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Know Your Lore: The Contradictions of the Mogu

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.

If Lei Shen was born, how was he born?

Even among the mighty mogu of ancient Pandaria, Lei Shen was known as a military prodigy. The son of a warlord, Lei Shen aimed not simply to conquer weaker races, as his forebears had done, but to build a true empire.

We're told that Lei Shen was born the son of a warlord during the Age of a Hundred Kings when the mogu, bereft of leadership following the silence of Master Ra (Ra-Den in the mogu language) and their being left to their own devices. If this is so... if Lei Shen was someone's son, how was he born? The mogu of today have no females save two, the Twin Consorts, but Monara's anguished spirit indicates that they once did. Considering that Lei Shen discovered the Engine of Nalak'sha and the Forge of the Endless, perhaps the Thunder King simply decided to stop letting his people reproduce via the Curse of Flesh. It's often argued that the mogu reverse engineered the Curse, but it's possible that they also decided to return to using the technology of the creation forges for their reproduction and as such, no longer needed to allow women of their race to exist.

The Twin Consorts themselves are clearly constructs, so either Lei Shen had them specially made for his own vanity (and in fact decided to be the only mogu who would have wives) or there is a pattern for female mogu inside the Forge of the Endless. Since the other Titan created races (vrykul, earthen, gnomes) have genders, and the Watchers have them as well, the lack of gender among the mogu of this era is notable. The existence of Monara and the legends surrounding Sparkmancer Vu indicate that at one time mogu women were a part of their society. This makes their near total removal from the mogu a sign of just how thoroughly Lei Shen remade his people, a terrifying prospect.

To Lei Shen, his people exist to serve his will. And for no other reason.

What's fascinating is, Lei Shen isn't immortal as such - he apparently died of old age, although there are contradictory stories that say he died in a great battle. However, we do know that there were several emperors after Lei Shen ruled, yet it seems safe to say that all of the hallmarks of the mogu, from the Serpent's Spine sealing the mantid away from the rest of Pandaria to the creation of the saurok date back to Lei Shen's rule. His successors, whatever their relationship to him, were not as successful partially because they could not think as he did, and partially because they did not hold the raw power that Lei Shen found in the Mogu'shan Vaults. Dojan Firecrown, who succeeded Lei Shen, made a few changes - he moved the seat of mogu power to the Mogu'shan Palace in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, a structure built in ancient times when the mogu still served Master Ra and the Titans. But for the most part his reign was spent fighting the saurok that had been created within the Throne of Thunder.

We don't know how many emperors there were - before them, the Age of a Hundred Kings stretches for an equally unknown time, and after the death of Emperor Lao-Fe during the Pandaren revolt, there were kings again among the mogu because no one claimed the imperial title - but we do know that from the time of Lei Shen's death until the death of the last emperor Lao-Fe that the empire rocked beneath their feet. The saurok rebellion was followed by an organized revolt of all the subjugated people of the continent, and it smashed for many thousands of years the imperial ambitions of the mogu.

The issue then becomes this - where did the mogu go?

When we arrive on Pandaria, the mogu are found exploring ancient ruins in the Jade Forest. Similar mogu expeditions are found in the Krasarang forests (the ruins of Dojanni, named for Emperor Dojan II, who died fighting the saurok insurrection), and throughout Kun-Lai. These appearances of the mogu are stated to be unusual by the pandaren people - Kang Bramblestaff in particular describes the mogu as 'thugs' and scoffs at the idea that they can work magic at all despite the fact that they are using arcane portals to explore the Dojanni ruins for ancient relics of their people. Kang's statement that only when they ruled their old empire could they work any kind of magic makes me wonder what happened to them all once they lost that empire. And furthermore, without any currently living women, and no access to the Mogu'shan Vaults, why are there any mogu at all or at least, why were there whole clans of mogu for Xin the Weaponmaster to be ruling over?

It's clear that there is so method by which those mogu that are still flesh (that is, suffering from the Curse of Flesh) can keep themselves hidden and propagate their people. It's also clear that at some point, the Mogu'shan Vaults were accessed by the mogu and the Forge of the Endless activated, and many of the current mogu are constructs. It's possible that the mogu have been hiding in plain sight - that they have used the subterranean tunnels connecting all these ancient Titan complexes to move unobserved throughout Pandaria. It would also explain how they manage to continue to exist at all without women, since they'd have to be creating new mogu with the Forge of the Endless and then somehow using their knowledge of the Curse of Flesh (remember, they've been repeatedly said to have 'reverse sngineered' it) to effectively curse the constructs into new mogu. As bizarre as the theory is, it's basically the best idea we currently have as for how the society Lei Shen created, with its utter lack of women, could possibly keep existing much less survive for over twelve thousand years following the Pandaren Rebellion while keeping hidden.

This still leaves many mysteries - if Kang Bramblestaff is to be belived, the mogu haven't used magic in over twelve thousand years? Why, and why do their magical abilities seem to have returned with the lifting of the mists? Mogu are some of the proudest creatures in the world - is their dormancy related to the mists, created by the Sha of Pride? We know the Korune were tapping Sha energies to create wonders like the Divine Bell, and that mogu armies were often infused with Sha power by the Bell - why did the mogu seal the bell away? What role, if any, did the Sha play in the fall of the Mogu Empire? If Lei Shen could be raised from the dead, why did he even allow himself to die at all, and did he die, or return to stone? Did the majority of the mogu people spend the past millennia as unmoving, unfeeling stone? Did the clans survive to the present day not by conversion, but by hibernation, and if so what was Xin's plan for the clans who assembled in the Mogu'shan Palace?

Next week, the hidden secrets of the mogu temples.
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: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Mists of Pandaria

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