Know Your Lore: The Tomb of Sargeras
Perhaps the most famous aspect of the Tomb of Sargeras is its namesake. It was given that name because Aegwynn, in her infinite wisdom, used the location to hide the Avatar of Sargeras’ body. But the structure existed long before Aegwynn arrived on its doorstep. It was a significant part of kaldorei culture prior to the Sundering, and an important part of the War of the Ancients. But there are clues that the place may be far, far older than even that. We’ve plumbed its depths and defeated its infiltrators — but do we really know all the secrets still hidden in the Tomb of Sargeras?
Temple of Elune
Although not quite as grand or sprawling as Zin-Azshari, Suramar and its surrounding areas were well-populated. This was partially due to the presence of the Temple of Elune. Suramar was home to most of the familiar names in kaldorei lore — Illidan and Malfurion Stormrage, Tyrande Whisperwind, Jarod and Maiev Shadowsong. The Temple of Elune was where Tyrande served as a novice priestess, before eventually coming into her own and taking on the High Priestess mantle.
During the War of the Ancients, Suramar and the Temple caught the attention of the Burning Legion. Although Queen Azshara readily agreed to an alliance with the Burning Legion, the rest of kaldorei society was not on the same page. In order to try to quash the rebellion and end the war, the Legion attempted to open a second portal in the Temple of Elune.
Their plans failed, however, because of the Pillars of Creation. The Highborne used the Pillars to close the portal and also place magical seals around the Temple itself to negate fel magic. But while Suramar City was encased by the protective bubble that kept it safe during the Sundering, the Temple of Elune was not. As the world crumbled and shifted, the Temple of Elune sank into the watery depths, where it lay forgotten.
Avatar of Sargeras
Thousands of years passed, elven society shifted and split, and humanity rose to dominance while the old Temple slumbered beneath the sea. Eventually, Azeroth saw the rise of a new kind of protector — the Guardian, a single mortal champion empowered with immense magic, charged with fighting the Legion wherever it appeared on Azeroth. Unfortunately, that kind of power was also a tempting target for the Legion, as it turned out.
The Guardian Aegwynn traveled to Northrend to deal with what she thought was simply a band of demons that were stalking the dragons native to the area. Together, she and the dragons managed to completely eradicate the menace. But as the last demon fell, a great storm erupted, and from the skies came an entity far more powerful than anything Aegwynn had encountered to date. The being was only an Avatar of Sargeras, but it held the spirit of the fallen Titan in its shell.
Despite this, Aegwynn bravely battled the Avatar, and managed to kill that physical shell with surprising ease. But Aegwynn feared that Sargeras’ spirit lived on, and would re-inhabit the Avatar in due time. Of course, the spirit of Sargeras had already moved on — to Aegwynn herself. But she had no idea, nor would she realize what had happened until many years later, after the spirit moved on to her son, Medivh.
Tomb of Sargeras
So Aegwynn searched for a place of power, somewhere that could feasibly imprison the Avatar, keeping it safely away from any tampering. Fortunately, such a place existed — the old Temple of Elune. Buried beneath the sea, the ruins still possessed the wards that locked out fel magic. It was ideal — and being so far below the waters, nobody would disturb it.
Unfortunately, while it was a good plan in theory, the hiding place wouldn’t remain hidden nearly as long as Aegwynn intended. Centuries later, Aegwynn’s son Medivh came into his Guardian powers, and the spirit of Sargeras began controlling him in earnest. The location of the Tomb was offered as payment to Gul’dan, in exchange for bringing the Orcs to Azeroth.
Medivh perished, but Gul’dan managed to pry the location of the Tomb from the Guardian’s mind just before his death. And when an opportunity rose during the Second War, Gul’dan took it. He deserted the Horde army, taking his followers and traveling across the seas to the location of the Tomb. Once there, Gul’dan and his followers raised the Tomb from the depths of the ocean, and stepped inside.
Gul’dan reaped no reward. Instead, he found death awaiting him, as scores of demonic guardians tore him apart. Once more, the Tomb slumbered — this time, accessible to anyone.
The Tomb uncovered
Years later, it received new visitors. Illidan Stormrage had been charged with destroying the Lich King in Northrend. He wasn’t after the Avatar of Sargeras — he was after the Eye of Sargeras, one of two powerful artifacts that had been locked away by Aegwynn alongside the Avatar. With the Eye in his possession, Illidan hoped to easily destroy the Frozen Throne.
Although the Warden Maiev was firmly in pursuit, Illidan succeeded in removing the Eye. He also collapsed one of the Tomb’s chambers right on top of Maiev. She managed to escape, and the Kirin Tor eventually moved in to clear the place of Naga and hand the remaining artifacts over to the Wardens for safekeeping.
Yet the Avatar remained. And although Gul’dan failed in his attempts to claim it, he received a second chance for glory. Sent to Azeroth by Archimonde just before his demise, an alternate Gul’dan from an alternate version of Draenor found his way to the Tomb. Although tempted by the power held within the Tomb, Gul’dan chose instead to obey orders — and opened a portal thought long dormant, the same portal the Highborne had close with the Pillars of Creation thousands of years before.
As intended — although delayed — the Burning Legion rushed forth to conquer the world.
The Tomb of Sargeras has several degrees of layers to it — there’s the current battlefront we’re fighting, the demon-infested ruins. High above and deep below exist remnants of the original Temple of Elune. Yet beyond both layers remain further curiosities that have yet to be fully explained. Despite its obvious kaldorei origins, the Tomb also holds some heavy Titan influence — it was a Titan facility, at one point in time.
Deep within the Tomb, the Maiden of Vigilance waits in the Guardian’s Sanctum, half-corrupted by fel energy. This sanctum, used by Aegwynn in the years following the Avatar’s defeat, is an obvious Titan facility. It’s evident, then, that the kaldorei acquired the Pillars of Creation from this facility at some point in distant memory. But what was the facility for, originally?
The Pillars of Creation were meant to shape the world, yet they were utilized not for shaping, but for protection during the War of the Ancients. It’s possible that the facility was originally part of the wards constructed to calm the Well of Eternity. Or to be more accurate, the wards meant to staunch the wound that Aman’Thul inadvertently inflicted on Azeroth’s world-soul when he tried to rip Y’shaarj from the world’s crust.
Alternatively, we may be looking at the original birthplace of the kaldorei. We know the Night Elves originated as Dark Trolls — they were changed when they visited the Well of Eternity. Is it possible they didn’t just evolve, but they were shaped? Did these ancient creatures meddle with the Pillars of Creation, and inadvertently shape themselves into a new species?
Or was the place a site similar to Ulduar — a prison for an ancient horror we have yet to encounter face-to-face?
As far as we know, the purpose of the Tomb has been expended. The Pillars of Creation were used to close the portal. Aegwynn’s safeguards have been reinstated. The Avatar of Sargeras is no more, and the gateway for the Burning Legion has been closed. Gul’dan and Kil’jaeden have been defeated, and the place holds no further purpose or use for the Burning Legion.
But the Tomb of Sargeras still holds mysteries we’ve yet to unravel. No longer a Tomb, no longer a Temple, it’s something different now — an enigma of unknown origins, its purpose lost to time. Perhaps we’ll solve that puzzle someday…provided we survive long enough to get rid of the last of the Legion threat.
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