Know Your Lore TFH: Azeroth’s countdown to chaos
If you’re not familiar with a Tinfoil Hat edition of Know Your Lore, here’s the deal. This post is not canon. It is speculation on World of Warcraft and where it might be going in the future. Please don’t take it to be anything that will actually happen.
One of the things that always weights my contemplation of the story of WoW is the sheer scale of it. How much time has passed, how many events huge and small have taken place. And the sheer volume of events in the current game. It used to be that Azeroth could go ten thousand years between demon invasions or Old God infestations. But nowadays we saw the Legion attack us twice within the past forty years. Three times, if you count the Old Horde and the opening of the Dark Portal.
Not that Azeroth has ever been peaceful. The planet has seen Elemental Lords battling one another. It’s seen invasions of Old Gods creating their Black Empire by beating the elementals into submission. And it’s seen Titan-Forged waging war against that Black Empire. After that, the Titan ordering of Azeroth did little to calm the world. If they weren’t battling threats from outside, Azeroth’s creatures are only too happy to fight each other. Whether it’s Mogu enslaving the peoples around what we today call Pandaria, or Trolls fighting for dominance before the Night Elves arose and pushed them back. We don’t need the Legion to fight each other.
The sheer weight of just how much has happened in the Warcraft setting is terrifying to contemplate. Especially when you realize that we have spent most of our lives living on the skin of an embryonic being more powerful than many gods. Azeroth is more than a world, it’s a being, a nascent Titan.
Distant shores to wash up on
Just as one point to consider. The Eredar civilization that Sargeras chose to help create his Burning Legion was already thousands of years old. And that event took place over twenty-five thousand years ago. Velen is older than twenty-five thousand years. Perhaps thousands of years older than that, and he’s still involved in events in the setting. There are artifacts used in Legion such as the Aldrachi Warblades that date back that far, or even older.
We don’t even know for sure how long ago the Old Gods arrived on Azeroth. Or how long the Black Empire endured, or even how far back in the past the arrival of the Titan-Forged was. How distant the arrival of Aman’Thul was when he physically ripped Y’Shraaj out of Azeroth and created the Well of Eternity. How many thousands of years passed between that event and the rise of the Kaldorei Empire. That itself lasted for thousands of years before the War of the Ancients.
Wars throughout history
It often feels like the pace is accelerating. It used to be that massive wars on a worldwide scale happened every thousand or two years apart. The war against the Black Empire created conditions that lasted until the Sundering. While there was plenty of conflict during the period, for thousands of years ancient Kalimdor continued on more or less as it had. Then the Sundering and the face of the world changed. It was a state of affairs that lasted for many thousands of years. During that time, yes, there were wars — the War of the Satyr happened some seven hundred or so years after the Sundering, for example — but the basic status quo remained unchanged.
But as time has passed, bigger and more important conflicts have arisen and happened more frequently. The Troll Wars were confined to the Eastern Kingdoms. But the consequences of that conflict led to the establishment of the kingdoms of Humanity. That inexorably led us to the establishment of the Guardians of Tirisfal, which caused the First War and the Dark Portal. And with each war and conflict — the Silithid and Qiraji in Silithus during the War of the Shifting Sands killing Valstann Staghelm, for example — the world pitched ever more precariously towards a state of total, continuous war.
It covers a vast sweep of time, the cycles of conflict, the reduction in pauses between said conflicts. What I’m pondering as I look at all this is that it seems to me that Azeroth has a countdown timer. That countdown is conflict itself. The wars that rage across the planet have gone from thousands of years apart to decades, if that. Now we’re in a situation where we could be said to have been in a state of continuous warfare since the Dark Portal opened.
The First and Second Wars were not actually separate wars at all. There was no time between them. The major combatants in each war were essentially the same — just more people added on each side. The Third War was roughly twelve years later, and that ignores events like the Invasion of Draenor and the War of the Spider that took place between the wars and kept conflict going.
Since the Third War, it’s been a little more than a decade. Azeroth has had no peace in that time. The return of Cthun, the battles against Ragnaros and Nefarian, the attack of Naxxramas. The reopening of the Dark Portal and the attack on the Black Temple, the Legion’s invasion of the Sunwell. The Lich King’s war, the Cataclysm, Pandaria and the Siege of Orgrimmar. All of it dwarfed by the most recent worldwide attack of the Burning Legion, and the coming of Sargeras.
The board is clear
Perhaps Sargeras was balked, but the world has become no more peaceful for that. The Horde and Alliance seem determined to prolong Azeroth’s bloodletting. Behind their fight lies other forces, equally thirsty for the wine of war’s butchery. If it’s a countdown then it’s gotten faster. The Titan Soul at the heart of Azeroth was wounded gravely by Sargeras’ final action before his confinement in the Seat of the Pantheon. But that doesn’t mean Sargeras, or the effects of his sword-stroke in Silithus, is gone. The Old Gods still infest the world, and Azeroth has nightmares.
And the Nightmare is now awake. With N’Zoth now being awake, with the Dragon Aspects no longer an impediment to its plans, the last lingering effect of the Cataclysm makes itself felt. Yes, Deathwing failed to destroy Azeroth. But it’s possible that all has gone as N’Zoth has wanted it to. That everything — every event from the Sundering to now has been exactly what N’Zoth wanted all along. The clock has almost finished counting down. Aspects and Wild Gods and even the Pantheon themselves are all removed from the board. The killer of Y’Shaarj is now a prisoner as well, trapped in the Seat of the Pantheon and unable to act for fear of Sargeras escaping. The only force that could kill an Old God is gone.
And the world is still infested. The violence grows, and the time between pulses, the time between spasms of war gets shorter and shorter. We have been in an almost constant state of war since the Dark Portal opened. When a countdown hits zero, something happens. Are we close to the birth of a Titan?
Will she be a Void Titan when she awakens?
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