Know Your Lore: The Dragon Soul

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.

It was a tiny, small, inconsequential disc. Golden in color, simple in appearance, the talisman was far more dangerous than any could comprehend. Well ... almost anyone. The goblin servants of Neltharion, the Earth-Warder, created the object, and even they weren't truly aware of just how terrible that creation truly was. For the golden disc held not only the power to tear through the Burning Legion; it held the power to control every dragon, every flight in the world -- with the exception of Neltharion, of course.

For he would rule them all. The voices told him so and promised him glory above all creatures of the world, mortal or immortal, no matter how insignificant. The Burning Legion was simply an army of pests to be eliminated, as were the kaldorei; the War of the Ancients was a petty squabble marring the glorious moment of his ascension. It was only a matter of time.

The Dragon Soul was perhaps the most dangerous creation in existence, and it was held in the claws of a dragon that was most certainly completely insane.

Today's Know Your Lore contains some information regarding Thrall, Twilight of the Aspects, the 4.3 5-man dungeons and the Dragon Soul raid. If you're avoiding spoilers, I'd skip this for now.

Formation of the Dragon Soul

the Earth Warder was charged with watching over the deep places of the earth, which made him particularly susceptible to the whispers of the Old Gods that were buried below. They whispered of betrayal, that the other Aspects were seeking to someone steal his power or otherwise dominate, that the night elves were entirely out of control on a mad mission to destroy the world. Quietly whispered that the kaldorei, the dragonflights, and the Aspects were no better than the demons that sought to invade.

And Neltharion listened and agreed. The whispers had started out as faint and far between, but as time passed, their hold grew stronger, until the Earth Warder couldn't even sleep without hearing them, persistent in the back of his mind. It was as if his thoughts and the mad whispers of the Old Gods were one. And the Old Gods gave him a gift -- an idea, one that his goblin servants could easily construct.

The original intent of the Dragon Soul was as a weapon against the Burning Legion. Neltharion had his servants create the small, seemingly innocent artifact and promptly used it against various demons of the Burning Legion that had been captured for this very purpose. The disc absorbed the very essence of the demons, shriveling them into piles of dust and ash, the artifact growing stronger with each subsequent test.

But as time passed and the whispers grew more insistent, those plans altered. You see, he had more to worry about than just the Burning Legion -- or at least, that's what the voices led him to believe.

Charging the Dragon Soul

Part of this problem arose with the arrival of Krasus -- or Korialstrasz, consort of Alexstrasza. He and his friend Rhonin were sent back in time by Nozdormu to address an anomaly that kept the Bronze Aspect trapped between different times. Rhonin, Krasus, and an orc named Broxigar were transported back to the days of the War of the Ancients, and while Rhonin and Broxigar were largely unaffected, Krasus was weakened. This was because he existed twice in one time -- the future Krasus, red dragon in half-elf disguise, and the Korialstrasz from the past, who was similarly affected.

Krasus knew he had to warn the dragonflights of what the night elves were up to and of the upcoming Sundering, but he was shocked to see Neltharion present at the meeting of the Aspects. Since Krasus was from the future, he knew what was to become of Neltharion -- how he would turn on the flights and become the creature known as Deathwing. And as he stared, shocked and trying to tear his eyes away, Neltharion returned his gaze and saw with utter clarity that this strange creature claiming to be a dragon knew what Neltharion was up to.

Neltharion also knew that the little creature would likely give his secret away, and so he placed a spell on Krasus that rendered him unable to speak about Neltharion or any events he might be planning. When he tried to explain, he blacked out. The Aspects left, one by one, and Neltharion traveled back to his chambers and worked further on the Dragon Soul. It was no longer to be used just on the Burning Legion. It was clear he would also have to use his creation against the dragonflights as well.

Despite the maddened state of the Earth Warder, none suspected his duplicity -- and when he asked for a gathering of all dragons for the purpose of charging the artifact he created, they complied. After all, the object was to be used against the Burning Legion, and of course a weapon of that magnitude would require the essence of all dragonkind. As far as the dragons were concerned, Neltharion was acting as a savior, someone who would deliver them all from a dire fate at the Burning Legion's hands.

And so, one by one, all of the dragons gave a small part of themselves to the Dragon Soul, while Neltharion watched. When it was over, he assembled the dragons and launched the first assault against the Burning Legion.

Neltharion's betrayal

As the amassed dragons flew into the Burning Legion's army, the desperate kaldorei below watched in shock and disbelief. All were overwhelmed by the apparent assistance of the dragonflights -- all, that is, save Rhonin and Krasus, who knew exactly was what coming and were unable to stop it. And the sands of time played out exactly as Krasus remembered. The flights lent their power to the Dragon Soul, and Neltharion cut a swath through the demonic armies and then turned on the Aspects, demanding that they and all mortal races of Azeroth bow to him.

Malygos and his Blue Dragonflight tried to stop Neltharion, and in return, the Earth Warder executed the entirety of the Blue flight, save Malygos. When Korialstrasz intervened, Neltharion was forced to retreat, the Dragon Soul clutched in his claws. Though all the dragons in the world had imbued part of their essence into the Dragon Soul, Neltharion was the only one who had not -- and as such, Neltharion, now known as Deathwing, was the only living creature that could damage the artifact. And the artifact could damage him as well. The Dragon Soul corrupted Deathwing's body, causing the great hide to tear and split. In response, he had his goblin servants bolt plates into his ebon scales.

The kaldorei and the dragonflights were left in tatters, with one obvious course of action: They had to sneak into Deathwing's home and steal the Dragon Soul, so that it could not be used against them again. The druid Malfurion Stormrage managed to sneak in and steal the talisman, but on his way out, others who also held a great interest in the powerful artifact intercepted him.

Queen Azshara was patiently waiting for Sargeras to appear, and the formation of the portal was taking quite some time. The Dragon Soul was the perfect bit of magic to assist in opening the portal, and the Queen's soldiers, led by Malfurion's own brother, intended to take it to her.

Well of Eternity

This is where we, the players, come into the fray. Although the Dragon Soul in the original timeline was retrieved, hidden away, destroyed, reconstructed, and shattered utterly again, we as the mortal heroes of Azeroth are sent back in time to this moment. The Dragon Soul waits in Azshara's palace, an artifact of unimaginable power, and we must retrieve it in order to use it against Deathwing. I know what you're thinking, and it's what I was thinking too -- how are we supposed to use the artifact against Deathwing when he is the only dragon it cannot affect?

It's not that the Dragon Soul doesn't affect Deathwing. It does, quite readily, as evidenced by the need to have plates nailed to his hide. The Dragon Soul cannot control Deathwing, but it can control the other dragons. However, the sheer power of the Dragon Soul can and did readily begin to tear Deathwing apart. A shot of the Dragon Soul, fully imbued with the powers of the Aspects, would be more than enough to tear Deathwing apart, particularly if the plates that barely hold him together were removed or weakened.

The other dragons cannot use the Dragon Soul -- but as an orc, Thrall most certainly can. In Twilight of the Aspects, Thrall worked closely with the dragonflights and gained their trust in a fashion that few mortals have. Between proving his worth in the novel and his powers as a shaman, Thrall is the logical choice to wield the Dragon Soul as far as the Aspects are concerned.

Time lines and Tinfoil Hats

But what does this mean for the time line in which we stole the Dragon Soul away? What does this mean for the future of the artifact? There are a few speculations that can be made, the easiest being this: There are multiple time lines in the universe, and Nozdormu watches over each and every one. Though the Dragon Soul may have been removed from the time line that exists in the Well of Eternity instance, that pocket timeline has no effect on the time line of today.

But wait -- let's go back for a moment and look at the beginning of all of this. The Dragon Soul was created at the point in time that Krasus, Rhonin, and Broxigar were sent back to. Consider this: Perhaps it was the appearance of this alternate time line Krasus that caused Neltharion to move forward and try to use the Dragon Soul to enslave the dragons as well as the mortals. Neltharion saw Krasus, he knew that Krasus knew what he was up to, and he acted to prevent it -- and then he warped the Dragon Soul and embued it with the essences of the Dragonflights.

Nozdormu was not present at the formation of the Dragon Soul because he did not wish to be seen. He sent along his essence but did not appear in person, presumably entangled in a prior engagement. It is presumed that this entanglement was the time anomaly that caused Nozdormu to send Krasus and Broxigar back in the first place. But what if Nozdormu wasn't there at the ceremony because he knew Deathwing would be able to detect his ultimate plan?

What if the formation of the Dragon Soul was something set into motion by Nozdormu? What if the Nozdormu of the future, the one who saw his own destiny, knew that in order to create that moment of his death -- create the moment of Murazond's demise -- he would have to shift the threads of fate in this fashion? What if he knew he would have to create an artifact so dangerous as to nearly decimate the Blue Dragonflight, in order to create the event in which we are sent back in time to retrieve it?

Because before we can retrieve that artifact, we must go to the End Time. We must fight the spirits of those fallen, and then we must destroy Murozond. We could not be placed in this position if we did not need the Dragon Soul -- and we could not use the Dragon Soul at this moment in time if it had not been imbued with the essence of all dragonkind, if Neltharion had not seen Krasus, looked into his eyes, and foreseen his own destiny.

Time is less of a circular pattern as it is a gigantic tangle of threads -- and Nozdormu stands astride them all. He is the only creature that knows the various paths of fate as intimately as he knows himself. He is quite possibly the most powerful Aspect of them all, and it is entirely possible that the entire span of our time line has been nothing more than the Bronze Aspect setting the wheels in motion that would eventually place him at the exact moment in time that he needed to die.

If that is the case, Deathwing's corruption, his return, the uprising of the Old Gods, all of it was merely the machinations of the Bronze Aspect -- not for honor, not for glory, not for the good of the world, but to simply set himself at last to rest, as fate intended all along. It's food for thought.

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.