Fading Light: Why the Naaru should be evil, part 4/4


What

I guess it's time to acknowledge that I never did write Part 4 of this series I started EIGHT YEARS AGO, WHAT THE HELL IS TIME

The reason it never got finished was because Part 4 was always intended to be some "What if?" fiction that built on the theories and ideas put forth in the first three posts. However, the writing never reached a point where I was happy with it, so I decided to shelve it until I thought it was good enough. Which ended up being never, it seems.

There was also a lot of reaction at the time that seemed to indicate readers were thinking I was saying all of this would happen, which was a bit disheartening because that was never my objective. Unlike some of my speculation posts, with this series I only wanted to explore the narrative possibilities, like "Hey, how interesting would it be, and think of all the unexpected directions WoW's story could go, IF the Naaru pulled off a huge heel turn?" And honestly I got tired of trying to explain this to the "uhh you are WRONG this won't happen" and "this GOES AGAINST LORE!!!!!" responders so I just never revisited the series.

Anyway, while discussing current WoW lore with some friends today, it occurred to me that during Battle for Azeroth there is a scene where Anduin and Jaina discuss Taelia Fordragon, and whether or not to tell her what had truly happened with her father, Bolvar. What's interesting about this is in The Shattering novel, it was Anduin who was in Taelia's situation. The Shattering makes it very clear that at the time (just before the Cataclysm), Anduin did NOT know what had happened to Bolvar in Icecrown Citadel -- he, like the rest of the world, was under the assumption that Bolvar had died at the Wrathgate.

Now of course, as Anduin got older (or perhaps when he became king), someone filled him in on Bolvar's fate. This makes sense, though it is kinda weird that Blizzard wouldn't showcase some attention on this BOMBSHELL of a revelation for someone who had become one of the franchise's primary characters learning he'd been lied to for years about the fate of the person he loved more than anyone in the world before Varian returned...but I digress.

With Shadowlands just around the corner, I'm realizing that while I'm still following the story and lore out of curiosity, I'm still not feeling the urge to jump back in after skipping Battle for Azeroth. This weekend was even a free weekend, and though I reinstalled the game and spent a few minutes admiring the new character creation options, I never ended up logging in. And so if I'm not going to write any more lore posts on this blog, I just can't leave this one thing unfinished. Hell, the image at the top of this post is even from my original post draft, prepped and readied all those years ago.

So here's Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and finally, eight years later, Part 4 of Fading Light: Why the Naaru should be evil. Enjoy!


The story that never was



When I started this blog series, we were in the final days of Cataclysm. Mists of Pandaria was still a month away, and the current big lore reveals at the time were the Dragon Soul "Soulroics", the 5-person dungeons of End Time, Well of Eternity, and most importantly, Hour of Twilight, where Stormwind's long-standing leader of the Church of the Holy Light, Archbishop Benedictus, was revealed to be an evil traitor.

The final entry in this series was intended to be a short fiction, where Tirion is called to Stormwind to learn some terrible news -- that the Naaru have betrayed the draenei and the Alliance, and had been lying about their true allegiances for years. Velen was alive, but understandably shattered by the Naaru turning their backs on him.

Tirion is shocked and outraged at this news, of course, but he quickly realizes he must put aside personal desires for retribution and justice, at least for the moment. After all, with the Naaru gone, Velen out of commission, and Archbishop Benedictus freshly revealed to be a real asshole, has humanity's faith and trust in the Light and its representatives ever been lower? Right now, as everyone reels from their still-fresh spiritual wounds, they desperately need someone to step up to champion the Light, and give them someone to believe in again.

Tirion is not an overly arrogant man, but he knows who he is: Commander of the Argent Crusade, last surviving original member of Alonsus Faol's Knights of the Silver Hand (that the world knew of, with Turalyon presumed dead or missing), and recent hero in the war against the Lich King. Tirion would be very aware of how the world views and respects him, and that he would be the perfect person to step in and give humanity a helping hand when they need it most. With his leadership and guidance, perhaps humanity could learn to trust the Light again. And of course, Tirion's deep sense of selfless duty and responsibility would absolutely make him volunteer for the job.

But then Anduin would stop him dead in his tracks with a simple question.

"Did you lie to us about Bolvar Fordragon?"

Because during their exit from the Alliance, the Naaru passed along a message to Velen's promising little princely apprentice...that Bolvar, Anduin's beloved friend and father-figure who had watched over and protected him all those years Varian was missing, had not died at the Wrathgate as everyone believed, but instead was now trapped in eternal torment, the only thing holding back the Scourge from sweeping forth across Azeroth once more.

Suddenly, Tirion realizes that everything is falling apart around him. Even as he recognizes that he no longer has the trust of one young boy, let alone the rest of the world, he hears Bolvar's words once more -- that if the world is to live free from the tyranny of fear, they must never know what happened up there atop the Frozen Throne. But now...that secret is out.

As Tirion falters, unsure what to say, or if he should reveal that the decision to keep Bolvar's fate a secret was not a decision he made alone, he notices Varian, standing stoically and supportively beside his anguished son. And as Anduin repeats the question, shouting now, Varian looks Tirion in the eyes and gives him a silent, imploring look.

"Please shoulder this weight," that look says, desperate and pleading. "Please don't make me tell my son I lied to him about the person he cared about most in the entire world."

"Please let him hate you instead of me."



And so, Tirion being Tirion...would do this. He would accept all the blame, the distrust, the scorn. Because he realizes he can't help Stormwind regain its faith in the Light. He can't make amends to the world for the lies he has told. He can't be a new mentor, teacher, and role model for Anduin, nor help him grow into the destiny so many foresee for him. None of this is possible anymore. At least, not now.

But if he can protect a boy's love for his father...well, that he can do.

Humanity's faith in the Light is broken. Velen is broken. The prodigal son's innocence and trust in his heroes is broken.

Somewhere, the Naaru laugh.

And so Tirion leaves Stormwind, banished back to Hearthglen and the Plaguelands. And for many days afterwards, he is haunted by Anduin's furious, grieving condemnation echoing in his ears:

Now go, leave this place!
And never return.

War Campaign Finale: Questions (Spoilers)


I may have stopped playing, but that doesn't mean I've stopped following the story. ESPECIALLY when it comes to Sylvanas, because I absolutely want to hear what happens with her.

I know many Sylvanas fans were upset (before Battle for Azeroth) that she might go "fully bad" and end up as a full-on villain/raid boss, but that's never been my thinking. Let's be real, here -- everyone knew she'd make this turn eventually. She's always been too ambitious, too independent, and too confident that she's the smartest person in the room to sit on her laurels just because they named her Warchief.

And you know what? I've always been fine with this! All I've ever wanted is for her turn & eventual downfall to be interesting and satisfying. That doesn't necessarily mean a happy ending, redemption, forgiveness, or anything like that. I just want her to receive better than Garrosh got.

(Also, an upside to not playing is now I can immediately view spoilers when they are revealed without the self-imposed guilt of wanting to wait to see them in-game!)

SPOILERS BELOW



In addition to the normal lore questions we're all left with after watching the events of the above cinematic, I rewatched it again later and had a few questions. Like most of the tinfoil hat lore theories posted on this blog, chances are extremely high that they're...absolutely nothing at all! But that's okay. They're fun to talk about.

What was that attack?


Sylvanas finished off Saurfang with a blast of some kind of purple energy. Obviously, no one knows what it was. Was it void energy? Shadow magic? Just something she can do, like her banshee wail? But that's not what I'm curious about. I'm curious what its effect was.

"To kill Saurfang!" you might say. But...was it?

Using magic in Warcraft's universe is not an easy thing. It requires effort, exertion. Log onto any of your characters and cast something. Almost always, your spells are accompanied by an energetic burst of motion -- a hand thrust in the air, a palm shot forward as if hurling the spell toward your target, your character's entire body arching as if they're beseeching the heavens for aid. Everyone does it. When Jaina casts spells in cinematics, you can feel the strain, the tension in her entire body.



But in the cinematic, Sylvanas' attack seems to require almost no effort at all.

In fact, what does she do? A flickering purple 'flame' coalesces between her hands, and then seemingly without any impetus or motion by Sylvanas herself, it rockets toward Saurfang.



The body language is...soft, almost gentle. It's strange, especially considering we just saw her violently cutting Saurfang to ribbons a few seconds earlier. And her pose here is almost like someone, I don't know, blowing a pile of feathers into the air, or releasing a bird they'd been holding in their hands.

Sure, it's probably just artistic license. Maybe Sylvanas is just SO POWERFUL that striking Saurfang down with magic doesn't require the same sort of physical effort it does for other people.

Or maybe it doesn't look like a magical attack because its real purpose was something else entirely. Oh sure, it killed Saurfang. That's one pest out of the way. But maybe her true target wasn't even Saurfang to begin with.

A Curious Look

Let's briefly and rewind way back to when the trailer cinematic for Battle for Azeroth first came out. Everyone remember this?



Right after Anduin pulls off his huge Mass Resurrection, Sylvanas gives him a meaningful, dangerous look. I remember a fair amount of speculation at the time as to what this look meant. I think most people chalked it up to Sylvanas recognizing a worthy foe, or even a wry moment of regret, that she had underestimated the boy king. It also might have been simply a "not bad, kid" response, since Anduin revitalized and inspired the Alliance just as she herself had revitalized and inspired the Horde moments earlier. A brief moment, but regardless of what it meant, it felt suitable for her.

Fast forward to the Reckoning cinematic. When Saurfang challenges her to mak'gora, we see this look again. It's a faint smirk, the barest hint of an inside joke that only she knows. It's a look of consideration, calculation, and assessment.



We can all imagine what Sylvanas must be thinking in this moment. "Can I win this duel?" "Is he right? Is my desire to make him suffer enough of a reason to agree to this, something I really don't need to do?" "How much will killing him in front of all these witnesses demoralize them?"

Perfectly logical. A crushing victory over the heart of the rebel army would be devastating to their morale. It might single-handedly win her this conflict. And she knows full well she's stronger than Saurfang.

And yet, her eyes, for the briefest of moments, flicker down before she agrees to the duel.



A question? Confirmation? What is she looking at? Saurfang isn't carrying a fearsome new weapon that might give her pause. He doesn't have new armor, or some mysterious artifact that might be a banshee-slaying device, or really anything. He's the same old orc.

So why does she break eye contact to look downwards? What does Saurfang have that Sylvanas notices, that makes her agree to this duel?



Could it be...Anduin?


That's the thing about AOEs


On my first viewing of the cinematic, I was caught up in the magnificence of the animation and the drama of Sylvanas' words. Upon rewatching, though, I noticed that when she blasts Saurfang and causes the explosion of billowing purple smoke, Anduin is there, clearly visible.

Why?

Canonically, I know he's nearby because he's acting as Saurfang's second in this very odd mak'gora. We do see him walk up with Saurfang and leave Zappy Boi and Thrall a few paces behind. But why did the animation team consciously decide to include him in Saurfang's death scene? He's not involved and he doesn't do anything. Perhaps even more strangely, Anduin is actually completely absent from the previous wide, panning shots during the duel, where the rebel army, Zappy Boi and Thrall can all be seen beyond. He does appear again once when Saurfang gathers himself for his final attack, but otherwise, Anduin vanishes completely. Almost as if we're suppose to forget about him.


But for some reason, they plunked Anduin back in when Sylvanas' attack lands. And not only is he present -- he actually gets fully engulfed by the ominous black-and-purple smoke. Sure, it's only for a few seconds...but a lot can happen in that time.



Could this be why Sylvanas agreed to the duel? Is this why she had the same look on her face before accepting the mak'gora as she did when looking across the battlefield at Anduin back at Lordaeron? Did that moment, after witnessing Anduin's power, give birth to a secret plan that is only now coming to fruition?



Probably not. Like I said, most of the speculation on this blog is done for fun and not because I think it's ACTUALLY what will happen. It's just my nature to naturally try to look for extra meaning, plot twists, and complications in everything! I can't help myself. Sadly, over the years I've gradually had to admit that maybe, just maybe, I give Sylvanas a bit too much credit when it comes to sneaky tricks and devious schemes.

Nonetheless, I can't help but feel there's more behind this expression. That maybe, in addition to the considerations described above, there's one more thought running through her head.

Just as planned.

Kirin Tor removes old mage portals after firing the mages that maintained them


Image from wowhead.com

Not even a month after laying off hundreds of their number, the Kirin Tor announced this week that in the near future, they would no longer be offering mage portal services in older major cities.

"Due to completely unforeseen, unavoidable circumstances, we have decided to discontinue our portals located in older locations," said Kirin Tor Archmagus Kaivax. "Don't think of this as the removal of something everyone loved and appreciated in their day-to-day life, but rather, an opportunity to consolidate a lot of travel into a consistent venue with a consistent look and feel, and room for future growth when needed."

"Really, this is for your own good," said Kirin Tor representative Bornakk, after teleporting to Stormwind to be interviewed. "I understand that changes can throw people off a bit at first, but I also think they help keep the world of Azeroth feeling alive. When there are fewer portals, does the world feel a bit bigger to you? Do you like that? How difficult is it to get to the locations you mentioned without a direct portal?"

When asked if these changes had anything to do with the hundreds of mages recently released by the Kirin Tor, many of whom were tasked with maintaining the portals on a daily basis, Bornakk gulped, checked a watch he wasn't wearing, and teleported away.

"Does the world feel bigger? No, it feels more annoying," said Tazla, a troll hunter, upon hearing of the proposed changes. "What's next? Are our new Dalaran hearthstones going to disappear as an extra fuck you?"

"Remove the Dalaran hearthstones?" said Kaivax, after being informed of the comments. "Hot damn, what a great idea!"

Horde announces massive faction cuts, despite record results


After weeks of speculation, the Horde announced today that it will be eliminating roughly 8% of its people, despite record-breaking recent achievements.

During the announcement, Warchief Sylvanas Windrunner told the assembled crowd that the Horde had "once again accomplished record achievements lately, such as pushing back the Burning Legion, defeating Gul'dan the Great Betrayer, and imprisoning Sargeras himself," but that the Horde would be consolidating and restructuring because of "missed expectations". Windrunner went on to say that they would be eliminating mainly popular but non-essential elements, such as Tier Set vendors, Master Looters, and Baine Bloodhoof.

"Over the last few years, our ranks have swelled with new, loyal members of the Horde," said Windrunner. "With the recent additions of the Nightborne, Highmountain Tauren, and Zandalari Trolls, we have never been stronger, more capable. Therefore, it is with heavy heart that I have decided we need to scale down some areas of our faction. I'm sorry to share that we will be 'parting ways' with some of our elf, orc, pandaren, tauren, and troll colleagues today."

"There is no way to make this transition easy for our impacted members, but we are doing what we can to support our colleagues," said Horde manager of Human Resources Calder Gray. "Lieutenant Murp, Signe, and myself will be personally visiting those affected by these unfortunate personnel changes, to discuss the 'comprehensive sever...ance package' they will be receiving, as well as their 'continued health benefits,' 'career coaching', and 'job placement assistance.'"

"While our accomplishments in recent years were the best in our history, we didn't realize our full potential," said Windrunner. "Yes, fine, we saved the world and beat back the biggest evils our universe has ever been confronted with, but now that those are out of the way, it is time we got back to what is truly important: whatever benefits me."

Reactions to the announcement were heated, with many Horde members expressing outrage and disappointment at the news. "We give the Horde everything we have, and this is what we get?" shouted Greyhart, a tauren druid. "Why do we get the axe while Blightcaller up there gets a spiffy new bod and membership into Sylvanas' Secret Resurrection Club?"

"Warchief, this course of action is sure to dishearten and demoralize our people, especially after our recent victories!" protested Varok Saurfang. "You stand now, lit torch in hand, on a bridge made of honor, respect, and loyalty...a bridge built by those who will be affected by today's decision. Are you certain you wish to do this?"

Windrunner shrugged.

"Burn it."

Paladin accidentally unleashes unstoppable plague of maggots upon Azeroth


The Battle for Azeroth has ended much sooner than anyone anticipated, and everyone lost. Everyone, that is, except the maggots.

The beginning of the end started when Rextroy, a human paladin, realized he could cultivate Waycrest Manor's infectious maggots and bring them to Uldir, using the legion of loathsome larvae in conjunction with his Last Defender ability to overpower and single-handedly defeat MOTHER (Matron of Tenacity, Herald of Endless Research).

Everything would have been fine had Rextroy stopped there, but the ambitious paladin wasn't finished yet, dragging his gallery of grotesque grubs onward through the ancient titan quarantine facility until at last he stood before G'huun. And as the Old God's corrupting pestilence fell upon the ravenous maggots, causing them to instantly bloat, swell, then begin multiplying to impossible numbers, it occurred to Rextroy that perhaps he'd made a mistake.

Zandalar fell within the hour, with Kul Tiras succumbing shortly after. While the Alliance was initially perturbed by what Rextroy had unwittingly unleashed, it was the Horde that first realized the devastating ramifications, as the maggots began hungrily chewing a swath of destruction through the Forsaken ranks.

"How did they discover our only weakness?!" shouted Warchief Sylvanas Windrunner, before disappearing beneath by the pale, twitching swarm.

Any satisfaction the Alliance may have derived from their enemies' woes were short-lived, however, as it wasn't long before the outbreak had spread to the streets of Stormwind and Orgrimmar, and from there, the entirety of the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. Even now, the all-consuming, unstoppable throng sweeps across the world, devouring anything and anyone in its path.

"In retrospect, maybe it was a bad idea to introduce eternally-spawning parasitic maggots to an ancient, perfect avatar of rot and decay, who is also worshiped by a fanatical race of trolls with a historical fondness for contagious, apocalyptic plagues," said Rextroy from a hillock above Stormwind, watching as the wave of squirming, wriggling grubs engulfed the city below.