If you’ve logged into World of Warcraft recently, you may have noticed the skies above some of your favorite zones filled with fel fire or heard the doomsayers in the major faction cities warn everyone the end is near (again!). This is all part of the event leading up to the release of WoW’s latest expansion, Legion. Unlike previous expansions, however, Blizzard Entertainment has released a slew of pre-expansion media to catch everyone up on the World of Warcraft: Legion lore, including books, audio books, videos, comics, and in-game scenarios. We’ll dive into what revelations are offered up to players in a second, but first, we want to say very clearly:
What is Azeroth?
For years we’ve been gallivanting about this large planet, wiping out small herds of defenseless creatures for that ear that just won’t drop and taking sides in the Alliance-Horde rivalry. We know this big army called the Burning Legion is really interested in this hunk of rock, but there’s never been a really good explanation why Sargeras keeps running up against the brick wall of free will the sentient races have erected. If you’ve been lucky enough to get your hands on World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume I and paid attention, you already know the answer; for those that haven’t, though, consider taking your high-level character through the Broken Shore scenario and its follow-up quests, specifically “Finding Magni.”
That’s right – Magni Bronzebeard. Since Cataclysm, he’s been beneath Ironforge frozen in place after trying to protect his people from the destruction wrought by Deathwing. Frozen and turned into crystal. Recently, though, he awoke, claiming Azeroth spoke to him. Later, after his brother convinces us to travel with him to Ulduar, we learn the truth: Magni is now “The Speaker,” serving as the voice for Azeroth. And Azeroth isn’t just a planet, she is a slumbering Titan.
Chronicle also points out that Azeroth may be the strongest titan ever encountered by the old Pantheon, the same Pantheon good ol’ Sargeras pretty much wiped out. Sargeras may want to completely destroy her or — at the very least — destroy the souls living upon her and then corrupt her.
Pillars of Creation
The Pillars of Creation are what the titans used to create Azeroth. Multiple pre-expansion sources, including Chronicles and the “Finding Magni” scenario, stress the importance of finding the ancient artifacts. They are the only thing that can seal off the portal Gul’dan opened at the Tomb of Sargeras, so that’s the big push we have for rushing into the Broken Isles to secure them.
The Burning Legion is set on recovering them as well. At first blush, it would make perfect sense for the demons to procure the only thing that can possibly block them from moving the entirety of their army to Azeroth. During the last bit of pre-expansion questing, however, we get a hint that there may be an even bigger reason for the Legion to get their hands on them. The titans used them as a force for creation, but Alodi, the first Guardian of Tirisfal, tells us that they can also be used as a tool for destruction. Perhaps the Legion invasion is a diversion, an attempt to distract the kingdoms from recognizing Sargeras’s true intent of recovering arguably the most powerful weapon ever created.
Players who pre-ordered the expansion have been able to play as the new demon hunter hero class. As part of that experience, it is revealed that Gul’dan has managed to infiltrate the Vault of the Wardens where Illidan’s body is kept preserved. The demon hunter quests reveal he is, like his demonic opponents, immortal, as are all demon hunters. Gul’dan steals Illidan’s body and steps through a portal, leaving players wondering what Illidan’s fate might be.
If the events of World of Warcraft: Illidan can be believed, it isn’t all doom and gloom. In it, an elder naaru informs Illidan that his enemy is “far greater than the Burning Legion” or any of its commanders, including Sargeras. The naaru is referring to The Void, the antithesis to the Light. The creature shows Illidan a vision of the future where the demon hunter is a warrior of the Light, still winged and using his warglaives while leading the armies of both Azeroth and Outland. The naaru also correctly predicts his downfall at the Black Temple, but insists he will defy death and insists that whatever he was or is, he will always be a warrior of the Light.
Playing through the pre-expansion event of the Broken Shore is an epic experience. Demons are everywhere, and there’s no shortage of danger as the entirety of the island is overrun. The Legion cinematic already showed that Varian Wrynn and Sylvanas Windrunner have crashed on the island in their attempt to launch an invasion. Players scramble with other faction leaders to make it to their respective heroes, crossing paths at one point to take down a massive demon together…
…and, since we’re talking about spoilers, Tirion Fordring doesn’t get a happy ending. From what little can be gathered from Argent Crusade survivors, it looks like they were already stationed on the Broken Shore right when the skies opened up and the Burning Legion swarmed through. They are pretty well decimated and Tirion is kept prisoner, serving as bait for both factions. The aforementioned demon, under command of Gul’dan, kills him in front of everyone. We wish we could say that was the most tragic death on the Broken Shore, but it just isn’t so.
After the Alliance and Horde make their way to the central portal where Gul’dan and his forces are, the Alliance charge into the central ground for a direct confrontation while the Horde cover them from above. Unbeknownst to the Alliance leadership — especially Jaina Proudmoore — the Horde’s lines break and Vol’jin is impaled upon a felguard’s sword. With little option, lest they all die, Sylvanas signals a retreat, leaving the Alliance at the mercy of Gul’dan.
Varian, ever the valiant hero, orders his soldiers to flee, returning to the battle when their gunship is almost ripped out of the sky. Though everyone else manages to escape, Varian endures a fate much worse than Vol’jin when he comes to the feet of Gul’dan: the orc warlock uses fel magic to rip him apart.
Predictably, Anduin becomes leader of Stormwind and the Alliance. What comes as an utter surprise, however, is who the leadership falls to when Vol’jin eventually dies in Orgrimmar. He reveals to the gathered leaders that he has been given a vision that ensures the survival of the Horde, passing the title of Warchief to… Sylvanas.
We can’t wait to learn more about the fates of our favorite Warcraft heroes when the Legion expansion launches Aug 30. Check out the WoWWiki to get a more in-depth look at the events leading up to the new expansion.