Know Your Lore: Ancient Kalimdor and the rest of Azeroth
The world we don’t know
We now have an official, licensed product from Blizzard saying that Kalimdor was not the only continent on Azeroth: merely its largest. Why is that important? Because up to now, we’ve only explored those continents that were created by Kalimdor’s destruction. Northrend, the Eastern Kingdoms, Pandaria, Kalimdor, Kezan, Zandalar Isle, and the Broken Isles are all remnants of that great colossal super-continent, Ancient Kalimdor. It was across that Kalimdor that the Trolls battled the Aqir, that the Black Empire battled the Elemental Lords, that the Gurubashi and Amani found themselves defeated by the Kaldorei, that the Pandaren battled the Mogu and then the Zandalar. The colossal Sundering took place on Kalimdor. All we know of Azeroth’s history comes from this one, single continent.
Imagine, if you will, our own Earth, the planet we live on, the only world we’ve ever really experienced. It has many continents on its surface. Imagine if that long lost Kalimdor was the size of Eurasia, our world’s largest continent. Eurasia is around 55 million square kilometers, a massive chunk of land. Yet it’s only one of six or so continents. In other words, if Azeroth has a water to land ratio similar to that of Earth, it could hold continental masses as large as Africa (30 million square kilometers), Antartica (14 million square kilometers), Australia (8.56 million square kilometers), North America (almost 25 million square kilometers) and South America (just under 18 million square kilometers). That would mean that we have yet to explore the majority of Azeroth’s surface, and we have no idea what creatures, cultures, and civilizations are out there yet undiscovered.
New lands across vast seas?
And that is an astonishing thing to consider. We started off in Warcraft: Orcs and Humans with the game’s focus on the area surrounding Stormwind, the southern half of the Eastern Kingdoms — and as time has passed we’ve seen more and more of the world. But with this one line in Chronicle we now have no idea how much of the world is left unexplored. Every native Azerothian race we’ve ever seen came originally from Kalimdor, whether it was born out of the Titans, naturally spawned by the effects of the Well of Eternity, or even the abhorrent monstrosities of the Old Gods and their Black Empire — it’s all from Ancient Kalimdor.
The Sha? Born from the death of Y’Shaarj on pre-Sundering Kalimdor.
The Trolls? Evolved from native creatures on Ancient Kalimdor.
The Tauren? The Night Elves? Humans? Gnomes? Dwarves? All trace their history back to Ancient Kalimdor in some way. The only non-Kalimdorian creatures that we’ve yet encountered aren’t from Azeroth at all. They are from other worlds entirely. The Draenei, the Orcs, the Ogres all trace their origins to other worlds, with the Draenei originally from the distant world of Argus before making their stop on the world they’d name Draenor, the origin world of the Orcs and Ogres. And we know the Titans came to that world as well, that the world of Draenor felt the hands of the Shapers.
And now is where we go from a perfectly ordinary KYL talking about established lore to the Tinfoil Hat variety of KYL where I make stuff up. Consider this the boundary — beyond this part, you can’t trust anything I say.
The unknown unknowns
This is the map of Draenor we have in Warlords of Draenor, a large (but nowhere near as large as Ancient Kalimdor) continent with another attendant landmass (potentially yet another continent, about as close to it as Africa is to Eurasia) to its south. On this continent the societies of the Arakkoa, the Ogres, the Orcs, the Saberon and the transplanted Dranei lived until the coming of Kil’jaeden. His arrival started a chain of events that led to the fel-tainted Orcish Horde, led by the Warlock Gul’dan, invading Azeroth through a Dark Portal created by the secret knowledge of the fallen Titan Sargeras.
Now, let us consider a heretical idea.
What if there is no planet named Draenor?
Oh, I’m not arguing that the continent didn’t exist. We’ve walked it, now. We’ve seen its sights. But consider this — why does the fauna of Draenor so closely resemble that of Azeroth? Worgs, various dinosaurian species, birds that closely resemble our own. Why did the Orcs have legends of dragons when there are supposedly no dragons on Draenor? The evolutionary line of Ogres is very reminiscent of that of Humans and Dwarves, with much larger ancestors made almost entirely of stone and rock changing over time to be made of flesh — why is that?
Well, we know very little of the rest of Azeroth. We have no idea what was occurring on other continents, what these continents looked like, where they were. So I ask you — we know that when Garrosh used Kairozdormu’s artifact to build his own Dark Portal and hijack ours, but how did he know it could do that? How did Kairoz know?
Because that’s what it always did.
We know that the Draenei ship the Genedar crash-landed on Draenor some three hundred years before the Rise of the Horde. But we don’t know how far ago it was to us. The Draenei are an almost ageless race, their prophet Velen has been alive since the original flight from Argus. What does time matter to them? Do Naaru care about time? We know that the dragon aspect Nozdormu was empowered by the Titan Aman’thul to chart and safeguard the timeways, so clearly the power to escape time’s bounds is attainable. We know that the Burning Legion exists across all universes, that there is but one Legion, that the Legion we saw on Draenor is the same Legion we see here today. We’ve argued that this makes no sense, that this would mean there are multiple alternate Velens but only one Archimonde and one Kil’jaeden.
But now we have a way around this.
The Draenor that Ner’zhul tore apart with his reckless sorceries wasn’t on another planet. It was on Azeroth. The planet Velen and the Draenei named Draenor already had a name, and that planet was Azeroth. The reason Azeroth’s elementals accepted Thrall is because the Orcish people are from Azeroth. Why wouldn’t they accept him? We have no idea what the Old Gods or the Titans or the Wild Gods did on other continents, after all. It’s possible that the Elemental Lords didn’t fight on other continents like they did on Azeroth because there was no Well of Eternity and no nascent force absorbing all of the Element of Spirit beneath these other continents. On one such continent, a shamanistic tradition could have developed that used the element of spirit to contact their ancestors. A savage, untamed land, not because their world was more primitive, but because it was younger — let’s say over ten thousand years younger than the world we know today.
Sargeras had access to Medivh and the power of the Guardian, and he also would have had access to his own power and knowledge, as a former Titan. So he reached across history itself and found the Ancient Orcs, corrupted by the Legion as part of the original invasion of Azeroth that resulted in the Sundering. He of course knew that they were doomed — that the enormous fury of the destruction of the Well of Eternity would backlash across the entire world, and that they were going to be destroyed by it. So he essentially created a portal back in time to the other side of the world, and when Ner’zhul tried to make more portals the power he was channeling collapsed when the Sundering happened, and Draenor tore itself off of the face of Azeroth and hurled itself into the Twisting Nether, where time and space don’t exist as they do here.
This makes the Draenor we’ve visited in Warlords of Draenor a mere timeway, created by Kairoz in much the same way that timeways were created to bedevil Thrall in Twilight of the Aspects. Thus, the Velen who died there is no more ‘real’ than the Blackmoore who conquered the Alliance with the help of a slave gladiator, and thus, there’s only one Archimonde and one Kil’jaeden and one Mannoroth. The Gul’dan who serves them now is sustained by their power, a mockery that doesn’t even know he isn’t real.
Okay, probably not. But think about it — whatever is out there could be far, far stranger than anything I’ve just said.
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