Kil’jaeden cast Ner’zhul’s icy cask back into the world of Azeroth. The hardened crystal streaked across the night sky and smashed into the desolate arctic continent of Northrend, burying itself deep within the Icecrown glacier. The frozen crystal, warped and scarred by its violent descent, came to resemble a throne, and Ner’zhul’s vengeful spirit soon stirred within it.
From the confines of the Frozen Throne, Ner’zhul began to reach out his vast consciousness and touch the minds of Northrend’s native inhabitants. With little effort, he enslaved the minds of many indigenous creatures, including ice trolls and fierce wendigo, and he drew their evil brethren into his growing shadow. His psychic powers proved to be almost limitless, and he used them to create a small army that he housed within Icecrown’s twisting labyrinths.
As the Lich King mastered his growing abilities under the dreadlords’ persistent vigil, he discovered a remote human settlement on the fringe of the vast Dragonblight. On a whim, Ner’zhul decided to test his powers on the unsuspecting humans.
Ner’zhul cast a plague of undeath – which had originated from deep within the Frozen Throne, out into the arctic wasteland. Controlling the plague with his will alone, he drove it straight into the human village. Within three days, everyone in the settlement was dead, but shortly thereafter, the dead villagers began to rise as zombified corpses. Ner’zhul could feel their individual spirits and thoughts as if they were his own.
The raging cacophony in his mind caused Ner’zhul to grow even more powerful, as if their spirits provided him with much-needed nourishment. He found it was child’s play to control the zombies’ actions and steer them to whatever end he wished.
Over the following months, Ner’zhul continued to experiment with his plague of undeath by subjugating every human inhabitant of Northrend. With his army of undead growing daily, he knew that the time for his true test was nearing.
Book found at Scarlet Monastery
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There were a handful of powerful individuals scattered throughout the world who heard the Lich King’s mental summons from Northrend. Most notable of them was the archmage of Dalaran, Kel’Thuzad, who was one of senior members of the Kirin Tor, Dalaran’s ruling council. He had been considered a maverick for years due to his insistence on studying the forbidden arts of necromancy.
Driven to learn all he could of the magical world and its shadowy wonders, he was frustrated by what he saw as his peers’ outmoded and unimaginative precepts. Upon hearing the powerful summons from Northrend, the archmage bent all of his considerable will to communing with the mysterious voice. Convinced that the Kirin Tor was too squeamish to seize the power and knowledge inherent in the dark arts, he resigned himself to learn what he could from the immensely powerful Lich King.
Leaving behind his fortune and prestigious political standing, Kel’Thuzad abandoned the ways of the Kirin Tor and left Dalaran forever. Prodded by the Lich King’s persistent voice in his mind, he sold his vast holdings and stored away his fortunes. Traveling alone over many leagues of both land and sea, he finally reached the frozen shores of Northrend.
Intent on reaching Icecrown and offering his services to the Lich King, the archmage passed through the ravaged, war-torn ruins of Azjol-Nerub. Kel’Thuzad saw firsthand the scope and ferocity of Ner’zhul’s power. He began to realize that allying himself with the mysterious Lich King might be both wise and potentially fruitful.
After long months of trekking through the harsh arctic wastelands, Kel’Thuzad finally reached the dark glacier of Icecrown. He boldly approached Ner’zhul’s dark citadel and was shocked when the undead guardsmen silently let him pass as though he was expected.
Kel’Thuzad descended deep into the cold earth and found his way down to the bottom of the glacier. There, in the endless cavern of ice and shadows, he prostrated himself before the Frozen Throne and offered his soul to the dark lord of the dead.
The Lich King was pleased with his latest conscript. He promised Kel’Thuzad immortality and great power in exchange for his loyalty and obedience. Eager for dark knowledge and power, Kel’Thuzad accepted his first great mission: to go into the world of men and found a new religion that would worship the Lich King as a god.
To help the archmage accomplish his mission, Ner’zhul left Kel’Thuzad’s humanity intact. The aged yet still charismatic wizard was charged with using his powers of illusion and persuasion to lull the downtrodden, disenfranchised masses of Lordaeron into a state of trust and belief. Then, once he had their attention, he would offer them a new vision of what society could be – and a new figurehead to call their king.
Kel’Thuzad returned to Lordaeron in disguise, and over the span of three years, he used his fortune and intellect to gather a clandestine brotherhood of like-minded men and women. The brotherhood, which he called the Cult of the Damned, promised its acolytes social equality and eternal life on Azeroth in exchange for their service and obedience to Ner’zhul.
As the months passed, Kel’Thuzad found many eager volunteers for his new cult amongst the tired, overburdened laborers of Lordaeron. It was surprisingly easy for Kel’Thuzad to achieve his goal: namely, to transfer the citizens’ faith in the Holy Light into belief in Ner’zhul’s dark shadow. As the Cult of the Damned grew in size and influence, Kel’Thuzad made sure to hide its workings from the authorities of Lordaeron.
With Kel’Thuzad’s success in Lordaeron, the Lich King made the final preparations for his assault against human civilization. Placing his plague-energies into a number of portable artifacts called plague-cauldrons, Ner’zhul ordered Kel’Thuzad to transport the cauldrons to Lordaeron, where they would be hidden within various cult-controlled villages.
The cauldrons, protected by the loyal cultists, would then act as plague-generators, sending the plague seeping out across the unsuspecting farmlands and cities of northern Lordaeron.
The Lich King’s plan worked perfectly. Many of Lordaeron’s northern villages were contaminated almost immediately. Just as in Northrend, the citizens who contracted the plague died and arose as the Lich King’s willing slaves.
The cultists under Kel’Thuzad were eager to die and be raised again in their dark lord’s service. They exulted in the prospect of immortality through undeath. As the plague spread, more and more feral zombies arose in the northlands. Kel’Thuzad looked upon the Lich King’s growing army and named it the Scourge, for soon it would march upon the gates of Lordaeron and scour humanity from the face of the world.
Book found at Southshore
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Around the time of Medivh’s birth on Azeroth, Kil’jaeden the Deceiver sat and brooded amongst his followers within the Twisting Nether. The cunning demonlord, under orders of his master, Sargeras, was plotting the Burning Legion’s second invasion of Azeroth.
This time he would not allow any mistakes. Kil’jaeden surmised that he needed a new force to weaken Azeroth’s defenses before the Legion even set foot upon the world. If the mortal races, such as the night elves and dragons, were forced to contend with a new threat, they would be too weak to pose any real resistance when the Legion’s true invasion arrived.
It was at this time that Kil’jaeden discovered the lush world of Draenor floating peacefully within the Great Dark Beyond. Home to the shamanistic, clan-based orcs and the peaceful draenei. Draenor was as idyllic as it was vast.
The noble orc clans roamed the open prairies and hunted for sport, while the inquisitive draenei bulit crude cities within the world’s towering cliffs and peaks. Kil’Jaeden knew that Draenor’s denizens had great potential to serve the Burning Legion if they could be cultivated properly.
Of the two races, Kil’Jaeden saw that the warrior orcs were more susceptible to the Legion’s corruption. He enthralled the Elder orc shaman, Ner’zhul, in much the same way that Sargeras brought Queen Azshara under his control in ages past. Using the cunning shaman as his conduit, the demon spread battle lust and savagery throughout the orc clans.
Before long, the spiritual race was transformed into a bloodthirsty people. Kil’jaeden then urged Ner’zhul and his people to take the last step: to give themselves over entirely to the pursuit of death and war. Yet the old shaman, sensing that his people would be enslaved to hatred forever, somehow resisted the demon’s command.
Frustrated by Ner’zhul’s resistance, Kil’jaeden searched for another orc who would deliver his people into the Legion’s hands. The clever demonlord ffinally found the willing disciple he sought – Ner’zhul’s ambitious apprentice, Gul’dan. Kil’jaeden promised Gul’dan untold power in exchange for his utter obedience.
The young orc became an avid student of demonic magic and developed into the most powerful mortal warlock in history. He taught other young orcs the arcane arts and strove to eradicate the orcs’ shamanistic traditions. Gul’dan showed a new brand of magic to his breathren A terrible new power that reeked of doom.
Kil’jaeden, seeking to tighten his hold over the orcs, helped Gul’dan found the Shadow Council, a secretive sect that manipulated the clans and spread the use of warlock magics throughout Draenor. As more and more orcs began to wield warlock magics, the gentle fields and streams of Draenor began to blacken and fade. Over time, the vast prairies the orcs had called home for generations withered away, leaving only red barren soil. The demon energies were slowly killing the world.
Months passed, and more orc prisoners were rounded up and placed within the internment camps. As the camps began to overflow, the Alliance was forced to construct new camps in the plains sought of Alterac Mountains. To properly maintain and supply the growing number of camps, King Terenas levied a new tax on the Alliance nations.
This tax, along with increased political tensions over border disputes, created widespread unrest. It seemed that the fragile pact that had forged the human nations together in their darkest hour would break at any given moment.
Amidst the political turmoil, many of the camp wardens began to notice an unsettling change come over their orc captives. The orcs’ efforts to escape from the camps or even fight amongst themselves had greatly decreased in frequency over time. The orcs were becoming increasingly aloof and lethargic.
Though it was difficult to believe, the orcs – once held as the most aggressive race ever seen on Azeroth – had completely lost their will to fight. The strange lethargy confounded the Alliance leaders and continued to take its toll on the rapidly weakening orcs.
Some speculated that some strange disease, contractible only by orcs, brought about the baffling lethargy. But archmage Antonidas of Dalaran posed a different hypothesis. Researching what little he could find of orcish history, Antonidas learned that the orcs had been under the crippling influence of the demonic power for generations.
He speculated that the orcs had been corrupted by these powers even before their first invasion of Azeroth. Clearly, demons had spiked the orcs’ blood, and in turn the brutes had been granted unnatural heightened strength, endurance and aggression.
Antonidas theorized that the orcs’ communal lethargy was not actually a disease, but a consequence of racial withdrawal from the volatile warlock magics that had made them fearsome, bloodlusted warriors.Thought the symptoms were clear, Antonidas was unable to find a cure for the orcs’ present condition. Then too, many of his fellow mages, as well as a few notable Alliance leaders, argued that finding a cure for the orcs would be an imprudent venture. Left to ponder the orcs’ mysterious condition, Antonidas’ conclusion was that the orcs’ cure would have to be a spiritual one.
—Book found at Eastvale Logging Camp—Elwynn Forest
No one knows exactly how the universe began. Some theorize that a catastrophic cosmic explosion sent the infinite worlds spinning out into the vastness of the Great Dark – worlds that would one day bear life-forms of wondrous and terrible diversity. Others believe that the universe, as it exists, was created as a whole by a singular, all-powerful entity.
Though the exact origins of the chaotic universe remain unclear, it is clear that a race of powerful beings arose to bring order to the various worlds and ensure a safe future for the beings that would follow in their footsteps.
The Titans, colossal, metallic-skinned gods from the far reaches of the cosmos, came forward and set to work on the worlds they encountered. They shaped the form of their worlds by raising mighty mountains and dredging out vast seas.
They breathed skies and raging atmospheres into being – all part of their unfathomable, far-sighted plan to create order out of chaos. They even empowered primitive races to tend to their works and maintain the integrity of their respective worlds.
The Titans, ruled by an elite sect known as the Pantheon, brought order to a hundred million worlds scattered throughout the Great Dark Beyond during the first ages of creation.
The benevolent Pantheon, seeking to safeguard their structured worlds, was ever vigilant against the threat of attack from the vile, extra-dimensional entities of the Twisting Nether. The Nether, an ethereal dimension of chaotic magics that connected the myriad worlds of the universe together, was home to an infinite number of malefic, demonic beings, who sought only to destroy life and devour the energies of the living universe.
Book found at Scarlet Monastery
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The terror of these past few weeks is almost more than I can bear; why is it that by writing words into this book I can somehow keep the madness at bay? Perhaps it is as if I’m confessing my sins to a silent companion, or freeing my mind of these tortured thoughts and confining them to paper. I began a journal before this one, but it remains in a place to which I cannot return. So I will start afresh. But this time, I will start from the true beginning.
It began with the finding of that cursed scythe in the mine they call Roland’s Doom. Yes, that was the start of it. Before that, the Defias Brotherhood was happy with our progress in Duskwood. Before the Scythe, the terrors of this place seemed as tame as Northshire Valley.
But ever since I found the haft of the Scythe jutting from that pile of rubble in the mine and, curse me, pulled it free, Roland’s Doom became a place of vile death!
If I had known what would happen, I would have cut off my own hand to keep from grasping that rune-carved wood. So many regrets! I always thought that was a privilege of the old. I now know that it is not the old – it is the hopeless – who don the mantle of regret, unable and unwilling to shrug it from shoulders stooped with misery.
But enough waxing like a pipe-mad poet. I must continue with the chronicle…
After the Scythe was freed, a change rippled through the mine. Light from our flickering torches warped, and the strength of our voices seemed beyond our control. Sometimes a man’s whisper roared through the tunnels forcing hands on ears, and sometimes our shouts barely traveled a few steps before diminishing into a hint on the wind.
Unnerving, yes, but we did not have long to wonder at this strangeness. It was but a harbinger of what truly drove us from the mine. The Worgen.
They came at us from everywhere, clawing from hidden holes at our feet and dropping upon us from silent perches above. Half our men fell in those first panicked minutes. The rest, including myself, tried to flee. As I ran I saw so many of my brothers taken by tooth and claw, heard so many screams cut short or gurgle to silence.
For all I know, I am the only human to escape that place.”
I can only guess why I survived that night. I have always been cautious, always quick to flinch from jabs and leap free of pitfalls. My nickname, Jitters, comes from this trait. So perhaps it was just that knack for caution that saved me…
Or maybe it was the Scythe I pulled from the rubble. It cannot be the Scythe itself, for I lost it during my frantic flight. But if it was I who brought the Worgen to Duskwood, then perhaps the Worgen afforded me a rare courtesy. Curse them.
Or perhaps, I am doomed to witness the change I wrought on Duskwood. Perhaps it is my fate to watch as the Worgen tear into this land, staining it ever darker with their foulness.
If that truly is my fate, then it is twofold. For the Worgen are not the only power to clutch at Duskwood – the fiends from Deadwind Pass have also staked claim.
That is the next chapter of my tale, and I pray it is the last…
After surviving the flight from Roland’s Doom, I hid within a barn owned by a man named Sven. I spent a few days in the barn, and such horror lingered with me that I never once made myself known to Sven or his family. But from what I saw from my hiding place, I knew these farmers were quite decent folk. Had I stepped from my concealment I think they would have taken me in, but trust is hard for me. Harder still after that shock in the mine.
So I remained hidden. And it saved my life.
A few days after I arrived at the barn, Sven left his farm for Darkshire. He kissed his wife and smiled to his children and promised to return soon with toys and sweets. The poor man. That was the last time he saw his family unmutilated.
At least they parted happily. And at least his wife was the first to die, and was freed from seeing the slaughter of her children. But these small graces do nothing for me. I saw what happened, and it will ever haunt my dreams.
My hand trembles as I recall the details of that night, when Sven was away and his family was doomed to face the Black Riders alone. Again regret claws at me, for I was there and could have risen against those fiends from Deadwind Pass. But it is a false regret. It is the same that plagues any survivor of a tragedy. I know that, had I left my place of hiding I too would have been killed, my body ripped and torn, and its pieces spread so widely that I would not be recognized.
But, even though I know I could have done nothing to stop this heinous murder, one true regret does remain: I brought the Black Riders to Sven’s farm. My discovery of the Scythe not only unleashed the Worgen upon Duskwood – it drew the Riders from Deadwind Pass.
I know this because, just before they began their slaughter they asked one question to Sven’s wife as she held her children close, giving them what comfort she could though she was certain death was near.
“The Scythe of Elune.” one of the Riders shrieked in a voice both harsh and shrill, like the grinding of an axe on stone. And the last word – Elune – it croaked, as if choking on the sound.
Dread gripped me when I heard that voice, both from the horrid sound of it, and because…I knew the Scythe of which the Rider spoke. It must be the same cursed thing I drew from the rocks of Roland’s Doom days before. It was what the Black Riders sought!
And it was what would kill Sven’s family.
I never learned the name of Sven’s wife, as she was only ever called “dearest,” and “my love,” and “mommy” by her husband and children. But I wish I knew it. I am the only living memory of her deed that day, and although she was just a farmer’s wife, never have I seen a man or woman act with such bravery.
Of course she did not know of the Scythe, but when she learned the Riders sought it, in an instant a plan formed in her head.
And it was bold and clever. If only it had worked.
“The Scythe?” she said in a calm voice. “Of course I do. Who here wouldn’t?” She looked at the Riders with steady eyes, and I would have sworn she spoke the truth if I had not known better. There was no way she could know about the Scythe.
Her gambit paid off. The same Rider who uttered the question before bent his head slightly toward her, and shrieked, “Where?”
“I’ll take you. All of you,” she said, and I could see a small hope flicker behind her eyes.
“But the way is far, and my children would slow us. We must leave them.”
Her trick was simple, but simple tricks have the best hope of success. If it worked, it would lead the Riders away from the farm. She would be lost, but her children would be safe. And it would work, if only the Riders believed her noble lies.
Although I have never been a student of the Light, I prayed fiercely for Sven’s wife as she stood against those terrible Riders.
“Please,” I prayed. “Let them believe.”
They stood, frozen, and she met their gazes with calm. Then one rider looked up, as if hearing a distant call. He drew from his garb a small gem and peered into it. He then gestured with the bauble toward Sven’s wife. A light crept from the Rider toward the woman, shaping itself into a grim, white hand. She stared into the light, unflinching, but I could see uncertainty behind her mask of confidence. When the hand reached her, it spread its fingers over her head.
And it squeezed.
Sven’s wife stood rigid as a board, and her eyes grew wide. And although her lips pulled back to mouth a scream, no sound escaped. Afte
r a few moments of this torture the hand released her, dropping her to her knees. The Rider who held the bauble then sat erect in his saddle, and
a loud voice erupted from it.
“This woman lies,” it said in a voice that has scarred my dreams. “She has not seen the Scythe.”
After this, the Rider’s shoulders stooped slightly, as if a spirit within him had fled. And then in the old, shrieking voice it used earlier, these final words were uttered:
“The Lord has spoken. Kill them.”
I cannot describe what happened next. It is clear in my mind, but even my wretched soul cannot put to paper the events of those next few, grisly minutes.
I can only write that Sven’s family was killed. And soon after, Sven returned to this grim, deathly scene. Such grief was in him that I was afraid to show myself. And so afraid was I that he would find me, I fled from my hiding spot in the barn. I do not know where Sven is now, but I pray he will, some day, find peace.
I spent the next few weeks moving from place to place, never lingering for fear of the Riders. I am now in the abandoned town of Raven’s Hill, as always, hiding. I cannot face whatever power they used against Sven’s wife, and I know it searches Duskwood, even still, for the Scythe. It is lost to me, and I thank the Light for this, for had I kept it I know I would have been found. Even now, I know in my heart that I will be found.
I’m so tired.
Book found at Raven Hill, Duskwood
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Mists of Dawn
Before the age of memory, the gentle Earthmother breathed upon the golden mists of dawn. Where the amber clouds came to rest, there were endless fields of flowing wheat and barley. This was the basin of her works. The great basket of life and hope.
The Earthmother’s eyes shone down upon the lands she had breathed into creation. Her right eye, An’she (the sun), gave warmth and light to the land. her left eye, Mu’sha (the moon), gave peave and sleep to the stirring creatures of the dawning. Such was the power of her gaze that the Earthmother closed one dreaming eye for every turning of the sky. Thus, her loving gaze turned day into night for the first dawning of the world.
While the right eye shone down upon the golden dawn, the Earthmother’s gentle hands spread out across the golden plains. Wherever the shadow of her arms passed, a noble people arose from the rich soil. The Shu’halo (the Tauren) arose to give thanks and prayer to their loving mother. There in the endless fields of dawn, the children of the earth swore themselves to her grace and vowed to bless her name until the final darkening of the world.
Sorrow of the Earthmother
As the children of the earth roamed the fields of dawn, they harkened to dark whispers from the deep beneath the world. The whispers told the children of the arts of war and deceit. Many of the Shu’halo fell under the shadow’s sway and embraced the ways of malice and wickedness. They turned upon their pure breathren and left their innocence to drift upon the plains.
The Earthmother, her heart heavy with her children’s plight, could not bear to watch them fall from grace. In her grief, she tore out her eyes and set them spinning across the endless starry skies. An’shee and Mu’sha. Seeking to ease the other’s sorrow could only chase each other’s faint glow across the sky. The twins still chase one another with every turning of the world.
Though sightless, the Earthmother could not long stray from the world of her heart. She kept her ear to the winds and listened to all that transpired across the fields of the dawn. Her great heart was always with her children—and her loving wisdom never fled from them.
The White Stag and the Moon
Into the brave hearts of her pure children, the Earthmother placed the love of the hunt. For the creatures of the first dawn were savage and fierce. They hid from the Earthmother finding solace in the shadows and the wild places of the land. The Shu’Halo hunted these beasts wherever they could be found and tamed them with the Earthmother’s blessing.
One great spirit eluded them, however. Apa’ro (known as Malorne to the Night Elves) was a proud stag of snow white fur. His antlers scraped the roof of the heavens and his mighty hooves stamped out the deep places of the world. The Shu’Halo hunted Apa’ro to the corners of the dawning world—and closed in to snare the proud stag.
Seeking to escape, the great stag leapt into the sky. Yet, as his escape seemed assured, his mighty antlers tangled in the stars which held him fast. Though he kicked and struggled, Apa’ro could not loose himself from the heavens. It was then that Mu’sha found him as she chased her brother An’she, towards the dawn. Mu’sha saw the mighty stag as he struggled and fell in love with him immediately.
The clever moon made a bargain with the great stag—she would set him free from the snare of the stars if he would love her and end her loneliness.
Mu’sha loved Apa’ro and conceived a child by him. The child, a demigod some would claim was born in the shadowed forests of the night. He would be called Cenarius and walk the starry path between the waking world and the kingdom of the heavens.
Forestlord and the first druids
In time, the child, Cenarius, grew to the stature of his proud father. A brother to both the trees and the stars. The great hunter roamed the far places of the world, singing the harmonious songs of the dawning. All creatures bowed before his grace and beauty—there were none so cunning as the son of the moon and the white stag.
Eventually, Cenarius befriended the Shu’Halo and spoke to them of the turning world. The children of the earth knew him as brother and swore to help him care for the fields of life and the favored creatures of their great Earthmother.
Cenarius taught the children of the earth to speak to the trees and plants. The Shu’Halo became druids and worked great deeds of magic to nurse the land to health. For many generations the Shu’Halo hunted with Cenarius and kept the world safe from the shadows that stirred beneath it.
Hatred of the Centaur
As the mists of dawn faded and the age of memory advanced, the demigod, Cenarius, went his own way through the fields of the world. The Shu’Halo (Tauren) were sorrowful at his passing and forgot much of the druidism he had taught them. As the generations passed, they forgot how to speak with the trees and the wild things of the land. The dark whispers from the deeps of the world drifted up to their ears once again.
Though the children of the earth closed out the evil whisperings, a terrible curse befell their roaming tribes. Out of the black lands of the west came a horde of murderous creatures, the Centaur. Cannibals and ravagers, the Centaur fell upon the Shu’Halo like a plague. Though the braves and hunters fought with the Earthmother’s blessing in their hearts, the Centaur could not be defeated.
The Shu’Halo were forced to leave their ancestral holdings behind, and roam the endless plains as nomads forever after it was held that one day hope would return—and the scattered tribes of the Shu’Halo would find a new home under the loving arms of the Earthmother.
Books found at the Elder Rise, Thunderbluff
The origin of the Centaur is told by Celebras at Maraudon instance in Desolace. Cenarius fathered two sons: Remulos and Zaetar. Zaetar fell in love with an Earth Elemental named Princess Theradras. From that unholy love were born the evil Centaurs. Remulos fathered the Dryads and the Keepers of the Grove.
The Earthmother is rumored to be Therazane the Elemental Lord. Other fans think it is Alexstrasza. No further proof has been revealed in-game of the Earthmother’s identity. Another theory is that Eonar the Lifebinder titan created the moon and the sun as part of her own essence, therefore creating Elune. We will update as info arrives. These are only theories, not canon nor true.
War of the Ancients: The Sundering revealed that Ysera the Dragon Aspect was Malorne’s lover and mother of Cenarius.
UPDATE: I invited Richard A. Knaak to a mini-Q&A to explain few questions that many fans commonly share among themselves—things that confused fans after reading War of the Ancients Trilogy. Elune and Ysera are not one and the same, here he explains the relation between Cenarius and Ysera.
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Lord Lothar rallied the remnants of Azeroth’s armies after their defeat at Stormwind Keep, and then launched a massive exodus across the sea to the northern kingdom of Lordaeron. Convinced that the Horde would overcome all of humanity if left unchecked, the leaders of the seven human nations met and agreed to unite in what would become known as the Alliance of Lordaeron.
For the first time in nearly three thousand years, the disparate nations of Arathor were once again united under a common banner. Appointed as Supreme Commander of the Alliance forces, Lord Lothar prepared his armies for the coming of the Horde.
Aided by his lieutenants, Uther the Lightbringer, Admiral Daelin Proudmoore, and Turalyon, Lothar was able to convince Lordaeron’s demi-human races of the impending threat as well. The Alliance succeeded in gaining the support of the stoic dwarves of Ironforge and a small number of high elves of Quel’Thalas.
The elves, led at that time by Anasterian Sunstrider, were largely uninterested in the coming conflict. However, they were duty-bound to aid Lothar because he was the last descendent of the Arathi bloodline, which had aided the elves in ages past.
The Horde, now led by Warchief Doomhammer, brought in ogres from its homeworld of Draenor and conscripted the disenfranchised Amani forest trolls into its fold. Setting out on a massive campaign to overrun the dwarf kingdom of Khaz Modan and the southern reaches of Lordaeron, the Horde effortlessly decimated all opposition.
The epic battles of the Second War ranged from large-scale naval skirmishes to massive aerial dogfights. Somehow the Horde had unearthed a powerful artifact known as the Demon Soul and used it to enslave the ancient Dragonqueen, Alexstrasza. Threatening to destroy her precious eggs, the Horde forced Alexstrasza to send her grown children to war. The noble red dragons were forced to fight for the Horde, and fight they did.
The war raged across the continents of Khaz Modan, Lordaeron, and Azeroth itself. As part of its northern campaign, the Horde succeeded in burning down the borderlands of Quel’Thalas, thereby ensuring the elves’ final commitment to the Alliance’s cause. The greater cities and townships of Lordaeron were razed and devastated by the conflict. Despite the absence of reinforcements and overwhelming odds, Lothar and his allies succeeded in holding their enemies at bay.
However, during the final days of the Second War, as the Horde’s victory over the Alliance seemed almost assured, a terrible feud erupted between the two most powerful orcs on Azeroth. As Doomhammer prepared his final assault against the Capital City of Lordaeron – an assault that would have crushed the last remnants of the Alliance – Gul’dan and his followers abandoned their posts and set out to sea.
The bewildered Doomhammer, having lost nearly half of his standing forces to Gul’dan’s treachery, was forced to pull back and forsake his greatest chance at victory over the Alliance.
The power-hungry Gul’dan, obsessed with obtaining godhood itself, set out on a desperate search for the undersea Tomb of Sargeras that he believed held the secrets of ultimate power. Having already doomed his fellow orcs to become the slaves of the Burning Legion, Gul’dan thought nothing of his supposed duty to Doomhammer.
Backed by the Stormreaver and Twilight’s Hammer clans, Gul’dan succeeded in raising the Tomb of Sargeras from the sea floor. However, when he opened the ancient, flooded vault, he found only crazed demons awaiting him.
Seeking to punish the wayward orcs for their costly betrayal, Doomhammer sent his forces to kill Gul’dan and bring the renegades back into the fold. For his recklessness, Gul’dan was torn apart by the maddened demons he had set loose. With their leader dead, the renegade clans quickly fell before Doomhammer’s enraged legions.
Though the rebellion had been quelled, the Horde was unable to recoup the terrible losses it had suffered. Gul’dan’s betrayal had afforded the Alliance not only hope, but also time to regroup and retaliate.
Lord Lothar, seeing that the Horde was fracturing from within, gathered the last of his forces and pushed Doomhammer south, back into the shattered heartland of Stormwind. There, the Alliance forces trapped the retreating Horde within the volcanic fortress of Blackrock Spire. Though Lord Lothar fell in battle at the Spire’s base, his lieutenant, Turalyon, rallied the Alliance forces at the eleventh hour and drove the Horde back into the abysmal Swamp of Sorrows.
Turalyon’s forces succeeded in destroying the Dark Portal, the mystical gateway that connected the orcs to their homeworld of Draenor. Cut off from its reinforcements and fractured by infighting, the Horde finally buckled in upon itself and fell before the might of the Alliance.
The scattered orc clans were quickly rounded up and placed within guarded internment camps. Though it seemed that the Horde had been defeated for good, some remained highly skeptical that peace would last. Khadgar, now an Archmage of some renown, convinced the Alliance high command to build the fortress of Nethergarde that would watch over the ruins of the Dark Portal and ensure that there would be no further invasions from Draenor.
Book found at Darkshire, Duskwood
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Meanwhile, in the war-torn lands of the south, the scattered remnants of the Horde fought for their very survival. Though Grom Hellscream and his Warsong clan managed to evade capture, Deadeye and his Bleeding Hollow clan were rounded up and placed in the internment camps in Lordaeron. Notwithstanding these costly uprisings, the camps’ wardens soon re-established control over their brutish charges.
However, unknown to the Alliance, a large force of orcs still roamed free in the northern wastes of Khaz Modan. The Dragonmaw clan, led by the infamous warlock Nekros, was using an ancient artifact known as the Demon Soul to control the Dragonqueen, Alexstrasza, and her dragonflight. With the Dragonqueen as his hostage, Nekros built up a secret army within the abandoned – some say cursed – Wildhammer stronghold of Grim Batol.
Planning to unleash his forces and the mighty red dragons on the Alliance, Nekros hoped to reunite the Horde and continue its conquest of Azeroth. His vision did not come to pass: a small group of resistance fighters, led by the human mage Rhonin managed to destroy the Demon Soul and free the Dragonqueen from Nekros’ command.
In their fury, Alexstrasza’s dragons tore Grim Batol apart and incinerated the greater bulk of the Dragonmaw clan. Nekros’ grand schemes of reunification came crashing down as the Alliance troops rounded up the remaining orc survivors and threw them into the waiting internment camps. The Dragonmaw clan’s defeat signaled the end of the Horde, and the end of the orcs’ furious bloodlust.
Book found at Menethil Harbor
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Ner’zhul and his followers entered the Twisting Nether, the ethereal plane that connects all of the worlds scattered throughout the Great Dark Beyond. Unfortunately Kil’jaeden and his demonic minions were waiting for them. Kil’jaeden, who had sworn to take vengeance on Ner’zhul for his prideful defiance, slowly tore the old shaman’s body apart, piece by piece.
Kil’jaeden kept the shaman’s spirit alive and intact, thus leaving Ner’zhul painfully aware of his body’s gross dismemberment. Though Ner’zhul pleaded with the demon to release his spirit and grant him death, the demon grimly replied that the Blood Pact they had made long ago was still binding, and that Ner’zhul still had a purpose to serve.
The orcs’ failure to conquer the world for the Burning Legion forced Kil’jaeden to create a new army to sew chaos throughout the kingdoms of the Azeroth. This new army could not be allowed to fall prey to the same petty rivalries and infighting that had plagued the Horde. It would have to be merciless and single-minded in its mission. This time, Kil’jaeden could not afford to fail.
Holding Ner’zhul’s spirit helpless in stasis, Kil’jaeden gave him one last chance to serve the Legion or suffer eternal torment. Once again, Ner’zhul recklessly agreed to the demon’s pact. Ner’zhul’s spirit was placed within a specially crafted block of diamond-hard ice gathered from the far reaches of the Twisting Nether.
Encased within the frozen cask, Ner’zhul felt his consciousness expand ten thousand-fold. Warped by the demon’s chaotic powers, Ner’zhul became a spectral being of unfathomable power. At that moment, the orc known as Ner’zhul was shattered forever, and the Lich King was born.
Ner’zhul’s loyal death knights and Shadowmoon followers were also transformed by the demon’s chaotic energies. The wicked spellcasters were ripped apart and remade as skeletal liches. The demons had ensured that even in death, Ner’zhul’s followers would serve him unquestioningly.
When the time was right, Kil’jaeden explained the mission for which he had created the Lich King. Ner’zhul was to spread a plague of death and terror across Azeroth that would snuff out human civilization forever. All those who died from the dreaded plague would arise as the undead, and their spirits would be bound to Ner’zhul’s iron will forever.
Kil’jaeden promised that if Ner’zhul accomplished his dark mission of scouring humanity from the world, he would be freed from his curse and granted a new, healthy body to inhabit.
Though Ner’zhul was agreeable and seemingly anxious to play his part, Kil’jaeden remained skeptical of his pawn’s loyalties. Keeping the Lich King bodiless and trapped within the crystal cask assured his good conduct for the short term, but the demon knew that he would need to keep a watchful eye on him. To this end, Kil’jaeden called upon his elite demon guard, the vampiric dreadlords, to police Ner’zhul and ensure that he accomplished his dread task.
Tichondrius, the most powerful and cunning of the dreadlords, warmed to the challenge; he was fascinated by the plague’s severity and the Lich King’s unbridled potential for genocide.
Book found at Southshore.
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