Ask a Lore Nerd: Hail to the king

Alex Ziebart
A. Ziebart|01.19.09

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Ask a Lore Nerd: Hail to the king

Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, where each week blogger and columnist Alex Ziebart answers your questions about the lore and history of the World of Warcraft. Ask your questions in the comments section below, and we'll try to answer it in a future edition.

Welcome back! This week we're mostly tilted toward Scourge questions, whereas just a few of weeks ago we were all dragons, all the time. Things just happen that way, I don't plan it! Really! Anyway, let's get this party started.

Promethus asked...

Does anyone actually know that Arthas merged with Ner'zhul? Any NPCs that is. Because there was no one besides those of the Legion like the Dreadlords and Kil'jadean who knew that the original Lich King was armor on a pedestal, everyone else like Thrall, Jaina, Rhonin, Bolvar, Wrynn, just know that Arthas was the one who marched to Icecrown and came back only to spread the plague and kill his father. No one but the player actually saw him walk up Icecrown Citadel and shatter Ner'zhul's prison.

Very few people do, if anybody at all. As far as we know, nobody but the Legion and the Scourge know about it. The closest we are to NPCs that might actually know about it might be the Ebon Blade, but would Ner'zhul bother to let his rank and file know about that? Would he tell anybody? Does he even consider himself Ner'zhul anymore? We don't know.

Again, as far as we know, only the Legion and possibly the high ranking Scourge know. Even most of the Legion might not know about it, it might have been the personal project of Kil'jaeden and the Lich King's former Dreadlord jailors. The secret might not go beyond them, and does that little detail even matter to the Legion? Probably not.


How can Blizzard justify our (apparently so far) easy assault of Northrend? How can Arthas, the strongest being on the whole of the game, get beaten repeatedly by players in:
  • Death Knight's assault of Light Hope Chapel
  • Several quests along the zones in Northrend
  • Future Icecrown
I know, I know, We get to kill him because we always need a big bad dude, just like Illidan or Kaelthas was. Still, those two's slayings were justified: they had gone mad, lost the path, were betrayed by many of their lackeys...

Arthas's Scourge is supposed to be almighty and all.. yet players can single-handedly destroy his zones up to the door of his fortress in Icecrown. Something's missing here.

I'm not sure you could call the assault on Northrend easy. Us players may have been able to more or less solo quest our way up to Icecrown, but I think the narrative shows we've had some pretty hefty losses alongside our few victories over the Lich King.

Borean Tundra and the Howling Fjord are both set up to show the Scourge crashing right down on top of us as soon as we touch ground, and the rescue comes in the form of the Horde/Alliance's elite, the heroes of Outland, us players. Right from the beginning we see the price our factions are paying to fight this war. One of the first Alliance quests in the Howling Fjord has you attempting (and failing) to rescue some scouts that the Vrykul have impaled and left to bleed to death.

That continues all throughout the narrative. Where there are Scourge, we're losing people. We're often fighting the walking corpses of those who were once on our side. This extends to the Argent Crusade as well. The Argent Crusade are the best of the best we're told, hand-picked by Tirion Fordring, and they're still suffering heavy losses.

Naturally, we as players aren't going to have massive trials and tribulations, we're not going to have loss on a personal level. Roleplayers can certainly impose that on themselves, but some guy on a PvP server isn't going to have the Scourge impale their brother on a pike and leave him to bleed to death in the middle of a vrykul encampment. That sort of personal investment isn't possible in an MMO, but if you look at the overall story, things certainly aren't going perfectly.

The Horde and the Alliance are both struggling at various points in the overall story. The Argent Crusade, as incredible as they're made out to be, need just as much help as anybody. Many of the outposts throughout the continent are just barely hanging on until we, the players, supply the reinforcements.

Hell, the faction doing the best up in Northrend is the Ebon Blade, who are not only standing on their own two feet but are playing a support role for everyone else, too. I think that says a lot for the strength of the Scourge. The biggest threat to the Lich King is one that he created. His own mistake is doing him in. Most of our major victories in Icecrown are fueled by the Knights of the Ebon Blade, who were chosen, trained, and empowered by him.

Yeah, the players have had some pretty solid victories over the Lich King, but we've had some low points as well. And if you look at the overall narrative of Northrend thus far, without the players playing reinforcements, the whole operation up there would've gone to hell awhile ago.

Saladen asked...

Currently I am reading Night of the Dragon and once again, Grim Batol figures in the storyline. What are the odds of a future expansion of Grim Batol since it seems to always pop up in the lore anyway?

Grim Batol is a bit too small for a full expansion, but I have no doubt that it's going to show up at some point. It's an old Dwarven city, so we'll probably see it in the form of a raid zone and/or quest hub rather than an expansion. You can see the outside of it in the Wetlands, and we've written a Know Your Lore article about it before it ended up in the hands of the Black Dragonflight if you're interested.

Odds of it being an expansion? Slim to nonexistent. Odds of it being in an expansion? Very, very good.

Tyler asked...

This has probably been explained before, but with Medivh, whom opened the dark portal to let the Burning Legion in...why in WCIII does he try to help the azerothian races defeat the Burning Legion, or at least an arm of it (the Scourge)? Some change of heart, or was he being somehow controlled when he opened the portal?

He was being controlled at the time, yes. Medivh was originally the host of the spirit of Sargeras. He allowed Aegwynn, Medivh's mother, to beat him in one on one combat. He proceeded to shove his soul inside of Aegwynn, where he took a nap for years and years until she became pregnant with Medivh. Sargeras shuffled on over and possessed Medivh instead, which was a Very Bad Thing(tm) for Azeroth. When Medivh was killed many years later, Sargeras was sent spinning back to the Twisting Nether.

Medivh was later resurrected with the last of Aegwynn's Guardian magic, and that's the version of Medivh we see in Warcraft III. We don't know where he went from there, assuming he's still around and alive.
Ask a Lore Nerd is here to answer all of your questions about the lore and story of the Warcraft universe. From the religions of the universe to the 'evils' of Azeroth, everything is fair game. If you want more in-depth answers to some of your questions, you may find what you're looking for in Know Your Lore.
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