About a month has passed since the announcement of World of Warcraft: Legion. As a whole, the expansion is drawing towards a massive confrontation with the age-old demonic forces the likes of which we’ve yet to experience. Gul’dan (initially thought to be missing-in-action following the climactic events of Hellfire Citadel) has been sent by the Burning Legion to purge all of Azeroth through fel flame and brimstone.
Khadgar, Tirion, Maiev, Illidan, and Sylvanas are other notable figures taking up arms for the new expansion; not since the War of the Ancients have we seen such host of prestigious individuals gather. However, for the story to weave together such a vast number of characters together who each have their own personal goals and feelings is broader in scope than many realize. And for that reason, one lore figure might stand more than the rest. But which character is that?
I want to establish something before I continue. Blizzard has proven that although they take twists with their story from time to time there’s never been any absolutely monumental plot-twist in World of Warcraft’s story. Kil’jaeden turning out to be our final foe during the Burning Crusade stood as only a marginal surprise at best; the “there must always be a Lich King” was slightly predictable and made the return of the Lich King entity a possibility; Grom not being the final boss of Warlords of Draenor after initially being announced as such was unsurprising as well. Though the “twists” themselves aren’t exactly groundbreaking or all around shocking, they’re still attempted twists that have distorted the “big picture” of each involved expansion. Moreso, these “twists” have grown in magnitude over the years.
This is why I’m expecting a legitimate and very real twist at the start of Legion. At the center of this supposed and possible twist stands Xavius—the catalyst and causation of what this twist could potentially be.
Get ready to venture down the rabbit hole and take a gander into the maw of madness. I have a theory involving our not-so friendly neighborhood Satyr that if true make shake the story of Legion to its very core. So, where to start? Let’s start with where Xavius’ motives lie:
Now I’m unsure if this thought occurred to only me, but isn’t it odd that the Nightmare Lord who was saved by the Old Gods and made the captain of their flagship known as the Emerald Nightmare is suddenly serving the Burning Legion again?
The official Legion website has the following description for Xavius and his involvement with the next expansion:
That last line in particular really stands out. Xavius for whatever reason is harnessing the corruption of the Emerald Dream for the Burning Legion. Odd, no? Yet for Xavius to serve the Legion again isn’t unheard of. After all, Sargeras’ own hands were what grafted Xavius into the first of the Satyrs. Needless to say this development coming to pass is quite strange, especially since the last time we heard from Xavius he was being imprisoned within the Rift of Aln by Malfurion and still in the service of N’zoth.
This is where a number of issues come into play towards Xavius’ supposed allegiance towards the Legion:
- What happened between the novel Stormrage and Legion that not only freed Xavius but also placed him back in touch with his old ties towards the Burning Legion? Xavius was quite literally imprisoned in the Rift of Aln itself at the conclusion of Stormrage. The novel states that the Rift of Aln is where the Emerald Nightmare and the power driving it refused to unlatch from the Dream. For Xavius to be imprisoned at the Nightmare’s focal point of concentration and eventually somehow be freed raises more questions than answers.
- Xavius was serving N’zoth, the Emerald Nightmare’s true source. Considering the absolute sway and power of the Old Gods, how could Xavius suddenly break from their (specifically N’zoth’s) grasp?
- The Old Gods’ forces have never been known to “play nice” with other usurpers. If anything they’ve always utilized other antagonistic battalions as a means to an end — a power to manipulate for personal gain. For example, the Old Gods originally wanted to utilize the portal summoning Sargeras during the War of the Ancients to split Azeroth and free themselves. We have no confirmation that while Xavius is back in the allegiance of the Burning Legion, he’s no longer under the employment of the Old Gods. Who’s to say that Xavius isn’t N’zoth’s “bridge” to using the Legion for their own freeing?
- Take a look at that image of Xavius from the Legion website above once more. Xavius’ figure looks like it literally has touches of Sha corruption. Though Y’shaarj was the Old God responsible for Sha corruption and stood as their progenitor, its more than possible that the forms the Sha resembled are how fully tainted beings in service to the Old Gods resemble. Literally look at his figure—the black claws that look eerily similar to Garrosh’s at the height of his corruption; the veiny lines of corruption that resemble the visage the Sha took on; the wings that resemble the spikes and other growths the Sha had manifesting off their forms. Xavius is quite obviously still under some form of Old God power.
- Seriously, why is Xavius out of f*cking nowhere serving the Burning Legion again?
More questions than answers are raised with Xavius’ reappearance and supposed shift in servitude. As one could guess, the outcome of Stormrage seemed to establish a rather conclusive end for the Nightmare Lord.
But the questions raised about Xavius’ possible loyalties with the new expansion are only one part of this potentially bigger picture. In scope, there’s much more going on that throws his whole character into question with Legion that we’ve yet to cover.
Val’sharah and Shaladrassil: Context Clues
According to Legion’s official character profile of Xavius, the satyr is leading “the conquest of Val’sharah.” The site’s image of the zone isn’t in detail since we can’t zoom into the zone itself, but for what’s offered it does give context clues as to the mystery of Xavius.
Notice the one “landmark” within Val’sharah on the whole map of the Broken Isles? The landmark is the World Tree Shaladrassil. According to the information disclosed pertaining to Shaladrassil and Val’sharah, the World Tree is the source of the Emerald Nightmare’s resurgence.
Though we don’t have any information pertaining to Shaladrassil as of yet, it is still a World Tree. With Shaladrassil being the a World Tree, there are now four confirmed throughout Azeroth so far: Nordrassil, Teldrassil, Vordrassil, and Shaladrassil itself. Nordrassil was the original World Tree and initially the source of the Night Elves’ immortality. The World Trees have continuously been grown and forged to attempt to grant Night Elves’ their immortality once more after Nordrassil’s weakening after the Battle of Hyjal.
Every attempt to do so has failed. Teldrassil came to become the Night Elves’ home. Vordrassil, Northrend’s World Tree, met a much darker fate. The World Tree of Northrend was destroyed by its former druid caretakers after Yogg-Saron, the Old God imprisoned beneath Northrend, throttled his corruption into the tree’s roots and corrupted it from the inside out.
The Broken Isles continent map displays a Shaladrassil that looks almost skeletal— barren of any leaves, any bush, any form of life. Though we don’t have a full in game image of the tree yet its landmark upon the Broken Isles continent map offers us context clues to its state. Recapping from earlier, Shaladrassil is the source of the Emerald Nightmare’s resurgence. From the picture itself you can see a massive section of split earth beneath the base of the tree with roots reaching deep down.
Based on the context that Shaladrassil is being presented it’s quite possible its fate has been brought about through the same means as Vordrassil’s felling. Since Shaladrassil’s roots run deep into the Broken Isles, along with the Broken Isles’ actual location being amongst the Great Sea (N’zoth’s supposed location), I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if N’zoth has had some sort of physical interaction with the fourth World Tree.
Furthermore, N’zoth is the “source” of the Nightmare within the Emerald Dream. For this Old God to be able to corrupt the Dream and continue to twist it implies he holds abilities to twist the Nightmare/Dream regardless of the plane of existence he’s on. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if he was able to freely create links between the Nightmare/Dream to Azeroth’s physical realm. This would also explain how Xavius became freed from Malfurion’s seal. Though the Archdruid did seal the Nightmare Lord, he could only “push back” the Rift of Aln’s darkness temporarily—in his own words, the conclusion of Stormrage was a temporary solution while they dealt with Deathwing’s resurgence. N’zoth could have easily free his restrained hold on the Dream and re-unleashed Xavius.
The Pillars of Creation and Xavius’ Endgame
Based on Xavius’ important involvement with the expansion, the Nightmare Lord is going to be crucial to the expansion’s development– especially after being named one of the first “final” bosses of the expansion within the Emerald Nightmare raid:
So where does all of this point us? Unless everything pointed out is purely circumstantial, Xavius obviously still has draws and ties to his Old God masters — specifically N’zoth. For this whole theory, I’ve been explaining that Xavius continues to have an allegiance to the Old Gods and N’zoth. We’ve established how Xavius is more than likely still obedient to their twisted machinations. But, honestly, what does it mean and what’s the significance of it as a whole?
Xavius’ importance in Legion’s story has a sort of “missing link”. Consider this: isn’t it odd that again out of nowhere Xavius is back, and instead of focusing on the main key to the expansion’s story, the Pillars of Creation, he’s only spreading the Emerald Nightmare’s influence?
On Legion’s official site, the description of our mission for this upcoming expansion is initially thought to be rather straightforward. The official transcript quotes as follows:
Brave the epicenter of the demon invasion—the Broken Isles, a land rich with ancient wonders. Explore lush forests, colossal mountain ranges, and night elven cities older than human civilization. But native dangers lurk here too: twisted satyrs, savage drogbar, and cursed Kvaldir prowl the Isles alongside the Legion’s marauding army. To overcome these threats, you will claim an Order Hall unique to your character class and lead your followers on a hunt for the Pillars of Creation—the secret to Azeroth’s salvation.”
The Pillars of Creation are described as “Titan relics that were used to shape the world when it was young”. The whole mission for us as heroes this expansion is to lead our class in a crusade across the Broken Isles in pursuit of these relics. Our end goal is to utilize them to seal the tear Gul’dan has manifested to summon the Legion.
Are you seeing the disconnect between Xavius’ purpose and the Burning Legion’s? At the expansion’s unveiling we were told our whole mission is to track down these lost Titan tools through dungeons, raids, and the world itself—they are our literal salvation. So if Xavius is in service of the Legion, why isn’t his focus on thwarting our efforts in locating the Pillars of Creation?
Well, that’s rather simple actually: he’s a distraction.
Yes, that’s exactly what I said: a distraction.
As you might’ve noticed from the Legion Official Site’s character profiles, Xavius isn’t the only Old God minion throwing his hat into the chaos upon the Broken Isles. A new character named Tidemistress Athissa is a Naga in servitude to Queen Azshara — another soul saved by the Old Gods and, moreso, N’zoth specifically.
Athissa’s character profile goes as follows:
Athissa has been sent by Azshara herself to recover a Pillar of Creation. The official description from the announcement event of the Nagas’ activities within Azsuna offer further insight:
Azsuna represents the bones of the ancient Night Elf civilization. It has ghosts of ancient Night Elves, a dying breed of the Blue Dragonflight, and the Nightfallen. The Nightfallen are exiled royalty from Suramar that have been left to die outside of the walls of their city. We will be racing Queen Azshara and her minions for control of the Pillar of Creation in the zone.
Though these objects are arguably important purely because of their link to the Titans, isn’t it odd that at the same exact time both the Legion and Xavius become active, so too do Azshara and her Naga?
This gives further credibility to my initial statement as to Xavius’ true purpose: he is but a distraction.
The Naga serve Azshara, but they were saved by the Old Gods and N’zoth. We’ve always known the Old Gods to be attempting to free themselves from their prison forged by the Titans. On the contrary to this though, we’ve never known what exactly crafted the many Old Gods’ collective prisons.
After the description of this expansion, along with the resurgence of Xavius, Emerald Nightmare, and the Naga, I’ve come to a conclusion:
The Pillars of Creation were the instruments harnessed by the Titans to imprison the Old Gods.
For a device such as the Pillars, whatever they might be, to seal a colossal wound in the earth that is causing demons to pour forth from the Twisting Nether would require an enormous amount of power. The Pillars are many, but we don’t know if each Pillar differs from one another or if each possibly has their own function.
Keeping this in mind, I’ve come to this conclusion about all the stray villains with loose ties to one another:
Xavius has pledged to the Burning Legion once more for simple good measure. His true master remains to be N’zoth and, at heart, the Old Gods. The Naga who have held loyalty to N’zoth since their maddening creation are acting as the recovery source for the Pillar. Meanwhile, Xavius is resurging, spreading the Emerald Nightmare’s corruption to distract OUR forces and make it seem as though the destruction wrought from its spread is in service of the Legion’s new burning crusade.
Together, Xavius and the Nagas’ end goal is to capture a—or all—Pillar(s) of Creation and free their master(s). This act of freeing could be simply tethered towards N’zoth; after all, he’s the Old God that saved both Xavius and the Naga. We also know that N’zoth’s battalions apparently waged war against Yogg-Saron and C’thun’s armies when Azeroth was primordial; there may be no true allegiance between the Old Gods.
Also pertaining to N’zoth is the rather vague description of his current whereabouts. The Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron has many cryptic-tellings pertaining to the Old Gods. Most of the lines uttered from attempting to solve the box offer an idea of N’zoth’s nature and present location. The box details a location called Ny’alotha which has become the contested subject of the Old Gods’ possible origin.
When prodding at the box further, Ny’alotha and N’zoth himself are described as “sleeping” and “drowned” respectively. It’s possible that N’zoth lays at the bottom of the Great Sea slumbering—especially when taking into account his prevalent ties to the Naga. The “slumbering” nature of Ny’alotha may have to do with the Emerald Dream and Nightmare too. Considering one of the only ways to necessarily fall into the Dream is to slumber yourself, Ny’alotha may actually reside in the deepest reaches of the Rift of Aln. If this turns out to be the case then it gives more credence as to why Xavius is attempting to gather the Pillars of Creation: to free Ny’alotha from Dream, cause all things within the Dream to fall to Nightmare, and then blend Nightmare over Azeroth’s plane of existence. This would allow N’zoth— if his full location is in fact within the Rift of Aln— to be freed and conquer Azeroth in full.
“In the sleeping city of Ny’alotha walk only mad things.”
A personal theory I’ve harbored due to the conflicting facts within the Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron is that N’zoth’s body is stuck in a slumber upon the Great Sea’s floor. His consciousness could in fact be trapped within the Rift of Aln from attempting to corrupt the Dream into his own personal Nightmare. In turn to this, Azshara is in charge of the revival of N’zoth’s physical form while Xavius is in charge of freeing his mind from the Dream. To this extent when we raid the Emerald Nightmare in Legion we may finally come to face to face with the Old God mastermind himself.
And if this wasn’t enough, consider the following: doesn’t this sound immensely similar to the Old God’s last large scale plan to be freed? Utilizing a powerful weapon—previously Neltharion, now Xavius—to manipulate the land dwellers and inadvertently aid them– or just N’zoth— in their attempts at freedom? A horrific thought to examine, no?
I’m expecting and staying hopeful that Blizzard to go bigger than they ever previously have with their story. And that’s not to say that they haven’t. Warlords of Draenor took the game’s methodology for storytelling into a whole new realm and step forward. (Even if it did take place in an alternate universe.)
But the number of key players from Warcraft’s universe having a direct hand in Legion are unlike anything we’ve ever seen previously. It gives credence to this thought of “going big”. This is why I expect a story the likes of which we’ve never seen throughout World of Warcraft’s lifetime; this is why I expect a story of this caliber that involves twists and turns the likes of which we’ve never seen before with Xavius, with the Naga, and with the Old Gods themselves among a story that seems centrally chained to the Old God. Those small twists we’ve gotten glimpses of over the course of World of Warcraft’s storyline have been, in my opinion, practice for something we’ve yet to see: the ultimate show stopper.
The threat of an impending apocalypse feels almost too real with Legion. We’re facing an age old enemy we haven’t ever combatted in full force. The frightening thought is that there might even be a just as equal evil bubbling up to capitalize on all this chaos.
The Legion marches on, but they’re not the only ones to fear. Beneath the earth, the Old Ones stir. And it does not bode well for anyone.