Original post by perculia on WoWHead
Secret Stories of Battle for Azeroth – Tales from the Mission Table, Exploration Achievements, and Island Drops
Battle for Azeroth tells two sweeping stories on the islands of Kul Tiras and Zandalar, stories which most players experience while leveling through those zones. However, there's another round of stories told in Battle for Azeroth, hidden in plain sight and easily skipped should you only focus on Loremaster or War Campaign quests. In this post, we're highlighting some of these overlooked stories in Battle for Azeroth, including Sylvanas raising dwarves, the greater faction war outside of the Campaign quests and Warfronts as told through the mission table, new active Titan forges, the rise of the Tidesages, and Old Gods hints in the Island quests.
Faction War – Mission Table
While Battle for Azeroth primarily focuses on the faction conflict taking place within Kul Tiras, Zandalar, and the larger Warfront battles in Arathi Highlands and Darkshore, the war has also continued to escalate across the rest of Azeroth as well, even though we're not present for it. How do we know the war continues? Through the mission table! While previous expansion follower missions were not very descriptive, the current ones tell a story of war unfolding on a global scale, between military incursions, assassinations, and territory being claimed by both sides. Back in May 2018, we summarized the mission table story and created maps documenting these attacks.
Azeroth at War: Kalimdor on Fire
Most of the action in Kalimdor takes place in the northern part of the continent, which is in chaos since Teldrassil was burned. The Night Elven forces have evacuated its citizens to Lor'danel and plan to move them to the safety of Azuremist Isles, while the Horde marches north to intercept them.
Darkshore, originally controlled by the Alliance, is divided, with the Horde controlling the South and the North areas of the zone and the Alliance controlling the inner parts of it. Exceptions are the Ruins of Auberdine, which are being excavated by new Azerite-powered Shredders, with Alliance troops arriving to attack it, and the mountains above Shatterspear are currently home to Night Elven hippogryphs, which are attacking the village. Alliance forces are also attacking the Horde base at the Grove of the Ancients.
Ashenvale is drowned in conflict; the Horde is fortifying Zoram'gar Outpost and preparing to invade Azuremyst Isle, while Night Elven Sentinels attempt to reclaim Silverwind Refuge and siege Splintertree Post, and their Dryad allies raid the Warsong Lumber Camp. Although the Alliance still control many key outposts and passage into Darkshore, Astranaar, the Stardust Spire, and Maestra's Post are all currently under attack by Horde forces. Both the Alliance and the Horde are also investigating Blackfathom Deeps, where the Alliance has already taken control of an Azerite mine from Twilight's Hammer cultists.
Azeroth at War: The Barrens
The Barrens are once again a battleground, as the Alliance simultaneously storm the Crossroads and siege the Gates of Mulgore in order to disrupt the path between Orgrimmar and Thunder Bluff, and garrisoning Fort Triumph to oppose Desolation Hold, which currently has its sights set on Bael Modan. Across the great divide, cannons have been aimed at Northwatch Hold, and both the Alliance and the Horde are investigating the ruins of Theramore, to assess its viability as a base of operations. Both factions want to control the ridge between Hunter's Hill and Honor's Stand, to control the access to Stonetalon Mountains. The Wailing Caverns are also showing new nodes of Azerite, which might spark future conflicts for them. It is also revealed that the Steamwheedle is supplying the Horde with vital resources in their campaign.
In Durotar, the Horde is building Azerite weapons in Orgrimmar, while the Alliance Navy bombard the Echo Islands. Meanwhile, the Sentinels are attacking both Razor Hill and Bilgewater Harbor in Azshara, in order to invade Orgrimmar from both fronts. The Alliance is also scavenging Tiragarde Keep, which the Horde mistakes for an attempt to rebuild it.
Azeroth at War: After Lordaeron
While the Alliance is firmly in control of the southern Eastern Kingdoms, conflicts rage across the northern shores in the wake of Lordaeron's fall. Having effectively conquered Tirisfal and the Plaguelands, the Alliance now set their sights on Silverpine Forest, where the remaining Forsaken forces have rallied. While the main armies battle over the Sepulcher, the Bloodfang Worgen seek to reclaim Fenris' Keep which is now being used to evacuate Forsaken citizens. Meanwhile, the 7th Legion has infiltrated Shadowfang Keep, where apothecaries have developed a new plague.
The Horde still holds most of Hillsbrad Foothills, but the Alliance has begun to push south out of the Plaguelands to attack Strahnbrad, and east from Gilneas toward the Sludge Fields and Azurelode Mine, while Paladins seeking to purify Southshore have retaken the town. With the loss of so many territories, the Horde is attempting to reconsolidate in the east at Durnholde Keep, in Alterac, the ruins of Strahnbrad, and raising dwarven spirits in Dun Garok. Wildhammer forces from Aerie Peak are securing the Darrowmere River which is being dammed to deny Horde movement. In Arathi Highlands, the Alliance seems to have control of Stromgarde Keep, with frequent fighting along Thoradin's Wall.
Jeremy Feasel has now mentioned in several interviews that the Island quest drops for Tell Me A Tale are part of larger stories, some of which may be developed more throughout Battle for Azeroth.
Some Island Expedition quests show that life simply goes on in spite of war. We return a Notched Coin to a sleepy fishing village in the Jade Forest, give Broken Compass to a widow in Booty Bay who is only too happy to rekindle a relationship with an old sweetheart after learning her husband has died, and return the prized Magical Spyglass to Baron Regilvaz, custom-made for his right eye. In Bloodwake Drinking Horn, we also get a bit of flavor surrounding Jorun and his vrykul tribe, which could be the namesake for the Jorundall island, however, hearing about Jorun's mighty fleet, " thousands of ships large" on the Great Sea, makes us worry what plans Azshara may have for it, knowing how she demanded the Kul Tiran fleet so that she would remain the uncontested ruler of the seas.
Under the Sea
More sea creature quests hint at ominous dealings in the ocean. In Murloc Eye, the murlocs are in bad shape between "terrifying magical experiments," "entire murloc tribes being wiped out," and one area where "water bubbles ferociously and the heat is unbearable", which all could refer to the location of Nazjatar, which will literally rise from the ocean in Rise of Azshara. There's also a line about fleeing fish, and in Patch 8.1.5 we can fish up gigantic severed fish heads at the Darkmoon Faire… and it's a tidy theory to imagine the fish from Murloc Eye escaping from a fate of being mutated, boiled, and chopped up. Meanwhile, the Razorfin Hunting Spear shows that the Razorfin Jinyu are on the move, tracking down a great island beast known as "Onoho" or "Deep Shadow" – our paths will cross with them again in 8.2, as seen in a Nazjatar slide at BlizzCon 2018.
Goblins, Gnomes, and Worgen
The goblins story continues with Weathered Pamphlet and Venture Co. Business Plan, which fit in with the continuation of the Goblin/Gnome side plot of Before the Storm. Weathered Pamphlet advertises an Azerite-buying service, which also proclaims "Your fortune awaits in the Great Sea!" – something we're not too sure about, what with all the other ocean dangers present in the Island quests. When turning the quest in, the Gnome quest giver lets it slip that "Big G doesn't like it when I talk too much," reflecting his secret affiliation with Gallywix, a leader without scruples who wants Azerite for destructive purposes. We've seen Goblins and Gnomes working together for peace in Before the Storm, and now they appear to be teaming up for evil!
Meanwhile in Venture Co. Business Plan we learn that the Venture Company, which should have suffered a major setback after the loss of their leader in THE MOTHERLODE!!, has a complex long-term plan for future growth. When we turn this tome into Lizzarik, someone we think is part of the rival Steamwheedle Cartel, he lets it slip that he's actually an investor in the Venture Company as well. Not surprising that the Goblins spy on each other's business enterprises.
The Worgen may also get a small story continuation in Druidic Fur, when feral druids in Pack Form, the first Worgen, are spotted on the Island. Originally imprisoned in the Emerald Dream after they could not contain their power during the War of the Satyr, these Druids have clearly broken free of that prison, possibly due to the battles and corruption during Legion.
Aftermath of the Lich King
Several quests highlight tragic ends for those who rebelled against the Lich King. In Vorus'arak's Carapace, we learn the Nerubian Vorus escaped with his brood during the War of the Spider between the Nerubians and the Lich King. While the journey was arduous and Vorus had to eat many of his young to survive, the brood eventually regained some happiness on a faraway island… until we showed up and killed him. Likewise in Icetusk Fur Cloak, we hold a remnant of the Icetusk clan, a small group of Ice Trolls who initially resisted the Lich King, but turned to necromancy due to hard times and despair.
Rise of the Dragonflights
The fate of the dragons has been quite precarious since the events of Dragon Soul, however, several destructive dragonflights may be flourishing. During Legion, shaman learned that the Twilight Dragonflight had returned, launching attacks on Deepholm led by Zeryxia, a dragon who communicates with the blood of Sintharia from the Dark Beyond; that memo apparently didn't spread to greater Azeroth, as we're surprised to learn in Battered Twilight Scale that the Twilight Dragonflght did not die out with Sinestra back in Cataclysm. What's particularly worrisome is that that the quest giver notes she can "feel the heartbeat of thousands of tiny creatures in there", backed up by the flavor text on Twilight Avenger describing a significant population still living in Grim Batol. N'Zoth previously worked with Deathwing to cause the Cataclysm, and create an army of Twilight Drakes, so perhaps the Old God is preparing another army of dragons (or even more than one army of dragons, as the Infinite Dragonflight is also back in 8.1.5…).
There may be hope for the Black Dragonflight though, indicated by the Unscarred Black Scale. Hoping to find Wrathion at Blackwing Descent, one of his guards hints that he is out searching for the Dragon Isles – islands which were originally envisioned as temples to the Old Gods during the development of Vanilla WoW. Although most of the Black Dragonflight is presumed dead or corrupted by the Old Gods, but we know of one other uncorrupted dragon besides Wrathion, Ebyssian, the protector of the Highmountain Tribe better known as Spiritwalker Ebonhorn. Either Ebyssian isn't co-operating, or is still hiding his true identity though, as the guard notes "We have not found others of the master's kin… forthcoming in information". Still, the presence of a small uncorrupted scale hints that more Black Dragons are out there for Wrathion to meet.
With all the Old God hints throughout Battle for Azeroth, of course several quests would reference them. We've written extensive articles before on how Wriggling Mass could represent the resurrection of Y'Shaarj and the player swapping places into the puddle of death parallels the cinematography of Warbringers: Azshara. The Mantid, ever loyal to the Old Gods, are buzzing in excitement as a new Grand Empress hatches during Sonic Stone. Should these whispers present our future outcome, N'Zoth could even bring back Y'Shaarj, originally the strongest of the Old Gods, and usher in a new wave of destruction. If you'd like to read more on this topic, WoWHead has discussed these Island Quests in the following articles:
Hearthstone's Whispers of the Old Gods Expansion in BFA examines how the Hearthstone expansion introduced the canon appearance and some lore of N'Zoth, while also depicting a world in which all Old Gods were alive and free. What if the expansion also foreshadowed the return of the Old Gods and what clues can we find?
Price of Power – Relics within the Crucible of Storms discusses our fascination with these volatile items, why they could usher in more destruction, and the mystery surrounding the Tempest Crown.
N'Zoth Wants Us to Win – Our Test in the Crucible of Storms analyzes N'Zoth's potential trap for us, tricking us into thinking we're heroically defeating his lieutenants, when it's a test all along to prove our worthiness to the Old Gods. What if N'Zoth tested us to see if we were strong enough to protect the relics, showing we're ready to fight Azshara in 8.2?
Reawakened Titanic Devices
Old Gods may not be the only thing we have to worry about, as the Wound in the World has awoken crypts hidden deep in the earth. The Ancient Crypt Key resembles devices used to activate Titan machinery by the Mogu Empire. Lorewalker Cho tells us that this item hails from the Age of a Hundred Kings when the Mogu kings practiced necromancy, raising crypt lords to rule from underground; thankfully the flavor text on the item claims it appears to be inert, but appearances can be deceiving! A new branch of Tol'vir have also awoken, called the Amathet, as discovered in Glittering Scarab; they believe they have a divine right to the Azerite and have constructed their own keepers, which confirms the existence of a facility resembling the Forge of Wills or Halls of Origination. The Forge infuses Azeroth with cosmic energies, creating sentient life, while the Halls are meant to regulate the rhythm of the earth… or more disturbingly obliterate life should Azeroth become completely corrupted. We're already treading on thin ice with the corruption present on Azeroth due to Sargeras inflicting the Wound in the World, and we learn in Magni's 8.1.5 quest with MOTHER that things aren't getting any better, as "Azeroth's dyin', and nothin' we do seems tae heal her."
Unexpected Dark Threats
Finally, there's some unexpected threats on the horizon, from places we haven't had to worry about in quite some time. When we turn in Elemental Core to our old friend Duke Hydraxis, we learn that all the Azerite is making the lesser elemental lords rebel – defeating Al'Akir and Ragnaros twice might not have been enough, as these lesser elementals now seek to overthrow the current lords, which we formed an alliance with in the Legion Shaman Campaign. It's important to remember that while the elementals initially resisted the Old Gods, they quickly fell and became subservient instead, so this may not only rob us of much needed allies, but could also become an even greater threat if they ally once again with the Black Empire. In that same Class Campaign, we learned that the Twilight Dragonflight also had a plan to subdue the elementals using the power of the Void in Unleashing the Elements. Worst-case scenario, the lesser elementals side with the Old Gods, weaken the elemental lords, and try enslaving them with the help of the Twilight Dragonflight.
In Ring of the Reefs, we learn another enemy previously thought dead in Legion has returned – Helya, who we thought was defeated in the Trial of Valor. Yet Helya is back, as Valdemar states "You cannot kill death!" and it forces us to wonder if Sylvanas will continue pursuing their pact, or if Helya will claim her side of the bargain owed by Sylvanas. We're also curious why Odyn asked us to defeat Helya, if she apparently cannot die and Valdemar laughs at our surprise over the fact… Was Odyn hiding something from us all along?
Finally, in Strangling Root we learn that the life spirit does not always view us benevolently, noting "Not all of us that guard the natural world see your kind as allies. There are many of my kind that seek to preserve the balance above all things. Even if that means your death.". That line about balance remind us of Bwonsamdi's and the Lich King's thoughts on Sylvanas in the post-Dazaralor Vol'jin questline – they don't like her because she "threatens the balance", whatever that may mean. Glittering Scarab also hints at a new Forge that could reset life on Azeroth… and considering how many destructive and disappointing choices we make with Azerite, the Keepers or even the Titans themselves may decide we are a risk and once again want to purge us, especially if Sylvanas keeps resurrecting more fallen allies, disrupting the balance, and revisits her deal with Helya.
Lore Hints in Exploration Achievements
Drust the Facts, Ma'am
With playable Kul Tiran Druids in Patch 8.1.5, you might want to learn more about the Drust. Drust the Facts, Ma'am tells the story of their ancient civilization through steles scattered throughout Drustvar, from Drust Stele: Conflict, detailing the countless invasions the Drust faced to Drust Stele: Protectors of the Forest, the blessing of Drust druids by the forest spirits Athair and Athainne.
Several steles describe the process of creating wicker constructs as well – Drust Stele: Constructs, Drust Stele: Breath Into Stone, Drust Stele: The Ritual, which served as the inspiration for Kul Tiran Druid forms. Together with Drust archaeology fragments such as Ritual Fetish and Restored Revenant, we can learn more about the dark magic at the heart of these rituals.
A Loa of a Tale
A Loa of a Tale offers fun riddles about the loa, providing a fun way for players, especially Alliance that don't get to experience all of the Loa quests, to learn a little more about Zandalari religion. We'd like to draw particular attention to Tales of de Loa: Bwonsamdi, which includes the following couplets:
Behind his smile and pointed humor,
Dere lies a darkness, a hint of rumor.
He knows things dat make de brave men shriek,
The truth from him, ya must not seek.
What is the rumor attached to Bwonsamdi, and why should we not seek the truth from him? After the Battle of Dazar'alor, Horde players work with Bwonsamdi to learn about the death and return of Vol'jin – can we trust everything Bwonsamdi tells us?
Legends of the Tidesages
Legends of the Tidesages details the history of the Tidesages, a particularly-useful read for Horde players that do not quest through Stormsong Valley. The tablets tell the story of the rise and success of Stormsong Valley, flourishing under the blessing of the Tidesages. However, In Ancient Tidesage Scroll, we learn that an ancient ancestor of House Stormsong heard 'gentle whispers, imperceptible to all but him" which "guided his mind ever deeper, revealing untold truths of the powers within him." While these gentle whispers, in the tablets, lead to a close bond between the Tidesages and the elements, in Battle for Azeroth questing, these kind whispers have been replaced by Azshara's destructive ones, as Stormsong falls under the power of the Void and delivers the Kul TIran fleet to Azshara.
Or, perhaps, the whispers have been from the Old Gods all along, slowly corrupting the Tidesages after years of prosperity. Do note the final Ancient Tidesage Scroll, praising the prosperity of Stormsong Valley, is located at Tempest's Edge, a bleak place right outside the Shrine of the Storm dungeon.
Carved in Stone, Written in Blood
The Blood Trolls, worshippers of G'huun and the antagonists of Nazmir, gradually split from the Zandalari. In the achievement Carved in Stone, Written in Blood and several archaeology quests, we learn more about the schism.
Urn of Passage and Sanguinating Totem describe a blood plague that broke out, and the practitioners that stubbornly stuck with Blood Magic.
In Ancient Nazmani Tablet we see the Zandalari living happily in Zul'Nazman, while Weathered Nazmani Tablet condemns a practitioner of Blood Magic. Cracked Tablet, located in the southern part of Nazmir, reflects how the Zandalari were forced to abandoned their lands in Nazmir to the Blood Trolls. Also note how the tablet says "deceived by whispers"–whispers play a defining role in the story of the TIdesages and well as the Blood Trolls.
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