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Know Your Lore: The Eternals part one -- the Ancients

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.

With Cataclysm coming up and the beta now up and running comes plenty of new information about what we'll be seeing in Cataclysm. One of the highly anticipated zones is Hyjal, where players will work with the Guardians of Hyjal to retake the mountainous peaks where Nordrassil has begun to grow anew. Parts of these quests involve the Eternals of Azeroth -- characters we've only seen in novels or game manuals, but never been exposed to in World of Warcraft. Today we'll be looking at some of the major players in the Eternal lineup, and how they relate to World of Warcraft.

WARNING: Some of the descriptions and Eternals in this post are taken from Cataclysm content. While I will avoid spoiling any Cataclysm quest lines or events, there will be screenshots -- if you'd rather avoid all Cataclysm content altogether you may want to skip this post.

To begin, we have to define what exactly an Eternal is as far as Azeroth is concerned. Eternals are the immortal, divine beings of Azeroth who wield godlike powers and are generally either revered or worshipped by the mortal races in one way or another. There are many different kinds of Eternals out there oddly enough -- the Titans, the Elemental Lords (who have been covered in great detail by Matthew Rossi), the Loa spirits, the Old Gods, and the Ancients. Today we're going to look at the Ancients -- Eternals worshipped mostly by night elf society as deities. The big Eternal in night elf society is of course Elune, but what about the other Eternals in the night elf pantheon? Let's take a look.


Malorne

We've discussed Malorne before on Know Your Lore -- he's also called Apa'ro by the tauren. A giant white stag, Malorne roamed the land as the protector of nature; most of his powers lay within nature itself. One of the oldest demigods on Azeroth, possibly even predating Elune, Malorne was featured in the tauren myth The White Stag and the Moon, which details one of the biggest reasons Malorne is important.

Way back at the dawn of time, Malorne was being hunted by the tauren. Seeking to escape, he asked Elune (otherwise known as Mu'sha by the tauren) for aid. Elune fell in love with Malorne, and agreed to help him in exchange for his love. The end product of this union was the child Cenarius, another demigod. Before anyone begins protesting that Ysera is Cenarius' mother, this was clarified in an interview with Richard A. Knaak in an interview on Blizzplanet a few years ago:
Blizzplanet: "War of the Ancients Trilogy reveals that Ysera is mother of Cenarius and lover of Malorne. Are Ysera and Elune one and the same?"

Knaak: "Elune and Ysera are not the same. Here is the explanation, per Blizzard, who did not wish any further elaboration in the novel at the time: According to the Sundering, it is said that Ysera is Cenarius's mother. However, Dungard the Earthen says that he thought Elune 'birthed' Cenarius. Elune birthed Cenarius, but gave him up to Malorne because Cenarius was more a creature of the mortal world and could not be with her.

Malorne, who had relations with both Elune and Ysera, knew that he could not properly care for his son, but Ysera's love was so great for Malorne that she took Cenarius as her own. Hence being his mother (or adoptive mother)."
Malorne was largely reclusive; few saw him prior to the War of the Ancients. However his son Cenarius' efforts during the war caught his attention, and when Cenarius was in danger of dying at the hands of the Burning Legion, Malorne charged in to save him and in his fury slaughtered thousands of demons. While fighting against Archimonde, Malorne perished when the left hand of Sargeras snapped his neck. Ysera arrived moments later and could only grieve for her fallen friend.

Because of his efforts in the War of the Ancients, Malorne is worshiped by the night elves as a deity of sorts. He had his own shrine dedicated to him in the mountain peaks of Hyjal during the Sundering, and when Nordrassil was destroyed during the Third War, the shrine was abandoned. While he did perish during the War of the Ancients, many night elves believe that as an immortal he transcended death and returned to Elune's side, or that he sleeps in the Emerald Dream at his cherished friend Ysera's side.

Cenarius

Cenarius, also known as the Forest Lord, is the patron saint of all druids -- it was he who taught the mortal races of Azeroth of the druidic arts. As the son of Malorne, Cenarius inherited the same powers over nature that his father possessed. Unlike his father, he was far from reclusive -- there are ancient tauren legends that suggest Cenarius was teaching them the druidic arts long before he ever spoke to Malfurion Stormrage. While blues on the Blizzard forums have refuted the legends, there is an NPC named Xarantaur in the Storm Peaks that suggests the tauren were indeed taught to be the first druids, with the night elves coming later. Regardless of which came first, Cenarius was well known and beloved in both night elf and tauren history.

Cenarius wasn't just responsible for druids -- he had a score of children that evolved into many of the creatures of Azeroth that we encounter today. The keepers of the grove are direct descendants of Cenarius as well as the dryads, and the centaur.

The first known student of Cenarius, and the first "proper" druid of Azeroth was Malfurion Stormrage, who began studying with the demigod just before the events of the War of the Ancients and the Sundering. Cenarius played an important role in the War, and after the Sundering retreated to Hyjal with the night elves, where he taught more and more of them the ways of the druid. This is when druidism became a cornerstone of night elf society. After Malfurion left to sleep for thousands of years in the Emerald Dream, Cenarius and his children helped Tyrande Whisperwind and the Sentinels to patrol the forests and keep them safe.

Unfortunately, while Cenarius was a demigod, his body could be killed just as easily as any other Ancient. When the orcs of Draenor made their way to Kalimdor, a group of them led by Grom Hellscream were sent to harvest lumber in Ashenvale. The Sentinels immediately responded by attacking the orcs, and when the orcs were successful in fighting the night elves off, Cenarius appeared. Perhaps things would've gone differently if it weren't Grom Hellscream leading the army, but regardless, tragedy struck -- the pit lord Mannoroth tricked the orcs into drinking from a fountain containing the demon's blood. Once the orcs drank of the blood, they were transformed into killing machines, and subsequently killed Cenarius.

Whether or not it was Mannoroth behind all the trickery and the demon blood, the damage had been done: Cenarius, Forest Lord and patron saint of the druids was dead at the hands of the green-skinned savages. Tyrande and the rest of the night elves were enraged, and the majority of their animosity towards the orcs is still firmly wedged in this moment in history.
Even though Cenarius' body was dead, he was still immortal and still held deep ties to nature. It was believed that much like his father, his spirit lived on in the Emerald Dream until he could one day return to the night elves. This belief is backed by a quest obtained from killing one of four corrupted nightmare dragons and turning in a Nightmare Engulfed Object to Keeper Remulos in Moonglade. After turning in the item, players watch a vision of Malfurion, who speaks of fighting the Nightmare in the Emerald Dream with Cenarius at his side.

Omen

Omen was a demigod worshiped mainly by hunters and gatherers -- he was considered a "luck" deity who brought good fortune and words of wisdom to all he met. During the War of the Ancients, Omen fought with many of the other demigods against the Burning Legion. And like so many of the demigods, Omen fell -- not to his death, but into a deep, nightmare infested slumber due to his demonic wounds. These nightmares slowly corrupted him from within and when he woke centuries later, he had been fully consumed by madness.

Now completely insane, Omen rampaged through the land, mindlessly killing anything that stood in his way. He was defeated, finally, at the village of Nighthaven. Calling down the wrath of the moon, the villagers managed to force Omen to flee deep into Lake Elune'ara. It's there he remains, and once a year players are asked to defeat him as part of the Lunar Festival event.

Ursoc and Ursol

Ursoc and Ursol are twin bears, demigods that were friends to the night elves and treated as actual gods to the furbolg. While the furbolg worshiped them as gods, the night elves chose a different path -- a druidic path. The Druids of the Claw follow the path of the bear, and every druid that follows this path must speak to the Great Bear Spirit in Moonglade in order to take on the bear's aspect.

Ursoc and Ursol were the patrons of balance -- the balance between the flora and fauna of the world, the land and the beasts that roamed upon it. Both were fighters, and both could heal -- but Ursol also possessed the powers of shamanism. During the War of the Ancients, the two fought alongside Cenarius and the night elves against the Burning Legion, and both were subsequently slain while defending the land.

In Wrath of the Lich King, players encounter the son and daughter of Ursoc -- Orsonn and Kodian -- while questing in Grizzly Hills. It turns out the furbolg attempted to resurrect Ursoc using the magic of the failed world tree Vordrassil, but the taint that permeated through the tree also warped the resurrected demigod. During the quests in Grizzly Hills, players discover Ursoc's corruption and the cause of it, and subsequently defeat and cleanse the demigod's spirit. As for Ursol, his whereabouts are still unknown -- however like most of the Ancients, immortality means that his spirit must live on somewhere, waiting to be found.

Agamaggan

Agamaggan is the great boar spirit -- legends say he was one of the first living creatures to roam Azeroth. Trolls often hunted Agamaggan, though unsuccessfully. Thorny vines surrounded his body that he used as weapons along with his tusks -- making him a fearsome opponent to say the very least. Aggressive and deadly, Agamaggan joined the fight in the War of the Ancients alongside Cenarius and the others by assaulting Azshara's palace directly. Though Agamaggan fought valiantly, he too fell before the might of the Burning Legion, however his assistance was crucial in getting the night elf forces into Azshara's palace in order to reach the Well of Eternity.

Agamaggan was slain prior to the Sundering, but when the continents split the area where he perished formed what we now know as the Barrens. The quillboar native to the area worship Agamaggan's spirit and believe that wherever the boar god's blood fell, thorns rose from the earth reminiscent of those that wrapped around the great boar's hide. That's why players see quillboar largely concentrated around these thorny areas. A quest in the Barrens has players collect blood shards -- red gems that the quillboar believe to be Agamaggan's blood itself -- and turn them in for temporary boosts to various stats.

While Agamaggan is dead, his spirit is believed to live on in the afterlife. The quillboar worship him as a god and pray for his return, hoping that until then, they can at least join him when they die. While it is rumored that some night elf clans, and surprisingly some orc clans have begun to worship Agamaggan as well, this is largely unconfirmed speculation.

Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

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