Know Your Lore: The history of the Dark Iron Dwarves
The Dark Irons are going to be an Allied Race in Battle for Azeroth. But why? Are these the same Dark Irons we’ve been seeing in WoW since the early days? The ones Moira Thaurissan rules over as regent for her son? The Dark Iron who join as an Allied Race are recruited during Kul Tiras leveling in Battle for Azeroth. From that, we can assume they’re somehow involved in that island nation.
Sure, we don’t have the exact means by which we’ll finally get playable Dark Irons. But the Dark Iron clan has been around in WoW for a while.
Ironforge and the clan divide
The Dark Iron clan dates back to before the War of the Three Hammers, when the Anvilmars ruled in Ironforge. The Bronzebeards ruled the military and considered themselves the elite. The Wildhammers sought the crags and mountain peaks of the surface. The Dark Irons, however, dwelled in the deepest caverns and shadows of the vast city. Just before Modimus Anvilmar’s death, the Dark Irons were ruled by a Sorcerer-Thane named Thaurissan. He commanded immense magical power, and used secrecy as a weapon.
Still, Ironforge itself was a powder keg waiting to go off. No one was as excited for the moment the throne came up for grabs as Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan and his wife Modgud. But neither dared to make a move as long as the popular and long lived Modimus Anvilmar ruled. Upon the old king’s death, all three Dwarven clans acted. Their first move was to push the Anvilmar line off of the throne.
Modiumus did have a son, heir to the Anvilmar legacy and the throne of High King of all Dwarves. But the three clans couldn’t wait to start fighting over who would be the true ruling power in Ironforge. In the wake of Modimus’ death, a civil war broke out. Instead of a High King of the Anvilmar line, what Ironforge got was war. It was a ruinous, costly war that raged until the Bronzebeards managed to drive the Wildhammers and Dark Irons out of the city. Victorious, the Bronzbeards claimed Ironforge for their own.
Resentment and revenge
Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan and Modgud moved to the Searing Gorge and Burning Steppes in the Redridge Mountains. The city of Thaurissan was built, a proud city that became the heart of a growing Dark Iron nation. Unlike their Wildhammer cousins, who built a new home in Grim Batol and lost interest in Ironforge, Thaurissan and his people were enraged at what they’d lost during the civil war. The return to Ironforge became an almost religious grievance. It was something they nursed and brooded upon. Thaurissan’s ego was vast — he’d mastered sorcery and saw himself as a subtle genius. Losing the war and being driven from his home did not sit right with him.
Their bitterness extended even to the Wildhammer Dwarves. Yes, the Wildhammers lost Ironforge as well, but they and the Bronzebeards had managed to reach a wary peace. Besides which, it was as much the Wildhammers fault the Bronzebeards had won in the Dark Iron’s eyes. Had the Wildhammers simply submitted to Dark Iron rule, they could have focused all their attention on the Bronzebeards.
While her husband plotted, Modgud buried herself in research. She sent agents far and wide to bring her magical tomes or artifacts with which she could learn more. The Dark Iron were once Ironforge’s spymasters and arcanists. In exile, they’d use those same talents against their former home. One such artifact, a blade name Xal’atath, eventually came into her possession. Some of her agents reported that they heard her talking to it. Whatever else it was, it clearly was powerful, and with it Modgud became even more dangerous.
Three Hammers clash and mountains fall
Thaurissan led the Dark Iron into a two pronged assault on their Bronzebeard and Wildhammer enemies. While his wife Modgud took the fight to Grim Batol, he led his army in an all out assault on Ironforge. It wasn’t an impossibility. Thaurissan and his followers had spent the time building a powerful war machine. While Modgud took it upon herself to study every scrap of arcane knowledge her people possessed, Thaurissan created an army of war golems to bolster his followers ranks. The numbers seemed to be on the Dark Iron’s side. Even with a divided force he had a larger army under his personal command than the Bronzebeards. Modgud similarly outnumbered the Wildhammers.
And if war was a game of horseshoes, it would have been good enough. Thaurissan and his forces marched all the way through Bronzebeard territors, laid siege to Ironforge, and managed to get into the city. But the Bronzebeards had been the military army of the old Dwarven nation for a reason. Once the Dark Irons had extended themselves, Madoran Bronzebeard began to push back against their forces, hitting them on all sides.
The Wildhammers fared worse. Modgud led the Dark Irons into the heart of Grim Batol. Once there, she used the power of a dark artifact to bring the shadows of the Wildhammer city to horrible life. Beset by a city full of shifting monstrosities of pure darkness, all Khardos Wildhammer could do was to throw every body he had, including his own, in a desperate attack. They managed to reach and kill Modgud — now deserted by the same evil blade that had brought her to the brink of victory — and disperse the Dark Iron army on the cusp of its victory.
Ironforge had seen an enemy army penetrate to its core for the first and to date last time in its existence. Grim Batol was now unlivable, infested by evil magic. The Bronzebeards and Wildhammers now had a common enemy and a common purpose. Madoran Bronzebeard met with and swore an alliance with Khardos Wildhammer, one that swore to chase the retreating Dark Iron armies back to Thaurissan and wipe out the Dark Iron clan once and for all.
And Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan knew they could do it, too. He’d gambled everything on the strength of his army and the power of his and his wife’s sorcery. But now Modgud was dead, and the armies they’d both led had been savaged. The combined Bronzebeard/Wildhammer army was far larger than his remaining forces. He could not prevent their arrival by strength of arms. And so, he delved once more into forbidden magics — using the same library of tomes that had driven Modgud to find and claim the black blade Xal’atath. What he found was something else — a ritual that would allow him to use the molten fury at the heart of the world itself as a weapon.
But while Thaurissan was a greedy, grasping, calculating and sinister man who toyed with forces beyond his ken, one thing is clear — he’d truly loved his wife. Her loss ate away at him, her death enraged him. He was not in the proper place or set of mind to even be attempting to cast a spell as complex as the one he found himself attempting to use against the assembled Dwarf host heading towards his city. Thoughts of Modgud’s death and all he’d lost in the campaign, the pressing danger and the rage he was seething with all hit him at once.
Ragnaros comes to Thaurissan
Thaurissan lost control of the spell. In an instant, his whole world was ripped away from him. The seething fury reached far further than he’d intended. On the spot where he’d hoped to call forth the power to destroy his enemies, a being who hadn’t walked the surface of Azeroth since the days of the Black Empire burst forth into flaming existence.
The city of Thaurissan was wiped out by the terrible explosion — it turned a once lush region into a flaming, volcanic wasteland. The humans of Stormwind were protected by the Redridge mountains, but the approaching Dwarven army saw what they took to be a disaster — an unparalleled volcanic eruption right where Thaurissan’s city had been.
Ragnaros the Firelord had returned to Azeroth. And the Dark Irons entered into a two century period of enslavement to the whims of a being ancient when the world was young, who saw all that live as fuel to burn.
Next week, the Dark Irons in the modern world.
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