The Story of the Cosmic War of Warcraft and Enemy Infiltration - Shadowlands Lore with Nobbel87
13.09.2020 um 17:03
For our latest lore collaboration with Nobbel87, we're examining the
Feindliche Infiltration - Vorwort
book in greater detail, a piece of writing that drops numerous revelations on the cosmic-wide war in Warcraft. We're going deep into Shadowlands lore and speculation, so spoiler warnings ahead!
Blizzard Exploring the Cosmos
Blizzard introduced the cosmology chart in
World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1
and since then it's been the subject of constant speculation,
, and story beats. Blizzard has also recently talked about the plan to open up the storytelling and
dive deeper into the cosmic force
of the universe--Light and Shadow, Order and Disorder, Life and Death. We've covered the basics of cosmology in a past article, but as we progress further into Shadowlands, more pieces of the puzzle are made available as we learn what the cosmic realm of Death is up to.
Cosmology 101 with Nobbel87
One example of a new story puzzle piece is
, featuring Draka arriving in the Shadowlands, figuring out how Maldraxxus works ,and training with the House of Eyes. From the unyielding warrior that she was in life, now she gains a set of particular skills that make her a master spy. Skills that are put to use as she infiltrates a Legion stronghold and steals some information.
As some have noticed, the location looks identical to a shot used in the
episode and they’ve even pointed out on twitter that she was stealing a map from the Legion on another world. Why is still a good question. Perhaps they’re invested in what the demons have been doing or it lines up with the prime objective of those that end up in Maldraxxus, which is to defend the infinite realms of the Shadowlands.
I’ve also had people ask why the Shadowlands would need defending, but that’s simply because the Shadowlands is not this pocket dimension that you can’t enter. Even in our own story we’ve seen followers or beings traverse the realms of the Shadowlands so it’s not like it’s impossible to attack this plane of existence. Examples include an assault from the Void in Bastion, an assault from the Drust in Ardenweald, and Light scorching Revendreth and driving the Venthyr insane.
Point being, outside forces can and have attacked the Shadowlands before. The cosmic forces are in an eternal tug of war, constantly vie for power over each other but if one fell, all worlds would fall into chaos. Balance must remain.
was a hotly-debated cinematic, as it featured a previously-underutilized character and also casually dropped a major lore reveal in the few frames Draka was seen infiltrating the Legion. The shot from
initially led some players to wonder if this was an intentional reference, as the cinematic doesn't explicitly mention the Legion. However, it makes a lot of sense why the Necrolords would fight the Burning Legion, a threat which created the Scourge, acquired Helm of Domination and Frostmourne from the Maw, and wanted to destroy all life on Azeroth. There's also personal motivations for Draka, who died at the hands of the Shadow Council, a group allied with Gul'dan who served the Burning Legion.
When we first analyzed the cinematic we speculated that the Burning Legion was behind some threats in the Shadowlands as a result, but as a result of reading
Feindliche Infiltration - Vorwort
, the link points to the Dreadlords, who would then be masterminding the Lich King
as well as
the Burning Legion.
Afterlives: Maldraxxus Analysis
Enemy Infiltration - Pages One and Two
A small little book called Enemy Infiltration – Preface has been datamined and it blows the story open in a major way. The realm of death has been quite busy, so let's read the book and see what we can figure out.
To our most wondrous and resplendent Master,
I am pleased to state that, after a lengthy study of our rivals, I have completed my observations.
Please accept this briefing in advance of my complete report, which shall follow forthwith.
We anticipate that certain of our targets will be more challenging to topple than others. But each is prone to manipulation in different ways, and our agents have already woven themselves into their very fabric.
This is, after all, the solemn duty for which you sired us. As you are fond of saying: Once a desire is understood, it can be exploited.
Enough prologue. Allow me to summarize our findings.
This is written from the Shadowlands' perspective and as more clues will follow, we see their rivals are the other cosmic forces. Their master is kept hidden, but it’s a very ambiguous description of him. Wondrous and resplendent not to mention he sired them. A lot of eyes are turning towards Sire Denathrius and wonder if he is the one that has sent out these agents on a mission to infiltrate and manipulate in different ways. This is a race in Warcraft that has a long history of manipulation, namely the dreadlords and from the moment that Denathrius’ model became available, people began to wonder if there’s a connection between him and the Nathrezim. Visually they look very similar and then that line about “Once a desire is understood, it can be exploited.” Wonder if Blizzard has been binging lucifer like I have...
We've known that the Nathrezim are highly-intelligent and manipulative, as described in the Archaeology item
Szepter der Nathrezim
, and the measures taken in this book prove how cunning they are:
The Nathrezim, also known as dreadlords, act as intelligence agents and interrogators of the Burning Legion. While they are powerful foes on the battlefield, they prefer to turn nations against each other through manipulation and guile.
We see similar horns, hooves, male Draenei body structure, and shoulder armor comparing Denathrius' model to a Dreadlord from
Warcraft III: Reforged
We know that he created the Venthyr in his image, but what if he also created the Nathrezim as they look quite similar to him? The book says "the solemn duty for which you sired us" which could refer to Denathrius raising an army of Nathrezim.
The Accuser may have also referenced a past history with the dreadlords when interrogating Denathrius in
Eine Lektion in Demut
, as she exclaims "You were once the lord of dread. Now? Now your teeth have lost their terror," although that could be reading too much into it as "dread" is a pretty common and neutral term.
There are also many similar-sounding names, emphasizing "Nath"--Denathrius and Castle Nathria from Shadowlands are close to Nathreza and Nathrezim.
Titans and Order - Page Three
Their singular goal is to impose structure upon everything they see.
Show them a force that opposes their drive for Order, and they will be consumed by their urge to eradicate it.
Their pantheon, so seemingly united in purpose, is vulnerable to fracturing.
What I really love is how there’s a distinction made between the Titans in general and their Pantheon. We know a lot about the Pantheon, their members, cruising across the cosmos and bringing order to the worlds as they looked for more of their kind slumbering within planets. Apparently they did and apparently they helped them wake up as well and while those titans did whatever titans do, we haven’t really seen them in our story yet.
Imagine finding a titan homeworld, a titan plane of existence, something that was also mentioned as a possibility in an interview between
Taliesin and Lead Narrative Designer Steve Danuser
. Would be so cool to see different kinds of titans and titan worlds.
The report also states that if they would show them a force that opposes their drive for Order, they will be consumed by their urge to eradicate it. That would be the domain of Disorder, fel, demons and of course the Titans wouldn’t let these forces run rampant. Sargeras and Aggramar took on the demonic forces. Imprisoned them in Mardum as demons only truly die in the Twisting Nether. Yet there was another on the cosmic scale that worked against the plans of the titans--the Old Gods. Dark beings send out into the physical universe by the Void Lords to hopefully land on a slumbering titan and corrupt it. Sargeras found a corrupted planet, and ruthlessly interrogated the Dreadlords he found, trying to discover what was going on, which struck fear into him.
And it was this moment that caused him to form his Burning Legion, strike out against the other members of the Pantheon and set out on his mission to stop the Void Lords' plans by destroying any corruption he would find. Just like this report said it would.
, we learned that Sargeras interrogated the Nathrezim and learned about the intentions of the Void Lords. But why should we believe them if they are masters of trickery?
Sensing their evil, Sargeras captured and ruthlessly interrogated the nathrezim. The broken demons revealed what they had learned about the Old Gods and the intentions of the void lords. If the powers of the Void succeeded in corrupting a nascent titan, it would awaken as an unspeakably dark creature. No power in creation, not even the Pantheon, could stand against it. In time, the warped titan would consume all matter and energy in the universe, bringing every mote of existence under the void lords' will.
Sargeras expressed his growing fear that existence itself was already flawed--an idea that he had come to terms with following his encounter with the Old Gods. Only by burning away all of creation could the titans stand a chance of thwarting the void lord's ultimate goal.
This led to fracturing of the Pantheon with Sargeras parting ways, and ultimately the creation of the Burning Legion and defeat of his fellow titans with fel fire.
With the defeat of the Burning Legion, the Pantheon is now locked away with Sargeras and Illidan, which you can learn more about in
The Story of Antorus
. But we still have the
Pantheon of Death
to reckon with in Shadowlands, as well as mysteries surrounding
, a titan world-soul with Death-themed details.
Void Lords and Old Gods - Page Four
The void lords all but welcome us with open arms. They are so preoccupied with their thousand truths that they ignore the lies we sow in their very midst.
I believe we can leverage their vast reach to position them as a foil against our other rivals.
We remain wary, though. Since they are observant of multiple outcomes, it is conceivable they could anticipate our coming.
The truth of the Void is also something that Locus-Walker discussed with Alleria Windrunner as she went through her void training. The Light seeks one path and shuns all others as lies. The Shadow seeks every possible path and sees them all as truth. Might be connected to the Windrunner comic as the void became very loud and wanted Alleria to take out Sylvanas. We also have some whispers connected to events in the shadowlands so their assumption that the void could see them coming seems to be correct. How has the void influenced their rivals?
There's been a lot of speculation over the line "The cunning ones kneel before six masters, but serve only one" throughout the years, and it fits incredibly well here as the author of this book serves one master, Death, but talks about tricking the other forces on the cosmology chart - Titans, Void Lords, Naaru, Life, Disorder. Another whisper, "Six seats at the high table. Six mouths that hunger. One will consume all others," could refer to the plans of the Jailer to defeat the other forces.
The author even seems aware of the Il'gynoth whispers predicting the future, noting "We remain wary, though. Since they are observant of multiple outcomes, it is conceivable they could anticipate our coming." Il'gynoth's whispers have predicted numerous things, like Turalyon sitting on the throne and Sylvanas using the Helm of Domination to open the veil to the Shadowlands, so they are fairly accurate.
We've had a field day with Old God whispers over the years, and you can check out past articles like
Il'gynoth in Visions of N'Zoth
Il'gynoth and the Emerald Dream
N'Zoth in the Crucible of Storms
Nobbel then goes on to piece how the Nathrezim could have targeted other domains after Disorder. Some domains are easier to solve than others, which leads him to speculate that it would be very interesting if they used Xal'atath as an agent to infiltrate the Void:
The Nathrezim then hit the domain of Order in the form of fighting and converting Sargeras. The domain of Light with their agent Lothraxion. For the domain of Void and Life it’s still very much unknown who infiltrated them. Could be cool to see Xal'atath given credit for this.
Imagine Xal'atath originally being one of Denathrius’ agents sent out. Because the Void looks at all the possible paths as truth they eventually uncovered her plots and punished her by putting her in the blade.
This is an interesting theory as it could explain why Xal'atath was imprisoned for so long, as nobody knows her true origins. She also offers many
notabe insights through her whispers
, as she mocks all enemies she comes across. She then returns in Patch 8.1.5, as N'Zoth
frees her from the blade
as a favor for bringing us to him. Xal'atath's current whereabouts are unknown, so she could be anywhere in the cosmos now after leaving through the Void portal by the Crucible of Storms.
Light and Naaru - Page Five
Similar to the titans, the naaru and their keepers are singular in purpose. Their adherence to a linear path is an obvious shortcoming.
They savor nothing more than being proved right, so if they believe they have converted one of us to their precious Light, they will trust that agent implicitly.
Like the Titans and the Pantheon, here too they make a distinction between the Naaru and their Keepers. Can’t wait to find out what other major players in the source of Light they can come up with. "If they believe they have converted one of us to their precious Light" is another reason why the Nathrezim seem to be connected to this plot, as in Legion we met High Commander Lothraxion. A dreadlord infused with the Light, a member of the Army of the Light that served under the Prime Naaru Xe'ra. Not a whole lot is known about our friend Lothraxion. We do know that he was part of the Burning Legion until converted by the Light, later recruiting Alleria and Turalyon into their army.
He told Alleria about the Locus-Walker, set her on a path of mastering her void abilities and then pleaded for her life which actually made Xe’ra hesitate. They will trust that agent leading to Alleria staying alive and eventually reconnecting with Azeroth, leading the player to join the Army of the Light in the war against the Legion. Remember how certain Xe’ra was in the one linear path she foresaw, the destiny she tried to impose upon Illidan?
The line about "naaru and their keepers" is interesting--while we know that the opposing force, Shadow, has the Old Gods and the higher-ranking Void Lords, we don't know much about the Light forces above the naaru. There's been some hints that Elune could be above the naaru, as she's missing from the cosmology chart, such as
Die Göttin wache über Euch
I was going through some ancient cosmology tomes when I stumbled upon a passage indicating that the prime naaru may have been created by Elune during the great ordering of Light and Shadow.
If Elune did create Xe'ra, then it stands to reason that we could use the Tears of Elune to unlock the secrets of Light's Heart.
One of the mysteries Tyrande hopes to solve is why Elune abandoned the Night Elves during the Burning of Teldrassil, and if Death has been waging a war against Light, it could explain her recent weakness.
We've seen the Light's singularity in purpose portrayed harmfully in recent times as well. The most shocking example is the
Mag'har Orc Unlock Scenario
, in which we learn Yrel is leading a war of zealotry, forcing the Orcs to worship the Light. And as Nobbel points out, we also have that
fateful cinematic between Xe'ra and Illidan
, as she forcibly tries to purify him, leading to her demise.
we even have Turalyon, a high-ranking member of the Army of the Light,
sitting on the Stormwind throne
in Anduin's absence--an act which could be viewed as treason in some cultures. His dialogue is cause for worry as well, as he seems interested in reclaiming land instead of brokering a fragile peace. And of course, the image of Turalyon sitting on the throne in full golden armor invokes the Old God whisper "The golden one claims a vacant throne. The crown of light will bring only darkness."
If you're curious to read more about Lothraxion or Army of the Light, check out
A Thousand Years of War
or play through the
Patch 7.3 Argus Campaign
Life and Ardenweald - Page Six
The adherents to Life are the most insidious of opponents, perhaps because their nature is so antithetical to our own.
Still, we learned much from observing the link between their plane and Ardenweald, and we have high confidence that a vulnerability has been identified.
Our operative has already gained the trust of her target.
Antithetical means directly opposed or contrasted, opposite of the force that’s making this report. That’s why, since life would be their opposite, this report is coming out of the domain of death. There is one link we can observe in Ardenweald--it's connected to the Emerald Dream. That would indicate that the domain of Life is the Emerald Dream which blows open what we’ve known about this realm so far and it’s not the first time this happened. Back in the War of the Ancients trilogy, the Emerald Dream was described as this blue print of Azeroth with multiple layers that Malfurion could use to do things like spy on Queen Azshara.
The Chronicles then added a whole lot more like the Emerald Dream being an ethereal realm of spirits and untamed nature that exists alongside the world of Azeroth, forged by the keepers to act as a map for the evolutionary path of Azeroth’s flora and fauna. Even the Chronicles are unclear about them creating the Emerald Dream or simply tapping into it. Perhaps this domain expands much further than just Azeroth and contains many more secrets. There’s a lot that they could potentially add here and clarify.
I’m having a hard time trying to figure out what they are referring to with the 'vulnerability" and "operative." A vulnerability and a target to gain trust with. If I had to come up with a prominent figure of the Emerald Dream, then Ysera comes to mind. She’s the green dragon aspect charged with watching over the Emerald Dream, but I don’t recall a she that Ysera would put her trust in unless we really want to go crazy and talk about Elune.
There’s also this whisper of Il'gynoth, the subject of much speculation: “The vassel of Life disguises treachery, beware the eyes of green.” And while Ysera is found within Ardenweald, her eyes are now blue as her fate is tied to the domain. And what kind of treachery would she disguise? It’s an interesting one to be certain. Perhaps when the story of Shadowlands shifts more in the direction of life, perhaps when we run into the sister of the Winter Queen...perhaps we’ll find out what they’re talking about.
We recently watched the premiere of
, an emotional tour-de-force highlighting the destruction caused by the Jailer's plans to withhold anima. Told largely from the viewpoint of Ara'lon, Ardenweald is dying, to the point that its protectors are forced to choose between sacrificing the souls they were charged to protect in order to save the rest of their realm. It didn't solve any mysteries posed in this book, but it did emphasize the link between the Emerald Dream, Emerald Nightmare, and Ardenweald, as the cinematic shows what happens to Ursoc's spirit following his defeat in Legion's Emerald Nightmare raid.
The cinematic also lays the groundwork for Ysera's story, the focus of Ardenweald questing as we persevere to save her wildseed, eventually binding Ysera to Ardenweald and the Shadowlands. We also encounter the Drust as threats, first seen in Drustvar in Battle for Azeroth, so perhaps the Drust were able to exploit Ardenweald's vulnerability through their invasions. Or this could also refer to the Emerald Nightmare and the Rift of Aln that stubbornly refuses to be cleansed. While this part of the story remains a mystery, it still demonstrates how different realms of the cosmos are tied together, with Life potentially impacted by threats of the Burning Legion, Old Gods, Drust, and the Anima drought.
Ardenweald Quests Night Fae Covenant Afterlives: Ardenweald Analysis
Fel and Disorder - Page Seven
And as previously discussed, our position within the plane of Disorder is proceeding flawlessly. Consuming fel energy is not a pleasant process, but a necessary one.
The deception you have architected will bear fruit in the ages to come.
The bit about not enjoying fel had me wonder if we’re actually talking about dreadlords here. The origin of the demons and the Nathrezim as we know it from the
states that just as in the Great Dark Beyond, life had also arisen in the Twisting Nether.The creatures that emerged from this turbulent realm were known as demons. They had been formed as a result of the Light and Void energies that had bled together at the borders of the Twisting Nether. The demons embraced their furious passions and reveled in pushing the boundaries of their power, heedless of the consequences. Many of these aberrations indulged in the highly volatile energy that pervaded the Nether. Some learned to wield the all-consuming powers of fel magic. Before long, these bloodthirsty demons clawed their way into the physical universe, terrorizing mortal civilizations and bringing ruin to world after world.
Why would the process of consuming fel not be an enjoyably experience if we’re talking about creatures born from a realm suffused with the stuff, but maybe even to demons the fel is not actually delicious? Alternatively, perhaps what Denathrius send out were not originally Dreadlords but rather his Venthyr. By going to the Twisting Nether, infiltrating the plane of Disorder and consuming fel, they changed into the Nathrezim.
Now to give more credit to them originally being Dreadlords that were send out, we do have Sire Denathrius called the Lord of Dread and then an interesting recent find by Neryssa at Wowhead. Apparently the book is found in Revendreth in a tower called Spire of Unseen Guests. That’s a term used by Balnazar himself to describe the dreadlords, "Thal’kituun or unseen guests in our language."
It doesn’t go against what Chronicle says either as from the Chronicles we read about the Nathrezim emerging from the Twisting Nether. It could be that their origin actually comes from the Shadowlands as Draka has shown us that they’re not stuck there.
If the Nathrezim have been working for the Jailer all along, it explains how the Burning Legion could have acquired the Helm of Domination and Frostmourne, as the Nathrezim were skilled smiths and Mal'Ganis drove Arthas to pick up Frostmourne. Don't forget that Varimathras, also a dreadlord, watched over Sylvanas in the Undercity and warned us about her plans in Antorus. Looking back, the "true darkness" likely referred to the threat of the Shadowlands/Death:
Varimathras: So, your Alliance still endures. Longer than I expected, though she has already planted the seeds of its downfall. She is patient, that one.
Varimathras: When your thrones run red with betrayal... when your holy places burn and the shattered mask hangs above your hearth... only then you will know. And it will be too late.
Varimathras: It matters not. You are blind to the true darkness closing in around you.
Varimathras: So, she found me at last. Sent her underlings to finish the job.
Varimathras: Tell me, when she seized your throne of hides and bones, was your allegiance forced? No... I'd wager you surrendered it willingly... or were convinced you did.
Varimathras: It matters not. You are blind to the darkness in your midst.
The story of
appears uncomplicated and heroic next to the political intrigue of
Battle for Azeroth
. Knowing the Burning Legion could be infiltrated by agents of Death, whose defeat would fall into their master plan, our victory now seems hollow.
Unseen Guests - Final Page
As ever, we shall serve as your unseen hand. We will poison every host foolish enough to invite us into their midst.
I remain, as always, your faithful servant.
Blizzard has stated they'd like to explore the cosmology chart more, and with this book we see the cosmic-wide war is in full swing. Having the origins of the dreadlords potentially linked to Denathrius and the Shadowlands opens up a lot of potential story connections we hadn't made before:
Dreadlords experimenting with necromancy during War of the Ancients
Dreadlords procuring the Helm of Domination and Frostmourne for Kil'jaeden
Arthas chasing down Mal'Ganis to Northrend
Varimathras advising and betraying Sylvanas in Undercity
The final line also serves as a metaphor for "unseen guest," their given name in the
comics, and as Nobbel highlighted earlier, the name of the book's location. The Nathrezim act as invisible lethal guests, who exploit their host's weakness once they have their trust. It's worth examining Balnazzar a little further, the Dreadlord who shared the "unseen guest" name initially, as he's linked to Sylvanas and his fake "defeats" appear to be in service of allowing other Dreadlords to gain the trust of others.
First Varimathras offered to kill his brother Balnazzar in return for Sylvanas sparing his life, but Balnazzar's execution was faked. This allowed Balnazzar to set his new plan in motion to ultimately create the Scarlet Crusade and Varimathras to remain close to Sylvanas in Undercity. Balnazzar then returns in Legion, leading an attack on Netherlight Temple only to be defeated by Silver Hand and Temple forces, aided by the Holy Dreadlord Lothraxion.
But Balnazzar's return in Legion may have parallels to his story in the
comic, with another defeat cloaked in deception, as
Feindliche Infiltration - Vorwort
implies that a nathrezim has pretended to convert to the Light. If this is Lothraxion, then Balnazzar's death was part of a calculated plan to gain the loyalty of the Silver Hand and Army of the Light, similar to Varimathras pretending to kill Balnazzar to gain Sylvanas' trust.
So there we have it, a lot of lore packed into one small book! Let us know in the comments what you think of the book and where the story could go, and don't forget to subscribe to
Nobbel87 on YouTube
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