Elemental Rebirth and Rebellion in BFA (Speculation)
The chaotic Elemental Lords have long been iconic figures in
World of Warcraft
- Ragnaros is arguably one of the most famous raid bosses, Shaman call upon their powers for aid, and they're an intrinsic part of the game lore. During the events of
, Shamans brokered an alliance between the Elemental Lords, though that tentative peace may have been shattered in
Battle for Azeroth
. Azerite has thrown the Elemental Plane into chaos, and Smolderon the Firelord is now missing.
As we examine the volatile state of the Elemental Plane and possible consequences, we'll also review their tendencies to side with the Old Gods in both the Black Empire and Cataclysm.
Elemental Lords and the Old Gods
The Elemental Lords history has been one of perpetual war, a struggle between powers that are fundamentally opposed. In Primordial Azeroth, when the world was young, these wars raged across all of Azeroth - until the Old Gods appeared. Recognizing the threat, the Elemental Lords faced their mutual foe, but were ultimately defeated and enslaved by the Old Gods, and the Black Empire grew unchecked.
Despite their megalomania, the Elemental Lords became willing servants of the Old Gods;
references them fighting together with, and even worshipping their captors: "These elementals, who worshipped a race of unfathomably evil beings known only as the Old Gods, vowed to drive the Titans back and keep their world inviolate from the invaders' metallic touch." While the Elemental Lords had the same initial goal as the Titans in defeating the Old Gods, instead of rebelling against their enslavors, they stood as the first line of defense.
The Titans ultimately defeated the Old Gods and their Elemental Lords, sealing them within their respective planes, and finally bring a measure of peace to Azeroth. But ancient powers are rarely left undisturbed by lesser beings, as various faction time and again work to uncover and worship the Lords. During the Shattering leading up to
, the Elemental Lords manage to escape their prisons, wrecking havoc upon Azeroth in the Elemental Invasions. This time, Ragnaros and Al'akir chose to side with N'Zoth, while Therazane and Neptulon opt to aid players in saving their shared world. All four planes are later explored by players to some degree in
World of Warcraft
: the Abyssal Maw (Vash'jir), Firelands (Hyjal), Skywall (Uldum), and Deepholm.
Ragnaros and Smolderon - Elemental Lords of Fire
The original Lord of Fire, Ragnaros, is one of the most storied bosses in WoW. Responsible for
enslaving the Dark Iron Dwarves
, and trying to conquer Blackrock Mountain, we first put a stop to his efforts in
, banishing him back his Sulfuron Keep within the Elemental Plane of Fire. But Ragnaros' work continued, creating an allegiance with Deathwing and attacking
. Players eventually defeat him in the
, a branch of the Elemental Plane, meaning he
be permanently dead, though some Dark Iron Dwarves in
Battle for Azeroth
, the Shaman Order Hall help Smolderon seize power of the realm of Fire, as he seemed more willing to work with mortals in
than another elemental, Pyroth. While all four Elemental Lords are eventually brought together, Thunderaan, the new Lord of Air who was previously enslaved by Ragnaros, remains uneasy about the minions of Fire and still thinks of ways to keep their power in check during the quest
Battle for Azeroth
Smolderon has gone missing in the
Dark Iron Dwarf Recruitment Scenario
and cultists are trying to revive Ragnaros, which cannot bode well for either the Dark Iron or the world.
Therazane - Elemental Lord of Earth
Since the Battle of the Black Empire, Therazane has been imprisoned in
, a region of the Elemental Plane. In
, she does not work with Deathwing and N'Zoth; in fact, she is embroiled in conflict against Deathwing's minions, as his emergence damaged her realm and ushered in Twilight Cultists worshipping his return. In addition, Therazane's own daughter Princess Theradras was killed in Maraudon (
), causing her to be forever distrustful of mortals. Nevertheless, through questing in Deepholm and completing a
long rep grind
, we can eventually earn favor with Therazane, help repair the World Pillar, and defeating the Twilight Cultist attack in
, the Shaman Order Hall reaches out to Therazane for aid, but she's once again under attack. While driving back a Twilight Hammer attack during the campaign quest
, we learn that not only has the cult "discovered a method of harnessing the void to subjugate even the most powerful of elementals" in
reveals the cult ringleader to be the twilight dragon Zeryxia, who has a strong connection to death. Does Zeryxia communicate with Sintharia from the Shadowlands, with the help of the Old Gods?
The blood of Sintharia flows through my veins and her voice whispers to me from the Dark Beyond!
Even in death we shall endure... mother I return...
Therazane eventually joins us, standing alongside both mortals and the other Elemental Lords, but the
Twilight Dragonflight continues to grow in strength
and their troubling plan to control elementals via the Void is left unexplored.
Al'akir and Thunderaan - Elemental Lords of Air
, the Lord of Air, struck a bargain with N'Zoth in exchange for the freedom to once again roam Azeroth. In the
, we discover Al'akir killed the inhabitants of Orsis for not siding with Deathwing and accepting his cure for the Curse of Flesh (
). Players ultimately face the Lord of Air and his lieutenants, the
Conclave of Wind
, at his seat of power the
. With Al'akir slain in his elemental home of Skywall, he is truly dead, but a power vacuum remains. Who will be the new Ruler of Air?
, the Monk and Shaman Order Hall Campaigns revisit this question. First, Windwalker Monks learn that Typhinius sought to use the
Fists of the Heavens
to command Skywall, but the upstart elemental Lord falls as Windwalkers claim the artifact weapon for their own. Next, in the Shaman Campaign, players recover the legendary weapon Thunderfury (
) and use it to revive Thunderaan as the new Windlord (
). As we originally used his bindings in Classic WoW to free Thunderaan only to kill him for more power, we're on a bit of rocky ground with the Elemental Lord, as evidenced in the hidden Rogue artifact quest
which awards the Thunderfury appearance - Thunderaan is unhappy to see players returning with similar bindings, but agrees to bless them and give Rogues the artifact appearance if they never bother him again.
Patch 7.2 revisited the struggles of Thunderaan, as the Conclave of Wind rejects his bid for power and instead looks to appoint Prince Sarsarun as the rightful heir. As the Farseer and Champion of Thunderaan, Shaman players
defeat the Conclave
who then swears loyalty.
With the disappearance of Smolderon, we wonder if Thunderaan was involved, or inadvertently helped malevolent forces. Back in the Elemental Sundering, Thunderaan was killed under Ragnaros' orders and his essence sealed away in elemental bindings, which created a longstanding grudge against the Plane of Fire. With the retrieval of similar bindings by the Rogue Champion in
, the tables have turned, with Thunderaan seeking to use the bindings against the FIrelord's subjects. Did Thunderaan weaken Smolderon's subjects, leaving the Lord of Fire more vulnerable to attack?
Neptulon - Elemental Lord of Water
Neptulon, lord of the Abyssal Maw, also chose not to side with N'Zoth during
. Due to defying the Old God, Ozumat and the naga relentlessly attacked Neptulon in the story of
. Ozumat, the "patriarch of all kraken," initially shipwrecks players in Kelp'Thar Forest, and then serves as the final boss in
. There, adventurers are successful in defeating Ozumat... but not before he escapes with Neptulon. Sadly, WoW never resolved this story in-game due to cutting the Abyssal Maw raid, but Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi later tweeted that Neptulon made it back to the Abyssal Plane. While many questions are left unanswered, we see Neptulon alive and well in
, and he agrees to partner with us in the Shaman Campaign (
) in order to save Azeroth from the Burning Legion.
Neptulon's story is also noteworthy due to the presence of the Naga, malformed subjects of
Chronicle Volume 3
, we learned that N'Zoth ordered Azshara to retaliate against Neptulon, and so the events in Vash'jir give players an early taste of her tactics and power. As we quest in Vash'jir, we see this manifested both through the huge amount of Naga forces marshalled inside Vash'jir, and through the Naz'jar Battlemaiden flashback series (
) in which we experience Nar'jira become the Champion of Azshara by defeating the Kvaldir with the help of the Old Gods. The Battlemaiden's story remains incomplete, but she could very well be continuing to plot against Neuptulon in
Battle for Azeroth
; with the Naga Invasions occuring in Patch 8.1.5, as well as the Rise of Azshara in 8.2, we'll be learning a lot more about the Naga soon, and Nar'jira would be an interesting character to revisit.
Neptulon may also have a temporary advantage starting from
Sharas'dal, Scepter of the Tides
, is no longer wielded by Queen Azshara or her handmaidens - Restoration Shaman players steal it to use as their artifact, then burned out its power while healing the Wound in the World. However, the Naga are returning with a vengeance, and it's likely they'd still keep going after Neptulon.
Elementals in Battle for Azeroth
Battle for Azeroth
, relations between mortals and the Elemental Lords had never been better. All four Elemental Lords were united due to the efforts of the Shaman Order Hall, helping
this time rather than the Old Gods. However, cracks in the fragile truce soon show as the Elemental Lords come under attack. We may have brokered a deal with the Lords themselves, but their subjects may have different ideas, and their conflict frequently continues unabated.
Dark Iron Dwarf recruitment questline
, not all the Dark Irons are happy with the decision to join the Alliance, and look to resurrect Ragnaros as their true leader, rather than serve Moira Bronzebeard. Anvil-Thane Thurgarden discovers Smolderon missing from the Firelands, and confronts High-Justice Grimstone trying to resurrect Ragnaros:
Anvil-Thane: Grimstone... What in the core is goin' on here? Where is Smolderon?
High Justice: All in due time, Anvil-Thane. Ye know as well as I that the Queen-Regent is soft. Weak.
Anvil-Thane: Tread carefully, Harrold. Ye're walkin' on hot coals with talk like that.
High Justice: Show some respect! Ye will address me by me title.
Anvil-Thane: Fine. Tread carefully, Herald. Ye blaspheme against our rightful leader.
High Justice: Rightful leader? There's nae fire in Moira's veins. Our rightful leader is the true Lord o' Flame, not some Bronzebeard whelp... nor a pretender to his throne.
Anvil-Thane: Ragnaros?! Ye mean tae bring that tyrant back? When the Sorcerer-Thane tried that, he--
High Justice: While Thaurissan did nae lack fer vision, his folly was tryin' tae control the Firelord. Instead, we must serve him in all things.
Anvil-Thane: Ye think that ragged band o' embers ye gathered will impress him? I believe we snuffed out most o' yer rabble cultists on our way in here.
High Justice: When the true Firelord rises again, all faithful Dark Irons will heed his call. Do ye mean tae oppose us?
Ragnaros initially enslaved the Dark Iron Dwarves, yet some still worship him - mirroring the Elementals worship of the Old Gods following their own defeat. Smolderon's fate seems precarious as the High Justice speaks of a time "When the true Firelord rises again" and "we must serve him in all things." Also note that
Xal'atath was formerly wielded
by Modgud of the Dark Iron Dwarves, disappearing at a key moment in a battle against the Wildhammer Dwarves. Xal'atath makes a return in Patch 8.1.5, and perhaps she too is displeased with the state of the Dark Iron Dwarves, now allied with the Alliance instead of Ragnaros, and against the Old Gods.
Therazane, is wary but generally friendly to mortals while they earn reputation with her in
, and even calls players her "new favorite fleshling" in
, but treats us skeptically in
Battle for Azeroth
. Blacksmiths on the
Tools of the Trade
profession questline sneak into Deepholm to learn the well-protected secret behind crafting the Khaz'gorian smithing hammer, which earns Therazane's ire:
Therazane: And you, human. The audacity of you surface dwellers! Thinking you can just come here and take our secrets?!
Therazane: Well, what have you to say for yourself?!
The next quest
gives players the choice to disappoint Therazane further - a notable departure from all the past times we've unequivocally helped her. We can choose to save Ormhun, placing his life over the recipe, or greedily take the recipe and leave Ornhun to punishment. The disillusioned Therazane then calls us a "typical surface dweller" and her scolding echoes Thunderaan's unflattering claim in
: "greedy mortals not unlike you freed me only to strike and steal my weapon, and my power." So while the Elemental Lords may have chosen to work with us, they remember our past injustices, and it's reasonable to believe that their patience is not without limits.
Elementals on Islands
, there is a chance to be ambushed by Air, Fire, Earth, or Water Elementals, which is troubling considering our previous alliance with their Elemental Lords. Instead, these forces are bent on destroying us, citing their lord's favor:
Your seals will boil, your sky will crack, your mountains will rise up, and we will return!
The elements will rule again!
The mortal world-thieves shall perish.
My lord will reward me for your destruction.
From these quotes, the elementals on the Islands may serve a
lord than the ones we've worked with, one who would be happy to see us die. Does this lord refer to another Elemental, or the Old Gods themselves? They also predict a time when the elements will rise up, irrevocably changing the landscape of Azeroth and echoing the destruction caused by Deathwing in
. The Island Expedition quest
also references boiling water, "the water bubbles ferociously and the heat is unbearable." We know that
Rise of Azshara
will raise up Nazjatar from the sea - does this Island quest hint that Nazjatar is located by the boiling water, and the Elementals will be the responsible for reshaping the ocean and allowing Nazjatar to rise to the surface?
is a notable drop from Island Expeditions, and a friendly Hydraxian helps explain why the Elementals are suddenly interested in attacking us:
Yes? I am no longer in the business of fire prevention.
Oh, you have questions about the elemental planes? They are in quite a state at the moment. Though the elements are always tumultuous, things have gotten quite out of hand.
The presence of this Azerite has ignited the lesser lords, and each seeks to overthrow the current lords and take the plane for themselves.
They see this new element as a sign of elemental rebirth.
I do not see this. Here, I do not want even the gems I have, take them.
The implications of Duke Hydraxis' statement are far-reaching: not only are the Elemental Lords more chaotic than before, but they're actively looking to overthrow the current Elemental Lords. Their thirst for power could explain why Smolderon has suddenly gone missing - perhaps he's already been usurped. Azerite has whipped them up into a frenzy, and with our ever-increasing need for Azerite Power, the elementals will continue to stay agitated.
By stating that the "elements are always tumultuous," Duke Hydraxis may have pointed out our naivete - expecting all the Elemental Lords to work together, and then stay in control of their subjects, is a tall order. As Neptulon alludes to in
, the elements previously unified to serve the Old Gods and the Black Empire enjoyed unprecedented growth and power, quite different from the mess the factions caused in
Battle for Azeroth
which arguably left the world in a worse state than it started. With Old Gods returning and the world in which they also reside in bleeding out, why wouldn't the elements want to break free from mortals, and serve a master with more prosperity and power? Furthermore, does unity among the elements even make sense if their natural state is fighting?
What Comes Next
We find ourselves, several patches into
Battle for Azeroth
, with our partnership with the elementals from
weakened. Smolderon is missing, Neptulon's old enemies, the Naga, are returning in great numbers, and Therazane, already disappointed in us, must face the growing threat of the Twilight Dragonflight. Just like the Alliance and Horde coming together to fight the Burning Legion and then turning on each other, the Elemental peace is a tenuous one, with their subjects itching for conflict. The elementals have a history of causing chaos and destruction, willingly aligning with the Old Gods during the Black Empire and
. We've also received potential hints that their deaths are not permanent, as seen in the
xDlate BlizzCon interview
However as with all things in World of Warcraft and the Warcraft's universe dead isn't always dead. If there was a coming of forth of the Old Gods or herald of the Old Gods come down from the great dark-- I can see that easily happening. Not saying that happening, I'm just saying death isn't the end of the line in World of Warcraft, and it really never has been. I think that's kind of been from your character to the world around you. There is a cycle.
What if this doesn't only apply to the Old Gods, but through a new Hour of Twilight or meddling from the Shadowlands, the original Elemental Lords Ragnaros and Al'akir make a return as well? Could we stand against a new Black Empire united with the Elemental Lords?
The elements are driven to a frenzy by Azerite, at a time when the Dragonflights of the Old Gods return in larger numbers than before. The Twilight Dragons in particular spell trouble for the Elementals, as we learn in
that the brood communicates with Sinestra from beyond death and has made plans to use the Void to bind elementals to their will. All four of the Elemental Lords positions of power in
were fragile, only secured through player assistance, and now the faction war distraction may leave their coalition in further disarray. Should Azerite continue to incite the lesser elements to rebel, and our faction war continue to sow destruction across Azeroth, more elements may be looking for a new master to serve... or perhaps even an Old one.
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