Analysis of Dragonflight Legacies: Chapter Two - What Does Nozdormu Want?
05/11/2022 à 23:36
is a series of animated shorts preceding the release of Dragonflight. These shorts follow Nozdormu, the Bronze Dragon Aspect, as he "delves into an ancient past that holds the key to saving" the future of the dragonflights.
, we saw Nozdormu showing Scalecommander Emberthal, an important dracthyr leader, the story of the fight against Galakrond. In
, Nozdormu tells Emberthal the tales of Deathwing's betrayal... and his death.
Dragonflight Legacies: Chapter Two
A Contrasting Question
The animation begins with the sound of footsteps, and the first thing we see - as in the opening shot of Chapter One - is Nozdormu's shadow. Once again, the subtle implication is that the Bronze Dragon Aspect's story - and his potential fate - casts a shadow across this expansion. Almost immediately, his shadow is joined by that of Emberthal - the character most representative of the dracthyr, whose story is just beginning.
Nozdormu: What is your name, child?
Emberthal says: Emberthal, a commander of the dracthyr. You know of us?
, Emberthal's first words is to ask Nozdormu who he is. Now, Nozdormu is the one asking her name - but there is a strong contrast here. Emberthal's questions were more urgent - asking who Nozdormu is, what he is, what he wants.
Nozdormu's is more gentle. He knows what Emberthal is, and likely even has a good idea of who she is. It seems unlikely that his choice of dracthyr to approach just so happened to coincidentally be the leader of the one weyrn considered second to Neltharion himself. His question is more about building a personal relationship than identifying an unknown. This conversation also appears to follow on from where the previous chapter left off - Nozdormu has just told Emberthal his name in that, and is now asking hers.
Emberthal herself is aware that Nozdormu has knowledge of her kind, asking him outright. As we watch the two journey through what appears to be an underground tunnel, Nozdormu describes the dracthyr as he understands them.
He also makes reference to the fact that the Dragon Aspects no longer have the power they once did - a comment that Emberthal does not miss for a moment.
Nozdormu: You are a race of fierce warriors unlike anything Azeroth has seen in many an age. In time, you may become as mighty as we once were.
Emberthal: Once? What happened?
Nozdormu: The desire for power carries peril. We were blind to the darkness in our midst.
As is so often the case, Nozdormu's words could have more than one meaning. The first is the most straightforward - Neltharion, desiring power, used the promise of power to trick the other Aspects - who were blind to the darkness in their ally. The story of the Dragon Soul, which Nozdormu is about to relate.
However, as the Aspect of Time, Nozdormu's words could carry a hidden warning - intentional or otherwise - about coming events in Dragonflight. As it happens, the Dragon Aspects are seeking power again - specifically their Aspect powers. Nozdormu has also just suggested that the dracthyr themselves may achieve great power - immediately before warning that the desire for power can carry peril. As for not seeing a growing darkness - that could refer to almost anything, not least of which is the ever-present, lingering potential that Nozdormu may yet become Murozond.
Once again, Nozdormu uses the sands of time to show Emberthal a vision, this time of Valdrakken - the capital of the Dragon Isles - soon after it was first established by the Dragon Aspects. Emberthal, who so far in these shorts has played the role of the viewer - listening to Nozdormu as he narrates these important moments in history - is suitably impressed. However, this also shows that the dracthyr themselves apparently never visited Valdrakken - perhaps never even left the Forbidden Reach - as she seems taken with the sight in the way that someone who's only first witnessing it can be.
Nozdormu: Behold the Dragon Isles. In the time after our ascension, we aspects sought to create a beacon of hope for all the world.
At this moment, Emberthal spots Neltharion flying overhead, and the screen flashes to show her memory from Chapter One - confirming that this is the general she remembered. She sounds almost surprised - suggesting that her experience of Neltharion was in a very specific context. She's unused to seeing him outside of it.
Emberthal: Neltharion - my general!
We get to see all the Aspects in their visage forms, Nozdormu and Emberthal hidden in a corner as they watch the memory.
Nozdormu: Indeed, we all had our roles to play. Guided by Alexstrasza - our conscience, our heart - we all became as close as clutchmates...
While Nozdormu speaks about this time, so long ago, when the Aspects were all still together - still a family - his expression is strangely blank. Perhaps he is simply resigned to the emotions of the scene - has learned long ago how to deal with them. Perhaps it's simply sad but stern, and we are misreading that for coldness.
Either way, Emberthal's expression, in contrast, is intense - presumably still lazer-focused on Neltharion, who even without seeing his transformation she would have recognized in his visage form.
Now, the camera focuses on Neltharion, and we hear whispering (nefarious whispering - according to the video's subtitles). The others are blurred out - standing all together, still allies - while Neltharion stands apart, his head turned away from his fellow Aspects, listening to the whispers that would corrupt him. The camera moves and we see the shadow on the wall, tentacles reaching out towards him. The source of the whispering. The Old Gods.
Nozdormu: or so it seemed. For we could not hear the whispers of corruption that tempted one of our own.
As we already highlighted before, shadows in these animated shorts have been used to show how a character casts their shadow across the story of Dragonflight - and this shadow is no different. Old God influence on the dragonflights is even older than the Aspects themselves. The earliest concepts of the Dragon Isles included temples to the Old Gods. We recently learned G
alakrond may have been transformed by waters corrupted by the Old Gods
, and, of course, it was the Old Gods' whispers that led Neltharion into becoming Deathwing.
Most notably, Nozdormu's transformation into Murozond is also supposedly meant to be brought about by the Old Gods tricking him into trying to avoid his death.
Of course, officially Azeroth has been declared Old God free. Magni Bronzebeard declared as much after we defeated N'Zoth at the end of
Battle for Azeroth
. According to one of the whispers of Il'gynoth,
The king of diamonds has been made a pawn.
But we're sure that was just an Old God lie and that everything is fine.
War of the Ancients
Nozdormu's tale turns to the War of the Ancients, when the Legion first attempted to invade Azeroth. As the world's Guardians, the Dragon Aspects naturally played an important role in the war, with Neltharion apparently leading the fight.
When demons invaded our world, we aspects went forth to protect it as we always had, not knowing whether we would ever again see the shores of home. Our brother Neltharion led our defense against the invaders.
However, the Legion's forces were far beyond anything the Aspects had faced before, and they found themselves struggling. As Nozdormu explains, Neltharion came to the other Aspects with an idea for a weapon.
Though he doesn't name it, the weapon Nozdormu refers to here is called the Dragon Soul - later the Demon Soul - an artifact of incredible power.
But for the first time, we found our strength... inadequate. And we grew desperate. So when Neltharion assured us that with our help he could forge a weapon to win the war, we placed our trust in him.
To create this artifact, Neltharion used his own blood and Elementium, a binding ore of merged elements, tainted with the corruption of the Old Gods. He then convinced the other Aspects to infuse it with their own essences - filling it with their own power and the powers of their flights - as we see them doing here. This would cause the Dragon Soul to be uniquely powerful against the dragonflights themselves - something that they could not damage or destroy, and that could be used against them.
Nozdormu describes how Neltharion - now Deathwing - turned on the rest of the dragonflights, and we love how the animation illustrates how terrible the betrayal must have felt. First, standing behind Neltharion as he watches the army of demons. A general to be followed and trusted as he led the flights against the enemy. Then, the slow turn. Something is happening, but for a moment, it must have been impossible to know what. At no point does the camera back away from Neltharion - the perspective is from someone who still trusts him, is still willingly following him. And then, suddenly, the attack.
And we renewed our battle against the demons, only to have Neltharion - who now took the name "Deathwing" - turn on his own kind.
The Truth... Scope
As with Chapter One, the scene that Nozdormu is showing us at the moment isn't quite how it played out in the story - but it gives us the essence of what happened - what he must feel are the most important elements of this story.
We see how utterly helpless the flights were against this attack - first, thrown back from Deathwing with a great force, then falling out of the sky like burning meteors.
We could not foresee this betrayal for we simply did not want to believe.
We see Alexstrazsa kneeling over the body of a dragon, Neltharion silently watching her. The action is already over. The dragonflights utterly helpless against the power of the Demon Soul.
Interestingly, the body that Alexstrazsa is kneeling over seems to be quite clearly that of a black dragon - one that even looks similar to Deathwing himself. Nozdormu showing us how even Deathwing's own flight was not safe from his betrayal.
The scene cuts to Nozdormu, his gaze turning from Deathwing to Alexstrazsa, and then we see Emberthal watching as well - highlighting that this is not reality so much as a version of reality - one specifically seen through the lense of Nozdormu's own memories. We're not seeing the exact details of Deathwing's betrayal, or the action immediately after. We're seeing the sense of helplessness, betrayal, and grief that the rest of the Dragon Aspects felt.
Even after all this time, the pain of his treachery is far worse than the scars he left us with.
It's worth noting that, while in Chapter One, Nozdormu's narration was interrupted throughout by questions and interjections from Emberthal, this time she has remained silent for some time - allowing him to tell his story. But no longer. We can already see her mouth hanging open in horror as she watches the scene, but now she turns on Nozdormu, her hand raised in a fist. She is horrified, and angry, and questioning, though not irrational. The question she puts to Nozdormu entirely fair.
Emberthal: That is not the leader I remember! How do I know it was not you who provoked him?
Nozdormu: You missed much during your confinement.
Nozdormu's response is clever. First, he pauses ever so slightly before the word "confinement". Both he and Emberthal know that the dracthyr were imprisoned by Neltharion. By reminding her of this, Nozdormu is gently reminding Emberthal that she, herself, has seen the general she trusted act in ways that she may not have understood and could even feel like a betrayal.
As Nozdormu prepares to show Emberthal another vision to illustrate his point, we are once again treated to one of those lines that could have several different meanings. There are bitter truths that may yet be revealed to us - to the Aspects - to Nozdormu himself. And it's interesting that he's telling Emberthal to trust her eyes when we have seen quite a significant amount of evidence that she
trust everything she's seeing - that she's witnessing these events through a lense rather than seeing them exactly how they played out.
But the Sands of Time reveal all truths, child, even bitter ones. Trust your eyes.
Death of Deathwing
Nozdormu shows Emberthal yet another important scene from dragon lore - Deathwing's fall, and how the Dragon Soul was used to defeat him.
When the Champions of Azeroth faced Deathwing for the last time, he was so consumed by madness that he could not imagine what we would sacrifice to stop him, that the weapon we had helped him forge would become the means of his destruction.
The defiance and anger in Emberthal seems to be gone. In fact, she looks almost vulnerable as she asks, sadly, if this truly was the Aspects' only choice.
Emberthal: Was there no other way?
Interestingly, though Nozdormu suggests that they had no other choice - Deathwing would have destroyed the world otherwise - he does not claim it outright. Instead, he simply explains that this was how the Aspects lost their power, and how he believes that it was a worthwhile price to pay.
Nozdormu: Deathwing would have destroyed this world. To stop him, we aspects relinquished our power, our immortality, our guardianship of Azeroth itself. A fair trade, I believe.
But once again, we see Emberthal is no fool. Though still clearly deeply affected by seeing the death of her beloved general, we can see how she almost physically pulls herself away from her emotional reaction to instead focus on the realization that Nozdorumu must have a specific motive for telling her all this, and she looks him directly in the eye as she asks him what it is.
Emberthal: You want something from me, don't you?
For his part, Nozdormu doesn't deny it. Instead, we finally see where they are - a wall filled with doorways looming ahead.
Nozdormu: It is my gift - and my burden - to travel the pathways of time. But there is one crucial moment that has long remained hidden from me... and only you can lead me there.
A final note: this location, along with the entrance in
, should be familiar to anyone who has played through the Forbidden Reach dracthyr starting zone on the Dragonflight beta. In fact, it looks very much like the War Creche, the area that all dracthyr players start in after waking from their stasis.
Though the area that Nozdormu and Emberthal are in look most like the War Creche, it must be said that most Creches in the Forbidden Reach seem to be built around the same basic idea. It could be Emberthal's own creche, the High Creche, or another location.
Either way, whatever it is Nozdormu is seeking an answer for seems to be tied up in the same mystery that's behind the dracthyr themselves. We still don't quite know why they were imprisoned by Neltharion in the first place - only that it's something Malygos helped him with willingly.
We're excited to learn more.
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