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Know Your Lore: The Arakkoa

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.

They are one of the most ancient races on Draenor, according to relics found in Outland. Yet the arakkoa initially seemed far from any kind of enlightened society when players first met them in Burning Crusade. Certainly, they had the numbers to indicate a vast civilization -- but the arakkoa always felt like a footnote to Outland, filler rather than an important part of what made Draenor what it was, or an integral part of the Burning Crusade storyline. After all, it was all about the orcs, the draenei, and the Burning Legion -- the comings and goings of bird-people didn't really factor into the mix.

Which may be just the way the arakkoa like it. Fairly reclusive, the arakkoa don't go out of their way to tell strangers of their past. Yet even though there is little to be found where the arakkoa are concerned, the small pieces we've managed to glean point to a far more complex society than the arakkoa are willing to divulge. And in Warlords of Draenor, we'll finally be able to see the arakkoa soar -- and maybe even unravel some of the secrets of this reclusive race.

Ancient

According to the ogres, the arakkoa have been around for far longer than you'd think. In Blade's Edge, the small settlement of Ogri'la was established specifically to study relics of an ancient, now-extinct sect of the arakkoa called the Apexis. Why? Because these crystal relics emit a strange energy that allows for clarity of mind. That's why the ogres of Ogri'la are so well-spoken -- it's the Apexis crystals. That's also why everyone seems to be interested in obtaining the crystals, because they hold great power.

So here we have direct evidence that not only were the arakkoa around for an extremely lengthy period of time on Draenor, but they had an enlightened society that used crystals for clarity and who knows what else. In a way, oddly enough, it almost hails to the draenei and their use of crystals for various mechanical tasks. The Apexis were apparently a highly advanced civilization ... but at some point, they simply died out, and whatever it was that made them go extinct has yet to be uncovered.

They were but one branch of the arakkoa. The race itself is divided into a multitude of settlements scattered all over Outland. But even these fragmented settlements, populated as they might be, weren't representative of the arakkoa as a whole. Information presented with Warlords indicates that the actual home of the arakkoa was the Spires of Arak, a region that we'll get to explore in the upcoming expansion.


Deities

Somewhere during the evolution of arakkoa civilization, various groups began to splinter from each other. The settlements currently scattered around Outland are not united in one purpose -- in fact, there are so many different purposes that it's extremely difficult to sort out exactly when the arakkoa were united, if they were in fact united at all. Many of the arakkoa remaining on Outland follow a deity called Terokk -- who actually isn't really likely to be a deity at all. According to the few notes we have regarding arakkoa history, he was simply a hero from ancient times, a defender who might have at some point ascended into some sort of godhood, but there's no real proof to that theory.

Terokk was a hero who built Skettis, the arakkoa capital, with his own claws, rising through the ranks and becoming the greatest champion and defender the arakkoa had. Although there are Skettis who still exist and worship Terokk, or the memory of Terokk, there are murmurs that he has in fact become an evil creature -- wholly unexpected, for many who knew of Terokk's history. In the ancient days, the arakkoa worshiped a deity called Rukhmar -- an actual deity, one that even Terokk revered. At some point during Terokk's ascension to greatness, the arakkoa turned from Rukhmar, instead focusing on a new master -- one who promised the arakkoa untold power and status in the cosmos. Upon observing so many of his kind beginning to follow this dark new master, Terokk turned away from his people and disappeared. Some claimed, after these events, that Terokk was actually Rukhmar in the flesh, or perhaps Rukhmar reborn.

In the shattered ruins of Auchindoun, a group of arakkoa still happily continue to serve and follow the path of this strange, dark master. These arakkoa are known as the Sethekk, led by Talon King Ikiss. Ikiss was at first a charismatic leader according to some, but he descended into madness at some point and in Burning Crusade, proclaimed that he was in fact Terokk reborn. And there are others who seek out the dark master that Ikiss and his ilk revere so, others who are merely spirits by now, working to summon that dark master to Outland in Shadowmoon Valley -- an Old God, curiously unnamed.


Veiled

Beyond the Skettis and the Sethekk is Anzu. Next to nothing is known about Anzu, other than his status as a "raven god." Not even the naaru, omnipotent as they may seem, can see exactly what Anzu is, where he came from, or what his plans really are. Druids in Outland researched Anzu, and discovered he is the god of an arakkoa cult, and somehow tied to the Emerald Dream, and the Emerald Nightmare as well. The arakkoa have a prophecy surrounding the raven god:

From the darkest night shall rise again the raven, shall take flight in the shadows, shall reveal the nature of its kind. Prepare yourself for its coming, for the faithful shall be elevated to take flight with the raven, the rest be forgotten to walk upon the ground, clipped wings and shame. Steel your minds and guard your thoughts. The dark wings will cloud and consume the minds of the weak, a flock of thralls whose feet may never leave the ground. The old blood will flow once again with the coming of the raven, the return of the darkness in the skies. Scarlet night, and the rise of the old. The raven was struck down once for flying too high, unready. The eons have prepared the Dark Watcher for its ascent, to draw the dark cloak across the horizon. -- Prophecy of the Raven God

What's fascinating about Anzu is that he supposedly ties into the Emerald Nightmare, which was revealed to be the influence of the old god N'zoth at BlizzCon 2010. Anzu currently resides in the ruins of Auchindoun, where the Sethekk worship their false king -- and search for their master, the as-yet unnamed Old God. In various quests surrounding Auchindoun, it's revealed that Auchindoun's destruction was due to the summoning of Murmur -- which was hailed by the Sethekk as a sign that their master had at last arrived on Draenor as promised.

And all around Outland, arakkoa settlements in the trees are referred to as "veils" -- a word that bears the suggestion of being hidden away in the darkness. All this does is make me wonder how long Anzu and the prophecies surrounding the raven god were actually around. Whether the arakkoa, as tight-lipped as they are about their origins, have always contained castes and segments that worshiped dark powers that potentially eclipsed anything the Burning Legion had to offer. And whether that link to the Old Gods, purportedly just as prevalent on Draenor as anywhere else in the universe, lies not with the orcs, ogres, or even the gronn -- instead placed in the wings of arakkoa who fly no more.


The skies of Draenor

That's what makes the arakkoa really interesting. There are layers upon layers, tales upon tales of gods, deceit, blind worship, and an intricate caste system. The lower-ranked among the arakkoa were routinely sacrificed, and those that flew the skies of Draenor are long gone, in Outland. None remain, just vague hints of a past checkered with bad decisions, possibly even corruption. And of all the races of Draenor, the arakkoa are the only ones to have acknowledged or uncovered the existence of the Old Gods -- or at the very least, one Old God.

Which makes one wonder exactly what it is we're going to see from the arakkoa in Warlords of Draenor. We'll see the fabled higher caste, the arakkoa that can fly -- and we'll see what their homeland, the Spires of Arak, looked like before it fell. In promotional material, it's implied that these arakkoa worship the "blessed sun" -- and that points to a potential struggle on the horizon as well. Redeemed arakkoa in Outland have embraced the Light ... possibly because, at one point in time or another, they were one of the arakkoa that soared.

But even though our knowledge regarding the history of the arakkoa is fragmented at best, there's a potential picture that can be drawn from what we know. One flight of arakkoa, paying homage to the blessed sun, burning the lower races alive. And perhaps, somewhere on Draenor, another sect of arakkoa that also wishes to fly. A lower caste of arakkoa, quietly devoted to taking to the skies on their own, protected in the wings of the raven, the Dark Watcher -- the harbinger of endless night. We'll have to wait and see if the mysteries of the arakkoa are unveiled ... but the potential is there for a story far more expansive than the struggles of orcs and draenei, a story that has been slowly playing out for far longer than the exiles of Argus have walked the grassy plains of Draenor.


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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