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As a follower of An'she, Sunwalker Dezco represents the first really major tauren paladin lore figure we've had -- while Aponi Brightmane had a minor role in the creation of the Sunwalkers, she never really had any story beyond the snippets we saw at the end of Wrath. Sunwalker Dezco is the leader of the Dawnchaser tribe, which is an apt name, given the peculiar journey that has brought him to Pandaria.
The tale Dezco tells is a simple one. The tauren received strange dreams of a valley that was golden with blossoms and filled with the hope of peace. At the behest of Baine Bloodhoof, Dezco, his wife Leza and the rest of the Dawnchaser tribe set sail in uncharted waters to search for the source of these mysterious dreams. Although all had had the dreams, it was Leza alone who had visions strong enough to guide them all. And that's really where Dezco's story begins -- on the open seas, sailing into unknown territory, his beloved wife at his side along with his friends and his family.
Please note: There is some speculation in this post, as well as spoilers for patch 5.4 content. Reader beware!
From sea to sorrow
That journey was the last journey many of Dezco's friends and family would make, although he didn't know it at the time. The seas were rough, as were the storms that battered the four ships -- three were destroyed along the way. And if it weren't for Leza and her visions, the Dawnchaser tribe may have been wiped from history for good. With Leza's guidance, the remaining ship successfully made it to Pandaria, along the southern coast of Krasarang Wilds. But Leza wasn't just contending with powerful visions -- she was also a mother-to-be.
Dezco and the remaining Dawnchasers traveled north to continue their search, but Leza soon fell ill. Although Dezco tried valiantly to save her, Leza died giving birth to twin sons, weeks ahead of schedule. At this point, one has to wonder what was going through Sunwalker Dezco's head -- he was on a mission for Baine Bloodhoof, following these dreams and visions of a sunny land filled with the promise of peace, yet so far in his journey he experienced nothing but heartbreak, losing much of his tribe to the oceans and the wilderness, and his wife to illness and a painful labor.
It's really a testament to Dezco's strength that instead of giving up, he chose to get up and move on, taking his young sons and the remnants of his tribe with him. And it's a testament to Dezco's wisdom that he chose, upon discovering Anduin Wrynn at the Temple of the White Tiger, to defend the prince, considering he was young, unarmed, and a friend to Baine Bloodhoof. Dezco patiently awaited the White Tiger's response, and was gratified that his people -- along with the Horde -- would be allowed to access the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Dezco would complete his mission, and deliver his people to the land they'd dreamed of for so long, his journey, while riddled with sorrow, a successful one.
One day the Shrine of Two Moons was visited by members of the Golden Lotus -- an organization dedicated to preserving the Vale. They were in search of new members, and their search had led them to the heart of the Vale itself. To Dezco's horror, the subjects of their search were his children, Cloudhoof and Redhorn -- the August Celestial, Chi-Ji, arrived at the Shrine himself and confirmed it. Yet Chi-Ji said only one of the children was meant to serve with the Golden Lotus, and it was up to Dezco to choose.
Dezco tried to escape, to return to Mulgore, but it wasn't that simple. In yet another tragic turn, Dezco found himself in the middle of a battle with mogu and quillen, Redhorn snatched away by one of the beasts. As Dezco desperately fought to rescue one son, the other, Cloudhoof, was crushed. Redhorn was saved by the mysterious, life-giving waters of the Vale ... but Cloudhoof was beyond saving. Yet Dezco realized something -- the purpose of his visions, the purpose of his journey was to be one with the Vale, and little Redhorn was meant to fill that role. With that, he handed his son over to the Golden Lotus, certain that this was the ultimate reason he'd come to the Vale in the first place. Redhorn was home, and so was Dezco, right where they were supposed to be.
... and it is also the point at which some serious flags were raised in my head, because none of this rationally makes sense.
Who sent Dezco and the tauren to the Vale in the first place?
The tauren -- an entire race of people all the way over on Kalimdor -- all got simultaneous dreams about the Vale. It wasn't just Dezco and his tribe, even Baine Bloodhoof had this weird dream. Out of all the people that had these dreams, Baine decided to send Dezco and his wife -- because Leza was the only one that could see with clarity where to go. But Leza didn't even make it through the trip. She died before she could even see the Vale she'd been dreaming about so vividly.
Instead, Dezco was left to take his twins to the Vale, and upon arriving ... nothing happened. Whatever dreams of peace and promise Dezco had, he certainly didn't get any kind of resolution once he'd reached the Shrine of Two Moons. Then the Golden Lotus shows up and tells Dezco he has to choose, to give up one of the twins and allow the boy to be raised as some sort of protector for the Vale. All right, I'll give him that -- that's a pretty noble act. If he'd realized it before his other son died, it would have been a little more bearable.
But here he is, having given his son over to the Golden Lotus and supposedly fulfilled the purpose of the visions. Why, exactly, was a giant chunk of the tauren race having visions, if the sole purpose of these visions was to deliver Redhorn to the Vale? What exactly is a newborn calf supposed to do? Why was his presence so important? What about the peace the Vale was supposed to offer? What's left for Dezco, now that the supposed purpose of these visions has been fulfilled?
Let's look at what Dezco has done. There's not a lot to look at, here -- he's valiantly tried to keep the peace in the Shrine of Two Moons. He's made efforts to watch over Anduin Wrynn as he chatted with Wrathion in the Veiled Stair. But he's been absolutely helpless to do nothing but watch as Garrosh Hellscream and the Horde rampage through the Vale. He couldn't stop the strip mining that defaced the Vale in patch 5.3, and he's not going to be able to prevent what is coming in patch 5.4.
And that is probably the most important part of this tale. Dezco arrived in Pandaria with his wife, watched her die giving birth to twin sons, saw one of those sons inadvertently killed before he had a chance to learn to walk, saw the other handed over to the Golden Lotus to be raised as a guardian. Zhi the Harmonious, leader of the Golden Lotus, was killed while trying to keep the mogu from obtaining the armor of the Thunder King. In patch 5.4, the other leaders of the Golden Lotus have failed in their duty and now stand as raid bosses, and the Vale seems to be destroyed. So forgive me for asking, but what was the point of all of that?
The most reasonable explanation is that Chi-Ji had something to do with the dreams and the visions, because he was the one that appeared when the gong was rung and Dezco's children were chosen to serve the Golden Lotus. If this is the case, how did Chi-Ji get these visions all the way to Kalimdor? An alternate suggestion is that it was simply An'she's will. If that's the case, why would An'she be concerned with Pandaria? Why would he want to send Dezco on a mission of misery and suffering, only to have him hand over his only son, the only living legacy of his life with Leza?
And why would An'she be concerned with the Vale in the first place? Here's where it gets a little interesting -- we know that the night elves worship Elune, and they were also heavily associated with the Well of Eternity. The waters in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms appear to be startlingly similar to the waters of the Well. Was Elune somehow tied to the Well of Eternity? It would make sense -- and there is plenty of speculation that Elune was responsible for the creation of the night elves.
If this is the case, are the waters of Pandaria the other half of the equation? Are they the waters of An'she? Is that why he sent Dezco and the Dawnchasers to Pandaria, to try and protect his domain? This also makes an incredible amount of sense, when you think about it, for one really huge fact: somewhere in the annals of history, lost to the tauren race, the tauren stopped talking about An'she. They didn't follow him anymore. This is something that Tahu Sagewind pointed out just before Cataclysm, and it led to the re-formation of the Sunwalkers and an attempt to renew ties with An'she.
Tahu Sagewind pointed out, wisely and perhaps with more than a little nod to what was to come, "But we're nothing if not people who strive for balance." It was part of his conversation with Aponi that eventually led to the formation of the Sunwalkers. But when did the tauren stop following An'she? Why did they focus on Elune? Was it because of the influence of the night elves -- or was it because the land that held the shining waters of An'she disappeared after the Sundering, thought to be lost forever?
Let's see what we can come up with. Long ago, there was Mu'sha, and there was An'she -- brother and sister, sun and moon. Both were beloved and respected by many of the races of the world, yet two stood out: Mu'sha had the kaldorei, and An'she had the shu'halo. Perhaps, at one point in the distant past, the shu'halo even lived near the shores of the Well of Eternity, content to worship the sun even as the kaldorei worshipped the moon. It was a world of unified balance, and it was good.
"Interesting." Zhi stroked his braided gray beard. "There is much I wish to ask about your order. I see many similarities between it and the Lotus. When the turmoil in the vale settles, we will have to talk." -- Bleeding Sun
But somewhere along the line, it all went wrong. The mogu took over Pandaria. And somewhere along the line, the pandaren rose up and fought back, taking the land back. And somewhere along the line, the kaldorei began to experiment with the Well of Eternity, catching the attention of the Burning Legion and eventually bringing about the Sundering -- at which point Shaohao sheltered Pandaria in dense mists and sent it out to sea, hiding it from the rest of the world. Left without his beloved shu'halo, An'she began to quietly influence the pandaren instead, choosing the Golden Lotus as his followers.
And the light of An'she went out for the shu'halo. They wandered, nomadic and never settling in one place for long. Why did they wander? Perhaps because at some base, instinctive level, they were looking for An'she -- and they couldn't find him. When Tahu Sagewind formed the Sunwalkers, he was remembering that ancient past and trying to teach a lesson of balance to his people -- a balance they hadn't found in over 10,000 years. And when the mists at last lifted from Pandaria, An'she was free to contact his lost followers, telling them to return to the Vale -- to return home.
It's entirely possible, especially given that there are tauren descendants -- the yaungol -- near the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. They might be ancient remnants of the original followers of An'she. If this is all true, then the visions make perfect sense: An'she wanted the shu'halo to return home. He wanted balance restored, and Redhorn was a natural choice to bring to the Golden Lotus.
It's an interesting story, with an interesting twist. But while I'd love to see all these questions answered and addressed, I don't know if we're going to see it happen. We nearing the end of our journeys in Pandaria -- and once we move on, I don't know if we'll ever return. As it stands, the Vale has been shattered, its guardians corrupted by the sha, grief-stricken by their failure to perform their sacred duty. If this is the last major patch of Pandaria, we may never actually see the Vale restored. I hope this isn't the case.
But where does Dezco go from here? His wife is dead, he's lost one of the children she died to bring in to the world, and he stands amid the wreckage of the sacred lands he sought to find. He hasn't been able to prevent events as they unfolded in the Vale -- and his remaining son doesn't seem to have much of a future. The promised land no longer gleams with the golden glow of An'she's light. There is so much more to be told in Dezco's story. I hope we eventually get to hear it.
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.