MASSIVE SPOILERS.

I hate time travel.

I think it is an overused, normally blundered storytelling mechanic employed as a cop out by most storytellers. Of all examples involving time travel within storytelling, the only one that employs this method well is Doctor Who. A multitude of entertainment outlets attempt to apply time travel to their core story and fail miserably. For instance, movies like the dreaded and never spoken of The Butterfly Effect crack under the pressure of its own premise (timey whimey shenanigans). The DC Comics universe had to reboot its entire history because of the total confusion with multiverses and timelines. Games like Infamous, otherwise acclaimed, have much of the joy derived from playing whittled away via a writer’s copout when he employs time travel as an easy explanation for the machinations of the main villain.

All of these instances and routes have led to one sound conclusion amongst those who crave a well told story: time travel is impossible to properly adapt to a script. Though Doctor Who uses time travel well and wisely, it still stumbles at times, forming a number of plot holes.

That being said, we’re faced with Warlords of Draenor, the long sought after fifth expansion for World of Warcraft. At this point, we all know the story: Garrosh is given an opportunity to escape trial and possible execution via the Alliance, Horde, and August Celestials. Sent back to the past by Kairoz, a renegade member of the Bronze Dragonflight, Garrosh carries one task with this journey: create an army that is truly mighty; one that can crush Azeroth, and stand on its own in the aftermath, with banners held high and waving. To do this, the time period Kairoz has transported Garrosh to is right before his ancestors and father did the unthinkable: drank from the blood of Mannoroth. In this pre-destroyed, savage land known as Draenor, Garrosh rallies the divided Orc Clans together, with his dream of a truly pure, truly united, truly unstoppable Horde coming to fruition.

garrosh-dr-who-time-travel
Garrosh’s rumored method of time travel. Kek.

Now, before I truly jump into this article and explain what the Burning Legion has to do with any of this, I’d like to explain a few things first. First off, in the expansion, after much debate and confusion, the Draenor we arrive on isn’t in fact the same Draenor we know of from the past: it is an alternate Draenor, set in an alternate universe. With Blizzard offering this approach, this expansion becomes much more plausible and connected because of it. In offering a setting such as this, it allows any action to be taken against beings of that universe to have no true impact nor loss in our universe; this translates further to permitting Blizzard’s writers to take a deeper route of character development for these characters who crafted the very history of the Warcraft universe.

Secondly, since the Draenor we set foot upon is set in an alternate universe, there are subtle differences allowed for the artistic approach with the expansion. Let’s be honest: if this expansion at its core was just another exact retelling of the Orc Clans’ past, except with Garrosh involved, the story would be droll for everyone (developers and players alike). With this Draenor belonging to an alternate universe, it allows them to freely redesign these characters that haven’t been updated or developed upon in years. For instance: Grommash Hellscream is portrayed in Warcraft 3 as green skinned. In Warlords of Draenor, Grommash still retains the same look mainly, except his skin is brown.

grommash-hellscream-warlords-of-draenor-gorehowl
Grommash Hellscream with his vaunted axe, Gorehowl.

With a bit more context presented with the explanation of the expansion’s story, one last thing to note. For ease of understanding and reading, ‘AU’ will be an abbreviation for describing matters involving the Alternate Universe (Draenor), and ‘OU’ will be an abbreviation for describing matters involving Our Universe.

Now then, circulating all this in mind, we move on to the subject you’re all here to truly sink your teeth into: the Burning Legion’s involvement in Warlords of Draenor.

The AU Burning Legion, or Warlord of Draenor‘s Legion, is much more active in the upcoming expansion than we were initially led to believe. When the expansion was announced, people were initially under the impression that Gul’dan, the one attempting to get the Orc Clans to drink from the blood of Mannoroth, was one of the Warlords. An initial observation of his character art via WarlordsofDraenor.com show him already wielding Fel energy; this implied, at the time, he was already very much so in contact with the Burning Legion. Well, with the beta for Warlords in full swing, a lot more context has been offered to explain the Burning Legion’s overall presence throughout the expansion.

This context leads us to one solemn conclusion: Sargeras, Archimonde, AND Kil’Jaeden may be making appearances by the end of this expansion.

Why? Glad you asked! Get ready for a crazy, fel flame filled lore train ride.

The Shadow Council is present, isn’t even close to being stopped when the Warlords leveling experience concludes, and is a much, much bigger threat than the Iron Horde.

Yep, you heard that right. Personally, I didn’t think Gul’dan would have such a major role in the expansion initially, but after progressing through the beta and witnessing all of his machinations, his presence was thoroughly felt.

gul'dan
Gul’dan may play a bigger role than we thought in WoD.

Let’s get down to it: the Shadow Council is a very real thing in Warlords. Even though the Orc Clans refused to drink from the blood of Mannoroth, this didn’t deter Gul’dan at all. When we first discover the powerful warlock, he is having his power syphoned beneath the Dark Portal, acting as its battery (along with his allies, Cho’gall and Teron’gor). You are forced to free him so that the portal can be shut down, and Gul’dan disappears after speaking cryptically. The next time he is encountered is by the Horde players in Frostfire Ridge, where, instructed by Archmage Khadgar, they spy upon Gul’dan, Teron’gor, Cho’gall, and a mysterious figure all meeting.

Gul’dan quickly notices the spying eye, after giving away the fact that Teron’gor will be invading Talador for its souls and Cho’gall will be invading Nagrand for the Naaru within Oshu’gun the largest diamond ever seen. Your method of spying is cut out, and Gul’dan doesn’t seem deterred in the slightest from you spying on him.

terongor-guldan-all-is-revealed
A conversation between Gul’dan, Teron’gor and Cho’gall in the “All Is Revealed” questline.

From here, most people would assume the following happens: the player moves through the zones, beats all members of the Shadow Council, uncovers the mysterious figure, and saves the day.

Wrong.

Two major events in fact happen: first, Teron’gor successfully starts to syphon the incredibly powerful dormant souls within Auchindon, an ancient and sacred burial ground for the Draenei. The actual encounter against him ends with his descent into the sort of “well of souls” beneath the platform you battle him upon, claiming he needs to absorb more power. As long as a body isn’t shown, know one thing: that character isn’t dead. Regardless, Teron’gor is suddenly MIA, and we haven’t the faintest clue what might’ve become of him.

Second, and even more interestingly, is what happens to Cho’gall. The famous two-headed ogre magi successfully corrupts the Naaru dwelling within Oshu’gun. The Naaru is converted into a Void God, who is dealt with by the player and his allies. However, using the Void in such a manner empowers Cho’gall, who feels holding such power now places him above Gul’dan, and vanishes with this newfound strength. Another character completely MIA as the levelling experience concludes upon AU Draenor.

entropius-muru
Not the first time we’ve seen a Naaru converted into a Void God; M’uru, the fifth boss of the Sunwell Plateau becomes Entropius.

You must be wondering “but what about Gul’dan?” Well, we actually have no idea where he is. Finding him, however, is wrapped up into a questline that many will be accustomed to undertaking after Mists of Pandaria.

That’s right: Gul’dan is the focus of the Legendary Questline. Via quest speech datamined from a recent beta build, the dialogue implies your character is summoned by Khadgar once you reach maximum level. This initiates the Legendary Questline for Warlords, whose storyline and focus, presently at least, revolves around locating Gul’dan who is also MIA as leveling concludes upon Draenor.

And what about the mysterious figure seen in the quest’s cutscene? Well, the figure himself has been removed from being in the cutscene, most likely to throw off tracks as to who Gul’dan might be answering to.

If this wasn’t enough to convince you of the Shadow Council’s formidability, the status of the Iron Horde as Warlords of Draenor initially concludes should further reflect on the need for a new main antagonist with the expansion. Once questing finishes for your character, and raids have been progressed through, only three supposed members of the Iron Horde leadership remain alive: Grommash, Kilrogg Deadeye, and Azuka Bladefury. The rest, such as Kargath, Blackhand, the Iron Wolf, Ner’zhul (who might possibly be alive, but that’s a story for another day), and Garrosh are all dead. The Iron Horde has taken a massive blow, and their only major vantage point left standing sits in the heart of Tanaan Jungle.

kargath
Will Grommash really be without Kargath and other important members of the Iron Horde?

Now, there’s one more piece of information that you also need to grasp to fully understand the Shadow Council’s position of power: Grommash is desperate, and looking for any way to fix his falling empire. In a recent beta build, quest test was datamined involving what who we can assume to be Grommash (who is said by name) and Gul’dan.

  • Now, stand perfectly still.
  • Game Text #87088 – This magic is extremely reliable and – maybe a tiny bit fatal. Hold still, I said!
  • Game Text #87089 – I draw my strength, from the HEART of Draenor…
  • Game Text #87090 – Come, Grommash. Drink.
  • Game Text #87091 – I told you – get out!
  • Game Text #87092 – They assault your foundry. They murder your allies. Mine is the only way.
  • Game Text #87093 – Go!

What does this imply? Simple: Gul’dan, while in hiding, is still in a position of power, while Grommash isn’t. Gul’dan understands the desperation Grommash must be dealing with after losing most of the Warlords under his banner. Garrosh is dead. Kargath is dead. Blackhand is dead. The Iron Wolf is dead. Death surrounds him, and death is coming for him, too. Because of this, Gul’dan offers Grommash a way to usurp his foes: by drinking in the blood of Mannoroth he was so convinced to turn down previously, because Garrosh had a better plan for the Horde’s future. This opens a very negative possibility for Draenor: Grommash succumbing to Gul’dan’s machinations, drinking the blood of Mannoroth, and aiding the Shadow Council in fully summoning a legion of demons onto Draenor. Just because the Iron Horde started this war doesn’t mean they’ll by any means be the final enemy we face as this expansion comes to a close.

In all though, every major member of the Shadow Council is supposedly alive and unaccounted for, while also being in a better standing and condition than the Iron Horde by the expansion’s initial conclusion. The Iron Horde’s leadership is completely desperate and in shambles. The mysterious figure is no longer implemented, but it’s still curious as to why they had been there in the first place.

With the Shadow Council completely active and having their plans working mostly as intended, this moves to our next point, which is a doozy:

The Shadow Council is fully working with the Burning Legion, which has summoning and entry points set up all across Draenor already, and a presence already established on the planet.

Word of warning: if you plan on traveling to Talador, be sure to bring demon repellant. The zone, especially Auchindoun, is completely littered with demons all in service to the Shadow Council and Burning Legion.

talador-warlords-of-draenor
Talador, home of Shattrath, may look serene in this artwork — but the place is “completely littered with demons” in service to the Burning Legion.

The fact that the Burning Legion, who has other summoning points all across the zones on AU Draenor when we arrive, holds such a presence in such a widespread fashion points to one thing: the groundwork for an invasion.

Think of any invasion you can in history, not just in this fantasy world. How did the takeover and coup of any country, any kingdom, any society take place? The enemy faction seeded itself into exactly what it was trying destroy, laying a base so that a full fledged invasion/takeover will be able to take place without any resistance and/or problems.

An invasion is imminent on AU Draenor. You need to consider the following:

  • Gul’dan failed to have the Orcs drink the blood of Mannoroth. In doing so, he has angered the leaders of the Burning Legion (Archimonde, and more specifically Kil’Jaeden) by failing to give them the army they needed to aid them in obliterating the Draenei and Azeroth itself. Other methods would have to be taken, obviously, to achieve such a goal.
  • The Burning Legion, again, has a foothold on Draenor. They have a foothold in Auchindoun, which in and of itself is a feasting ground for demons and warlocks who devour souls.
  • The “Burning Legion Missive”, which we’ll be covering in our next point.

These three factors lead to one conclusion: the Legion is pissed, its leadership is annoyed, and if it can’t take the subtle, corruption route for Draenor, it will invade it in full force and by storm.

But what exactly outright points to an incoming invasion aside from the foothold and Gul’dan’s failure?

Simple: a report from Archimonde that foreshadows a grim future for Draenor.

In a recent beta build, a report drops off random Burning Legion mobs; a note called the “Burning Legion Missive”; a note from Archimonde himself.

See, Archimonde in OU is dead. He was obliterated when the Burning Legion invaded Azeroth the last time and failed. Since Warlords of Draenor takes place before his death occurs, well, Archimonde is back to play.

You’re probably now wondering “what the hell is this “Burning Legion Missive”?”

Well, when you obtain it, it is an item that is usable and has an hour long cooldown. Once you activate it, prepare for the following:

Archimonde is summoned before you. He states that the Draenei have been found and the Burning Legion arms itself for war. He also says he knows the Draenei can’t leave, are cornered, and weakened greatly due to the corruption of the Naaru, K’ure (the Naaru Cho’gall corrupts), and the death of Velen (who sacrifices himself at the conclusion of Shadowmoon Valley’s questline).

This isn’t even the craziest thing he says.

The final thing Archimonde touches upon is how the Draenei will be for refusing “the Dark One’s gift”.

I’m not going to outright say who the Dark One is heavily implied to be just yet. For any of you who have any sense of the hierarchy within the Burning Legion, you know where this is leading.

If you’re wondering who the Dark One is, our next point should deepen the intrigue into the Burning Legion’s involvement in Warlords of Draenor more so.

The Dark One is brought up again by a Necromancer in the most unexpected of places.

I’m just going to outright say it: Admiral Taylor is dead.

admiral-taylor
R.I.P. Admiral Taylor

For Alliance players, you know who Admiral Taylor is. He was the Alliance’s equivalent to General Nazgrim, “leveling” with players through each expansion as both parties strove up the ranks of their respective factions.

When the player reaches the Spires of Arak, they stumble upon a certain zone: Admiral Taylor’s Garrison. When they arrive, the scene is eerie and downright dark; the Garrison is destroyed, corpses and the dead are walking, and Admiral Taylor’s soul is chained up in what looks to be a “ritual”. At the conclusion of the quests in the area when the player starts to get answers from Admiral Taylor, he informs you that a man in his ranks named “Ephial” turned on Admiral Taylor and his men, slaughtering all of them and performing these dark arts. Ephial then appears, sporting a Necromancer model (the likes of Heigan the Unclean, for example), acting mysterious and speaking cryptically.

Eventually, Ephial is slain by the player, but not before parting with one last piece of information: he was promised immeasurable power, by one simply known as “the Dark One”.

UPDATE: Our next point delves a bit off from the Dark One, and I apologize for that, but it in fact explains who the Dark One definitely CANNOT BE. If you’d rather skip to the end of the article and find out who it truly is, along with the repercussions of such a person being involved with the events of this Alternate Universe, you are more than welcome to.

At the time of this article’s conception, it was before the cinematic for Warlords of Draenor had been unveiled. That being said, there is one more prime reason for why the Burning Legion may be much more heavily involved with the expansion and its end:

Mannoroth is dead, cutting him out from being the most highly speculated Final Boss of the expansion. Though Grommash has been announced as the final boss, this does not deter the possibility of an imminent Burning Legion invasion.

You all saw what happened in the cinematic: the Iron Horde flexing its might to show it doesn’t need the Legion nor Mannoroth’s tainted blood; this point was driven home the second Grom’s axe dug into Mannoroth’s demonic skull. If there was a single though in any of your minds that “hmmm, maybe Mannoroth is the Dark One”, well, sorry to burst your bubble!

With Mannoroth dead, there is no possibility of him being the end boss of the expansion. He was highly speculated to be, along with Gul’dan, since Mannoroth was the one Gul’dan mainly answered to. However, because Mannoroth, one of the highest ranking lieutenants of the Burning Legion, is dead, imagine how angry Sargeras and the other members of the Legion must be. They no longer have their promised orc army; a prized lieutenant is dead; the orcs have united, and are a credible threat by themselves now.

Someone has to take care of this and fix this “mistake,” and who other than the full brunt force of the Burning Legion itself?

grommash-hellscream-mannoroth-headshot
Boom! Headshot.

Furthermore, Grommash Hellscream was announced at Gamescom to be the final boss of the expansion. As I said in the header for this point: this does not deter the possibility of an imminent Burning Legion invasion.

Why? Simple: just because we face Grommash, doesn’t mean we know the context of how, nor in what “form” we may take him on. Furthermore, for all we know, the final patch for Warlords may focus around the Legion arriving in full force upon Draenor, while we still have Grommash to deal with. Example scenario: We go into his “stronghold”, take him out, and escape Alternate Draenor finally, just as the Legion’s incursion hits in full effect. Again: this does not deter the possibility of the Legion being heavily involved in this expansion in the slightest.

Now, hang on for a second. Before I outright say who the Dark One is, and before I explain what all of this could mean, let the following pile up in your head:

  • The Shadow Council isn’t dealt with at all by the conclusion of the leveling experience in Warlords. All members are still active, even if each harbors their own intentions and goals.
  • The Shadow Council is in much better condition than the Iron Horde as the leveling experience concludes. Including the events of the raids at launch, Kargath, Blackhand, Ner’zhul, and Garrosh are all dead. The only remaining members are Grommash, Deadeye, and Azuka Bladefury.
  • The Burning Legion has a presence and foothold established upon Draenor. Gul’dan is very much in contact with them, and Archimonde is at their helm it seems.
  • Mannoroth, prized lieutenant of the Burning Legion, is dead, eliminating him from the pool of possible “final bosses” for the expansion. The Legion is most likely pissed that he was slain and their orc army couldn’t come to fruition. They’d still want that army, one way or another.
  • The Dark One is mentioned twice, by two completely separate entities, involving two events that shouldn’t even remotely be similar (or so we would think).

This leads to a dark and nightmarish conclusion for what lies over the course of Warlords and its patch cycle.

Conclusion: The Dark One is either Sargeras or a Sargeras-possessed Medivh, and due to Gul’dan’s failure in getting the Orc Clans to drink the blood of Mannoroth, the leader of the Burning Legion has been forced to get his own hands dirty. Furthermore, all leaders of the Legion, including Archimonde and Kil’jaeden, will be involved in this all out invasion.

sargeras
Is the Dark One Sargeras himself? Will the Burning Legion become directly involved in WoD due to Gul’dans failure?

If all this foreshadowing is a true, subtle hint at what’s to come, Sargeras/Medivh will stand as the true final villain for Warlords. Why, though? Let’s further elaborate:

  • At this time, Gul’dan will have been in contact with Sargeras/Medivh. If the plan to make the Orc Clans drink the blood of Mannoroth had succeeded, they would’ve already had planned opening the Dark Portal and linking it to their (AU) Azeroth.
  • Since the plan failed, Sargeras/Medivh feels a more hands on approach is needed. He instructs Gul’dan to wreak havoc and harvest as much power from AU Draenor as possible, to weaken the Draenei, their allies, and the planet itself, leaving it even more vulnerable to invasion.
  • Archimonde AND the Necromancer Ephial explicitly cite a “Dark One”. Sargeras is commonly known with such a title, and is known for making false promises of empowerment to those that serve him. The fact that Ephial employed necromancy in the form of a type of Scourge event, however, implies Kil’jaeden may have been involved as well, due to Kil’jaeden being the progenitor and crafter of the original Scourge and its Lich King.
  • Since the expansion is set in an Alternate Universe, it allows the writers to kill off any character belonging to it with no real consequence. This means major players such as Medivh, Sargeras, Kil’jaeden, and Archimonde can end up being faced by the players and even be slain, without their versions that belong to our universe being effected.

This means that ALL THREE major leaders of the Burning Legion are fully active currently and on the move toward Draenor. From Archimonde’s own words, a storm is coming to desolate Draenor completely. To top it off, Gul’dan works to subjugate Grommash and the remnants of the Iron Horde, too, and add them to their armada. Sargeras, his colleagues, Gul’dan and his Shadow Council, and a fearful Grommash; a multitude of forces that have been the most feared throughout history are now working in perfect tandem and have had their fates twisted together in a way never seen before, all because an essential, albeit evil, event in history was prevented.

Despite the gruesome outcome that occurred with the Orc Clans drinking the blood of Mannoroth, nothing compares to the darkness that awaits us if the Burning Legion is as active as its implied in AU Draenor. The Iron Horde isn’t the worst threat we have to face upon Draenor, and as its forces deplete, it’ll become an even more terrifying threat when guided by desperation. We can only logically theorize what string pulling comes next via the Shadow Council and the Burning Legion, and the Legion may necessarily not even be dealt with fully or the final enemy for this expansion, but know this: if all these observations turn out to be spot in the coming content patches for Warlords of Draenor, brace yourselves for a Burning Crusade the likes of which have never been seen.

The Legion approaches.

  • WRONG

    Wrong, this couldnt be more wrong. Burning Legion is just a myth. Casual.

    • SpunkySpunkmeyer

      Great evidence to support your argument, pleb.

      • Ploppaloppadingdong

        So did you.

    • AeluronLightsong

      This is…like not even a tiny bit decent argument. It’s just Keyboard Warrior stuff.

      • Ploppaloppadingdong

        What it is is trolling, and you fell for it realllly hard.

  • AeluronLightsong

    Well theory albeit I have misgivings on it happening

  • Kordan

    Thank you, interesting!

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  • Ploppaloppadingdong

    One thing about this – when you look at a step-by-step overview of the “All is Revealed” quest series ( http://warcraft.blizzplanet.com/blog/comments/all-is-revealed-warlords-of-draenor ) you not only see that the shadowy mysterious figure is a female (and likely an orc female) but that the dialogue even includes Gul’dan saying “Griselda, you stay here…”

    Perhaps that’s who they decided to go with after the mysterious figure you referred to as a male was removed? Griselda is an old school WC character, the daughter of Warchief Blackhand, who ran away untainted as a lovestruck teenager to the Deadmines with her ogre boyfriend, Turok (ha). In original universe of course.

    The implications could add another interesting layer to your excellent theory – if Blackhand’s daughter is in league with the Shadow Council, that’s yet another angle that points to the remnants of the Iron Horde becoming corrupted by the Legion.

  • Dannyall

    Was just announced in cinematic for the legendary quest, Grommosh once again refuses to drink the blood, (he also appears to have known Garrosh was his son) he is bounded by Gul’dan and Kilrogg stands up and drinks the blood, becoming the first Warlord to be involved with the legion, I think blizzard has been smart about this from the start, Taanan Jungle has obviously been blocked off from draenor because it’s all Fel inflicted and whatnot. Well done Blizzard.

  • Brendan Reilly

    This alternate universe crap is lazy. Why don’t they just go to the starcraft or our universe even if they can pull story telling bullshit like this.

  • Nannerbux

    Reading this one year later. LMAO

    Blizzard went out of their way to shit on this expansion so they could rush out the next one. Legion seems promising, but after reading so many articles like this from one year ago, it makes me realize that Legion will be hosting many more corner cutting features as well.

    Blizzard’s WoW Team is run by tired old, burned out dudes who need to retire.