Know Your Lore: The Wyrmrest Accord and the order of the world

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.

The dragonflights may have been created at the same time, but for the thousands of years they've existed on Azeroth, they've hardly been friendly with one another. It started with the Black Dragonflight and Neltharion's betrayal during the War of the Ancients. In the moment that Neltharion took the name Deathwing, in the moments thereafter during which he destroyed nearly all of the Blue Dragonflight with the Demon Soul -- in those moments, the dragonflights were introduced to a new concept: deception. It was unthinkable that any dragon would deliberately seek to harm another, and yet it happened.

The fallout was immediate. Malygos, driven mad by the betrayal of one of his closest friends and the loss of his flight, fled to Northrend. In his madness, he split the Nexus from the rest of the land, separating Coldarra from the rest of the Borean Tundra. And then he stayed there, alone in his despair and insanity, refusing all visitors in his grief. The Blue Dragonflight crumpled, held up only by those who stood and tried their best to hold together the shattered remnants of the flight.

Meanwhile, the other flights scattered to the winds, terrified of what Deathwing could do to them while he still held the Demon Soul. Eventually, the artifact was stolen away, changing hands several times before coming into Azshara's grasp. The artifact was used to open the portal that would allow Sargeras' entry into Azeroth, but before the portal could be completed, Malfurion and the others disrupted the spell and reclaimed the Demon Soul. The backlash from the disruption was the cause of the Sundering.

After the war's end, Nozdormu, Alexstrasza, and Ysera came together and placed a spell on the Demon Soul that would prevent Deathwing from ever using it again. The artifact was then hidden away in a place where no one would find it, save for the four remaining aspects. The three aspects then visited the night elves, giving them with the World Tree Nordrassil and granting them immortality and access to the Emerald Dream. Afterwards, the three aspects separated to attempt to recover from the decimation of the war.

It wasn't just the war, however. The Black Dragonflight, now led by the maddened command of Deathwing and whispers of the Old Gods, turned on the other dragonflights and sought to hunt them all to extinction, the extent of their madness even driving them to turn on each other. Each flight had to deal with attacks from the black flight, and each had to fend for themselves. The dragonflights desperately hunted the black flight to the edge of extinction, but they continued to return, time after time.

It was clear that there was little to trust as far as the Black Dragonflight was concerned. And if the black flight could be turned so easily against the others, what was to prevent other flights from doing so as well? There was also the matter of the Demon Soul; while Deathwing could no longer use the artifact, every dragon on Azeroth had placed a portion of power within it, including the other aspects.

Neither hiding place nor spell would stop Deathwing from seeking out the Demon Soul. As former Earthwarder, he knew every secret hiding place on Azeroth. Though he was unable to interact with the Demon Soul directly, he led Zuluhed, a shaman of the Dragonmaw Clan, to the artifact's hiding place. From there, it was given to Nekros Skullcrusher, who used the Demon Soul to enslave Alexstrasza, holding her captive for eight years, forcing her children into slavery. The Red Dragonflight was used by the Dragonmaw to fight the other mortal races of Azeroth, much to the Lifebinder's anguish. Alexstrasza was eventually saved by her consort Korialstrasz and a mortal mage named Rhonin -- and it was through much fighting and perseverance that Rhonin managed to shatter the Demon Soul.

Once the Demon Soul was destroyed, the aspects had their powers returned to them in full force and turned on Deathwing, who barely managed to escape with his life. But the flights, so tenuously allied, continued their disassociation from each other. Though their powers had been restored, each flight returned to its own form of solitude. Malygos was still mad, Nozdormu was still distant, Ysera was still embroiled in the Dream, and Alexstrasza spent her time recovering from captivity.

The quiet moment of idyllic victory wasn't meant to last, however. Slowly, quietly, each flight began experiencing unique troubles. The Bronze Dragonflight, long charged with protecting the timelines of history, found themselves facing a unique enemy -- a new flight of dragons that simply called themselves the Infinite Dragonflight. Ysera noted a strange disturbance in the Dream, an insidious Nightmare that was affecting the Green Dragonflight and slowly corrupting the Emerald Dream and those that dwelt within, including her lieutenants. As for Malygos, he remained in the Nexus with his madness, though that madness would soon evaporate, and a new problem would arise.

Though most of the Blue Dragonflight was destroyed during Deathwing's attack in the War of the Ancients, Korialstrasz (disguised as Krasus, a wizard of the Kirin Tor who had been brought back in the timeline by Nozdormu) discovered a cache of blue dragon eggs left unharmed. These eggs were brought to safety, and they and hatched into the ragged remains of the Blue Dragonflight we see in Azeroth today. Malygos' children sought to continue the task that the blue flight had been set -- to watch over the magic of the world, study it, understand it, and keep the mortal races from abusing its powers.

Tyrygosa, a direct descendant of Malygos, followed her own path toward understanding magic, and it took her all the way to Outland. While there, she discovered the Netherwing dragonflight. These strange dragons were new and yet somehow familiar to the blue dragon. After further study, Tyrygosa uncovered the secret of the Netherwing: They were descendants of Deathwing and the Black Dragonflight who had been warped by the energies of the Twisting Nether. In an attempt to save a few ailing Netherwing, Tyrygosa brought them to Coldarra, certain that the energies of the Nexus would save them.

The Nexus did its job, and perhaps too well. The Netherwing, excited about the new form of magic, proceeded to drain the energies of the Nexus to the point that Malygos awakened and came to investigate. After a puzzling conversation in which the Netherwing declared that they were magic and eternal, Malygos absorbed the dragons directly into himself -- after all, as Aspect of Magic, anything that claimed to be magic was his. In that moment, Malygos realized what the Netherwing truly were, and also in that moment, Malygos fully regained his sanity, opened his eyes, and took a good look at the world and where it stood.

What he saw was horrifying. Despite his children's best efforts, the mortals of Azeroth were freely using magic for their own selfish ends. Magic was running wild through the world, and as far as Malygos was concerned, the mortal races were to blame for it. Though Malygos had regained his sanity, it seemed to the other flights that perhaps he had truly gone mad. The blue aspect began pulling the world's ley lines to the Nexus in order to bring them under his direct control. In doing so, he tore open the fabric of the world, causing earthquakes and unstable rifts in the Twisting Nether.

Malygos was quickly pulling the world into a chaos from which it could never recover, and his actions did not go unnoticed by the rest of the dragonflights, particularly when it resulted in open assault against the Wyrmrest Temple, ancient meeting place of the Aspects. For her part, Alexstrasza had little choice in her decisions. She had promised the mortals that saved her and helped her escape the Dragonmaw that neither she nor her flight would ever harm the mortals of the world again. Even though Malygos had regained his sanity, his actions were those of a madman. As protector of life, Alexstrasza knew she had to step in.

But dragonflight against dragonflight ... it had happened once before, during the War of the Ancients. For the thousands of years after, the different flights of Azeroth kept to themselves, with their own purposes in mind. In order to truly protect the mortal races of the world, action would have to be taken against Malygos -- and one flight alone could not handle that particular task. And so, Alexstrasza formed the Wyrmrest Accord. An alliance of all dragonflights -- including the treacherous black flight, to some dismay. Though Nozdormu was still absent, a representative from the bronze flight was sent to attend, and though Ysera was still embroiled in the Emerald Dream, a representative was sent from her flight.

And despite the aim of the Accord, to put a stop to the actions of Malygos and the Blue Dragonflight, the blue flight had its own representative present as well. The representative was Kalecgos, a blue dragon who was well aware of mortal ways and even more aware that though some mortals may have been careless with magic, others treasured it just as much as the blue flight. Kalecgos had seen what the abuse of magic could lead to with the actions of Kael'thas at the Sunwell -- but he'd also witnessed the Red Dragonflight's care for magic. The blue flight was not alone in its quest for preservation.

Malygos ultimately perished through the combined efforts of the mortal races of Azeroth and the assistance of the Red Dragonflight. Alexstrasza struck the final blow and watched as her fellow aspect died. Though she regretted her decision, it was necessary to preserve the order of the world -- an order that the aspects were charged with keeping by the very Titans themselves. Yet Malygos' death put another crack in the foundation of the Aspects. The Blue Dragonflight was split down the middle, some siding with Kalecgos, some siding with the remaining children of Malygos.

As for the Black Dragonflight, once Malygos was dead, the black flight's representative simply vanished. Now that Deathwing has returned to Azeroth, his children seek to continue his work, and they have little concern for the plight of the other dragonflights. After all, one of the Aspects is dead. It's only a matter of time before the others fall as well -- and by Deathwing's claws, if he has any say in the matter.

In the book Twilight of the Aspects, the tenuous remnants of the Wyrmrest Accord are tested in spectacular fashion. Though Malygos is gone, magic needs a new Aspect, and the choice of dragon to assume that role threatens to tear the blue flight apart. Alexstrasza's hand in Malygos' death creates additional stress -- the blue flight, nearly decimated by the betrayal of the black during the War of the Ancients, now has yet another flight seemingly out to destroy it.

And lurking behind the chaos is Deathwing and his black flight, who seem to choose their opportunities wisely, "allying" with the other flights only when it will result in their eventual destruction. Deathwing has been hard at work fostering the fledgling Twilight Dragonflight, a group of dragons genetically engineered with one purpose in mind -- to wipe all other flights from Azeroth, in devotion to their beloved father. The Twilight launched a direct assault on Wyrmrest Temple and the Ruby Sanctum, home to the children of the red dragonflight. Halion took temporary hold over the sanctuary at the end of Wrath of the Lich King.

The dragonflights of Azeroth have suffered greatly over the course of history. Though their purpose in Azeroth is seemingly clear-cut, the actual performance of that task has been riddled with heartache after heartache. It almost makes one wonder -- the fight for order on Azeroth has been going on since the Titans first imprisoned the Old Gods so long ago. Despite the best efforts of the dragonflights and the mortals of the world, the balance seems to be tipping toward chaos.

In an odd way, this correlates directly to the fall of Sargeras. In his fight against chaos, he eventually succumbed to the realization that perhaps chaos was, after all, the natural order of the universe and that trying to defeat chaos was an exercise in futility. After all, the universe should be allowed to exist as intended, shouldn't it? In Azeroth, we have a tiny mirror of that conflict -- the chaotic forces of the world in the form of Old Gods versus the mortal denizens of that world and those who were designated to protect it.

Is our fighting in vain? Are our attempts to restore order just as futile as those of Sargeras, trying to restore order to the universe? Is Azeroth perhaps a model of Sargeras' fall into madness, something for the Titans to observe and draw from? Are we research subjects, meant to recreate the moment that Sargeras threw up his hands and joined the side of chaos?

We don't know -- and we'll never really know until the end of days is upon us. For better or for worse, the mortals of Azeroth choose to fight, convinced it is in the best interests of all. And behind them, we will continue to have the dragonflights, desperately trying to present a united front against a world being torn apart before our eyes.

For more information on related subjects, please look at these other Know Your Lore entries:

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.