Know Your Lore: The Spread of the Titan-Forged
We’ve talked about the fall of the Keepers over the past few weeks and now comes the conclusion. Loken arranged, one by one, the exile or capture of each of his rivals in turn, convincing Helya to turn on Odyn, tricking Thorim into blaming Sif’s death on the Frost Giants when it was Loken who killed her, capturing Mimiron, Freya and Hodir and even causing Highkeeper Ra’s capture and mutilation by Lei Shen without even realizing it. In the process Loken spread the Curse of Flesh throughout the Titan-Forged, causing their orderly societies to break down as they reacted to their sudden diminishing. This led to the Winterskorn War as Vrykul loyal to Loken’s minions sought to dominate the others.
But not all of the Keepers had fallen. Two of them, Tyr (the mightiest of their warriors) and Archaedas (the shaper of stone) managed to evade Loken, and along with Watcher Ironaya, opposed his forces and called upon the Dragon Aspects to help end the Winterskorn War. In opposing Loken as they had, these last remaining Keepers started a chain of events that led to the shape of the modern world.
In order to explain how Archaedas and Tyr breached Ulduar, we must first discuss Truthguard, and the Winterskorn Vrykul who came to wield it.
Yrgrim led the earthen survivors to Keeper Tyr, the one being he believed could save them from the Winterskorn. The vrykul warrior did not expect a reward for doing so. Quite the opposite. Yrgrim had murdered scores of innocent earthen, and he thought Tyr would execute him for his transgressions.
According to one vrykul legend, these are the words Try spoke to Yrgrim: “I cannot wash the blood from your hands. No one can. All I can offer you is a way forward. Stand by my side. Hunt the wicked with the same ferocity you once used to hunt the earthen. Do this and you will find the path to redemption.”
On that day, Yrgrim swore an oath to the twin moons that he would serve Tyr and embody his noble ideals. In return, the keeper gifted the vrykul with a shield unlike ever made.
Its name was Truthguard.
Truthguard was no ordinary shield. The Artifact we have today came from the bodies and minds of the three who’d sought to defy Loken. Tyr had chipped away a piece of his own silver hand (a replacement for the one he’d lost to Galakrond) and Ironaya had carved out a disk of her own stony skin to make it, and Archaedas had forged the weapon with three hammer strikes, each a momentous affair. When Yrgrim had his change of heart and turned on the Winterskorn pawns of Loken (rejecting his own people in his quest for truth) he was presented with Truthguard, and using it, he liberated many of his own tribe as well as those from other clans such as the Dragonflayer and others. When the Winterskorn were banished to their magical sleep by the Dragon Aspects Ysera and Nozdormu, Yrgrim and those who had joined his cause were left free.
Having sworn himself to Tyr’s service, Yrgrim was one of those who aided the Keeper when he and Archaedas realized they had no choice but to breach Ulduar and steal the Discs of Norgannon. Loken had no right to the title of Prime Designate — whether or not he was able to escape the Halls of Valor, Odyn was Prime Designate, given that title and responsibility by the Titans themselves. Furthermore, allowing Loken to hold onto Ulduar meant he could simply strike again as he had through the Winterskorn. But how deep was the fallen Keeper’s corruption? How should Tyr, Archaedas and Ironaya act? Watcher Jotun, another ally of Tyr’s (the one who had helped him craft his silver hand) was recruited for this assault as well.
Facing Loken’s Madness
Tyr’s plan was simple and relied on Loken’s estimation of his cleverness. He simply strode to the gates of Ulduar in his full war panoply and demanded that Loken relinquish the fortress and his claim to be Prime Designate. Loken, amused, strode forth to hear Tyr’s demands from a safe vantage point, and responded to them with mockery and derision. No, Loken would not relinquish his power over Ulduar or his claim to be Prime Designate — his only fear was discovery by the Titans or their servant the Constellar Algalon, and not even Tyr was mighty enough to stand against all the forces at Loken’s command. Tyr realized in that moment that Loken was not merely mad, but had in his madness allowed the forces of Yogg-Saron to infest the ranks of the Old God’s jailors as well.
While Loken postured, the second half of Tyr’s plan quietly executed itself. The army of converted Vrykul under Yrgrim, along with many Earthen and Mechagnome followers of the other Keepers, had assembled in the Storm Peaks. Using this army Tyr kept Loken’s attention fixed on him, and so, Loken did not notice Archaedas using his mastery of earth and stone to achieve entry into Ulduar alongside Ironaya. Once inside, they found the Discs of Norgannon, containing all the knowledge of the Titans and their plans for Azeroth.
And underneath Loken’s nose, they stole them.
It took Loken long enough to discover the theft that Tyr and his army were already far to the south, with Ironaya and Archaedas in their ranks, when he did so. Loken was, among other things, a vain being. His intellect was sufficient to defeat Neptulon in the distant past, he’d successfully gulled and tricked his own people and risen to a position of command among them, banishing or enslaving most of them. The idea that Tyr had tricked him drove him into a towering wrath. Worse, as soon as he roused his forces to hunt down the Keepers and the Discs, they ran into difficulties.
First, Yrgrim and Truthguard stood as a bulwark, preventing Loken’s loyal (or more thoroughly corrupted) servants from finding them. At this time, the great Sundering was five thousand years in the future, so Ironaya, Archaedas and Tyr were simply walking their vast army south away from Ulduar and towards another Titan facility, distant Uldaman. Loken was frenzied to stop them, but when he decided to intervene personally, Tyr’s ally Jotun balked the Keeper. Their confrontation kept Loken from catching up with his enemies, and he cursed Jotun using Yogg-Saron’s power to forever wander the land attacking any ally of Tyr’s he encountered.
The Final Act of Madness
Between Yrgrim and Jotun’s efforts Loken had lost the trail. He knew the three were headed towards Uldaman, and if they were to arrive there they might well decide to call Algalon and show him the Discs, and then the jig would be up — the Discs had recorded everything Loken had done. He had to take immediate action. Even in the depths of his madness he’d never dared to go this far, but now his terror of the idea of Algalon returning drove him to take the ultimate step.
He summoned the C’thraxxi.
These monstrosities, sometimes called ‘Faceless Generals’ were the enormously powerful servitors of the Old Gods, beings of such terrible power that they rivaled their masters in some ways. Terrors like Zon’ozz, Zakajz, Kith’ix, Erudax and Vezax walked Azeroth’s surface again because Loken opened their ancient prisons and ordered them to find and slay his errant former allies. The only reason they didn’t kill him for the effrontery was that they could sense the touch of Yogg-Saron on his mind and knew him to be corrupted, and that obeying him would serve the goals of their dread creators. Two of the C’thraxxi, Kith’ix and Zakajz, set out to hunt down the escaping Titan-Forged.
The escaping army of Titan-Forged had already nearly reached Uldaman when the C’thraxxi found them. With Yrgrim away far to the north (having stayed behind to stop Loken’s loyal pursuers) and Jotun now cursed, only Archaedas, Ironaya and Tyr remained to give battle to the abominations. But Tyr determined that a battle with such terrifying servants of the Old Gods could well cost all three of their lives, and in the process leave no one with any hope of ever stopping Loken. So he made a decision. He ordered Archaedas and Ironaya to lead the army of Titan-Forged away, and he stepped forth to do battle with two of the Faceless Generals alone.
Tyr was acclaimed as the mightiest of the Titan Keepers. Even Odyn, the Prime Designate, even mighty Highkeeper Ra, these were no match for Tyr in pure combat. The C’thraxxi lords discovered why — despite their ruthless, malevolent power, even the two of them combined could not defeat Tyr. For days, while his followers made their way to safety, Tyr and the C’thraxxi waged war on the spot which today bears the name Tirisfal, and even though Tyr did indeed fall there, he did not do so in defeat. No, he chose to use all of the power gifted to him by his Titan makers in one final strike of such devastating power that it scooped out the land, shattered Zakajz and broke Kith’ix’s body. One of the C’thrax dies on the spot, while Kith’ix just barely escaped with its life (in time, it would return to work its evil will against the ancient Zandalar tribe, but that would be later).
Archaedas and Ironaya chose to continue their journey south, but the Vrykul of their army demurred. Theirs was a race obsessed with honor and glory in battle, and Tyr’s sacrifice was the pinnacle of both in their eyes. They could not abandon the Keeper in death. They chose to stay and, with the help of Archaedas, erected a tomb to honor the slain Keeper and his ultimate sacrifice. Thus, the future race of Humans would honor the name of Tyr and his Silver Hand as an icon of the virtues they sought to live by, as their Vrykul ancestors succumbed to the Curse of Flesh.
The Champion Falls, The People Rise
As for Archaedas and Ironaya, they led the Earthen and Mechagnomes to the south to Uldaman. But the Curse was spreading fast and the Earthen requested that the Keepers place them in a state of suspension in the hopes it would halt the Curse and its spread. Despite the risk of the Curse spreading through their ranks, the Mechagnomes offered to stay and tend the Earthen in their sleep, an offer accepted by the Keeper and Watcher. But having seen Tyr’s death, both Ironaya and Archaedas were at a loss. How could they defeat Loken, if he could send monsters like that against them? What hope was there? Even if they could study the Discs and determine the true extent of his corruption, how were they to summon Algalon without the resources of Ulduar? Perhaps due to the influence of the Old Gods, or perhaps simply because they’d struggled so hard and needed rest, Ironaya and Archaedas retreated to hibernation in special chambers within Uldaman as well.
Amazingly, despite this, they’d set in motion Loken’s ultimate defeat and the arrival of Algalon. For it would be the descendants of those who’d come south with Tyr, Ironaya and Archaedas who would ultimately lead the charge north. Brann Bronzebeard, a Dwarf, descendant of the Earthen would help unlock Ulduar. Arthas Menethil, the Lich King, a descendant of those who stayed to guard Tyr’s Fall, was the ultimate reason so many came north and fought in Ulduar. Nations of these Titan-Forged races, the Humans and Gnomes and Dwarves, would in time establish themselves as powerful people who would help determine the fate of Azeroth … and are still doing so today. For it cannot be forgotten that the Forsaken, too, descend from these beings. Warchief Sylvanas Windrunner is not a Titan-Forged… but her people are.
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