Know Your Lore: Warswords of the Valarjar
I love Artifacts because they allow for the telling of story in a whole new and unique way in World of Warcraft, lore that you only get to see if you play the class that gets the Artifact… or if someone puts together an article on Blizzard Watch telling you about it, I suppose.
In that spirit, here’s the tale of the Warswords of the Valarjar, the great weapons of war crafted for Odyn, lost to Helya, and reclaimed by a mortal.
Weapons of War
It must be said that Keeper Odyn was both arrogant and misguided when he created the Halls of Valor. Even his own chronicles admit this much. When one begins researching the lore of the Artifacts, Fjornson Stonecarver tells of how Odyn did not believe mortals were capable of coming to the defense of Azeroth. He thought them too fragile, short lived and weak to be of any use, even the Dragons weren’t enough in his view of Azeroth’s mortal races. Stonecarver admits that the Battlelord of the Valarjar, a mortal being, has proved Odyn’s folly to Odyn himself, and his use of the Warswords continues to do so.
For the Warswords, as powerful as they were, failed the Titan-Forged Champion who attempted to use them in defense of Odyn and the Halls of Valor.
Keeper Odyn caused the Halls of Valor to be raised from the Ulduar complex when the other Keepers refused to heed him (despite his role as Prime Designate) and chose to ask the Titans to empower the Dragon Aspects to help defend Azeroth against threats such as Galakrond. Angered that Tyr convinced his fellow Keepers to do this, Odyn would have no part in the decision. To him, it had taken the Titan-Forged to defeat the Old Gods, it was the duty and responsibility of the Titan-Forged to defend Azeroth, and no argument from Tyr about how the Keepers had grown too distant to do this work could convince him. And so Odyn turned to Helya, and she dutifully raised the Halls of Valor. We’ve discussed how that ended up working out for him before, as he forced Helya into the slavery of becoming a Val’kyr against her will. Indeed, she was the first Val’kyr.
Odyn’s action here was nothing short of a betrayal. And it was the hatred that betrayal caused that would lead to the Warswords becoming Artifacts of astonishing power.
The Fate of Ingvar
After he caused the Halls of Valor to be raised to the sky and forced Helya and others to become Val’kyr, Odyn began the construction of a vast army. He had Helya lead the Val’kyr into the realms of shadow to gather the souls of valorous Vrykul for that army, and had the most skilled smiths of the Vrykul forge weapons and armor. One such smith was so skilled that Odyn came to him with a request that he forge weapons of matchless might. And so he did, returning to the Keeper with the twin Warswords, weapons that were the pinnacle of Vrykul war-craft. There was nothing defensive about these blades. These were not weapons that one used to parry attacks. They were purely for making attacks. Odyn blessed these weapons with a fragment of his own power and hung them in the Halls for one of the Vrykul to claim, if he or she should be proved worthy.
After years, the Vrykul Ingvar met his death fighting against the minions of the Old Gods, actually managing to destroy them in the process. Helya herself brought Ingvar to the Halls, and there Ingvar was gifted with the Warswords, which he used to carry out Odyn’s vision for the army of Valarjar. But he wouldn’t get to use them for long.
When Helya turned on Odyn and sealed him and the bulk of the Valarjar within the Halls of Valor, Ingvar was away from the Halls carrying out Odyn’s will. As a result, he quickly realized what had happened. He couldn’t return to the Halls nor could anyone from inside them come to his aid. Quickly realizing what had happened and who had to be responsible, he sought out Helya and attacked her. He hoped to strike her down quickly (although in his heart he suspected he had no chance of doing so) and free Odyn from her spell of banishment.
But Helya was a powerful sorcerer even before Odyn made her first of the Val’kyr, and as a Val’kyr she had enormous power over the souls of the dead… and Ingvar, for all the power of his Storm-Forged body, was dead. It had after all been Helya who brought him to the Halls of Valor in the first place. As a result, despite Odyn’s power infusing the Warswords, and despite a brutal attack that nearly struck Helya down, in the end she destroyed Ingvar utterly. This left her holding the Warswords, and she took them to her new domain carved out of the realm of shadows, Helheim. There she dedicated herself to ruling over the souls of the dead Vrykul she once brought to Odyn, creating the Kvaldir and the Helarjar and seeking out any allies of Odyn left in Azeroth with her minions. The Kvaldir preyed on the shorelines of the Broken Shores and Northrend in her name.
In time, she found her own champion.
One of her Kvaldir eventually slaughtered enough Vrykul, brought enough souls to Helheim, and otherwise terrorized enough of those still loyal to Odyn and the other Keepers that Helya noticed him. His name was Vigfus Bladewind and in her name he commited countless atrocities against his own people, lead the Kvaldir on raid after raid, and dragged many noble Vrykul heroes into the realm of the self-proclaimed ruler of the Vrykul afterlife. She made him her Champion, placed him in a position of power and respect among the Helarjar, and tasked him with the most difficult tasks. And to achieve those tasks, she gave him a boon.
The Warswords were unholy in Vigfus’ hands. Still containing the power of Odyn that they’d held when Ingvar wielded them, Helya now added her own. As a result the blades grew even more powerful, and Vigfus used them in her name for thousands of years. Vigfus used the swords to kill those which would have joined the Valarjar, delighting in their anguish as they were denied their rightful place after death.
It seemed that nothing could ever defeat Vigfus.
The Battlelord Triumphant
With the Legion assailing Azeroth Odyn finally had to admit his fundamental error. He and his Storm-Forged Vrykul were helpless, sealed away within the Halls of Valor. He couldn’t stop the Legion. He couldn’t even fight the Legion. Helya had trapped them using the magic she’d learned from Highkeeper Ra and the power he’d forced upon her as a Val’kyr. So he swallowed his pride and brought a mortal who’d barely survived a demon ambush to the Halls and tasked said mortal with the reclamation of three mighty Artifacts to be used against the Legion.
Among these weapons were the Warswords. Where the Vrykul had failed, the mortal descended to Azeroth, struck down the Kvaldir servants of Helya, and challenged Vigfus to single combat. The battle was fearsome, but in the end even the direct intervention of Helya couldn’t stem the tide, and the Premier Warrior of Azeroth gave Vigfus the death he’d earned. The Warswords, now infused with both Odyn and Helya’s power, were in the hands of a mortal and in those hands they would prove to be far more powerful than they’d been before.
Odyn had been wrong. Mortals were the key to the salvation of Azeroth. And the Warswords were to achieve their greatest glory in mortal hands.
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