Know Your Lore > WoWSep 14, 2015 3:00 pm CT

Know Your Lore: The Tomb of Sargeras

The World of Warcraft: Legion expansion will center around the demons pouring out of the Tomb of Sargeras in The Broken Isles. Learn how the ancient burial place was created and the mysteries that it holds.

Nearly nine hundred years ago (848 years before the events of World of Warcraft) a nightmare was averted. Aegwynn, the Guardian of Tirisfal, faced an incursion onto the world of Azeroth by the demons of the Burning Legion. These demons stalked and killed dragons for their innate magical energies. Aegwynn went to Northrend, where the demons were hunting these dragons (likely members of the Blue Dragonflight in or around The Eye in Coldarra or perhaps the Dragonblight) and dispatched them, but this wasn’t the end. For in defeating these hunting parties Aegwynn had merely drawn the attention of their dark master. The skies above were torn asunder by titanic energies, and the dread demon lord Sargeras stepped forth… or so Aegwynn was led to believe.

The creature the Guardian of Tirisfal battled that day was not the Dark Titan’s true self, but an Avatar created in order to allow him to enter Azeroth, and it was Aegwynn who was his target all along. Had the Avatar defeated her, well, Azeroth would likely have faced a full scale invasion of the Legion right then. Instead, however, Aegwynn defeated the Avatar, and using her vast powers as the chosen of the Tirisfalen, she chose to dispose of his body by entombing it.

The Raising of the Tomb

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Aegwynn feared that the Avatar’s massive corpse would have unforeseen consequences if left where it lay, and destroying it risked unleashing a nightmarish amount of fel magic, so she raised a long-sunken night elf structure from the depths and sealed the body within it. By itself this was a sign of both her vast power and her store of wisdom – the existence of the night elf society that had constructed those ruins was a deeply held secret of the Quel’dorei who’d taught humanity their magical secrets. Yet Aegwynn knew, and moreover, she displayed her tremendous power not only in raising the isle, but warding the Tomb so that no race on Azeroth could enter it.

In this way, she hoped to prevent foolish power-seekers from disturbing the corpse and being exposed to its malefic energies. After all, it had taken the Guardian, alongside an entire host of dragons, to defeat the creature. Clearly it contained terrifying power. Her wards would ensure that nothing born on the planet could enter. Satisfied, she sank the lost structure to the bottom of the ocean again.

Sadly, her wards were only proof against all beings native to Azeroth.

Aegwynn’s mistake

The story of the life of Aegwynn is beyond the scope of this KYL, as is that of her son Medivh, the last Guardian of Tirisfal. Suffice it to say that in time, Aegwynn’s hubris grew — she believed that she had personally defeated Sargeras himself in magical combat, and as such, she saw no reason to obey the Council. However, unknown to her, during her battle with the Avatar of the Dark Titan, her body had been infected by the essence of Sargeras. It’s unclear if Sargeras used the next 850 some odd years to influence Aegwynn’s distrust of the Council. She’d always viewed them skeptically, unwilling to bow to their will or compromise her mission to battle demons. When they ordered her, after over a thousand years of Guardianship, to return and divest herself of the power of the Tirisfalen, she decided she’d had enough of them.

It seems strange that a woman who was often treated unkindly by the male wizards who were her rivals as an apprentice to Scavell, the previous Guardian, would choose to solve her problem with the Council by bearing a son to take over for her. Perhaps this is Sargeras’ work — or perhaps not. What we know is that Aegwynn indeed bore a child to Nielas Aran, the boy named Medivh, and she locked the power of the Council within him unsuspecting that Sargeras had used her body to create the host with which he would unmake Azeroth entirely. The Dark Titan’s machinations would bear fruit in time, as Medivh contacted Gul’dan the Warlock across the Twisting Nether and helped him to construct the first Dark Portals linking the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor. Medivh’s death at the hands of his childhood friend Anduin Lothar and his apprentice Khadgar did not stop the Orcish invasion, but Gul’dan had attempted to use the mental link between himself and Medivh to ransack the mage’s mind for the secrets promised to him. Thus, he experienced Medivh’s death, and for a time went comatose.

Medivh, Sargeras and Gul’dan

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The Tomb of Sargeras re-enters Warcraft‘s story when Gul’dan awakened with fragmentary knowledge of it gleaned from Medivh’s dying mind. To ensure that the new Warchief, Orgrim Doomhammer, wouldn’t simply pulp his skull Gul’dan offered the Orc Warlord the first Death Knights. But despite this show of fealty, Gul’dan was biding his time. When Doomhammer’s Horde marched on Lordaeron, Gul’dan betrayed them, taking his Twilight’s Hammer and Stormreaver clans to find the Tomb.

And find it he did. Aegwynn’s magics did not protect the Tomb from an Orc, as Orcs were not born on Azeroth.  However, this didn’t avail Gul’dan — between the demons that festered in the Tomb, drawn by the Avatar’s dark power, and the armies of the Horde which pursued Gul’dan for vengeance’s sake, precious few of Gul’dan’s followers survived. Gul’dan himself was not among their number. His head was borne from the island, and in time, passed through a succession of owners before Grommash Hellscream claimed it for Ner’zhul. But the Tomb itself was left behind by those that had come seeking vengeance on Gul’dan.

At the same time that Grommash was finding the Skull of Gul’dan for Ner’zhul, Teron Gorefiend was sending his servants to the Tomb to find the Jeweled Scepter of Sargeras. One of Teron’s lieutenants, Ragnok Bloodreaver, accompanies by Tagar Spinebreaker and Fenris Wolfbrother, visited the Tomb and retrieved the Scepter. Ragnok tried to get the others to help him find the Eye of Sargeras, even threatening to kill them, but they refused and he was forced to return with exactly what Ner’zhul had asked for and no more.

The coming of Illidan and the Eye

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Instead, another would find the Eye of Sargeras. Amazingly, it would be due to Gul’dan’s wandering Skull that this visitor, Illidan Stormrage, would visit the Tomb. Despite being one of the ancient Kaldorei who’d fought in the War of the Ancients, it was through Gul’dan’s memories that Illidan learned of the Eye and its power. Having consumed the demonic magics of the Skull of Gul’dan and, after thwarting the Legion’s attempt to corrupt Felwood in the process, Illidan was given a last chance to serve the Legion by Kil’jaeden himself. To prove himself to his new ‘master’ Illidan would need to destroy the Lich King, the rebellious former servant of the Legion who’d broken ranks with them… and who was made from the Orc Ner’zhul who’d once sent his minions to the Tomb to find the Scepter. Illidan used the memories of Ner’zhul’s former apprentice Gul’dan to locate the Eye, and when Warden Maiev Shadowsong and her Watchers pursued him into the Eye’s final resting place, he used its power to collapse the chamber on top of them, burying all but Maiev alive.

Ultimately Illidan would fail to destroy the Lich King, due to Maiev, Malfurion and others, and the Eye of Sargeras was destroyed in the attempt. The Tomb, however, remains, its deepest depths as yet unexplored, crawling with demons.

Today, the Tomb has been quiet for many years. But we know that won’t last. Fel fires flicker on the horizon, from the depths of the Tomb on the edge of the Broken Isles. Dark times are coming for Azeroth, as the demons once trapped within the Tomb wait the coming of their dark masters, and the arrival of the Burning Legion in force once again.

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