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Know Your Lore: The lost tales of Pandaria

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.

Mists of Pandaria was packed with a lot of story, each of its 'acts' dovetailing into the next. It wasn't quite as expansive as the myriad plot points that were introduced with Cataclysm, but Cataclysm also included a revamp of almost every level 1-60 zone in the game, with both quests and the stories of the zones themselves getting a shot of new story content. When Cataclysm was winding down to its inevitable end, I reviewed several of the plot points left in the expansion -- story hooks that we might or might not see addressed later. There are still many out there left untouched.

It only seemed appropriate, in the waning weeks of Mists, to do the same. Although Mists didn't have quite the variety as Cataclysm, there were still moments of potential story that were left unanswered -- tales without an ending, problems or puzzles we still don't have an answer to. And as we move forward into Warlords of Draenor, we can only wonder if, or when, we'll see these elements pop up again.

Please note: The following post contains some spoilers for the novel War Crimes.

Zul and the Zandalar

Sure, we finished off the Thunder King and his cronies. We even wiped out the Council of Elders in the Throne of Thunder, stamping out four of the highest ranked trolls of the four largest troll tribes on Azeroth. But we're forgetting something -- or rather, someone -- and that someone is Zul. Zul was the mysterious and purportedly powerful prophet that predicted the Cataclysm and the fall of Zandalar. He went to King Rastakhan and tried to warn him what was coming, but the King would hear nothing of it. Once the Cataclysm hit, Rastakhan's views immediately changed.

And so Zul embarked on a remarkable campaign to unite the various tribes of troll, bring together once more the Zandalar Empire of old, and save the troll race from eventual extinction. Almost every tribe agreed, with the exception of the Darkspear. The united tribes tried to re-take Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman in Cataclysm, and we thwarted their attempts. And so Zul tried a new plan, seeking out the mogu, allies of old, and bringing back Lei Shen, the Thunder King. Thus, the Isle of Thunder, and the Throne of Thunder.

Yet despite being absolutely crawling with trolls of every tribe, the Isle of Thunder lacked one very important person -- Zul. We still have yet to see this mysterious prophet, and although his plans of a renewed Empire have once again fallen short, he himself seems to have escaped. It's almost doubtful he was on the Isle at all. Given how thoroughly we crushed the united troll tribes on the Isle, it makes one wonder ... where is Zul, and what could he possibly have planned next? Because if this mysterious prophet has taught us one thing, it's that the Zandalar will never just roll over and die.


We killed his dad in Cataclysm, and tore through the remaining black dragonflight at his request. In Pandaria, our tasks were a little different. The Black Prince has had a vision of the world beset by the Burning Legion, and he needs an army -- and for that army, he needs this silly war between Alliance and Horde to kick into overdrive, one side to win, and the other side to simply be absorbed by the winner, giving him a united front of soldiers to hold the Legion at bay. Except things are never that easy where Alliance and Horde are concerned.

Wrathion was mysterious enough in Cataclysm, and he gets even stranger in Mists of Pandaria -- but his story is far from resolved at the end of the expansion-long storyline in which we gather bits and baubles from around the strange new content to placate the dragon prince. But when all was said and done and there was no one true victor in the war, Wrathion threw a fit, wrecked the inn he called home, and took off, leaving us all behind and snarling something about taking matters into his own hands.

He popped up again briefly in the novel War Crimes, where he actually helped Kairoz set Garrosh Hellscream free. But at the end of the novel, Wrathion's whereabouts, and his next plans, were left as a gigantic question mark. We assume Wrathion has the best interests of Azeroth in mind. But we're left with a lingering question of whether or not this is in fact true. Why would someone concerned with Azeroth's future help set one of its most notorious criminals free? Where did Wrathion go, once the trial was over and Garrosh Hellscream was gone? Most importantly -- what is he going to do now? Because wherever he is, whatever he has planned, it's probably going to involve us sooner or later.

Waters of the Vale

The fate of the Golden Lotus was sealed the moment the Celestials opened the gates and let us in. An ancient organization created thousands upon thousands of years ago, the Golden Lotus had one task -- protect the Vale. At some point during our incursion into Pandaria, the mogu began breaching the walls of the Vale. Then we showed up. And then Garrosh Hellscream took an interest in the place, digging up the Vale's forgotten secrets and dropping the withered heart of the Old God Y'shaarj into the waters at the foot of Mogu'shan Palace.

The backdraft from that explosion killed the majority of the Golden Lotus and left the rest with nothing but ruins to guard. Sure, we managed to fix things in Siege. We even cleansed the waters of the sha corruption. But what we never really asked, what we never really learned, was what was up with the waters of the Vale. Uncorrupted, they glimmered like the shores of the Well of Eternity. The shimmering waters poured into the Valley of Four Winds, growing crops of gigantic proportions. We even visited the sacred Terrace of Endless Springs, driving out the Sha of Fear and purifying the waters there.

In fact, those waters were so fascinating that Wrathion himself sent Blacktalon Agents to survey the area and report back with what they found. We never found out what those results were -- we were left to vaguely assume that perhaps they found evidence of Y'shaarj's heart beneath the Vale, but that didn't seem to be the right assumption, given that they were also taking a survey of the waters in the Valley of the Four Winds. But we never, not once, learned what those waters were. We never learned where they came from. We never learned why Wrathion was so fascinated with them, or why his fascination suddenly turned elsewhere. Sure, we've purified them ... but what are they?

Enemy talks and Dalaran

During the course of the events of patch 5.1, it was revealed that Lor'themar Theron had had just about enough of Garrosh Hellscream, his plans for global domination, and more importantly, his treatment of the sin'dorei. In fact, Lor'themar had gone so far as to actually tentatively begin talks with Varian Wrynn about the sin'dorei possibly joining the Alliance. Obviously this did not come to pass, and the Sunreavers were ousted from Dalaran -- but that morsel of information also never really made its way to the ears of Horde leaders, either. Not from what we know. What happens if Warchief Vol'jin discovers his allies were this close to abandoning ship? Would he be understanding, given the situation -- or would he wonder just how soon it will be before the sin'dorei's eyes stray again to the other side of the faction divide?

Speaking of Dalaran, the Sunreavers were, in fact, ousted -- in grand and horrifying fashion by Jaina Proudmoore and the Silver Covenant. Jaina promised the Kirin Tor and its help to the Alliance, moving the magical city from its temporary roost in Northrend to parts unknown. So where is Dalaran now, exactly? Has it returned to its original home? This seems unlikely, since the areas surrounding the old Dalaran Crater are teeming with Forsaken and undead. Jaina is still leading the Kirin Tor, so where has she taken Dalaran to, and will we see it on the ground proper at some point in the future?

More importantly, what of the Kirin Tor? The organization was known for its neutrality, but that neutrality was established during the time of the seven kingdoms -- human kingdoms. The Horde as we know it today did not exist at that point in time. And while the Kirin Tor remained neutral in matters of human politics, there were no real rules regarding its actions with the Horde until its arrival in Northrend and Rhonin's apparent decision to extend the city, and the organization's neutrality to the Horde, allowing them within the city walls in attempt to bring everyone together to defeat the Lich King. Rhonin is gone, the Lich King is gone, what is the future of the Kirin Tor, now? It seems to be in Jaina Proudmoore's hands -- but we have no idea where her story goes from here.

There are other bits and pieces of stories we are leaving behind, of course, but the four above are the most likely contenders for some kind of return in the future -- they had the most wide-spread impact on both Alliance and Horde. As it stands, we don't know if we'll see any of these issues addressed in Warlords of Draenor, given that we'll be so far removed from Azeroth for the expansion. For now, it seems, we can simply add them to the list of stories as yet untold, and wait to see what happens next.

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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