Much to our excitement, and my own surprise, Patch 8.3 has been announced! “Visions of N’Zoth,” will take players to the sleeping city of Ny’alotha, where an untold terrors await the champions of Azeroth. There the old god, N’Zoth, has laid dreaming for untold millennia. His dark fortress is one just on the other side of a dark reality; a world of twisted promise for what he plans to unleash upon a slumbering titan. But in the sleeping city, there rests a familiar face.
Along with extensive data-mining about new Allied Races (which we’ll talk about in the coming weeks), an old friend was revealed:
“Wrathion, the Black Emperor: Despite all his schemes, Wrathion could not avoid succumbing to the madness that claimed his father. With his mind corrupted by N’Zoth, the Black Prince is a force of unbridled hatred, capable of annihilating all who oppose him in blood and flame.”
This patch brings forth the final conclusion to a tale of power and absolutes. For this WoW Wednesday let’s take a moment to discuss Wrathion, the Black Prince, and the steps that opened him to corruption in more than just his legacy.
Players who leveled through Azeroth’s new world in Cataclysm might remember seeing Wrathion, just not without his characteristic turban. Lain by the black dragon Nyxondra, players first encountered the Prince as a humble egg being studied by Rheastrasza. This red dragon wanted more for her black brethren, who’s patriarch was busy on bringing about the end of the world for a second time. Corrupted wholesale by the influence of the Old Gods, the Black Dragonflight had become pawns in their bid for freedom and were eager to corrupt the entirety of Azeroth to get their way.
Introduced to this earth-shaking conflict well before his technical birth, Wrathion would be freed from his father’s legacy by Rhea’s efforts. Using a titanic device known as the Eye of the Watchers, she did the impossible and managed to purify the egg of its corruption. Quickly secreting it away, Rheastrasza was slain by Deathwing for her hubris, and the egg thought destroyed.
Everyone, however, was deceived. For in killing Rhea and destroying an egg, Deathwing had destroyed one of the red dragon’s own clutch. Wrathion, still unhatched, was quickly secreted away to the Vermilion Redoubt, one of the Red Flight’s hatcheries and sanctuaries. There he would remain until eventually being, ‘collected,’ by the rogues of Ravenholdt Manor. Hatching from his egg, Wrathion swiftly took charge of the shadowy organization with one goal in mind: Deathwing and all of his corrupted brood must die if Azeroth was to survive the Cataclysm.
Empowering a rogue adventurer, Wrathion set his champion upon Deathwing. Subverting the assault on Wyrmrest Temple and preventing the literal end of the world, Wrathion’s Agent traveled across Azeroth to attack the Black Dragonflight. It would be by his orders that Creed, Nalice, and even Ravenholdt’s own Fahrad would be revealed and slain as Black Dragons. Using his knowledge of the void gleaned through his time in the egg, the Black Prince created the tools for rogues to deliver the true lethal blow on Deathwing. Now the last free Black Dragon of his flight, he recruited those of Ravenholdt who would travel with him and vanished from the public world.
With the emergence of Pandaria, Wrathion traveled there after experiencing a terrible vision. Foreseeing a return of the demonic Burning Legion, Wrathion is set on uniting the Alliance and the Horde by any means necessary. Even if that requires one to decimate the other in total world war. Initially throwing his lot in with both the Horde AND the Alliance in an effort to bid them into war, Garrosh Hellscream’s rule as Warchief tips the scales into a terrible manner during the war. Throwing his support behind the Alliance, the Black Prince quickly finds himself at a crossroads.
Taking relics from across Pandaria to heighten his own power and tip the scales of chance; the heart of the Thunder King, a Lance of Lightning, even basking the power of the Celestials. But yet the War spirals on and not to his liking. With the Siege of Orgrimmar and High King Varian Wrynn’s allowing the Horde to continue existing, Wrathion’s plans were foiled. Instead of believing that one made the other truly stronger than if they were alone, the black dragon was instead certain that were they to be divided, even for a moment, all of Azeroth would fall.
Thus, he decided to create a second plan. A better plan. Conspiring with the bronze dragon Kairozdormu and the infinite dragonflight. Freeing Garrosh Hellscream, Wrathion sent the pair back thirty-five years to an alternate Draenor. There, Garrosh took it upon himself to create a second Orcish invasion, one that threatened to tear Azeroth asunder. Uniting in the face of such adversity, the Horde and the Alliance tore through to the other side of the Dark Portal to quell this invasion.
But Wrathion watched throughout. Taking the opportunity to recruit the Alliance’s elite forces to his guard, the Black Prince kept an especial eye on the Kirin Tor and Cordana Felsong. Only when his former champions found him, did the dragon often quickly take his leave.
Thus, the Legion came, and Wrathion was nowhere to be seen. Though his plans were not unfathomable.
With the beginning of the Blood War, the Black Prince was already eager at work. Despite being an outcast from his own race, Wrathion was eager to discover any information he could find to further his kind. It began, initially, with seeking out the location of the Dragon Isles. This was the dragon’s greatest hatchery, their greatest stronghold, and their best kept secret. Even as he searched for more, his eyes were everywhere. Blacktalon Agents were present not only in Nazjatar, watching the developments of Queen Azshara’s trap, but they too were waiting in the old lair of Deathwing to watch a particular Spiritwalker collect a dark essence.
Finding his searches coming to dead ends, and with N’Zoth freed by the naga queen, Wrathion knew that time was short. With an Old God left unchecked for the first time in over ten thousand years, it was possible that anyone could become a victim. Anyone could become a thrall of darkness. Scouring the world, Wrathion left a journal for his old champions to direct them to an artifact of power.
Scouring the library of Shen’dralar, the records of the Pandaren Lorewalkers, even searching the ancient titan facilities, he looked for a way to purge the taint of the Old Gods, even on a small scale. Believing that the Forge of Origination, a titan artifice that could create an apocalyptic scouring of Azeroth, was key Wrathion searched the Vault of Archavon and beyond. Eventually, his feet found him before Karazhan and the spectral remains of Medivh, the Last Guardian. Taking his words to heart, Wrathion prepared to make his plans to change the future by any means necessary. Even if that meant tipping the scales of fate once more.
Taking all he had learned in his travels, Wrathion prepared a plan those familiar with the Void Elves may find familiar. Standing in the darkness, much like the Shado-Pan, he intended to both ‘poison’ the influence of the Old Gods and weaponizing the power of the void against it.
Once more, this comes to the forefront in “Visions of N’Zoth.” Doing what he does best and picking his Champions carefully, Wrathion will delve into the darkness where the Void lingers the strongest. Helping the Champions of Azeroth in rooting through the corruption of Ny’Alotha, he will assist them in forging legendary cloaks (once again) to protect them from the darkness. But as we’ve seen so many times before, undoubtably when one stares into the Void, the void too stares back…