There has been general confusion among players, especially lore fans, exactly what’s going on in Tol Barad. I recently started doing quests there after completing all Cataclysm reputations, now risen up to exalted. Hellscream’s Reach is the only reputation yet to be conquered. Just hit Friendly.
While doing the quests, I noticed most of the place is populated by ghosts, but there are some living mobs in certain villages such as the Rustberg Village. Curiously, the mobs there are named Suspicious Villager, or Apprehensive Worker. Both names bring up questions. Who are they? Not only the names, but … their races. Some of the Suspicious Villagers are either Dwarves, Humans or Tauren. Both genders. The Rustberg Fishermen are tauren with fishing poles — who curiously attack with water-based shamanic magic. The Suspicious Villagers have cookie tenderizers as weapons (cooks?), picks, carpenter hammers, or axes.
The water fountain in there seems old and broken. The houses seem to be somewhat old, but new ones are built by gnomes and Humans (the Apprehensive Workers). The Rustberg Bandits are … orcs. So far Rustberg Village makes outright no sense. Are they Twilight’s Hammer? Are they South Seas Buccanneers? Other Pirate group? Is it a new faction hinting at a unknown future expansion? Are they just meant to make no sense with no lore? Who knows.
There might be a connection elsewhere to explain the mystery behind the bizarre set up of undead, ghosts, spirits, and the odd multi-racial humanoids in Tol Barad.
Let’s do a quick recap on similar situations where undead or humanoids with no initial apparent origin have been introduced in World of Warcraft, and later a truth is revealed.
We all know the Scarlet Crusade was manipulated by Dreadlord Balnazzar (under the guise of Grand Crusader Saidan Dathrohan).
The Scarlet Onslaught, those of the Scarlet Crusade who sailed to Northrend from Tyr’s Hand, was later revealed to be manipulated by Dreadlord Mal’Ganis — who we all thought died before the might of Prince Arthas’ Frostmourne. Dreadlord Mal’Ganis was under the guise of Grand Admiral Barean Westwind leading the Scarlet Onslaught. One of the statues of the Scarlet Monastery was in memory of a missing members of the Scarlet Crusade: Barean Westwind.
When players defeat Mal’Ganis in Northrend, at Onslaught Harbor, he escapes through a portal, not before saying the following: “ENOUGH! I waste my time here. I must gather my strength on the homeworld. You’ll never defeat the Lich King without my forces! I’ll have my revenge… on him AND you!”
Tol Barad was destroyed by the original Horde during Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (view map campaigns), and according to one of the World of Warcraft RPG books (published by White Wolf Publishing) mentions Tol Barad was used as a prison later to keep within humanoids, demons and other supernatural beings. Told Barad in World of Warcraft reveals the RPG book source true with a prison.
Dreadlord Balnazzar was once thought dead when Sylvanas Windrunner ordered Dreadlord Varimathras to slay him if he wished to be spared by her. Dreadlord Mal’Ganis was thought dead when Prince Arthas apparently killed him in Northrend. Mal’Ganis continues to be alive, gone back to the homeworld. However, there is still one of the three dreadlords (who served as the Lich King’s jailors) unaccounted for … Detheroc.
There were many Nathrezim Dreadlords introduced in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos … Anetheron, Balnazzar, Dalvengyr, Detheroc, Mal’ganis, Mephistroth, Tichondrius, and Varimathras. Some of these appeared during the Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos in-game cutscene: The Dreadlords Convene.
Three of them were in Azeroth as jailors of Ner’zhul the Lich King: Varimathras, Balnazzar and Detheroc.
According to World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King by Christie Golden, Detheroc was the most powerful and likely the most cunning of the trio. Detheroc mind-controlled the human Lord Garithos and his forces against Lady Sylvanas, and likely stirred the separation between Prince Kael’Thas and his high elves and the Alliance during Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.
It’s highly possible that whatever is going on in Tol Barad might be echoes of a Dreadlord’s mind-manipulation at play on the Rustberg villagers and other denizens. The Nathrezim can also rise the dead and bind spirits. (Note: Balnazzar used necromancy to awaken the corpses of the Scarlet Crusade and named them The Risen — in Cataclysm: Stratholme).
Wait — but Detheroc is dead. Is he? Nope. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm introduced new lore to old dungeons. If you enter Stratholme, you will find three NPCs at the entrance. Crusader Commander Eligor Dawnbringer reveals a Dreadlord can’t be killed in Azeroth. Detheroc, Varimathras and Balnazzar are still alive in the Twisting Nether. You can play this dialogue by defeating Balnazzar at the Crimson Throne in the former Scarlet Crusade building of Stratholme.
Crusader Commander Eligor Dawnbringer: Well done, heroes. Balnazzar had been a threat for far too long. He had a hand in the Scourge and the Scarlet Crusade, two of our most difficult foes. The Risen may have tipped the balance against us, had they time to fester.
Regrettably, Balnazzar is not yet finished. Defeating a dreadlord in the mortal plane only sends it back to the Twisting Nether. He will be back one day, perhaps even working again with his brothers, Varimathras and Detheroc.
For now, we have regained control over this half of Stratholme and should rejoice for that. The former Bastion of the Silver Hand is back in the hands of its rightful owners. Countless treasures to the order reside here, and we now have a fortified location to launch our next assault.
This quote above definitely confirms that none of the dreadlords known to have died in Warcraft III and World of Warcraft are actually dead. They can’t die if killed in Azeroth. They are merely sent back to their realm in the Twisting Nether.
Not long ago, in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, Horde players were able to be part of the Battle for Undercity, where Thrall and Lady Sylvanas fight Varimathras. An enigmatic voice reveals Varimathras has been working for a master. It’s unknown if the voice was one of the Nathrezim of great power in their hierarchy such as: Mephistroth, or if it was the eredar Kil’jaeden or even the dark titan: Sargeras.
About a couple years ago, when I interviewed Chris Metzen and Micky Neilson at the 2009 New York Comic Con both revealed they had big plans for Sargeras — who will be coming back in a future expansion.
In that interview they mentioned big plans for Gilneas (before Cataclysm was officially announced) and talked about Garona and Cho’gal (leader of the Twilight’s Hammer).
Medievaldragon: A fan asked: The body of Sargeras that Aegwynn killed was said to be an avatar in Warcraft: The Last Guardian, does this mean that Sargeras’ real body is still out there somewhere? Or is Sargeras pulling a Lord Voldemort trick to ensure his return?
Neilson: Sargeras is still kicking around. You can’t put him down.
Metzen: He’s out there somewhere.
Neilson: He’s not going to stay down for long.
Metzen: Yeah totally. And I think the hooks we had for his physical body, wherever it may be are so visually stunning that I think we have to… it’s like low hanging fruit, we’re going to have to bring him back somewhere. I’d be very disappointed in us if we didn’t leverage him fully.
With all the hints and revelations slowly surfacing gradually in each expansion , I’ll have to dare say the mysterious plot behind Tol Barad might be yet another hint of things to come — heralding the Dark Titan’s return.
I will continue playing the daily quests, and if I see any clues as to what’s going on in Tol Barad, I will share it with our audience.