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Know Your Lore: The Eternals part one -- the Ancients, page two


Tortolla

Tortolla was the great turtle spirit and the patron saint of amphibians, the creatures who move effortlessly between the land and the sea. Slow yet patient and wise, Tortolla possessed powerful jaws and a large, stony shell that protected him in battle. This worked well for him during the War of the Ancients -- as the war raged on, Tortolla joined the battle alongside Cenarius and the other Eternals. The demons hardly knew what to make of the demigod -- at first they ignored him, but soon discovered their folly in doing so when Tortolla crushed demon after demon underfoot and between his jaws.

Tortolla never fell. Despite the demon's best efforts, they couldn't pierce through his stony shell. Because of this, he covered the final retreat from the demonic forces as the mortals prepared to seal the portal and end the invasion, causing the Sundering in the process. It was said that after the battle, Tortolla was found underneath a mountain of demon corpses. He shook the bodies free, his head emerging from the gore -- and quietly, slowly asked if the Ancients had won.

The answer to that, of course, was yes. Tortolla left with the night elves for the peaks of Hyjal after the Sundering, and stayed there after the events of the Third War.

Aviana

Legends state that once upon a time, the demigoddess Aviana was a normal raven. Chosen by Elune to deliver messages to her son Cenarius, Aviana flew the skies of Azeroth for Elune and gradually, other powerful beings as well. As she flew from errand to errand, she gained more abilities and powers from each of the beings until eventually she rose to be their equal, a demigod among demigods. Whether or not this is true is unknown -- they are legends, after all.

But Aviana was the demigoddess of the creatures of the air -- all living things that flew fell under her domain. Aviana's nest was in the great Mother Tree G'Hanir, the tallest tree atop the tallest peak of Azeroth -- it was called the Mother Tree because it contained seeds from all Azerothian trees. G'Hanir was essentially the afterlife of all winged beings of Azeroth -- spirits of every conceivable flying creature in the world flew among its upper branches while Aviana kept a watchful, loving eye over them all. The Mother Tree wasn't exactly in the mortal world, but rather tied to it -- much like the Emerald Dream is tied to Azeroth. And Aviana in turn was tied to G'Hanir.

The druids of Azeroth followed Aviana in much the same way as they followed the bear twins Ursoc and Ursol. Followers of Aviana were called the Druids of the Talon, choosing to take the form of birds to gather intelligence and deliver messages in a manner reminiscent of their patron saint.

During the War of the Ancients, Aviana joined Cenarius and the others in the fields of battle, and just like many of her brethren, she fell to the forces of the Burning Legion. With her death also came the death of the Mother Tree G'Hanir -- the two were linked irrevocably. Alexstrazsa took a seed of G'Hanir and used it to create Nordrassil after the Sundering, and Ysera bound Nordrassil to the Emerald Dream. While some stories say she survived, in the War of the Ancients trilogy she is definitely deceased -- and as the novels are being taken as canon, it can be assumed that this version of the story is correct.

A shrine was built for Aviana in Hyjal and her remains were placed there within a circle of sacred stones. Nordrassil is all that remains of G'Hanir, and the great tree overlooks the Shrine of Aviana to this day. Though Aviana is gone, her followers say they can still hear her voice in the faint whisper of wind through swaying leaves.

Goldrinn

Goldrinn, known as Lo'Gosh to the orcs is the spirit of the hunter, the animal instinct that lies within everyone. A great white wolf, he was renowned for his ferocity and cunning in battle. The orcs say that Lo'Gosh was not only present on Azeroth, but on Draenor -- they've been worshiping him just as long if not longer than the night elves, who refer to him as Goldrinn. Like some of the other Ancients, Goldrinn was worshiped by a sect of druids -- the Druids of the Scythe -- who shapeshifted into the feral worgen.

Malfurion Stormrage warned these druids of the dangers of assuming worgen form -- that they would lose themselves in its ferocity, but they would not be swayed. The Druids of the Scythe left night elf society behind and chose instead to make their home deep in the heart of the forests. Just as Malfurion warned, they soon found themselves succumbing to the vicious nature of the beast that they worshiped. Because of this, the other druids of night elf society locked the Druids of the Scythe away in eternal slumber beneath the trees.

During the War of the Ancients, the fearsome Goldrinn joined the battle alongside Cenarius and the others. The tenacious demigod feared no demon, and lay waste to thousands before he simply vanished, never to be seen again. Despite his mysterious disappearance, the legend of Lo'Gosh extends throughout Azeroth -- trolls, goblins, even dwarves have their own version of the story, but each shares a common theme of the ancient's unyielding will and sheer ferocity.

The name Lo'Gosh was given to King Varian Wrynn while he was captured by the orcs and fighting in gladiatorial matches, largely because the ferocity, cunning and sheer tenacity he showed in battle bore a startling resemblance to the ancient of old. Some thought he was Lo'Gosh reborn, though others know that Lo'Gosh's whereabouts are his alone, and assume he is merely biding his time until he is called upon once more to strike with all the tenacity and cunning he possesses.

Aessina

Aessina is perhaps the least known of all of the demigods. She is the spirit of the wilderness itself, the soul of the forest, its beating heart. She is said to be the center of the web of life itself. While night elves have built many shrines to her throughout Kalimdor and she is greatly revered, she is not really what you would call understood. She is at once a guardian of nature and a creator of nature, and has close ties to the Ancients of the forests.

Ancients

Speaking of which, the last Ancient I'm going to talk about isn't really an Eternal at all -- the Ancients we see in Warcraft today. These demigod-like tree creatures are thousands of years old and work in concert with the wisps and night elves to protect and care for the forests of the wilderness. In addition, they provide education for the night elves, particularly in the druidic arts. There are several different types of Ancients in Warcraft, though a few have particular titles and duties:
  • Ancient of Lore: The Ancients of lore are the keepers of wisdom, secrets and history.
  • Ancient of War: These Ancients are the warriors and guardians of the forests, the spirit of courage and determination.
  • Ancient Protectors: These Ancients appear to be around to ... well, protect. They are commonly seen guarding various night elf settlements.
While some Ancients have names, most do not -- or simply haven't chosen to share them with the general public. However the Ancients are almost as revered by night elves as their assorted demigods, and their contributions to night elf society are greatly appreciated. Where exactly the Ancients originated is unknown -- and how they came to be tied to the night elves is also unknown at this time. However, the Ancients seem to share ties to Aessina, which is only appropriate given her nature.

Even though the Eternals known as Ancients are gone, their legacy and teachings live on in night elf, tauren, dwarven and orc society -- and even the lesser races of Azeroth like the quillboar, the harpies and the furbolg still worship their existence. The Ancients proved to be a formidable force against the Burning Legion's onslaught, and their sacrifices have not been forgotten. While the majority of the Ancients died in the War of the Ancients, it should be kept in mind that these beings are immortal -- though their physical form may have perished, it's a safe bet that their spirit lingers on somewhere, waiting until the day dawns that they can at last return.

Next week I'll be looking at another sect of Eternals that may play heavily in Cataclysm -- the Loa gods of the troll pantheon.

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