The single statement that stuck out to me the most at the Lore and Story Q&A panel this year was one sentence uttered by Dave Kosak: "There's something about Azeroth that is unique within the cosmology, and there's a reason that it's kind of the focus of this." It doesn't really seem all that important, does it? Not in the face of a Pandaria expansion, not when we haven't even got a major villain to address. But this started an avalanche of speculation in my mind, and I traveled down a road that's been traveled before -- one that was easily dismissed, before that statement, and before everything quietly snapped into place.
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. -- The Call of Cthulhu
There's a reason we're going to Pandaria, there's a reason why the Sha have exploded onto the scene with our arrival -- and there's a reason the Alliance and Horde are at war, and it has nothing to do with Theramore or its fate. There's a reason the Pandaren are vitally important, and it isn't silly at all. But let's back away from that for a little while. We'll get to that a little later. Right now, let's talk H.P. Lovecraft.
Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition, meaning the following is a look into what has gone before with pure speculation on how it happened. These speculations are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact or official lore.
One thing that we've never been certain of is just how many of these Old Gods exist. Take another look at the map above -- I've referenced it more than once, and I've always said there seems to be a reason that everything lines up. I think I've got that now, to a degree. The answers lie in a curious box found through archaeology, the Puzzle Box of Yogg Saron. It references the number seven: "Have you had the dream again? A black goat with seven eyes that watches from the outside."
There are a few different ways you can interpret that statement, one of which is that we're dealing with seven malevolent entities, not five as previously thought. That ... actually sounds about right, given what we've been presented with so far. If you look at the map correctly. Ready? Let's begin at the beginning.
Oddly enough, we don't really have a lot of information about N'Zoth, either, which is what makes this correlation so difficult. So assume for the moment that perhaps that lack of information on the Old God is because we have a lack of information on his source. Though it is sometimes assumed that N'Zoth is responsible for Deathwing's corruption, in reality all we know is that he is responsible for the Emerald Nightmare. That was the only connection discussed in various lore panels. This would logically set N'Zoth over in Kalimdor, near Teldrassil, the World Tree he corrupted.
Yogg Saron, on the other hand, exists in all space and time, so he doesn't particularly care one way or another if something exists yet or not. He could throw that information out there, but it wouldn't make sense -- perfect material for a puzzle box. The other reference, spot five on the map, is even less clear. There are plenty of references to night and plenty of creatures in Lovecraft's work associated with it. There is also the line Look around. They will all betray you. Flee screaming into the black forest. There is a creature in the mythos that fits that as well: Lythalia the Forest Goddess. It's a big old unknown at this point, and we won't know until it's actually introduced in game at some point in the future.
Spot #6 is the one that I'm pretty certain about. In the land of Ny'alotha there is only sleep / In the sleeping city of Ny'alotha walk only mad things / Ny'alotha is a city of old, terrible, unnumbered crimes. This is where we learn more about Nyarlathotep.
This sounds like a pretty likely source for Deathwing's corruption -- far more likely than N'Zoth. More importantly, it may very well be that this was the voice Azshara heard as she plunged into the depths of the ocean, her palace crumbling around her. The city of Ny'alotha, a city of old, terrible crimes could be referring to the War of the Ancients, a name for the sunken remains of Azshara's former palace. But Nyarlathotep's corresponding Azerothian representative is not the one responsible for her transformation. That's far more likely a result of the one being that he serves over any other and the seventh spot on the map.
Can't see that seventh spot? Oh, it's there. Right in front of you. Follow me to page two -- there's something wholly unsettling I'd like to introduce you to.