Who are the First Ones, and what were they trying to accomplish?
With Shadowlands patch 9.2 and Zereth Mortis, we’re left with the same question we’ve been asking since we first went to the Maw and used a First One’s gateway to travel to Oribos — namely, who the heck are the First Ones, where did they go, and what does any of this have to do with the Jailer and his plans for the Shadowlands?
Also, it feels a little gauche to ask, but are the First Ones dead? It would make sense, because the final raid of the expansion is the Sepulcher of the First Ones, and a Sepulcher is literally a tomb or monument in which something is laid to rest. So it would follow that the First Ones are buried in the Sepulcher bearing their name.
The First Ones presumably came first
We get some tantalizing hints from the raid and zone previews we’ve seen. For example, a Constellar (similar to Ulduar’s Algalon) is serving the Jailer within the Sepulcher. This is both reminiscent of Helya’s servant Harbaron and makes us wonder what the connection between the entities of the Pantheon of Death and the Titans of the mortal world is — are the Eternal Ones of the Shadowlands in some way related to the Titans? Or is there an underlying order to creation, and in each realm, entities such as the Titans and Eternal Ones rule and serve that order? Is it this very Order that Zovaal seeks to overthrow, and is that why he sought to steal the eye of Odyn, an entity created by the same Titans?
The belief of the Attendants in Oribos in a Purpose that controls the entire Shadowlands and is manifest in Oribos also has me wondering. We know the Arbiter was constricted from Zovaal — a piece of him extracted and shaped into an impartial being that would enforce the Purpose that he had betrayed — but how was this done? Is Oribos literally a cosmic machine, serving to funnel souls to various afterlives created by Zereth Mortis?
And oh yeah, Zereth Mortis makes afterlives. It might well even have made the entire cosmos.
There’s a lot going on here. The Jailer’s betrayal of the Purpose. His decision to attack the other Eternal Ones for their sigils, which led to a conflict that saw him banished to the Maw. His sigil and essence then used to create the Arbiter we saw when we first arrived in Oribos. And it all happened so long ago, it may well predate existence. I keep wondering why the sigils of the Eternal Ones seem so necessary to entering the Sepulcher, what they have to do with the First Ones, and why Zovaal is so sure the designs of the First Ones ended up flawed. It doesn’t feel like Zovaal knew the First Ones directly, just their works, which he deems insufficient in his hubris.
Is there really a Purpose to the Shadowlands? Did the First Ones shape it?
I wouldn’t be surprised if we discovered the First Ones are not only dead, but that they had to die in order for the cosmos as we dimly understand it to even exist, and that beings like the Eternal Ones and Titans (and presumably other cosmic entities like the Void Lords that exist on other planes of existence) are literally planned by the First Ones, created by them as part of the process of jumpstarting reality and creating a whole new existence to replace the one the First Ones were a part of. After all, we keep hearing that the Shadowlands are a timeless place — where better for such entities to go if they intended to create everything as we know it? It would probably take a very long time to make a reality if you had to do it someplace that had time.
Regardless, as the curtain begins to raise on the Sepulcher of the First Ones raid, we know relatively little of the First Ones. We know their title, and that they have a Sepulcher, which suggests that they are dead. We know they used Zereth Mortis to at least create various afterlives in the Shadowlands and potentially all of existence. And we know that Zovaal is traveling there to use the Sigils of the Eternal Ones to rip the secrets of the First Ones from their tomb, and use those secrets to recreate existence to his exacting specifications.
This will presumably make everything in existence his slave, based on his statements at the end of the Sylvanas Windrunner fight in Sanctum of Domination. Undoubtedly, we’ll discover more about these mysterious beings as we explore their creations in Zereth Mortis and their tomb.
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