The Warbringers Azshara animated short was released today at GamesCom 2018. As I expected, it delve in the moment Queen Azshara held a protective magic shield to prevent her people drowning as the waters rushed upon Zin-Azshari after the Well of Eternity became unstable.
However, this was no flashback as I speculated. The Animated short only covered that epic moment when N’zoth offered a deal to Azshara, and transformed them into the Naga. There was no flashback in the sense that the animated short never showed present time Azshara to have a blast-from-the-past moment before giving the marching orders in the present to assault Kul Tiras.
No. That did not happen. As a fan, I loved Warbringers: Azshara. However, I need to be honest and crude here. In a IRL that has become a reality show where truth is not truth, and gaslighting rules supreme, getting the same treatment in the universe I immerse by choice, leaves me with a uncomfortable taste.
Not a single verbatim word from Richard A. Knaak’s War of the Ancients novel is used in Warbringers: Azshara. Sink that in for the next two minutes.
Richard A. Knaak’s legacy has been silently stripped from Warcraft for reasons I still can’t fathom. Rhonin and Krasus were killed within months. The dragon aspects were depowered and haven’t been seen since Cataclysm, to my knowledge. Now the words Queen Azshara and N’zoth uttered in the novel, were not the words they uttered. Retcon.
Then there is no direct connection to the present Azshara to initiate the march against Kul Tiras’s fleet to connect why old players may wish to get back to World of Warcraft for Battle for Azeroth.
I did like the animated short, but I wish the narrative had used verbatim dialogue from the novel in respect to the old school lore fans and Richard A. Knaak’s legacy.
EXCERPT OF N’ZOTH-AZSHARA PACT: THE SUNDERING
WARBRINGERS: AZSHARA ANALYSIS
Warbringers: Azshara is the longest Warcraft animated short Blizzard has released ever at 7 minutes 15 seconds. In comparison, let’s look at the time length of past animated shorts:
- Warbringers: Sylvanas 4:00
- Warbringers: Jaina 4:46
- Harbingers: Khadgar 5:29
- Harbingers: Gul’dan 6:24
- Harbingers: Illidan 4:25
- Lords of War: Kargath 6:07
- Lords of War: Grommash 6:18
- Lords of War: Durotan 6:08
Lore-fan rant aside, let’s take a deep dive into the Animated Short by re-exploring the narrative in the transcript.
The animated short starts with a vista of Zin-Azshari in all its glory, 10,000 years before the opening of the Dark Portal. Pristine. Beautiful. An ancient Greek or Rome city vibe with marble buildings, jade domes with golden finishes. Even an astrological device on a park atop one of the buildings.
A massive shadow begins to cover the top of the buildings, and a rumble sound begins to invade the peaceful scenery.
Hundreds of feet tall tsunami engulfs Zin-Azshari, the jewel of the Highborne’s cities. Buildings crumble into pieces as the waves crash. The streets are swope below water, and as the water is about to hit Queen Azshara and her people, she weaves her hands to chant a spell that protects them from drowning.
The vast swirls of magic emanating from her hands are still not enough to contain the heavy weight and force of the waters. Her face is strained. Her body trembling in exhaustion.
The first words heard during the animated short. Her people demands from their queen: Save us! Help! My Queen, save us!
Queen Azshara is reaching her limit as a spellcaster, and she is being drowned by the pleas of her people. Everything becomes a blur. Azshara tunnel visions everything to keep her force field going a few seconds more.
However, one pesky annoyance breaks from her tunnel vision, distracting her concentration and hold over the rushing waters.
She looks to her right. A fish is struggling on the ground to breath… or maybe it is merely calling for her attention.
The camera view changes to the fish on the ground. The small pond of water beneath the fish reflects the agonizing visage of Queen Azshara.
The fish continues to flip its fins and tail, making annoying noises against the ground. Queen Azshara continues to focus her sight on the small thing.
The fish stops moving. Only its jaw moves slightly. Breathing becoming difficult out of the water.
In its eye is reflected the agonizing visage of Queen Azshara. A voice emanates from the fish: “Let go… Let go…”
Queen Azshara responds: “No! I am queen. This… is the empire I built!”
The voice from the fish says: “It is over…”
Something awkward about this scene is that the fish’s voice is a female. Is the voice disguised by N’zoth to sound like if it was Queen Azshara’s inner voice?
The distraction finally breaks Queen Azshara’s hold on her spell, or she merely was unable to hold the vast weight of the waters above her force field. Water pours in, submerging her and her people.
Everything goes black.
The unconscious bodies of the Nightborne are shown floating deep beneath the waves.
Queen Azshara’s tiara floats slowly away as her body sinks further to the bottom. She opens her eyes slightly. Her watery distorted vision shows her the floating bodies of her people above her. Once more, her eyes roll back and close. Darkness once more.
In some dream realm, she hears the voice of her people: You betrayed us. You destroyed everything.
Queen Azshara: No. My people…
More voices of her people: Save us my queen. You promised us discernity. Save us my queen. This is your fault! You betrayed us.
Queen Azshara: This is my fault? No!
The dry husk corpses of her people begin to surround her, grab her by the shoulders, and arms, pulling her down into the depths of the ocean.
Queen Azshara: No! No! This… This was not the deal I made! (NOTE: This is in reference to the deal between Azshara and Sargeras).
The chaotic scene with the corpses of her people surrounding her and pulling her down into the depths is gone. Darkness once more surrounds her in this mindscape or dream realm. Her real body still floating beneath the waves.
A laughter echoes in the depths of the dream realm.
N’zoth: Deal. I like deals.
Azshara: Who are you? Show yourself. At once!
N’zoth: Hmm… For a thousand years, bound beneath these waves, I have watched you. I have tasted your essence.
A fish materializes before her gaze.
N’zoth: It won’t be long now. Your death is near. Only I can sustain you. Let go. Serve me.
Azshara: You? You are nothing.
N’zoth: Nothing? (laughter) I am a god.
(Thousands of eyes come into view and flare up, dissipating the darkness of the dream realm.)
(The next view is incredible showing a massive sunken city with pyramids, and obelisks. Is this Ny’alotta? Far in the distance a huge tentacled figure emanating blinding yellow light. Holy Light?)
N’zoth: Before you walked this land, I ruled.
(Azshara attempts to cover her sight with her left arm. The radiance too much to see. Then slowly she lowers her arm to seep in and behold the radiance.)
(Tentacles reach out to Azshara as she floats above.)
N’zoth: Serve me. And we will rebuild my empire.
(Azshara, still in awe at the sight, lowers her eye to ponder his words briefly. Her eyes shift to the left in realization and utters her response.)
(Followed by her response, as if a sonic boom had hit the atmosphere, the voice of N’zoth says…)
N’zoth: No? You dare… you will die!
(The tentacles reach out at high speed toward Azshara with the intent on wrapping around her to squeeze the life out of her body, but as they are about to close in on her… she utters in defiance…)
Azshara: A queen!
(The tentacles stop merely 2 feet away from her face, as if N’zoth awaits in intrigue the meaning of her words.)
Azshara: Not a slave. You’ve watched me for a thousand years. So you know what I want. Take my people. With them, I will raise an army. Conquer your enemies, build an empire… as queen. Or… let me die and you will remain here… a prisoner. The god… of nothing.
(N’zoth roars in rage. Azshara is expelled from the dream realm. Everything goes dark once more. Azshara’s body becomes conscious. Her body still floating beneath the ocean shortly after her force field spellcasting failed her people.)
(Azshara opens her eyes. She looks left. Then looks right. Then opens her mouth. She is breathing beneath the water. She begins to regain her senses after waking up. However, something is wrong.)
(Something is very very wrong. Her eyes open wider than ever. Her body convulses in pain beyond anything ever felt. The agony is beyond anything that can be withstood by any mortal being. Her body is literally shifting. Changing. Transforming. Growing new limbs, and unmaking old ones. Fins grow and expand. Tentacles sprout, grow, and evolve.
The infuriated N’zoth had accepted her deal, but the price? Azshara could never have forseen the price of her defiance. She is now queen indeed. But she is still a slave to the curse of flesh, remade in his image. The Naga serves N’Zoth, under the command of Queen Azshara.
N’Zoth: Arise Azshara. Arise my queen.
(The depths echo Queen Azshara’s laughter.)
Queen Azshara showed a lot of narcissism, and arrogance in this Animated Short, which mirrors what we learned in the novel War of the Ancients, but in the animated short it has been cranked to 11. She outwitted the old god N’zoth, insulted him, and got away with her deal.
That makes a terrific villainess intro to those who come into Battle for Azeroth, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for us end-game a few patches from now.
Will Queen Azshara become more omni-present throughout the expansion after War Front: Stromgarde content? What I am asking is if Queen Azshara will be portrayed in-game the way the Lich King was throughout the level up experience in the Wrath of the Lich Expansion, or how Deathwing would burninate AFK players, or show up here and there in-game with his taunting voice, or how we got a peek at the Lords of War while questing, or more recently how we encountered the Legion often in the Broken Isles and the Broken Shore.
That’s something I am very interested in. To see the naga and Queen Azshara’s presence often building up to the patch where the Azshara raid unlocks.
Personally, going back to discusing the Warbringers: Azshara animated short, now that the pillars of Warcraft lore are no longer among the Warcraft Team, I wish there was more accuracy and nods to the material we have read before. It is not excuseable not to have used the narrative verbatim during the animated short. It would have worked verbatim, plus the new lines added in the animated short. Even if it had added 3-4 more minutes to the length. It would have been worthwhile. It would have meant that Blizzard Entertainment acknowledged: “We know the lore. We wish to give you the same vibe experienced in what you read in Richard A. Knaak’s War of the Ancients, and we expanded that more with these extra lines to flesh out the deal encounter between Queen Azshara and the old god N’zoth.”
That way fans like me wouldn’t have felt like I do now. When it comes to lore, I bask on it.
Although, most of my Warcraft books were free review copies sent by the publishers, I have collected the digital downloads too, supporting the writers and their work.
It is the story. The truth. The truth is the truth, and I’d love to be told it how it is, and welcome any addition to the verbatim that could be added to expand it. Otherwise, it becomes a rewriting, a retcon, a “what you read in the novel, is no more. I reinvented it to look this way instead.”
To the Story and Franchise development team, my sincere apologies. I just wish you understand, and make an effort to stick 100% on the lore, and expand around the verbatim, rather than put the pencil eraser over the verbatim, and re-write it as if the original did never exist.
In addition, as I mentioned earlier, I would have liked the entire animated short to be a flashback. At the end of the animated short, I would have liked to see Queen Azshara on her throne, pondering her memories of The Sundering, and her deal with N’zoth. I would have liked to see a glimmer that she somewhat regrets the deal she made that day. That maybe now she might have ulterior goals to break the deal. But definitely, I would have loved to see Azshara utter the command to her Naga to siege Kul Tiras.
Maybe I am asking too much there. Maybe Blizzard Entertainment has something similar as a in-game cutscene or cinematic. I don’t know.
The Warbringers: Azshara animated short was spectacular in production, nevertheless, and I can’t wait to experience the raid and the yet-to-be-seen cinematic after players defeat Azshara — in the same fashion as what we saw after the defeat of Argus the Unmaker, which showed Sargeras plunging the sword into Azeroth.