Know Your Lore: Kaja’mite and the origin of Goblins
The origins and purpose of Kaja’mite are a mystery. It’s rare, difficult to mine, and it has strange effects on those who are exposed to it. And it’s showing up in Battle for Azeroth, at a time when mysterious materials like Azerite aren’t in short supply. So just what is Kaja’mite? Why does it have the effects it does? Why does it seems to show up most in places that were once south of the Well of Eternity? How has it made Goblins a technological terror and a mercantile menace?
Mimiron, the inventive Titan Keeper, first discovered Kaja’mite. He was intrigued with the substance and wanted to experiment with it. Being slightly less concerned with ethics than we might like, he began doing so by exposing various races to the mineral.
Yes, Mimiron really needed a brush up on the whole experimental ethics front.
But here’s what’s fascinating — this all took place before the Sundering, in the forests surrounding Ulduar. What forests? The Storm Peaks today are hardly known for their forests. Perhaps the areas around Camp Tunka’lo or Dun Niffelem were less wintry in years past. Mimiron took the Kaja’mite and used it in experiments. One race, a group of small forest dwelling people, reacted to the Kaja’mite.
Their intelligence grew by leaps and bounds. For a baseline comparison, the Pygmies descend from the same common ancestor group as the Goblins. If you’re wondering if the Kaja’mite had a noticeable effect, just compare the two groups.
Still, one thing Mimiron noticed immediately was that the intelligence-boosting effect of the Kaja’mite faded fairly quickly. As long as his experimental subjects were ingesting the substance in some way, whether inhaling it in a vaporized form or consuming it, the enhanced intelligence remained. But once the Kaja’mite supply was cut off, that enhanced intellect faded. Not completely — Goblins are still smarter than Pygmies and the other notable physical changes remained — but the fall off was drastic.
The Sundering and the decline
Mimiron monitored this experiment for an unknown length of time. Keeper Loken eventually betrayed and murdered him at the behest of the Old God Yogg-Saron, so it’s possible that distracted him. The fate of the Storm Peaks proto-Goblins is also a mystery. Did they gradually migrate south? Did they remain? The fate of the Goblins hinged on the Kaja’mite. Thousands of years after Mimiron first experimented on them, the War of the Ancients happened. The Well of Eternity imploded, much of ancient Kalimdor was drowned, and the Goblins were cut off from their supply.
The implications of all this are many, but one thing stands out — no Kaja’mite can be found in Northrend today. Yet the area around Ulduar almost certainly had some. The Goblins weren’t cut off from the substance even after Mimiron stopped paying attention to them. They were only cut off from it when the Sundering happened.
Deprived of the substance, the Goblins fell back into a state similar to that which Mimiron found them. They were unable to remember even that Kaja’mite itself existed. The Goblins eventually ended up on the island of Kezan, a sea-tossed pack of refugees that barely remembered who and what they’d once been. An experiment abandoned by its creator.
The coming of the Zandalar
It’s hard to say what would have become of the Goblins if not for the arrival of the mighty Zandalari Trolls. Following the Sundering, the Zandalar were in a strong position. Their mountain home had become a massive island, protected by their powerful Loa and ritual magics. And they were set on exploring the new islands in the sea, formed when Kalimdor had been swallowed up.
One of the islands they found was Kezan. At first, they and the Goblins more or less ignored one another. This changed when the Zandalar found an enormous deposit of a magical mineral, one so powerful it could be used in rites, on the island. There were similar deposits on Zandalar Isle, but nothing this large. This underground mineral deposit could last for years and years. It was a treasure trove, and the Zandalar knew exactly how to extract it with minimal difficulty.
They enslaved the Goblins and forced them to dig it up.
A Goblin renaissance
Neither the Goblins nor the Zandalar realized that the mineral was the same substance Mimiron used when he created the Goblin race. Indeed, the Goblins didn’t even remember Mimiron or his experiments. But those experiments were replicated as the Goblins toiled to excavate the Kaja’mite from underneath Mount Kajaro. The dust of the excavated Kaja’mite was inhaled by the Goblin slaves, and not their Zandalari masters. As they inhaled it, they began to get ideas.
It took thousands of years of toil under the brutal Zandalari slavemasters. But the Goblins were crafty, patient, and stockpiled all the tools and materials they would need. Aided by the Kaja’mite, they worked to perfect the strange ideas percolating in their minds. Some one hundred years before the First War, the Goblin slaves finally struck.
Overnight, the Zandalar found themselves facing an army of thousands upon thousands of slaves armed with devices unlike anything anyone had ever seen. It was terrifyingly advanced technology that helped the Goblins crush their overseers and drive them from Kezan. The remaining Trolls were forced to dig out the Kaja’mite for the Goblins, who craved the rush of ideas it brought. Flush with victory, brains boiling with ideas, the Goblins immediately created a utopia on Kezan.
Hah, no, they totally attacked each other in an orgy of inventive violence and violent inventions that only ended when the largest and most powerful factions brokered peace. These factions, the ancestors of the modern Goblin cartels, were tired of endless slaughter with no winner and no profit. They shifted their violence onto the mercantile front, engaging in complicated economic exchange with the world at large. They used profits to fight not with bombs and guns, but with buyouts and shakedowns. Kezan did become a kind of utopia… if you were a Goblin.
What price Kaja’mite?
But Kaja’mite is a fickle mistress and the Goblins soon found themselves running low. As before, their expanded intellects took the hit. Goblin technology was sophisticated, and now they didn’t fully understand it. This led to malfunctions and explosive failures. The mercantile nature of their culture became more prominent as they became more desperate to seek out any pocket of Kaja’mite they could find, anywhere in the world it happened to be.
So this leads us to consider — what is Kaja’mite? It’s potent enough magically that the Zandalar were willing to use slave labor to mine for it for thousands of years. It clearly has a rapid and drastic effect on those that ingest it. But what is it? Where does it come from? We know what Saronite is, the blood of an Old God. We know what Azerite is, the blood of a Titan. But we have no idea what Kaja’mite is, where it comes from or why it seems to created increased intelligence in those that ingest it. Mimiron found the material thousands of years before the Sundering. Even he didn’t seem to know what it was or where it came from.
When you ingest Kaja Cola, you literally have ideas — it creates inspiration. It’s the old saw “Where do you get your ideas?” in liquid form. The ideas only last as long as the ingesting of the mineral continues, but it’s clear that the Goblins are also physically different than their Pygmy relatives. Why? Why does Kaja’mite fade so quickly from the mind but leave long lasting changes to the body? Considering the substance has existed at one time or another in the Storm Peaks, on Kezan and on Zandalar Isle itself, the dispersal makes me curious. We know that the Heart of Y’Shaarj survived the Old God’s death, but what of the brain of the Seven-Headed one? What of its blood?
In the Prophecy of C’Thun, we’re told a Titan fell in Silithus in battle with the Old God. Many of the Titan-forged were destroyed in the cataclysmic battles between the Black Empire and the armies of the Titans. It’s possible that Kajamite might be of Titanic origin. Mimiron didn’t know, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t so. For now, all we know is that it exists, it’s greatly prized by Goblins, and there’s some deposits of it on Zandalar Isle. Battle for Azeroth might well see us killing each other over ideas dug out of the ground.
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