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Know Your Lore: Sargeras

Matthew Rossi

Hard to believe that this friendly soul over to the right stabbing what appears to be an entire planet was once not just a good guy, but indeed, the goodest of the good guys, huh? (Goodest of the good guys? What, am I a drunken five year old all of a sudden? Sheesh, that's just horrible.) But it's true: the ultimate big bad guy in the Warcraft Universe, the ultimate evil, the guy who comes up with plans that involve possessing babies was once the champion of the Titans themselves, before he started stabbing planets and possessing babies.

I guess there's no evil, be it big or small, that Sargeras won't engage in personally. He's a real hands on villain.

So what's the deal with Sargeras, exactly? How did he go bad? Why did he assemble the Burning Legion in the first place? And what's he up to nowadays? With the Legion running around being killed for loot and Marks of Sargeras in Outland (seriously, what is the big plan for Outland, exactly? So far all the Legion seems to be doing is being mad at Illidan because he promised to be Kil'Jaeden's BFF and then went back on it. Did they pinky swear? I bet they pinky swore. That seems like the kind of thing Kil'Jaeden would do) you'd think ol' Sargy would be in the thick of it, but instead his sidekicks are running the show and he's nowhere to be found. Why?

It doesn't help that some of Sargeras' history has changed in the telling. (Hey, I like the Draenei a lot, but you guys really changed the lore around.)

Well, you may have a hard time believing this, but it turns out that his whole baby possession scheme wasn't such a good idea after all. I know, I know, how could picking on an infant have gone so horribly wrong? But rather than dwelling on that, why don't we start talking about Sargeras' early days.

In the beginning, Sargeras was just one of the many who made up the host of the Titans. For whatever reason, when the universe was young and still messy with icky chaos, the Titans got together and decided that they needed to organize the whole deal a bit, or otherwise no one was ever going to be able to find anything. (This may not have been the entirety of their thinking, as the Titans are notorious for not explaining themselves.) Unfortunately, the critters that lived in the Twisting Nether weren't too keen on the Titans and their plans, and so as the Titans went about their business they had to deal with various demonic entities and evil influences. For instance, on Azeroth they had to deal with the Old Gods before they could start arranging the world to their liking... it's very hard to decorate a place with slathering abhorrent tentacled monstrosities everywhere, you see, always making it hard to dredge this ocean floor or place that mountain chain.

Because they were running into these sorts of delays, the Titans decided they needed to appoint someone to be their Champion, to in effect do unto them before they could do unto the various worlds the Titans had worked so hard to bring order to. And of all of their Pantheon, Sargeras was the one considered best suited for this job.

It's unclear why, after countless years Sargeras started to have doubts. It might just be because it was so long with no sign of an end to it. After all, nobody wants to have to do the same thing forever. It could have been arguments with his fellow Titans in the Pantheon: Eonar, for one, was said to have disliked him personally and to have feuded wth him. It could have been exposure to the Nathrezim and their unique brand of malice and corrupting influence. All we know is that Sargeras, once the greatest defender of order, began to go totally insane. Unfortunately, while the Titans are great proponents of order they do not appear to have been proponents of interventions, because as Sargeras descended into madness " Even Sargeras' titanic form became distorted from the corruption that plagued his once-noble heart. His eyes, hair, and beard erupted in fire, and his metallic bronze skin split open to reveal an endless furnace of blistering hate." And as you might expect, as their fellow Titan cracked open from within, burning on his own hate the rest of the Pantheon took the appropriate action and... didn't do jack.

Yeah, I don't get it either. Aman'Thul is the Highfather of the Pantheon and the leader of the entire host of Titans, and when his brother goes insane and decides to destroy everything that exists he decides the best course of action is to do diddly squat about it. These are guys who, if you leave your planet a little messy and occasionally allow festering elemental fury to overwhelm the surface of the world, they'll drop everything to show up on your doorstep and imprison you in the core of the world, but when one of their own decides he's had enough of tidying up and wants to burn everything down, they're suddenly all keen on waiting and seeing. Then again, if my little brother got so mad at me that he actually cracked open and burned, I might be a little hesitant to try and talk him down, too. Anyway, Sargeras was out of a job, and he decided that instead of defending order it would be better to wipe the entire universe clean because that way, the supposed 'chaos and depravity' Sargeras saw as the only constants in the universe would be free.

It's a good thing Sargeras didn't have a livejournal, as I bet it would have had some really awful 'you don't understand my pain' poetry on it.

Sargeras first cracked open the prison he'd jammed the Nathrezim into, recruiting the Dreadlords for his army, and then started looking around the universe for servants skilled enough to help kill everything. Supposedly, they eventually settled on a race known as the Eredar who lived on a world called Argus. The Eredar were naturally talented with magic, and Sargeras offered to share his own enormous power and knowledge with them if they would become his servants. Two of the best and brightest among the Eredar, Kil'Jaeden and Archimonde, went for the deal, but their friend Velen didn't trust Sargeras for some odd reason. Some people are so paranoid. I mean, okay, Sargeras was constantly burning from within in an inferno powered by his own hate, but you'd think Velen could have given him the benefit of the doubt the way Archie and Killy did. Anyway, Velen and everyone he could convince to join him legged it off of Argus and the remaining Eredar became the thralls of Sargeras' new Burning Legion.

(Note: If you look at these pages on the World of Warcraft site, you'll see a slightly different version of these events. In the older version, the Eredar were always bad guys, but that got changed when it was decided to offer Draenei as playable characters in The Burning Crusade. I just wanted to mention that in case someone who was familiar with the lore the way it used to be thought I'd forgotten.)

Flash forward a few thousand years or so, and we come to the events of the War of the Ancients. Basically, a by now totally crazy and evil Sargeras notices the magical emanations of the Well of Eternity and decides to draw upon its power to create a portal to Azeroth large and powerful enough for him to use personally. I don't know how the Titans used to go from world to world (the Master's Glaive certainly argues that they have a means to step foot on the surface of a world without using the Well) but Sargeras seemed to both hunger for the magical power of the Well and to need it to help create a stable enough gateway for his own vast power to manifest fully on Azeroth. I have no idea if the other Titans also need this kind of portal to walk on planets and, if they did, who made the portals on Azeroth during the time of the old gods. Anyway, Sargeras quickly convinced Azshara to help him come forth into Azeroth (perhaps using mind control, perhaps just knowing how to appeal to her vanity and lust for self-aggrandizement, perhaps a little from each column) and it fell to a brave band of meddling time travelers and the greatest heroes in Night Elven history to help keep Sargy from getting away with it. A whole lot of other stuff happened... dragons were betrayed by dragons, Ancient god-like beings fell, and the coolest orc ever actually hit Sargeras with a wooden axe and managed to hurt him just enough to keep him from getting through the portal into Azeroth. Forget Gorehowl, I want Brox's axe to drop in the Sunwell.

Now, to Sargeras a little thing like a magical well exploding with enough force to crack a continent in half was more of an inconvenience than an actual defeat.... remember, the guy stabs planets... so he immediately went to work on another plan. You know the one: possess Aegwynn and from there her as-then-unborn son Medivh. From there we get the whole sordid saga of Warcraft I and II, as it was Sargeras in Medivh who helped open the Dark Portal and usher the old Horde (created by his lieutenant Kil'Jaeden as part of a plan to get revenge on the long-lost Draenei and their leader Velen) Of course, this plan leaves us with many questions... if Sargeras could not enter Azeroth in his physical form 9000 years before during the War of the Ancients, why was he able to do so in order to possess Aegwynn? If he didn't actually enter Azeroth in his own body, then whose body was he using, and what happened to his original one? When Medivh died Sargeras was said to have been exiled to the Twisting Nether, but if that's so did he stay there when Medivh somehow came back from the dead? And why would Sargeras even come up with a plan that required him to die and end up in a baby? Even if the baby did grow up to have a neat beard and a most excellent stick.

So now, here we are at the present day. Sargeras is either dead or banished to the Twisted Nether and hasn't been heard from since Medivh died that one time before he totally got better and showed up in Warcraft III. Archimonde is also dead, leaving Kil'Jaeden happy to be the only guy in charge of the Burning Legion, at least up until 25 incredibly well geared heroes kill him when the Sunwell Plateau instance drops. I doubt we've heard the last of Sargeras, though. For one thing, once we we get through all the Wrath of the Lich King content, what's waiting for us at level 90? I would not be surprised if it was our old friend Sargeras himself. After all, there was something in the Tomb of Sargeras (where Aegwynn buried the 'body' she defeated when Sargeras possessed her) so awful that it killed Gul'dan himself, not to mention an artifact so potent that Illidan sought it out. Who knows if Sargeras himself lies in the cold dark beneath the surface of Suramar, growing in power as his discarded shell regrows?

Well, maybe, anyway. At any rate, that's this week's exceedingly irreverent look at the biggest baddie in Warcraft lore. Next time I'm up, I think maybe it's time to switch gears and look at a human hero, one who lived and die unambigously good and noble.

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