Know Your Lore: The Fall of the Titan Keepers
When last we talked about the Titan-Forged, they’d defeated the Old Gods and imprisoned them deep within Azeroth itself, then began their process of shaping the world in order to preserve its World-Soul and shepherd it to awakening as potentially the greatest of the Titans. Highkeeper Ra and Helya shaped the Elemental Planes and sealed the fractious Elemental Lords within them. The power of the Pillars of Creation helped as titanic engines the Forge of Wills and Forge of Origination were created and placed in Azeroth’s north and south.
The Forge of Wills was a colossal device meant to help shape the nascent World-Soul’s sleeping consciousness, while also being able to tap the world for the power to create new life. Meanwhile, the Forge of Origination served as a fail safe — if ever Azeroth seems in danger of being corrupted by the Old Gods as was the case during the Black Empire, then the Forge of Origination could unleash those same energies for destructive purposes and scour the world clean of life, essentially calling blank slate on the shaping of Azeroth.
Highkeeper Ra went south with an army of Mogu, Anubisath and Tol’vir to install the Forge of Origination, while Mimiron and Archaedas (the designers and builders of both forges) installed the Forge of Wills in Ulduar. And for many years everything went as planned.
The Rise of the Aspects
At this time, the Watchers became aware of a threat to all life, the monstrous proto-drake Galakrond. Based on a few cryptic comments by Tyr to the proto-drake who would become Malygos, the mutations that beset Galakrond may have been his doing, the result of a process that didn’t unfold as Tyr had hoped. Whatever the truth is, what follows is known: Galakrond became an enormous menace, feeding upon his own kind and devouring their life energies so that they rose in a kind of undeath as his monstrous servants. Eventually Tyr and five proto-drakes would defeat Galakrond, although the victory came at the cost of Tyr’s hand.
After this, Tyr would propose to the rest of the Watchers that they were too divorced from the process of life on Azeroth to properly watch for threats such as Galakrond. He suggested his five proto-drake allies — Malygos, Ysera, Alexstrasza, Neltharion, and Nozdormu — be given a position of power and authority, entrusted to act as Aspects by the Titans themselves. All but one Watcher agreed to contact the Titans and request their assistance in empowering these Aspects. Only Prime Designate Odyn disagreed with Tyr, seeing the aloofness of the Titan-Forged as a good thing, and believing them to be superior to any of Azeroth’s native beings. He refused to help with the empowering of the Aspects. Instead, with the help of his faithful sorceress Helya, he ripped his private fortress within Ulduar into the sky. Called the Halls of Valor, Odyn now sought to create an army of Titan-Forged to defend Azeroth when the Aspects failed (as he believed they inevitably would).
When Makers Fall
The Watchers and Keepers may seem godlike to the mortal denizens of Azeroth, but as powerful as they are, these stone and metal colossi are but creations of the Titan Pantheon. They are but reflections of the true power of their makers. The Titans created the Titan-Forged because by comparison they were microscopic, they could engage in battle on a scale the Titans were simply too… well, titanic to engage in. A single Titan threatened Azeroth, which itself is still an unborn thing compared to them.
So when Sargeras and his Burning Legion slew the rest of the Pantheon and Norgannon’s magic sent their essences here, to Azeroth, to the Watchers, they were confused and bewildered. Even the Watchers were almost insignificant compared to their creators, and so, when the essences of their makers settled upon the Watchers they reacted with incomprehension. They attempted to reach out to the Pantheon, but there was no reply. How could there be? The beings they sought existed only within themselves, enormously powerful entities trapped in far, far too small beings.
Of all the Watchers, only Highkeeper Ra understood even in a fragmented way what had happened. At that time he was engaged in a project to collect and contain the fragments of the Old God Y’Shaarj, killed by his creator Aman’Thul, the Highfather of the Pantheon. He built a chamber in what is today the Vale of Eternal Blossoms to hold the Old God’s malevolent heart, and was in the process of shaping the land to his liking when he felt the rush of Titan power infuse his very being. Shocked, he realized what had happened after a period of reflection. The power that had settled upon him was that of Aman’Thul himself. With no idea of what to do with this information, he extracted the essence of Aman’Thul that he contained and placed it within the Vale itself, infusing its water with the raw arcane power of the Titan.
He then retreated into the ancient Titan vaults which we would later known as the Mogu’shan Vaults, where he brooded on the fact that the Pantheon had been destroyed. He could see no escape from this fact and no way to move forward without the guidance of his mentors.
The Madness of Loken
In the north, the remaining Watchers of Ulduar were already beginning to fall prey to malaise. The other Watchers were not as fortunate (or unfortunate) as Highkeeper Ra — they did not discover the Pantheon had been destroyed by Sargeras, and thus, were left confused. Unable to contact their Makers, and unable to understand what had happened to them when Norgannon had sent the essence of the Pantheon across the cosmos to root in their bodies, they were vulnerable.
Yogg-Saron sought a means to manipulate them and in Loken he found it.
Watcher Loken was empowered by Norgannon, known for his wisdom, but in the absence of his Makers he grew disturbed. Yogg-Saron sent him troubling dreams, dreams he couldn’t reconcile. In time and in desperation, he confided them to Sif, a Vrykul and the chosen mate of his brother Thorim. Sharing his fears (carefully planted by Yogg-Saron), the two became lovers, despite Sif’s marriage to Thorim. But it was not a happy affair. Yogg-Saron used Loken’s already twisted mind against him, turning his love for Sif into an obsession that Sif found disturbing. Her feelings for Loken didn’t make her wish to see the other Watchers dragged into open conflict, nor was she dissatisfied enough with her marriage to wish to leave it. When Loken began speaking of telling Thorim the truth about their affection she recognized the damage this would deal their unity and ultimately broke off the affair with him.
Already obsessed with Sif, the idea of losing her caused Loken to lash out and he killed her by accident. Too afraid to take responsibility for what he’d done, Loken instead framed Arngrim, king of the Frost Giants, and soon Thorim and Arngrim were at war. Loken then resorted to the Forge of Wills, creating an army of Titan-Forged to stop the war between Thorim and Arngrim… unaware that Yogg-Saron had managed to infect the Forge with the Curse of Flesh, and every Titan-Forged from the Forge, as well as any they came into contact with, would be infected with the contagious curse. Thus the Old God maneuvered Loken into starting the process that would, in time, spread the curse across all of Azeroth.
In despair, Thorim retreated to the Altar of Storms. With his mighty brother out of the way, Loken now had one objective — to keep Prime Designate Odyn, Highkeeper Ra, or Algalon from discovering what he’d done. And the whispers of Yogg-Saron were so helpful in explaining to him how to go about making sure his misdeeds were never discovered.
Next time, we discuss the end of the Watchers.
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