Long ago, the Titans empowered five dragons with unique abilities and powers, entrusting to them the protection of Azeroth itself. While each had their own specialization with its own odd foibles, none were as strange as the task set to Nozdormu. Aman'Thul, Highfather of the Pantheon, entrusted Nozdormu with the task of watching over time -- to guard the myriad paths of time and keep them pure. A strange task, to be certain, and one with a heck of a lot of power involved. To keep Nozdormu from abusing that power or thinking that he answered to no one, he was given the knowledge of the exact moment of his demise.
Yet somewhere in one of those myriad timelines, this apparently wasn't enough. Somewhere, somewhen, Deathwing prevailed and brought about the Hour of Twilight, leaving Nozdormu a haunted, twisted version of his former self -- a version that cared little for the restrictions or rules bestowed by the Titans, and cared much more for preserving his own skin and preventing his own death. The twisted version called himself Murozond, first of the Infinite Dragonflight, intent on bending time and changing events solely for the purpose of evading his inevitable demise. We defeated Murozond in End Time, and prevented the Hour of Twilight from taking place. But have we actually saved Nozdormu? Have we secured time itself?
We as players first noticed the disturbances in Burning Crusade, when the Caverns of Time opened and the Bronze dragonflight brought their troubles to our attention. The Infinite were a mystery at that point in time -- strangely mottled dragons that sought to change important moments in history. We were asked to correct these moments, and keep the timelines intact. Although the Battle for Mount Hyjal was not directly influence by the Infinite, two other highly important moments were. One was the opening of the Dark Portal, in which we had to help Medivh bring the orcs through the Portal to Azeroth -- the other was Thrall's escape from Durnholde Keep.
In hindsight, it seems fairly obvious what was going on. The Infinite were trying to prevent the new Horde from forming, or even keeping the old Horde from coming to Azeroth at all. This was because Thrall would serve, in the future, as a fill-in for the Earth Warder, and prove to be instrumental in defeating Deathwing and preventing the Hour of Twilight that caused Murozond to come into existence. Thrall lives, Murozond dies. Murozond didn't want to die, so prevent Thrall from either coming into existence in the first place, or rising to power as Warchief.
But later, we see the Infinite dragonflight again, this time trying to interfere with the Culling of Stratholme. They are trying, through various means of trickery, to keep Arthas from purging the city -- and thus avoiding his meeting with Mal'ganis, his trip to Northrend and his ultimate role as the Lich King. How does this affect Murozond's existence? Arthas had nothing to do with Thrall's escape or his rise to power as the Warchief of the new Horde.
But he did have a lot to do with what happened much later.
Just prior to the launch of Wrath of the Lich King, players took part in a multi-part event that spanned both continents and launched an infamous zombie invasion. And beyond the zombies, there were full-scale assaults on both Stormwind and Orgrimmar ... Orgrimmar's taking place during a mak'gora between Garrosh Hellscream and Warchief Thrall. The duel was never completed, interrupted by the Herald of the Lich King's cries, and Hellscream was promptly sent to Northrend to lead the Horde's troops in a campaign against the Lich King that would see the former Prince of Lordaeron brought down and destroyed.
It was also during this campaign in Northrend that Garrosh Hellscream proved he had the strength and skills to lead, at least from a military capacity. It was the overwhelming victory in Northrend that showed, to the orcs of the Horde, that Garrosh knew how to lead. When Garrosh returned from Northrend, it was to overwhelming popularity and resounding cheers ... cheers that did not go unnoticed by Thrall. When the elements grew restless just before the Shattering, Thrall realized he needed to step down and deal with the problem. And luckily enough, he had an excellent temporary replacement already lined up, a hero in the eyes of the Horde, someone who had proven his capability as a leader.
If Prince Arthas had never become the Lich King, what would have happened? A tangled spiral of chaos, that's what -- but it also would have prevented the war in Northrend. Garrosh would have had no one to lead, nothing to lead for, and perhaps Thrall would have remained leader of the Horde in Cataclysm. On the other hand, without Arthas acting as the Lich King's eyes and ears in the south, King Menethil wouldn't have died, the Scourge may very well have been kept in check, and Thrall never would have left for Kalimdor at all. Once again, the new Horde of today never would have come to pass.
A tangled web
It's a tangled web the Infinite weaves, one that is increasingly difficult to trace. But from what we know of the dragonflight, their sole purpose is to act on the wishes of their master, Murozond. And the only thing Murozond wants, above all else, is to prevent his own death and escape the fate he was handed the moment Aman'thul granted him his powers as Nozdormu. With this knowledge in mind, all one has to do is look at the actions of the Infinite and ask, "In what way would this have kept Thrall and the Aspects from defeating Deathwing at the end of Cataclysm?" There are many different answers in the case of each appearance of the Infinite -- and given the multitude of timelines going on at any given moment, it's likely that every single answer is correct, in its own way.
But we've defeated Murozond, right? We killed him, in End Time. We made that future halt, we kept that event from happening -- didn't we? Yes and no. We did, in fact, halt Murozond's plans by traveling in the future and destroying him. But how long had Murozond been around and active, before we reached End Time? What had he done in the meantime, between the point in which we stepped through that portal in the Caverns of Time, and emerged at the end of Azeroth's days? How long had Murozond been sitting there doing his work, before we arrived? Nozdormu says it himself, after Murozond's final words:
Theoretically, we ended Murozond's existence when we defeated Deathwing. Deathwing's demise meant that the Hour of Twilight would never come to pass, the Aspects had fulfilled their duties, and the Age of Mortals could well and truly begin. And since the Hour of Twilight would never come to pass, Murozond would never be created, and the Infinite dragonflight would never come into existence in the first place. Done and done.
Murozond: You know not what you have done. Aman'Thul... What I... have... seen...
Nozdormu: At last it has come to pass. The moment of my demise. The loop is closed. My future self will cause no more harm. Still, in time, I will... fall to madness. And you, heroes... will vanquish me. The cycle will repeat. So it goes.
Time, in the Warcraft universe, just isn't that simple.
The Aspects may have expended the last of their powers during the final battle with Deathwing, but that doesn't mean that their flights are content to simply step back and let mortals take over. In the novel War Crimes, Chromie reveals that there are two factions arising within the Bronze dragonflight. One agrees with the fate mentioned at Deathwing's fall -- that the Age of Mortals has begun, and the mortal races should take over and help with watching the timeways and keeping them free from tampering.
The other believes that the timelines should be changed, to create a better future for Azeroth. Kairoz is one of these dragons, it turns out -- and one of the major problems this flight has is that it cannot see the future beyond Deathwing's defeat. They no longer have the methods or means to properly see into the future and predict how events will be affected by their actions. And so, we have Kairoz, who has traveled to the Timeless Isle with a device of his own creation, a Vision of Time that will allow him to clearly see through the timeways to the future. In order to power it, he needs Epoch Stones from the Timeless Isle -- and luckily enough, we gathered plenty for him to use.
That Vision of Time was used to show those attending Garrosh Hellscream's trial visions of the past, moments brought up as evidence both for and against Hellscream. It was also used to open a gateway that Kairoz and Garrosh Hellscream used to escape -- one that took them to a Draenor 35 years in the past, supposedly before the Legion corrupted the orcish race, five years before the First War. But Kairoz wasn't acting alone, he had a distraction in place -- allies of Garrosh attacked the Temple of the White Tiger, on the backs of Infinite dragons.
We obviously didn't prevent the creation of the Infinite dragonflight when we prevented the Hour of Twilight.
That's where things get really confusing, because everything we have ever known about the Infinite dragonflight has now been thrown into question. Was it, in fact, the Hour of Twilight that created Murozond? Was Murozond convinced by the Old Gods that he could escape his fate, driven mad by their whispers, or was he created first by Nozdormu's attempts to avoid his own death, and then later driven mad by the Old Gods? Was Murozond actually created because he was trying to avoid his own death, or did someone else force him into existence, much like the Infinite Corruptor we see at the end of the Culling of Stratholme?
And if the ultimate goal of the Infinite dragonflight was to prevent the death of Murozond, what is their purpose in helping Kairoz? Are they really after some kind of benevolent future for Azeroth, created by changing the past, or are they trying to forge a new future out of this clockwork universe, one free from the rules and constraints bestowed by the Titans? Is Kairoz acting on his own volition, or is he simply doing what he thinks the Infinite are supposed to be doing, and taking Garrosh to a point in which, much like the Infinite were trying to do in both Escape from Durnholde and Opening the Dark Portal, the formation of the Horde and the original invasion of Azeroth can be prevented?
As of right now, Kairoz is nowhere to be seen on the beta, nor are any Infinite dragons. These events remain a mystery, one that might be unraveled once the next short story is released. Until then, we can only ponder the possibilities ... and perhaps begin to wonder if our actions in Cataclysm were our own decision, or perhaps entirely the clever, intricate machinations of a dragonflight gone mad.
While you don't need to have played the previous Warcraft games to enjoy World of Warcraft, a little history goes a long way toward making the game a lot more fun. Dig into even more of the lore and history behind the World of Warcraft in WoW Insider's Guide to Warcraft Lore.