We have no reason to delay, so let's get right into the meat of things!
Jere asks: I might be wrong on location, but why is there a member of the Argent Dawn stationed in Dun Morogh just southeast of IF?
Answer: Unfortunately, we have no idea. Father Gavin might just be an emissary or representative from the Argent Dawn to Dun Morogh, but he has no quests or dialogue attached to him. It's possible he'll be used for something in the future, but it seems unlikely. He simply exists. Nothing more.
Hideaki asks: Alright, I understand that a lot of the information from Warcraft I & II is subject to change when it comes to official lore, so here's my problem. The first mission of the Human campaign in Beyond the Dark Portal shows that New Stormwind has already been built by this point in time. I've yet to find any other source of information, however, that lists Stormwind as being rebuilt by a date more specific than "somewhere between Warcraft II and Warcraft III". Is it safe to just go by WCIIx's recount until the Beyond the Dark Portal novelization is released, then?
Answer: It's possible something more specific is mentioned in a quest somewhere, but I haven't seen anything. New Stormwind was built sometime after the beginning of WCII and before the beginning of WCIII. Since no concrete date was given, if you're asking for roleplay purposes, it's safe to make a reasonable guess. New Stormwind wasn't built in a day, but there's a definite point in which we see it firmly established.
To sum up: Yes, it is safe to do that until a novelization is released. Story elements from before Warcraft III generally aren't very solid until they're reinforced in another medium, but you need to get by with what information you have.
Jamal asks: I have a really curious question. In this picture, what are those islands next to Stranglethorn Vale, all the way to the western small islands? Also what is that twisting thing in the center? Will this be another expansion? Or part of Wrath?
Answer: Those islands are the Southern Islands. Places like Kezan, Tel Abim, Hiji, Plunder Isle, etc. They each have their own little story. For example, beneath Kezan is Undermine, the Goblin Capital City. Plunder Isle houses the headquarters of the Bloodsail Buccaneers. These may appear in Wrath of the Lich King since maps Blizzard has shown us included Stormwind's Harbor is being added onto the city, but it's more likely we'll see them in a Maelstrom expansion.
That's the twisting thing in the center, the Maelstrom. It was caused by the Sundering, the destruction of the Well of Eternity.
name! asks a few questions:
Q: What is the origin of Gnomes?
A: We don't know this for sure. A popular theory is that they're a branch of Earthen evolution, the Dwarves being another branch, but that's just a guess. There's no creation myth for the Gnomes, and I think it's in their nature to look forward rather than backward. The Gnomes themselves probably don't particularly care.
Q: Where is Sargeras originally from?
A: If you want an in-depth answer, Matthew Rossi wrote a Know Your Lore entry about Sargeras and his origins. To sum it up: He was one of the Titans, and it was his job to keep order in the universe. It ended up being too much for him, and he snapped.
Q: Why does Doom Lord Kazzak look like a huge Tauren?
A: Probably coincidence and not much more. He's a really big, powerful Doomguard. Doomguards come from the Ered'ruin race, according to NPC dialogue in the Exodar. They just look similar, but that doesn't mean they're the same. Orcs essentially look like green humans with hunched shoulders, but orcs are not the same as humans.
Q: What all forces, save for Scourge (Including Vrykul and Nerubians) are currently at Northrend, pre-WotLK?
A: Forces as in military forces, or forces as in beings/organizations of some power? Assuming the former, we know of at least the remnants of Arthas' Expedition, the remnants of Muradin Bronzebeard's expedition, potential remnants of the Scarlet Crusade's expedition to Northrend, and potential survivors of the Lich King's first sweep across Northrend, prior to his move into Lordaeron.
For the other races and/or forces at work in the frozen north, the Wowwiki page for Northrend and the official website are pretty good resources.
Q: What's up with Karazhan? Why does it have such magical influence?
A: While the building itself is built on a nexus of ley lines (think rivers of loose magic converging in one place), most of the power of Karazhan comes from Medivh himself. Medivh was the Last Guardian of Tirisfal. The Guardians are very, very powerful mages who are very nearly God-like. There can only be one of them at a time, sworn in and empowered by the Council of Tirisfal (a.k.a. the Tirisfalen).
The Guardians were strong. I mean crazy strong. Medivh's mother, Aegwynn (alongside some Dragons), went head to head with Sargeras and came out alright. Unfortunately for Aegwynn, Sargeras' soul hid within Aegwynn and later possessed her unborn child, Medivh.
So Karazhan is not only built upon a nexus of magical power, it also housed one of the most powerful mages Azeroth has ever known. That mage was also possessed by Sargeras, one of the evilest evils to have ever eviled. Karazhan itself has probably been irreperably warped by all of the power it has been exposed to in its time.
Q: Is Medivh truly dead? I've played War3 and was unsure. I'm assuming it was Medivh's spirit.
A: Medivh was dead, but Aegwynn ressurected him (minus the taint of Sargeras) using the last of her power as a Guardian. Medivh set Aegwynn up with a cozy retirement place, and set about trying to prepare the world for the coming of the Legion and the Scourge.
Aegwynn has since moved on from her place of retirement, and Medivh's location is unknown. He may have passed away naturally since the Third War, or he might still be out there somewhere. It would not surprise me if we ran into him again sometime.
Q: What about Sargeras? And while we're at it, Archimonde?
A: Sargeras is 'alive' in the sense that he still exists. As far as we know, however, he does not currently have a physical form or vessel. As we find out in the Sunwell Plateau, it seems Kil'jaeden is taking this opportunity to try and usurp Sargeras. He shouts the following in the Plateau:
"The expendible have perished... So be it! Now I shall succeed where Sargeras could not! I will bleed this wretched world and secure my place as the true master of the Burning Legion. The end has come! Let the unraveling of this world commence!"
As for Archimonde... yeah, he's dead. Blown to smithereens. This is fantasy and it is canon that demons are not necessarily destroyed when killed, but we can assume he's a goner for now.
Q: A quick summary about what happened to Ner'zhul would be lovely. Was his body and spirit ripped apart by Kil'jaeden? And, for that matter, who crafted the armor? Or the first Runeblade, as an aside?
A: Ner'zhul was an Orcish Shaman back on Draenor, who was tricked into doing some really bad things by Kil'jaeden. He was all about serving the Legion until he realized the Draenei that Kil'jaeden sent him to slaughter didn't seem as bad as they were made out to be. He went to his ancestors for answers to what was going on, and they said something along the lines of, "They're demons, you idiot."
Ner'zhul tried to save the Orcs, mostly failed, and decided to flee from Draenor while he still could. During his attempts to escape, Kil'jaeden snatched him up, tore his soul from his body, bound it to a suit of Legion-forged armor and a matching sword, and sealed him in a block of ice. Due to he trauma Ner'zhul went through during this experience, and the demonic taint that seeped into his soul, hate essentially devoured him. Ner'zhul was pissed, turned on the Legion, and now merged with Arthas Menethil to regain a physical, corporeal form.
David Bowers asks:
Q: Hey Alex! I gots me a question too: As we know, a number of the Warcraft races are extremely long-lived, notably the night elves and the draenei. The WoW pen and paper RPG book says that night elves mature at 300 years old, and some other sources seem to say that draenei also stay children for ages and ages. Is this true, and if so, WTF? How does that work exactly? They actually spend 10 years crawling about on all fours, another 10 or 20 learning to talk in complete sentences, and so on? How could a night elf or draenei adolescent still be a "child" if they're 150 to 200 years old?
A: I don't think we'll ever have a concrete answer for this unless it comes from Blizzard, but I imagine there are a few interpretations that could work fine from an RP standpoint, which I know is your area of expertise.
The first interpretation can be the literal one. Yes, Night Elves and Draenei take much much longer to mature into what we would consider 'adults.' That culture shock of, "you were a baby for HOW LONG?" would be exactly that to the races of Azeroth. Culture shock. If you live for 10,000 years, it might not be that weird that your children are children for a few hundred years. If Humans on Azeroth live for sixty to seventy years, and their children aren't 'adults' until about seventeen/eighteen, that's about one fourth of their lifetime as a child. If that translated directly to a Draenei or a Night Elf's timespan, one fourth of their life could be thousands of years. Being a child for 200-300 years in their society as a member of their race? That could be considered a short amount of time to them.
That would work the other way around too, I'm sure. Prophet Velen and Fandral Staghelm would probably be completely boggled knowing Varian Wrynn is likely in his fourties or somewhere around there.
The other interpretation is that it doesn't mean they're babies for 200 years. It means that they aren't 'of age' until then. For example, you can't be President of the United States until you're 35 years old. You also probably won't be taken seriously until you're quite a bit older than that. In a society that lives for many thousands of years, someone that is only 35 (or 50) years old would probably be snubbed for being far too young.
Could you imagine a 35 year old Night Elf trying to talk smack to a ten thousand year old druid in Moonglade? It would essentially be the same as a small child having a hissy fit to them. That 35 year old may be fully developed physically and mentally, but compared to those older members of society, they know almost nothing about the world and can't be considered an 'adult.'
That's about all the time we have this week, ladies and gents. If I didn't get to your question this week, never fear! Ask a Lore Nerd will be back next week Sunday, answering as many of your questions as possible. Remember, don't be afraid to ask us your questions, no matter how large or small. Post them in the Comments field below, and I'll get to them as soon as I can. Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week.