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.
He has successfully managed to close the Dark Portal three times now -- an astounding feat, no matter which way you look at it. As former apprentice to the Guardian of Tirisfal, Khadgar has had a long and storied life -- a life lived fast forward, that now seems to be traveling in reverse. If we've learned anything about Khadgar so far in Warlords of Draenor, it's that this mystery mage has far more up his sleeve than any of us would have guessed upon our first meeting with the mage in Shattrath City during Burning Crusade.
He's lively. He's peppy. He's downright snarky at times, and full to the brim with witty banter and wittier planning. Khadgar is a man of many talents, the least of which involves the destruction of Dark Portals and the ushering of armies. And in between all these madcap adventures, one has to wonder if Khadgar ever imagined, at age seventeen, staring at the tower of Karazhan, just exactly what he would spend his life getting into and out of as gracefully as any dancer on Azeroth.
Khadgar's life is perplexing, to say the least -- at age 17, he was sent by the Kirin Tor to serve as an apprentice to Medivh, the Guardian of Tirisfal and the most powerful magic user on the planet. Although it took some time and a lot of hard work on Khadgar's part, Medivh eventually warmed to the boy -- but Khadgar didn't know that Medivh held a terrible, dark secret, one that would eventually spell the Guardian's downfall and a strange twist of fate for his apprentice.
Medivh's mother, Aegwynn, was a Guardian as well, and during one fateful encounter with an avatar of Sargeras, she was the victor. But her victory was short lived, the spirit of the Burning Legion's leader transferring from the avatar to Aegwynn herself, without her knowledge. When she later became pregnant with Medivh, Sargeras' spirit moved in turn from her, to him. The moment Medivh came into his powers at age 14, the magical backlash threw him into a coma, and Sargeras spent the next twenty years slowly making sure the Guardian would be completely under his control when he awoke.
Khadgar, of course, had no idea about all of this -- but when he discovered that Medivh was responsible for opening the Dark Portal that unleashed the orcs on Azeroth, he knew he had to do something. Together with Anduin Lothar and the half-orc Garona, Khadgar traveled to Medivh's tower, confronting the Guardian and attempting to put a halt to Sargeras' plans. Medivh was defeated, but Khadgar paid a price for his victory -- his magic and his vitality were drained from him, leaving him an aged, old man -- a man with the mind of a bright, seventeen year old boy.
The Alliance Expedition
Medivh was gone, yes -- but the orcs he had unleashed on Azeroth were not. At the end of the First War, the kingdom of Stormwind lay in ruin, and those that had survived the attacks fled north, to Lordaeron. Khadgar was among those that fled -- and as time passed, his magic returned to him, stronger than it had been before. He felt fine, strong and healthy as any young man of nineteen would feel, but his appearance was still that of an old man, and his youth, he feared, would never return.
The Second War ended with a tragedy -- Anduin Lothar lost his life, yet in his death, the Alliance rose up, led by Turalyon, and defeated the orcish Horde once and for all. Determined to make the defeat a permanent one, Khadgar destroyed the Dark Portal, severing the link between Azeroth and Draenor. Yet the rift between worlds remained, despite his best efforts -- and so Khadgar established Nethergarde Keep in the Blasted Lands, to keep an eye on the rift and guard against another invasion.
Only a year after the keep was established, the Dark Portal opened again -- yet this time, the orcish forces seemed far more focused, striking at key locations to steal valuable artifacts. Worried about what might come to pass, and fearing a second invasion, Khadgar formed the Alliance Expedition and traveled beyond the Dark Portal to Draenor itself. There, he discovered that the orcs, led by the shaman Ner'zhul, were plotting on opening portals to countless worlds to conquer. Despite the best efforts of the expedition, they could not stop Ner'zhul, and Draenor itself paid the price, slowly rent asunder under the strain of so many magical portals scattered across its surface. Khadgar, unwilling to let Azeroth be destroyed by the backlash of Draenor's destruction, used the spellbook of his former master to do what needed to be done, and closed the Dark Portal once more -- this time, from Draenor. The ploy worked, and Azeroth was saved ... but Khadgar and his cohorts found themselves stranded on the broken remains of the orcish homeworld.
Sons of Lothar
Those heroes of the Alliance Expedition were thought dead, but in fact they lived on -- something we discovered when we traveled through the Dark Portal in Burning Crusade. They named themselves the Sons of Lothar, in honor of Anduin Lothar, and strove to safeguard Azeroth from the other side of what was once the Dark Portal. When the Dark Portal re-opened, they were reunited with the Alliance and Azeroth -- and the strange tale of Khadgar's journey continued on.
It seemed while we were busy with black dragons and Old Gods on Azeroth, Khadgar was busy as well, becoming well acquainted with the Sha'tar and in particular their leader, a naaru named A'dal. As noble, albeit alien creatures, the naaru were just as devoted to the defeat of the Burning Legion as Khadgar and his cohorts. When we finally discovered Khadgar in Shattrath City, it was revealed that he had been serving as an advisor to A'dal for quite some time.
After the end of Burning Crusade, Khadgar remained in Shattrath City for a time, eventually returning to Azeroth and taking a place on the Council of Six, the high council of Dalaran. Despite his mastery of magic and whatever aptitude he may have held, he was not chosen to lead the Kirin Tor -- in fact, he was the one who suggested Jaina be named leader, based on scrolls of prophecy written by Krasus that indicated she was destined for the position.
The Iron Tide
Yet it seemed destiny decided that Khadgar was not done with the Dark Portal, or the denizens on the other side. Due to his unrivaled understanding of the Dark Portal, he was summoned to the Blasted Lands when orcs once again began to pour through the rift. Oddly enough, this is where Khadgar began to shine -- and where it seemed at least some of Medivh's aging process has begun to slip away. No longer the ancient, wizened man with the white beard and wrinkled skin, Khadgar looks quite a bit younger. By no means is he a teenager -- he's lived far too long -- but he doesn't seem to be nearly as elderly as he was when we first encountered him in Shattrath.
And Khadgar led us through that Dark Portal, led us against the Iron Horde, managed to fight his way through the orcish armies and come out the other side unscathed, and with renewed purpose. That purpose? Currently, it appears to be solely focused on tracking down Gul'dan and the Shadow Council, and putting an end to their schemes. In fact, Khadgar is almost downright obsessed with Gul'dan, calling him "darkness incarnate" and "the craftiest, most diabolical foe he has ever encountered."
Except there's one small problem with that.
Khadgar has never encountered Gul'dan. In all his years, he's never met the orc face to face. He's heard tales from Garona, seen visions of the orc when he was younger and still serving as apprentice to Medivh, but Gul'dan was dead before Khadgar had a chance to meet him face to face. In fact, Khadgar has had more contact with Gul'dan's skull than he has the actual, living orc himself.
And that's just a little weird, when you think about it.
Next week, we'll be looking into just how strange that happens to be ... and you may want to get your tin foil hats ready, because it's going to be a dizzying journey.
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.