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WoW Lore: Burning Crusade and the Curse of the Dark Portal

WoW Lore: Burning Crusade and the Curse of the Dark Portal1

. Backstory: The Second War1.1 The Great Sacrifice of the Alliance2. Interlude in Azeroth: The Mysteries of Karazhan3. The Tragedy of Draenor4. A world torn asunder5. Ner'zhul's escape and the birth of Outland6. Illidan and the Black Temple7. The quartet of villains: Illidan, Vashj, Kael'thas and Kil'jaeden8. The Grand Finale: The Sunwell Plateau and the SunwellThe

Swordworld is a place filled with myths and legends that recall a time when this primal world was not overrun with demons, fiendish beasts, and hell orcs. And though little remains of the former idyll, several parties claim this wasteland for their own.

While the Burning Legion rages on the Hellfire Peninsula, the legendary demon hunter Illidan Stormrage prepares for a fierce battle against the eredarlord Kil'jaeden in Shadowmoon Vale. But where there are demons, the forces of light are not far behind. In Shattrath, the former capital of the draenei, the mysterious naaru crystal beings pitch their tents. United under the banner of A'dal, the survivors of the Great Cataclysm take on the Legion and the remaining villains. The fate of Outland, however, hangs in the balance. Without help from Azeroth, the naaru and their few allies are doomed.

Previous Story: The Second War

The First War ended with the destruction of Stormwind, but the Alliance had no time to mourn. After a short time, the Second War broke out. To prevent another invasion by the demonic horde, the Alliance built the fortress of Nethergarde near the Dark Portal. Though Medivh's one-time apprentice Khadgar destroyed the portal between Azeroth and Draenor, the orcs again managed to open a small rift into their ravaged homeworld.

The Great Sacrifice of the Alliance

The Horde's victory over the humans of the Eastern Kingdoms was short-lived. Abandoned by their demon masters and plagued by the Blood Curse, Ner'zhul's henchmen searched high and low for artifacts to open more portals to other worlds where the orcs could flee the Legion. When Khadgar learned of Ner'zhul's plans, the archmage summoned the Alliance's bravest heroes and marched a powerful army through the Dark Portal.

Once in Draenor, Khadgar reclosed the rift in the Dimensional Gate to protect Azeroth from the impending catastrophe. The Alliance subsequently honored the great sacrifice of Khadgar's expedition with an imposing monument to the hero, which stands to this day outside the Great Gate of Stormwind. The Dark Portal did not remain closed for long, however. After the end of the Third War, Doomlord Kazzak and some Legion demons settled near the Dark Portal. At the end of Classic WoW, Kazzak reopened the portal and invited the Burning Legion to Azeroth.

Interlude in Azeroth: The Mysteries of Karazhan

Prince Malchezaar and the Burning Legion claim the secrets of Karazhan. Source: buffed The Tower of Karazhan is a massive structure built by the Order of Tirisfal long ago in the Red Ridge Mountains. Built at the exact intersection of magical ley lines, Karazhan served as the Order's headquarters and research facility for several centuries. From the top of the tower, they surveyed all of Azeroth and even looked out upon countless alien worlds beyond the bounds of reality.

The fallen guardian

Medivh was the last Guardian of Tirisfal. What no one knew at the time was that his spirit was possessed by Sargeras, the demon lord and leader of the Burning Legion. With each passing year, Medivh retreated more and more to Karazhan, pursuing his forbidden experiments in hidden rooms beneath the tower. His greatest crime was the construction of the Dark Portal, which he opened in the Black Morass to Gul'dan and his demonic horde. Medivh's apprentice Khadgar noticed his master's madness and eventually struck down the guardian with the help of his friends. However, that was not the end of Medivh! A part of him survived, and his spirit has haunted Karazhan ever since. After the reopening of the Dark Portal, the Burning Legion became aware of the Mage Tower and Prince Malchezaar is now trying to capture Karazhan as a base for the Burning Legion.

The Tragedy of Draenor

Velen is the leader of the draenei. He and his people flee to Exodar before the start of Burning Crusade. The Naaru spaceship crash lands in Azeroth. Source: Buffed

When our heroes first step through the Dark Portal, we find a shattered world on the other side. But it was not always so. Once upon a time, Outland was called Draenor. It was the homeworld of the orcs, who roamed the lush wilderness as warriors, hunters, and shamans. To the mysterious draenei, this raw, savage world long served as a refuge from the wrath of the Burning Legion. Except for a few minor conflicts, the two races lived peacefully side by side. That changed when the Eredarlord Kil'jaeden and the Legion's demons came to Draenor's attention.

Kil'jaeden had a score to settle with Velen, the draenei leader. Masquerading as Ner'zhul's deceased wife, Rulkan, the eredarlord larded the orc shaman Ner'zhul's mind with all manner of lies about the draenei. Concerned for his people, Ner'zhul gathered the orc clans and warned them about the draenei. Most orcs took this warning seriously and went to war against the draenei. By the time Ner'zhul saw through Kil'jaeden's lie, it was too late. The Eredarlord enslaved many of the orcs, who willingly drank Mannoroth's demonic blood, and set them upon Velen and his draenei.

See all 10 images in the gallery
Magical portals once tore Draenor apart, turning the planet into Outland. Our adventure begins on Hellfire Peninsula, where we are immediately greeted by demons of the Burning Legion. [Source: buffed]

A World Torn Apart

Gruul the Tyrant
The mighty Gronn were once the true rulers of Draenor. Though you wouldn't know it by looking at the hulking Gronn, they are exceedingly vicious and intelligent. When Deathwing sought to claim Schergrat for the Black Dragonflight, Gruul, the greatest and most powerful Gronn, declared war on Neltharion. At Gruul's command, the ogres and the Gronn slaughtered countless Black Dragons and impaled their carcasses on the spires of Shergrat. The loss of his children pained Deathwing so much that he challenged Gruul to a fight to the death. And that would have been the end of old Gronn had the Alliance not intervened on his behalf.

To escape the orcs' bloodlust, the few surviving draenei fled Draenor in the naaru starship Exodar. Meanwhile, the orcs drove their homeworld to ruin. After the creation of the first Horde, most orcs moved on to Azeroth. Some orcs, however, including Ner'zhul, stayed behind in Draenor. The shaman realized that his world was dying and attempted to create his own portals to escape starvation and the Burning Legion. Archmage Khadgar and his friends were able to thwart Ner'zhul's plans, but help came too late for Draenor. The last portal through which the orc shaman escaped set off a magical chain reaction in the Nether that tore the planet apart. This catastrophe was the birth of Outland.

Ner'zhul's Escape and the Birth of Outland

Kil'jaeden intercepted Ner'zhul in the Whirling Nether, tore the flesh from his bones, and imprisoned his soul within the Lich King's armor. As master of the undead Scourge, he was to conquer Azeroth for the Burning Legion. But Ner'zhul had other plans. He betrayed his demon masters and sabotaged Kil'jaeden's invasion. The Eredarlord, of course, could not let Ner'zhul's nefarious treachery stand. He subdued Illidan Stormrage, who had previously fled to Outland, and forced the demon hunter to return to Azeroth. At the gates of Icecrown Citadel, Illidan and Arthas, who served as the Lich King's champion in the Third War, finally engaged in a duel. The duel ended in the Death Knight's favor. Badly wounded, Illidan was once again forced to flee to Outland.

Illidan and the Black Temple

Before Illidan appeared on Hellfire Peninsula, the Pit Lord ruled over the eastern part of Outland. The demon hunter overthrew Magtheridon and imprisoned the demon in the dungeon beneath Hellfire Citadel. Later, Illidan used Magtheridon's blood to create more Hellorcs.

For Illidan Stormrage, there was no going back after his defeat. He knew that Kil'jaeden would one day punish him for his failure. To defend himself against the Burning Legion, the demon hunter gathered his army of naga, shattered, blood elves, and allied demons at the gates of the Black Temple. Illidan's plan would have worked had he not made a momentous mistake a short time later.

The Rogue Quartet: Illidan, Vashj, Kael'thas, and Kil'jaeden

Instead of focusing on fighting the Burning Legion, Illidan attacked the naaru in Shattrath. He saw the Sha'tar as a threat to his claim to power in Outland. Fortunately, a large group of blood elves, who later called themselves the Seers, broke away from Illidan and sided with the Naaru. To recover from this heavy blow, Illidan used Magtheridon's blood to breed more Hellorcs, who now served as cannon fodder for him.

The (in)holy trinity: Illidan, Lady Vashj and Kael'thas are at the center of the story of TBC. The nasty Eredarlord Kil'jaeden only comes at the end! Source: Blizzard

The demons of the Burning Legion and Illidan aren't the only villains throwing Outland into chaos, though. In the Zangar Marshes, Lady Vashj and her naga are causing a drought. At Vashj's command, the naga dry up all the lakes in the marshes to fill a massive reservoir with the stolen water. It is rumored that Vashj intends to create a new Well of Eternity in the heart of the Zangar Marshes. In the caverns of the Serpentshrine, the Nagalady is just waiting to teach our heroes a lesson.

As the Sha'tar prepare to lay siege to the Black Temple, the blood elf prince Kael'thas reaches for ultimate power in the Netherstorm. To his people in Azeroth, Kael'thas sends word that he is seeking a cure for the elves' magic addiction. In the Fortress of Storms, however, the prince is treading a dangerous path. The source of magic he finds in the massive Naaru spaceship is so powerful that he cannot control it. His insatiable thirst for power eventually calls Kil'jaeden into action. After the fiasco in the Fortress of Storms, the Eredarlord makes Kael'thas an offer the prince cannot refuse. Azeroth is once again in the Legion's sights, and it's up to us to stop Kil'jaeden.
The sad end of the blood elf prince! Kil'jaeden attempts to pass through the Sunwell to Azeroth with Kael'thas' help. Source: Blizzard

The Grand Finale: The Sunwell Plateau and the Sunwell

The magical Sunwell was created from the water that the Highborne once drew from the Well of Eternity. The Sunwell was the source of power for Quel'thalas, the kingdom the Highborne founded in the north of the Eastern Kingdoms after their exile from Kalimdor. During the Third War, Death Knight Arthas desecrated the Well and abused its power for the lich Kel'Thuzad. To save his people from the corrupted power of the Scourge, Kael'thas sealed the Well. For this, however, the high elves paid a heavy price. Cut off from the magic of the Sunwell, many elves fell ill and even turned into mana-addicted monsters.

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