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WoWMay 30, 2018 4:00 pm CT

Datamined Battle for Azeroth cutscenes showcase Jaina’s power and Zul’s threat

Hello. This post? This one you’re reading right here? It’s all about datamined content from the Battle for Azeroth beta. It is by definition a spoiler post. If you read this and then you become upset because we spoiled the expansion for you, you have essentially ordered and consumed a hamburger only to be angry that it was a hamburger. The entire point of the post to follow this paragraph is to discuss information from a beta test of a video game. Spoilers ahead.

The folks at Wowhead once again dug up some information on Battle for Azeroth and the story to come. Though we’ve seen bits and pieces of this before, now we have some cutscene video — including the final battle of Zuldazar, Jaina wielding more power than we would have thought, and the sad fate of Saurfang. We don’t yet know how any of these stories will end, but the cutscenes have some big spoilers about how they begin. We’re going to talk about them now.

The fate of Saurfang

The first cutscene concerns a confrontation between Anduin and Saurfang towards the end of the Lordaeron scenario. Sylvanas has used the Blight on Alliance and Horde troops alike and raised the casualties into undeath to serve as mindless shock troops. This has, unsurprisingly, upset Saurfang, who confronts Sylvanas — but it doesn’t go as well as he might hope. Instead, she threatens to do the same to him after he dies. Saurfang still fights to defend the Horde, but he’s defeated by the Alliance and captured by Anduin… who’s much more sympathetic. This cutscene above is what follows Saurfang’s defeat by the Alliance, but if you’d rather read it, here’s the transcription:

Anduin: Alliance…hold!
Saurfang: No! I demand an honorable death!
Anduin: My father once said that Varok Saurfang embodied what was best about the Horde — its sense of honor. He admired you for that, and so do I.
Anduin: There is no honor in this.
Saurfang: That is not for an Alliance king to decide.
Anduin: At the moment, it is.
Anduin: Take him to the Stockades. Treat him with the respect he is due.
Anduin: When I return, we will speak of honor…and how it may yet be reclaimed.
Saurfang: If…you return.

Since we know that Saurfang doesn’t return to the Horde even after the Horde raids the Stockades — we’ll be talking about that shortly, but essentially he refuses to go with the rescue party — it’s fair to say that Sylvanas’ threat to defile his corpse after his death was likely a bridge too far for the old Orc Warrior. (Especially after he already saw the same happen to his son during the war against the Lich King).

His demand for an honorable death in this scene is consistent with the character we’ve known since the old days in Orgrimmar. We don’t know what will happen later on in the expansion or what Saurfang’s role will be in future storylines, but it’s clear that this is a pivotal exchange for both Saurfang and Anduin.

The cunning of Prophet Zul

The next two cutscenes really serve to highlight just how evil and cunning the Prophet Zul is. After Saurfang is captured, the Horde raids the Stormwind Stockades to rescue Princess Talanji and the Prophet Zul — though Saurfang refuses to leave with them. The Horde agents leave him behind and make a mad dash for freedom through the heart of Stormwind.

This mission is interesting for a variety of reasons, including the fact that apparently Jaina Proudmoore is such a powerful mage that an ancient Nightborne, First Arcanist Thalyssra herself, is completely unable to stand up to her. When Jaina catches up with the Horde agents, it’s the Prophet Zul who convinces Jaina to break off her pursuit, and it’s not by defeating her. Instead, he’s foreseen her capturing them and casually discarded a torch in such a way that, by the time Jaina reaches them, half of Stormwind is on fire.

Zul the Prophet: Do not be so hasty, now.
Zul the Prophet: You can try to subdue us, and likely succeed. But do you have time to waste?
Lady Jaina Proudmoore: No… it can’t be.
Zul the Prophet: Seems a mage of your…skill…could be very useful right now, hm?
Lady Jaina Proudmoore: This isn’t over!

After Zul and Talanji take the Horde forces aboard Talanji’s ship and escape back to Zandalar, the Horde storyline eventually leads us to a point where Zul reveals his true colors. He’s tired of Rastakhan’s reign, and all his contact with other Troll nations has given him an idea.

Like the Drakkari Trolls, he’s decided the Loa would serve his people better as power sources to consume than as patrons. Making a pact with G’huun, Zul and his ally Yazma (the head of the Zandalari intelligence services, known as the King’s Spider) betray and attempt to assassinate Rastakhan.

This means Zul was confident enough to believe he could strike down the King of the Zandalari and seize control of his kingdom after making a pact with an actual Old God… but he wasn’t confident that he could take on Jaina Proudmoore, even with the help of a 10,000 year old Nightborne mage and a bunch of other Horde heroes. That’s kind of terrifying.

King Rastakhan: No! Habutu!
King Rastakhan: Traitor! Seize her!
Zul the Prophet: You should have listened to Talanji.
Zul the Prophet: You have grown stagnant, old friend. You let our kingdom rot and decay. But I have forseen de troll empire rising again.
Zul the Prophet: No more treaties with outsiders… No more bargains with loa. Blood is our path now…De path of G’HUUN!
Yazma: Should we go after dem?
Zul the Prophet: No. In time, dey will come to us.

And apparently Zul has been spending the past few years making deals with people we’d thought we’d defeated. He’s learned tricks from the Gurubashi — his ally Yazma was the one who first discovered that the Gurubashi were using Blood magic and that Hakkar had returned, for example — the Drakkari, and even the Mogu. Part of his coup involves Mogu allies, and it’s clear that Zul has learned from the ritual that the Zandalari used to raise the Thunder King as well. He’s combining all these different elements into a grand plan to rise to power in service to G’huun.

But it gets worse.

The Death of the Loa of Kings

As part of the assassination attempt on Rastakhan, the King is left nearly dead, and in order to heal him the Loa of Kings, Rezan, must intercede with Bwonsamdi who has a hold on Rastakhan’s spirit. So restored, Rastakhan raises an army to confront Zul, and Rezan rushes ahead, as impatient as you might expect a Devilsaur Loa to be.

And it doesn’t end well for Rezan.

Yazma: Your visions had best be right about dis.
Rezan: Heretic!
Rezan: You trespass upon sacred ground.
Zul the Prophet: Ah, he arrives. De loa of…hmm…
Zul the Prophet: What do we call you now?
Rezan: Mind your tongue, traitor.
Zul the Prophet: Rezan, Rezan…
Zul the Prophet: Do you not understand?
Zul the Prophet: I am not your subject.
Zul the Prophet: and you have no place among kings.
Zul the Prophet: De time of da loa…is done.
Zul the Prophet: De hour of blood approaches.

It’s clear that Zul anticipated Rezan’s arrival and uses the power of G’huun to corrupt him, using his corpse as an engine of destruction that players will have to destroy in the 5-player dungeon. This is all part of Zul’s having co-opted the practices of the Drakkari and Gurubashi Troll tribes, as is the state of Yazma in the cut-scene. Horde players will have met Yazma as a completely ordinary Troll earlier, but Zul helps the High Priestess to devour her own Loa much as we saw the Drakkari do in Wrath of the Lich King.

It’s also this moment, where Rezan is corrupted and transformed by G’huun’s power, that is the reason Zandalar players can’t be Paladins. The Zandalar mobs in the Throne of Thunder raid we saw who had Paladin abilities were the Prelates, who served Rezan and drew their power from him. As the Loa of Kings, it was Rezan who empowered them, and with his fate revealed we now know why you can’t play one. Which is sad. Sad for you, anyway.

We’re definitely shaping up to see Zul as the first major antagonist of Battle for Azeroth, with his role in the Zandalari zones and his presence in Uldir. I’m curious who the major figures of the mid-expansion patches will be and where we’ll end up by the end of the expansion.

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