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Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: The whispers of Azeroth

Anne Stickney

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.

Sargeras: Fallen Titan, founder of the Burning Legion and destroyer of worlds. Since his fall from his place as the premier champion of the Titans, Sargeras has enjoyed utmost success in his mission of destruction, bringing down endless worlds and wreaking havoc across the universe. Yet one world has eluded his grasp, time and time again -- Azeroth. Though the Burning Legion has visited Azeroth countless times, it has yet to sink its claws into the world and wrench it apart.

Despite this, the Legion continues to try. There may be hundreds, thousands, possibly even millions of distinct worlds out there ripe for annihilation, but the Burning Legion and Sargeras himself have focused with certainty on our little world. Is it a matter of revenge? Is it a matter of stubborn persistence? Or is there some other reason we're the focus of the universe's heralds of hatred? What is Sargeras' fascination with our tiny planet, anyway?

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 and what is to come as a result. These speculations are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact or official lore.

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition The fascination of Sargeras SUN
Sargeras and Azeroth

Long ago, before the creation of Azeroth as we know it today, the Titans traveled from world to world on a mission of order. Sargeras was the Champion of the Pantheon at the time, determined to rid the universe of chaos and evil. Like the rest of the Titans, Sargeras could not even fathom the idea of evil; the Titans were a pure, altruistic race. And when Sargeras was confronted time and time again with the notion of evil in the universe, it slowly began to change him for the worse.

When finally confronted with the nazrethim, Sargeras was forced to take a good look at a race of beings that managed to turn entire nations against each other with their manipulations. There was no purpose to it; there was no benefit. There was simply evil and chaos. Though Sargeras defeated the demons, the thoughts of their deeds and the motives behind them plagued him, dragging him into a place of despair. And when he began to think upon it more, his belief in the universe as a place of order and good came into question.

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition The fascination of Sargeras SUN
Plagued with self-doubt, Sargeras came to the realization that the concept of order was a fallacy. It was obvious that chaos and evil were the absolutes in the universe, not the exception. And in that moment, he realized that the Titans themselves were responsible for the failure of the universe. They were trying to correct the natural order of the universe, and the universe was turning more chaotic in response. Because of this, Sargeras turned from the Titans for good.

But turning away wasn't enough. The madness that befell Sargeras convinced him that since chaos and evil were the only absolutes in the universe, he himself must become a propagator of evil. The only way to correct the mistakes of the Titans was to undo them entirely. And so Sargeras formed the Burning Legion and began his campaign of worldly destruction, intent on fixing what he believed were the errors the Titans had made.

Years later, the Titans created Azeroth -- and the planet flourished. Yes, the Titans had to contend with the Old Gods, but they prevailed and moved onward, leaving behind guardians and safeguards for the planet and the mysterious Well of Eternity. It was the Well that originally drew the attention of Sargeras; the pull of the kaldorei and their use of the Well's power only made him crave that power for himself. And so Sargeras launched a plan that eventually ended in the sundering of Azeroth as the events of the War of the Ancients played out.

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition The fascination of Sargeras SUN
Continued enmity

The Well of Eternity was destroyed when the Sundering occurred. Its remnants were swept out to sea, forever to boil and froth in the endless whirl of the chaotic Maelstrom. One would think this marked the end of Sargeras' interests in our world, but they've only grown stronger over time. Aegwynn fought an avatar of Sargeras who was intent on using the Guardian for his own will, later taking over her son Medivh and introducing the orcs to Azeroth.

Later still, the Third War saw Archimonde, Lieutenant of the Burning Legion, come to Azeroth in the flesh. His first act was to destroy Dalaran, yet it seemed his ultimate purpose lay within the world tree Nordrassil. The question, however, is whether it was a matter of Nordrassil itself or the remnants of the Well of Eternity that pooled beneath its roots? The question was never really answered, because Archimonde was destroyed before whatever plan he had could come to full fruition.

And even later than that, Kil'jaeden attempted to harness the powers of the Sunwell for his own dark purposes -- a Sunwell that was created with the remnants of the Well of Eternity. It would be easy to say the Well was the source of Sargeras' fascination with the world, but his visit to Aegwynn in the form of an avatar was not driven by the presence of a Well nearby. He was simply looking for power.

Given this, there are countless worlds in the universe -- worlds that are far weaker and easy to prey upon than Azeroth. Time and time again, Sargeras and the Burning Legion have tried to wipe out Azeroth, and time and time again, they have failed. Perhaps it isn't the promise of power that keeps Sargeras interested in Azeroth, after all. It may be that Sargeras sees in this vast, complex world the continued message of his folly.

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition The fascination of Sargeras SUN
Mirrored images

Think about it. World of Warcraft has delivered the message of corruption again and again over the course of its lifespan. What if that message isn't an endless retread? What if that message is simply a message? Not to us, the players, those who read the stories and play the game -- a message to Sargeras.

Sargeras found himself staring at the black abyss of the universe and ended up consumed by his despair, intent on delivering chaos to the world. Deathwing found himself consumed by the idea of chaos and destruction, drawn to that conclusion by the Old Gods themselves. He became not a noble construct of the Titans but a force of evil intent on destroying the world. And in the end, did he succeed?

Kael'thas Sunstrider was a force of nobility and power. His people were nearly brought to ruin by the forces of evil. And in the end, noble Kael'thas ended up corrupted by the idea of power and greed, consumed by evil. Did he succeed with his plans? Did Kil'jaeden then succeed with his? Did the Lich King, once a noble prince of Lordaeron, manage to wipe the world out and bring death and destruction to all living things?

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In every instance of history in Azeroth, the story of Sargeras is mirrored in infinite ways. And in every instance, the message is clear: Despite the beliefs of agents of chaos, this is not the way the world is meant to be. And despite the efforts of those who pursue evil, the simple truth of Light, of purity, of compassion, of respect, of honor -- that is what will prevail.

Perhaps Azeroth wasn't some grand experiment for the Titans, after all. Perhaps Azeroth is simply a recorded message for Sargeras, a message that says with utter certainty that what you, Sargeras, may believe in the world, in the universe, what you may have come to believe about the nature of good and evil, order and chaos -- what you believe is wrong. You will never win. The story plays out, again and again, and every time, you, chaos, evil, destruction -- you will fail.

If this is the case, if we are merely a message, nothing more, nothing less -- well then, perhaps the Old Gods didn't really come to Azeroth at all. They were planted here, seeds of chaos to represent all that Sargeras has become, and gently encouraged to flourish just enough to give the myriad races of Azeroth chaos to contend with. In that case, it's no wonder that we cannot kill the Old Gods. They are not intertwined with the planet or its fate; they are an integral part of the message for the fallen Titan.

And with that kind of repeating message, it is no wonder Sargeras would like to destroy this world. Azeroth is a constant reminder, a litany reminding him that his moment of grand awakening, that moment when he supposedly saw the universe for what it was, was utterly wrong.

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition The fascination of Sargeras SUN
Tangled threads of fate

Or maybe the world has an even deeper meaning that just that. Consider the orcs of Azeroth. Brought to this world by Sargeras, the orcish Horde was supposed to wipe out all life on the planet and take it over in an orgy of death and destruction. Yet the world stood up and united as one to push the Horde back -- and when they did, the orcs fell into a stupor of disillusioned lethargy that made them easy targets for the internment camps.

But the story goes on from there. From the lethargy, Thrall was brought into play, and the Horde found themselves changing from that bloodthirsty army of puppets for the Burning Legion back into what they were to begin with, the orcs of Draenor, free of corruption and embracing the shamanistic roots they left behind. They regretted their transgressions and to this day they still look back on the days of their blood pact with shame.

This does not, of course, mean that the Horde are complacent. They still fight with honor and conviction, and they still struggle with the world and their place in it. But in the story of the orcs, that story that is told between Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and the orcs of the Third War, of vanilla WoW, there is hope. There is hope for those that have fallen to the depths of depravity, and given time, there is healing to be had.

Does this mean Azeroth is somehow meant to cure Sargeras? No, that would be unlikely and a lofty presumption for a tiny world. But perhaps Azeroth was meant to be a story, a message left in the eternal void. It is a reminder of everything Sargeras has lost and a silent plea from the Titans that created it. A gentle message that repeats over and over: It's all right that you were wrong. And when at last you've realized that, you can still come home.

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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