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.
Spoilers for Patch 5.2 and the Throne of Thunder raid
Patch 5.2 promises to move the story along, but it also hints at a darker mystery.
I'm still musing about what all of it means, but one thing is for sure - we know much more about the mogu than we did before. We were told before that the mogu reverse-engineered the Curse of Flesh, now we know that they were originally affected by it. Much like the tol'vir, vrykul, and earthen the mogu were once stone servants:
It's an interesting idea where the state of being stone, emotionless, is seen as the pure, uncorrupted one and that of being a living being of flesh is the corrupted, impure state. The Old Gods made the rocky children of the Titans more like themselves, for the purpose of easier absorption. Not all the native people of Azeroth were so created, of course - it seems that the trolls, the tauren, and the various descendents of the aqir - the qiraji, nerubians and mantid - were never Titan creations.
The Mogu were children as well. Children of the Titans. They were once a legion of stone. Heartless and obedient. By the Titan's command, they fought the terrible servants of the Old Gods. They shaped the mountains and carved the rivers of the land. And they created a magical cradle of life in a hidden valley that we now call The Vale of Eternal Blossoms.
But eventually, the Titans fell silent, and their creations were cursed with flesh. The Mogu grew restless. Many generations later, when the Thunder King united them, they seized upon their legacy. I truly believe now that the Mogu thought they were doing the work of the Titans. They fought against the mantid and used the powers of the Vale to create new life. Oh, but such terrible works!
It seems clear now that the mogu attempted to impose order in the wake of the Titans' departure. Yet we know that Lei Shen, the Thunder King, drew inspiration from his observations of the mantid in so doing, and the order he created was rooted in fear. We know that the Korune who crafted the Divine Bell for Lei Shen drew upon the power of the Sha to work their wonders. This means that ultimately, in their goal to impose order like their Titan creators, the mogu turned to the power that derived from the Old Gods, the Titans' enemies and rivals for the world.
This leads us to what we can hear Ra-Den say in these voice files. This has me wondering - at present we don't know where Lei Shen originally found Ra-Den. Was he beneath the Throne of Thunder, or was he deep within the Mogu'shan Vaults? Much of the Vault layout reminds me of the Halls of Stone and Halls of Lightning, with Elegon serving (potentially) a similar function to the Tribunal of Ages. Since much of the Vaults was 'repurposed' we don't really know what Elegon did there, although his resemblance to Algalon certainly implies things. At any rate, however, we know thanks to the Tribunal that when the Old Gods originally created the Curse of Flesh, the Titans made new earthen and vrykul that were immune to it, and we know that there is a Titan creation forge at the heart of the Mogu'shan Vaults that can still churn out new mogu (we encounter it during the Will of the Emperor fight) but it's clear that the mogu altered that as well, as the mogu created by the forge spout off the rhetoric of Lei Shen's followers.
What we have here are a variety of questions that are as yet unanswered. Did the Titans create the Vaults as the creation place of the original mogu, or of a new breed of mogu to replace the ones suffering from the Curse of Flesh? Where was Ra-Den originally held, and how did Lei Shen defeat him and seemingly tear out his heart to gain his power? And what was Ra-Den's purpose? We know from the Tribunal of Ages that at some point the Aesir and Vanir assigned to Azeroth went to war, a war seemingly manipulated by and ultimately exploited by Loken to neutralize them and in so doing remove some of Azeroth's Titan appointed protectors. Was this before or after Ra-Den's defeat at Lei Shen's hands? Did the mogu lose contact with the Titans before Loken's act of betrayal, or because of it? We don't know.
With Ra-Den's warning about the yawning chasm of darkness (certainly it could be the Old Gods again, or something even worse) and his statement about the path of doom we're all on, I start to wonder. Before, I mentioned that Pandaria, even before the mists shielded it from the Sundering, seemed deliberately set apart from the rest of Azeroth with high mountains keeping it isolated. Indeed, almost all of northern Pandaria today displays mountainous terrain, with both the Townlong Steppes and Kun-Lai Summit being the most obvious, yet even the Jade Forest displays large pinnacles of stone and jagged discontinuities in elevation that could be explain by a former series of mountains sinking to some degree. Considering that the mogu are said to have shaped the mountains and carved the rivers of the land, perhaps it was the Titans themselves who sought to keep Pandaria isolated. Was it to protect Pandaria, or perhaps to keep everyone else protected from it?
The death of the Old God Y'Shaarj, which created the Sha, may have even more dread significance. An Old God is at least something. But a dead Old God? The Sha are said to be Y'Shaarj's last breath, but what of the Old God itself? We saw in the case of both C'thun and Yogg-Saron that death at mortal hands was, at best, an impediment (even after his death, C'Thun directed Cho'gall's actions) but what of a death that comes at the hands of a Titan? Does dying such a death create a fault in the world itself, a corruption that the Sha are but the merest hints to its true breadth and depth? Was Ra-Den placed in Pandaria to watch over this, more than anything else?
We'll find out soon, I suspect, in the bowels of the Throne of Thunder. Next week, speculation on just what we'll find.
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.