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Know Your Lore TFH: Flesh of the Makers

Matthew Rossi

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.

Spoilers for Mists of Pandaria and Patch 5.1 in this post

First, go read this. This post is a Tinfoil Hat continuing off of concepts found in that previous post, so be warned.

Okay, now we jump off from there. Because this all started when discussing the recent patch 5.1 sound files, one of which includes a voice file of a certain king reading aloud a description of the Divine Bell. What's the Divine Bell? Well, according to said voice files, it was a device crafted by the ancient mogu which, when struck, resounded with a sound that caused fury and chaos, and drove the mogu armies into a state of frenzy and rage that made them unbeatable in combat. And it was supposedly "cast from the Makers' flesh, shaped by star's fire, and bound by the breath of darkest shadow." As you might expect, the first question I asked was, what does cast from the Makers' flesh mean?

Throughout Pandaria we've seen evidence of the Titans presence and their work in reshaping Azeroth. Both Mogu'shan Palace and Vaults as well as the yet unexplored Terrace of Endless Spring hold hints of being constructed by the Titans or their servants, just as Ulduar and Uldum and Uldaman were. The discs that create Elegon remind us of the discs of Norgannon left behind in Uldaman, although warped by the Mogu. And we've repeatedly been told that the mogu were themselves once a race of brutes exposed to the waters of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, uplifted by its waters just as the ancient silithid became the Qiraji before being warped by the Old Gods, just as the night elves were. But all of that doesn't quite answer one question - where did the mogu get the flesh of a Maker? And more importantly, if the Divine Bell is merely the greatest creation of the mogu, does that mean they were working with such rare materials before they cast the Bell?

The flesh of the maker is not flesh

What we know of the Titans is fragmentary at best. In fact, we don't know much at all outside of some names and a vague history told to us by servants. What they're like, what they do, these are things we have very little understanding of. We know that they left enormous installations on the surface of Azeroth, but even then, we have no idea if the Titans themselves ever walked those halls or if they were crafted for their servitors and creations to inhabit. Ulduar, for instance, is enormous and populated by Watchers and giants, but we could fairly easily assume that the Titans themselves are many times larger than those we encountered in the complex. It was strongly hinted during the War of the Ancients that Sargeras required almost all the power of the Well of Eternity merely to enter Azeroth, and the avatar of Sargeras used to deceive Aegwynn was itself massive. It may seem foolish to belabor that the Titans were big - of course they were big, you might be shouting, they're called Titans - but here one needs to consider that it may not be merely size that's the issue.

The Titans are entities of vast power. We know of the Pantheon, the council that leads and directs its efforts, again mostly from the evocations and invocations of their servants such as Freya in Ulduar calling upon Eonar for aid. The Pantheon is said to be the leadership of the Titans as a race, however, which implies there are many, many more of them. Furthermore, the fall of Sargeras shows us that the Titans embody ideals and personify cosmic forces, and when a Titan's mind or beliefs change, so too does their body. Before his fall, Sargeras is said to have been a mighty bronze skinned warrior, but as he began to doubt the wisdom of the Titans' mission his form began to shift and crack, and as his anger and resentment grew, Sargeras' body melted and exploded outward in a shower of flame, warping him into a seething demonic presence.

The dream embodied

What this implies is staggering. The Titans are conceptual beings, entities who so embody and personify ideas that their very flesh can and does change if the ideals they hold are changed. When Sargeras went from Defender to Destroyer, he didn't just change his mind about the wisdom of his people's effort to shape the cosmos, he changed what he was. So, too, for Aggramar. Becoming the Avenger didn't mean what it would for a mortal being, it was a literal transformation and transfiguration, a shift in not merely identity but being as well, because the two aspects of existence are one for a Titan. Who you are is what you are made of, and to change the one is to alter the other. The soul of a Titan shapes its flesh.

Now, consider the mogu again. We're told that they were changed and shaped by the waters of the vale, just as the Well of Eternity itself changed and shaped other species and life itself. Why would it do that? How does it do that? Because that is what a Titan is. The Titans are seen by us as creatures of Order because they seem driven to shape and mold, but what if that's a necessity for them? Imagine a being whose very physical substance changes as their thoughts do, wouldn't they by necessity have to find a way to maintain a baseline, to preserve a coherent identity? The Titans impose order upon the chaos of existence externally as a means to impose it internally, because the Titans are themselves ultimate chaos. The Old Gods? Pretenders. They can't make anything, they merely corrupt and take pleasure in the corruption. They impose chaos, as they did upon Azeroth, because they are stagnant, ultimately leading only to destruction and ultimately, the orderly progression of nothingness.

Thieves who stole divine fire

When considering the mogu, we're struck on the one hand by their constant displays of short sightedness (the pandaren describe them as thugs, and we see them clearly unable to conceive of anyone ever defeating them) and their astonishing magical secrets. Their ability shape flesh and twist souls to animate unliving stone is astonishing. But we're told repeatedly that they also gained great knowledge from places like Mogu'shan Vaults, stealing and building upon Titan secrets. And one of the things that's been haunting me is how the Elegon chamber reminds me of several places I've seen before, such as the chamber just past the Assembly of Iron, or even more the Tribunal of Ages. We know that each complex seems to have been built with a specific purpose in mind - Uldaman as a data storage facility keeping the location of the Discs of Norgannon and pointing towards Uldum, Ulduar as a complex meant to monitor the progression of Azeroth, Uldum itself as the home to the means to Re-Originate the world should its development be imperiled - so what purpose do the Titan facilities in Pandaria serve? What were they for? Why are they there? What purpose did the Forge of the Endless originally fulfill? We're told the mogu repurposed the facility, so what was it originally intended to do? We know from Ulduar that there were similar forges that created iron vrykul and dwarves... did the mogu alter such a creation engine to make more of themselves, and what does that say about them?

And all of this makes me wonder about the Divine Bell, 'cast from the flesh of the Makers" - so let us suppose for a moment that the postulation is true, that a Titan died and its 'blood' is the Well of Eternity, the waters of the Vale. What does it mean to kill a Titan, whose body changes to match its mind? I postulate to you that the Titans are enfleshed thought. They are concepts incarnated in matter. Look at how Sargeras twisted and warped as his thoughts did. The Titans seek to promote order throughout the cosmos to tame the writhing incoherent chaos of their own natures - they themselves are pure chaos, pure power given form. They deform reality wherever they go because they have no choice, and shape worlds to be orderly as a defense against their own chaos seeking to render them spiritually amorphous. They take on obsessions and become these obsessions - Eonar embodies life and its preservation, Norgannon becomes a keeper of secrets and magic, Aman'thul time itself - because these are limits they impose upon themselves. They need limits, because without them, there would be no definition, they would be everything and if you're everything at once you're effectively nothing at all. We've seen repeatedly in the Warcraft universe the concept of opposites providing each other with such definition - the naaru life cycle, as an example. Without boundaries, the Titans become what?

To mold that which molded you

Well, if we're right, then the dead Titan shows us. In order to kill a Titan, a being whose form changes and shifts with her or his belief, then you first have to convince it that it is dead. Once it dies, it releases that hold it maintain on itself, that series of obsessions and concepts that provided it with a definition, a limitation to believe itself to be. In death, the Titan goes from embodied concept to disembodied potential - it can be anything, because it no longer is specifically anything. Thus the rush of raw, wild, chaotic energy untainted by good or evil, fel or arcane - the Well simply is. But what happens to the body when the spirit is released?

Azeroth as it exists today exists after the battle between the Old Gods and the Titans that slew an Old God, and seems to have slain a Titan as well. If we accept that the Well was the manifestation of the 'blood' of the Titan, its pure potential power leading forth like blood from a wound, then what of its body? The body of a Titan reflects what it believes itself to be. If the Titan believes itself to be dead, then the body would no longer have belief to direct its transformation. Yet it would still be that body, still be composed of material that was shapeable, directable by sufficient essential energy. Imagine, therefore, that the purpose of the installations was to house that body, and the mogu stumbled upon it. What secrets could it teach them? This would be a flesh that once contained a soul unlike anything ever seen. Even if imperfectly understood, even if much of the data from the discs was corrupted, and even if it was misapplied by the grasping hands of those with more arrogance than sense, this alone could have catapulted them to power.

From what source comes the clay that shapes the terracotta warriors? Our own flesh is often called clay, or dust - can so be said of the flesh of a maker? Did the mogu trade their mortal flesh for that of a fallen Titan, carve new homes for their soulds from the bones of a being whose body changes to reflect what it houses? And for that matter, do we know what Azeroth itself is made of? The Titans are often depicted as metallic, and the Titans are often divided into entities of storm and entities of fire, beings of the natural forces that shape our world. Did the death of a Titan unleash the beginning of Azeroth's current existence? Did it reshape the world? Did it Re-Originate the world? Is the world itself made of the flesh of a Maker?

In the end, we don't know. We know only that the mogu, despite their flaws, somehow learned secrets that allowed them to do what no other race on Azeroth can, to bind the souls of their own people and others into stone and make it live. And they learned this secret from ancient Titan ruins. And during the reign of the Thunder King, they shaped the flesh of a Maker, or so they claimed. The rest is conjecture.

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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