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Know Your Lore: Wrathion the Purified

Anne Stickney
Anne Stickney|December 18, 2011 6:00 PM
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.

While we've been busy putting Cho'gall in his place, dealing with Nefarian, and otherwise addressing Elemental Lords Al'Akir and Ragnaros, the rest of Azeroth has been busy in its own way. Players wandering through the Badlands are taken along on quests to help the red dragon Rheastrasza perform a bit of important research on the black dragons. Though at first it seems as though Rhea's work is mundane, her ultimate plans are soon revealed.

Rheastrasza is attempting to find one purified, untainted black dragon egg. And she's successful, but the egg is in immediate danger. Deathwing doesn't want this egg to exist, and he'll do anything to get rid of it. The egg has been shuffled around constantly, hidden from Deathwing's sight -- a faint shred of hope in the post-Cataclysm world.

... unfortunately, nobody bothered asking the egg's opinion on the subject.

Today's Know Your Lore contains spoilers for the rogue legendary quest line.

Rheastrasza had only the best interests of the dragonflights at heart when she captured the black dragon Nyxondra, forcing her to produce eggs for Rhea's research. If Rhea could somehow find an untainted black dragon egg, it would mean that the black flight could continue to exist free from the corruption of the Old Gods. After all, the Red Dragonflight is all about the preservation of life; to wipe out every black dragon on the face of Azeroth is an action that flies in the face of their duty. But if the Red Dragonflight could somehow find a way to preserve the black dragons, it would mean that the Black Dragonflight would continue to live on, if with a slightly different perspective.

Deathwing was corrupted by the Old Gods, turned against his winged brethren back in the days of the War of the Ancients. The rest of his flight quickly followed suit -- and the maddened, chaotic mind of black dragons became a common trait of the flight. But what if a dragon could be produced free of that corruption, free of any influence of the Old Gods? What would a black dragon be, if it were free of Deathwing and the Old God's corruption?

The Red Dragonflight took the egg that Rhea nobly sacrificed her life for and hid it away at the Vermillion Redoubt in the Twilight Highlands. There, it would be kept safe until it hatched and the black dragon could be raised far from the eyes of his maddened father. But the egg abruptly disappeared. What Rheastrasza and the others failed to realize was one minor, irrefutable fact.

Black dragons as a whole are a bunch of incorrigible bastards.
Despite the Red Dragonflight's plans, the egg had its own plans in mind, and none of them involved being raised and catered to by a bunch of simpering red dragons. And so the egg, which was quite cognizant and capable of acting on its own even in the shell, sent out a plea for rescue, a plea to the one band of devils sneaky and elusive enough to handle stealing the egg right out from under the Red Dragonflight's nose -- the rogues of Ravenholdt Manor.

Once at the manor, it didn't take long for the egg to hatch. Calling himself Wrathion, the one and only untainted and pure black dragon of his kind thought long and hard about his future. He didn't wish to be raised by a bunch of red dragons; he didn't wish to be in the spotlight at all. In fact, the only thing he really wanted was to be left alone, free to live his own life without having to worry about being some sort of shining example to black dragon society.

Though Rheastrasza and perhaps the rest of the Red Dragonflight had grand visions for Wrathion's future -- visions of a world in which the Black Dragonflight could repopulate free of the madness of Deathwing -- Wrathion's goals did not echo their sentiments. He could have been a savior of Azeroth, the new Aspect of Earth, or any other number of shining accomplishments, but Wrathion was far more interested in solitude. But first, there was the pesky matter of the Red Dragonflight trying to get him back that needed to be addressed.

Once the Red Dragonflight was warned away from any further meddling, Wrathion was then free to continue with his task -- or rather, free to assign someone else to do the dirty work for him. This is where rogues come into play. Wrathion's ultimate goal is to eliminate the last of Deathwing's family and live his life alone and unnoticed by any who would even think of looking for him. In payment for each successful elimination, Wrathion offers some surprisingly effective weapons for any rogue who completes the tasks.

The first target is a dragon disguised as a human using the name Creed. Creed disguised himself as a Gilnean and deluded a group of Gilneans into thinking they could take their land back. Not only this, but he's corrupted the humans of Gilneas with his essence, the very thing Wrathion is trying to prevent. And so capable rogues are sent in to sneak past the sentries and dispatch Creed as soon as possible. Once completed, Wrathion hands over a fine set of daggers, Fear and Vengeance. But that's not the end of Wrathion's plot.

Next, players are sent to the Dragon Soul raid to collect Shadowy Gems, faceted jewels that the Twilight's Hammer uses to control powerful elementals. Once collected, Wrathion sends rogues on to the next target, a familiar face for those who played through Wrath content: Nalice, formerly the ambassador of the Black Dragonflight to the Wyrmrest Accord.

During Wrath, Nalice sent players to assist at the Black Dragonshrine. But Nalice mysteriously disappeared from Wyrmrest Temple after Deathwing's return, and most assumed that she'd either flown to Deathwing's side or fled in fear. But Nalice was up to something far worse, although we don't know the details of her plans just yet. She fled to the cellars beneath Karazhan, Medivh's former home and one of the most powerful magical locations on Azeroth.

From the Master's Cellar, Nalice is performing some sort of arcane experiments. Again, the details of these experiments are unclear at this point, but one can assume that if it has anything to do with the massive amount of power concentrated in and around Karazhan, there's nothing good to come of it. Once Nalice is defeated, Wrathion has one more target -- and one final task. His father, Deathwing, must be defeated, and the lucky rogue who manages to do so, live, and bring back a piece of Deathwing's shell is richly rewarded.

This is why the Fangs of the Father continually gain their strange appearance reminiscent of the Old Gods. Rogues aren't just building any daggers; they are building daggers infused with the essence of dragons that have been tainted by the Old Gods. Using that essence in conjunction with the daggers creates a product that is as deadly and tainted as the members of Deathwing's brood.

But Wrathion isn't all bad, for a black dragon. He could have gone out and slaughtered all the mortals who were working for Creed and for Nalice. Instead, he spares their lives, preferring to send in a rogue sneaky enough to get by all the mortal followers and strike at the heart of the corruption. Though he may be devious and conniving, Wrathion doesn't blame the mortals assisting these black dragons. He knows that they are simply under the influence of powers greater than their own and will revert back to their own destinies and their own lives when left to their own devices.

Though Rheastrasza's grand experiments didn't result in the savior of Azeroth, her work wasn't done in vain. Wrathion may wish to simply be left alone, but in the process, he managed to eliminate -- with some help, of course -- any last vestiges of Deathwing's corrupted flight on Azeroth. These final few black dragons weren't even considered as threats by the rest of the world that is completely focused on Deathwing's demise. Of course, there's still the matter of Baron Sablemane over on Draenor, but that's out of the scope of Wrathion's sight, and Sablemane is likely not worth caring about at this point anyway.

Wrathion is simply a black dragon -- not a savior, not a benevolent ruler, not an Aspect of Earth. After all is said and done, Wrathion takes his leave and presumably disappears into the sunset as the first and last of his kind. Deathwing's demise signals a new age, an age of mortals -- not an age where dragons will rise to power and glory. Thankfully, though Wrathion is as devious and cunning as any black dragon around, he seems to lack the lust for power and control that the others of his kind prized above all. In the end, this should probably be viewed as an asset.

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.