(WARNING: This post has actual content spoilers for WoW patch 8.2.5 within. If you’re just stopping by for Blaugust, hello – I’ll have something less lore-riffic tomorrow!)
So the text of the Wrathion quest chain in patch 8.2.5 has been datamined on Wowhead, and it is an interesting look at the character whose absence since Mists of Pandaria (save that one easter egg appearance in Warlords of Draenor!).
First, it paints an interesting picture of the scene post-Eternal Palace. Rather than focusing on Azshara, or moving on N’Zoth directly, we are treating Ebonhorn, who has come down with some awful corruption waves since N’Zoth was freed. He retains control but the whispers of the void are clearly negatively impacting him. That this is the focus tells me one of two things – either the 8.2.5 story is intended to be only the lightest bridge to 8.3 story content, or the 8.2.5 story content is larger and hiding in encrypted files or not yet integrated into the PTR builds of the patch.
However, it is an interesting story of sorts, because it sets up an interesting contrast of the two remaining Black Dragons. Ebonhorn, as Ebyssian, was born in the time of Neltharion, and has the same weakness to the whispers of Void as his other broodmates do. Wrathion, however, is uncorrupted – as far as we know – as he was raised in the Badlands during Cataclysm, born away from the corrupting influence of Deathwing, and raised in a setting far different than that of his kin. Surely, as we move forward into 8.3, this will be an important plot point – maybe even more than I would have imagined it could be when all the Blacktalon Watchers started showing up in 8.2.
Interestingly, the files also indicate that Kalecgos has some idea of Wrathion and the activities he has taken on since Mists of Pandaria, as we learn that Wrathion has been studying the Old Gods. Of course, we learn that the Old Gods have also been watching his known hangouts, waiting for a chance to catch the elusive Black Prince.
While the quest would lead you to believe that Wrathion has remained put in the Veiled Stair, with his associates Left and Right (sigh), the journal pages we begin finding through this quest chain paint quite an interesting picture. The Wrathion we learn of through them is a studious man, who has journeyed to several corners of Azeroth trying to learn about N’Zoth. Surprisingly, he has met with some success, finding details of the use of Void magic in the libraries of the Shen’dralar, interacting with the Pandaren for real this time and finding some degree of kinship with the Shado-Pan along with some information on the handling of Y’Shaarj, some details on his desire to learn from the Titans, and ultimately coming to an interesting contrast point – discussions with the spirit of Medivh, who discussed his own enslavement at the hands of Sargeras and how Medivh conquered that and forged a new legacy by leading Azeroth’s champions against the forces of the Legion.
In the end, you never see Wrathion, but the impact his actions leave is clear – gone is a lot of the swagger and deception, replaced with an odd form of humility. Wrathion is, by my standard, looking to be one of the best written characters this expansion.
Wrathion’s journey begins as a whelp, being effectively raised at Ravenholdt, has all the characteristics one would expect from a Rogue. He’s sneaky, scheming, not above poisons and murder to accomplish his ends, but guided ultimately by a sense of right. In Mists of Pandaria, this culminates as his entire story here is about deception. He wanted us as players to acquire the means by which the world would stop the Legion, but did so through subterfuge and deception – playing both sides, pitting them against one another in contests of strength (the ill-fated PvP chapter of the legendary quests), and ultimately choosing one – the Alliance, which failed him when Varian Wrynn spared Garrosh Hellscream, which did lead to WoD, so maybe he was right to be angry?
This Wrathion shows a degree of contrition, an interesting development that I would not have expected. The journal pages show reflection and growth – Wrathion wants to know the secrets of the Titans, but understands why the other Aspects would not trust him with that knowledge and accepts it. He sees for himself a path forward in Medivh’s story – he is the heir to a legacy of darkness and evil, an Aspect who failed in his duty and the effort to end that evil cost the bulk of the powers trusted to the other Aspects by the Titans. However, he sees that his sins, both his own deceptions and trickery, and those he inherited, can be forgiven if he brings the full force of his own power to aid the champions of Azeroth in the battle against N’Zoth (which he calls the “true battle for Azeroth” because we need that seed planted now!).
It is, in my estimation, an actually really well told characterization. Wrathion is a character that is enjoyable because he plays with expectations – in the past, he was the purest Black Dragon, but he also toys with that line, never allowing anyone to be 100% sure that he is telling the truth, or acting in Azeroth’s best interests. These journal entries, sparse as they are, actually do a lot of work for Wrathion’s characterization. He’s interesting, multi-faceted, and his story spans multiple expansions which are all referenced and tied back to this main redemption arc.
Now, I may be calling it early, but if Wrathion continues on this path, he may very well become my favorite WoW character ever.