Know Your Lore: Azeroth
Azeroth is special in the Warcraft cosmos — it’s unique in more ways than one, and so are its inhabitants. It’s not just the origins that make the planet stand out, however. Azeroth has, over the course of time, experienced a number of shifts and tectonic turmoil that might have destroyed any other planet. But Azeroth survived, continues to survive, and also continues to be a source of tantalizing interest for some of the worst denizens the cosmos has to offer.
Azeroth isn’t just an ordinary planet. It’s the home of a world-soul — a nascent Titan — the most powerful world-soul the Pantheon had ever discovered in their travels across the cosmos. Exactly how any of the world-souls came into being is still up in the air. It’s never been clearly defined. All we know is that Aman’Thul was the first world-soul to awaken, and he decided to travel the cosmos and find others of his kind.
That’s why the Pantheon is said to bring order to the universe — they were carefully cultivating worlds in the hopes of bringing more world-souls to maturity. It wasn’t a grand cosmic scheme so much as it was a quest to find others just like them. Not every planet held a world-soul, but the Titans vowed to protect and safeguard these worlds all the same — they held life, after all, and life was precious.
Azeroth holds the distinction of not only housing a world-soul, but housing the most powerful world-soul any of the Pantheon had ever seen. Unfortunately, the planet was also already infested with Old Gods by the time it was discovered. Fortunately, those Old Gods didn’t appear to have reached the nascent Titan cradled within the planet.
The Black Empire
These Old Gods hadn’t reached the world-soul, but they’d managed to thoroughly infest the world above by the time the Titans came to Azeroth. They enslaved the elements, forcing the Elemental Lords to do their bidding. With so many powerful instruments at their disposal, the Old Gods forged the mighty Black Empire, sending the world spiraling into an abyss of endless torment and despair.
The Pantheon couldn’t attack the Black Empire directly — they had massive bodies that would have done permanent damage to the planet had they tried. As an alternative, they instead crafted the titan-forged to attack where they could not. The aesir and vanir were incredibly successful in this task. They took down the Elemental Lords and imprisoned them in the Elemental Planes.
From there, they sought to eliminate Y’shaarj in the heart of the Black Empire’s greatest bastion. But the Pantheon was worried about their creations. The titan-forged worked against the Elemental Lords, but could they really hold up against an Old God — the most powerful Old God on Azeroth? Aman’Thul then made what would prove to be a terrible decision. He reached through the skies of Azeroth, seized Y’Shaarj, and attempted to rip the Old God from the world directly.
He succeeded in killing Y’Shaarj. But what he left behind was an open wound.
The Well of Eternity
Azeroth’s life-blood poured from the open wound, and the Pantheon quickly realized the truth. The Old Gods had embedded themselves too far into Azeroth to be removed without harming or killing the world-soul within. There was simply no way to rid the world of the Old Gods. Left with no other alternatives, they decided to instead imprison the Old Gods deep within the surface of the planet.
Once that was accomplished, they had to fix the damage that had been done. The blood of a world-soul was powerful stuff, chaotic arcane energy that needed to be contained. The Pantheon had their most powerful servants — keepers — craft magical wards around the wound, soothing and settling the arcane energy into balance until at last, only a lake was left behind.
They called it the Well of Eternity — and as the millennia passed, it would become a source of unpredictable power, its magic infusing the world to nourish life, and in some cases, alter it. The dark trolls experienced this effect directly much, much later, evolving into the Night Elves we know today.
Azeroth managed to survive the great wound it suffered, but the world was forever changed as a result. No other planet has that same kind of direct influence. No other inhabitants were as drastically touched as the native races of Azeroth. On Azeroth, the world-soul isn’t simply housed within. Its very life essence colored and changed the face of the planet as the Titan developed.
And that makes those inhabitants — us — remarkably special. We aren’t just little life forms crawling around on a Titan’s shell. We’ve been directly affected, infused with part of the magic of Azeroth itself. Or herself, as Magni Bronzebeard calls her. She’s not quite sleeping anymore. Azeroth seems to be aware enough to have had conversations with Magni, and she has apparently named him her speaker.
But the painful origins of the Well of Eternity are only one wound that Azeroth has suffered and survived. Next week, we’ll take a look at the next shock to Azeroth’s well-being. It was an event that reshaped the face of the world — and revealed that the Well of Eternity was hardly the only influence on Azeroth’s inhabitants.
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