World of Warcraft has had many memorable antagonists, from the dreaded Lich King to the bloodthirsty Garrosh Hellscream. While these formidable opponents can last for many story arcs and expansions, few compare with the might of Sargeras, Lord of the Burning Legion.
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Sargeras and his Legion are essentially the main antagonists of the entire Warcraft saga, from the original RTS title all the way up to the Legion expansion of WoW. Yet you rarely face off against him directly, instead dealing with many of his powerful lieutenants, making you wonder just who is the one pulling the strings behind the Burning Legion.
Sargeras The Titan
Sargeras is one of the Titans, the mightiest beings in the World of Warcraft universe. They are born inside planets, forming as world-souls inside them for eons until they emerge, mature and filled with purpose.
Known as The Defender, Sargeras was the most driven in the quest of his kind to bring order to all the worlds of the Great Dark, and no foe was powerful enough to deal with his might. That is, until he found the demons of the Twisting Nether.
Sargeras wasn’t always a Titan in the Warcraft lore, having been rewritten a few times during the development of the games.
His current lore is the one considered canon, with most of the information being given by the Legion expansion.
When a creature perishes in the WoW universe, they pass on to their afterlives, likely in one of the realms of the Shadowlands.
But Demons work differently, since they’re touched by the Fel energies of the Nether, a realm between the Dark Beyond and the eternal Void; when a Demon dies, it goes back to the Nether where it can rise anew.
Concerned by this development, Sargeras had to find a solution for these undying creatures, and eventually decided to trap them instead of slaying them. He created a prison world named Mardum, putting all the chaotic forces of the Twisting Nether in it and sparing the cosmos of their madness.
The Void Threat
As Sargeras continued his Demon hunt, he came across a planet being corrupted by a strange force; a planet with a world-soul no less.
He questioned the Demons that reside on that planet, and they told Sargeras of the Void Lords, beings outside the Dark Beyond that wanted to corrupt reality.
To do this, the Void Lords send parasitic beings out into the cosmos, with the mission to consume planets. If one of those corrupted planets held a world-soul, the parasitic creatures (later known as Old Gods) would latch on to it and corrupt it, giving birth to a Dark Titan that would destroy all creation and let the Void Lords in.
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Terrified at this revelation, Sargeras destroys the corrupted planet, slicing it in two. He then told his fellow Titans about the Void threat, but they didn’t listen.
Instead, they reprimanded him for his rash action, claiming that there might’ve been a way to save the unborn Titan from its fate.
Since the others didn’t share his vision, Sargeras would deal with the Void threat alone. He was determined to end all life in the universe, so he could avoid any further Void corruption, but to do so he needed an army that could soar the universe.
The Burning Crusade
Sargeras traveled to Mardum and offered the Demons there a choice: join his crusade or be forever annihilated. Most of the Demons joined, not only out of fear, but because the Titan’s crusade was in line with what they wanted to do anyway.
It’s unclear how Sargeras’s threat to the Demons would work, since any Demons he killed would just go back to the Twisting Nether.
Then Sargeras destroys the prison planet Mardum, and the Fel energies being contained in it explode and meld with him, transforming him into a flaming embodiment of hatred, a Titan corrupted by the Fel.
With his great army formed and bolstering new Demonic powers, Sargeras began his crusade. He was approached by the other Titans, who tried to reason with him, telling him of a mighty world-soul named Azeroth that, once born, could defeat the Void Lords.
For Sargeras, all world-souls were a threat, so Azeroth was to be destroyed by his hand. Since they couldn’t reason with him, the rest of the Titans tried to slay Sargeras, but were no match for his might or that of his Demons, ending up being slain by his blade.
The Titan Norgannon, great master of the Arcane, cast a defensive spell that prevented the Titans’ complete annihilation at the hands of Sargeras; their souls would one day return.
Having emerged victorious, Sargeras considered his Demonic army. While overwhelmingly powerful, they lacked strategic thinking, and he couldn’t lead every single incursion on his own; he needed worthy lieutenants.
He found what he was looking for in the Eredar, a highly intelligent race that were masters of the arcane. He corrupted two of their leaders, Archimonde and Kil’jaeden, into serving him for great power, but not all were fooled; Velen could see through the lies, and fled with a portion of his people, becoming the Draenei.
First Invasion Of Azeroth
Ever since hearing about Azeroth, Sargeras wanted to make it a priority, but he didn’t know where the planet was. That is, until he sensed the great magical power of the Well of Eternity, a magical flow of power in Azeroth, giving him a target for his crusade.
To destroy Azeroth’s world-soul, Sargeras needed to be there himself, but if he were to physically travel there it would’ve taken countless millennia. That’s why space travel is done via portals; although, the bigger the thing you need to travel, the larger the portal.
Sargeras first sent his voice to influence the leaders of Azeroth, namely the high-born elves, so he could corrupt them like he did the Eredar. Once he had hold of the planet, he sent one of his chosen Eredars, Archimonde, to begin the plan to summon Sargeras himself to Azeroth.
This led to the War of the Ancients, where the Night Elves, the woodland creatures of Cenarius, and the Red Dragons of Alexstrasza faced off against the Burning Legion and managed to prevent Sargeras’s arrival at Azeroth.
Corrupting The Guardians
The defeat of his first invasion had Sargeras rethink his approach to destroying Azeroth. If he wanted to be summoned onto the planet, he’d need to first focus on destroying the races that dwell within.
9,000 years would pass before he had an opportunity to influence Azeroth once again, and he’d do so using the Guardians of Tirisfal. This order was formed to fight the demonic invasions, so he’d use that against them and send an Avatar of himself to do battle.
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His Avatar was defeated by Aegwynn, the elected Guardian at the time, and the corpse of said avatar was hidden within Azeroth. Sargeras used this connection to slowly corrupt the mind of the Guardian, and in turn, that of her child, Medivh.
Once Medivh became of age, and eventually Guardian of Tirisfal, Sargeras had a way into the planet, but focusing on summoning himself into it would be repeating the mistakes of the past. Instead, he had Medivh communicate with Gul’dan, an Orcish Warlock from Draenor.
Second Invasion Of Azeroth
Draenor was a planet already conquered by the Burning Crusade, and the Orcs were a mighty race that the Demons corrupted into their ranks. With the combined efforts of Gul’dan and Medivh, a Dark Portal was opened between the two worlds, and the Horde entered Azeroth to conquer it in full.
Yet the invasion didn’t work as intended, since the Horde was mighty, but the combined forces of Azeroth were able to keep them at bay. Eventually, the Horde freed itself from their Demonic shackles, and what once was a tool in the Demon’s arsenal became another defense force for Azeroth.
The Draenei led by Velen, who had escaped Argus long ago, made it to Azeroth and found shelter among the alliance. Meanwhile, the Blood Elves escape the demonic corruption and joined the Horde, who themselves had to endure such corruption in the past.
The same Dark Portal the Horde came from would be used years later, as seen in the Burning Crusade expansion of World of Warcraft. This saw Kil’jaeden influence the Blood Elves much like Sargeras did the Eredar eons ago, and it’s after Kil’jaeden’s defeat that we can consider the Second Invasion being over.
Third Invasion Of Azeroth
The third and final invasion of Azeroth began when a Gul’dan from an alternate timeline appeared in current Azeroth. He was guided by the voice of Kil’jaeden and opened a portal once made during the War of the Ancients, thus allowing the full might of the Legion through.
While the plan wasn’t to summon Sargeras into Azeroth, Illidan Stormrage had other plans: he had been fighting the Demonic forces for millenia, and wanted to bring this conflict to an end, one way or another. So he opens a portal to Argus, the home planet of the Eredar, hoping that it will force Sargeras to show himself.
Sargeras was, in fact, near Argus, since the planet had a world-soul within it. He was corrupting said soul with Fel energies, so he could have a Titan ally on his side, unknowingly doing the very same thing he dreaded the Void Lords from doing.
In the many fights leading to the final confrontation, the forces of Azeroth managed to bring back the Titan Pantheon, slain by Sargeras eons ago. With the aid of the Pantheon, Sargeras was finally sealed, and the Burning Legion came to an end, but not without one final play from the Fel Titan himself.
As he was being absorbed, Sargeras drew his blade in a desperate attempt to kill the world-soul inside Azeroth. He managed to push his blade deep within the planet’s core, and to this day the extent of the damage he did to the unborn Titan is unknown.
The War Within
While the wound Sargeras did to Azeroth led to a lot of infighting within the planet, there was rarely a moment of peace for the factions living there to assess the damage. After the blade was plunged, there were wars, Old God invasions, kidnappings to the Shadowlands and even the Dragon Aspects were in disarray.
Yet the unborn Titan was not going to be idle for much longer, and sent a call into the dreams of Azeroth’s mightiest heroes, so they’d come to her aid. While much is left to be discovered, we’re left wondering if the final threat is from the Void Lords, another ploy by Sargeras, or something even worse.
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