Know Your Lore > WoWOct 13, 2017 2:00 pm CT

Know Your Lore, TFH Edition: Odyn and the power of death

The Titan Keeper and Prime Designate Odyn did not trust the Dragon Aspects. As he saw it, only those originally created by the Titans for the ordering of Azeroth could be entrusted with such a responsibility. The dragons were of Azeroth, but they weren’t worthy.

He hit upon a plan. Many of the Titan-Forged Vrykul had died valiantly battling the Old Gods in the name of Azeroth and her great destiny. The world itself was a Titan yet unborn, one of Odyn’s own creators — no mere dragon could be worthy of the responsibility of shepherding it into existence. And so, Odyn did the unthinkable.

Today’s Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition. The following contains speculation based on known material. These speculations are merely theories and shouldn’t be taken as fact or official lore.

The unthinkable

We’ve talked before about Odyn and Helya. Odyn asked his adopted daughter, a powerful Vrykul sorceress, to use her magic to raise the Halls of Valor up into a kind of pocket reality, a plane of their own. Then he told her of his plan to create the Val’kyr. He wanted to use them to harvest the souls of dead Vrykul heroes and place them in new, immortal Stormforged bodies. These soldiers would fight to defend Azeroth once the Dragon Aspects failed — as he knew they would. Horrified, she protested his plan, calling it monstrous. Why?

What about the plan so horrified Helya? We know that her protests didn’t stop Odyn. He forced Helya to become the first of his Val’kyr. This set in motion a chain of events that would lead to her joining forces with Loken. They banished the Halls of Valor and imprisoned Odyn and his army for eons. Helya then took control of a realm within the Shadowlands, where many Vrykul found themselves rotting in waterlogged corpses for Helya’s amusement, as Kvaldir.

Not all of the Val’kyr fell to Helya’s side — those loyal remained in the Halls of Valor. They could even return to the world of the living to gather souls. Odyn could do the same in the form of Havi, a mysterious runespeaker. And those of us who have ever seen our characters die have seen the Spirit Healers. In Chronicle we discover that Spirit Healers are Val’kyr who, despite being cut off from the Halls of Valor, remain loyal to Odyn, working against Helya. They intervene when great heroes are at the brink of death, allowing them to escape before Helya claims them.

What made Helya balk at Odyn’s plan? How did Odyn learned to make Val’kyr in the first place?

The secrets of death

When Odyn decided on his plan, he knew he lacked the ability to enact it. Using the spirits of deceased Titan-Forged was beyond his power. Death was final to him and his kind — when destroyed, the Titan-Forged ceased to exist. But there was some evidence that this didn’t need to be the case, such as the case of Keeper Mimiron. An accident in his laboratory destroyed his original body. But his Mechagnomes acted quickly and created a new body to house the spark of his existence, before it faded completely. That may have been what started Odyn on his dark path.

Odyn required insight into the Shadowlands, a mysterious mirror-realm that lies alongside Azeroth much as the Emerald Dream does. The Dream is a verdant land, a reflection of a perfect Azeroth blazing with life. The Shadowlands is a dark, cold place where death is the order of the day, a winter realm of the dead bordering on decay itself.

He forced Helya to aid him, summoning forth a being who could supply him with what he needed. But, as always, there was a price for it.

A great spirit appeared to Odyn from this circle, billowing up from ethereal mists, shapeless, to surround the keeper in shadow. “What will you give,” the spirit asked, “to peer beyond the veil of this world?”

Wise Odyn considered the wraith’s question. “I have two eyes,” he replied. “One to see in this world of mortals, and one to see into the realm of spirits.” And with that, Odyn plucked his own eye from his head and presented it to the spirit. The spirit clasped his eye and swallowed it whole, and great Odyn saw.

The Keeper’s Eye: The Legend of Odyn

 

Helya’s resentment

What this great spirit that Helya summoned from the Shadowlands was, we do not know. We also don’t know why it considered Odyn’s eye worth the trade. But the deal was struck and Odyn learned from the spirit — and we must note that Helya helped him do it. She knew before he made the bargain that he sought a means to raise the spirits of fallen Vrykul to his army. Knowing this, she still assisted him with his plan. So it wasn’t the idea of raising an army of Stormforged that bothered her. No, it was specifically the act of making the Val’kyr. {PB}

The Legend of Odyn gives a biased account of the battle between Helya and Odyn — the one that led to her becoming the first of the Val’kyr. In the book, it’s admitted that she objected to this course of action. But the rest of Odyn’s version of the story — that Helya was jealous that Odyn didn’t seek to make her a Val’kyr seems improbable. So does the claim that Helya nearly killed herself calling on power from the Shadowlands, that Odyn made her a Val’kyr to save her from being made a horrible wraith by their corrupt power. It’s clear that Helya, far from being grateful to Odyn for saving her from a fate worse than death, resented him.

We’ve already seen the effects of that resentment. Loken came to Helya offering her freedom from Odyn’s control. Once free, Helya used her power to seal the Halls. She seized control of many of the Val’kyr, creating her own realm in the Shadowlands.

Death’s advance

When considering this all, we have to ask several questions.

How did it benefit the entity that Odyn bargained with to consume his eye? What was the entity? How did it grant Odyn the power to make Val’kyr, and once she rebelled, how did Helya gain that power herself?

We’ve already heard of Demons, entities that come from the Twisting Nether and are the pure embodiment of Fel. We know of the Void Lords, monstrous beings from the plane of Shadow. We know the Naaru are somehow connected to the plane of Light, which contends with Shadow. If there can be Fel entities on par with Light and Shadow, perhaps other realms of existence have similar dreadful beings that seek to encroach on our reality. And right there bordering our reality is the Shadowlands. It’s a realm touching upon Decay, which itself touches upon a pure realm of Death.

Now, it’s tempting to think of these as mere conceptual places. But the Void Lords prove that they can have a terrible existence of their own. In A Thousand Years of War we’re told that the Void breeds madness because it sees all possibilities and views all as true, even the contradictory ones, while the Light sees one true path. So imagine, then, entities that see no true paths. Nothing is true to them. Destiny is meaningless, because all roads lead to death in the end.

Odyn looked back into his world with his other eye.

“What did you see, great Odyn?” Helya asked.

“I saw the answer,” wise Odyn said. “For in life, there exists death, and in death, there can be life. But there are only beings of life and beings of death. My messengers must span both realms.”

The Keeper’s Eye: The Legend of Odyn

Bridge between realms

Helya was the one who knew more of the Shadowlands — she was the one who summoned the entity Odyn bargained with. After all, Helya loved Odyn like a father, and served him in all things. She helped create the Elemental Planes for him alongside Highkeeper Ra. When Odyn demanded she hang the Halls of Valor in the sky she did so. She had misgivings about what he requested when he asked her to summon the entity from the Shadowlands, but she did as he asked, drawing upon the power of the Emerald Dream as well as the Shadowlands to make his request a reality. And how did he repay her?

He made her a blasphemous thing, a being that spanned both realms.

He opened a path between Life and Death. A path that wasn’t meant to be opened. There are only beings of life and beings of death. But with Helya, Odyn broke that. In one action he opened a way to reality for entities of death and changed the cosmic order forever.

What is a being that spans life and death, a being that exists in both? It’s neither dead nor alive. By definition, it’s undead. Before the Scourge, before the Forsaken, Keeper Odyn willingly created a servitor group of undead beings to deliberately breach the bounds of life and death for him. But why? And was it his idea or was he tricked? For that, you’ll need to come back next week.

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