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Know Your Lore: Wrathion and Draenor

Anne Stickney
12.28.14
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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.

We may have helped him in Pandaria, but we certainly didn't fulfill whatever it was Wrathion had on his peculiar wishlist of things to do in regards to his plans for Azeroth. The Black Prince has stated on more than one occasion that he seeks to protect the world from some kind of impending attack by the Burning Legion. He even showed us the vision he'd seen as part of the expansion-long legendary quest chain in the last expansion. Yet when the chain came to a close, Wrathion was less than pleased with the results -- he wanted a clearly defined winner in the battle between Alliance and Horde, and he didn't get it.

It was his next plan of action that was perhaps the most surprising, however. In the novel War Crimes, Garrosh Hellscream is placed on trial, and the end result for the former Warchief was a trip back in time to an alternate version of Draenor, courtesy of the bronze dragon Kairoz. But Kairoz wasn't alone in his efforts to take Garrosh back. Wrathion helped him out. And that's pretty strange when you think about it, because unleashing the Iron Horde on Azeroth seems like a really funny way to protect the planet. So what gives? More importantly, where is Wrathion now?



Motives

It's almost impossible to unravel Wrathion's train of thought in regards to Garrosh's escape and arrival on Draenor. At the moment, we've got no idea what the young dragon is thinking -- perhaps Kairoz led him to believe that taking Garrosh back in time would subsequently make the Horde of the here and now vanish entirely, leaving Wrathion with the clear-cut winner of the war he had in mind. It certainly seems to within the realm of possibility, especially given Kairoz and Wrathion's exchange while discussing the Timeless Isle's unique qualities in patch 5.4.

Kairoz: What if it were possible to shape and mold time as you would a ball of clay? What possibilities await? What new worlds could we create?
Wrathion: ...I like the way you think!

Or perhaps Wrathion thought that by sending Garrosh back in time, by preventing the uprising of the original Horde, he could simply make the events of the Third War disappear. Archimonde would never come to Azeroth, because there would be nobody around to dig up the artifacts to summon him. Ner'zhul would never become the Lich King. Arthas would never become corrupt, Illidan would never have consumed the powers of the Skull of Gul'dan. The Skull of Gul'dan wouldn't even exist. Essentially, all those marvelous theories we've talked about regarding any kind of alternate reality or alternate Azeroth, are theories that Wrathion had hoped as likely outcomes.

But then we have Kairoz, who is far trickier than his mild manner on the Timeless Isle suggested. Kairoz had his own reasons for sending Garrosh to that alternate universe, reasons that ceased to be upon his abrupt death on Draenor. His reasons are no longer relevant. Whatever reasons he fed Wrathion are also no longer relevant -- and Wrathion is no longer on Azeroth. He too has traveled to Draenor. We have yet to see him in person, but his presence was well-documented by one Admiral Taylor of the Alliance.


Arrival

In his journal, Admiral Taylor noted that Wrathion came to his garrison seeking asylum, claiming he did something to irritate the ogres. But Wrathion was part of the reason Garrosh escaped in the first place, regardless of whether or not he was duped into helping Kairoz out, so he is quickly taken into custody, placed under house arrest as Taylor's "guest" in the garrison, and assigned a full-time guard. Apparently Wrathion was more than happy with this arrangement, as he arranged for a huge shipment of resources to be delivered to the garrison from who knows where.

Yet even then, all was not as it seemed. Wrathion suggested that Taylor keep an eye on Ephial, one of the other garrison residents who had been acting strangely even in Taylor's eyes. Taylor offered his guards extra pay to keep Wrathion under 24-hour surveillance, only to be informed Wrathion was already paying the guards to keep an eye on Taylor himself. For what reason, Taylor never really discovered -- not more than a week later, he was off to the Ring of Blood in Nagrand to participate with some of his men.

Upon his return to the garrison, he discovered absolute chaos. The man he left in charge declared martial law, Ephial had taken over, and Wrathion had mysteriously disappeared. Not more than a month after his arrival in the Spires of Arak, Taylor met his end -- killed by Ephial, who was not an ally, but a necromancer who betrayed Taylor for the promise of power, to be delivered by "the dark one." Who is the dark one? Why would he offer a human necromancer power? And where did Wrathion head off to next?

Whereabouts

We don't know. That's the interesting part -- we haven't heard hide nor hair of Wrathion since. More importantly, we don't really have any clear reason for Wrathion to be on Draenor to begin with. But a closer look at what he was doing when he first encountered Admiral Taylor's men might begin to give us an idea, or at least a theory. Wrathion told Sir Harris and Admiral Taylor that he had done something to anger the ogres -- no specifics as to which ogres or where, just a general statement. However, there is one thing, one tie between the ogres of Draenor, and Wrathion's interests.

In Nagrand, the ogres have been digging up relics and artifacts, ancient runestones, much to the dismay of the Steamwheedle Preservation Society, who also have their eyes on the valuable items. In a quest chain for the goblins, players are sent into one of these dig sites to steal an artifact from the ogres -- and the artifact in question is in a cavern called the Vault of the Titan. This is the first real, absolute, concrete mention of the possibility of Titans visiting Draenor.

Wrathion is very interested in the Titans. He was interested on the Isle of Thunder, and frankly he has good reason to be interested -- Wrathion is the product of a purified black dragon egg. That egg was cleansed by a Titan relic of unknown origin in the Badlands. A lot of what we've seen from Wrathion in Mists of Pandaria seemed to be both an exploration of power, the prevention of Azeroth's downfall at the hands of the Burning Legion, and a curious fascination with Titans and Titan relics -- and it may be that due to the visions he saw after consuming the Thunder King's heart, he's suddenly got a far more vested interest in the ancient beings. Or it may be that Wrathion is just trying to discover more about the curious nature of his existence -- how he came to be, what makes him unique.

Unfortunately, until we see Wrathion in the flesh, it's likely we won't be getting any answers to these questions. And even if we do manage to locate him, it is unlikely the black dragon is going to tell us what he's really up to -- Wrathion has never been a forthcoming creature. He'll tell you exactly what you want to know, without telling you what you really need to know. But given his sudden arrival on Draenor, and his warnings and gifts to Admiral Taylor, it would seem that the Black Prince isn't out for vengeance, nor does he seem to be particularly concerned with Garrosh Hellscream's whereabouts. Instead, he seems to be on some kind of journey of discovery, for reasons of his own. We'll just have to wait and see if we'll see any more of that journey in future patches or content, or if Wrathion will remain tucked behind-the-scenes until we're done with Draenor.


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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