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Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Genesis of the Infinite Dragonflight

Anne Stickney

Nozdormu makes sure that certain events happen a particular way, even if they appear to be bad. Consequently, he even knows when and how he will die.

-- Warcraft Magazine, Issue 02
Matthew Rossi has done an excellent job covering the War of the Ancients these past few weeks -- you can and should check out all four parts. Sometimes, late at night after everyone in their right mind has gone to sleep, Rossi and I will have long, rambling discussions about lore and theories in regards to those unexplained loopholes in lore. This week you get not one, but two tinfoil hat theories regarding the Bronze Dragonflight; consider it a two-parter by two different authors, both equally fascinated with the convoluted mess of the Warcraft timeline.

In part four of his series, Rossi touched on timeline A: The unaltered timeline of history, the original outcome of the War of the Ancients, and timeline B: The altered timeline that sent Rhonin and Krasus back in time, letting them gleefully muck around with historical events. The problem with these events lies in the fact that the Bronze flight, and Nozdormu in particular, have been charged with keeping the flow of time. Meanwhile, we have the Infinite Dragonflight, introduced in The Burning Crusade -- a group bent on changing the timelines to suit their needs. So what are the ultimate plans of the Infinite Dragonflight?

Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition, meaning the following is a look into what has gone before with pure speculation on why it happened. The events presented are events that happened in Azeroth's history, but the conclusions are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact.

To look at the motives of the Infinite flight, we have to look at where they've popped up. In TBC, we were introduced to the Caverns of Time, an area dedicated to upholding the original course of history. Though the Caverns were present in vanilla WoW, we were not allowed inside. It wasn't until the first expansion that presumably things became bad enough for the Bronze Dragonflight that they decided they needed mortal intervention. Let's look at the individual moments in time the Infinites have chosen to disrupt:

Caverns of Time: Old Hillsbrad Foothills In the case of Old Hillsbrad, the Infinite Dragonflight is holding Taretha hostage in order to prevent Thrall from escaping Durnholde Keep. By preventing this from happening, the Infinite Dragonflight is guaranteeing that Thrall will not rise to the status of Warchief of the Horde. Indeed, without Thrall, the orcs captured in the Second War would never have broken free from the internment camps in which they were imprisoned.

Caverns of Time: Black Morass In the Black Morass, the Infinite Dragonflight is trying to prevent Medivh from opening the Dark Portal and letting the orcs into Azeroth, the result of which was the devastating loss of Stormwind in the First War. By preventing this from happening, the orcs never would have invaded in the first place, and by consequence, the Old Horde would have remained on Draenor.

Caverns of Time: Battle for Mount Hyjal This is an interesting case, because it's not really apparent that the Infinite Dragonflight is involved at all. We are simply sent to make sure that history runs its course and Archimonde is defeated. The Infinite Dragonflight aren't actually visible anywhere in this zone.

Caverns of Time: Culling of Stratholme In the Culling of Stratholme, we are actually sent to help Arthas burn Stratholme to the ground and confront Mal'ganis. After doing so, Arthas continues on his way to Northrend and become the Lich King. By keeping the flow of time intact, we are ensuring that Arthas' destiny remains as intended.

Out of the four of these, three involve the Infinite Dragonflight directly. In at least two of these situations, it almost seems as though the destiny picked by the Infinite Dragonflight would be a better alternative than the one we're presently living through. Why would the Bronze Dragonflight want to protect the timelines in which horrible events happen? You can argue that they are trying to keep the flow of time correct, but then we look at the War of the Ancients, where Nozdormu had no issues with Rhonin, Krasus and Broxigar meddling with the timelines.

The Nozdormu of the past knew exactly who Krasus was, and said as much to Krasus in the War of the Ancients trilogy:
I know what you hide from her, from usss. It is my fate and curssse to know such things and be unable myssself to prevent them. Know that I now asssk for forgiveness for the wrongs I will caussse you in the future, but I mussst be what I am destined to be... as Malygos is.
It is assumed that Nozdormu is asking for forgiveness in regards to disrupting the lives of Krasus and Rhonin, and apologizing for the death of Broxigar, which he knows is coming. But what if Nozdormu is actually apologizing for something far greater than that? Let's look at those events in the Caverns of Time again.

Caverns of Time: Old Hillsbrad Foothills By preventing Thrall from rising to power, the Infinite Dragonflight is also preventing the forming of the New Horde. Without the New Horde, suddenly the battle at Mt. Hyjal in the Third War is missing one third of its forces, making Archimonde's victory an almost certainty. But then we have a secondary timeline that moves this even further.

Caverns of Time: Black Morass If the Old Horde never came to Azeroth, there would be no New Horde. There would be no First War, no Second War, and certainly no Third War. Chances are, Thrall never would have existed -- or if he did, it would certainly be in a far different capacity than what we see today. In fact, it's a possibility that Ner'zhul never would have pondered the thought of conquering other worlds and, consequentially, never become the Lich King.

Caverns of Time: Battle for Mount Hyjal What if we weren't sent to Hyjal on random circumstance? What if we were sent just to make sure that the events that were supposed to occur actually occurred -- that Archimonde did, in fact, arrive and die at Hyjal as he was supposed to? In this case, it's not a case of the Infinites deliberately messing with a timeline; it's the Bronze Dragonflight checking and making sure we did our job with the prior two timelines. Let's look at the newest appearance of the Infinite Dragonflight.

Caverns of Time: Culling of Stratholme So what exactly would happen if Arthas never burned down Stratholme? What negatives could that possibly create? Arthas never would have gone to Northrend, never would have picked up Frostmourne, certainly never would have come home and killed his father. The Forsaken wouldn't exist, but can that really be considered a bad thing? In all likelihood, Arthas just would have gone home with Uther and Jaina, Jaina and the Kirin Tor would have figured out a way to fix the plague, and Arthas and Jaina would have gotten happily married and settled down, content to rule over the Kingdom of Lordaeron in the Eastern Kingdoms. Kel'Thuzad would have remained dead as a doornail, and the Sunwell would be intact.

Now that's interesting. Every event, every moment that the Infinite Dragonflight is choosing to alter directly affects the results of Burning Legion invasions. In fact, all three events that have the Infinites present are moments in time that affect the Burning Legion's return to Azeroth.

If you want to take a closer look at it: If Medivh had never opened the Dark Portal, then the possibility of conquering new worlds never would have occurred to Ner'zhul, and he never would have become the Lich King in the first place. He never would have been sent to Azeroth. If Arthas had never picked up Frostmourne, the Lich King would never have existed as a tool for the Burning Legion to use in their rise to power. Kel'thuzad never would have been an agent of the Lich King; Archimonde never would have arrived.

By all rights, it looks as though the Infinite Dragonflight is not a bunch of former bronze drakes corrupted by Old Gods -- it looks like they are actually working against the Burning Legion's return. This isn't ... bad, so why are we trying to prevent it?
You saw Nozdormu? That doesn't make any sense.
[Chromie thinks a moment about what you said.]
Actually, that's great news! We had no idea of where or when the Lord of Time had gone to. We just knew that he had disappeared to deal with very important matters.
So, even though the leader of the Infinite Dragonflight wasn't revealed, you've discovered that Nozdormu is alive and well, and fighting back against them!
-- Chromie, Mystery of the Infinite
In Northrend, players are sent to the Bronze Dragonshrine to reveal the leader of the Infinite Dragonflight. Instead of the leader, we see Nozdormu, indicating that either he is fighting the leader, or he is the leader. But what if it's neither of these options, exactly? What if Nozdormu isn't the leader of the Infinite Dragonflight -- he's just the genesis of its creation?

And the moment the Infinite Dragonflight spawned, the moment it was created was the moment that the rift appeared and captured Nozdormu, the moment that rift sent Rhonin, Krasus and Broxigar into the past, the moment that the three time travelers started messing about with the events of time. Sure, the end result of the War of the Ancients was the same -- the Legion was repelled, and Sargeras never made it to Azeroth -- but there were many, many little threads of fate that were pulled out of array.

Infinite tiny threads, threads that seemed minor at first, but over the course of time split into so many differing possibilities that the bronze flight of timeline A, the bronze flight of the correct timeline and flow of events, evolved into the Infinite Dragonflight. A dragonflight that saw that keeping the correct flow of time wasn't necessary -- a dragonflight that saw Nozdormu, their leader, deliberately affect the flow of time in a fashion that looked "positive." A dragonflight that witnessed it unnecessary to follow the command of Aman'thul and keep the timelines intact. After all, Nozdormu didn't feel it necessary, at that instant -- why should they?

And now, we dive fully into the world of crazy theories:

The Infinite Dragonflight seeks to eliminate anything that might be a threat to Azeroth. They aren't concerned with the flow of time; they simply want to keep Azeroth preserved by eliminating any outside forces. Hence the removal of the Dark Portal, the destruction of Thrall's destiny, the halt of the Lich King's ascension. The orcs ravaged Azeroth and forever altered the destiny of the native creatures. Why should they be allowed to rise to power -- particularly if it was Ner'zhul who became the Lich King and made it possible for Archimonde to be summoned? The Lich King ruined Azerothian civilization and created the Forsaken, destroyed the Sunwell. Why should he be allowed to exist?

Nozdormu was not caught in that rift at the beginning of the War of the Ancients trilogy. He created the rift on purpose and allowed himself to be caught up and entangled within it in order to lure time travelers through it. Why? Because in his infinite wisdom, Nozdormu also knew the exact moment and cause of his death, and he wanted more than anything to prevent that moment from occurring.

That moment, the downfall, the death of Nozdormu was to be brought about by the Burning Legion, in one aspect or another. Every action taken by the Infinite Dragonflight, from the Dark Portal to the Culling of Stratholme, was an effort to remove any impetus the Legion had for invading Azeroth. With the removal of the orcs, Nozdormu hoped to prevent the Burning Legion's rise on Azeroth. With the removal of the Lich King, there was no way for the Burning Legion to appear.

But then, the Legion was already here to begin with, wasn't it? Medivh was born with the essence of Sargeras present inside of him. What would be the point, then, of removing the Burning Legion's influence, if the Legion was already present?

What if Nozdormu wasn't working against the Burning Legion? What if he was working for them?

The Dark Portal wasn't supposed to be opened yet because the orcs weren't fully under Kil'jaeden's control; that's why Ner'zhul rebelled and why he became the Lich King. The Lich King wasn't just a danger to Azeroth; he also rose up against the Burning Legion and wrecked their chances of keeping Lordaeron for themselves.

Eliminate Ner'zhul, before he had that sudden what-if thought that made him rise up against the Burning Legion and become the Lich King. Eliminate any chance of the Lich King's rise to power on Azeroth, just to be safe -- and at the same time, eliminate any hope of Archimonde's defeat at Hyjal. If the orcs were kept on Draenor just a little longer, long enough to ensure the Legion's domination of the species, then they could be used to summon Archimonde to Azeroth instead of using a pawn of the Lich King to do so.

Then, and only then, would the Legion's victory on Azeroth be guaranteed. Why would Nozdormu do this? Because he knew the Burning Legion was responsible for his demise and wanted to prevent it -- and what better way to prevent it than by becoming a willing tool of the enemy?

It's entirely possible that what we are dealing with has nothing to do with Old Gods or Deathwing or anything that currently affects present-day Azeroth. The Infinites first showed their face to the point where the Bronze Dragonflight had to ask for mortal help during The Burning Crusade -- when the Legion threatened to overpower Azeroth yet again. This indicates we aren't dealing with Old Gods; we're dealing with the Legion.

Or, if you wanted to tie the Old Gods into the equation, perhaps it was their quiet, insistent whispers to Nozdormu that convinced him he could somehow outrun fate and prevent his demise. The Old Gods, after all, don't really care about the Burning Legion -- they simply want to see Azeroth in chaos. What better way to do that than by bringing a legion of screaming demons down to wreak havoc on the land? Not only that, but the downfall of Azeroth would be performed by the armies of a former Titan, making the Old Gods' revenge just that much more ironically sweet.

Regardless of motivations, theories or wild speculation, the problem of the Infinite Dragonflight is easily one of the most complex storylines introduced into Warcraft. The moment you introduce time travel into a story is the moment where it becomes a convoluted, shattered mess. But we appear to be approaching some sort of resolution to the issue: The next Caverns of Time raid will be the War of the Ancients, where all the troubles seem to begin.

Will we correct the timeline and wipe out the Infinite Dragonflight in the process? If so, what will that do to timeline B, the timeline in which we currently exist? Will we encounter Rhonin, Krasus and Broxigar, or will we be sent to the War of the Ancients that existed prior to their arrival? We have no real answers as of yet -- but the possibilities are infinite.

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.

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