Welcome to Know Your Lore, where each week Alex Ziebart brings you a tasty little morsel of lore to wrap your mind around. Sweet, sweet lore. Mmmm. Have suggestions for future KYL topics? E-mail us!
Know Your Lore has covered the benevolent dragons in Warcraft before, but I've decided to highlight a few of them in preparation for Wrath of the Lich King. I feel that saving the best for last is a bunch of crap, so I'm going to start with my personal favorite: Alexstrasza. Admittedly, it isn't terribly hard for her to seal that favorite slot right now. Deathwing and Alexstrasza are the only two Aspects we've been exposed to in a very direct way for a substantial amount of time. To make things even better, she's a headlining character in Wrath.
Alexstrasza is one of five Dragon Aspects chosen and empowered by the Titans prior to their departure from Azeroth. Each of the Aspects was given a domain that they would protect, and have the power to control. Alexstrasza's domain is perhaps the most broad: Life. While all of the Aspects are interconnected and have some sway over one another, Alexstrasza is perhaps the most connected to the others because of her connection to life. Many use this to say she is the 'leader' of the Aspects, but as far as we know, they don't really have one. At least, not until Wrath. Maybe.
While being regarded as possibly the most powerful of the Aspects, she is also quite beloved. She's a kind, compassionate being, and she should be considering it's her job to protect all life. She's especially revered by people like druids, rangers and others with an attunement to nature, though she comes after Ysera in the eyes of druids. Unfortunately for Alexstrasza, the Old Horde did not really share this love for the Life-Binder... but before we get into that, let's back up a little. By a little, I mean about ten thousand years.
Nozdormu, would you lend us a hand?
Woooooosh! (That's the sound time makes, if you didn't know.)
Huzzah, here we are! Thanks, Nozdormu! As you can see, we've gone back in time by about ten thousand years! You can tell because the giant gaping wound that we call the Maelstrom is missing from the planet. What happened ten thousand years ago, you ask? Well, a couple of things. The War of the Ancients happened. The Sundering happened. The creation of the first World Tree happened. Before all of this (or during it, I suppose), something much more dire happened to the Dragon Aspects.
We won't get into the specifics about Deathwing's fall into corruption, you can read about that in Elizabeth Wachowski's piece about Neltharion. To make a long story short, Deathwing was once a good guy named Neltharion. He is the Aspect of Earth. He was buds with all of the other aspects prior to his fall, so he managed to convince all of them to inject a little of their essence into an artifact called the Dragon Soul, which would supposedly be used to beat back the Burning Legion during the War of the Ancients.
Turns out, it actually gave Deathwing power over the other Aspects, too. Malygos made the mistake of trying to stop him, and... okay, we'll talk about that another time. In the end, Malygos was pissed and crazed.
Basically, the Dragon Soul sucks. After a series of events involving Malfurion, Illidan, Azshara, and a bunch of demons (according to the War of the Ancients trilogy, at least), the Dragon Soul, renamed the Demon Soul, was sealed away from Deathwing.
Now, if we go a little closer to the present, about twenty years ago (give or take a few years), Deathwing found the Demon Soul, and manipulated our good friends the Dragonmaw Orcs into using it. What did they use it for? Well, you can't have a Dragonmaw Clan without Dragons, can we? They enslaved almost the entirety of the Red Dragonflight, including Alexstrasza and her number one boytoy Tyranastrasz. The Life-Binder was bound, starved, beaten, and forced to breed. Her eggs were taken from her, and the whelps were raised to be mighty drakes for the Dragonmaw riders.
Even after the Horde's defeat in the Second War, the Dragonmaw held Alexstrasza captive within Grim Batol. Deathwing's meddling wasn't done yet, however. He had been setting up a plot to use Rhonin Sue to get the Red Aspect moved out into the open, where he could finish the ol' gal off and steal what remained of her eggs to renew his own Dragonflight, which had slowly died out in his madness.
This failed. This failed a lot. Alexstrasza was actually freed when she was moved out into the open, with the help of Rhonin, Krasus, et cetera. The Dragon Soul was also destroyed, as far as we know. Alexstrasza is one of the few Reds to have made it out of Grim Batol alive, though other Red Dragons have taken up residence there for some currently unknown reason. Tyranastrasz was one of many that died there, and if you are feeling particularly morbid you can take a gander at his skull in the Ironforge Museum. I wonder how Alex feels about that.
The popular rumor about why the Red Dragonflight has such a presence at Grim Batol was that Alexstrasza slept deep within, resting after such trauma. That turns out to not be the case. It seems that come Wrath, she will be in Northrend with us, honoring a promise she made to the folk that rescued her at Grim Batol. She would always protect their races. Since Alexstrasza isn't where we thought she was, we have no idea what significance this area still holds for the Red Dragons. It might be something as simple as it's a sort of holy place to them now, in a way. Like a burial ground, or cemetery.
Now, going into Wrath, we don't know the exact details of what's going down... yet. We know that Malygos has regained consciousness after what went down back in the day, and is making up for lost time as far as controlling the domain given to him: Magic. He thinks that the mortal races are stirring up crap with the Arcane again, much like they did when the War of the Ancients was sparked. He is pretty much tearing up the place, and has it out for mages and wizards and such. Alexstrasza is, of course, indebted to the beings Malygos is now up against.
I'd like to think that Malygos has not truly 'snapped' and is simply being overly zealous to make up for lost time. After all, he has more or less missed out on... oh, nine or ten thousand years of Azerothian history. I'm pretty sure if the Cavewizard of Earth's Jurassic Period woke up today and saw airplanes and televisions he would freak out, too. We'll see, though!
Alexstrasza currently takes on the form of a High Elf, the mortal race that revered her the most throughout history. Her new top beau is Krasus, and she apparently has connections. We will leave Alexstrasza's bio here for now, because there's a whole new chapter waiting for us in Northrend, I'm sure.
If you want more information on Alexstrasza, there are a number of places you can look. For the raw facts, you can check out Wowwiki, as usual. To watch the stories unfold, I recommend reading the War of the Ancients trilogy and Day of the Dragon, despite my issues with the author.