Sunday, November 29, 2015

In the Hall of the Mountain King

We've got more in the way of spoilers here, though in this case, the "spoiler" is something that has only been hinted at. As a reminder, all of these spoilers (including those from the previous post) are only probabilities, not guaranteed outcomes. Let us not forget Anduin's (non) death at Garrosh's hands in 5.1, or the (non) unveiling of Grand Magister Rommath as a member of Twilight's Hammer in 4.0. Lots of things that would seemingly be major plot points are either thrown in as red herrings to dataminers or simply decided against later on in development. There are also certainly things that we can misinterpret. A character might claim that someone is dead because he or she believes that to be true, but it might not be the case. Vol'jin faked his death after Garrosh sent assassins after him, and the Horde (outside the player character) was meant to believe that he had been taken down.

So there's you salt grains. Let's talk about REDACTED below the cut.

When Cataclysm came out, we saw a grand shift within both factions. Varian had returned to Stormwind the expansion previous (and seemed to take advantage of the then-new barbershops to get what had previously been a Blood Elf-only hairstyle.) But we also saw the death of Cairne Bloodhoof, who was succeeded by his son Baine, as well as the passing of the mantle of Warchief from Thrall to Garrosh, which has gone down in history as Thrall's worst decision ever.

Cairne was a sad loss, given that he was the grandfatherly figure who had been a strong supporter of Thrall's, and he was taken down through a combination of Garrosh's ego and Magatha Grimtotem's treachery, leaving the Horde deeply divided.

But the Alliance also lost one of their senior leaders. Magni Bronzebeard had held together Ironforge and helped to transform their society into one of science and industry, redirecting the natural instinct toward treasure-hunting into a thirst for knowledge of history. Magni was a hero to his people, and even forged the legendary Ashbringer, the greatest weapon against the Scourge ever known.

In the Elemental Unrest prior to the Shattering (the destruction caused in the immediate aftermath of Deathwing's return to Azeroth,) some dwarven archaeologists had discovered a set of Titan tablets that seemed to detail a way to commune with the earth. Seeking answers but unwilling to let anyone else take the risk, Magni performed the ceremony detailed within the tablets. But if he found any insight in performing this ritual, we have never found out, because he was transformed into a massive, dwarf-shaped diamond in the heart of Old Ironforge.

Dwarven society has transformed tremendously since Magni's transformation. Where once the Bronzebeards held sole dominion over Ironforge Mountain, it is now home to all three of the major Eastern Kingdoms dwarf clans. The Wildhammers had always been on more cordial terms with the Bronzebeards - the wars of their past were a distant memory. Long ago, the Wildhammers had built their own great city, Grim Batol, but abandoned it after the Dark Iron priestess Modgud cursed it.

More contentious was the return of the Dark Irons. For hundreds if not thousands of years, the Dark Iron Clan had sought to undermine the Bronzebeards and wage war on them. The Thaurissan Dynasty were sworn to Ragnaros, and it was the first of the Thaurissan Emperors who had summoned the Firelord to Redridge Mountains, creating Blackrock Mountain and burning most of the mountain range to cinders in the process, creating the Searing Gorge and Burning Steppes.

In the pre-Cataclysm quests in Blackrock Depths, adventurers of both factions were sent to rescue Moira Bronzebeard, Magni's daughter. However, upon finding (and killing) Dagran Thaurissan, her supposed kidnapper, she revealed that she was not his slave, captive, or under mind control, but that she had in fact married him out of love and was carrying his child.

Taking power in Shadowforge City, Moira ruled as the Queen Regent for her infant son. But when Magni was transformed, she came to Ironforge, claiming her son as the true heir of both the Dark Iron and Bronzebeard clans. Understandably, this was not acceptable to most of the Ironforge dwarves, who had spent generations fighting against the Dark Irons (and with good reason.)

There was great turmoil in Ironforge, and Moira even attempted to take over the city, leading to an intervention by the Alliance under the command of Varian Wrynn. To make peace, the Council of Three Hammers was established, allowing each of the three clans to have a representative and rule over all the dwarves together.

Magni's older brother (not older than Magni, but older than Brann) Muradin, who had recently been found alive in Northrend, was made the Bronzebeard representative, while Moira stood for the Dark Irons, and Kurdran Falstad stood for the Wildhammers.

The Wildhammers brought their shamanistic traditions to the Dwarves, and the Dark Irons introduced sorcery (both Mages and Warlocks.) But Moira's loyalties have often been in question. There remains a large faction of Dark Irons who are absolutely not on board with sharing power with the other clans, and they remain devoted to Ragnaros (or they did, until he was killed permanently in the Firelands) and allies of Twilight's Hammer.

Many have suspected that these belligerent Dark Irons are, in fact, working under Moira's commands as she attempts to take over Ironforge. Yet some actions she has taken suggest that, ultimately, she has been loyal to the Alliance. During the Pandaria campaign, the Zandalari attempted to rally the Frost Trolls in Dun Morogh, and it was Moira who sent forces to deal with them, while the other clans were too worried about depleting their own garrisons lest she try to take the opportunity to have her coup.

Calculated PR move or genuine display of loyalty? That remains to be seen.

But now that things have settled down, and it looks like the Council of Three Hammers is functioning properly, there's a new spanner in the works. According to spoilers that have been around since the announcement of Legion, it looks like Magni Bronzebeard is not so dead after all, and may in fact be restored to his former state (or at least granted the ability to move and interact with people once again.)

Whatever claim Moira's son might have as the heir to the Bronzebeard crown, Magni is still the king. And he might be very upset that his city and his kingdom is now being split with two other clans. Magni's definitely someone we've always considered a good guy - I doubt that he'll be "evil" in any concrete way, but the new order of Ironforge is very, very different from how it was when he was in charge.

What will Magni do, knowing that his daughter literally slept with the enemy, knowing that his only grandchild is a Thaurissan? The Alliance will be going through plenty of tumult already, and it's unlikely that they'll be able to intervene if there is another revolutionary change within Ironforge mountain. Will Magni embrace the new way of life, forgive his daughter and share power? Or is Ironforge about to erupt into chaos when the Mountain King returns?

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