The Story of Aurashot – Part One

World of Warcraft has been a lot of things for me over the years, whether it be a place to escape to or a way to bond with family and friends. It’s also been an outlet for me to express my passion, and when I was about 14 I combined my love of the game with my love of writing through creating a comprehensive backstory for my main character, Aurashot. For a while I didn’t write anything down, only keeping it stored in my head and making mental notes when I thought of a new story development or neat detail to add about her life. I think having a story and motivation behind a video game character has contributed a lot to the reason why I’ve played WoW for 14-ish years. This post is a bit of an experiment as I’ve always been too shy to share these stories with anyone, but if these turn out to be fun I’ll share the stories of some of my other characters in WoW.

chapter 1 – life as she knew it

Aurys “Aura” Nightbloom had a happy childhood living with her mother and father in a comfortable estate in Zin-Azshari. As the youngest generation born into a Highborne Magus family, she knew only a bright world of happiness, magic and opportunity. She was even old enough for her father to begin teaching her simple spells, and every day she looked forward to sitting with him in their garden and learning something new. Little did she know that in the background Night Elf society would unravel and fall into disarray as Azshara, Queen of the Night Elves, plotted to bring the Burning Legion to Azeroth as part of her plan to gain more power. The Nightblooms were different than most Highborne in that they did not blindly follow Azshara and were aware that something was changing when the Queen locked herself inside the palace and no longer held an audience with her people. Something was changing, and their plan was to ensure their daughter’s safety at all costs even though they didn’t know what they would have to protect her from yet.

Alben and Indris, Aura’s parents

The terror started when demons poured from a portal opened in Azshara’s palace, and a great battle that would later be known as the War of the Ancients began. When it was clear that the demons were on the verge of overtaking the city, Aura’s parents arranged passage for their daughter to board a transport fleeing to a faraway village. One night, her mother and father kissed her on her forehead for what would be the last time. Aura saw her mother weeping while she faded into the cloak of night, and couldn’t understand why. Indris and Alben Nightbloom were good people, heroes even, and knew that they had to stand against the ruin the Highborne had brought to Azeroth and face responsibility. To protect the world for the future of their daughter. If they were successful, just maybe, they would find her again and be content to live a quiet life. They never got that chance when the Well of Eternity collapsed in on itself, finally cracking under the magical pressure after so many years of the Highborne using it for greater and greater feats of the Arcane. Everything that Aura had known or loved was swept away beneath a newly created ocean along with the Burning Legion. The world that her and everyone around her had known was gone; changed forever.

What Zin-Azshari looks like today

Aura had caught the attention of a group of nomadic Hunters, and they took her with them when they escaped on the backs of Hippogryphs to seek higher ground at Mount Hyjal. Life in Hyjal is a memory that Aura doesn’t like to reflect on even today, as she was plagued with nightmares of demons and being crushed beneath impossibly heavy waves. Aura’s once idyllic life became a distant dream that was so far out of reach she wasn’t even sure if it even happened. Her surrogate family was her only reminder that hope still existed, and she channeled her sorrow and anger into the hunting lessons that they taught her. They knew that Aura was Highborne and had an innate connection to create magic, but they urged her not to develop her skill and to hide it from the other Night Elves. Most Night Elves blamed the Highborne for the War of the Ancients and were not quick to forgive, even though Aura was still young and had no hand in what happened. So she took up the bow to distract herself from the curiosity and drive to learn magic. Archery became therapeutic, and every time she loosed an arrow it was like removing troubled thoughts from her mind. She grew up this way, living a life of solitude in the forests of Hyjal, and as she got older she would spend more and more time by herself focusing on her Archery skills.

Aura training in the forests of Hyjal

By the time Aura had grown to adulthood, she had demonstrated mastery over the bow and could best even the most accomplished Hunters in her family. She poured her whole being into learning archery and mastering the hunt, and she found that the world was easier to understand from the perspective of a quiet forest. When she was there, it was easier to silence the doubt and fear that seized her mind. The Night Elves were blessed with immortality through the world tree Nordrassil, which was planted in order to stop the efforts by Illidan Stormrage to create a second Well of Eternity. For ten-thousand years, Aura passed the time by further mastering hunting and archery until the Humans of Lordaeron caught her attention.

The Humans were particularly interesting to Aura because they were so young. Night Elves were jaded and held centuries-old grudges and were set in their ways. Even then, if anyone knew she was Highborne she would be exiled. Humans were more curious and adventurous, and above all had a spirit that was unusual to the elder races. After living in one place for so long, she was ready to experience all that the Eastern Kingdoms had to offer…

The World of Treecraft

World Trees, trees grown massive through the help of magic, are important to the Night Elves for a variety of reasons. Aside from just being a beautiful thing to behold, they help connect Azeroth to the Emerald Dream and the first World Tree granted the Night Elves immortality at one time. Elves and Druids alike rest under their massive branches and, as we’ve seen with Teldrassil, one was once the seat of an entire race’s civilization. Battle for Azeroth started with the burning of a World Tree that was supposed to symbolize the dying of hope but, as Saurfang said, you cannot kill hope.

Nordrassil

Nordrassil as it stands today

Nordrassil translates to “Crown of the Heavens” and was the first World Tree. Nordrassil was planted after the War of the Ancients, the huge war that began after the Burning Legion was drawn to the Well of Eternity and invaded Azeroth through the help of Queen Azshara. In the ensuing battle the Well of Eternity imploded, but before that Illidan Stormrage managed to fill a few vials from the Well. After the War of the Ancients was over Illidan went to Mount Hyjal, a sacred Druidic land, and poured a vial filled with waters from the Well into a large lake, intending to create a second Well of Eternity.

When the other Night Elves found out they were furious, and decided to plant a tree in the middle of the lake that would eventually soak up the lake. That tree, infused with Arcane energies from the Well of Eternity, grew so large that its branches seemed to touch the heavens. The great Dragon Aspect Nozdormu, Lord of Time, blessed the tree with immortality. And so, the Night Elves were immortal for around ten thousand years until the Burning Legion made its second invasion during the Third War. Archimonde the Defiler, one of Sargeras’ most trusted lieutenants, sought to once again claim the Well of Eternity’s power. In order to defeat Archimonde, Nordrassil’s power was unleashed and, in doing so, the Night Elves’ immortality was lost. After the Battle of Mount Hyjal, the Night Elves struggled to pick up the pieces and return to their lives.

Teldrassil

I couldn’t fit the entire tree in one picture

Seeking to restore the Night Elves’ immortality, a Druid named Fandral Staghelm took a seed from Nordrassil and buried it deep in the ocean off the shores of Darkshore. Indeed, the tree grew to a massive size and Night Elves built their capital city of Darnassus atop its branches and resettled there. This new World Tree became a stable home for the Night Elves, but their immortality was not restored. Teldrassil is the starting zone for new Night Elf players and the first area of the game they become accustomed to.

Rut’theran Village, a village among Teldrassil’s roots

Teldrassil was burnt and evacuated at the start of the Battle for Azeroth, during the War of Thorns. Night Elves and Gilnean refugees alike fled the burning tree, but in the end there were massive casualties. Night Elves are now living in Stormwind City and again trying to pick of the pieces of their lives and continue on. Many have joined Tyrande Whisperwind’s Army of the Black Moon, where they have turned to the more vengeful side of their goddess Elune. The Night Elves’ future is uncertain, and there is definitely a lot of story left to tell with what happens next. I personally would like a newly remodeled and updated Teldrassil that serves as a questing zone, where players help replant a new World Tree.

Teldrassil post-War of Thorns

Vordrassil

This one was another failed World Tree, except it couldn’t even be used as a home. Vordrassil was planted in Northrend long ago, where an Old God also slept deep below the earth. The Old God Yogg-Saron corrupted the tree’s roots and ancient Night Elf Druids could sense the corruption taking hold in Vordrassil, and they ultimately destroyed the World Tree. Players that journey to Grizzly Hills in Northrend can still see the remains of Vordrassil strewn across the zone. In fact, the stump of Vordrassil is home to a tribe of Furbolgs and at the very bottom of the tree there appears to be a World Tree sapling taking root.

This tree has been growing since 2010, it should be much bigger!

The first time I went to Grizzly Hills and saw Vordrassil I was awestruck by the scene of a broken World Tree. However, with a sapling growing in the center of the dead Vordrassil there may yet be hope for Teldrassil.

Shala’drassil

Another World Tree located in Mount Hyjal, this one had a much worse fate. Shala’drassil once served as a link to the Emerald Dream and was much beloved by Night Elves, like all World Trees, but it became corrupted after the emergence of the Emerald Nightmare. Now it appears as a gnarled, nightmarish shadow of its former self.

Nordrassil is considered the only “true” World Tree since it blessed the Night Elves with immortality and every other tree since has failed to do so. Yet, the stories and history behind these other trees are intriguing and important in their own way. The Battle for Azeroth began when Sylvanas Windrunner gave orders to have Teldrassil burned. My hope is that since the Fourth War has ended in peace (for now) between the Horde and Alliance, a new sapling will be planted and Teldrassil’s story will come full circle.

This post is my way of remembering what happened and hoping that Blizzard will create a cool story for the Night Elves with all of this extra material. I am especially excited for BlizzCon this year, with a new expansion announcement among other games seemingly also getting big announcements.

Nazjatar

I’ve held off on writing about 8.2 for a few different reasons. One big one being that I spent all my time playing the game rather than thinking about things I’d like to write about. The other being that I had mixed reactions about each zone both positive and negative. I figure that each new zone will take up it’s own post, so today I will talk about what I think about Nazjatar – ancient home of the Night Elves which has been in ruin under the seas for ten thousand years, and since have been reclaimed by the Naga. I’m going to preface this whole thing by saying I haven’t completed the story in Nazjatar yet, I still have one chapter left.

What is Nazjatar?

Long before the Naga or the Burning Legion came to Azeroth, Night Elves had a vast civilization that spanned much of the planet. It was built around a gigantic magical lake called the Well of Eternity, where the Elves learned Arcane magic and advancements that would aid in a prospering society. Getting only glimpses of what it actually looked like from the Azshara Warbringer video and the artwork from the Chronicles Warcraft lore books, it was breathtaking.

Ruins of Kal’methir – city surrounding Zin-Azshari

Of course, that all changed when Queen Azshara opened a portal so that the demon armies of the Burning Legion could invade Azeroth, presumably with her as queen of the entire planet. But that never happened, as a massive war broke out and the Well of Eternity ulimately imploded and sent most of Night Elf civilization beneath the newly formed seas. Queen Azshara made a deal with the Old God N’zoth and transformed her and most of her people into the Naga. Over ten thousand years Azshara and the Naga have been living under the sea and rebuilding their once Night Elven civilization of Zin-Azshari into Nazjatar, the Naga capital city. Nazjatar is what Queen Azshara rules now, as she is referred to as the “Empress of Nazjatar.”

What Do I Think?

Queen Azshara and the Night Elves are a huge part of Warcraft lore that have been speculated about for years. By the time 8.2 came around, everyone (including me) had their own vision for what Nazjatar was going to be. It’s like with anything when you build up an idea in your head that seems so great to you, and when it turns out differently no matter what it’s going to feel like a disappointment. For me, I was hoping for much more area to explore and quests that revolve around Night Elf/ Highborne culture. I haven’t been completely disappointed because there’s some quests that show what life was like at the time and gives some insight into what was really going on. There’s also a pretty big area just filled with ruins and Highborne spirits and it’s pretty cool.

I love the idea that these ruins have been untouched for thousands, and that maybe even the Naga are ashamed of them but also that they serve as a memorial for what was. For what could have still been. Queen Azshara could have ordered that the Naga destroy the remants of her failure, but that would mean that she had made a mistake. The Burning Legion was just one rung on the ladder in her quest for more power. I am glad that these ruins are intact rather than the whole land being rebuilt into a more Naga-themed architecture style. I also love the little detail where every statue has been ruined except for the Azshara ones, which are all still intact.

The Music

One of the biggest surprises about Nazjatar for me was the music, but only in specific places. Walking into the area with ruins from the city for the first time was magical. The music here is beautiful and somber like the ghosts from a land long forgotten under the sea. It’s the sorrow of all the people who didn’t have a choice and are now stuck as restless spirits in a place that was once their beloved home. It’s a testament to just how much pride the Night Elves had in Zin-Azshari and the shame they feel at everything they loved being destroyed. The music here had quite an effect on me, and I had to stop and listen to a story that was being told through a somber melody. The areas with all the city ruins play this music, and they are my favorite part of the entire zone. It made me realize how long I have been waiting to see this in-game. Even so, there are some things that did not live up to expectations for me.

What I Didn’t Like

I’m definitely trying to take into account what I said earlier about things not being able to live up to personal built up hype. But I just want more quests, like Suramar in Legion. Suramar was an entire questing zone where there was tons of quests to do to advance the story there. The whole story with the Nightborne was very interesting. I would really like to see Nazjatar do the same thing with Highborne, Naga, or even the new friends we’ve made there. I also haven’t finished the story yet, so I could be missing out on a lot. I think that I’m just hoping for more, and that I need to remember that Azshara didn’t expose the entire land of Nazjatar. That can be seen at the edge of the zone where the ruined part of Zin-Azshari is disappearing into the waves.

It would be cool if there were quests under the water, where players went diving through the parts of the opened up sea to uncover more mysteries about the Naga. Maybe even an entire Naga city to infiltrate kind of like Suramar City. However I also realize that many players did not like questing in Vashj’ir, which was WoW’s only underwater zone, and that I absolutely loved it. Vashj’ir is one of my favorite zones in the game, and I was hoping Nazjatar would have some underwater aspects to it.

It’s hard for me to pick out specific things I didn’t like about the zone. Both Mechagon and Nazjatar are grinds in order to get things you want or advance the story in some way. I think that I was just hoping for more, which is kind of ridiculous since Nazjatar is a huge zone. I find myself less excited to go there than Mechagon, which may be in part because Mechagon is a completely new concept. I am already familiar with the story of Queen Azshara and the Night Elves, so in a way I am not discovering much new information. That being said, so far the raid is awesome…

Azshara’s Eternal Palace

I don’t know how the raid ends. I haven’t watched the cinematic after the Queen Azshara fight, but I have pieced some information together thanks to video titles on YouTube and Facebook. So I’m not completely in the dark, but I’d like to experience the cinematic in its entirety for the first time after my guild defeats Azshara. So far we’ve done the first two bosses, but I was only able to make it to the second boss – the Blackwater Behemoth. Being thrown into this boss fight first was interesting, because the Behemoth’s the raid’s only fight that takes place entirely underwater. It takes some time to get used to direction being 3-D, but other than that it was a blast.

The jelly fish of doom

The raid looks very ornate and Elven and I’m having a good time with it so far. I haven’t seen many boss mechanics yet so I’m going to hold off on my thoughts on that, but I’m excited to see what Radiance of Azshara will be like. At the end of raid night last week we tried fighting it once, only to die spectacularly so I’m looking forward to next raid night!

That’s a big fish

The Curse of Flesh

A new short story in the style of mini-comics that has become customary for BfA came out a couple days ago and, like the other installments, this one is fantastic. The comic is all about Mechagon and giving the players a short but sweet introduction to the new content coming in 8.2, and the popular opinion seems to have been very positive. People (myself included) were surprised to have enjoyed a story that features solely Gnomes and Gnomish themes. I’ve been really loving that Blizzard has been spending more time on a race that hasn’t had much of a spotlight on it before, especially with Mekkatorque in the opening cinematic to Battle of Dazar’alor. As much as I can never get sick of a good Elf story, there are more races in the World of Warcraft (I suppose).

Why Mechagon? Why now?

My feelings on Mechagon have changed since Patch 8.2 was first announced. My first thoughts were that it was underwhelming and that the Gnomes were not interesting enough to me. Now, I like Gnomes for their quirky personalities and their Gnomish culture, I just wasn’t 100% Mechagon. To me this chunk of content seemed random and out of place when contrasted with Nazjatar, with its Naga and Old God themes. So why did Blizzard choose to release Mechagon Island, the lost and fabled home of the Junker Gnomes, alongside content that thickens the plot of Old God corruption?

A Little Bit of History

Way back in time when Azeroth was young, the Titans of the Pantheon cultivated the newly discovered planet and helped it grow into a world abundant with life. The Titans were drawn to Azeroth because of the World Soul that dwells within the planet even today, which will eventually mature into a new Titan. The whole concept of Titans being birthed from World Souls within some (not all planets have Titan World Souls within) planets is kind of weird, so imagine it like how Celestials are explained in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In the movie Ego, a Celestial, is a being of great power who’s true form turns out to be the planet that he takes the guardians to. The humanoid being that he uses to communicate to them throughout the movie is merely an extension or avatar of himself. That is how I like to think of Titans, because every Titan in the Pantheon originated as a slumbering World Soul until it was mature enough to create a form for itself. One day Azeroth will mature and become the first Titan in a new Pantheon, and I think that day is soon.

The Titans helped Azeroth prosper. And to quicken that process the Titans created constructs with skin made out of stone, just like theirs. Some of these creations would be known as Dwarves, who shaped the mountains and the land, and Gnomes, who tinkered with and created Titanic machines deep beneath Azeroth. However, there was a huge problem with Azeroth: Old Gods. The Titans found that several monstrously huge Old Gods had embedded themselves inside Azeroth, seeking to corrupt the planet and spread chaos and disorder. After a time many Titanic constructs populated Azeroth, and the Old Gods saw an opportunity. The Old Gods could not corrupt these Titanic creations that were immortal and made of stone very easily, so they cursed them and turned the Dwarves and the Gnomes (and some other races) into mortal beings with skin made of flesh (1). This tragedy is known as the “Curse of Flesh,” and the Titans could not reverse it.

King Mechagon

In the mini-comic an old, flesh and blood Gnome finds Mechagon Island in the hopes that the Junker Gnomes will teach him their secrets of immortality. King Mechagon talks of returning to the old ways, the way that the Titans meant for all races to be. Mortal bodies made of flesh cannot be sustained forever, and are prone to error. Mechagon’s Junker Gnomes are notably different from the original Gnomes which were created by the Titans because they were created as mechanical beings called Mechagnomes. Junker Gnomes were originally mortal Gnomes that have gradually been augmented with machine parts.

I found the set up for the villainy of King Mechagon to be compelling because there is truth to what he says. He seems to be genuinely concerned with finding a solution to the Curse of Flesh not just for Gnomes, but for all races. He is right to be concerned, seeing as Azeroth’s intelligent races are only mortal because Old Gods wanted to find a way to corrupt us easier. But it’s the way he goes about it, using force and maybe other ill intentions, that make him a villain. I think that by replacing most of himself with robotic parts, King Mechagon has lost some vital mortal characteristics. But maybe the way that we finally defeat the Old Gods on Azeroth lies with studying the Curse of Flesh in more detail. Once I drew that parallel between Gnomes and Old Gods, Mechagon made more sense to me. I love Titan lore, so I’m excited to see what all this means for Azeroth.

References

  1. https://wowwiki.fandom.com/wiki/Curse_of_Flesh

Visiting Sunsong Ranch

One of the first things that come to mind when I think of Mists of Pandaria is Halfhill, the bustling farmer’s market town where the clueless Farmer Yoon resides. The story behind acquiring his farm, Sunsong Ranch, is familiar to anyone who loved Harvest Moon games like me. Basically Yoon was looking for someone to help out on the farm while also showing members of The Tillers that it’s worth keeping. From there, it’s up to you to grow crops used in Pandarian recipes and upgrade the farm little by little. It’s by far my favorite thing from the expansion, and the closest players would get to their own instanced “housing” until Warlords of Draenor brought us Garrisons.

Making New Friends

The picture above shows the fully upgraded farm, with the best tools, most plots of soil, and farm animals, but starting out on the farm is completely different. Beginning the quest-line reveals that Halfhill plans to demolish Yoon’s farm for more space, and so the player sets out with the task of making sure everyone in the Tillers Union votes in favor of keeping the farm. Mists of Pandaria introduced separate reputation bars for NPCs and my goal here was to raise everyone’s reputation to “best friend” status while also getting to exalted with The Tillers, the farming group in Halfhill.

Halfhill’s central hub

Earning the trust of each farmer was a slow and steady process. Reputation, or friendship, was earned by doing quests or finding rare items scattered around Valley of the Four Winds which could then be gifted. The gifts were important because after the main story-line quests were over, my only other way of gaining friendship was through daily quests which were random each day. Each farmer had a favorite gift which would earn more friendship with that particular farmer, which added another layer of tedium to this whole ordeal. I remember spending hours flying around the zone using an add-on that scanned for the little dirt piles that hid the gifts. But what is exactly the point of becoming best friends with everyone?

The Power of Friendship

Best friend status has its own perks, the most important of which being that you have convinced them that Sunsong Ranch shouldn’t be demolished. Each farmer also gives you an addition to the farm, like animals or furniture for your little house. Lastly, you can ask any of your new besties to help you out on the farm. I think they’re actually supposed to help out with crops and stuff, but I haven’t noticed anything useful. Each farmer has their own expertise and will appear in different locations if asked to tend your farm. Chee Chee is my favorite (he’s just awesome) and his expertise happens to be sheep, so he hangs out with the sheep on my farm.

Chee Chee takes good care of the sheep

Helping out each farmer with their problems and surprising them with gifts was heartwarming, and the conclusion of the quest-line with all of us banding together to save the farm was just awesome. The whole thing was very reminiscent of Harvest Moon or similar games, which is why I think it continues to be one of my favorite things in the game ever. I still return from time to time, like I just did to take these pictures, and it always gives me the same warm fuzzy feeling that truly impactful stories do. Even so, I haven’t gotten to the best part of the farm…

I Love Dog

Yes, you read that right. Sunsong Ranch is home to the original good boy, a dog named Dog. I don’t remember quite how the story goes with him, but at some point while questing around Valley of the Four Winds you run into a dog with no home. If you choose to complete the quest (just look at that face), you befriend Dog and he comes to live with you on the farm. And from then on every day you log in to tend the farm Dog will be there to greet you. That’s really the little detail that tipped Sunsong Ranch over the edge into “completely amazing” territory.

The best part about Dog is that my reaction to him is the same for many people, in that he is a constant joy in a strange land full of Pandas. Luckily Dog makes his return in Warlords of Draenor when you unlock the herb garden in your Garrison, and in Legion he’s hanging out in Dalaran with Breanni in the pet shop. However, in Legion there’s a little secret players need to work out in order to get him to appear in the pet shop. I’m still not sure if he appears in BfA but I have hope!

Dog!
Dog’s love transcends time and space!
Dog boosts morale in the midst of the Legion invasion