Wait…I finished one?

By Paige Francis Posted Monday Jun 24, 2024

Filed under: Epilogue, Paige Writes 11 comments

Yes. Last week I completed Galactic Seasons 6 in Star Wars: The Old Republic, but that’s not what I’m talking about. A couple of days ago I finished The Burning Crusade expansion of World of Warcraft. I should clarify that I have finished THE STORY; the plot. I have done everything in the game that connects the end of the initial release of World of Warcraft, plus its updates; through to the end of The Burning Crusade and all its updates. As with other expansions, there were originally also some pre-patch events that took place BETWEEN The Burning Crusade and the next expansion, Wrath of the Lich King which can no longer be played. But more discussion on the move onto WotLK later. I should also note I do still have the Draenei Hunter Mystilatre in Warlords of Draenor completing the Garrison before finishing that expansion. I have had some uncertainty over when to call an expansion “done” for reasons I will get into with Selarashari.

I related previously who the Burning Legion were and how they were connected to Draenor/Outland and the Draenei. I skipped over the Blood Elves, but as that faction the biggest IMMEDIATE reason we’re even playing this expansion (and why I played it as a Blood Elf Paladin, called a “Blood Knight,” we have to talk about it now.

The various races of Azeroth are well-aware of the Burning Legion. The Legion, at the time of this expansion, had invaded Azeroth twice. The first time 10,000 years ago, where the primary defender on Azeroth were what we know as the Night Elves. The Night Elves were betrayed by Illidan Stormrage, the brother of the leader of the Night Elves, Malfurion Stormrage. Illidan allied with the leader and creator of the Burning Legion, Sargeras. At the moment Sargeras was to enter Azeroth via portal to the Twisting Nether (the home of demons and the Burning Legion in general), Illidan changed sides AGAIN and saved the day. In spite of this, because of his original betrayal and the atrocious acts he had committed in the name of the Legion, he was imprisoned deep within the planet and watched by Night Elf Wardens; of note one Maiev Shadowsong.

The Second Invasion of the Burning Legion occurred during the Third War (stay with me) between the Horde and the Alliance (Warcraft III). This is, obviously, the first exposure to the Burning Legion Warcraft players ever had. Preceding this particular invasion, Sargeras’ lieutenant Kil’Jaeden threw a wrench in the process of dying by creating a being on Azeroth called “The Lich King.” Kil’Jaeden bound the spirit of the Orc Shaman/Necromancer Ner’zhul within a dead body, equipped him with a sword that could shatter and absorb souls, a helmet that could control all undead created by Ner’zhul, and sealed him in “The Frozen Throne” in Northrend. Given a handful of starter undead, Ner’zhul sent them outward from the frozen throne to create an army of undead under his control, and therefore at the command of Kil’Jaeden. During the war, co-leader of the Night Elves Tyrande Whisperwind, partner of Malfurion and one-time lover of Illidan, freed Illidan from his imprisonment to gain his help during the war. The first thing Illidan did was drink demon blood to gain the same powers as the fel-orcs of the Horde (not a good start) but then helped drive off the Legion for the Alliance. Subsequently banished from the Night Elf home because of the whole “becoming a demon” thing, Illidan traveled to The Frozen Throne to destroy the Lich King Ner’zhul. He was stopped by the then-Death Knight Arthas Menethil, who was being called by Ner’zhul with a plan to betray Kil’Jaeden by giving the power of the Lich King to someone else. Arthas defeated Illidan and subsequently merged with Ner’zhul to become the Lich King as portrayed in Wrath of the Lich King. Illidan was rescued by his Naga allies and eventually fled to Outland following the defeat of the Legion on Azeroth. Also at the end of that war, several heroes of the Alliance went in to the Dark Portal in the Blasted Lands to research and pursue the Burning Legion.

Prince Kael’thas, leader of the Blood Elves, followed Illidan to Outland when his own alliance with the Naga was discovered by the Night Elves (the origin of the Naga must be discussed at some point, but I’m hoping to avoid it for now.) The Sunwell, a massive force of magical energy for the Highborn/Blood Elves (they’re the same thing, remember; also known as the Sin’dorei because Tolkien) was destroyed during the Second Invasion/Third War. As the Blood Elves wasted away from magic withdrawal, Kael’thas pursued Illidan seeking a cure for the Sin’dorei’s magical addiction. Illidan offered to teach the Blood Elves how to tap Fel Energy from the twisting nether as an alternative. The forming of something like the Sunwell except using Fel Energy was something the Legion had already been pursuing. Kael’thas agreed and sent word back to his people on Azeroth. However, neither Illidan nor Kael’thas really trusted each other, and both immediately began plans to build up their own armies: Kael’thas to claim mastery of Outland and Fel Energy for himself and his people; and Illidan to…well, claim mastery of Outland and defend against Kael’thas’ inevitable betrayal. Also, the Naga were there, too. Around the time Kael’thas sent word back to Azeroth to Regent Lord Lor’themar Theron, a faction of Draenei led by Prophet Velen fled Illidan’s takeover of Outland to Azeroth on the dimensional ship Exodar. Within days of crash-landing near the Night Elf home of Teldrassil, they were discovered by the Elves. So the Horde through the Blood Elves and the Alliance through the Draenei learned of the actions of Illidan, Kael’thas, and the Naga in Outland. There are some lore sources that also mention news from the Alliance Expedition that journeyed to Outland following the Second Invasion/Third War, but that doesn’t seem to come up much anymore.

And so, at least for the purposes of this story, Blood Elf Paladin Selarashari is sent to re-enforce Horde troops in Outland. The Horde, led by Thrall, eagerly embraces the Blood Elf mission. Outland, formerly Draenor, is the home of the Orcs…a home Thrall never knew. In fact, he doesn’t even know what his actual name is. Separated from his parents soon after being born, he has only known the appellation “Thrall” his entire life. Beyond that, as with the Tauren, Thrall has an innate sense of what’s right and wrong. While he distrusts the Blood Elf addiction to magic and their history of questionable choices, the sect allied with the Horde are actively engaged against the leader responsible for most of that. The Trolls have no love for the Legion, as the Trolls have long-considered Azeroth rightly theirs to control (and THAT’S ANOTHER STORY), but they have even LESS love for the Kal’dorei; the Night Elves (same story.) The Forsaken are far more interested on dealing with the “Lich King” problem that’s brewing on Azeroth, but Lady Windrunner sends along whatever forces she can spare from exerting control over the former human kingdon of Loerderon.

Stepping through the Dark Portal we are greeted with a sight not incomprehensible, but quite different from anything we ever saw on Azeroth. Horde and Alliance forces battle demons of the Legion at the foot of the stairs, but the line seems stable. The demons are regularly driven away, the lines are re-formed, and the demons prepare for another attack. All along the main road leading from the Portal deep into Hellfire Peninsula we see burning siege equipment. Clearly the immediate threat has been minimized and the real battles are occurring elsewhere. I find a Wind Rider Master to fly me to the Horde’s command center in Hellfire Peninsula, Thrallmar.

The Alliance and Horde quests in Hellfire Peninsula are largely identical. The Horde has two large questing centers: Thrallmar and Falcon Watch, and two outposts that also serve as questing centers. The Alliance starts at Honor Hold but also has the Temple of Telhamat and two outposts. You are tasked with doing the same quests, excepting some lore quests that have to do with the native un-corrupted orc population for the Horde, and the history of the Alliance Expedition and the lost heroes for the Alliance. There is also an independent outpost for the Cenarion Circle called the Cenarion Expedition. They will have a presence in this zone and the next as a reputation faction. The goal in Hellfire Peninsula is the drive the Legion and fel-orc forces back to their own base in the center of the zone: Hellfire Citadel. Narratively, I mean. It’s a MMORPG, the forces you fight throughout the zone don’t DISAPPEAR, they keep respawning. BUT AT THIS POINT IN THE STORY, you assault the Citadel directly in the “Hellfire Ramparts” dungeon where you defeat the outer defense, scout commander, reinforcements, and the troops manning the walls. This is followed up by the dungeon “The Blood Furnace”, where the players are not only meant to destroy the forges of the fel orcs, but find out how they are creating fel weapons in the first place. I mean, the answer is “demons and necromancy” but honestly we haven’t seen a ton of that so far in Hellfire Peninsula, so we’re still learning, here. As we descend the level we encounter two elite demons in charge of the fel orc forces: The Maker and Broggok. At the heart of the Blood Furnace we find Keli’dan the Breaker, a necromancer serving Illidan. Keli’dan and a party of other necromancers are stationed on top of a massive cage. In the cage is the Pit Lord Magtheridon, former lord of Outland deposed by Illidan. Illidan’s necromancers are bleeding Magtheridon to empower fel weapons and beings with his blood. Killing Keli’dan will likely have consequences down the road, but we don’t have time for that.

We still have to clear the central keep of Hellfire Citadel in “The Shattered Halls” dungeon. Of note is the final boss, Kargath Bladefist. Heirarchy and alignment SHOULD probably be explained, now. Gul’dan was the orc Shaman/Necromancer (these originally meant the same thing in the context of the game and lore, back in the RTS years) who allied with the Burning Legion and created the Horde, including binding them to the Pit Lord Mannaroth by drinking his fel blood (which turned the Orcs from Brown to Green.) Gul’dan was actually killed at the end of Warcraft II. The Horde on Azeroth subsequently freed itself from servitude to the Legion. Some orcs remained enamored with the Blood Lust of the fel blood. Kargath was one of these orcs, along with thousands of others in Outland. Kargath served Magtheridon. When Illidan overthrew Magtheridon, Bladefist swore allegience to the new master of Outland, Illidan Stormrage. Kargath also appears in Warlords of Draenor and was present at some of the events I have talked about, although he was never a central character. While he dies in the third dungeon of Burning Crusade, he makes it much further in Warlords of Draenor where he is killed by the player in the first raid introduced to that expansion. But having done that, we now reach the first raid of Burning Crusade, the “Lair of Magtheridon”. This is little more than running down a hall, then a ramp and into the now-open cage where we kill the last few necromancers holding Magtheridon back and then turn our attention to the Pit Lord. Being massively over-leveled, I killed him with one attack. Mythic difficulty may take more than one; I’ve only done it on Normal difficulty and Heroic.

And that’s the story of Hellfire Peninsula. From here we are sent into the next zone, Zangarmarsh, in a quest left over from the Cenarion Expedition. We also get handed off from Orc questing centers to Troll questing centers.

Thanks for reading, everyone! See you next week!

 


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11 thoughts on “Wait…I finished one?

  1. Zaxares says:

    Just want to say again that as someone who dropped off the Warcraft games after WC3, I do appreciate these summaries of what happened in the games’ lore and timeline since then without having to play through the games myself. :D

    1. Welcome! Glad you’re enjoying it.

  2. Ivellius says:

    This was a real walk down memory lane in so many ways. I played Warcraft II and III extensively and followed the story closely until finally picking it up in Wrath, which I played consistently through the end of Pandaria partially for academic reasons.

    One correction I do want to make that I think makes the plot make a little more sense: Kael actually met up with the naga and then Illidan before they went to Outland / Draenor to rebuild a power base to resist the Burning Legion; the sin’dorei (Blood Elves) were still part of the Grand Alliance but were unsupported by the racist Grand Marshal Garithos and so got help from the naga to resist King Arthas’s undead. The Alliance turns on and imprisons them, but the naga lead Kael and his warriors into Draenor, where they rescue Illidan from Maiev’s kaldorei (Night Elf) expedition. Kil’jaeden finds Illidan there and sends him back to Azeroth to kill the Lich King, but Illidan’s loss there seems to be the thing that makes Kael lose confidence in Illidan’s ability to help his people. Which…fair enough, I guess.

    …I’m a huge nerd, and Warcraft lore is complicated.

    1. You are absolutely right about the timeline. The original form of that paragraph made it more clear but in editing I cut and rearranged things to focus more on the final standing of the factions at the beginning of The Burning Crusade. This will probably come up again when I am forced to detail the origins of the Elves and subsequently the Naga. I am HOPING I can leave the Naga until I have a reason to talk about Vashj’ir in Cataclysm, although it may come up when covering the dungeons in Zangarmarsh. The entire storyline of Zangarmarsh is about the actions of Lady Vashj and the Naga on behalf of Prince Kael’thas and his faction of Blood Elves.

      The origin of the Elves would be convenient to cover when I reach Zul’Drak in Northrend.

      1. Gresman says:

        It is strange that you are holding of on talking about the Naga given that I just now realized that they are at least a secondary villain in at least four expansion pack (TBC, Legion, BfA, Cata). Making them possibly the second or third most used enemy faction. Understandably given their connection to Elves.
        I might have forgotten some part of lore in regards to Zul’Drak but wasn’t this the origin of Trolls zone?

        1. As far as “WHY,” purely because it gets much more deeply into the creation stories of the entire universe, the old golds, the titans, etc. Regarding Zul’Drak being a possible launching point: Zul’Drak is the remnants of the original center of the first Troll empire, back when the world was one giant super-continent. This again goes back into the ancient times and the origin of life on Azeroth, which would be a good time to document the Trolls–>Elves–>Naga pipeline. Just don’t want to commit to telling the whole story at once.

          On the other hand, the OTHER “I don’t want to get into that all at once” idea is how death works (not as a game mechanic, but the lore) in World of Warcraft. So, you know, the beginnings of life and the end of life.

          1. Gresman says:

            Makes completely sense from that perspective.
            Also once one gets into the whole Titans/Old Gods crazyness one opens up a whole barrel of worms with what happens in Legion and WotLK).
            All this interconnectedness is sooo mind baggling at places.
            I have to admit I enjoy it way too much. Especially stumbling across something and all the connections flood my brain. But one does well in not tugging at all the strings.Even just pulling at the strings in Dragonflight might end somewhere with the Dragon Soul with a path to go further.

            1. Ivellius says:

              I’m pretty sure Zandalar is the origin of the trolls (I think Pandaria went into that more with the Mogu though I didn’t play those instances), though Zul’Drak is an ancient frost troll empire, sure, and could be a good place to talk about all of that anyway.

              Though it’s mostly trolls mutated* into the highborne night elves (modern factions are in the Alliance and Horde), whose offshoots mutated into the modern kaldorei night elves (Alliance), who mutated into satyrs (Burning Legion) and naga (Burning Legion and Illidan) and the quel’dorei high elves (Alliance has what’s left), who further mutated into the sin’dorei blood elves (Horde) and ren’dorei void elves (Alliance).

              * If anyone has a better word I’m all ears.

              1. Mm…maybe “magically transformed,” since it was more-or-less done TO them by Cenarius. And “magically transformed” really applies to the Naga as well, from what I remember.

                My use of “first great troll empire” was probably inaccurate, as at least from now looking backward, that would certainly more aptly fit the Zandalari as the forebears of all modern trolls. And I have to admit I may be tangling my history a bit, but I was thinking the pre-Zandalari trolls aggregated originally to the northeast of the Azeroth continent, and the Zandalari moved to an area bordering what would become Pandaria after that. Could be wrong. I’ll have to double-check it all if/when I write about it, anyway.

                1. Ivellius says:

                  I thought it was proximity to the Well of Eternity that transformed them, though that is imprecise, not necessarily in conflict with Cenarius’s involvement, and could easily have been retconned anyway.

                  I think the trolls basically spread all over ancient pangeaic Kalimdor but were weakened in wars with the aqir (who similarly broke up into the nerubians and silithids) until the night elves fully emerged. The Sundering further solidified them into their various domains (like isolating the Gurubashi, Amani, Farakki, and Drakkari).

                  1. I’ve seen the transformation story told a couple of ways. Either the trolls discovered the Well of Eternity, evolved into Night Elves including renaming themselves and becoming base/proto-druids, and THEN Cenarius found them and taught them actual druidic arts and may or may not have introduced them to Elune; or that Cenarius molded the transformation and helped create Kaldorei society, initiated their druidic tradition, and introduced Elune worship. The second version makes more SENSE to me, but they’re really the same thing for the most part.

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