending on the source, there are three, four, or five Old Gods imprisoned. Other sources imply that there were more, but for now…well, let’s just look at what I’ve dug up.
While there is nothing said via quests regarding this location, it is referenced in a book that does exist in game, The Founding of Quel’Thalas . In the book, the following is stated:
“Forging inland, the high elves founded a settlement within the tranquil Tirisfal Glades. After a few years, many of them began to go mad. It was theorized that something evil slept beneath that particular part of the world, but the rumors were never proven to be true. The high elves packed up their encampment and moved northward towards another land rich with ley energies.”
While it is not directly stated, it can be assumed that the evil that slept beneath the earth was one of the Old Gods. Interestingly, if one pieces together the Azeroth map into one continent as it was pre-Sundering, this location is just under or near the original location of the Well of Eternity. Given the fact that Azshara made a pact with an Old God when she and her city were submerged, a pact that introduced the naga as a race, it can be assumed that this Old God is the one that yammered at Azshara and made her a not so little mermaid.
The Master’s Glaive – Darkshore
This is a location that has either been overlooked or ignored by the majority of the Warcraft player base. Located in Darkshore, it’s a little out of the way for anyone that isn’t leveling a night elf or a draenei – most horde players wouldn’t even see this location unless they were out getting the Explorer achievement. In the Master’s Glaive, there is a monument, or the remains of a battle – a giant glaive impales the skull of some strange creature with tentacles. The night elves consider it a sacred area, and believe that a Titan killed an Old God at this location, as the glaive is too large for anything other than a Titan to wield.
In game, the area is now under the control of the Twilight’s Hammer – a cult often known for consorting with Old Gods. They believe the statue, or skull, or monument, or whatever it is, is actually the corpse of an Old God. Whether or not this is true has yet to be addressed, but the evidence is stacked to suggest that there was an Old God here, but it met its end at the end of a Titan weapon.
Ahn’Qiraj – Silithus
This is the moment that people really started noticing the Old Gods. Rather than being some mysterious, unknown force that was vaguely referenced by lore, suddenly players found themselves confronted with direct and unequivocal evidence that the Old Gods existed. The War of the Shifting Sands was incorporated into existing Warcraft lore, and involved the night elves extensively – notably one of their leaders, Arch Druid Fandral Staghelm who had up until that point no particular reason for being nasty to players other than being a big old jerk. It was revealed that Staghelm sought the help of the Bronze Dragonflight to solve the problems presented by the Old God C’thun, and while these efforts worked for a short time, C’thun had risen again to cultivate chaos and destruction.
Ulduar – Northrend
Are you seeing a pattern on that map yet? This was the point where the dots started connecting for me. Ulduar, high up in Northrend was the host and home to yet another Old God – Yogg Saron, imprisoned in the Titan stronghold of Ulduar. Players once again got to fight and defeat one of these creations.
These map points were proving terribly interesting to me, and I found it necessary to plug in that last and final point.
While Hakkar, the vengeful boss at the end of the Zul’Gurub instance is often called an old god, he is not an Old God. More powerful than an elemental lord, but slightly less than a god, Hakkar was worshipped by the trolls. So why is there a mark on the map here?
Karazhan, the mystical home of Medivh is often referenced as having been constructed on some powerful ley lines that attribute to the strong magical energy that surrounds the tower. It is possible that parts of the peculiar properties of Karazhan are because of an Old God as yet discovered. There is, however, something else that makes a lot more sense.
Duskwood, that creepy zone that low level Alliance love and fear, has a rich history of people going mad. The Scythe of Elune is mentioned, the Black Riders of Deadwind Pass, worgen and undead, and humans that have completely lost their minds. But the most peculiar and as yet unexplained part of Duskwood is the portion nestled directly in the center of the otherwise unsettling zone – The Twilight Grove. This crater is supposedly the remains of a volcano, and carries an oddly night elf feel to it. The logical leap to make is that Duskwood itself, the corruption, the darkness, and everything that has befallen the area is the direct result of an Old God buried somewhere below.
Why did I make that fifth connection? Take a closer look at the map. I have clumsily connected the dots, line tool style:
Oh Blizzard. You are fond of putting pentagrams in strange places , but this is far too interesting to be coincidental. Notice that the center of my messy pentagram is none other that the Maelstrom, that nasty swirling bit of chaos and tidal fury that all ships make a strong point to avoid when sailing about Azeroth.
Is your mind boggled yet? It gets better. So much better. Read on, and prepare to start making cardboard ‘The End Is Near’ signs to wave about your nearest street corner.
There you have it. Five Old Gods, five locations that can either be verified, or assumed with little stretching involved. Five Old Gods, five points on a pentagram, say you know what else do we have that we can count five of?
Oh wait. Dragon Aspects.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Done? Here we go – a current look at the five Dragonflights and their status, as according to Warcraft Lore:
Neltharion and the Black Dragonflight
Neltharion, now known as Deathwing, was the Earth-Warder and leader of the Black Dragonflight. Empowered by the Titans with dominion over the earth, and the deep places of Azeroth. The deep dark places, coincidentally, that also housed the Old Gods. Neltharion was unfortunately driven to insanity by the voices of an Old God, causing him to create the Demon Soul. The night elves were able to capture the Demon Soul, but in the process Deathwing wrecked the Blue Dragonflight. This all took place during the War of Eternity – the War that caused the Sundering of Azeroth into the continents that exist today.
It is important to note that again, the location of the Tirisfal Old God could be, pre-Sundering, very close in location to the original Well of Eternity.
Malygos and the Blue Dragonflight
Malygos the Spellweaver is the Aspect of the Blue Dragonflight. Norgannon, the Titan in charge of magic and the keeper of lore, gave Malygos a portion of his power and placed him as the guardian of magic and hidden Arcanum. Malygos’s flight was devastated by Deathwing’s original attack, and as a result he lost a large portion of his sanity. Malygos regained his lucidity after Deathwing was defeated and the Demon Soul was destroyed at the end of the Second War.
However, while Malygos has begun to regain much of his sanity, it is revealed in Wrath of the Lich King that the Aspect has suddenly deemed the lesser races use of magic unacceptable. He worries that the reckless use of arcane magic may bring the Burning Legion to Azeroth in force again, which is why he’s hostile and killable in game – he’s declared war on all magic users, and wishes them destroyed.
This does make sense, but please note that the location of Yogg Saron, another Old God, is in Northrend.
Nozdormu and the Bronze Dragonflight
Nozdormu the Timeless was empowered by the Titans to watch over the flow of time to make sure that events occur normally, without interruption and as fated to pass. He was granted domain over the ever-spinning pathways of fate and destiny, and thus knew when events were gong to occur, and what was yet to come. However, his powers came with a price – Nozdormu was shown his own demise. It was a lesson, so that the Aspect would never think that his power so great and terrible that he had to answer to no other. Nozdormu is well aware of when and where he will die, as well as the events surrounding his death.
During the events of the Burning Crusade, is it revealed that Nozdormu is currently ‘away on a quest’, and his whereabouts are unknown. Leading in his are Anachronos, Soridormi, Andormu and Nozari, who keep watch over the Caverns of Time and wait for their leader’s return. It is also revealed in this expansion that the Bronze flight now has a unique problem – the Infinite Dragonflight has suddenly appeared, intent on altering the events of history past. The origins of these dragons are unknown, although there is a reference by an NPC named Indormi in the Caverns. She states, “Do you think the rumors about the Infinite Dragonflight are true? I’ve sensed it…the familiarity.”
In Wrath of the Lich King, Chromie, Ambassador of the Bronze Dragonflight, sends players on a quest to take a powerful artifact to the Bronze Dragonshrine in order to divine the true identity of the leader of the Infinite Dragonflight. Instead of the leader being revealed, players reveal Nozdormu himself. While this is shrugged off as merely being interesting by Chromie, it blatantly suggests that Nozdormu himself is responsible for the Infinite Dragonflight.
It is unknown at this time whether Norzdormu is the leader, and it is also unknown what, if anything, would lead him to this fate. Why would an Aspect suddenly go from carefully guarding the events and happenings of time, to trying to disrupt them? Why, he’d have to be…mad.
It is important to note that the primary lair of the Bronze Dragonflight is located in Tanaris. It is also important to note that the Bronze flight was heavily involved with the original imprisonment of C’thun in Silithus.
Ysera and the Green Dragonflight
Ysera the Dreamer, leader of the Green Dragonflight, was blessed with a portion of nature’s influence. Ysera fell into an eternal, never-ending trance bound to both the waking world, and the waking Dream of Creation. Ysera was empowered by the Titans to watch over the growing wilds of the world from her realm, the Emerald Dream. Ysera, being a guardian of nature, is also heavily tied into druidic lore – the Emerald Dream is something of a sanctuary for druids that walk the path of the earth. When the first World Tree was created and crowned Nordrassil, Ysera enchanted it so that it would be bound to the Emerald Dream.
Ysera has long been reported to simple reside in the Emerald Dream, however the Dream has been corrupted by something called, aptly, the Emerald Nightmare – a mobile area of corruption within the Emerald Dream. The origins of the Nightmare have not been made entirely clear. Some speculate that Hakkar the Soulflayer is responsible, due to events in the Sunken Temple. The Raven Lord Anzu has been mentioned in Burning Crusade – but the most logical explanation is this: the Nightmare, a nightmare, is the direct responsibility of the dreamer that dreams it up. Ysera is the being responsible for the Emerald Dream’s existence. For some reason, she’s having Nightmares. It’s almost like there’s a little voice telling her terrible things as she’s sleeping…
Please note that the Old God location mentioned as being a possibility in the Duskwood area has a gigantic crater in the middle of it. A crater that contains one of the large portals directly connected to the Emerald Dream.
Alexstraza and the Red Dragonflight
Alexstraza the Life-Binder, leader of the Red Dragonflight, was empowered by the Titans to be the guardian of all life in the World of Azeroth, and the Titans also appointed her as queen of all dragons. Alexstraza works to safeguard life on Azeroth, and has limitless compassion for all living things. Currently, she is the head of the Wyrmrest Accord in Northrend, the united efforts of the Dragonflights against Malygos’s somewhat odd crusade against the magic users of Azeroth.
Alexstraza and her Dragonflight have no real issues, problems, or strange things afoot with their flight – the most that happened to them was their imprisonment and enslavement by the orcs of Grim Batol and Blackrock Lair. Actually, the biggest challenge in Alexstraza’s life at the moment is simply trying to balance the efforts against Malygos with the efforts to help the other dragonflights and the efforts of the races of Azeroth against the Lich King. She has a lot of things going on, but there’s nothing there to suggest she’s anything but perfectly sane, compassionate and wise as always.
It is important to note that the final verified location of an Old God is one that is long dead. There’s nothing there but a corpse with a gigantic glaive stuck in it.
What Does This Mean For Azeroth?
After connecting all these bits of random information, bits that are nearly fully supported by existing Warcraft lore, there are a few startling and eye-opening speculations that can be made.
The Dragon Aspects were put in place after the Old God’s imprisonment to watch over all aspects of Azeroth. Neltharion was driven mad due to voices of Old Gods – it’s not surprising that he came to this fate, given that he was the Earth-Warder. However, these voices told him how to create the Demon Soul – an object that could be used against all living things on Azeroth, including his fellow Aspects.
The obvious conclusion is that the Old Gods hope that the destruction of the Aspects would once more set them free, but there’s a second, more devious part to this plan. It’s all well and good if the Aspects are dead, but that still leaves the Old Gods stuck under the earth. What if the Demon Soul was created not just to destroy the other Aspects that protected Azeroth, but as a deliberate catalyst for the Sundering, an event which ripped the world apart? What if the Sundering was just the first step to a plan to not only destroy the Aspects, but also free the Old Gods from their imprisonment?
Once the Sundering had been completed, Deathwing was far from done with his machinations, but he was thwarted, and the Demon Soul destroyed. Deathwing retreated to the Elemental plane, Deepholm, to recuperate. The Elemental Plane also happens to be the prison of the Elemental Lords, lieutenants of the Old Gods from that first huge war with the Titans so long ago. This plane is separate from Azeroth, and thusly the Old Gods would no longer be able to contact Deathwing as readily as they had when they first corrupted him so many years before.
What’s an Old God to do? Why…work on the other Aspects in the meantime, of course. C’thun sought out Nozdormu, corrupted him into thinking there was a way he could keep his power and avoid his own death by twisting future versions of the Bronze dragons into the Infinite Dragonflight and altering the timelines in such a way that his demise would be prevented. Nozdormu knew this was going to happen, which is why, during the War of the Ancients, he apologized for actions he would commit against him in the future, stating that not even he could change his ultimate fate.
Meanwhile, Deathwing’s chaos had rendered Malygos largely insane, but after the Demon Soul was destroyed, he slowly began to regain his sanity. This wouldn’t do, and so Yogg Saron whispered to the Aspect of the corrupt nature of the mortal races, and how they were not worthy to wield the magic that Malygos oversaw. He played on Malygos’s fears; feeding him nightmares of the Burning Legion and other horrifying events in order to recreate the madness that Deathwing had originally stricken Malygos with. This theory is backed up in part by the visions in the brain of Yogg Saron – while two of the events directly involve efforts in Northrend, the third is oddly, the creation of the Demon Soul – the object that the Old Gods convinced Neltharion to create.
Ysera…how DO you corrupt a dragon that spends most of her time asleep? Why that’s easy – whisper to her of nightmares, of horrors yet to be, of corrupted versions of mortal races, warped mirrors of reality, Corrupted Ones. Ysera is half awake, half asleep, and almost wouldn’t realize that anything had been said – easily confused and rarely lucid, it was easy enough to create the Nightmare, a swirling vortex of chaos itself, by simply mumbling to Ysera for long enough that she generated it herself. Mumbling via a portal that connects directly to the Emerald Dream.
And then we have Alexstraza. There were probably some awesome plans for Alexstraza, but the fifth Old God was dead, and so she escaped unscathed. There wasn’t an Old God available to address her and her flight – the four that remained alive were all busy with their respective flights.
With the announcement of Cataclysm and Deathwing’s reemergence, there are more conclusions to be made.
Deathwing was hiding out in the Elemental Plane – the abyssal plane to which the Elemental Lords were banished at the end of the war between the Old Gods and the Titans. The Elemental Lords don’t particularly care for one another, but they had a specific purpose in the early days of Azeroth – to serve the Old Gods and keep Azeroth in a perpetual state of chaos. While these lords are seemingly no longer under the Old God’s control, this may only be an assumption – and Deathwing, still faithful to the Old Gods that whispered to him so long ago, is looking to free the loyal lieutenants, and the Old Gods, once and for all.
Cataclysm isn’t just Deathwing out to get his revenge. Cataclysm and the events surrounding it are the very deliberate efforts of the remaining Old Gods to do what they’ve been waiting thousands upon thousands of years to do: Escape their prison, release their lieutenants, and once and for all annihilate all semblance of order on Azeroth. The Old Gods managed to sunder the earth once before – this time they have their tool, Deathwing, to do it again and perhaps nudge them that much closer to freedom.
And when the Old Gods’ freedom is gained at last, you can bet there will be another War on Azeroth. A War of Titanic proportions.