The story of the eternal struggle between light and dark is as old as humanity itself. Almost every classic epic begins with brave heroes riding out to confront dark forces. The story of World of Warcraft was also determined by this black and white conflict from the start. The fronts in WoW have been clearly marked in recent years: Naaru against Void Lords, Titans against the Burning Legion, Alliance against Horde.
Admittedly, the developers can't go wrong with classic hero stories. But are these simple stories still relevant? Is the void really devious and evil? Does the light actually bring healing and peace? And what happens if you suddenly switch the set roles of light and dark? Blizzard's writing team has experimented a lot in Legion and BfA and occasionally abandoned the traditional storytelling path. A new twist in history awaits us in Shadowlands, which, according to Ion Hazzikostas, will forever change our worldview of WoW. Because in the future there will be no old-fashioned images of friends or enemies in the game. In plain language this means that light can also be one of our possible enemies. And there is even enough evidence in the game that the powers of light are not all about good.
Continuation with surprises
If we review the events of Legion and Battle for Azeroth again, then there were plenty of indications in the game that the Void and the Old Gods await us as the main topic in the next WoW expansion. The fall of Alleria Windrunner, the return of the Voidwalker, Azshara's game of intrigue and the awakening of the Old God N'Zoth – they all paved the way for the Void Lords, who from the beginning of time waited to devour Azeroth and the entire universe. But it turned out differently. Instead of preparing for the decisive battle against the Void, another adventure awaits us in Shadowlands.
Order brings violence
Well, new enemies lurk in the Shadowlands who are no less dangerous than the Old Gods or the demons of the Burning Legion. As if out of nowhere, long-forgotten gods of death reach for the ultimate power and they are not only after our heroes, but threaten to destroy the balance between life and death. The hereafter is inconspicuous in the cosmic structure, but the realm of the dead holds great secrets. There we find traces of the true creators of the universe for the first time. According to records found throughout the Shadowlands, "the first" were responsible for dividing the Warcraft universe into many different domains. This order and the balance of forces have been the guarantee for the continued existence of life for thousands of years. What the creators did not expect, however, was the high potential for violence that results from this strict separation. The war that broke out between the domains threatened to destroy everything that the first created.
And that is the great dilemma that ultimately made the Creators fail. Because all beings, no matter which faction they belong to, work tirelessly to destroy the balance. So the jailer is just as much a rebel as the Old Gods are. And even if that is difficult to imagine: the naaru are also part of it.
The dark side of the light
N'Zoth's prophet Il'gynoth warned us in the Emerald Nightmare that the light is up to no good. In battle he whispered: "The golden one claims the empty throne. But the crown of light will only bring darkness." Back then, most of Il'gynoth's prophecies made no sense. Today, however, the void creature's words appear in a whole new light.
From the Beta of Shadowlands we know that Sylvanas kidnaps King Anduin Wrynn and other well-known heroes such as Jaina Proudmoore, Thrall and Baine Bloodhoof to the Shadowlands. While the newly formed Horde can cope with the loss of Thrall and Baine, the High King's absence means disaster for the Alliance. During these difficult times, a legendary hero emerges from the shadows who will lead the Alliance in place of Anduin. High Exarch Turalyon takes over the scepter in Shadowlands. Given the difficult situation in which the Alliance is, Turalyon is the savior in person. Make no mistake, the hesitant Anduin was not very popular as the High King of the Alliance. Many subjects longed for a strong and experienced leader who would reunite the peoples of the Alliance and lead them into a glorious future. And Turalyon can master this challenge without a doubt! The paladin has fought the demons for millennia since his disappearance and with the Army of Light has, at least in theory, a huge force that is vastly superior to the Horde. His exploits alongside Xe'ra and the Lightforged Draenei even surpass the myth of the legendary King Varian Wrynn. But is Turalyon's leadership actually a boon to the Alliance? Or is his role the beginning of a dark chapter in Azeroth's history?
Dark chapter? Turalyon's return and his new role as the leader of the Alliance in Shadowlands bodes well. Of course, at this point we can dismiss Il'gynoth's words as a lie. But was the creature's sinister vision of the future really just a ruse by the Old Gods to sow mistrust among mortals, or should we take Il'gynoth's whispers seriously? After all, some of Il'gynoth's prophecies have already come true. And even if we don't know exactly which person the void creature is referring to at the moment, his words foretell a dark future for Azeroth. For as radiant as Turalyon may appear as the great Redeemer, the High Exarch casts a long and dark shadow ahead.
Anyone who thinks of the dark side of Turalyon naturally has his wife Alleria Windläufer in mind. The legend of the high elf heroine is no less impressive than that of her famous husband. But instead of following the light, Alleria chose the dark path of emptiness. In Legion we witness their dark rebirth. Why the Void chose Alleria as a prophetess is still a mystery to us today. By and large, the real intentions of the Void Lords play no role in this story, the really exciting thing was the reaction of Turalyon when he found out about his wife's secret life. When the High Elf used the Void to free Turalyon and other soldiers of the Light from the clutches of the Burning Legion, Alleria expected no thanks. But on the contrary. Instead of celebrating the narrow victory over the demons, the Naaru Xe'ra locked the elves in the dungeon of the Xenedar. Turalyon protested briefly, but ultimately agreed with Xe'ra and accepted Alleria's punishment. If the Xenedar hadn't crashed at the beginning of Legion, Alleria might have suffered forever for her supposed heresy.
Alleria's story is just one of many stories that illustrate how radical and dangerous light can be. Turalyon's piety and fear of the void were so great that he was even ready to blindly follow Xe'ra and sacrifice his own wife. When the naaru was blown into a thousand pieces by Illidan, Turalyon was so angry that he was about to kill the demon hunter. That Xe'ra tried to literally impose her will upon Illidan during the ritual to fulfill her vision had simply escaped Turalyon. Did you notice it too? While the High Exarch of Allerias accepted punishment with equanimity, after Xe'ra's death a veritable firework of emotions broke out at Turalyon. Hatred, anger and above all panic were written on his face. And this fear, which you can clearly see in Turalyon's eyes in cinematic, is precisely the point that makes light so dangerous. The light guides and comforts mortals in need. But the price for this tour is high! In return, the light demands unconditional allegiance and blind obedience. Since no mortal is perfect, this often creates compulsion and great fear. These negative emotions finally culminate in sheer terror, which in the end claims as many victims as the madness of the void.
Well, unraveling this complex story structure that Blizzard is serving us on the subject of light and shadow is not that easy. Most of us grew up with stories that depict light as a source of peace, healing, and harmony. World of Warcraft (buy now 15.00 € ) broke several times with this outdated view of the world. The best example that the light can also be misused for dark purposes is the Scarlet Crusade. The fanatical priests and knights of the order may have dedicated themselves to fighting the undead, but that did not prevent the crusade from terrorizing those whose lifestyles deviated from the doctrine of light. In the starting area of the Mag'har orcs in Alternative Draenor, we face radical draenei paladins who follow the teachings of the light as fundamentally as the Scarlet Crusade in Azeroth. The Army of Light is also guided by a similar belief. Then why didn't the Army of Light unleash its power in BfA in the war against the Horde? Very easily. It was Anduin Wrynn who withheld Turalyon and his soldiers, as the king feared that the alliance with the Xenedar might commit the same war crimes as Sylvanas and her henchmen.
At this point, an exciting question arises: What path will High Exarch Turalyon take as a substitute king when Anduin is no longer there to stop him? We must not forget that every Warcraft party, regardless of whether it brings a curse or a blessing, pursues its goals with a strict radicalism. And that is exactly what regularly brings Azeroth to the brink of annihilation! If the light triumphs, then that means the end of the world as well as the return of the Black Empire and the Old Gods. There will then be no more room for shamanistic orcs, just as there will be for devious sorcerers or dodgy villains. This illustrates how important the balance between the powers is and how fragile the universe actually is. Blizzard's story authors have recognized this problem and have therefore adjusted some passages in their books and comics afterwards. The grand finale of World of Warcraft is completely open!
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