Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, the column that answers your questions about the story and lore of the Warcraft universe. Click the Comments link below, ask your question, and blogger/columnist Alex Ziebart will answer you in a future installment!
I have questions about Kalimdor. How aware were the Alliance races of the continent before the events of Warcraft III? Was it completely unknown, known but unexplored, or frequented by the adventurous? The only Alliance settlement seems to be the recent Theramore, but at the same time, the goblins' trading network and cities seem to be well-established, so you'd think word of the continent must have gotten around. And there are pirate organizations that include humans and dwarves on the continent, too.
Answer: It's probably that "known but unexplored" bit. If it weren't for the High Elves and Goblins, it likely would have been completely unknown. The Dwarves wouldn't necessarily know, they were still Earthen when the Sundering went down. Out of all of the kingdoms in the Eastern Kingdoms, only one had a particular affinity for seafaring, and a giant vortex of death in the middle of the ocean was probably a good demotivator for anybody considering exploring further. Heck, our world doesn't have a giant vortex of death in the middle of the ocean, and look how long it took Europe to 'discover' the Americas.
When you think about the two races that could have told the rest of the EK about Kalimdor, it's unlikely they would bother saying anything. The High Elves and Humans only became allies in the last hundred years (guessing, didn't double check this) or so, and the High Elves haven't lived on Kalimdor for thousands and thousands of years. There is a very real possibility it never came up. And the Goblins? Well, if the Goblins were selling 'exotic wares from lands unknown' it would be better for business to not tell the Humans and Dwarves about Kalimdor, so who knows?
Danny Zaidman came asking for opinions:
I'm sure you are all familiar with Illidan and the whole Demon Hunter thing. For those of you who aren't, let me explain it to you in a few lines of text. Basically a Demon Hunter is usually a Night Elf (although other races are known to have followed this path) who makes a ton of sacrifices to gain immense powers. These powers are used to combat the Burning Legion. Illidan is the most famous of the bunch.
Now here comes the question. Do you think what Illidan did for the Night Elves is noble or not?
Answer: I'm sure I'll get plenty of flames for my response, but I am of the opinion Illidan is pretty evil. Blizzard simply does a good job of making their villains at least a little endearing, and gives them motivations you can understand. For example, people still love Kael'thas even though his descent into evil-hood was a story told fairly well. Following his story was just interesting, and you related to him because you saw it all happen firsthand. Heck, I love Kael, too. I love him because his becoming a villain was so interesting.
Illidan is much the same. You relate to him because you saw parts of WC3 through his eyes. You read about him in the novels. You grow attached to him, but the simple fact is he did a lot of really bad things. He did a lot simply for power, and he put himself and others at risk just to make himself look better for Tyrande, and to get noticed by people more powerful than he was so he could further his goals. Sure, he did a lot for the Night Elves, but his intent was made pretty clear each time. Illidan wanted two things: He wanted strength, and he wanted Tyrande to love him. His cause wasn't a noble one. He was driven by lust and power.
Everyone loves a little romance, so wanting to impress Tyrande could be endearing to some, but I wouldn't call the Illidan/Tyrande scenario 'love'. He had full on creepy lust. It was probably a toss up whether Illidan would be staring at the Skull of Gul'dan or Tyrande's Panties atop the Black Temple, and the Skull won out. It's a family game, after all.
What are the statues of hooded figures with swords in duskwood and around the dark portal?
Answer: We have no idea! I checked with Daniel Whitcomb (my lore partner in crime) before writing this to make sure, but neither of us have found any mention of who, or what, they may be. This might be a plot point for further down the road, or they might only exist to look intimidating. They're all over Outland and inside of Black Temple as well.
There has been somewhat a conflict in Deathwing's appearances and 'death' before/during/after the Second War, and it even kind of confuses me when I try to look through WoWwiki to figure out what really happened when.
So what I'd like to know is, what do YOU think happened when?
Answer: The Wowwiki explanation seems to be a pretty solid one this time around. Around the beginning of the Second War, Deathwing wormed his way into the Alliance under the guise of Daval Prestor. He aimed to become King of Alterac after its former ruler betrayed the Alliance, with the intent of using it to destroy the Alliance from the inside out.
At some point, he slipped up as Deathwing and was cornered and forced into Blackrock Spire. Seeking to gain the dragon's favor, the Horde attacked and defeated the Alliance forces holding Deathwing captive. In exchange for his freedom, the dragon helped the Horde acquire a few items of power to let them open portals to additional worlds. Unfortunately for Deathwing, the Humans hadn't given up on bringing him down. The archmagi of Dalaran eventually did the deed, and assumed him dead. Deathwing had actually fled to Draenor, and took his remaining eggs with him. This is where he met the Alliance Expedition, and got whooped again.
He returned to Azeroth, leaving his eggs behind and taking up the identity of Daval Prestor again. During this stint in Azeroth, he hid his identity and manipulated dozens, if not hundreds, to get at Alexstrasza, who was being held captive by the Dragonmaw Orcs. He attempted to attack Alexstrasza and steal her eggs, but the attack ended in failure. Deathwing was forced to flee, and his current location is unknown. It is heavily implied that his current hideout is in Outland, but we don't know for sure.
That is, more or less, the timeline given by Wowwiki and one I agree with. Various sources disagree with one another, but this is the series of events that makes the most sense.
Scatterheart on Dark Iron wrote in to ask...
This awesome symbol is on the floor in the throne room leading to the entrance to the undercity, and I think it would make an amazing tattoo, but I'm afraid it's some alliance relic left over from lordaeron, and I don't want some allie trash on my skin forever! If you know what this is, please tell me.
Answer: It's a good thing you asked me about this before you got inked. That is, in fact, left over from Lordaeron. That L in the center stands for Lordaeron, even. You can see an old version of the battle standard on their Wowwiki entry. That stylized L is also scattered throughout Scarlet Crusade camps and other places. Want to know another cool little detail about this picture? Do you see that streak of brownish red in the upper right corner? That's a blood spatter leftover from when Arthas ganked his pops. If you don't normally play with sound, turn it on and turn it up while you hang out in this area. When the ambience kicks in, you can hear that scene play out.
Alright, ladies and gents. That's all we have time for this week, but I'll be back next Sunday answering more of your questions! No question is too big or too small, so don't be afraid to ask. And before you go, I have other good news! While I always appreciate comments here on the site, you can also use the new firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address to send in your questions and comments, or to make requests for future installments of Know Your Lore. I hope to hear from you soon!