Know Your Lore: For Azeroth
We’ve been relentlessly fighting the Burning Legion in demonic invasions, but in less than a week, we’ll be taking our characters to the source of our problems – the Broken Isles. There, we’ll be hunting for a way to shut down the demonic gateway Gul’dan has opened. It’s a global effort to save our world – which, according to some demons, is the last one standing.
We aren’t about to let them have it. It feels like a final stand – the Age of Mortals has coalesced into one mighty push back against the Burning Legion. A giant army of armies, standing strong and defending their right to a continued peaceful existence.
But the fight is so, so much larger than that.
The creation of Azeroth is a subject that’s long been in contention. It’s been debated, picked apart, and theorized about for years. Nearly four years ago, I wrote a TFH edition of Know Your Lore – now archived on another site – that suggested the Well of Eternity wasn’t actually a well at all. I suggested that maybe it was the blood of a long-dead Titan, and that’s why it had attracted Sargeras’ attention.
And a little over three years ago, I came up with another wild theory – that Azeroth itself was a Titan. A baby Titan, the Final Titan of the vision Wrathion saw when he ate the heart of the Thunder King. I suggested it was created to defeat Sargeras, and that was why Sargeras was so desperate to either destroy or conquer it.
When World of Warcraft: Chronicle Vol. 1 came out earlier this year, both of those theories were in part confirmed. The Well isn’t the blood of a long-dead Titan, it’s the blood of an injured Titan. And that Titan is, in fact, Azeroth – the Final Titan, the last world-soul in existence.
No one really knows how Titans are conceived, but at one point they were out there in the universe, existing as world-souls. A world-soul is basically a nascent spirit, slumbering in its shell for countless ages before it finally awakens, become a living world. That’s what the Titans are – living worlds, world-souls that have reached fruition and come to life.
Aman’Thul was the first of these world-souls to awaken into existence. His first act was to seek others of his kind, awakening each of them in turn into full-fledged Titans, who then joined Aman’Thul in his search for more of his people. Aman’Thul and his siblings were the Pantheon, and they traveled across the vast expanse of the universe, looking for more dormant world souls.
That’s why the Titans were ordering worlds. It wasn’t some innate need for order, it was all part of the search for more of their kind. Working against them was the void itself, commanded by void lords, dark creatures that realized they could not corrupt the Pantheon. Instead, the void lords sent malevolent entities spiraling into the cosmos. They hoped that these Old Gods would eventually find the Titans in their most vulnerable state – the world-soul – and corrupt them before they could fully mature.
Sargeras discovered one of these corrupted world-souls in his search for more of his kind. To his horror, the planet had been thoroughly infested by the Old Gods. After spying on the world’s inhabitants – the Nathrezim – Sargeras realized just what the Old Gods, and the void, were planning. If a world-soul was fully corrupted, it would awaken not as a Titan, but as a dark creature intent on devouring all of creation.
Sargeras didn’t stop to think. He destroyed the planet, killing the corrupted world-soul and returning to the Pantheon to tell them of his discovery. Rather than being properly horrified, the Pantheon instead chastised Sargeras, insisting that the world could have been saved without killing it. But Sargeras insisted he was right in his actions.
If the world-soul had been allowed to come to fruition, it would have destroyed the universe. And there were other world-souls out there, just as corrupt, that couldn’t be allowed to come to fruition, either. The universe needed to be purged. Sargeras left the Pantheon, intent on carrying out his mad crusade whether the Titans agreed or not.
It’s a story that has been echoed again and again over the course of history. If you look at Arthas’ actions in Stratholme, they play out much the same way. Arthas was convinced that the city needed to be purged, its citizens eradicated before they could become scourge and spread the plague of undeath even further. Others disagreed.
Arthas continued his purge in spite of their protests…and eventually succumbed to darkness, becoming the Lich King. Sargeras became something much more than that – he traveled to Mardum, a prison world filled with demons, and shattered it. The backlash of fel energy twisted him into a being of fire and hatred, and he gave Mardum’s demonic inhabitants a choice: Serve, or be destroyed.
Of course they chose to serve. The Burning Legion was born, and its cause remained the same – to purge the universe of corruption. In order to rid the universe of the Old Gods and the void, all world-souls needed to be destroyed.
Sargeras’ successor, Aggramar, continued to search for world-souls throughout the universe. And he discovered the single most powerful world-soul he’d ever encountered: Azeroth. But Sargeras was right. Azeroth had already begun to be claimed by the Old Gods, although the sleeping Titan had yet to be touched by their presence.
The Pantheon acted quickly, to try and save the world. They formed the titan-forged, an army capable of traveling to Azeroth’s surface and combating the Old Gods. The titan-forged defeated the Elemental Lords, but the Old Gods were far more powerful. In a moment of desperation, Aman’Thul reached through Azeroth’s skies and ripped Y’Shaarj from the surface of the world, killing it.
The action shattered mountains and ripped a wound in the world, causing the arcane blood of the world-soul to rush to the surface. Horrified, the Pantheon realized they could not destroy the Old Gods without destroying Azeroth itself. And so, they imprisoned the Old Gods instead, ordering the world as best as they could, staunching the wound until it stabilized into an enormous lake.
They called it the Well of Eternity.
Of course, the Pantheon heard of Sargeras’ actions. Horrified by his campaign of rampant destruction, they traveled across the universe to confront him face-to-face. Aman’Thul told Sargeras of Azeroth, pointing out that they had done what he’d deemed impossible – they’d saved a world-soul from corruption, one powerful enough to defeat the void lords.
Sargeras didn’t listen. And when Aggramar approached him, unarmed, Sargeras struck him down. Outraged, the Pantheon lashed out – but they were unable to withstand the might of Sargeras’ fury. The Pantheon fell. Sargeras declared a victory, and continued on his mad campaign.
Unknown to Sargeras, Norgannon managed to weave a spell just before the Pantheon was destroyed. It saved their souls, sending them hurtling through the cosmos to Azeroth. There, the spirits of the Pantheon merged with the Keepers they created and became one with them, unbeknownst to the Keepers.
Sargeras wants Azeroth destroyed. The Pantheon flat-out told him it was the most powerful world-soul they’d ever encountered, capable of confronting the void lords and defeating them. But to Sargeras, all that means is that when Azeroth succumbs to corruption – because he is certain it will succumb to corruption – it will devour all of creation in the blink of an eye.
And we – the few, the small, the insignificant, the mortal – are all that stand between Azeroth, and the cosmic might of the Burning Legion.
That is why this expansion is so significant. It may feel like we’re fighting a hopeless battle – and maybe we are. But we’re the only ones left to defend what is in fact the last world – the last world-soul – and try to cleanse the universe of its inherent corruption.
Is it any wonder that Wrathion was blown away by these revelations? That he worked so hard to try and put together an army – knowing that only a united front might stand even the smallest of chances when it came to defeating the Legion?
Wrathion says: Oh, I see them – a million, million worlds – glittering in their perfection – but one above all others – oh –
A beacon of light surrounds Wrathion. He rises and speaks in a different tone…
Wrathion says: WE HAVE FALLEN. WE MUST REBUILD THE FINAL TITAN. DO NOT FORGET.
The light fades as Wrathion falls to the floor.
Anduin Wrynn says: What are you trying to pull?
Wrathion says: It is gone. I don’t remember any of it. Oh! None of them remembered. The irony!
Wrathion heard the voice of the Pantheon – Norgannon, perhaps, or Aman’Thul. He heard what was the final command of the Pantheon’s spirits. And he realized the truth – what Ra’den realized, the only Keeper to do so. The Pantheon had fallen. Azeroth was the only Titan left.
We are currently fighting a war of attrition. We can keep killing the demonic armies as they land in Westfall, Dun Morogh, Hillsbrad, Azshara, the Barrens, and Tanaris. But they’ll just keep coming back. It’s a vicious cycle with only one end in sight – eventually, we’ll wear ourselves out. We’ll tire. We’ll die in battle, and for us, there is no return.
Legion isn’t just any expansion. If we lose the fight to defend our world, our world is over. The Burning Legion wins. And when they win, not only do we die, but creation as we know it will cease to exist.
So when you travel the fields and mountain passes of the Broken Isles this Tuesday, when you at last meet the inhabitants of lands long forgotten, remember that it’s not just your survival you’re fighting for, not anymore. You’re fighting for the existence of the universe.
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