Daily Quests: Tinfoil Hat Edition
So here we are several months removed from the Cataclysm, and in want of new content, I find myself looking back at what all has happened so far. The World Pillar has been restored, and crisis averted on Mount Hyjal. Similarly, the Naga and their faceless masters have been routed deep in the undersea nation of Vashj’ir. Ragnaros has been given new life on Azeroth with strength enough to bring his Sulfuron Keep into the natural world from its home on the Elemental Plane. Cho’gall has been slain upon his Throne of the Apocalypse in the Bastion of Twilight hidden deep within Grim Batol, and Nefarian has been defeated for a second time in his attempts to create a terrifying new dragonflight despite his father’s incidental success.
And let us not forget the work of Sartharion and Halion in Northrend even before the Cataclysm shook the world. Given the timeline and advents of each individual story, it becomes more and more difficult to remember that Blackwing Lair through Blackwing Descent represents a single, arcing storyline that is too well orchestrated to be a sequence of accidents and coincidences. But just how closely knit is this story? And who is it that has orchestrated the doom of Azeroth so patiently and completely? Does Deathwing serve the Old Gods, or do the Old Gods serve Deathwing? Put on your tinfoil hats, and let’s go for a ride.
Required reading material for this session is as follows: Azeroth Trembles, Let the Games Begin!, Dark Whispers, Who Among You is Devoted?, and The Origination of Azeroth. I know that that might be a lot to read, but given that I intend to reference each of those articles fluidly here, it may help your understanding to take a look at them.
The story of the Old Gods and their corruption of Azeroth is nothing new or even exciting at this point. But their relevance here is in their relationship to Neltharion the Earth Warder who first heard their whispers when he and his black dragonflight dwelt in the deep places of Azeroth, stewards of the earth above. Centuries later, carrying the mantle of Deathwing, Neltharion turns on his brothers and sisters in his first attempt to steep the world in fire and flame so that he alone might rule it as he saw fit.
In Deathwing’s proceeding absence, Nefarian and his beloved sister Onyxia inherit the black dragonflight, and the Aspect’s prodigal son has plans for an ultimate dragonflight of his own. When we encounter the chromatic dragons for the first time, Nefarian claims ownership of them as his ultimate creations, but how much of that ambition is actually his, and how much of it is the imposing will of his far removed father who thought to rule Alexstrasza and birth a new flight of his own?
Following his failure we are introduced to the nether dragonflight in Outland, lorded over by the Dragonmaw remnant in Shadowmoon Valley and sought by Deathwing’s consort Sinestra. Sinestra ultimately desires to create from the nether dragons her own dragonflight with which to rule Azeroth, and firm in her ambition, she borrows on Nefarian’s research to imbue her eggs with the twisted powers of Outland, giving birth to the first of the twilight dragons in Dargonax. But once again we are left to wonder if the desire to rule is truly hers, or does an encouraging whispers in the back of her mind play a much larger role than anyone truly realizes?
Not far removed from Sinestra’s failure is the revelation that the Onyx Guardian, Sartharion, has been charged with protecting a clutch of eggs under the stewardship of three mature twilight drakes, Vesperon, Hadron, and Tenebron, all of whom claim Sartharion as their brother, making them all the children of Deathwing despite their apparent legacy in Sinestra and Dargonax. And then the unthinkable: the Ruby Sanctum is invaded, and while twilight dragon Halion burns it to the ground, his forces under the black General Zerithrian steal away with Alexstrasza’s eggs, all of which are destined or damned to be born into the twilight dragonflight in the years to come.
It is with Halion that we start to finally see a connection between the plans of the past and the machinations of the future. With Onyxia and Sinestra slain, the black dragonflight lacks a broodmother of its own with which to continue to produce eggs and new experiments—that made the eggs in Sartharion’s care a devastating loss, forcing Deathwing’s hand in attacking the red dragonflight. But Deathwing is still largely absent from the stage, mentioned only in passing and sometimes even by accident.
But then is the reintroduction of Cho’gall and his Twilight’s Hammer Cult—a twisted nihilistic ogre who claims to hear the whispers of the Old God C’Thun, worshipping his decaying avatar’s husk and leeching the remnants of the god’s dark powers. In the name of chaos and the apocalypse, Cho’gall bolsters his Twilight’s Hammer, creating a fascinating new faction of what was once a loose collection of cultists worshipping elemental lords and the corpses of their fallen masters. But then something strange happens.
The Twilight’s Hammer passes into Deepholme where Deathwing has been recuperating for decades, and in his image they begin to fashion themselves. Their banners are adorned with his menacing profile, and the Cultist themselves begin to worship him in the name of chaos and tragedy, and suddenly, where the Old Gods were once the masters of destruction and devastation, it would seem that Deathwing has become not just the twilight champion, but its master.
Deathwing freed, the twilight dragonflight comes into service of the Twilight’s Hammer, the twins Valiona and Theralion lending their aid to Cho’gall directly, while others in General Umbriss take command of Cho’gall’s forces in Grim Batol. Even the faceless guardians of the Old Gods seem to serve Cho’gall who is notably confused as to who his master really is.
And let us not forget that Deathwing raises Ragnaros in service to himself and not as the elemental general of the Old Gods’ armies on Azeroth. And who else might have brought his long defeated son back to life to continue his research in creating new and ultimate creatures with which to bathe the world in shadow and flame?
So who serves who? The Old Gods may have laid the foundation, but in creating a champion of Deathwing, they have ushered in a terrible age of the Destroyer and what may have been his plan all along.
In the words of Cho’gall: The master wants murder!