The fate of Teldrassil in Battle for Azeroth

At this year’s BlizzCon, one of the most shocking images for me was the one above of a burning Teldrassil. Since then, Blizzard has released a companion image called Approach to Teldrassil and together the two pieces sure seem to indicate a sort of mini-story of just what happened to lead us to where we are when Battle for Azeroth launches. Let’s take a look at both images and focus on the details, taking a look at the story we can tease out of these two pictures.

Before Teldrassil’s fall

It seems clear in this picture that the Horde has marched clear through Ashenvale and up the coast of Darkshore to reach Teldrassil. The swords and flames everywhere would suggest that the Alliance settlements along the way — Night Elf towns and havens all — have finally fallen to the Horde war machine that started burning their forests all the way back in Vanilla WoW. The figures in the center are of note — to my eyes, it looks like Nathanos Marris the Blightcaller, Saurfang, and Sylvanas standing before the shore while Horde warships make their way towards the World Tree itself.

I can’t tell if Teldrassil is already starting to burn in this image or if those are just the lights of the many, many chambers within the tree. But it’s fairly clear that in order to reach this point, the Horde already has destroyed almost all of what was once Night Elf in Kaimdor, their homeland.

Set a fire in its flesh

Here there can be no doubt.

Teldrassil burns, and Sylvanas stands front and center. She’s alone now — both Saurfang and Nathanos (if that’s who they are) have gone elsewhere, perhaps to lead the attack on Teldrassil. It’s still impossible to say for sure when this occurs — is it before the destruction of Undercity, or after? — but the fact that the Horde felt comfortable leaving Sylvanas alone on a beach in the middle of a battle implies that the full force of the Alliance is not here. Whether that means they’re back in Lordaeron trying to solidify their gains or that Sylvanas made this trip first to solidify her hold on Kalimdor and was caught flat-footed by the Alliance push on Undercity is as yet unknown. The Before the Storm sample chapter indicated that Sylvanas was planning an attack on Stormwind — did that happen?

If it did, does this attack follow it? Did the Night Elves perhaps interfere with that attack in some way? We don’t know. What we do know is that if the Alliance attacked first, and actually beat the Horde in the Eastern Kingdoms, Teldrassil would likely be the best target for revenge since Sylvanas couldn’t really project a lot of force to attack Stormwind with her bases in Lordaeron gone.  Likewise, if for some reason Sylvanas led the Horde to destroy Teldrassil first, an attack on Undercity would be brazen enough that she probably woudn’t expect it. Surprising from Anduin, but certainly a sound tactical decision.

The foreground of the two pictures is the same — the swords driven into the ground and so on — but it’s hard to draw any real conclusions about them. The lack of glaives and other Night Elf weapons makes me wonder if the Horde managed to destroy a chunk of the Alliance military here on their way to Teldrassil, or if the Night Elves retreated before the main assault and these are rough grave markers erected by the Horde for their own fallen.

My money is on either the Alliance attacked Lordaeron after Sylvanas attacked Stormwind and then she attacked Teldrassil to solidify her power in Kalimdor, or she attacked Teldrassil first. Anduin isn’t the type to sneak attack someone. We’ll find out eventually.

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