Know Your Lore > WoWSep 22, 2017 2:00 pm CT

Know Your Lore TFH: Argus and the Twisting Nether

Recently a bit of a contradiction has occurred to me. Namely that the actual source of the Legion’s fabled invincibility has seemed somewhat contradictory. Chronicle Vol. 1 told us that demons always return to the Twisting Nether to be reborn when destroyed. That’s why Sargeras had to create Mardum to imprison demons. Slaying them merely sent them to the Nether to regenerate.

However, it was eventually discovered that a death in the Nether was a true death. Illidan himself says so several times, it’s also said in Chronicle that a death in the Nether or in any place sufficiently suffused with fel energy would be a permanent death for a demon. Both Archimonde at the end of Warlords of Draenor and Kil’jaeden at the end of the Tomb of Sargeras raid are said to be slain in places of heavy fel power and thus presumed to be permanently dead.

This article is full of spoilers for Patch 7.3, Antorus the Burning Throne, and the end of the Legion expansion. If you read it, you will be exposed to those spoilers.

Differing accounts

But once we came to Argus, we began to hear differently. Several times now, we’ve slain demons on Argus only to hear that they will return to Antorus to be reborn. Turalyon directly says that it’s Argus that is the source of the Legion’s ability to be reborn in Antorus. We first hear this after we kill Telestra the Vile. Upon her death Turalyon says Her soul will return to Antorus to be reborn, but not without punishment. Sargeras does not take kindly to failure.”

Even the recent Turalyon and Alleria play muddied the waters here. It, too, talks about demons returning to Antorus to be reborn, but it also says that a death in the Twisting Nether is a true death several times. Turalyon uses the Holy Light to permanently incinerate several demons and Alleria kills a demon on the Xenedar with that same this death will be a true death message. There’s no explanation of how Antorus works or if it contradicts the lore in Chronicle. If Sargeras couldn’t permanently kill demons (the stated reason for building Mardum) before he ever went to Argus, before Argus was infused by Fel, before he slew the Pantheon then what purpose does Antorus actually serve?

If the demons of the Legion go to Antorus to be reborn, why did Sargeras need to create Mardum? Antorus wouldn’t have existed back then. Sargeras hadn’t even been to Argus yet. The Titan Soul of the planet wouldn’t have been used for what Turalyon later says it’s being used for.

titan… the Legion must have harnessed the power of its soul to regenerate its armies in the Twisting Nether! If we can destroy it, the infinite army…

Alleria finishes this thought with the words would become finite. But think about this for a moment. The whole reason Sargeras built Mardum was because at that time he didn’t know how to kill a demon permanently. Mardum existed as a prison planet for demons because killing them only sent them back to the Nether. It wasn’t until Sargeras discovered that he could end a demon permanently by killing it in the Twisting Nether that he used that threat to bind the demons he’d imprisoned on Mardum to his service.

So what’s going on? What is Antorus for? What is Argus’ soul being used to do? And what does this have to do with the great cycle that Sargeras is so desperate to prevent us from interfering with?

Antorus

What we know is that demons have always had some ability to be reborn in the Twisting Nether when slain on worlds in the physical universe. But it seems to me that Antorus allows demons slain on Argus or in the Twisting Nether to be reborn as well. Sargeras has some control or use for this process. Turalyon seems to think that the Dark Titan deliberately tortures the souls of demons that die there as he feeds them through Antorus. It’s possible that Sargeras now forces all demons to be returned to life through Antorus. We know that Varimathras resides there despite having died in Undercity while trying to open portals to the Nether there.

By itself, just on the surface Antorus seems designed to paper over the Legion’s greatest weakness. The very thing that Sargeras used to browbeat them into servitude — the threat of a final death. Using Antorus, the Legion needs no longer even fear death in the Nether or on a world as fel-touched as Argus. You’d think that by itself would be enough. But we’ve been invited to speculate, so let’s do just that. What if Antorus has another purpose?

Rebirth

We know that Sargeras became convinced that the universe had to die before the Void Lords consumed everything. In the vision that Velen has of the coming of Sargeras to Argus, the Dark Titan speaks of the Hungering Void that would consume us all. We’ve always believed that the goal of the Burning Crusade was to destroy all life. To prevent there from being anything for the Void Lords to corrupt.

Sargeras first started this process when he discovered a world already so corrupted by the Old Gods that the Titan Soul within threatened to be born as a Dark Titan. To prevent this, Sargeras slew the Titan Soul. He became convinced that only the destruction of the universe could prevent the Void Lords’ victory. But when we look at the creation of Mardum, we begin to realize how Sargeras came up with a plan.

If the universe couldn’t stand as it was, it would have to be remade. And if the Pantheon wouldn’t see that he was right, they would have to be remade as well. The confrontation on Nihilam between the Pantheon and the Legion saw vast numbers of demons destroyed, but what of that? The demons have only ever been a means to an end, a tool. The fel itself — a cosmic force born of the Nether, a destructive power created by the utter annihilation of Void and Light — was always the real prize.

To complete a cycle

Before he destroyed a Titan Soul, did Sargeras even consider that Titans could die? What did that do to him? To be the first murderer of Titan-kind?

We look at Antorus and see a place where demons go to be reborn, even when in the Nether or on Argus. But what if it was always intended for something else? Antorus is where the spirits of the Pantheon — all but Aggramar, who is corrupted, and Eonar, who escaped, at least — languish. They’ve been tormented by the servants of Sargeras for countless millions of years. It is in Antorus that Sargeras uses Argus to break them.

And perhaps to convert them.

The Void Lords wanted a Dark Titan. A Void-infused Titan Soul that could help usher in a new age of darkness. Sargeras seems to view the Shadow and the Light as inferior, and it’s certainly the case that he’s infused with fel power. He used the fel to great effect in his battle with the Titans. It was only through the raw power of a fel storm that the Titans were beaten. The Titans and their orderly natures are susceptible to fel energy. Sargeras of course knew this — for he had battled demons for countless eons, and had allowed the fel to warp and corrupt his own being when he destroyed Mardum.

Was he attempting to kill the Titans with his fel storm? Or was he attempting to remake them?

Antorus’ purpose

Antorus isn’t there to allow demons to be reborn in the Twisting Nether. It isn’t there for demons at all. Antorus uses the demons, because they are literally walking fel. As they return to the Nether, they are forced through Antorus, and what Turalyon sees as torture is Sargeras using the fel that gives them the ability to return again and again from seeming death to do the same for the Pantheon.

And this may have been his plan all along. Sargeras wants to defeat the Void Lords. He didn’t trust that even a Titan as powerful as Azeroth would be could do it alone, because he despises the Light and the Void equally. Fel is stronger than both, in his opinion. And only by converting all Titans into Fel Titans, born of the power that destroys Light and Shadow to make itself, can they possibly defeat the Void Lords.

This speculation fills me with dread for a variety of reasons. First off, we know how this is all going to end — in a stalemate. We know that Sargeras doesn’t die at the end of Antorus. Illidan sacrifices himself to trap Sargeras along with the Pantheon and the broken world-soul of Argus, leaving the Legion leaderless.

Fel Titans all

But consider this: Antorus channels demons that die to a painful rebirth. Even if we stop the Cycle, it will already have done this for just about every demon we’ve faced so far. Legion ends with Illidan serving as Sargeras’ jailor… but the whole process could start up again if Illidan ever falters. If Sargeras is ever freed, he could easily reunite the Legion and start it all again, and it’s not like the Pantheon is in any shape to stop him. Even Aggramar was only in an avatar form. Without the full rebirth Sargeras hoped to control converting the Pantheon into Fel Titans, the Titans are barely able to do much of anything.

Everything we do on Argus is ultimately going to lead to a stalemate. But let’s assume that Illidan doesn’t falter, and does manage to trap Sargeras with the help of the Titans. The Legion’s done as long as that happens, right?

No. First off, even with Argus gone, with Antorus no longer functioning, we know that even killing a demon in the Twisting Nether wasn’t enough while Antorus was still in operation. And we know that Antorus was in operation when both Archimonde and Kil’jaeden died. Their essences have likely already been collected. Their rebirths are nearly certain. And once they live again, they could easily reunite the Legion and start their assault on Azeroth again, when we least expect it. Even if we destroy Antorus and free Argus or slay him, the demons are still going to be reborn in the Nether when they’re slain elsewhere.

The end of Legion will be a monumental moment. It will be mortals foiling the will of Sargeras more directly than ever. But it could well be far from victory.

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