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.
Since The Dark Below was unveiled as a hoax -- or at the very least, a trademark that hasn't actually been filed -- players are still curious about the question of the next expansion. And now we have a new trademark supposedly filed, titled Heroes of the Storm. Let's face it -- we still don't know if this is real. We don't know if it's Warcraft, or if it's tied to some other franchise. We don't know if it's an expansion title, or perhaps some new thing that simply hasn't been announced yet.
But let's put all that aside for a moment and take a look at the title and what it means in relation to Warcraft. If this is, somehow, the title for the next expansion, what exactly would that expansion entail? The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria -- all of these titles seemed to straightforwardly suggest what the expansion itself was going to be about. So what does Heroes of the Storm imply?
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 how it happened. These speculations are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact or official lore.
The coming Storm
There are two things we have to keep in mind while we're doing this kind of delving -- first, what lore is currently unanswered or undefined, and secondly, what does past history suggest might be likely? In this case, while storms are fairly common around Azeroth, we're looking for expansion-defining storms. And there have been a handful of occasions where storms like these have come into play over Azeroth's history, the most recent of course being the tumultuous changes in Azeroth due to Deathwing's emergence from Deepholm. The Cataclysm was a storm on a major scale, once that changed the face of the world -- and it was Deathwing and the Old Gods that influenced him that were responsible for it.
Reaching back further, another notable storm was not in World of Warcraft, but in Warcraft 3 -- and it took place entirely in a dream, a vision sent to Warchief Thrall by the prophet, a.k.a. Medivh. In this vision, human and orc forces clashed violently on a remote battlefield, but were interrupted by the sudden rain of fire from the sky -- a storm that heralded the arrival of infernals, devastation, and the return of the Burning Legion in force. It's interesting to look at that particular moment, because it's an eerie mirror of what's going on today -- Alliance and Horde in full out battle, ignorant of the imminent approach of the Legion.
And far, far further back than that were the storms and the chaos during the War of the Ancients as the portal over the Well of Eternity drew forth countless Legion minions, and later, the implosion that marked the Sundering. Given what we know so far in Mists of Pandaria, Wrathion has been eagerly talking about the return of the Burning Legion. He's desperate to save Azeroth -- even going so far as to foment the war between Alliance and Horde in order to reach a quick ending and rally the races of Azeroth into an army capable of fighting the Burning Legion. It's almost an obvious conclusion that this would be pointing to some sort of Legion-themed expansion. Honestly, it's a little too obvious. What would make something like this remarkable, something we'd be really into playing?
We're forgetting a storm, though.
The destruction of Draenor
One of the biggest storms in the history of the universe absolutely has to be the backlash that ripped across Draenor after the end of the Second War. It didn't just separate one continent into many, like the Sundering on Azeroth -- it completely destroyed an entire world. The destruction of Draenor wasn't due to demonic invasion or the influence of the Old Gods, however. It was one orc, Ner'zhul, who opened portals all over the planet with the intent of giving the orcs new worlds to conquer and destroy. In order to do this, he used four powerful artifacts stolen from Azeroth -- the Book of Medivh, the Eye of Dalaran, the Jeweled Scepter of Sargeras, and a memento from his former student, the Skull of Gul'dan.
As he opened the portals, Draenor was overwhelmed and collapsed. Ner'zhul, seeking a quick escape, decided to abandon the Horde and head through the nearest portal in an attempt to escape the world's destruction -- an act that ended with him being discovered by Kil'jaeden and transformed into the Lich King. Draenor itself collapsed under the strain of so many magic portals, and shattered into remnants of the world that now float in the Twisting Nether -- a place we call Outland. As far as storms go, this one was pretty significant.
In the majority of these cases, storms, whether they be raw arcane magic or fire raining from the sky, seem to herald the Burning Legion in one form or another. Ner'zhul would not have gotten to where he was at that point in history were in not for the influence of the Burning Legion on his people -- the Sundering never would have happened if it weren't for the original portal and the contact established between Queen Azshara's followers and the Burning Legion. But we're missing a key part to this puzzle -- the other word in this mysterious trademarked title.
I don't think that "heroes" refers to us, the players. I think it refers to those long thought lost -- character we've been hoping would make a return for quite some time now.
Alleria and Turalyon
After the Second War, a group of heroes traveled through the Dark Portal into Draenor, with the intent of getting the Book of Medivh back from Ner'zhul. There were five heroes that led the expedition -- Archmage Khadgar, Kurdran Wildhammer, Danath Trollbane, Alleria Windrunner, and Turalyon. Their statues can be found at the gates of Stormwind in the Valley of Heroes, named after those that disappeared on the other side of the Dark Portal. In Burning Crusade, we discovered that Khadgar was alive, well, and chatting it up with the naaru in Shattrath City. Danath was holding his own in Honor Hold, and Kurdran had settled in as the Thane of Wildhammer Stronghold in Shadowmoon Valley.
Turalyon, High General, paladin, and second in command to Lord Anduin Lothar during the Second War, was nowhere to be found. Alleria, eldest of the Windrunner sisters, Turalyon's lover and a force to be reckoned with in her own right, was similarly missing. Their son Arator had been left behind when the Alliance Expedition was sent through the Dark Portal -- but in Burning Crusade, he traveled through the portal in search of his mother and father. To the disappointment of many, Turalyon and Alleria were never found, even after carefully combing through every far off reach of Outland.
It's been implied, time and time again, that we will see Turalyon and Alleria make a return. It's been pointed out that this return would theoretically be in the next expansion -- that we would see them return when we needed them most. So where have the two of them been, what have they been doing, and what would mark their return? Well ... actually, if you speak with Arator over in Honor Hold, he's been having a dream about that very moment for years.
I was only an infant when my father was deployed to this wasteland. All that I have ever known of him is what others have told me. Do your dreams change ? Mine do not. I have one dream: A crimson skyline envelops me as Legion, numbering beyond comprehension, battle in the distance. I kneel before the body of a man, presumably my father, and weep. As he is gasping for air, his body wholly crushed, he whispers something. Despite every effort, I am unable to hear what he is trying to tell me.People assumed, in Burning Crusade, that Arator's words meant we'd see his mother and father in an upcoming patch -- but we never did. What if that crimson skyline isn't the wastes of Hellfire Peninsula, or even Outland at all -- what if it's actually referring to Azeroth? And what would High General Turalyon think of the Alliance of today -- what would he think of King Varian Wrynn and the man he's become? How would Alleria react to the news that one of her sisters is a widow and mother, the other an undead leader of a faction the Alliance despises?
But there's one other possibility for a storm the likes of which the world has never before seen -- and it has nothing to do with the Burning Legion at all. For now.
Neptulon and Azshara
In Cataclysm, players valiantly traversed the ocean's floor in Vashj'ir, in an attempt to stop Lady Naz'jar and her minions, naga and Old God alike, from storming the Throne of Tides. Players that went through the Throne of Tides instance were therefore pretty puzzled at the end of that instance, when Neptulon was abruptly swept away by Ozumat, and players were left with a pile of loot to distribute. Forget the questions about N'zoth or the Aspects -- where did the Tidehunter go? With Lady Naz'jar defeated, where exactly was Neptulon whisked away to?
And we come at last to Azshara, who was also the subject of theories surrounding The Dark Below. With the Tidehunter presumably under her thrall, Azshara would then control the oceans of Azeroth completely. Although she's been described as a loyal servant of the Old Gods, those Old Gods failed her, in Cataclysm. The plans they had so carefully laid out were completely foiled by the end of the expansion -- and when you think about it, it doesn't make sense for Azshara to be so completely loyal to the Old Gods anyway. Why would she be? They wanted the end of the world -- that leaves very little for her to rule over. And for Azshara, that simply wouldn't do.
Who does Ozumat serve? He was sent to Lady Naz'jar to help with the attempt to take control of Neptulon. But we're talking Azshara, here. As a kaldorei, Azshara possessed the kind of power that made Mannoroth leery -- in the War of the Ancients trilogy, he suspected that Azshara's power was second only to Kil'jaeden, Archimonde, and Sargeras himself. The Old Gods not only changed Azshara's form, they gave her more power. As a monarch, she was capable of keeping nearly the entire population of kaldorei firmly under her thrall -- as queen of the naga, what more is she capable of? Could she, in fact, have swayed Ozumat into serving not its Old God masters, but her will?
In Pearl of Pandaria, it's revealed that the naga are, for some reason, looking for the lost continent of Pandaria -- it's the reason Zhahara Darksquall was sent to find the Pearl of Pandaria in the first place. Yet we never really saw a resolution to that storyline. Yes, Li Li found Pandaria with her uncle Chen. The Pearl itself was handed off to Elder Sage Rain-Zhu in the Temple of the Jade Serpent. But what of the naga? The mists surrounding Pandaria have parted, yet we haven't seen hide nor hair of any of them. More importantly, why would the naga have any business at all with Pandaria in the first place?
There are a lot of different questions and story threads that have been left by and large untouched over the course of Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, enough to easily fuel material for the next expansion. Each of the theories mentioned above offers different ways to address those questions. If Azshara were to return, we'd find out what exactly happened to Neptulon, just how powerful the Queen of Azeroth's oceans really is, and possibly even see a link to Burning Legion content -- with the Old Gods defeated, it simply makes sense for Azshara to try and contact Sargeras and the Burning Legion a second time.
The return of Turalyon and Alleria brings a different kind of story to the table. The Alliance has been through some incredibly dark days, and Varian Wrynn has all the promises in the world for the beleaguered faction, but he hasn't followed through on any of it -- yet. At the end of the Siege of Orgrimmar, he mentions Gilneas directly. Alleria's return would by the perfect opportunity for some sort of clash of sister against sister, and further the storylines left behind in Silverpine, the Western Plaguelands and beyond. All this while giving us plenty of new worgen content and the possibility of Gilneas returning as a proper Alliance hub, as it should be -- and possibly divulging what exactly happened to Koltira Deathweaver as well.
Turalyon's return would be interesting as well, in different ways. He's been absent from the Alliance through its transformation from the united kingdoms of Lordaeron into what it is today -- what would he think of the new Alliance? Varian Wrynn was still just a young man when Turalyon disappeared -- what would he think of Varian now? As a paladin stranded on Draenor and later, who knows where -- how would he view Velen and the draenei, the naaru, the Light? Would Varian simply step aside and let Turalyon lead the Alliance military forces as he did before, or would there be a clash involved? And how would Turalyon cope with the news that Lordaeron has been lost, that Arthas became a monster that had to be put down?
You'll note that even though we've discussed possibilities, we've barely scratched the question of the Burning Legion's return. What exactly the Burning Legion wants with Azeroth, why it is this crux of conflict, the upcoming war between Light and Darkness that Velen foretold, the strange visions that Wrathion somehow managed to see -- all of these have the potential of being addressed as well. Although we have no idea if Heroes of the Storm is related to Warcraft, or even at this point a real trademark, there's plenty of untapped potential in those four words. But for now, it seems as though we'll still be waiting until BlizzCon to see what's in store for the future of Azeroth and Warcraft.
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.