Know Your Lore: Wrathion’s tale
Wrathion is one of the more enigmatic lore figures in Warcraft lore. He made an incredible debut in the Rogue legendary quest chain, and followed that up with an expansion-long role that all players got to experience. We spent a lot of time running Wrathion’s errands. We spent even more time wondering exactly what he was up to. And then he faded away, right when it seemed his role would be most relevant.
We didn’t see Wrathion in Warlords, other than a brief mention and a cameo appearance with no dialogue. It made little sense, given his role in Garrosh’s eventual escape. And now that we’re finally fighting the fight he warned us about, he’s nowhere to be seen. But Wrathion’s story is full of strange holes — and the more we look at his story, the stranger it becomes.
Wrathion isn’t just any dragon — he’s a black dragon free of corruption. Originally, we thought he was the only one in existence. That’s because we were the ones directly responsible for his…creation, as it were. In the Badlands, players encounter a red dragon named Rheastrasza. She’s out there doing research and trying to find a way to purify the Black Dragonflight — to cure it of its corruption.
In order to accomplish this, Rhea has done some pretty terrible things. She kidnapped a black dragon, Nyxondra, held her against her will, and forced her to lay eggs. Along with Nyxondra’s eggs, Rhea has the player fetch some wild black dragon eggs, as well as the corpses of a few wild black dragon whelps that have already hatched.
But the extraordinary part comes after all the sample collecting. Players are sent to retrieve a Titan relic — the Eye of the Watchers — from ruins in the Badlands. Once this item has been retrieved, it’s activated. The Eye proceeds to scan the dragon whelp corpse, the wild dragon egg, and Nyxondra’s egg in turn, detecting the corruption in each and eliminating it. It then combines the three into one whole, complete, purified black dragon egg — Wrathion’s egg.
That egg was the source of focus for the Black Dragonflight. They fought long and hard to get it back. Deathwing himself flew out to destroy both it, and Rheastrasza. Due to Rhea’s clever thinking, the egg was saved and taken back to the Vermillion Redoubt, where it remained under the watchful eyes of the Red Dragonflight. But the egg wouldn’t remain there long — six months later, it was stolen by thieves and taken to Ravenholdt, where it hatched.
Wrathion immediately set to work, using Rogue players to carry out his plan. And the plan seemed perfectly reasonable — he wanted the remainder of the corrupted Black Dragonflight wiped out. In this, he was remarkably successful. His useful Rogue tool even managed to take down Deathwing. Granted, that was in part to save the world, but no matter — he appeared to be, to his knowledge, the last of his kind left. Free from the corruption of the Old Gods, able to do…whatever he wanted.
None of this seemed out of the ordinary. In fact, it was almost expected. As an uncorrupted black dragon, Wrathion was hunted down by his own kind. They sought his destruction, even before he hatched. It was a matter of survival — and a matter of cleaning up the mess the Old Gods had made of his kin. Once that was accomplished, Wrathion took off, his purpose apparently complete.
But it seemed like Wrathion had found a new purpose, courtesy of a vision he shares with players. The Burning Legion is inevitably going to return to Azeroth. The world must be protected — but in order to protect the world, a united front is needed. Once again, Wrathion set to work, this time with a whole host of players to run his errands for him. His end goal was pretty simple: get someone to win. Once one faction conquered the other, Azeroth as a whole could stand to fight against the Legion.
Except that didn’t quite go according to plan. By the end of it all, Garrosh Hellscream had been overthrown — but the Horde still stood strong. Vol’jin served as the new leader, and Varian Wrynn allowed the Horde to continue on. This act of mercy infuriated Wrathion — he vowed he would stop at nothing to prepare the world for the battle to come. And then he took off, absolutely furious.
Again, nothing about this seemed out of the ordinary. It only stood to reason that Wrathion would want to protect the world. He was only two years old; he’d barely begun to explore it. Yet his next actions were strange, to say the least. He helped Kairoz engineer Garrosh’s escape. Not just to parts unknown, but to an entirely different reality — an alternate version of Draenor. Wrathion traveled to Draenor too, but we never saw him. All we ever heard was a second-hand account in Admiral Taylor’s journal, which mentioned Wrathion sought asylum in the Admiral’s garrison.
After that…nothing, save for a brief appearance at the end of the legendary quest chain, observing the player returning the Tomes of Chaos to Cordana Felsong.
Change in direction
Here’s what we know so far: Wrathion appears to be fixated on fixing Azeroth. His first instinct after hatching was to rid the world of the corrupted Black Dragonflight. His next actions were very deliberate — he wanted to prepare the world for the eventual return of the Burning Legion. After that, his direction was aimless at best. He sent Garrosh to Draenor — why?
More puzzling are the actions of the Red Dragonflight. They were responsible for the experiments that created Wrathion. They went to great measures to protect his egg from harm — Rhea even sacrificed her own life to save him. Yet at the end of the Rogue legendary chain, the Red Dragonflight launches an attack on Ravenholdt, presumably to take Wrathion out.
Despite this, no mention is made of the incident at Garrosh Hellscream’s trial. The Red Dragonflight leaves Wrathion alone. He’s very careful to sit nowhere near Alexstrasza, and at no point does she appear to even approach him at the trial. Instead, the only person he approaches is Anduin — the one Human he considers a friend. And when everything falls apart and the trial erupts into chaos, Anduin asks Wrathion what he’s doing. Wrathion replies that as the last black dragon, the former charge of his flight — to keep Azeroth safe — falls to him.
Anduin gestured toward the still-chained pandaren. “This is keeping Azeroth safe?”
“In this case, I assure you, the end does justify the means. It is my deep hope that one day you will understand. And on that day, you and I will face a terrible enemy. Perhaps we shall even do so as brothers.”
It’s the last real meaningful conversation we see from Wrathion — and it’s not even in game. In Warlords, the story veered away from Wrathion entirely. In fact, we barely got any explanation for the actions of Kairoz. Garrosh died before accomplishing anything important. The only thing we got out of Warlords was Gul’dan’s escape — and he promptly went to Azeroth and brought about the Burning Legion’s return.
It was exactly the scenario Wrathion was so desperately trying to prevent in Mists. And yet despite his protests during that expansion, it was Wrathion’s actions that set all of this into motion. Was his vision a vision of Azeroth’s future? Or was it a vision of his own future, a destiny he couldn’t escape?
Where did the vision come from? Was it a message from the Old Gods, familiar with his particular dragonflight? Or was it Azeroth, speaking with clarity to the first black dragon uncorrupted enough to listen to the world-soul? Next week, we take another look at Wrathion’s story from a different angle — one that might shed some light on these mysteries and more.
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