Know Your Lore: Look to the seas -- the mists of the Kvaldir

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

They come from the depths of the oceans, bringing with them a mysterious mist that clouds the senses. And when they die, they don't perish so much as dissolve into sand, making one wonder what exactly holds these creatures together. What is it about them that brings the ethereal fog? Are the Kvaldir the bringers of the mist, or are they merely slaves to it, cursed to emerge from the sea only when the mist is present?

Not much is known about the Kvaldir other than their appearance in Wrath of the Lich King and their upcoming appearance in Cataclysm. What we do know is that they are somehow related to the vrykul, and they seem to hold no love for any of the races above the sea. In Cataclysm, it is made absolutely clear that they hold no love for anything below the ocean waters, either. They are the apparent enemy of all they encounter ... but who is it that they serve? What exactly is the motive of the Kvaldir?

WARNING: The following post contains spoilers for the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. If you wish to remain spoiler-free, do not continue.

The first mention of the Kvaldir for some players lies in Borean Tundra, where the Kalu'ak, a friendly tribe of tuskarr fishermen, have been relentlessly slaughtered by these creatures with no apparent warning and no apparent reason for the hostility. The tuskarr have legends of the giants, who they call the tuk-hariq or "walkers of the fog," but the legends say little about the origins of the Kvaldir. They are apparently related to the vrykul that roam the land, but the sea origins of the race and how they came to be are still a mystery left in legend. It is in Howling Fjord, however, that the sudden appearance of the Kvaldir is explained.

It seems as though their appearance was not intentional, but accidental. What's interesting about the Kvaldir, however, is their motives. Much like their vrykul cousins, they are primal, brutal and seemingly evil, attacking anyone and anything without mercy. The vrykul had a burial ground in Howling Fjord called Shield Hill, and at some point just prior to Wrath of the Lich King, a band of pirates happened upon the graveyard and stole several artifacts from several graves -- graves of very important vrykul that had perished years before.The angry spirits of the disturbed graves are left howling for vengeance.

Fengir the Disgraced: From sundered ground the sacrament was stolen. The Shield of Aesirites is lost. Unrest will be eternal.
Rodin the Reckless: The Staff of Storm's Fury pilfered. A curse upon this land! The storms will never cease!
Isuldof Iceheart: The Frozen Heart of Isuldof will consume this land until it is returned. Woe unto those that hold the heart as the curse of frozen blood besets them...
Windan of the Kvaldir: The anguish of ten-thousand years awaits any foolish enough to don the Ancient Armor of the Kvaldir. Beware the mist and fog, mortals; for with them comes your end.

The theft is discovered by the tuskarr, who were unfortunate enough to have several hunters approach the area due to the strange activity of the restless spirits of the dead. As for the pirates, they've been hiding out and dealing with troubles of their own, as the artifacts they've stolen have proven to be far more trouble than their apparent worth. According to "Silvermoon" Harry at Scalawag Point, everyone who has come into touch with these artifacts has ended up dead, missing or both.

The Frozen Heart of Isuldof drove one of the pirates insane, and now "Mad" Jonah Sterling hides in a cavern near the pirate cove, having assigned a bear to guard the artifact. The Staff of Storm's Fury had much the same effect on a crew member named Abdul the Insane, who now holds the staff on a ship at Iskaal. The giant Sorlof is holding the Shield of Aesirites, and the only way to retrieve it is to gain the trust of the now-undead crew of the Sister's Mercy and help them defeat the giant.

As for the Ancient Armor of the Kvaldir, the armor was to be brought to Scalawag Point when the ship was attacked by Forsaken. The Forsaken boarded the ship and killed everyone aboard, looting everything of value until a small army of undead Kvaldir appeared and murdered the Forsaken. The ghosts of Kvaldir quickly overran the ship and now guard the armor from further tampering.

All of these items can be retrieved, and the plan of the tuskarr was to simply return the artifacts to their proper resting places. After all, if the spirits were angry at the loss of the items, surely returning them would appease the ghosts and cease the attacks upon anyone who ventured to Shield Hill. But the results of their plan did not play out as expected.

Fengir the Disgraced: Your offering has come too late, little one. Can you feel the mist closing in upon you? The Kvaldir return...
Rodin the Reckless: From the mist and fog the Kvaldir approach. Flee while you still breathe the air of the living...
Isuldof Iceheart laughs.
Isuldof Iceheart: Look to the seas, as your doom comes with the swell of the tides.
Windan of the Kvaldir: My brothers have awoken. Your efforts are wasted...

Obviously, the theft triggered the reappearance of the Kvaldir along the coasts of Northrend, including those located in Borean Tundra. But the Kvaldir didn't start their vengeance with the tuskarr -- they started with the naga, and the sheer scope of their planned revenge for the stolen goods was far larger than anyone could've imagined. A naga priestess in Riplash named Veehja tells more about the apparent motives of the Kvaldir.

Five hundred years ago Azshara imprisoned a being named Leviroth in the waters below. Now these barbarians seek to undo our queen's work.
They took over our city and began to sacrifice my brethren to awaken him! When they ran out of naga, they began to take tuskarr. Their spirits will know no peace!
I will help you, for it will go a long way towards quelling my vengeance. Their captain, Ragnar, dwells deep inside northeaster Riplash. He has in his possession a golden trident. Bring it to me!

The Trident of Naz'jan once belonged to Raj Naz'jan, the emperor of Riplash when Leviroth was imprisoned. It can be used to kill the "beast," which is revealed to be a kraken. The Kvaldir were trying to free the kraken and presumably use it on the naga of Riplash, or on the tuskarr of the coast, or possibly on any living things that happen to be standing in the way. This isn't the first appearance of the kraken, nor is it the last.

Far in the upper reaches of Northrend, north of the newly constructed Crusaders Coliseum, lies the fishing village of Tualiq. This small tuskarr village was also attacked by the Kvaldir and was quickly overrun, the bodies of slain Tualiq villagers littering the icy beaches. Drottinn Hrothgar leads the Kvaldir in this region, and the Kvaldir seem to have one motive in mind -- to summon a kraken from the depths of the Northrend seas. Players can kill the summoners that seek to use the kraken, and they can kill the kraken itself from above, riding hippogryphs and hurling spears at the attacking creature. Once again, the Kvaldir seem to be focused on using a kraken to obtain their vengeance -- and as Leviroth was killed in Riplash, they sought another out.

In other words, you are more than likely responsible for the attacks on Tualiq, because you killed Leviroth back in Borean Tundra. Since they couldn't use that kraken, the Kvaldir moved up north and slaughtered another tuskarr village. Think about that when you're putting all those Tualiq corpses to rest.

Another kraken is in an unlikely location -- just off the coast of Theramore, where the beam from the lighthouse disrupts its rest. If the lighthouse is lit, Tethyr will rise from the depths and attack the city. Players can kill Tethyr and ensure that Theramore remains undisturbed. Though the Kvaldir seem to be summoning the kraken to the north, there are none to be found when Tethyr attacks. This guy isn't a result of Kvaldir activity; he's just hanging around and irritated when he's woken up by bright lights from unsuspecting lighthouses.

The Lurker Below that is found in Serpentshrine Cavern is another kraken, though how he got to the shattered remains of Draenor is unexplained. This kraken appears to serve as a guard for Lady Vashj, and it is entirely possibly the beast is simply under Vashj's control. Either that, or he is a remnant of the former oceans of Draenor, and Vashj rescued the beast and thus earned his gratitude.

The last "kraken" -- or rather, kraken model -- is the sea goddess Oacha'noa, a possible loa spirit that the tuskarr revere. Players are sent to ask for Oacha'noa's guidance in regards to the problems plaguing the tuskarr village of Indu'le -- which for once isn't the fault of the Kvaldir, but the fault of Malygos' tamperings with ley lines. Oacha'noa asks players to deliver a message that the tuskarr must stand and fight alongside Horde and Alliance against Malygos and the Lich King; otherwise, the spirits of the tuskarr will be destroyed by the evil rising in Northrend. Oacha'noa seems to have nothing to do with either the Kvaldir or the other kraken -- she's simply a sea goddess that took on kraken form.

Here's where it gets interesting. The Kvaldir seem to be very intent upon summoning kraken all over Northrend, but they are doing so directly because of the tampering with their ancient artifacts. The Kvaldir are supposedly related to the vrykul, but their appearance seems to be contingent upon a trigger -- something important has to happen for those sea vrykul to appear. In the case of Northrend, it was a matter of the artifacts being stolen, and the Kvaldir don't seem to care who pays for the transgression. They simply want their wrath to be known.

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