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Know Your Lore: Sinestra and the Night of the Dragon

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.
My master... He continues the work that his progeny began.
Though the Black Dragonflight is in the process of dying out, that isn't stopping Deathwing from trying to keep it alive. Sort of. Over the course of Warcraft, Deathwing has been on a very deliberate mission to repopulate the world with dragons of his choosing. During the Second War, Deathwing discovered the location of the Demon Soul, a powerful artifact he created back during the War of the Ancients in order to control the other dragonflights.

Deathwing wasn't able to wield the Demon Soul, however -- the other Aspects placed a powerful enchantment on the device so that he would no longer be able to use it. But Deathwing was a very clever dragon and realized this meant he simply had to find someone else to use it in his stead. Through visions, he led a powerful orc from the Dragonmaw clan named Zuluhed the Whacked to the artifact. Zuluhed couldn't decipher how to use the thing, and so he handed it over to his second in command, Nekros Skullcrusher. Nekros then promptly used the thing to enslave Alexstrasza the Dragonqueen.

Deathwing's mission

The whole purpose of Alexstrasza's imprisonment was to force her to breed, her children to be used as slaves, mounts for the orcish Horde. Meanwhile, Deathwing made a deal with Ner'zhul: The children of the Black Dragonflight would gladly assist the orcs in their plans, in exchange for Deathwing's safe passage to Draenor. Once on Draenor, Deathwing dropped off a stash of black dragon eggs. Alliance forces discovered the eggs, but not all of the things were destroyed -- and when Deathwing confronted the Alliance, the mage Khadgar nearly tore Deathwing apart. The black dragon fled back to Azeroth.

This is where we step into the story of Rhonin and the machinations we spoke of in last week's Know Your Lore. Deathwing's plans for the eggs in Outland weren't really known, but it was assumed he was simply giving his children someplace to grow and thrive, someplace where they wouldn't be hunted. His efforts in freeing Alexstrasza were in order to obtain her eggs as well.

This was Deathwing's ultimate plan: He wanted his own dragonflight, dragons dedicated and devoted to him, and only him. Though no dragon living trusted Deathwing, the unborn whelps could be raised to trust him, to follow him, and to carry the bright, hot seed of hatred for the mortal races of the world that Deathwing carried with him. Deathwing ordered his children Nefarian and Onyxia to work on enslaving the orcs in Azeroth as his servants.

But what Deathwing didn't account for was the destruction of Draenor -- or what it would do to the eggs carefully placed there for protection and future use.

Dawn of the Twilight

As a result of Draenor's explosion, the eggs left behind were infused with raw energy from the Twisting Nether, resulting in a new dragonflight far more powerful than simple black drakes would have been. These Netherwing dragons feast upon magical energy, able to fade in and out of corporeal form. Fully sentient and capable of communicating with other races, the Netherwing soon found themselves hunted by the orcish forces that remained on Draenor, including the Dragonmaw -- led by Zuluhed the Whacked.

The orcs were intent on capturing the eggs and using the netherdrakes as their mounts, much as they had mastered drakes of the Red Dragonflight years before. But a curious visitor arrived in Outland, lighting upon Netherwing Ledge and demanding the eggs in exchange for the assistance of the Black Dragonflight (or what remained of it). Her name was Lady Sinestra, otherwise known as Sintharia, and she held the distinction of being the only mate of Deathwing to have survived over the years.

Sinestra's children, Nefarian and Onyxia, had continued their plan of domination even in their father's absence. Nefarian took his father's wishes one step further and began performing experiments on the various dragons of the world in order to create a new hybrid, a chromatic dragonflight that would be beholden to his father. But Nefarian fell, and his sister Onyxia fell, too, leaving nobody behind to continue Deathwing's plans.

Sinestra, on the other hand, wasn't beholden to Deathwing at all. In fact, she hated her former mate; breeding with a dragon composed mostly of molten lava isn't a terribly good idea, and the experience scarred Sinestra for life, burning away part of her face and leaving her in constant pain thousands of years later. Sinestra traveled to Outland as part of a master scheme, half comprised of her former mate and her children's plans, but with the end result of furthering her own purpose.

Once the nether eggs had been gathered, Sinestra took them to Grim Batol -- the same place that Alexstrasza had been imprisoned so many years before. The place itself was viewed as cursed by the dwarves who once used to inhabit it, so the black dragon wouldn't be interrupted while she continued her work. In addition to the netherwing eggs, Sinestra had another ace in the hole: a full-grown Nether Dragon she had captured named Zzeraku.

Taking the various eggs she had collected, Sinestra used a magical artifact called Balacgos' Bane and the Demon Soul to extra the essence of Zzeraku and infuse it into the eggs. Her son would doubtless have been proud if he'd known what his mother was up to; it was a continuation of his efforts in Blackwing Lair. But the combination of Netherwing energies along with the draconic eggs created the most vicious dragonflight Azeroth had ever encountered, the Twilight Dragonflight.

Now wait ... Rhonin destroyed the Demon Soul in Day of the Dragon, correct? He did, yes -- but Sinestra managed to find the leftover shards and fuse them together into a shabby reconstruction of the once indestructible artifact. Content with her experiment's progression, Sinestra bided her time in Grim Batol, crooning over her new "children" and waiting for the opportunity to strike.

Night of the Dragon

Sinestra wasn't alone in her efforts. Assisting her was a sin'dorei, desperate for magical energy to sate his addiction and willing to ally with anyone in order to take care of the issue. His name was Zendarin Windrunner, a cousin to the Windrunner sisters, including Vereesa, wife of Rhonin. Zendarin tried to kidnap Vereesa and Rhonin's twin boys but was unsuccessful in the attempt. That's when he retreated to Grim Batol and allied with Sinestra, in a secret bid to try and take over the Twilight Drakes as his own personal source of magic.

Vereesa Windrunner, in the meantime, was furious at the attempt to kidnap her sons. After arranging for the safety of her husband Rhonin and her twin sons, she left to track down Zendarin and put an end to him. But what she discovered there wasn't just Zendarin -- it was Sinestra, the eggs, the reformed Demon Soul and the Twilight Dragonflight.

Grim Batol was far from the secluded place that Sinestra had originally intended it to be, and Zendarin was far from the placid ally she required him to be. In addition to the attempted kidnap of Vereesa's children, Zendarin also murdered a draenei who had traveled to Azeroth and stolen a staff imbued with powers of the naaru that the draenei carried. The draenei, however, had a traveling companion and friend named Iridi who carried a twin to the staff and who wanted her own revenge on the sin'dorei murderer.

Along with Iridi and Vereesa, the mountain of Grim Batol had come under the watchful eye of Korialstrasz and the blue dragon Kalecgos. Korialstraz sensed something peculiar about the mountain, and Kalecgos was sent to investigate Grim Batol after starting one too many fights with his fellow blues.

If you think this is getting complex ... it is. Grim Batol has been the source of conflict ever since the War of the Three Hammers, when the death of Modgud, wife of Sorcerer-thane Thaurissan, spread an evil taint among the halls of the fortress. Since that time, Grim Batol was almost cursed to become a place of eternal battle.

But we aren't done with the players in this particular story, because Vereesa's husband Rhonin was also traveling to the mountain to find his wife. Rhonin, together with Iridi, managed to forge an alliance with the raptors of Raptor Ridge, and the two travelers along with an army of raptors also advanced upon Grim Batol.

Needless to say, by the end of the story, Zendarin was dead by his own devices. His selfish attempts to control the Twilight dragon Dargonax led to his inevitable demise in the belly of the dragon. Dargonax, frustrated with Sinestra's attempts to control him, turned on his "mother" after Vereesa managed to shatter the Demon Soul for a second time. Iridi used the powers of her staff and the last shards of the Demon Soul to destroy the Twilight Drake and Sinestra along with him.

... or so it was commonly thought. And as the gathered forces attempted to celebrate their victory, far below Grim Batol, Sinestra's "master" lay in wait. After all, Deathwing had discovered many, many years before that he could not use the Demon Soul himself. What better puppet to wield its powers than his former mate? Sinestra thought she was turning her back on her flight and creating a flight of her own; in reality, she was simply responding to the machinations and whispers of her former mate.

Deathwing had his superior flight of dragons, for the caverns below Grim Batol were filled with eggs left over from Sinestra's experiments. He also had a method of creating more, something that is discovered in the Bastion of Twilight. Sinestra still lives, though her body is torn asunder, and she performs the duties once held by Alexstrasza in Grim Batol.

Sinestra's fate, ultimately, is as an egg factory for Deathwing and the Twilight Cult, producing black dragon eggs to be turned into twilight eggs. She will have her flight of children -- but her sanity is far gone, her body in tatters, and her mind apparently devoted to Deathwing entirely. Much like her children Nefarian and Onyxia, Sinestra now appears only to serve Deathwing, and Deathwing alone. Whether her devotion is borne of newfound appreciation for her mate or of the combination of Deathwing's might and the Old God's control is uncertain, but as long as she lives, she will continue to produce her beloved Twilight children until the fall of Azeroth is a certainty.

For more information on related subjects, please look at these other Know Your Lore entries:

While you don't need to have played the previous Warcraft games to enjoy World of Warcraft, a little history goes a long way toward making the game a lot more fun. Dig into even more of the lore and history behind the World of Warcraft in WoW Insider's Guide to Warcraft Lore.

Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

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