The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how, but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.
Of all groups and sects and collectives and factions in the World of Warcraft, the Twilight's Hammer stand out as being possibly the most deranged and nihilistic of the bunch. If you have an apocalypse, they'll happily start it. They'll worship elementals, Old Gods and anything else that might bring about the end of all that is. Whether infesting Blackfathom Deeps, evoking elemental spirits in Silithus, fighting the Scourge in Anh'Kahet or making trouble in Ulduar, if there's a chance for the world to come to an end, the Twilight's Hammer are definitely pulling for Armageddon.
They started out as the personal fiefdom of Cho'gall the ogre mage, handed to him after their previous chief was disobedient to the wishes of the Shadow Council, the warlock servants and mouthpieces of Gul'dan. They continued on through the wars, eventually finding themselves in control of Tol Barad itself, and were therefore of use to Gul'Dan following the Doomhammer's ascension, when he desperately needed allies. Even then, Cho'gall sought annihilation. The ogre, and through him his clan, saw the Horde as the best means to bring absolute destruction about (in their way as devoted to nihilism and apocalyptic destruction as even the Burning Legion). So when Gul'dan found the location of the Tomb of Sargeras, Cho'gall and his clan the Twilight's Hammer followed. And when Gul'dan found death in the tomb, many of the Twilight's Hammer died alongside him. Many, but certainly not Cho'gall.
(As a note, we'll be discussing spoilers for Cataclysm in this post. So if you don't want to see those, don't read past this point.)
While the Old Horde under Doomhammer did their absolute best to wipe out the Twilight's Hammer for their "disloyalty" (although it would be hard to make a case for the Twilight's Hammer being loyal to the Horde so much as being loyal to the principle of annihilation, which they believed the Horde best suited to creating), Cho'gall survived, and so too did the Twilight's Hammer.
For a time they were heard from but little. Between the Second and Third War (and even during the Third), other threats demanded the attention of the world. The Twilight's Hammer seem to have labored during this period of obscurity to find a new path to absolute destruction. During that time, they shed much of their orcish clan origin, recruiting members of every race and creed throughout Azeroth, so long as their prospective members were as devoted to nihilism as they were. In the time following the Third War, however, the Twilight's Hammer began making their presence felt again. Some (but hardly all) of the Twilight's Hammer efforts are as follows.
- At the Master's Glaive, the Twilight cultists revere the impaled corpse of what they believe to be an old god.
- Further down the shores of Kalimdor, the Twilight's Hammer work to infest Blackfathom Deeps under the leadership of Twilight Lord Kelris.
- In Ironforge, the cultist Gerrig Bonegrip plots and schemes to (among other things) free Myzrael from her confinement beneath the Arathi Highlands. His opposite number, Keeper Bel'dugur, is involved in similar plans in the Undercity, proof that the Twilight's Hammer have managed to infiltrate the Horde and Alliance ranks.
- The mysterious Willow, a member of the cult, manipulates foolish groups of adventurers into bringing her artifacts from the ancient centaur holy spot of Maraudon, most likely in an attempt to discover Princess Theradras' connection to the old gods or their elemental lieutenants.
- Members of the sect can be found in Blackrock Depths, in the court of Emperor Dagan Thaurissan (descendant of the Thaurissan who summoned Ragnaros to Azeroth). High Interrogator Gehrstan and Pyromancer Loregrain appear to command the Twilight forces in the Depths and work alongside the Dark Iron dwarves. There are also many members of the Twilight's Hammer in the Searing Gorge near Blackrock Mountain who directly worship Ragnaros himself.
- Recently, the Twilight's Hammer was found to be working alongside various elemental spirits in the wilds of Silithus under the command of Vyral the Vile. Following the defeat of C'thun by a near army of mortal adventurers (assisted by trapped members of the Red, Blue and Green Dragonflights), the infamous Cho'gall himself apparently took up residence in the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj itself, where he attempted to return life or a semblance of it to the "dead" Old God. Defeated by Med'an and the Council of Tirisfal, Cho'gall may or may not be dead at this time. (And if he is dead, it's not clear that it matters, since he used his own body as a kind of host form for C'thun's essence and as such perhaps cannot truly die.)
- Highlord Demitrian, a former member of the cult, also resides in Silithus but is now enslaved to the will of Thunderaan, due to a botched attempt at summoning. How the powerful elementals of the Abyssal Council interact with the Twilight's Hammer is at present unknown. While they are clearly in a position of authority, it is unknown if Cho'gall himself answers to them or if they merely work with the Twilight's Hammer in order to directly further the Old God's mandate.
- Ice Caller Briatha, a member of the cult, worked with the forces of Neptulon the Tidehunter to attempt to summon the Frost Lord Ahune into Azeroth to confront and combat Ragnaros. The Twilight's Hammer apparently viewed this as a real win/win for them, since the clash of two mighty elementals might destroy Azeroth no matter who won. Members of the Twilight's Hammer actually helped summon Ahune into Outland via the Slave Pens.
- Jedoga Shadowseeker leads the Twilight's Hammer in the former Nerubian metropolis of Ahn'Kahet. She seems to have forged an alliance with the local Faceless Ones in worshiping Yogg-Saron and offering opposition to the Scourge. Why the Twilight's Hammer seem to find the undead hordes of the Lich King to be unsuitable as a means of apocalyptic world destruction is as yet unclear, although perhaps they find the frozen, deathless stasis of Scourge undead inferior to the oblivion offered by the Old Gods. It's telling that the Twilight's Hammer have never worked directly for the Burning Legion despite their shared goal of destroying everything. Considering how easily the Twilight's Hammer seem to fall into elemental/Old God worship, it could be as simple as resenting Sargeras, who in his time helped defeat and imprison the Old Gods.
- In Ulduar, the Twilight's Hammer can be found guarding the way to General Vezax and Yogg-Saron.
It's also clear that the cultists easily fall under the sway of powerful personalities, especially ones that promise destruction, and can even be seen to work for beings that are in opposition to each other. We see them serving under Neptulon's command, summoning Ahune to confront Ragnaros, while other cultists directly serve Ragnaros himself. Any sufficiently charismatic and destructive individual seems likely to gain control of at least some of the cult.
Given this, it's not terribly surprising that Neltharion/Deathwing is stated to be in control of a force of Twilight's Hammer cultists in Cataclysm. Powerful, insane, cunning and manipulative, and tainted with the nihilistic urges of the Old Gods, Deathwing is a perfect star to hitch their wagon to, especially since what they seek is a world-ending cataclysm -- and that's exactly what he intends to provide. It's easy to imagine cultists under his command battling other cultists directly under Ragnaros' banner, and one could even imagine opposing Twilight cultists gleefully murdering each other, secure in the idea that one way or another, the end of all things could result from their conflict.
The Twilight's Hammer are obsessed, monomanical and willing to go to any end, make or break any alliance, commit any act to secure the absolute end of all life on any world they happen to be on. It is the misfortune of Azeroth to be the place where they have taken root.