Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Time as a river
Today’s column plays off of the last TFH I did. If you’re not up on what a Tinfoil Hat Know Your Lore is all about, it’s speculation. Rampant theorizing, asking “What if” and “How about” in regards to the lore of the game. With that out of the way, let’s talk about rivers.
A river is something we look at and think “okay, seen that,” but if you really think about it, a river is water forever moving. The patch of river you’re looking at isn’t the same water from moment to moment. That water has moved down the river, following the channel cut in the land by erosion, by repetition. The river exists, it’s tangible, you can see it, dip your hand in it, but even as you do that it’s not the same river anymore. The river changes, second by second, forever composed of a fluid medium. And yet it’s a river — it doesn’t seem to move at all. If you travel over land, you can find the river exactly where your map says it should be. Simultaneously fixed in position and forever in motion, changeless and changing, the river endures.
If you want to make the river flow differently, you can do that. You can dam up a river, creating a lake. You can divert a river from its original course, force it down a new path. These things aren’t easy. The river will fight you, seeking to continue along its original path, the groove carved in the very land by repetition, by millions and millions of gallons of water etching themselves into the very fabric of the world. And even if you succeed — even if you build that dam or change that course, the old path remains. One catastrophe — one broken levee, one cracked gate, and the river will punish you for your hubris and the flood will come.
We are engaged in building a dam on Draenor, trying to change the course of a river.
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.
Can a world be dreamed into reality? Perhaps more importantly, can a reality impose itself on a world?
Our time on Draenor began when an invader arrived there. His name was Garrosh Hellscream, and as far as Draenor was concerned, he never existed. His mother died never having borne him. His father lived never having known him. And the world was on the cusp of a great and terrible moment – Gul’dan the warlock was about to offer his people a gift from the lord of all Annihilan, the blood of a pit lord. This unborn orc would not allow Draenor’s destiny to progress along the lines it was following — the well-worn groove of a history enacted on other worlds already.
We’ve been told by Nozdormu (who himself was told by Aman’Thul, highfather of the Pantheon of Titans – or so we are told) that there is one true timeline. With the existence of this Draenor, that would seem to be false. But what the Titan meant by one true timeline has never been fully explained. We’ve talked about this before; how the Titans like to design worlds, how they shaped Azeroth with an Emerald Dream to serve as a echo, a reflection, and something the world could use to restore itself if re-origination of the planet became necessary.
What if they do this with time?
Imagine that each world they create is engineered to an ultimate fate, and that fate exists outside of each world itself — the river is not the water in it, yet it is, and the river is not the boundary, the banks that contain it, and yet it is. Each world’s history flows along as close a path as possible, drawing its channel from outside itself. There is one true timeline, and each world knows this — it’s part of its design. A million million alternate time ways all attempting to hew as close to that timeline as possible, their deviations all part of the Titan experiment. Never to be introduced to each other.
But Garrosh and Kairozdormu changed that. Kairoz introduced Garrosh into a world where there never was, and would never be a Garrosh, with knowledge of the path time had carved into fate. And Garrosh attempted to build a dam and hold back the river long enough to cut a new channel — send the water in another direction entirely. No more Gul’dan, feeding demon blood to the orcs. A tide of conquest, using technology from another time, another place — ideas given new form on Draenor. And it’s those ideas that Garrosh introduced that were his most potent attempt to alter things. Show Grommash enough to make him desperate to change the future, but not enough so that he’d know the future –show how much that enormous cost the orcs and draenei of the Draenor Garrosh came from had actually bought, how the monumental suffering and death inflicted by Garrosh’s people had created a place where the Legion lost.
Yes, the genocide of the draenei by the orcs is an almost unfathomable atrocity. One sympathizes with Maraad, gripping his hammer and saying never again. But to actually make the change requires a great deal of effort. The water seeks its path, the channel cut into the world by time. Garrosh built a dam, but then he opened the gates too soon, tried to force too much too fast — and the torrent was the Horde and the Alliance, reflecting in reverse the invasion of the original orcs in Warcraft: Orcs & Humans.
It’s interesting to consider that on this Draenor, the Dark Portal opened and instead of the orcs invading Azeroth, an Azeroth (the wrong Azeroth) invaded Draenor. On our Azeroth, the Horde initially won, destroying Stormwind and driving humanity to the brink. On Draenor, the Iron Horde seems to have lost, their bases uprooted and allies defeated, driving the Iron Horde to the very brink. The water is seeking its channel. In our history, Gul’dan was deposed at the Horde’s moment of triumph, the assassination of King Llane Wrynn and the sacking of Stormwind, and forced to serve another. Ultimately his betrayal of that master, Orgrim Doomhammer, led to the Horde’s defeat. On Draenor, Gul’dan has deposed Grommash Hellscream at the Iron Horde’s moment of defeat — the deaths of most of the Warlords and the driving back of the Iron Horde to Tanaan — and has forced them all to serve him.
How will this end? It’s hard to say. The timeline seems to be under great strain, the water endlessly surging against the barricade that Garrosh unwittingly erected. By bringing the Alliance and Horde through with his ill-timed invasion, Garrosh ultimately destroyed himself and allowed Gul’dan’s ascension. But the Alliance and Horde are much larger impediments to the original path of Draenor’s destiny than one orc could ever have been. They bring new ideas, organization, determination and a history of defying even the Titan’s own perfect creations, of thwarting even cosmically calculated odds. Old Gods, Algalon, Ra-Den, even Kil’jaeden himself have fallen before them. They’ve defeated the Burning Legion twice. Their presence on Draenor races to carve that new channel, and we’re in a dead heat. Will the water tear down the dam before we’ve forever made a new future for it to flow down?
Make no mistake. There is one true timeline, and we are the invaders seeking to change it.
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