Know Your Lore: Grim Batol

Matthew Rossi
M. Rossi|01.26.11

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Know Your Lore: Grim Batol

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.

Grim Batol was founded by Wildhammer dwarves seeking to escape the legacy of the war that tore dwarf society apart. Led by Khadros, their thane, they marched north from Ironforge (originally the home of all dwarves, from Dark Irons to Bronzebeards to Wildhammers) after the death of King Anvilmar and the civil war that pitted the three main clans of their people against one another. Having lost the war, the Wildhammers chose to build a new, grand home for themselves in the mountains between the Wetlands and the Highlands. And it was grand indeed, for a time. In terms of pure architectural splendor, Grim Batol threatens both Ironforge and the massive constructions of the Dark Irons inside the Blackrock Mountain.

The Wildhammers did not dwell on their loss to the Bronzebeards. If making a new life for themselves in Grim Batol and the Highlands was hard, it was also exciting and a new challenge to be overcome, a new way of life to meet head on and overcome. Sadly, from these auspicious beginnings disaster would pile upon disaster. Armies would invade, fell sorceries would be unleashed, and in the end, the Wildhammers would abandon their once-great home.

It did not rest quietly.

Let each hammer ring

Grim Batol was first invaded by the Dark Iron Dwarves during the conflict that would become known as the War of the Three Hammers. Unlike the Wildhammers, the Dark Irons did not take their loss of Ironforge to the Bronzebeards at all well. Strangely enough, the Dark Irons chose to construct a city on the surface of the world, in the mountains of what at this time was part of the Redridge chain. They named the city Thaurissan, after their thane and leader.

The death of Modimus Anvilmar, first and last king of the united dwarven nation, had led to years of civil war and the eventual exodus of both the Wildhammers and the Dark Irons from Ironforge, yet Thaurissan felt no love for his Wildhammer cousins. Yes, they too were defeated by the Bronzebeards, but there was never any intent to form an alliance or make common cause with them. While the Wildhammers worked to create a new life, the Dark Irons brooded over their old one.

When Thaurissan was finally ready to restart the War of the Three Hammers, he decided to do so completely. Not only was Thaurissan a powerful sorcerer, his wife Modgud was as well. Years spent in preparation and seething fury concocted a plan, and the Dark Irons went to war, their forces divided. Thaurissan himself led half the army to the gates of Ironforge itself, while Modgud took the rest to Grim Batol. This was an all-or-nothing gamble, they knew. If either force was defeated, the Dark Irons would be too extended to hold any gains they made.

Thaurissan's defeat and the summoning of Ragnaros, we've covered before; what's important for this particular history is that Modgud's attack on Grim Batol was more immediately successful. The Dark Irons broke down the gates of Grim Batol, and Modgud used her powers to the fullest, unleashing waves of shadowy abominations upon the Wildhammers that would taint the place for years to come. Eventually, however, Khardos Wildhammer, the founder and architect of Grim Batol and leader of the Wildhammers, settled the invasion in the typical Wildhammer way. He fought his way through the entire Dark Iron ranks, found Modgud, and killed her.

While Modgud's sorcery failed to take Grim Batol in life, her magics cursed it in death, and the Wildhammers relocated to Aerie Peak and the Highlands rather than try and reclaim their fortress and home. Grim Batol, which in its scale and scope rivaled ancient Ironforge itself, was left abandoned after a scant few decades. Accursed and deserted, it would remain for some time.

Not forever, however.

Enter the Dragonmaw

Into its vast halls would come the forces of the orcish Horde - specifically, the Dragonmaw orcs under Zuluhed the Whacked and Nekros Skullcrusher. Using the Dragon Soul, the powerful artifact created by Deathwing and imbued with the power of the other four aspects through deceit, the Dragonmaw would provide the orcs with dragons to slave away as mounts and beasts of war. They did this by using the Demon Soul to rape Tyranastrasz and Alexstrasza and create fertile eggs. I call it rape because neither Tyranastrasz nor Alexstrasza wanted to mate and have offspring for the Dragonmaw but were physically tortured and compelled to do so by the Dragonmaw. As you can expect, Grim Batol took on new significance to the Red Dragonflight as the place where their Aspect was held and tortured and their elder consort was killed by Deathwing.

Eventually the Dragonmaw were tricked into moving Alexstrasza. Deathwing made a play for her eggs, the Dragon Soul was destroyed, and Alexstrasza ate Nekros for raping her and enslaving and murdering her children. Deathwing fled the wrath of the other four Aspects, finally at full power for the first time in 10,000 years, and the reds sealed up Grim Batol and took control of the surrounding area.

As horrible as this was, it would not be the end of the story for Grim Batol.

The Black Dragons and the Twilight

Sintharia, also known as Lady Sinestra, would dupe the Dragonmaw of Outland into helping her collect Netherwing dragon eggs and essence. She then somehow (quite frankly, the timeline between the comic book Dragons of Outland and the novel Night of the Dragon makes no sense to me) captured the nether drake Zzeraku and imprisoned him as part of her gambit to create an entirely new dragonflight. Eventually, the red dragon Korialstrasz, the blue dragon Kalecgos (and not Malygos, as someone may have written accidentally), Vereesa Windrunner, and the priestess Iridi converged on Grim Batol, and Sinestra was defeated and apparently killed by her own creation Dargonax.

Even this, however, was not the end of the horrors that would take place in Grim Batol.
From his place of recovery in the Stonecore, Deathwing had been manipulating Sinestra, his former consort. If you ventured into the Obsidian Sanctum during Wrath of the Lich King, you got the first glimpse of Deathwing's version of Sinestra's work, and the Ruby Sanctum saw Halion, a full-fledged twilight dragon. Her failed experiments would bear fruit in his claws, and his eruption from Deepholm would see a host of Twilight's Hammer cultist and various dragons and dragonkin born from the various other flights and corrupted into twilight dragons. Now horrors stalk the halls of Grim Batol once again: tainted dragonkin, seething elementals, even the powerful madness of Erudax, the Duke of Below, a massive faceless general and servant of the Old Gods.

Grim Batol was founded by outcasts seeking to make a new home and new life for themselves. Sadly, it has seen horrors after horrors and is now firmly in the talons of the dragon who seeks to unmake everything and his servants and allies. It remains to be seen if it can be reclaimed.

If you want to know more about the people, places and things that appeared in this Know Your Lore. be sure to read these other posts:

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.
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