The Burning Crusade: World of Warcraft Chronicle Vol 1 (Part Four)

Welcome to the World of Warcraft Readthrough where I am diving into the lore of Warcraft chronologically. For a running list of characters, look here. You do not have to have played the game or have any previous knowledge of the world, but please note, since this is an in-depth read, there will be spoilers.

We find ourselves diving back into the World of Warcraft Chronicle, getting some great backstory on what will be one of Azeroth’s main sources of conflict. In this section, we find out just what Sargeras has been up to while the rest of the Pantheon was discovering and settling Azeroth, and it wasn’t good.

300px-Chronicle_Burning_Legion
©Blizzard Entertainment 2016

Summary

Alone in the Great Dark Beyond (GDB), Sargeras became obsessed with the idea of the Old Gods corrupting other world-souls. As the hopelessness consumed him, he became more certain in what he still felt was the correct course of action. The universe was flawed, and the only way to save it “was to purge it in fire.” In order to carry out his Burning Crusade, Sargeras needed a lot of rage. The only place that could come to mind was Mardum, the Plane of Banishment, where so many demons were packed it was bursting with volatile magic. Sargeras tore the prison apart, but the resulting explosion altered him physically, marring his body and tearing into his soul.

It also caused a tear in the boundary between the Twisting Nether and the GDB. Through this came untold amounts of demons. With Sargeras’ new fel magic, many demons became larger and more imposing, while others became smarter and more cunning. After all his time spent hunting demons, Sargeras had learned how to destroy them permanently, so he gave them a choice: fight for him or be killed. It ended up not being much of a choice given Sargeras’ new power, and honestly, most demons relished the destruction and their part in it. He named this army the Burning Legion.

Sargeras set the Burning Legion on a world, one that happened to have been given life by the Pantheon but contained no sleeping titan. All life was destroyed, and Sargeras himself killed the constellar entrusted to supervise this world. His old friend, Aggramar was the first to learn of the death and destruction, and upon encountering the Burning Legion, was shocked to find Sargeras at the helm. A battle ensued between the two titans, but there was no victor. Aggramar escaped to inform the Pantheon.

Finally pushed into action, the Pantheon encountered Sargeras at the world Nihilam. They pled their case, with Aman’Thul informing Sargeras of Azeroth and its future ability to destroy the void lords and Aggramar recounting the old days of battles and oaths of protection. Despite Aggramar having no weapon, Sargeras attacked him, cutting him practically in two. Watching Aggramar die spurred the remaining members of the Pantheon to action. The battle was violent and vast, corrupting Nihilam (now known as the Doom World) and beyond.

The Pantheon could not overcome fel fire, and Sargeras sought to finish them for good. He created a fel storm in order to destroy their very existence. Just in time, Norgannon wove a protective spell around their souls and flung them into the GDB. Unaware of this, Sargeras destroyed their bodies and called himself triumphant. Now his thoughts turned to Azeroth. He had no idea where it was, but he knew he must find it.

To make his army stronger and more powerful, Sargeras sought commanders. He found what he was looking for on Argus, home to the eredar, an intelligent race who craved only more knowledge. They were led by a trio of inspiring and effective leaders, whom working together brought the eredar to great heights.

  • Archimonde, inspired strength and courage
  • Kil’jaeden, brilliant and cunning
  • Velen, peaceful and wise

Sargeras knew that in order to get these men and the eredar on his side, he must trick them. He disguised himself as a resplendent being, went to the triumvirate, and told them just what they wanted to hear, most importantly that he needed help fixing the flaw in creation. Only Velen hesitated. He used an ancient relic, the ata’mal crystal, and had a vision of the future. If they worked with Sargeras, they would become unrecognizable twisted demons of evil. Velen told Archimonde and Kil’jaeden, but they wouldn’t listen. They would take Sargeras’ offer.

With the help of a naaru, K’ure, Velen and his small band of loyal followers escaped on the Genedar, a floating fortress. They became known as the exiled ones, the draenei. Kil’jaeden and Velen had been close friends. He took Velen’s denial and escape as a betrayal. He promised to get vengeance.

Sargeras warped the remaining eredar with fel energy. With their great intelligence, they became the commanders he so desperately sought. Kil’jaeden became “the Deceiver” and would “beguile the mortal civilizations of the physical universe and transform them into agents of the Burning Legion.” Archimonde became “the Defiler”  and would “drive the demonic masses to acts of extreme violence and barbarism.” Together, they wiped worlds from existence, gathering more twisted and evil races to join their cause.

Analysis

As I’ve mentioned before, the Chronicle does not give a timeline this far back in the history of Warcraft. It may appear, as we are reading, that it didn’t take long for Sargeras to go from protector of the universe to its greatest nightmare. So, once again, I had to use an unofficial timeline (on a well respected Warcraft-based site). You may recall seeing it in my Dawn of the Aspects post, but I’ll relay it here and include other important points.

  • 147,000 BDP – Creation of the Great Dark Beyond
  • 65,000 BDP – Ordering of Azeroth ends (our last readthrough in the Chronicle)
  • 64,001 BDP – Galakrond storyline (Dawn of the Aspects)
  • 25,000 BDP – Sargeras arrives on Argus

Unfortunately, since Blizzard does not have an official timeline for this point, people have pulled this together from various novels and the use of in-game books. Some of these books almost blatantly contradict what is written in the Chronicle, as they were likely written before the book was even conceived, but it the best we are given.

We could estimate that even if it was a couple thousand years between Sargeras’ battle with the Pantheon and his arrival on Argus, that still leaves tens of thousands of years where he was brooding alone out in the GDB. It’s enough to make anyone go mad, so it’s not much of a surprise that someone whose life is steeped in violence would react the same way. The book does a good job of giving you a sense of despair, but that is really the last sense of emotion we get from him, outside of rage, after the breaking of Mardum.

I’d have to believe that the power of fel magic corrupts the soul completely. Sargeras goes from a distraught and mournful character to one of pure evil. He so easily tricks and corrupts the eredar with no remorse. The eredar themselves become so changed, where once peaceful and intelligent creatures are now okay with creating terror and massive violence. It can’t only be the idea of power and knowledge. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in one of our first readings, there isn’t much detail given on the workings of fel magic. It just is, and we know it’s bad. I don’t expect an in-depth rule set, but it would be nice to get some basis for the magic systems. I have seen some comments on other WoW sites that reference how fel magic works, but I have yet to see that level of detail in my reading.

Speaking of fel magic, I felt the Pantheon had to know if had trouble dealing with it. And if so, why confront Sargeras in the way they did? He was surrounded by his legion, swimming in powerful magic, and clearly angry. He had already broken a world with a sleeping titan. He had stated his intention of purging creation when he abandoned the Pantheon. What made them think this was the right course of action? I know they needed to stop him, and they felt the pressing need, but if they knew that Azeroth would become something that could save them, why the rush? I wish we had been given more insight into their decision. Also, if Sargeras wanted to reset creation, what could be accomplished by destroying those who helped create it? How would he begin anew?

I get that this is a very high-level overview of the history, but I would have loved to get a little more of the culture of the eredar, particularly considering that the exiled ones are the first playable race mentioned (meaning a person can play as a draenei when making a character in World of Warcraft). Within the game, you can get a sense of this culture, but it would have been fun to hear what carried over from their previous life on Argus within this context. Also, I can’t help but be disappointed, once again, in the lack of female characters in our stories. The draenei will end up having some strong female characters within the game, but there are none in the leadership. The naaru, the saviors of the draenei, aren’t given many contexts either. We know from our first reading on the creation that they are beings of light, and Velen mentions them being a part of eredar history, but we get little else.

The book gives some fun details about the different kinds of demons that were recruited into the Burning Legion. Each also has a particular purpose in the army, and I liked getting more dimension to these typically throwaway bad guys. I left out all of the descriptions here since you really should read the books for something!

. . . . .

Next time, we return to the Keepers back on Azeroth. While all this chaos is happening with Sargeras in the GDB, they seem to be content with destroying themselves. If you are reading along, how do you feel about the changes within Sargeras? If you are just following along, do you think the Pantheon made the right choice in confronting Sargeras?

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