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Black Dragonflight

Know Your Lore: Remnants of the Black Dragonflight

Wrathion has been mysteriously absent. For a dragon so utterly concerned with the Burning Legion’s return in Mists of Pandaria, this is more than a little suspect. At the same time, one has to wonder what the apparent last known survivor of the Black Dragonflight has been up to while we’ve been off on Draenor.

We got just the smallest hint of his presence on Draenor in Admiral Taylor’s Garrison Log, which detailed his arrival and involvement with Taylor and his men. And we even got a small glimpse of him during the legendary quest chain – he shows up briefly in whelp form near the end of the chain, flying away without saying a word. So… where is he now?

Please note: Today’s Know Your Lore contains some spoilers for Highmountain in Legion.

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Wrathion’s origins

Wrathion’s an odd duck to begin with. He wasn’t born so much as manufactured, a product of combining a corrupted black whelp corpse with a wild black dragon egg and the egg of the dragon Nyxondra. This was accomplished with a Titan device of unknown origin: the Eye of the Watchers. Wrathion’s existence hinges solely on the intervention of Titan technology.

And because he was absolved of all Old God corruption, Wrathion immediately set out to do the same with his kin. Obviously they were corrupted, and obviously the logical solution was to simply purge them from the planet’s surface. He managed to accomplish this, becoming, in his words, the last black dragon on Azeroth to his knowledge.

Once that task was complete, Wrathion set off for parts unknown. But a mysterious vision sent him to Pandaria, where he embarked on a task that involved the combined might of the Alliance and Horde. Or, more accurately, involved the dissolution of one side and rise of another. The two sides would never work together, as far as Wrathion was concerned: one side needed to conquer the other, so that a united front could then defeat the Burning Legion when it inevitably arrived.

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Wrathion on Draenor

But the strange part of all of this was his involvement with the trial of Garrosh Hellscream and with Kairoz. Wrathion deliberately allowed Garrosh to escape — he helped Kairoz free the former Warchief, locking up Chromie when she began to question Kairoz’s motives and even knocking out his friend Anduin when he got in the way.

And then Wrathion… vanished.

Wrathion’s arrival on Draenor isn’t chronicled in Admiral Taylor’s Garrison Log. But he wasn’t attempting anything that would harm the Alliance, this time around: he was seeking asylum after having angered the ogres over something that was never really revealed. He was allowed to stay in Taylor’s garrison as a guest — under house arrest — and willingly obliged. He even began helping out Taylor in his own way, arranging for resources to be delivered so an inn could be built, warning Taylor to be wary of Ephial, and even paying Taylor’s guards to keep an eye on the Admiral. It didn’t help. Taylor still met his end on Draenor. As for Wrathion, he vanished once again.

His appearance during the legendary quest chain is suspect – he arrives at the moment you discover Cordana Felsong’s treachery. But he doesn’t help you fight. He simply leaves before you even engage the Warden, allowing fate to play out as it will. And maybe that’s the point.

Wrathion’s vision

Obviously, Wrathion knew that the Burning Legion was returning to Azeroth. He made it a point to fill you in on this at the Tavern in the Mists, after you’d finished your travels in Pandaria. Wrathion’s priorities were clear at that point — he wanted to save Azeroth, and the only way he knew how to accomplish this was by playing a clever game of chess with the Alliance and Horde. The victor would be the leader of a gigantic army, one with at least some hope of fighting back the Legion’s onslaught.

But somewhere during that mad scramble for domination, Wrathion’s priorities changed. Maybe he assumed his way was the only right path, but we showed him that wasn’t the case. And I’m beginning to wonder if devouring the Heart of the Thunder King left him with more to think about that he initially let on. Sure, he continued his plan of pitting Alliance against Horde – but when that faltered, he fell back on a different plan entirely.

Wrathion knew that the Burning Legion was coming to Azeroth. The only thing he didn’t know was how it was going to get there. I’m wondering if he managed to catch a glimpse of this in the maddened visions brought on by consuming the Thunder King’s heart… or if perhaps he finally got a good look at just what we were fighting for. At the end of the quest, he tells his Champion that he needs time to digest that information… maybe it took the abrupt failure of his fool-proof plan to kick that into high gear.

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Become a Watcher

Garrosh Hellscream’s escape

Because here’s the thing. If Garrosh hadn’t escaped, we never would have gone to Draenor. If we never went to Draenor, we never would have found or freed Gul’dan. If we’d never freed Gul’dan, he never would have escaped to Azeroth. He never would have opened that portal currently boiling above the Broken Shore. And the Burning Legion wouldn’t, theoretically, be around to challenge us.

But if that were correct, then Wrathion’s vision wouldn’t be true. And it was. Which leads me to believe that the reason Wrathion arranged all of this wasn’t to bring the Burning Legion to Azeroth. That was a certainty, it was something which would happen regardless. The only uncertainty in this mess was how the Legion would get there… so Wrathion made sure that this, too, was a situation under full control.

If he couldn’t manipulate the manner in which we would confront the Burning Legion from our end, he would manipulate it from their end. He couldn’t puppeteer the armies of Azeroth into working together, but he could cleverly puppeteer the manner in which the Legion would arrive. Why does this make a difference?

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Khadgar and Wrathion

Because it’s just possible that Wrathion knew about the devices we’re trying to find — the Pillars of Creation. He was created with a Titan device and understands the Titans in a way that no other creature on Azeroth to date had previously comprehended. I feel like Wrathion knew that he needed Khadgar involved and the best way to get the apprentice of the last Guardian involved was to repeat history.

There is a lot of talk of circles and cycles in this expansion — they’re referenced as asides. One of these is a line said by an Echo of Medivh during a revisit to Karazhan.

Echo of Medivh yells: That which was forseen has come to pass. The circle nears completion. Sentries, attend to our “guests”!

One could assume this was simply Medivh’s spirit babbling madly — or one could wonder, as I have, why he chose that particular turn of phrase. What did Medivh forsee? What did he mean about the circle nearing completion? Is all of this – everything we’ve done to date – something the Guardian has already witnessed at some point in history?

Given Karazhan’s odd habit of showing people visions of both past and future, it’s not a stretch to assume that maybe this is all something Medivh saw too, once upon a time. And maybe Wrathion was aware of it — maybe Medivh, at one point or another in his tenure as Guardian, saw Azeroth for what it truly was. Maybe Wrathion arranged to bring Khadgar into all of this, because he knew we’d need the old man and his knowledge.

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The “last” Black Dragon

But there’s one thing Wrathion hasn’t really counted on here – a key element that involves the very method in which he came into existence. Wrathion isn’t the last of the Black Dragonflight. To his knowledge, he’d wiped the world of the corrupted flight, and perhaps he has. But there’s another black dragon out there, one who has been hiding in Highmountain for thousands of years, since the War of the Ancients.

And he’s just as uncorrupt as Wrathion is, for the same reason: the intervention of a Titan device.

In Highmountain, one of the main story chains eventually reveals that Spiritwalker Ebonhorn, a longtime advisor of the Highmountain tauren, is in fact a black dragon. Way back during the War of the Ancients, Huln Highmountain used the Hammer of Khaz’goroth to banish Deathwing from the land. And then he used the Titan relic to purify one solitary black dragon egg. In gratitude for his salvation, Ebonhorn – in reality the black dragon Ebyssian – pledged himself to serve the Highmountain.

Oddly enough, early iterations of this quest chain had Wrathion reveal himself as Ebonhorn. This was changed – likely because it didn’t really make sense for the Highmountain to trust him, given that his presence among them would have been much, much shorter at that point.

The Black Prince: Wrathion by JMXD

The Black Prince: Wrathion by JMXD

The future of the Black Dragonflight

But that leaves us in a really interesting place, because while we’ve now witnessed the reveal of another uncorrupted Black Dragon, we still haven’t seen Wrathion. It’s almost a given that we have to see him at some point – his involvement in everything that’s happened to date pretty much demands it. And while we thought Wrathion was an anomaly, it turns out he’s not quite as unique as we’d originally assumed.

Which makes one wonder… are there other uncorrupted black dragons out there? Is the Black Dragonflight really as extinct as we thought? And if Titan relics are apparently that adept at clearing the corruption of the Old Gods, just what are they going to do against the Burning Legion? Are we going to defeat it…or are we going to systematically purify the armies of the Legion of their corruption as well?

We’ve seen this happen before. The apparent intervention of Elune resulted in a satyr being cleansed of his corruption in Ashenvale, so it’s not too far-fetched to think about. Until then, we’ll have to wait and see if Wrathion makes his return at some point in Legion…and just how this war will ultimately end.

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