Could the Light — not the Void — be our next enemy?
There has been much speculation that, after Shadowlands, the next chapter in World of Warcraft will take a cosmological turn — and many have been expecting a Light vs. Void expansion. But, based on certain developments in the story, both new and old… I have my doubts. Perhaps that war is further in the future than we think, and our next challenge is, instead, an event that exists to properly set it up: a battle between us and the forces of Light.
Warning: This post contains some spoilers for Shadowlands content.
Il’gynoth’s whispers warned us this would happen
We already know that, at some point early in Shadowlands, King Anduin Wrynn will go missing, and the Alliance will have to go looking for him in the Maw. In his absence, the person who will take the burden of leading the Alliance from the throne of Stormwind will be none other than High Exarch Turalyon. A development which just happens to fit very well with one of the infamous whispers of Il’gynoth:
“The golden one claims a vacant throne. The crown of light will bring only darkness.”
Consider this: The Void is already our enemy. By now, we have seen countless demonstrations of its power, its influence, its ethos of bringing the universe into eternal nothingness — something which it does not because it’s “evil,” but merely because it is in its nature to do so. Likewise, even if it’s not purely out of benevolence towards mortals, the Light is a force of peace, purity, and harmony, which aims to preserve and guide. It’s just the way that those cosmic forces behave within the Warcraft universe.
Therefore, if there were to be a war between the Light and the Void, siding with the Light would be… almost too obvious of a choice — at least to those that seek to continue existing. No, such as the pieces are laid on the board at the moment, it wouldn’t make sense to make us choose between a force that works for our preservation, and another that works for our extermination.
It would make more sense to turn the Light into an antagonist first.
We’ve already seen how the Light can be amoral — and even antagonistic
It is imperative to keep in mind that the Light and the Void are, first and foremost, cosmic forces — ones which can even be channeled and used by mortals. The Scarlet Crusade has been wielding the power of the Light, which they worship as a divine force, to practice evil deeds since the earliest days of the game. Blood Elves have siphoned the powers of a Naaru to empower their Blood Knights. On an alternate Draenor, we saw the society of the Arakkoa, controlled by a caste that had such fanatical devotion to the Light of the sun — which, in their view, had chosen them as a favored people — that they transformed it into a genocidal form of racial supremacy towards their wingless brethren that walked in the shadows.
In that same alternate Draenor, 30 years have passed, and our former ally Yrel now leads the Lightbound, a group formed not only by Draenei but also by Orcs. Those in their ranks have joined both willing and unwilling — because all who refuse to kneel before their One True Path are either purged or converted into their ranks. Yrel’s faction of Lightbound — which might even include the alternate version of a certain Garrosh Hellscream — certainly has the most potential at the moment to become the physical manifestation of the tyranny of the Light on Azeroth.
The Lightbound follow the teachings of a so-called “Light Mother.” The identity of this Light Mother is unknown, but she could end up being one and the same as Xe’ra: a powerful Naaru who once tried to force destiny upon others. Illidan Stormrage, her chosen hero, ended up rejecting, and then destroying her — and few can argue that it wasn’t a justified action.
Although Xe’ra could be seen as a “benevolent” being, her view of what is good for the universe might not translate into what is good for every being that inhabits it. The main takeaway from this story is the realization that doing things “for the greater good” can be a different form of evil — especially as observed by those who end up as innocent victims caught in the way of what is deemed to be “justice.”
We’re set up for a reversal of Horde and Alliance politics
The Alliance has always been more aligned with the Light than the Horde — from originally being the only faction with access to Paladins to the fact that it has four different Priests as racial leaders. So far, it’s always felt a bit more in tact that the Horde as well. And whenever the two factions found themselves in conflict with one another, the Horde has almost always been the aggressor, the inciter. Simultaneously, that makes them a more complicated, fractured faction, leaving us to watch as the Alliance sailed in far calmer waters, displayed unity, and kept the moral high ground.
Placing the Light as a future enemy is an opportunity to completely reverse this scenario. The Alliance is filled with figures who are strongly connected to the teachings of the Light — and who, not coincidentally, have much ahead of them in the coming expansion. Besides Anduin disappearing and being temporarily replaced by Turalyon, we also have Calia Menethil, an undead reanimated not by necromancy, but by the Light itself, as well as Tyrande on her quest for vengeance, wielding the terrifying powers of the Night Warrior. Each of those actors could potentially lead the Alliance to, for once, be the aggressors. And it could also divide them from within — something that the team has already been hinting at during recent interviews.
As for the Horde, it has recently rid its most controversial figures from its ranks. The likes of Garrosh, Sylvanas, and even Trade Prince Gallywix, are gone. There is no more Warchief. Instead, a council — which includes wise and benevolent figures such as Thrall and Baine Bloodhoof — directs the faction now. Despite the loss of Saurfang and another civil war, the Horde came out of Battle for Azeroth stronger and more united.
And they may need it. The Mag’har introductory scenario, which pitted the zealous forces of Light against both the Mag’har and the players helping them, showed us how dangerous a devotion to the Light can be. Those Lightbound might have been the first indication of what role that faction as a whole will play in what could be an unexpected prologue to the great cosmic war between Light and Void.
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