Deep beneath Stormsong Valley, and hidden underneath the Shrine of the Storms, an ancient and powerful evil has rested. Waiting for the right moment to reemerge after countless millennia. N’zoth has been described as the lesser of the Old Gods in terms of power, yet what he lacks in other areas he makes up for in cunning. The God of the Deep has been planning something, and making deals with some very powerful individuals. The most well-known is Queen Azshara, who originally made a deal with the Old God after the Well of Eternity imploded and drowned the queen herself and much of the remaining Highborne. Queen Azshara and her Highborne were transformed into the monstrous Naga, where they rebuilt their city and boded their time for 10,000 years… But another entity has taken the forefront recently, one that players who have finished the little intro questline for the Crucible of Storms raid will recognize.
Xal’atath, Blade of the Black Empire
Xal’atath is the mysterious artifact weapon that Shadow Priests wielded to fight the Legion during last expansion. After the wound appeared in Silithus, players used the remaining power in all their artifact weapons to stabilize the world and we assumed Xal’atath was lost as well. Surprise, surprise, the dagger winds up in Stormsong Valley in the hands of the Naga. Wielders of Xal’atath knew that the blade occasionally whispered to you, just like Old Gods love to do. That, and the fact that the Black Empire was a vast Old God civilization on Azeroth before the Titans brought order, tells us that Xal’atath is an Old God-like creature. Is she an actual Old God? Does she fight for the same team as them? Who is Xal’atath? We don’t have the answers yet. But this questline, in which we accidentally help and free her, helps to provide answers while giving me a whole lot more questions!
She is clearly a creature of void and very old, if her whispering is to be believed. After the player collects the three artifacts used for a gigantic storm ritual, they are lured to the bottom of the Crucible of Storms for a meeting with N’zoth himself. After Xal’atath delivers the three artifacts and you, “the Opener”, she strikes a deal with the Old God to set her free from her imprisonment. So, was she merely a herald for N’zoth who struck a bargain in exchange for greater power? Was her allegiance to N’zoth only as far as securing her freedom from the dagger? I think that the story is hinting to something else, and that Xal’atath has some big plans of her own. Now that she has been freed, there’s nothing stopping her from doing as she pleases. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see her again soon, because she tells us as much before she departs the Crucible. I have just finished the raid myself which might give us some answers, but really just a lot more questions.
The Crucible of Storms
This is a two boss mini-raid that serves as a good bridge between the faction war of 8.1 and the Naga and Old God-themed story in 8.2. Over the course of the expansion we have received hints and tidbits of Old Gods, just knowing that it’ll be a much bigger deal in the story. In fact, I believe that the faction war is laced with Old God influence and the disorder on the surface of Azeroth is ultimately helping the Old Gods regain power. This raid is excited more than just for the reason of story shift. Crucible of Storms is important because it is N’zoth. After wondering where a gigantic kraken-like Old God could possibly be located, we finally found him resting in the deepest part of the ocean off of Stormsong Valley. It’s fitting that he’s been hiding under a giant stone statue of a kraken, but I guess I thought it a little too obvious. But it’s from the Crucible of Storms that he’s been planning something that he says will change the world. And I believe him.
As we enter his “sanctum” (room with the largest Old God eyeball) and fight the final boss, he tells us that we show promise. That we are going to serve him well and help him achieve whatever his goal is. It’s almost as if he has been waiting for us there, and expected that we’d kill one of his most faithful servants. Uu’nat, Harbinger of the Void, serves N’zoth’s will. What if his ultimate purpose was to be slain by us, the Opener? And then, after the fight, we notice the Blade of the Black Empire is missing. When we alert King Anduin, he expresses concern that Sylvanas has somehow stolen the dagger. With that, she could cause even more damage and keep the faction war going. And what’s the deal with players receiving N’zoth’s gift? Are we walking around Azeroth cursed by the void, unaware that we are the reason for N’zoth’s arrival? The future is uncertain, except that Azeroth might never be the same. And what is the circle of stars?