Know Your Lore: The Infinite dragonflight
In an Azeroth where dragons have seemingly expended the last of their powers, there’s one flight that doesn’t appear to have been affected by the events of Cataclysm at all. Although we defeated Murozond in End Time, the Infinite dragonflight returned in the novel War Crimes, which takes place after Mists of Pandaria — indicating, along with the curious actions of Kairozdormu, that the Infinite flight is far from finished. In fact, its work may have only begun.
Or perhaps it is over — in one thread of the timeline. But given the nature of the Infinite, one has to wonder if it’s even possible to defeat them…or if defeat is simply putting off the fight for another time, another day.
To talk about the Infinite dragonflight, we first have to talk about the Bronze — specifically, Nozdormu. Nozdormu took on what was probably the most difficult task of any of the Aspects when he was made the Aspect of Time. He was charged with guarding the convoluted and twisted paths of time itself, insuring that history followed one true timeline. To keep Nozdormu in check, he was given the knowledge of his own demise, proving that despite his great power, he was still destined to pass on just like anyone else.
And maybe that would have been enough, if it weren’t for the Old Gods. They quietly corrupted the bronze dragon, tricking him into trying to outwit his own destiny — after all, if he could see his own death, surely he could alter time itself to avoid it. From this realization, Murozond was born. Nozdormu shattered the timeways and created the Infinite dragonflight.
All of the Aspects were given their powers specifically for one reason, according to the events of Cataclysm: to prevent the Hour of Twilight from coming to Azeroth. This is where everything gets tangled, and it gets tangled specifically because of time itself. Neltharion was corrupted, becoming Deathwing, and later trying to bring the Hour of Twilight to pass. Had the Aspects not been given their power in the first place, Neltharion never would’ve been corrupted, and the Hour of Twilight…presumably wouldn’t have happened.
Rise of the Infinite
And oddly enough, Murozond was just as determined to see the Hour of Twilight come to pass as Deathwing. Using his powers, he corrupted members of his former dragonflight, and the Infinite dragonflight began their work in earnest. Players first saw this interference begin in Burning Crusade, where it seemed that the Infinite had a few different goals in mind. In Old Hillsbrad, the Infinite worked to keep Thrall from ever escaping Durnholde and leading the Horde to victory. In the Black Morass, the Infinite worked to keep Medivh from ever bringing the Horde to Azeroth.
Both of these actions served one purpose: To take Thrall out of the picture. Because as we saw in the Dragon Soul raid, the Aspects couldn’t use the artifact to defeat Deathwing…they needed Thrall to do it. If they didn’t have Thrall, they would never be able to use the artifact, and the Hour of Twilight would happen as Murozond wanted it to. Oddly, though we don’t see the Infinite’s influence in Hyjal directly, the end result would have served the same purpose — as a prominent player in the Third War, Thrall would’ve perished and again, been removed from the picture if we hadn’t made sure events proceeded as they were supposed to.
One might wonder why we needed to help Arthas complete the Culling of Stratholme, and it falls under the same lines. If Stratholme weren’t culled, the plague of undeath would have continued to spread. Arthas never would have left for Northrend, leaving Jaina in the process, and Jaina likely never would have made that trip to Kalimdor. Without human troops to fight off the Legion, Thrall and the Horde likely would have fallen at Hyjal — or fallen while fighting Night Elf forces. Regardless, history would have been changed, and Thrall wouldn’t have been present to stop the Hour of Twilight. We kept history on the right track in each of these instances, but despite that, we couldn’t do anything about the events that marched history slowly towards the event that would bring an end to the world.
The Hour of Twilight
And Nozdormu himself wasn’t really involved with any of this, because he was absorbed in trying to figure out a puzzle he couldn’t manage to unravel…the puzzle that was eventually revealed to be his own actions as Murozond. Nozdormu went into hiding, examining the various timeways and coming to the startling conclusion that every event in Azeroth’s history, every moment that caused harm to the Aspects or to Azeroth itself was being orchestrated by one entity. It wasn’t until Thrall leaped through various versions of his own timeline that he discovered Nozdormu’s whereabouts, and Nozdormu realized the reason he’d become trapped in time in the first place was Thrall’s journey. That’s the difficult part to grasp in all of this — Nozdormu was trapped because Thrall went to find him. It was a tangle of time — an Infinite tangle.
Once Nozdormu realized what had happened, it was too late to prevent what the Infinite had accomplished — locking off every moment in history from the Bronze Dragonflight. The only place the Bronze could travel was to an End Time in which Murozond succeeded in bringing about the Hour of Twilight. Before we could go back in time to retrieve the Dragon Soul, we first had to unlock the means to travel there…by defeating Murozond and ending his existence, effectively ending the Infinite as well. And we succeeded.
We succeeded, and then we traveled back in time to get the Dragon Soul, bringing it forward to present day. We succeeded in keeping Thrall alive and present in the exact moment that he was needed most, to wield the weapon against Deathwing. And we stopped the Hour of Twilight from happening, saving the day and defeating Deathwing once and for all. But we didn’t stop the Infinite dragonflight…because we can’t really stop them, now that they’ve begun.
That’s the unusual part of the Infinite dragonflight. Since they were allowed to come into existence, they will always exist, in some timeline, in some fork of destiny or another. They have the ability to traverse time and hide within it, something that the Bronze dragonflight lost when Nozdormu expended his powers to defeat Deathwing. And perhaps that was what drew Kairozdormu to the Infinite, and why he wanted to “become infinite” as he stated in that vision on Draenor — he wanted to regain what he’d lost, and the only way to do so was to make the leap from mere Bronze to Infinity, existing everyone at once.
We defeated Murozond, but we have yet to see Nozdormu become Murozond, which means that in some timeway, somewhere, Murozond still exists. It’s an endless cycle that Nozdormu himself acknowledges when he says, after his alter-ego’s defeat, “At last it has come to pass. The moment of my demise. The loop is closed. My future self will cause no more harm. Still, in time, I will… fall to madness. And you, heroes… will vanquish me. The cycle will repeat. So it goes.” Technically, we haven’t closed that loop yet. We can’t close that loop until we encounter the precise moment Murozond is created, and stop it.
But we did what we set out to do, we helped the Aspects halt the Hour of Twilight. That should be counted as a win, right? …maybe not. Let’s take a look at Murozond’s last words:
You know not what you have done. Aman’Thul… What I… have… seen…
It’s implied that the very reason Murozond wanted to bring about the Hour of Twilight, the reason the Infinite dragonflight was even created, was an attempt to avoid an even worse fate. What, exactly, could be worse than the end of the world? None of our guesses really matter, because we’re going to find out.
We stopped the Hour of Twilight, and we’re now full speed ahead on a path towards whatever it was that Murozond witnessed, whatever it was the Infinite wanted to avoid. Is it the Legion invasion we’re going to see next expansion? It might be. Or it might be worse than that. And Nozdormu can’t tell us what that thing is, because he hasn’t witnessed it yet…and by halting the Hour of Twilight and expending his powers, he no longer has the means to see it anyway.
What this all boils down to is one of the most fascinating villains currently in World of Warcraft right now. Not because their motives are evil, but because we don’t even have the capacity to see what those motives really are. To the Infinite dragonflight, we are fixed and small, only capable of looking at the tiniest selection of history, limited by our own nature because we are anchored to time. In contrast, the Infinite are free — free to witness the terrifying chasm of potential past, present, and future, with the ability to snuff it out in an instant. And because of our part in the Bronze dragonflight’s loss of power, we won’t even see, won’t even comprehend what’s happening until it’s far too late.
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