The Maw is a dark abyss destined for the souls of the damned in the Shadowlands. For the souls that end up in the realm of the evil dungeon master, there is no hope of redemption, and no mortal has yet been able to escape the sinister guards of Torghast. It is in this wasteland, of all places, that our adventure begins in Shadowlands, ending with the first grand appearance of the Dungeon Master. Before the eyes of Azeroth's greatest heroes, he proclaims the end of the world. At his side is the Banshee Queen Sylvanas, who helps the Dungeon Master break his chains that bind him to Torghast and the Maw. By the end of Shadowlands' first story chapter, the mismatched duo is on the verge of realizing their terrible vision. But the jailer's dream demands a great sacrifice from the banshee queen. To fulfill their shared plan, Sylvanas must betray the last ideals she still believes in. Is she willing to pay this high price? And if so, will she follow the dark path she once took to the bitter end?
Table of Contents
- 1Dangerousjourney to the place of no return
- 2The great experiment
- 3Anduin'sshow of force
- 4Thefirst outbreak
- 5TheCreators' Plan
- 6Thenew Gramblade
- 7TheKey to Freedom
- 8Doubtand remorse
- 9TheEcho of the Lich King
- 10Noredemption for Sylvanas
Dangerous Journey to the Place of No Return
Though we spend most of our time in Oribos, attending to the day-to-day concerns and hardships of the inhabitants of the Shadowlands, the fate of the four great realms of the dead plays only a minor role in the grand story of Shadowlands. While this is hard to believe, the main story of Shadowlands takes place in the Maw. Specifically, in Torghast, the current home of the Dungeon Master. Like the Dark Tower from Stephen King's dark fantasy novel, Torghast's myriad levels and corridors form a dimension of their own where classic cosmic laws do not apply. After our hasty escape from the Maw, the chief villain of Shadowlands dragged the great heroes Baine, Thrall, Jaina Splendid Sea, and Anduin into the dark depths of the tower. As a Mawwalker, we did free the first three prisoners, but there was no trace of Anduin Wrynn until recently.
The Great Experiment
Sylvanas destroys the Crown of Dominance and simply leaves the fragments of the cursed artifact, knowing full well that Bolvar will reassemble them as quickly as possible and lead our heroes into the Maw. The Banshee Queen and the Dungeon Master fully expected the Maw to swallow us, as it had many souls before, and we would be swept away by the great anima current.
Anduin's Demonstration of Power
Anduin confronts the dungeon master with the same determination as Sylvanas once did in the battle for Undercity. Source: BlizzardOld Blizzard rule: Important story puzzle pieces often get lost in the heat of battle. The dramatic ending of the introductory quest in the Maw is no exception. Baine, Thrall, and Jaina are remarkable fighters, no question. What sets the trio apart from Anduin, however, is that none of them were able to harness their power in the Maw. Young Wrynn is not only able to defy the dungeon master's power, but clearly demonstrates to the villain that he can summon the powers of light across all cosmic boundaries. The sacred barrier buys us enough time to escape the maw, but with this overwhelming display of power, the King of the Alliance seals his fate.
The First Escape
The Birth of the Banshee Queen
Sylvanas Windrunner was once a shining heroine, Ranger General of Silvermoon, and a noble defender of her people. Under her leadership, the high elves repelled countless enemy invaders on the borders of Quel'Thalas. In the Third War, Sylvanas and her rangers stood up to death knight Arthas and the undead Scourge. However, like so many humans and elves before her, Sylvanas ultimately fell victim to the cursed Runeblade Frostmourne. As punishment for her resistance, Arthas denied Sylvanas eternal rest and transformed the high elf into a shrieking banshee. With that, she was doomed to serve Arthas and the Lich King as a slave. Yet even the demise of Quel'Thalas could not break Sylvanas' will. When the Lich King's grip loosened, the Banshee rebelled against her masters.
The Jailer rules Torghast with an iron hand, but outside the Maw he has no power. The First Ones have punished Zovaal for his crimes and excluded him from the cycle of creation. They have also ensured that no soul or being, no matter how powerful, can escape the Maw. And it is for this very reason that the Jailer needs allies to do dirty jobs for him in other worlds. In exchange for small favors and a bit of power, Zovaal has spent the last millennia weaving a gigantic spy network that spans the entire universe. With the help of his servants and allies, the Dungeon Master can not only influence fates, but also selectively trigger events. The Third War is the best proof that he has learned to exert his power over mortals in subtle ways. In Torghast, we witness some dialogue between Sylvanas and the Jailer. Zovaal doesn't give orders to his henchmen, but he chooses his words so cleverly that his interlocutor can read a lot into them. In this way, the villain creates mutual trust, and his allies often don't realize he's taking advantage of them.
The Creators' Plan
"Are we not all slaves to this torture?" Sylvanas' story should have ended with her death, but the jailer had other plans for her. Source: Blizzard Sylvanas tells Bolvar that the whole world is a prison. She means that the fate of the creators is as unfair as the torture of undeath. Source: BlizzardWe can't ignore the fact that we only overheard snippets of dialogue in Torghast. We still don't know why Sylvanas is following the jailer, and which of many half-truths he's been feeding her over the last few years. All we know so far is that he needs the Banshee to break Anduin and make him another tool of the Jailer. Why Zovaal can't do it himself is a big mystery. Crazy theory: the First have robbed Zovaal of his power over death and, to further weaken him, have regulated mortal life through predestination. This means that fate, not Zovaal, will henceforth determine when and where death befalls a mortal. Since then, the jailer can no longer kill a mortal by his own hand. This at least explains why he needs (even in the Maw!) Sylvanas, who is not bound by this unwritten law of the Creators. Again, as a reminder, in a flash-forward (Legion comic: Son of the Wolf) we saw Anduin Wrynn as an old man. This means that his time in Shadowlands is far from over, and the Jailer can't just force Anduin's fate himself. The Banshee Queen, on the other hand, can, because as the undead, she can override that rule.
The story possibly behind the Scourge is somewhat complex. The creators didn't count on undead like Sylvanas because no soul was ever supposed to return from the Shadowlands. However, with the Scourge, the Dungeon Master was able to partially override this rule and create creatures whose continued existence is no longer predetermined by fate. This also explains how the Banshee Queen managed to do so much damage to Azeroth and the Shadowlands in the first place without being punished for it.
The New Gramblade
The shards Zovaal pulls from a rune portal resemble those from Icecrown Citadel. Kil'jaeden once created the Frost Throne of the Lich King from these shards. Source: BlizzardBut enough of crazy theories. Let's return to the Maw. In the last scene from Torghast so far, Sylvanas and the Jailer talk about Denathrius' defeat in Castle Nathria. When Sylvanas asks if the jailer wants to free the count, the jailer replies that Denathrius has served his purpose and his help is no longer needed. It is thrilling to see the banshee queen take it for granted that Zovaal cares for his allies. For a brief moment, she cannot hide her disappointment at his response. Sylvanas' mine darkens further as the dungeon master pulls a strange frost shard from the Whirling Nether (or another dimension). Looking at the anvil, one can clearly see that the Mawbound Blacksmith is working on a rune blade that strongly resembles Shalamayne, the legendary sword of the late King Varian Wrynn. A new weapon for the new Lich King? The last Lich Kings have failed in Zovaal's eyes and he needs a new gatekeeper between worlds.
The Key to Freedom
D The Dungeon Master vents his anger in Oribos and attacks Bolvar directly through the Crown of Dominance. Zovaal is very angry that Bolvar, as the Lich King, has been able to thwart his plans for so long. Source: buffedhe dungeon master then speaks of it being time to forge his next weapon. By this, he definitely means not only the new rune blade, but also Anduin Wrynn himself. Zovaal's impatience makes it clear that the young king probably plays an important role in the dungeon master's grand plan. One thing we already know: his strong connection to the Light is the key to Zovaal's release from the Maw. But why does the jailer need the Light, of all things? And are there parallels to Arthas at this point? The Prince of Lordaeron was once a paladin who fought for the Light. Originally, Arthas was supposed to free the Jailer after his fall. But Zovaal's plan went awry and he had to resort to other pawns like Sylvanas. But is the Banshee Queen really as loyal to the Dungeon Master as she seems at the moment? Or is it slowly dawning on her that the dungeon master is just using her for his own selfish purposes.
Doubts and remorse
Even when Sylvanas appears before Anduin with the corrupted version of Shalamayne and offers him the pact with the dungeon master for the last time, the High King remains steadfast. More. In dialogue, Anduin manages to turn the tables. He realizes that Sylvanas is still trying to stay true to her principles and not impose on Anduin the fate she suffered as an undead herself. In the Third War, she had no choice whether or not to serve Death. That choice was made for her by others. Therefore, Sylvanas would rather Anduin choose death of her own free will, and not have her murder him and then bring him back to life. But the king does not dream of giving Sylvanas this absolution. Quite the opposite. He even openly challenges the Banshee Queen. The Dark Princess must decide whether she will give up her free will and finally become a henchman of the dungeon master, or whether she will still return to her former self and the noble ideals associated with it.
The Echo of the Lich King
Sylvanas strikes the same pose in the video as Arthas once did in the legendary WotLK cinematic. Source: BlizzardSylvanas' odd role in this big game again becomes a problem for the story, because her unquestioning loyalty to the jailer doesn't really fit the classic Sylvanas, who valued her freedom above all else. In Shadowlands, the Banshee Queen resembles her former tormentor Arthas. The imagery Blizzard chooses in the Torghast video speaks for itself. Sylvanas strikes the same pose with the rune weapon as Arthas once did with Frostmourne in the trailer for the second WoW expansion Wrath of the Lich King. As we learn from the trailer for the upcoming patch 9.1: Chains of Domination, Sylvanas commits a cruel crime and imposes the will of the dungeon master on Anduin. Under his control, the Alliance king is now forced to serve evil.
No Redemption for Sylvanas
Sylvanas calls her former self a fool; she is bitter that she never had power over her own destiny. The jailer has promised her a better future. But at what price? Source: Blizzard Finally, the scene comes to an abrupt end at the most exciting point. In the end, the impression remains that Blizzard's authors are planning a redemption story for Sylvanas, similar to the story of Illidan Sturmgrimm in WoW (buy now 14,99 € ): Legion. Given all the horrors the Dark Princess is responsible for, though, it's hard to imagine Sylvanas being redeemed at all. After all, she won't be able to just return to Azeroth as leader of the Forsaken. What paths remain open for the Banshee Queen? In an interview, Steve Danuser, WoW's Lead Narrative Designer, confirms that Sylvanas won't get a classic Redemption story at the end of Shadowlands. Players will learn more about the Banshee Queen's thought processes, but that doesn't mean she'll get forgiveness for her crimes.
Although we know next to nothing about Sylvanas' true intentions and Anduin's fate, the Banshee Queen could end up turning the tide and betraying the Jailer. Let's not forget that Sylvanas was able to fool her masters in Warcraft 3 and then take them out one by one. While the dungeon master is powerful, he also has his weaknesses. As a prisoner, he relies on the help of his allies. What do you think will happen when Sylvanas reneges on their pact, suddenly putting a crimp in Zovaal's reckoning?
Self-Doubt and Remorse: When Anduin hands the Archon's essence to the dungeon master, you can tell how much Sylvanas regrets her terrible deed. This is the only point that distinguishes her from Arthas at the moment. Source: BlizzardThe first story chapter of Shadowlands ended with a cliffhanger that raises a lot of new questions. Why doesn't Sylvanas come right out with her plan and the ultimate truth? If the dungeon master is right, then surely she could convince Anduin of her mission right away, without any coercion or violence. Instead, we get to hear more vague statements and blunt half-truths from Sylvanas. She and the dungeon master want to destroy the existing order of the creators, that's clear. But how and for what battle can Anduin serve as a weapon for the two? The young king has already proven several times in battle that he is a perfect master of light magic. What the Banshee Queen doesn't know, however, is that Anduin's soul also has a dark side that he can't control as well as the light. So Sylvanas' plan to use the king as a weapon may well backfire. What we're left with in the end is Sylvanas' big lie to himself, revealed by Anduin. The last image we see of Sylvanas speaks volumes. Despite granting the dungeon master all of his wishes, the banshee queen is clearly doubting her mission. Now she has to decide if she wants to take the wooden road to the end or turn back after all.Support buffed - it'll only take a minute. Thank you!
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