Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Khadgar and the Pillars of Creation
Fun story – I’ve always been a little wary of Khadgar, particularly after the way he just conveniently popped up at the beginning of Warlords. His actions in that expansion always felt a little off. Part of it was how well he knew Gul’dan – and vice-versa – despite not really having any kind of extended interactions or altercations with the orc. Part of it was the willingness he displayed in torturing Garona, someone who was supposedly an old friend.
And a lot of it had to do with how he treated us. We were champions, heroes, and glorified errand runners, sent to retrieve powerful magical artifacts while Khadgar desperately tried to hunt down Gul’dan. At the end of it all, my suspicions eased — after all was said and done, Khadgar really did appear to have the best interests of Azeroth at heart.
Now I’m beginning to question that all over again.
Today’s Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition. The following contains speculation based on known material. These speculations are merely theories and shouldn’t be taken as fact or official lore.
Here’s the thing with Khadgar: He just seems a little too convenient. When the Iron Horde poured through that portal in the Blasted Lands, Khadgar arrived with all the expertise we could have asked for. He urged us through that portal to save our world – and urged us to find a way to shut that portal down from the inside. He seemed alarmed that Gul’dan had been set free, but told players that it was worth it to keep Azeroth safe.
And we followed him, and we trusted him, throughout our entire journey on Draenor. In between making military strikes against the Iron Horde, we played the game of cat-and-mouse between Khadgar and Gul’dan. We watched him butt heads with Jaina Proudmoore more than once, insisting that the pursuit of Gul’dan superseded the understandable tensions between Alliance and Horde.
Garona was really where it all started going downhill for me,though. Cordana Felsong may have been eventually corrupted by the Orb of Dominion, sure. But even before that, she was suspicious of Khadgar’s activities, and sent those concerns on to the Watchers. After Warlords was over, Khadgar knew that the struggles with Gul’dan were most definitely not.
Pillars of Creation
The Tomb of Sargeras audio drama pulled me back to the opinion that there was nothing wrong with Khadgar. Khadgar was obviously pursuing Gul’dan, and he was obviously trying to stop Gul’dan from accomplishing whatever the Legion had sent him to do. He set out to immediately warn Stormwind of the Legion’s return, and hunt down a way to stop it.
In the process, he once again butted heads with Jaina Proudmoore, insisting that she allow the Horde back into the Kirin Tor over her protests, and ousting her from her role as leader of the organization. Certainly that raised some questions, but Khadgar was clearly working for the best intentions of Azeroth. If we want to defeat the Legion, the factions need to be working on a united front.
Shortly after that, we discovered the existence of the Pillars of Creation, powerful artifacts that could be used to close the Legion portal. To find out more about them, Khadgar had to hunt down a book in Karazhan, and summon the spirit of the first Guardian, Alodi. Needless to say, since then we’ve been running around and collecting these artifacts as quickly as possible.
But something isn’t sitting quite right, and that unease about Khadgar has been growing again – largely in part to an encounter in the Emerald Nightmare.
The whispers of Il’gynoth
The second boss of the Emerald Nightmare is a manifestation of the horrors that lie at the heart of the Nightmare. And he has several interesting things to say, but we’re going to focus on just a few of them, and how they relate to Khadgar.
- Five keys to open our way. Five torches to light our path.
This seems straightforward enough, right? What do we have five of? Ordinarily I’d say dragonflights, but those are gone, now – and we’ve got something much more recent. There are five Pillars of Creation, after all. But we aren’t using these Pillars to open anything – we’re using them to close the Legion portal.
- The lord of ravens will turn the key.
One might look at Lord Ravencrest simply for name implications, but really, we should be looking at Medivh here. Or rather, we should be looking at his successor – Khadgar. Khadgar has been dead-set on getting these Pillars of Creation together ever since he was told of their presence by Magni Bronzebeard. Speaking of which…
- The king of diamonds has been made a pawn.
This is where I started to get a little uneasy. Because when we visited Ulduar and found Magni, he was under Legion attack. But prior to that, we were attacked – by tendrils of the Old Gods. And that indicates that Yogg-Saron is somehow still active. If Magni is a pawn of the Old Gods, what exactly are we looking at, here?
Closing the circle
We keep seeing references to a circle or a cycle in this expansion. The first mention of it was from an Echo of Medivh, when Khadgar took us to try and retrieve a book from Karazhan. The Echo says:
That which was forseen has come to pass. The circle nears completion. Sentries, attend to our “guests!”
That Echo of Medivh isn’t the only one to mention it. Surprisingly enough, Il’gynoth mentions it too, stating “Your coming was foretold in the rings. The long circle is nearly complete.” The idea of some sort of circle or cycle has been bothering me ever since I saw that Echo of Medivh mention it. What’s the circle? What has been forseen? The Legion’s defeat?
I don’t think so. We’ve had several different cycles in Warcraft’s history. Even the RTS games and expansions have been cycles in their own way – the factions fight, they work together, tentative peace is achieved, conflict breaks out all over again, rinse and repeat. The Legion invasion itself could be considered a cycle of sorts – we had the War of the Ancients, then the Third War, and now the conflict that’s currently going on.
And there’s one more whisper that may explain exactly what’s going on, and what that cycle is referring to.
The third death
- At the hour of her third death, she will usher in our coming.
Who is “she,” and what is her third death? There are a lot of people who have suggested that Sylvanas Windrunner is the logical choice here, but I don’t agree. Why? Because Sylvanas has already died three times. Once when Arthas killed her, again when she leapt from the Frozen Throne at the end of Wrath, and a third time when Lord Godfrey shoots her at the end of the Silverpine quest chain.
No, I think we’re dealing with something way bigger here. I think the “she” in question is Azeroth itself. When Aman’Thul tried to tear Y’Shaarj from Azeroth, he ripped a wound in the world-soul, causing Azeroth’s life-blood to flood the surface. I believe that’s one death. The Titans managed to salvage Azeroth at that point, and imprisoned the remaining Old Gods, rather than killing them.
And then we had the War of the Ancients occur, and Queen Azshara tried to open a portal to let Sargeras through. Malfurion managed to stop it in time, but not without repercussions – the resultant explosion from the collapse of the Well of Eternity shattered the earth and blotted out the skies. The seas rushed in to fill the wound in the earth, creating the continents as we know them today. I believe that was number two.
Shortly afterward, as the shining halls of Zin-Azshari fell into the sea, Queen Azshara and her devoted followers were transformed into naga. The eternal prisons of the Old Gods had been weakened by the explosion. Their influence was beginning to quietly spread.
What’s number three? We should already know, we’re lining it up right now.
Turning the key
If closing a portal intended to bring Sargeras to Azeroth nearly ripped the world apart the first time around, what exactly do we expect it to do now? Because this is so, so much bigger than the War of the Ancients. We have the Nightwell, last vestige of the original Well of Eternity, being used for something – power, theoretically, power to fuel the portal. We have the beacon being shot from the Broken Isles, with an open portal that is already letting the Legion forces pour in.
And tucked just between the two is Dalaran, home to arguably the five most powerful, dangerous artifacts on Azeroth. Khadgar says he’s going to use the Pillars of Creation to close the portal. We know what happened last time a portal was closed.
I think, if we succeed with this task as intended, we aren’t going to save Azeroth — we’re going to shatter those prisons entirely. I think we’re going to release the Old Gods in all their glory. And if you think the War of the Ancients was bad, if you think the current conflict is dire, both events are a frolic in flowered meadows compared to the height of the Black Empire.
The questions about Khadgar, however, still remain – on the one hand, he seems to be working with Azeroth’s best intentions at heart. On the other, there is a damning amount of evidence mounting up against him. There’s the fact that Khadgar was so conveniently there to shuttle us to alternate Draenor. Gul’dan slipping away, despite Khadgar’s “best” efforts.
Then there’s the fact that Khadgar was the one who appointed Jaina as leader of the Kirin Tor, according to prophecy in Tides of War, and didn’t blink an eye when she stepped down. He didn’t question the attack in Ulduar. He recalled the book regarding the Pillars of Creation. He triggered Karazhan’s defense systems.
Is Khadgar really working with good intentions? Is he simply being manipulated by the Old Gods, or is he the manipulator? Either way, I don’t think defeating the Legion is the end of our woes…it’s just the beginning. And if we succeed in our mission to save the world, we may be unlocking horrors that make the united might of the Burning Legion pale in comparison.
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