There are many eras of Azeroth and it is my intention to categorize these eras for ease of understanding. Eventually, we will have a timeline on this post, but for now we’ll divide the history into a few different Eras.
Before we begin talking about Azeroth, I always want to remind the potential reader that almost all that we know in Lore stems from the Titans and the fall of their Guardian, Sargeras, now leader of the Burning Legion. The Pantheon Council, leaders of Titans, massive shapers of the cosmos, set out with their Titan race to shape the fledgling universe across the vastness of the Great Dark following the formation of the universe as we know it. They shaped and sculpted planets in an attempt to organize and create order in an otherwise chaotic existence.
According to the book “The Titans and the Shaping of the Universe” found at The Scarlet Monastery in Tirisfal Glades (Or, possibly called the “Mythology of the Titans”), the Titans had visited over a hundred million worlds, bringing order where once was chaos. It appears at some point, the Titans realized the threat of the extra-dimensional creatures within the Twisting Nether, who (it is my belief) are a reference to the Old Gods’ source. It is also the source of void-creations, demons, and malefic beings bent on the consumption of all life. The Titans could hardly even fathom evil at all, referenced by the ending sentence of the book, stating: “Unable to conceive of evil or wickedness in any form, the Titans struggled to find a way to end the demons’ constant threat.”
When the evil creatures of the twisting nether began to invade and infect the Titans’ worlds, they had no choice but to elect their greatest warrior as their first line of defense against these creatures. Enter Sargeras, molten bronze Titan that fought the forces of the void for countless millennia, destroying demonic influence where ever it may lurk.
The book then describes two races that Sargeras encountered that troubled him deeply enough to start the process of his falling. First, and the most controversial, is the Eredar. According to the lore book “Sargeras and the Betrayal”, the passage describing his encounter reads:
The eredar, an insidious race of devilish sorcerers, used their warlock magics to invade and enslave a number of worlds. The indigenous races of those worlds were mutated by the eredar’s malevolent powers and turned into demons themselves.
This is very interesting, because the source race of a very popularly known race, is the Eredar. They are currently known as the Draenei. Now, obviously this conflicts. Additional research indicates that the Eredar were not a corrupt race of evil creatures, but were a peaceful race that had an affinity for magic. It is unclear whether or not the portion of this story is changed so as to presume he had not encountered the Eredar while he was still good, and that the function of his fall was the culmination of his eons of battle with the creatures of the voice, and the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak, was his encounter with the second race, the Nathrezim.
Before I go into the Nathrezim, it’s important to note that according to http://wow.gamepedia.com/Eredar, the Eredar were among the first demons to join Sargaras’ Burning Legion, and that they were already experiencing corruption at the hands of demonic power.
The Nathrezim were the second race that Sargeras encountered and are known most commonly as Dreadlords. Their specialty was to possess inhabitants of worlds and slowly turn them to darkness. It is suggested that, while in his weakened mental state, and while battling the Nathrezim, the manner in which they corrupted whole worlds deeply affected him. The chain reaction had begun, and Sargeras became riddled with doubt and despair (not unlike those affected by the Nathrezim’s influence, further suggesting they had been at the right place at the right time).
Eventually Sargeras came to doubt the entire mission of the Titans, believing that the Void was endless and corruption was guaranteed, and the plan to order chaos would only result in the needless suffering of all that lived. He believed that “[…] chaos and depravity were the only absolutes within the dark, lonely universe.”
Sargeras turned from being self-destructive, to blaming the Pantheon and the Titans for creation’s failure. He decided to make it his life’s goal to undo the Titans’ work and that he would form an unstoppable army that would undo all of the universe.
The original lore — the same lore that suggested that the eredar were an inherently evil race — claims Sargeras shattered the prison he had placed the Eredar into and recruited their most powerful champions as his lieutenants; Kil’jaeden and Archimonde.
Modern lore stipulates that, instead, the Eredar were the peaceful, magically and technologically advanced inhabitants of Argus and that Sargeras offered and ultimately corrupted 2 of the 3 leaders of the Eredar people. Those two leaders are Kil’jaeden and Archimonde. The third was the Prophet Velan, who rebuked Sargeras’ offer and, with refugees and with the help of the Naaru, fled Argus in the trans-dimensional transportation ship, Oshu’gun. Somewhere between 25,000 years ago (when Sargeras tempted the Eradar) and now, after encountering several other planets but never making a home, they landed on a small world they named Draenor and entered friendly trade exchanges with the native Orc clans, until they were found.
We’ll go into more about that later, but that more-or-less brings us up to speed.
The Old Gods Era
About 147,000 years ago, when Azeroth was first formed, before the Titans came, it was ruled by the elements of the planet, and the evil Old Gods who bent the elemental lords to their service. According to “The Old Gods and the Ordering of Azeroth”, the Titans had no idea what Sargeras was doing when they happened upon Azeroth. Here, they encountered the Old Gods and were disturbed by their evil. As such, they waged a mighty war, Titan creators versus the Old Gods and their sworn lieutenants, the four elemental lords: Ragnaros the Firelord, Therazane the Stonemother, Al’Akir the Windlord, and Neptulon the Tidehunter.
The war lasted for a very, very long time. The Old Gods were the beings that allowed the elemental lords and their elemental creatures to walk across the surfaces of Azeroth. When the Titans shattered the temples of the Old Gods and bound them deep under ground, the elemental lords and their followers were banished to their elemental realms. Unable to completely destroy the Old Gods, they imprisoned them
Once they set to work, they needed to create a multitude of races to help them fashion the world. To that end, they created the earthen (dwarves) from living stone and the sea giants to lift the land from the sea. For ages, the Titans shaped and molded Azeroth (From 147,000 years ago, until roughly 64,000 years ago, in fact). Finally, they were left with one single, perfect continent. At the center they crafted a lake of powerful energies called the Well of Eternity and because of this powerful source of energy, all creatures and life of every kind began to grow and thrive across the continent. They named this continent “Kalimdor” the Land of Eternal Starlight.
The Era of Harmony
As the aspects were leaving Kalimdor, they charged the dragonflights with defending the newly formed world. There were lots of dragonflights, but the main 5 were the Green, Blue, Bronze, Red, and Black dragons.
According to the text:
Aman’Thul, the Highfather of the Pantheon, bestowed a portion of his cosmic power upon the massive Bronze Drake, Nozdormu. The Highfather empowered Nozformu to guard time itself and police the evry-spinning pathways of fate and destiny. The stoic, honorable Nozdormu became known as the Timeless One.
Eonar, the Titan patron of all life, gave a portion of her power to the red leviathan, Alexstraza. Ever after, Alexstraza would be known as the Life Binder and she would work to safeguard all living creatures within the world. Due to her supreme wisdom and limitless compassion for all living things, Alexstraza was crowned the Dragonqueen and given dominion over her kind.
Eonar also blessed Alexstraza’s younger sister, the lithe green dragon Ysera, with a portion of nature’s influence. Ysera fell into an eternal trance, bound to the waking Dream of Creation. Known as the Dreamer, she would watch over the growing wilds of the world from her verdant realm, the Emerald Dream.
Norgannon, the Titan lore keeper and master-magician, granted the blue dragon, Malygos, a portion of his vast power. From then on, Malygos would be known as the Spell-Weaver, the guardian of magic and hidden arcannum.
Khaz’goroth, the Titan shaper and forger of the world, bestowed some of his vast power upon the mighty black wyrm, Neltharion. The great-hearted Neltharion, known after as the Earth-Warder, was given dominion over the earth and the deep places of the world. He embodied the strength of the world and served as Alexstraza’s greatest supporter.
It’s clear that the Titans knew there was a measurement of risk. We can’t say for sure, but that they spent so much time and gave portions of their power to the aspects to protect Azeroth, they knew that the world was special, albeit among hundreds of millions of worlds they had shaped before it. It was at this point that Azeroth entered its greatest place of peace and harmony. Life grew and flourished without incident for almost 50,000 years.
Approximately 14,000 years ago, among many of the primal races growing across Kalimdor, one race eventually made their way to the Well of Eternity, enchanted by its power. Over time, they built homes on the shores of this lake and the Well’s power ultimately developed them into strong, wise, and virtually immortal creatures. These creatures adopted the name “Kaldorei” which means “children of the stars”.
The Kaldorei worshipped the moon goddess, Elune, who was believed to have slept within the Well of Eternity. Naturally the Kaldorei explored the rest of Kalimdor and encountered many of the other races of the world. They never experienced any race that would give them pause, except for the powerful dragons.
It was during this time that the night elves first encountered Cenarius, who taught them about the natural world. Malfurion was the first of the night elves to learn what would later be called Druidism.
It is my personal belief that Malorne, the great White Stag, had spent much time near the Well of Eternity in his life, and thus had eventually produced a child blessed by Elune, the Moon Goddess, (who I believe is the essence of the Well of Eternity and radiates from the Moon).
In time, as the Night Elf culture expanded, the queen Azshara, ruler of the Night Elves, built a massive palace at the shores of the Well of Eternity. There, she kept her most favored servitors, whom she named “Quel’dorei”, or “Highborne”. These servitors were envied and disliked by most of the Night Elf society, though all Night Elves loved Azshara.
Like the priestesses who studied the Well of Eternity, Azshara was exceptionally interested in the power the Well held. Approximately 13,500 years ago, she ordered the Highborne to study it endlessly to determine its purpose in our world. They obeyed her every command. They devoted themselves to it and discovered ways to manipulate its power and thus they discovered primitive magic and devoted themselves fully to mastering it.
Because the Elves began to practice such magic with reckless abandon, the wiser elves of the culture began to dislike it, warning against using such power so brazenly. A rift in their society formed and the snooty High Elves began treating their fellow Night Elves with increased callous and cruelty.
It is during this time that their brazen use of magic caught the attention of Sargeras and the Burning Legion. Thus began Azshara’s slowly-seeded corruption. It was these events that lead up to the stories involving The Well of Eternity and The War of the Ancients occur. Because Queen Azshara was intoxicated by the power of Magic and the Well of Eternity, she was seduced by Sargeras’ power and Azshara and the Highborn began to devote themselves to opening a vast, swirling portal in the depths of the Well of Eternity. Once the portal opened, Sargeras began invading Azeroth with the Burning Legion and such started the First War. Archimonde and Mannoroth lead the Burning Legion and swarmed over all regions of Kalimdor, destroying all they could find. Kalimdor’s temples were obliterated by falling hellish meteors and the Doomguard slaughtered all life they could find. The Kaldorei tried to fight back the Burning Legion, but could not hold out against their might, and were steadily pushed back.
Malfurion, Illidan, and Tyrande sought to find aid against the legion, all the while Illidan suffered from his addiction to the Well of Eternity’s magic. He fought it with the help of Tyrande’s guiding hand, and together they found the Dragon Aspects and their flights and begged for their help. Alexstraza answered the call, sending the mighty flights of the Dragons to combat the burning legion. Simultaneously, Cenarius rallied an army of ancient protector treants and assaulted the Burning Legion. At the cusp of the battle, Azshara and the Highborn channeled their energies to allow the portal to be large enough for Sargeras to pass through, eagerly anticipating their new master’s arrival.
Simultaneously, Neltharion betrayed the Dragons thanks to the corruption of the Old Gods that had been eating away at him for thousands of years. In one movement, his form erupted and split and he renamed himself Deathwing. He became the burning dragon and drove Alexstraza and the rest of the flights from the battlefield. It is said that his betrayal was so incredible, so intense, and so destructive that the Dragonflights have never truly recovered. Because of his betrayal, the dragonflights were forced to abandon their mortal allies.
It is as this point that Malfurion believed the Well of Eternity was the device that kept the Demons tethered to their world. This also suggests that the Burning Legion is not always capable of walking across the physical, mortal planes. One possible theory is that Sargeras and the other Titans do not defaultly reside on the same physical plane that we know, and that this is why Sargeras needed to recruit lieutenants and why they need such conduits to appear, rather than simply traveling. Even the Draenei had to use a Trans-dimentional ship, called the Oshu’gun, to escape Argus, and then again the Exodar, to escape Draenor. This is a great discussion to have for another day though.
When Malfurion suggested destroying the Well of Eternity, his brethren balked at the idea, knowing that the Well was the source of their immortality. Still, Cenarius and the convention of his allies assaulted the Well of Eternity and Azshara’s temple. When this plane fell upon Illidan’s ears, his addiction for magic took over. He knew that if they destroyed the Well of Eternity, he would never be able to wield magic again. In a selfish act, Illidan departed to warn the Highborn of Malufirion’s plan. Illidan secretly resented his brother, Malfurion, for his affections with Tyrande and his desperate need brought on by his magical addiction drove him insane. Because of this, Illidan betrayed Malfurion to Azshara, and vowed to protect the Well’s power by any means necessary.
Tyrande attempted to attack Azshara from behind, but was caught off guard by her Highborn guards. She dispatched them, but was gravely wounded. Seeing this, Malfurion went into a rage, and became determined to destroy Azshara and to end her life. As the battle continued, Illidan began to steal the waters of the Well of Eternity in special vials, convinced that the Night Elf society would fall, he wanted to retain the power for himself in the after math. When Malfurion attacked Azshara, the battle stunted the ritual the Highborn were using to open the portal for Sargeras, even as his towering shadow approached. As the spellwork became undone, the Well of Eternity collapsed in on itself, buckling and sending a catastrophic explosion that “shattered the earth and blotted out the skies.”
The implosion of the Well of Eternity sundered nearly 80% of the former continent of Kalimdor, leaving only outlying continents in its wake. The sea rushed in fill the gaps, and at the center of this new, massive sea – the space where the Well of Eternity used to be, existed only the spinning, raging energies that would forever spin in its wake: the Maelstrom.
Queen Azshara and the Highborn survived the ordeal, somehow, but at a cost. They were sent writhing at the bottom of the Malestrom, cursed and altered. According to WoW Lore book “The Sundering of the World”, they were cursed and transformed into the Naga by the violent energies and magics they were using, constructing a new city under the sea named Nazjatar. How the Highborn and Azshara became Naga is up for considerable debate, however, as many resources suggest that Azshara had mad a final, desperate pact with either an Old God or Sargeras to survive, no matter the cost. No matter how it occurred, the sundering had happened and the Naga would not resurface until almost 10,000 years later.
The Post-Sundering Era
Few Night Elves survived the great sundering. Among the survivors, however, was Cenarius, Malfurion, and Tyrande. They lead the survivors in search of a new home across the only continent in sight, which we call today Kalimdor. As they traveled, they found that the holy mountain of Hyjal survived the cataclysm and began seeking to establish a new home for themselves. As they descended into the valley between the two mountains, they found that Illidan — who still maintained his vials of stolen water from the Well of Eternity — had poured his vials into the holy waters of Hyjal, transforming it into a new Well of Eternity. Malfurion confronted Illidan, who was surprised by Malfurion’s anger at the reincarnated Well. Malfurion knew Illidan, who refused to give up his magical power, could not be trusted. With the help of Cenarius, he trapped Illidan in a deep, underground prison and empowered Maiev Shadowsong to be Illidan’s personal jailor.
The Night Elves were reluctant to destroying the new Well of Eternity for fear of bringing about an even larger cataclysm. Instead, they banished the use of magic and instead, began practicing the art of Druidism under Cenarius’ instruction, hoping to rebuild and repair their shattered world. They worked for many years to rebuild the world, leaving their former temples in disrepair, allowing overgrowth to take them as a sign of their commitment to the natural world and their responsibility to maintain a balance within it.
After a time, the dragons that survived the sundering came to find the Night Elves and to survey the fruits of the night elves’ labors. When Malfurion, now Archdruid of incredible power, told the dragons of the new Well of Eternity, they were alarmed, fearing another invasion of the Burning Legion. Still, the dragons and the night elves vowed to keep the Well safe and to ensure that the Burning Legion would never use it to find their way back to their world.
To that end, Alexstraza, the red dragon and queen of the dragonflights, produced a single enchanted acorn within the Well of Eternity. This acorn, reacting to the waters of the new Well of Eternity sprouted and grew into a mighty tree that would extend its roots deeply into the world, helping to heal it over time. The night elves named the tree Nordrassil: Crown of the Heavens.
Nozdormu, honoring the pact they formed with the night elves and desiring to prolong their incentive, placed an enchantment on the new World Tree, as such that so long as the tree stood, the night elves would never age or be stricken by disease.
Finally, Ysera, the dreamer, placed an enchantment upon the World Tree linking it to the Emerald Dream. The Emerald Dream is described in the lore book, “The World Tree and the Emerald Dream”, as a “vast, ever-changing spirit world, existing outside of the boundaries of the physical world.” Ysera indeed controlled the ebb and flow of the evolutionary path of the world itself. Malfurion and, indeed, all the druids, were bound to the Emerald Dream through the World Tree. The Druids agreed to spend many years within the Dream, exploring its path and truly becoming one with nature.
The Era of Tranquility
Centuries passed, and the night elves new society grew and prospered, expanding through the forest region known now as Ashenvale. Creatures that had been abundant prior to the sundering began to appear, such as quilboars and furbolgs. The druids were the leaders of the night elf society and under their leadership, the night elves knew true tranquility the likes they had never seen.
Enter Dath’Remar, the leader of the remnants of the Highborn that followed the night elves following the sundering. He publicly demanded that the race use the powers of the Well of Eternity to exult their magical practices once more, but Malfurion and the druids scoffed at the idea, and warned that any use of magic would be punishable by death. In an attempt to convince the druids to rescind their law, Dath’Remar and his followers unleashed a massive magical storm upon Ashenvale.
They knew that the druids could not bring themselves to kill so many of their own people, cherishing life above all, and instead exiled the Highborn from their lands. Sailing East from Kalimdor, the Highborn welcomed the exile and departed gladly. Eventually they landed on the shores of Lordaeron with the intention of building their own magical kingdom of Quel’Thalas. At this point, they rejected the idea of moon worship and nocturnal lifestyle, and renamed themselves High Elves.
Meanwhile, following the banishing of their High Elf cousins, the druids of the kaldorei knew it was time soon for their honor bound hibernation into the Emerald Dream. Tyrande, High Priestess of the Moon, was left to rule her people without the direct influence of the druids of their people. To that end, she gathered her sisters and formed a powerful fighting force to defend Kalimdor in the wake of the druids absence. This force was named the Sentinels.
The Keepers of the Grove, the sons of the demigod Cenarius, remained available if ever a time of urgency arose, so as to assure the night elves of their safety with the lacking of the druid’s protection and guidance.
Approximately 6,800 years ago the High Elves, having left their homeland in search of a land to call their own traveled among the shattered pieces of the world, had found many mysteries and lost kingdoms along their travel of the seas. When they landed on the shores of Lordaeron, Dath’Remar, who took the surname Sunstrider (“he who walks in the day”), began seeking places of power that resided along the ley lines of the land. It was here that they would rebuild Quel’Thalas. As they forged into the land, they settled a small settlement within the Tirisfal Glades but after only a few years, many of the elves began to go mad. We have may reasons to believe this is because of the remnants of an Old God. Evidence comes from two places: first, the book “The Founding of Quel’Thalas” suggests this madness was due to “something evil sleeping beneath this part of the world.” Further, the Legion Artifact Questline for the Priest takes us to Tirisfal Glades and we encounter the body of the Old God Zakajz, who was being resurrected by a Twilight follower, but whom the priest kills. The power of the Old God is then, instead, absorbed into the weapon and the Old God dies.
Moving on, the High Elves knew they had to leave because of the madness. From there they began to move north towards a location rich with ley energies. The elves had never known certain kinds of suffering: freezing elements, starvation and illness among them. Their trek through the mountainous lands of northern Lordaeron proved to be difficult for the High Elves in this regard, given that they were effectively cut off from the Well of Eternity. It was during this time that they began to shrink in size, losing the violet hue to their skin tones. It was here they encountered primative human races that hunted the forest lands. It was also here that they trolls of Zul’Aman.
The Amani Empire was strong and stretched across most of northern Lordaeron. The trolls could regenerate lost limbs, recover from the most grievous of wounds, and most importantly, were incredibly territorial. The High Elves hated the trolls and always killed them on sight when they were encountered. Still, after many years, the elves finally found a land that was exactly what they needed. They founded the kingdom of Quel’thalas at last and vowed to make a mighty empire that would dwarf the kaldorei and establish their supremacy. It also turned out that their new settlement was founded upon an ancient troll city that was sacred to the trolls. Of course, the trolls attacked.
Highborn were never known for being compromising, and so in their stubbornness, they refused to give up the new land. They employed magics that they had gleaned from the Well of Eternity and were able to fend off the trolls. Dath’Remar Sunstrider’s cunning leadership made capable the elves’ victory, defeating the troll warbands even when they were outnumbered 10 to 1. At a point, they cast a huge masking spell, in fear that their use of magic would attract the Burning Legion to them again and doom them all. The book “The Founding of Quel’Thalas” describes the runestones that were erected to produce their protective barrier as protecting them from “extra-dimentional threats”, furthering the case I made earlier about the Burning Legion existing in an alternate dimension of space.
Moving on, the High Elves eventually constructed Quel’Thalas as a shining monument, a testament to their glory and their magical prowess. The palaces were constructed much in the same design and fashion as the luxurious palaces of those which Queen Azshara had built on the shores of the Well of Eternity, yet also followed the natural topography of the land as well, interwoven with the landscape. The High Elves established the Convocation of Silvermoon to rule Quel’Thalas, though Dath’Remar insisted the Sunstider dynasty maintain a modicum of political power.
During this time, High Elves balked the kaldorei warning of old and flagrantly used magic in virtually all aspects of their daily lives. Across the span of almost 4,000 years, the high elves lived in peace within the secluded safety of their kingdom. Eventually, the trolls of Zul’Aman attacked and thus marked the Troll Wars.
The Era of Man
In the Lore book “Arathor and the Troll Wars”, these wars occurred approximately 2,800 years ago, placing the High Elves having resided in Quel’Thalas somewhere in the ballpark of 3,000-4,000 years (rough guess). During this time, the humans began to approach the global stage. Up until now they were either Vrykul (Pre-Curse of Flesh), or tribal nomadic people that did little more than what advanced cave men did (and now, the night elves follow a human as their high king, look how far we’ve come). One tribe of humans in particular, the Arathi, noticed that the trolls of the area were a huge threat. Most human tribes had no intention of unifying under a single xenodependent banner, much less uniting for ideals like honor. The Arathi would try this unification process, nevertheless. Over the course of six years, the Arathi fought their way to supremacy over the other human tribes, offering peace and equality to those tribes they defeated.
After the Arathi united the clans under a single banner, they established a city-state in the southern parts of Lordaeron called Storm, which became the capital of the nation of Arathor. As such, Strom became the safest place for all the humans of the nation to travel to. Thoradin, the king of Arathor, refused to help the High Elves, even as they knew they were beseiged by the Trolls. Eventually, the High Elves sent ambassadors to Strom and this demonstrated to King Thoradin the true nature of the threat that the Trolls posed.
The agreement was made that the High Elves would teach select humans the way of Magic in exchange for military aid against the trolls. The High Elf Sorcerers arrived immediately once the agreement was made and began instructing groups of humans in the ways of magical arts. Cautious, however, the elves only taught the humans the basics of magic, only what they would need to fight the Trolls and nothing more. Once completed, the two forces marched and met the troll warbands at the base of the Alterac Mountains. The armies of Arathor never gave the Trolls even an inch of ground. They never tired. They never faltered. The High Elves, their 100 human magi, called down scorching fire from the heavens, and the elemental fire they called prevented the trolls from regenerating their limbs and set them ablaze from the inside out.
The trolls were defeated. The armies of Arathor hunted down and slaughtered every last troll they could find. In history, the trolls would never suffer a more complete defeat and would never fully recover. Due to their relations, the High Elves swore an oath of loyalty and friendship to the nation of Arathor and the bloodline of their king, King Thoradin, and welcomed what is described as “ages” of peaceful relations.
Before King Thoradin passed away, he maintained that he wanted Strom to be the great capital of the Arathorian Empire, but his passing marked a rebirth of intention from the newer generations. The 100 Magi that were trained by the High Elves were responsible and careful with their magic and practiced true restraint. It would’ve made sense, in my opinion, to have set up some kind of system where magi candidates would have had to engage with the High Elves in some way, but this didn’t happen. The younger magi of the Arathorian Empire wielded their magic for personal gain and has very little self-restraint and didn’t feel a particular responsibility towards their fellow man. Eventually the Magi felt less and less connected from society and sought to distance themselves.
At last, the second Arathorian city-state of Dalaran was founded in the lands north of Strom. It was here that the magi developed a safe haven where they could be free to practice magic without the suppression from Strom. Using their magical powers, they built towering spires and dedicated their time to the study of magic. Dalaran, at this point, was not a magical city-state, as we know it to be today, but instead, was tolerated by the citizens of Dalaran because it built up a bustling economy and enabled the cities defense. Still, the brazen use of Magic caused the fabric of reality to weaken and tear around Dalaran.
Because of the brazen use of magic, agents of the Burning Legion were, once again, lured onto Azeroth. The first demons to appear were weak and, while they did were not large in number, they did sow considerable confusion and chaos within the city. The Mageocrats that handled the magical affairs did their best to hide the mostly isolated incidents of demon sightings from the general public. Eventually the most powerful mages were sent to handle elusive demons, but were hopelessly outmatched by the agents of the Burning Legion. Something had to be done.
Revolution began as the people of Dalaran began to suspect that the mages were hiding a terrible secret from them. The Magocrats feared reprisal from Strom, their Empire’s capital, and so turned to the High Elves for help. They quickly sent their greatest wizards to Dalaran to study the magical currents and tracked and detailed all the reports from this time on demonic activity they found. It was ultimately concluded that humans should not continue to wield the forces of magic as the demonic Legion would always be a threat as long as they continued.
The Council of Silvermoon, leaders of Quel’Thalas and the High Elves, tempered by their experiences with the Burning Legion and the terrible threat to the world that the Burning Legion was, held a secret meeting with the Magocrats of Dalaran. They talked about the dark past of Azeroth. Like the kaldorei, they were now the ones condemning the use of magic at the risk of summoning the Legion. These secret meetings were held in the shadows of Tirisfal, and so they named their group the Guardians of Tirisfal. The mages of Dalaran did not want to forego their use of magic, much like the Elves of the past. Understanding, the Guardians of Tirisfal would, instead, elect a mortal champion to imbue with the great power of both human and elven magic. There would only ever be one Guardian, but this Guardian would be so powerful that they could obliterate the agents of the Burning Legion handily. Because this power was considerable, only the Council of Tirisfal was allowed to choose potential successors of this great honor.
Generations passed, and Arathor once again knew peace as the Guardians defended all of humanity against the agents of demonic influence. Like Dalaran, many city-states grew across the continent of Lordaeron. Gilneas, Alterac, and Kul Tiras were some of the first, even as Strom was still considered the central hub of Arathor. The Order of Tirisfal enabled Dalaran to finally become the chief place of education for all magicians throughout the land. Wary of using magic in a brazen and irresponsible way now, the Magocrats of Dalaran established the Kirin Tor whose chief duty was to catalog and document every single spell, artifact, and magical item known to mankind. Gilneas and Alterac were known for their strong support of Strom and for producing great armies who explored the southern lands of Khaz Modan, encountering the dwarves.
As mentioned during the Titans creation, they created the Earthen. After the great sundering, the Earthen felt the pain of the world shattered more than anyone. Reeling from this pain, they retreated to the Titan cities of creation:
- Uldaman in the Khaz Mountains, Northern Badlands and home of the locked away failed titan creation, the Troggs. Troggs were the first earth shapers the Titans attempted to create, but when the experiement was a failure, they locked them away in Uldaman, along with giant living stone constructs to protect it, and the sapient Stonekeeper named Archaedas. Notably, Uldaman is the location of the Discs of Norgannon (one of the Pantheon).
- Uldum is a massive desert and is referred to as “the Land of the Titans” in some texts. It was apparently hidden by some cloaking or masking device that was damaged when Deathwing brought about the beginning of the Cataclysm. Uldum contains the infamous Halls of Origination; the Titan equvilent of a massive, global reset switch that will wipe the entire planet out. Prior to the cataclysm, it is suggested that Algalon the Observer’s Omega Reply Code would have ultimately triggered the Halls of Origination and will have wiped out all that we know.
- Ulduar is a massive titan city spanning the reaches of the Storm Peaks and is the home of the Storm Giants and, until recently, the home of the former Prime Designate of Azeroth, Lokin. Yogg-Saron, one of the Old Gods that were imprisioned deep under Ulduar, corrupted Lokin into destroying the Storm and Earth Giant leaders in a massive battle. It’s important to note that, while necessary, his death at the hands of adventurers across Azeroth is what triggered Algalon the Observer to visit Azeroth and assess the planet. Given that we know the history of what the Titans’ plans were, and that we have come very far from that, its likely that the Omega Reply Code would have been sent by Algalon to the Pantheon and that they would have enacted the Origination process, obliterating our planet to destroy the evil that may have taken root. Only our conviction in battle, our love of life, and our fearless determination to live at all costs, was enough to break through to Algalon, who rearranged his Omega Reply Code into the Alpha Reply Code, averting origination. Algalon suggests in his speech that he has seen a Million-Million worlds, and has felt nothing in the obliteration of their cultures and societies. This view strongly insinuates that, while benevolent, the Titans barely acknowledge the worth, value, or indeed, essence of the races on Azeroth as they are now.
The Earthen, having retreated in to the former Titan strongholds following the sundering, remained for nearly 8,000 years. No text suggests what may have caused the Earthen to re-awaken in Uldaman, but it does provide evidence that the Curse of Flesh was not a once-and-done deal and, even after the Titans imprisoned the Old Gods, their curse continued to plague the land long after the Sundering — nearly 2,000 years by this account! For, when the earthen did reawaken, they were changed by the Curse of Flesh from their rocky surface, to smooth skin, as well as their power over the earth was greatly diminished and eventually faded entirely.
After awakening in Uldaman and venturing into the now sundered world, the dwarves still preferred the deep places of the earth and so, they founded a vast kingdom under the highest mountain in the land and named it Khaz Modan, or Mountain of Khaz, named after the Pantheon member Khaz’goroth, the Titan Shaper of Earth.
When Gilneas and Alterac encountered the dwarves as they explored Khaz Modan, they eventually traveled to their first major subterranean city called Ironforge. Together, the dwarves and humans both shared many major qualities, including a firm love of battle and storytelling.
The last city-state mentioned above is Kul Tiras, which was established on a large island south of Lordaeron. Over time this city-state established an extensive and prosperous economy based on fishing and shipping.
Still, Arathor struggled and its strongest and most powerful lords sought to move their estates to the northlands of Lordaeron, abandoning the southern arid air. The descendants of King Thorin maintained that Strom should not be abandoned, but a large number of citizenry left with the lord of Strom to establish a new City-State. They named this city-state Lordaeron. Eventually the Arathi leader bloodlines departed from Strom as well, traveling south for years before settling in the northern region of the continent they would name Azeroth. And this, my friends, is where every historians head starts hurting. So what was once considered a “continent” or “region” named Lordaeron, is now a budding Kingdom. And what we consider to be Azeroth now, was actually the name of the continent founded by the Arathi descendants. It was at this point that the mighty Arathi Empire separated, albeit peacefully, into the Kingdom of Lordaeron and the the kingdom of Stormwind.
The remnants of Strom that did not want to abandon Strom, remained to defend the ancient walls of their city and established a new nation known as Stromgarde. And so ended King Thoradin’s vision of a unified humanity.
In modern history, we observe all of these city-states of old as “The Seven Kingdoms”. These kingdoms are:
- Kil Tiras
Even as the kingdoms of man waxed and waned, the Guardians of Tirisfal were ever vigilant against the chaos of the demonic threat. Centuries had passed and there had been many Guardians, each spending a lifetime of service before returning the mantle to the Council and selecting a replacement. This process went largely unnoticed by the masses and by history books, until one of the last Guardians of Tirisfal: Aegwynn.
Aegwynn was a stalwart Guardian about 823 years ago and was vigorous and efficient in her duty to hunt down the demons of the Burning Legion, eradicating them where ever she found them. Still, she had questioned the true authority of the male-dominated Council of Tirisfal and often believed they should be more decisive in ending the chaotic threat. Aegwynn was fiery, hot-headed, and often had a distaste for lengthy discussion and debate. The book “Aegwynn and the Dragon Hunt” describes Aegwynn having realized a number of powerful demonic threats in Northrend. She traveled to this location and tracked them down, and discovered they were hunting one of the last surviving dragonflights and draining the ancient creatures of their innate magic.
With the help of these dragon flights, Aegwynn destroyed the demons. But as the last demon fell, a massive storm erupted across all of the north and a massive dark visage appeared in the skies above Northrend. Sargeras, Dark Titan, Demon King, and the Lord of the Burning Legion appeared before Aegwynn, and threatened the Guardian that the time of the Guardians was at an end and that the whole of the world would bow before the onslaught of the Legion.
Aegwynn, proud and proclaiming to valor, and not wisdom, and believing she was a match for the Dark Lord, unleashed the power of the Guardian upon the avatar of Sargeras. Text of this battle reads as follows:
With disconcerting ease, Aegwynn battered the demonlord with her powers and succeeded in killing his physical shell. Fearing that Sargeras’ spirit would linger on, the naive Aegwynn locked the ruined husk of his body within one of the ancient halls of Kalimdor that had been blasted to the bottom of the sea when the Well of Eternity collapsed. Aegwynn would never know that she had done exactly as Sargeras had planned. She had inadvertantly sealed the fate of the mortal world, for Sargeras, at the time of his corporeal death, had transferred his spirit into Aegwynn’s weakened body. Unbeknownst to the young Guardian, Sargeras would remain cloaked within the darkest recesses of her soul for many long years.
Enough said there. Suffice to say that this did not bode well for the mortal races of man, and this marks the second major attack Sargeras has made on the world of Azeroth. Aegwynn grew very powerful over the years since she faced the avatar of Sargeras. Even after her defeat, she continued to be a Guardian of Tirisfal for nearly nearly 900 years. Eventually the time came that the Council of Tirisfal told her that she must set down the mantle of Guardian as her stewardship had come to an end. The council instructed Aegwynn to choose a successor from Dalaran as the Guardians before her had done. Aegwynn still did not trust the Council, and decided to choose her own successor, not those among the candidates chosen.
Proud as ever, Aegwynn decided that bequeathing her powers to a son that she birthed for the occasion was the only possible way of choosing a successor that the Council of Tirisfal could not manipulate. Aegwynn traveled to the southern kingdom of Stormwind and met Neilas Aran, a skilled human magician, and the court conjurer and adviser to the King of Stormwind. Aegwynn seduced the magician and conceived a son by him. Neilas’ natural affinity for magic would pass strongly to his child. Perhaps too strongly.
When the child was conceived, the power of Tirisfal was also passed to the child, but would not awaken until the child reached his physical maturity. A time later, Approximately 45-50 years ago, Aegwynn birthed her child, a boy, and endowed the child with immense power, whom she named Medivh, or “keeper of secrets” in High Elven. Sadly, even as the child lay growing in the womb of his hopeful mother, the spirit of Sargeras, unbeknownst to Aegwynn, possessed the defenseless child.
Medivh was raised by his mortal father among the people of Stormwind. The lore book “The Last Guardian” states “Certain that her baby was healthy and sound, Aegwynn delivered young Medivh to the court of Stormwind and left him there to be raised by his mortal father and his people. She then wandered into the wildnerness and prepared to pass into whatever afterlife awaited her.”
Medivh grew up strong and as a teen, spent much time with his two good friends Llane, prince of Stormwind, and Anduin Lothar, one of the last descendants of the Arathi bloodline. When he turned fourteen, his incredible power clashed with the spirit of Sargeras and set him into a coma that lasted many years. When he awoke, he was an adult and his friends had become regents of Stormwind. From here on out, Medivh was not himself; his thoughts twisted and altered by the spirit of Sargeras towards nefarious paths.
The Second Invasion of Azeroth
Kil’jaeden the Deceiver, one of the two Burning Legion lieutenants recruited on Argus when Sargeras vowed to dismantle the Titans’ work, brooded deep in the Twisting Nether, trying to find some way of again invading Azeroth after their previous attempt was thwarted (even as the act of being thwarted obliterated 80% of the land of Azeroth in the process).
Near this time is when Kil’jaeden’s agent, Talgath, discovered the final location of the Draenei on the harmless little planet of Draenor, drifting peacefully among the Great Dark. Draenor was home to shamanistic Orc clans as well as the peaceful but advanced Draenei refugees. Kil’jaeden, having found Velen and those who had fled Argus in defiance of Sargeras’ offer, plotted for their destruction and savored its inevitiblility. But he was also tasked with crushing Azeroth. He neededto accomplish both, and so he schemed until at last he developed a plan.
Kil’jaeden assessed that the power of the denizens of Draenor could be leveraged in the name of the Burning Legion for the ultimate goal of destroying the traitorous draenei as well as prepping for a second invasion into Azeroth. He just needed to link the two worlds and command the power the people of Draenor possessed.
Kil’jaeden first set his sights on the orcs of Draenor. He began to slowly seed corruption into an elder orc shaman named Ner’zhul, lulling him into doing his bidding. As Ner’zhul’s corruption festered, it spread to his clan, and the neighboring clans, until their thirst and lust for battle consumed their needs. When they were primed and ready, Kil’jaeden urged Ner’zhul and his orc clan to devote themselves to the pursuit of war. However, when the time came, Ner’zhul resisted the temptation in the name of saving his people.
Kil’jaeden searched in vane for another who would take his place across draenor, but had to search no farther than Ner’zhul’s apprentice, Gul’dan. Gul’dan was fully willing to enslave himself to the power of the Burning Legion, and devoted himself to learn the demonic magic needed to wield such power; eventually developing into what the book labeled “Kil’jaeden and the Shadow Pact” describes as the most powerful warlock in history.
When Gul’dan shared this power with his brethren, many of them rebuked him, claiming that the power reeked of doom. With Kil’jaeden’s help, those who accepted this power became the first members of the Shadow Council, whose goal was to spread the warlock magic across draenor. As the power spread, the demonic energies festered in the land, slowly killing Draenor from within.
Gul’dan and the Shadow Council began to exact control over the other orc clans through the secretive use of demonic power. Few clan Chieftans resisted this power; Durotan of the Frostwolf clan among them. He warned Grom Hellscream and the rest of the orc clans not to give into fury and hatred; a plea that mostly fell on deaf ears.
Kil’jaeden was satisfied with their lust for battle and their thirst for war, but needed to be absolutely certain of their loyalty, or else his forces could not achieve absolute victory. To that end, he summoned Mannoroth the Destructor with the help of the Shadow Council. Gul’dan called the orc chieftains together and convinced each of them to drink Mannoroth’s raging blood; claiming it would make them utterly invincible. All chieftains except Durotan drank the corrupted blood of Mannoroth, sealing their fate as slaves of the Burning Legion. When the chieftains drank, their clans were controlled by extension, and slowly the corruption spread to all those who drank.
Utterly consumed with the curse, the orcs were unable to contain their lust for destruction. As such, Gul’dan united the warring clans into a single, unstoppable Horde; using Blackhand the Destroyer as a puppet Warchief. Under the command of Blackhand, the new Horde set out to war against the settled, simple, and peaceful draenei.
Within months, the Horde had eradicated nearly every draenei village on Draenor. Only a handful of survivors evaded the slaughter. Gul’dan reveled in the power, but also knew that the Horde would implode if it didn’t have an enemy to obliterate once the draenei were destroyed.
And so the time had finally come for Kil’jaeden to link his plan to that of his master, Sargeras, and enable his vengeance to be absolute.
Medivh continued to suffer under the power struggle of Sargeras, passed on from his mother Aegwynn after she destroyed the avatar of Sargeras and unknowingly invited part of his spirit within her. Now King Llane noticed and worried for his childhood friend as he suffered, even going so far as to sharing his concerns with his trusted friend and lieutenant-at-arms, Anduin Lothar.
Sargeras knew the time was now, and so he promised Gul’dan great power if he lead the Horde to Azeroth. Through Medivh, Sargeras told Gul’dan he would be a living god if he found the tomb under the sea where Aegwynn buried Sargeras’ crippled avatar body a thousand years before.
Together, Gul’dan and the Shadow Council, power hunger and in search of the tomb, and Medivh, controlled and tormented by the spirit of Sargeras himself, channeled their power into opening what will later be known as the Dark Portal.
On Draenor, Durotan spoke out against Gul’dan once more. He insisted that Gul’dan was destroying the spirit of his people and, indeed, the very life blood of their home. Gul’dan could not kill Durotan as he was a hero of the people, and so instead he banished Durotan and the Frostwolves far into the reaches of the new world.
When the orcs finally invaded in small numbers, they began to branch out. As they did so, they inevitably came into contact with the defenders of the kingdom of Stormwind. These skirmishes are what drove the early understanding of both forces; their strengths and their weaknesses, and paved the road towards the inevitable war between the two forces.
Neither Llane or Lothar were able to scout the size of the orcish forces; it appeared as though their numbers never dwindled. After years of hit and fade skirmishes, the majority of the Horde was through. It was at this time that Gul’dan launched the power of the Horde at the kingdom of Stormwind.
King Llane never believed that the simple minded orcs could possible defeat or overtake Azeroth proper, and stubbornly awaited in Stormwind without pressing the attack. Anduin Lothar, however, believed a direct attack on the enemy was needed if the kingdom was to survive. It was only then that Lothar, against the council of his King, along with Medivh’s apprentice, Khadgar, stormed into the possessed Guardians tower at Karazhan, vanquishing him — believing he was the source of the conflict. Though they believed they were correct, the act of killing Medivh banished the spirit of Sargeras into the abyss, enabling the virtuous spirit of Medivh to live on, wandering the astral plane for years after.
Even after Medivh’s defeat, the orc Horde onslaught did not stop, continuing to dominate the defenders of Stormwind. Even as victory was close, one of the Horde’s mightiest chieftains, Orgrim Doomhammer, became increasingly concerned with the depraved corruption that consumed his orc brothers since Draenor. It was at around this time that Durotan and Orgrim met again and Durotan, once again, warned Orgrim of Gul’dans treachery.
Gul’dan, knowing that the turning of Orgrim Doomhammer could result in a catastrophe, dispatched assassins to murder Durotan and his family, leaving only their single, infant son, who was eventually found by Aedelas Blackmoore and taken as a slave.
The book “The Dark Portal and the Fall of Stormwind” describes that infant orc as “to be come the greatest leader his people would ever know.” He would become a gladiator, trained for intelligence and strength, physical power and shamanistic attunement with the likes the world had never seen as the World Shaman. He would unite the orcs years later into a single, unified people, regaining their honor and their culture. He had no name when he was found by Aethas Blackmoore, and so he received a slave’s name.
That name was Thrall.
Enraged by Durotan’s death, Orgrim made it his mission to free the Horde from Gul’dan’s corruption, assuming the role of Warchief by killing Blackhand. Under Warchief Orgrim’s leadership, the horde laid siege to Stormwind Keep. King Llane had underestimated the Horde and his folly force him to watch as his kingdom fell. It was during this time that King Llane was assassinated by the Shadow Council-controlled assassin, Garona.
As Lothar returned from Karazhan, they returned to an occupied kingdom, destroyed. The country-side was being ravaged by the orcish horde. Forced into hiding, Lothar and his forces vowed to reclaim their homeland at any cost.
To that end, Lothar gathered the remnants of Stormwind’s armies and set out across the sea towards the northern kingdom of Lordaeron. It was here that the seven kingdoms of humanity agreed to unite into what was known as the Alliance of Lordaeron. After almost three thousand years – since the time of King Thoradin and the empire of Arathor – the kingdoms of man were united under a single banner. Lord Anduin Lothar was appointed the Supreme Commander of the Alliance forces, and prepared all of the forces at his disposal for the coming Horde invasion.
Commander Lothar appointed three lieutenants to aid him: Uther the Lightbringer, Daelin Proudmoore, and Turalyon. Together, they were able to convince the other races of the world that the impending invasion threatened them all. To that end, the Alliance gained the cooperation of the dwarves of Ironforge and contingent of High Elves from the rebuilt city of Quel’Thalas. While the High Elves had very little interest in the coming conflict, but because they swore an oath to aid King Thoradin and his bloodline, they agreed to assist Anduin Lothar in the coming battle.
Under the leadership of Orgrim Doomhammer, the Horde added orges to their ranks and recruited the Amani trolls. As such, the Horde set out at obliterating the dwarf kingdom of Khaz Modan and the outlying southern reaches of Lordaeron. The Horde did so with effortless decimation.
As the war progressed, the battles grew in power. Along the way, the Horde unearthed the legendary artifact, the Demon Soul, and used it to enslave the ancient dragon-queen, Alexstraza the Life Binder. They threatened to destroy her eggs, forcing her to send her grown children to war on their behalf. As such, the Red Dragonflight, noble and peaceful as they were, fought on behalf of the raging Horde; and they fought with true conviction.
The Horde rampaged across all of Azeroth; settlements across Lordaeron were razed, the borderlands of Quel’Thalas were destroyed (recommitting the High Elves to the Alliance’s cost that much more). Even as the Horde sowed destruction, Lothar and his forces were able to keep the enemy at bay, even against overwhelming odds.
During the final days of the war, even as the Horde’s victory over the Alliance was not a matter of if, but of when, destiny intervened. As Orgrim Doomhammer prepared to destroy the Capital City of Lordaeron — an assault that would have obliterated what was left of the Alliance — Gul’dan and his followers abandoned their posts and departed into the sea. As such, Orgrim’s force strength was reduced to half, and as such as forced to pull back and forsake what would have been his greatest and absolutely assured chance at victory over the Alliance.
Gul’dan could not wait another moment, obsessed with the godlike power his master had promised. He set out on a desperate search for the Tomb of Sargeras, lusting for the power contained within. With the help of the Stormreaver and Twilight’s Hammer clans, Gul’dan eventually found and raised the Tomb of Sargeras from the depths of the ocean floor. When he opened the tomb, however, all that awaited him were crazy demons. This decisive movement spelled disaster for Gul’dan, as he was torn apart by the maddened demons he had set loose. After his demise, the renegade clans fell under the command of Doomhammer once more.
But Gul’dan’s betrayal had given the Alliance exactly what they needed to regroup and retaliate. Lothar saw that the Horde was fracturing from within and gathered the last of his forces, pushing Doomhammer to the south into the shattered lands of former Stormwind. The forces were finally pressed into the volcanic fortress of Blackrock Spire. It was here that Anduin Lothar, last of the Arathi descendants, leader of the forces of the Alliance, close friend to King Llane and the Guardian Medivh, met his end.
Turalyon rallied the remaining forces of the Alliance even as they mourned the loss of their hero, leader, and champion. He turned their grief into a battle mind that drove the Horde back into the Swamp of Sorrows at the eleventh hour. It was then that Turalyon’s forces destroyed the Dark Portal. The Horde, cut off from is reinforcements and slowly dismantling from infighting, imploded in on itself and fell before the forces of the Alliance. The orc clans were gathered and placed within internment camps.
It was at the request of Khadgar that the fortress of Nethergarde was built to watch over the ruins of the Dark Portal, lest it be used to stage further invasions from Draenor.
The Invasion of Draenor