With the Eternal Palace having been out for weeks, the mythic race has finished, and 8.2.5 is out on the PTR, now seems like a good point to talk about the story points of 8.2. As such, if you aren’t caught up on your war campaign and don’t know how the raid ends, there will be spoilers. However, as with my usual mode, I won’t be discussing any story spoilers from 8.2.5 on the PTR, so you are safe on those.
Aside from the whole “OMG Azshara just destroyed nearly all of the remaining Horde and Alliance ships and trapped everyone in the middle of the ocean” thing, the main big story piece was the War Campaign. In this storyline both Horde and Alliance, players accompany either Thrall and Saurfang or Jaina and Mathias Shaw to save Baine from the chopping block Sylvanas had put him on as retaliation for returning an uncorrupted Derek Proudmoore to Jaina. As a result of Baine’s actions, one of Sylvanas’ schemes was thwarted, and this betrayal, of course, demanded the death penalty.
This end scene encapsulated a lot of the feelings I have had over the years with wanting the Horde and Alliance to put the whole warring factions thing behind them. The entire conversation with Jaina and Thrall felt like they were talking directly to me, and Jaina is right this time, things will be different because everyone is different. In the past both Jaina and Thrall have been downright naïve about peace between the factions, thinking the recognition of the fact we’ve always had to join forces to take down any foe of significant stature should be enough. However, real, lasting peace can’t come without mutual understanding and respect, and that’s where we’ve often faltered in the past.
One of the main storylines at the start of Battle for Azeroth, for the Alliance at least, was focused on Jaina and how she overcame her demons which were haunting her. Her hatred towards the Horde, and not just at Garrosh, was primarily powered by the fact she let her father die to help Thrall and the Horde in the hopes, old hatreds could be put behind them. Everything she lost during the attack on Theremore wasn’t just the deaths that day, but also everything which had come before. Dealing with her guilt and finding peace with it was a huge step.
It’s never that easy, though. Both the Horde and the Alliance had to work out their demons, though the shape this has taken quite a different form for each. Garrosh and now Sylvanas have wrought heavy tolls, but the Alliance has their demons as well. Currently, the main ones are Genn Greymane, Tyrande, and Malfurion. Truth be told all three of them mainly have a beef with Sylvanas in particular, but it’s possible they could misdirect their anger at the Horde generally, and it would be understandable to do so. After all, the entire horde took part in the burning of Teldrassil so I could see these three wanting all the Horde to pay, and this could fracture the Alliance. Not to mention Tyrande and Malfurion are already at odds with the Alliance because Anduin couldn’t send troops to help the Night Elves regain Darkshore.
The question of who wanted Sylvanas to be Warchief is one which currently hangs large for me. Alliance players wouldn’t have seen it, but there’s a whole questline with Vol’jin to figure out who it was that told him Sylvanas should be the next warchief. It’s quickly found out to not be any of the usual suspects, not even the Lich King, but we don’t figure out who did tell Vol’jin that. Additionally, we also learn Vol’jin is something other than a typical spirit and instead was sent back to the world by some being of valor, though vexingly we aren’t told who. This feels like opposing forces to me. Someone who stands to gain from Sylvanas being warchief, and someone who sees the potential in Vol’jin to help right things.
The obvious candidate for wanting Sylvanas in charge is, of course, N’zoth. The whole plan for freeing himself of his prison required us to not only go to where his prison was but to also collect as much azurite as possible before we got there. By having the war between the factions, and kicking it off in such a spectacular way, the collection and consumption of azurite was considerably ramped up from what it would likely have been if we were all peaceful and getting along. Additionally, Horde players were compelled to deliver Xal’atath to Sylvanas personally, and she then entrusts it to Nathanos. The blade seems to be what directs him to Nazjatar, and set’s the last part of the plan to release N’zoth in motion.
There’s just one thing which calls this whole theory into question. In the Three Sisters comic Alleria, who is a Void Elf, is urged by the void to kill Sylvanas because she’ll bring ruin. On the one hand, this isn’t odd because the void seems to tell Alleria to kill or corrupt pretty much everyone she’s in contact with. However, if Sylvanas is knowingly or unknowingly working to free N’zoth, why would the void be telling Alleria to kill her? The Old Gods are after all beings of the void so I’d think the voices would tell her to protect Sylvanas. It’s possible this was just a misdirect though because Alleria probably would have been instantly suspicious if the one person the void didn’t want her to kill or corrupt was Sylvanas.
A lot has been made of the cinematic after Azshara is killed in the Eternal Palace. One of the unsolved quotes from Il’gynoth is “at the hour of her third death, she will usher in our coming”. I was initially on the bandwagon thinking this might refer to Azshara assuming her first death was when her city was flooded, and since N’zoth seems to be bringing her back to life again we could fight her again. However, this conversation, which takes place after turning in the quest to kill Azshara, has me thinking differently. Lor’themar outrightly states he’s planning to stand with Thrall and Saurfang against Sylvanas and hoping to bring the sen’dorei with him. So, it looks to be full out war with Sylvanas at this point.
What if rather than yet again fighting a leader of the horde in a raid the next chapter of the War Campaign sees the Horde taking up arms to defend Thunder Bluff from her murderous rage? I could see the Alliance showing up to help as well in this case. Of course, then the question of Tyrande, Malfurion, and Genn Greymane rises again. They would no doubt be all for killing Sylvanas, but would they be willing to help the Tauren? I could see these characters being reasonable here, at least Tyrande and Malfurion, but even they have deep grudges at this point and defending Thunder Bluff could be what finally splinters the Alliance. It’s also possible they will reach for compassion and decide no one else should lose their homeland the way they did.