Know Your Lore: Wrathion and Draenor
Wrathion spent pretty much the entirety of Mists of Pandaria sending us on errands — and now it appears the Black Prince is on Draenor. Yet despite evidence of his presence, he’s nowhere to be found. Then, of course, is the question of why Wrathion would be on Draenor when it’s the safety of Azeroth he’s concerned with, especially after his visions of the world being overrun. So why is Wrathion on Draenor — and why, in the novel War Crimes, did he work with Kairoz to engineer Garrosh Hellscream’s escape through time?
The Prince himself is an enigma, because he’s not quite like any dragon we’ve ever known. His very existence is tied to a Titan artifact that somehow managed to do the impossible — purify a black dragon egg so that the end result was free from the influence of the Old Gods. And Wrathion took that opportunity to in turn engage in his own form of Azeroth’s purification by arranging to have the rest of the black dragonflight wiped out, one by one. By the time Cataclysm came to an end, Wrathion was convinced and content in the knowledge that he was the only black dragon left on Azeroth.
In Mists of Pandaria, Wrathion began another gambit, once again using mortals to carry out his plans. But those plans were never very clear, and it always seemed as though Wrathion was giving us pieces of the truth, rather than the whole truth flat out. Here’s what we were told: Wrathion had a terrible vision of Azeroth being engulfed in flame, and told us that the Burning Legion would most definitely be making a return. In order to combat the threat, Azeroth needed to put together a united front to stop it — an impossible task with the war between the Alliance and Horde rearing to an ugly head.
So Wrathion put it to us mortals, telling both sides that he was giving them his full support, and sending them on various tasks that would help him create items which would in turn mold the perfect champion to help further his cause. The cause, of course, was to bring the war between the Alliance and Horde to as speedy an end as possible, so that both sides could come together and deal with more important issues … namely, that Burning Legion invasion he was so worried about.
And it seemed to be working, at least from all outward appearances. But Wrathion didn’t expect the Horde to turn against itself. He certainly didn’t expect Vol’jin and his band of rebels to work with the Alliance. Originally, Wrathion had pretty much bet on Garrosh Hellscream coming out victorious, and somewhere in all the fighting, the tides of war shifted and changed. This really didn’t bother Wrathion, he simply switched sides. Because a victor was still a victor — as long as Varian won and the Alliance quickly moved to conquer and absorb the Horde into its ranks, that was fine with him, too. What he didn’t see coming was what happened at the end of the Siege of Orgrimmar.
Garrosh Hellscream lived, and the Horde remained in one piece with a new leader at the helm. There would be no conquering of territories, just a return to the status quo. Hellscream would be put on trial, sentenced one way or another, and life would continue on with two separate factions that would invariably clash again given another year or two. And although Tong the innkeeper rightfully pointed out that the constant combat between the two factions was what kept both sides strong, Wrathion would hear none of it. He left, and that was the last we saw of him in game.
It was not the last we heard from him, however. Wrathion made an appearance in the novel War Crimes, speaking very candidly and frankly with Prince Anduin Wrynn, someone who he seemed to have somehow deemed a friend. But despite that friendship, Wrathion’s presence at Hellscream’s trial was not for any altruistic reasons. He didn’t want to see Hellscream redeemed, he didn’t want to see him punished. In the end, it seemed what he wanted to do was help him escape.
Why, exactly, Wrathion was working with Kairoz was never made blatantly clear. He told Anduin that it was all part of honoring the charge that had been left to him as the last of the black dragonflight — to keep Azeroth safe. And that although it didn’t look like it at the time, the end result would justify the means taken to achieve it. Wrathion was responsible for disarming Garrosh’s guards, for locking up Chromie and keeping her away from Kairoz so that he had the opportunity to use the Vision of Time to disrupt the sentencing at the trial and allow both himself and Hellscream to escape — into the past.
Why would Wrathion do such a thing? Good question.
The most obvious theory is that quite simply, it got Hellscream off of Azeroth, guaranteed — and maybe Wrathion didn’t know what Kairoz was planning to do with Hellscream on the other side, he thought the former Warchief would simply be dropped off to live out his days in obscurity. Alternatively, he may have been misled by Kairoz into believing that taking Hellscream back in time and preventing the orcs from drinking the blood of Mannoroth would somehow cause the Horde currently on Azeroth to simply cease to exist, leaving Azeroth with the Alliance, whole and supposedly strong to defend it.
Alternatively, Wrathion may have been angry enough at Varian’s inaction when it came to the end of the Siege that he decided bringing a new Horde into Azeroth and letting it conquer the Alliance where Garrosh had failed was the way to go. But this seems highly unlikely. Garrosh Hellscream was unstable at best, and it was up to the denizens of Azeroth to defend the planet, not a conquering force from another world. Or maybe that was the entire point of the tactic — maybe he thought this was in fact the best way to get the Horde and Alliance to unite under one banner, proving that they could in fact work together and coexist.
The third option is perhaps the most interesting. Wrathion didn’t intend Garrosh Hellscream to come back and conquer Azeroth. He instead was listening to Kairoz, who in his mad ramblings during the legendary quest chain spoke of the intent to create infinite armies across infinite universes. Kairoz’s true purpose for those armies is something we may never learn … but he may have told Wrathion he could deliver endless armies to defend Azeroth, and Wrathion simply believed him.
Here’s what we do know: Wrathion arrived on Draenor at some point. His appearance was noted in Admiral Taylor’s Garrison Log, which states that Wrathion arrived seeking asylum after apparently angering the ogres. He was friendly enough, as friendly as could be expected, and out of nowhere made a gift of resources to Taylor in order to build an inn. This was possibly an attempt to establish another base of operations — we do know that Wrathion was fond of the inn he had chosen as his temporary home in Pandaria. He also warned Taylor to keep an eye on Ephial, the man who ultimately betrayed Taylor.
Taylor left his garrison to participate in the Ring of Blood. When he returned, the garrison was in chaos, Ephial was supposedly in charge, and Wrathion had simply disappeared, taking some of Taylor’s best followers with him. The garrison log ended at that point, and obviously Taylor met his end at the hands of the necromancer Ephial. As for Wrathion, we’ve heard absolutely nothing from him since. There has been no mention of him in any quests, nobody has seen him anywhere. He’s simply vanished into thin air, and none of the major players this expansion seem to know he was even on Draenor to begin with.
Wrathion’s dealings with the ogres seem to indicate he was possibly in Nagrand — and that may hold the key to his reason for being on Draenor in the first place. After the Dark Portal reopened and the Iron Horde began pouring through, perhaps Wrathion either realized his plan was a poor one, or that he had somehow been betrayed. Either way, he may have gone to Draenor to try and find either Kairoz or Garrosh Hellscream, but found himself driven away from Nagrand by the ogres before he had a chance to find either of them. Alternatively, the ogres and their excavations to find Titan relics may have earned his interest, but attracted their wrath when he got too close to the operation. Or maybe some combination of the two.
I don’t think we’re done with Wrathion. I don’t know if he’ll make an appearance this expansion, that depends on what happens while we are in Tanaan Jungle. But given that the Shadow Council still exists with a solid presence on Draenor, and that the Burning Legion seems to be infiltrating the draenei and converting many of them to the Sargerei, it’s doubtful he simply returned to Azeroth to await whatever comes next. At this point, he could be quietly observing the Alliance and Horde, seeing how they work together and seeing what they do about the Legion on Draenor, and how that could be applied to Azeroth. Or he could be off wondering if maybe, just maybe, this entire mess — the Iron Horde and the disquieting resurgence of the Burning Legion — is his fault. If perhaps that vision of the future he saw before Mists of Pandaria began wasn’t a portent of a future he needed to prevent, but a portent of a future he was destined to bring about to pass. Regardless, we’ll have to wait and see if Wrathion shows his face this expansion, or if we’ll have to wait a little longer to see the return of the Black Prince.
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