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Iron Forge: The Awakening of the Dwarves

In the ancient times, after the Titans departed Azeroth, their children, known as the earthen, continued to shape and guard the deep recesses of the world. The earthen were largely unconcerned with the affairs of the surface-dwelling races and longed only to plumb the dark depths of the earth.

When the world was sundered by the Well of Eternity’s implosion, the earthen were deeply affected. Reeling with the pain of the earth itself, the earthen lost much of their identity and sealed themselves within the stone chambers where they were first created. Uldaman, Uldum, and Uldur.  These were the names of the ancient Titan cities where the earthen first took shape and form. Buried deep beneath the world, the earthen rested in peace for nearly eight thousand years.

Though it is unclear what awakened them, the earthen sealed within Uldaman eventually arose from their self-imposed slumber. These earthen found that they had changed significantly during their hibernation. Their rocky hides had softened and become smooth skin, and their powers over stone and earth had waned. They had become mortal creatures.

Calling themselves dwarves, the last of the earthen left the halls of Uldaman and ventured out into the waking world. Still lulled by the safety and wonders of the deep places, they founded a vast kingdom under the highest mountain in the land.

They named their land Khaz Modan, or “Mountain of Khaz”, in honor of the Titan shaper, Khaz’goroth. Constructing an altar for their Titan father, the dwarves crafted a mighty forge within the heart of the mountain. Thus, the city that grew around the forge would be called Ironforge ever after.

The dwarves, by nature fascinated with shaping gems and stone, set out to mine the surrounding mountains for riches and precious minerals. Content with their labors under the world, the dwarves remained isolated from the affairs of their surface-dwelling neighbors.

Book found at Hall of Explorers

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Beyond the Dark Portal

Only a few months after Nethergarde’s completion, the energies of the dark portal coalesced and opened up a new gateway to Draenor. The remaining orc clans, under the leadership of the elder shaman, Ner’zhul, charged forth into Azeroth once again. Intent on stealing a number of magical artifacts that would increase Ner’zhul’s power, the orcs planned to open up new portals in Draenor that would allow them to escape their doomed red world forever.

Convinced that Ner’zhul was planning a new offensive against the Alliance, King Terenas of Lordaeron sent his armies into Draenor to end the orcish threat once and for all. Led by Khadgar and General Turalyon, the Alliance forces clashed with the orcs across the burning landscape. Even with the aid of the elven Ranger Alleria, the dwarf Kurdran and the veteran soldier Danath, Khadgar was unable to prevent Ner’zhul from opening his portals to other worlds.

The tremendous magical storms caused by the portals’ converging energies began to tear the ravaged world apart. Ner’zhul, followed only by his most trusted servants, managed to escape through one of the portals as Khadgar fought desperately to return his comrades to Azeroth. Realizing that they would be trapped on the dying world, Khadgar and his companions selflessly decided to destroy the dark portal so that Azeroth would not be harmed by Draenor’s violent destruction.

By all accounts, the heroes were successful in destroying the portal and saving Azeroth;  but whether or not they escaped the death throes of Draenor remains to be seen.

Book found at Scarlet Monastery

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Charge of the Dragonflights

Satisfied that the small world had been ordered and that their work was done, the Titans prepared to leave Azeroth.  However, before they departed, they charged the greatest species of the world with the task of watching over Kalimdor, lest any force should threaten its perfect tranquility.  In that age, there were many dragonflights.

Yet there were five flights that held dominion over their brethren.  It was these five flights that the Titans chose to shepherd the budding world.  The greatest members of the Pantheon imbued a portion of their power upon each of the flights’ leaders.  These majestic dragons (as listed below) became known as the Great Aspects, or the Dragon Aspects.

Aman’Thul, the Highfather of the Panteon, bestowed a portion of his cosmic power upon the massive Bronze dragon, Nozdormu.  The Highfather empowered Nozdormu to guard time itself and police the ever-spinning pathways of fate and destiny.  The stoic, honorable Nozdormu became known as the Timeless One.

Eonar, the titan patron of all life, gave a portion of her power o he Red leviathan, Alexstrasza.  Ever after, Alexstrasza would be known as the Life-binder, and she would work to safeguard all living creatures within the world.  Due to her supreme wisdom and limitless compassion for all living things, Alexstrasza was crowned the Dragonqueen and given dominion over her kind.

Eonar also blessed Alexstrasza’s younger sister, the lithe green dragon Ysera, wih a portion of nature’s influence.  Ysera fell into an eternal trance, bound to the waking Dream of Creation.  Known as the Dreamer, she would watch over the growing wilds of the world from her verdant realm, the Emerald Dream.

Norgannon, the titan lore keeper and master-magician, granted the Blue dragon, Malygos, a portion of his vast power.  From then on, Malygos would be known as the Spell-weaver, the guardian of magic and hidden arcanum.

Khaz’Goroth, the Titan shaper and forger of the world, bestowed some of his bast power upon the mighty black wyrm, Neltharion.  The Great-hearted Neltharion, known afterwards as the Earth-warder was given dominion over the earth and the deep places of the world.  He embodied the strength of the world and served as Alexstrasza’s greatest supporter.

Thus empowered, the Five Aspects were charged with the world’s defense in the Titans’ absence.  With the dragons prepared to safeguard their creation, the Titans left Azeroth behind forever.  Unfortunately it was only a matter of time before Sargeras learned of the newborn world’s existence …

Book found at the Explorer’s League Library—Iron Forge

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Civil War in the Plaguelands

Ner’zhul, the Lich King, knew that his time was short. Imprisoned within the Frozen Throne, he suspected that Kil’jaeden would send his agents to destroy him. The damage caused by Illidan’s spell had ruptured the Frozen Throne; thus, the Lich King was losing his power daily. Desperate to save himself, he called his greatest mortal servant to his side: the death knight Prince Arthas.

Though his powers were drained by the Lich King’s weakness, Arthas had been involved in a civil war in Lordaeron. Half of the standing undead forces, led by the banshee Sylvanas Windrunner, staged a coup for control over the undead empire. Arthas, called by the Lich King, was forced to leave the Scourge in the hands of his lieutenant, Kel’Thuzad, as the war escalated throughout the Plaguelands.

Ultimately, Sylvanas and her rebel undead (known as the Forsaken) claimed the ruined capital city of Lordaeron as their own. Constructing their own bastion beneath the wrecked city, the Forsaken vowed to defeat the Scourge and drive Kel’Thuzad and his minions from the land.

Weakened, but determined to save his master, Arthas reached Northrend only to find Illidan’s naga and blood elves waiting for him. He and his nerubian allies raced against Illidan’s forces to reach the Icecrown Glacier and defend the Frozen Throne.

Book found at Southshore

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Icecrown and the Frozen Throne

Kil’jaeden cast Ner’zhul’s icy cask back into the world of Azeroth. The hardened crystal streaked across the night sky and smashed into the desolate arctic continent of Northrend, burying itself deep within the Icecrown glacier. The frozen crystal, warped and scarred by its violent descent, came to resemble a throne, and Ner’zhul’s vengeful spirit soon stirred within it.

From the confines of the Frozen Throne, Ner’zhul began to reach out his vast consciousness and touch the minds of Northrend’s native inhabitants. With little effort, he enslaved the minds of many indigenous creatures, including ice trolls and fierce wendigo, and he drew their evil brethren into his growing shadow. His psychic powers proved to be almost limitless, and he used them to create a small army that he housed within Icecrown’s twisting labyrinths.

As the Lich King mastered his growing abilities under the dreadlords’ persistent vigil, he discovered a remote human settlement on the fringe of the vast Dragonblight. On a whim, Ner’zhul decided to test his powers on the unsuspecting humans.

Ner’zhul cast a plague of undeath – which had originated from deep within the Frozen Throne, out into the arctic wasteland. Controlling the plague with his will alone, he drove it straight into the human village. Within three days, everyone in the settlement was dead, but shortly thereafter, the dead villagers began to rise as zombified corpses. Ner’zhul could feel their individual spirits and thoughts as if they were his own.

The raging cacophony in his mind caused Ner’zhul to grow even more powerful, as if their spirits provided him with much-needed nourishment. He found it was child’s play to control the zombies’ actions and steer them to whatever end he wished.

Over the following months, Ner’zhul continued to experiment with his plague of undeath by subjugating every human inhabitant of Northrend. With his army of undead growing daily, he knew that the time for his true test was nearing.

Book found at Scarlet Monastery

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Kel’Thuzad and the Scourge

There were a handful of powerful individuals scattered throughout the world who heard the Lich King’s mental summons from Northrend. Most notable of them was the archmage of Dalaran, Kel’Thuzad, who was one of senior members of the Kirin Tor, Dalaran’s ruling council. He had been considered a maverick for years due to his insistence on studying the forbidden arts of necromancy.

Driven to learn all he could of the magical world and its shadowy wonders, he was frustrated by what he saw as his peers’ outmoded and unimaginative precepts. Upon hearing the powerful summons from Northrend, the archmage bent all of his considerable will to communing with the mysterious voice. Convinced that the Kirin Tor was too squeamish to seize the power and knowledge inherent in the dark arts, he resigned himself to learn what he could from the immensely powerful Lich King.

Leaving behind his fortune and prestigious political standing, Kel’Thuzad abandoned the ways of the Kirin Tor and left Dalaran forever. Prodded by the Lich King’s persistent voice in his mind, he sold his vast holdings and stored away his fortunes. Traveling alone over many leagues of both land and sea, he finally reached the frozen shores of Northrend.

Intent on reaching Icecrown and offering his services to the Lich King, the archmage passed through the ravaged, war-torn ruins of Azjol-Nerub. Kel’Thuzad saw firsthand the scope and ferocity of Ner’zhul’s power. He began to realize that allying himself with the mysterious Lich King might be both wise and potentially fruitful.

After long months of trekking through the harsh arctic wastelands, Kel’Thuzad finally reached the dark glacier of Icecrown. He boldly approached Ner’zhul’s dark citadel and was shocked when the undead guardsmen silently let him pass as though he was expected.

Kel’Thuzad descended deep into the cold earth and found his way down to the bottom of the glacier. There, in the endless cavern of ice and shadows, he prostrated himself before the Frozen Throne and offered his soul to the dark lord of the dead.

The Lich King was pleased with his latest conscript. He promised Kel’Thuzad immortality and great power in exchange for his loyalty and obedience. Eager for dark knowledge and power, Kel’Thuzad accepted his first great mission: to go into the world of men and found a new religion that would worship the Lich King as a god.

To help the archmage accomplish his mission, Ner’zhul left Kel’Thuzad’s humanity intact. The aged yet still charismatic wizard was charged with using his powers of illusion and persuasion to lull the downtrodden, disenfranchised masses of Lordaeron into a state of trust and belief. Then, once he had their attention, he would offer them a new vision of what society could be – and a new figurehead to call their king.

Kel’Thuzad returned to Lordaeron in disguise, and over the span of three years, he used his fortune and intellect to gather a clandestine brotherhood of like-minded men and women. The brotherhood, which he called the Cult of the Damned, promised its acolytes social equality and eternal life on Azeroth in exchange for their service and obedience to Ner’zhul.

As the months passed, Kel’Thuzad found many eager volunteers for his new cult amongst the tired, overburdened laborers of Lordaeron. It was surprisingly easy for Kel’Thuzad to achieve his goal: namely, to transfer the citizens’ faith in the Holy Light into belief in Ner’zhul’s dark shadow. As the Cult of the Damned grew in size and influence, Kel’Thuzad made sure to hide its workings from the authorities of Lordaeron.
With Kel’Thuzad’s success in Lordaeron, the Lich King made the final preparations for his assault against human civilization. Placing his plague-energies into a number of portable artifacts called plague-cauldrons, Ner’zhul ordered Kel’Thuzad to transport the cauldrons to Lordaeron, where they would be hidden within various cult-controlled villages.

The cauldrons, protected by the loyal cultists, would then act as plague-generators, sending the plague seeping out across the unsuspecting farmlands and cities of northern Lordaeron.

The Lich King’s plan worked perfectly. Many of Lordaeron’s northern villages were contaminated almost immediately. Just as in Northrend, the citizens who contracted the plague died and arose as the Lich King’s willing slaves.

The cultists under Kel’Thuzad were eager to die and be raised again in their dark lord’s service. They exulted in the prospect of immortality through undeath. As the plague spread, more and more feral zombies arose in the northlands. Kel’Thuzad looked upon the Lich King’s growing army and named it the Scourge, for soon it would march upon the gates of Lordaeron and scour humanity from the face of the world.

Book found at Southshore

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Kil’jaeden and the Shadow Pact

Around the time of Medivh’s birth on Azeroth, Kil’jaeden the Deceiver sat and brooded amongst his followers within the Twisting Nether.  The cunning demonlord, under orders of his master, Sargeras, was plotting the Burning Legion’s second invasion of Azeroth.

This time he would not allow any mistakes.  Kil’jaeden surmised that he needed a new force to weaken Azeroth’s defenses before the Legion even set foot upon the world.  If the mortal races, such as the night elves and dragons, were forced to contend with a new threat, they would be too weak to pose any real resistance when the Legion’s true invasion arrived.

It was at this time that Kil’jaeden discovered the lush world of Draenor floating peacefully within the Great Dark Beyond.  Home to the shamanistic, clan-based orcs and the peaceful draenei.  Draenor was as idyllic as it was vast.

The noble orc clans roamed the open prairies and hunted for sport, while the inquisitive draenei bulit crude cities within the world’s towering cliffs and peaks.  Kil’Jaeden knew that Draenor’s denizens had great potential to serve the Burning Legion if they could be cultivated properly.

Of the two races, Kil’Jaeden saw that the warrior orcs were more susceptible to the Legion’s corruption.  He enthralled the Elder orc shaman, Ner’zhul, in much the same way that Sargeras brought Queen Azshara under his control in ages past.  Using the cunning shaman as his conduit, the demon spread battle lust and savagery throughout the orc clans.

Before long, the spiritual race was transformed into a bloodthirsty people.  Kil’jaeden then urged Ner’zhul and his people to take the last step: to give themselves over entirely to the pursuit of death and war.  Yet the old shaman, sensing that his people would be enslaved to hatred forever, somehow resisted the demon’s command.

Frustrated by Ner’zhul’s resistance, Kil’jaeden searched for another orc who would deliver his people into the Legion’s hands.  The clever demonlord ffinally found the willing disciple he sought – Ner’zhul’s ambitious apprentice, Gul’dan.  Kil’jaeden promised Gul’dan untold power in exchange for his utter obedience.

The young orc became an avid student of demonic magic and developed into the most powerful mortal warlock in history.  He taught other young orcs the arcane arts and strove to eradicate the orcs’ shamanistic traditions.  Gul’dan showed a new brand of magic to his breathren A terrible new power that reeked of doom.

Kil’jaeden, seeking to tighten his hold over the orcs, helped Gul’dan found the Shadow Council, a secretive sect that manipulated the clans and spread the use of warlock magics throughout Draenor.  As more and more orcs began to wield warlock magics, the gentle fields and streams of Draenor began to blacken and fade.  Over time, the vast prairies the orcs had called home for generations withered away, leaving only red barren soil.  The demon energies were slowly killing the world.

Lethargy of the Orcs

Months passed, and more orc prisoners were rounded up and placed within the internment camps. As the camps began to overflow, the Alliance was forced to construct new camps in the plains sought of Alterac Mountains.  To properly maintain and supply the growing number of camps, King Terenas levied a new tax on the Alliance nations.

This tax, along with increased political tensions over border disputes, created widespread unrest.  It seemed that the fragile pact that had forged the human nations together in their darkest hour would break at any given moment.

Amidst the political turmoil, many of the camp wardens began to notice an unsettling change come over their orc captives.  The orcs’ efforts to escape from the camps or even fight amongst themselves had greatly decreased in frequency over time.  The orcs were becoming increasingly aloof and lethargic.

Though it was difficult to believe, the orcs – once held as the most aggressive race ever seen on Azeroth -  had completely lost their will to fight.  The strange lethargy confounded the Alliance leaders and continued to take its toll on the rapidly weakening orcs.

Some speculated that some strange disease, contractible only by orcs, brought about the baffling lethargy.  But archmage Antonidas of Dalaran posed a different hypothesis.  Researching what little he could find of orcish history, Antonidas learned that the orcs had been under the crippling influence of the demonic power for generations.

He speculated that the orcs had been corrupted by these powers even before their first invasion of Azeroth.  Clearly, demons had spiked the orcs’ blood, and in turn the brutes had been granted unnatural heightened strength, endurance and aggression.

Antonidas theorized that the orcs’ communal lethargy was not actually a disease, but a consequence of racial withdrawal from the volatile warlock magics that had made them fearsome, bloodlusted warriors.Thought the symptoms were clear, Antonidas was unable to find a cure for the orcs’ present condition.  Then too, many of his fellow mages, as well as a few notable Alliance leaders, argued that finding a cure for the orcs would be an imprudent venture.  Left to ponder the orcs’ mysterious condition, Antonidas’ conclusion was that the orcs’ cure would have to be a spiritual one.

—Book found at Eastvale Logging Camp—Elwynn Forest

Mythology of the Titans

No one knows exactly how the universe began. Some theorize that a catastrophic cosmic explosion sent the infinite worlds spinning out into the vastness of the Great Dark – worlds that would one day bear life-forms of wondrous and terrible diversity. Others believe that the universe, as it exists, was created as a whole by a singular, all-powerful entity.

Though the exact origins of the chaotic universe remain unclear, it is clear that a race of powerful beings arose to bring order to the various worlds and ensure a safe future for the beings that would follow in their footsteps.

The Titans, colossal, metallic-skinned gods from the far reaches of the cosmos, came forward and set to work on the worlds they encountered. They shaped the form of their worlds by raising mighty mountains and dredging out vast seas.

They breathed skies and raging atmospheres into being – all part of their unfathomable, far-sighted plan to create order out of chaos. They even empowered primitive races to tend to their works and maintain the integrity of their respective worlds.

The Titans, ruled by an elite sect known as the Pantheon, brought order to a hundred million worlds scattered throughout the Great Dark Beyond during the first ages of creation.

The benevolent Pantheon, seeking to safeguard their structured worlds, was ever vigilant against the threat of attack from the vile, extra-dimensional entities of the Twisting Nether. The Nether, an ethereal dimension of chaotic magics that connected the myriad worlds of the universe together, was home to an infinite number of malefic, demonic beings, who sought only to destroy life and devour the energies of the living universe.

Book found at Scarlet Monastery

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Origin of the Tauren, Cenarius and Elune

Mists of Dawn

Before the age of memory, the gentle Earthmother breathed upon the golden mists of dawn. Where the amber clouds came to rest, there were endless fields of flowing wheat and barley. This was the basin of her works. The great basket of life and hope.

The Earthmother’s eyes shone down upon the lands she had breathed into creation. Her right eye, An’she (the sun), gave warmth and light to the land. her left eye, Mu’sha (the moon), gave peave and sleep to the stirring creatures of the dawning. Such was the power of her gaze that the Earthmother closed one dreaming eye for every turning of the sky. Thus, her loving gaze turned day into night for the first dawning of the world.

While the right eye shone down upon the golden dawn, the Earthmother’s gentle hands spread out across the golden plains. Wherever the shadow of her arms passed, a noble people arose from the rich soil. The Shu’halo (the Tauren) arose to give thanks and prayer to their loving mother. There in the endless fields of dawn, the children of the earth swore themselves to her grace and vowed to bless her name until the final darkening of the world.

Sorrow of the Earthmother

As the children of the earth roamed the fields of dawn, they harkened to dark whispers from the deep beneath the world. The whispers told the children of the arts of war and deceit. Many of the Shu’halo fell under the shadow’s sway and embraced the ways of malice and wickedness. They turned upon their pure breathren and left their innocence to drift upon the plains.

The Earthmother, her heart heavy with her children’s plight, could not bear to watch them fall from grace. In her grief, she tore out her eyes and set them spinning across the endless starry skies. An’shee and Mu’sha. Seeking to ease the other’s sorrow could only chase each other’s faint glow across the sky. The twins still chase one another with every turning of the world.

Though sightless, the Earthmother could not long stray from the world of her heart. She kept her ear to the winds and listened to all that transpired across the fields of the dawn. Her great heart was always with her children—and her loving wisdom never fled from them.

The White Stag and the Moon

Into the brave hearts of her pure children, the Earthmother placed the love of the hunt. For the creatures of the first dawn were savage and fierce. They hid from the Earthmother finding solace in the shadows and the wild places of the land. The Shu’Halo hunted these beasts wherever they could be found and tamed them with the Earthmother’s blessing.

One great spirit eluded them, however. Apa’ro (known as Malorne to the Night Elves) was a proud stag of snow white fur. His antlers scraped the roof of the heavens and his mighty hooves stamped out the deep places of the world. The Shu’Halo hunted Apa’ro to the corners of the dawning world—and closed in to snare the proud stag.

Seeking to escape, the great stag leapt into the sky. Yet, as his escape seemed assured, his mighty antlers tangled in the stars which held him fast. Though he kicked and struggled, Apa’ro could not loose himself from the heavens. It was then that Mu’sha found him as she chased her brother An’she, towards the dawn. Mu’sha saw the mighty stag as he struggled and fell in love with him immediately.

The clever moon made a bargain with the great stag—she would set him free from the snare of the stars if he would love her and end her loneliness.

Mu’sha loved Apa’ro and conceived a child by him. The child, a demigod some would claim was born in the shadowed forests of the night. He would be called Cenarius and walk the starry path between the waking world and the kingdom of the heavens.

Forestlord and the first druids

In time, the child, Cenarius, grew to the stature of his proud father. A brother to both the trees and the stars. The great hunter roamed the far places of the world, singing the harmonious songs of the dawning. All creatures bowed before his grace and beauty—there were none so cunning as the son of the moon and the white stag.

Eventually, Cenarius befriended the Shu’Halo and spoke to them of the turning world. The children of the earth knew him as brother and swore to help him care for the fields of life and the favored creatures of their great Earthmother.

Cenarius taught the children of the earth to speak to the trees and plants. The Shu’Halo became druids and worked great deeds of magic to nurse the land to health. For many generations the Shu’Halo hunted with Cenarius and kept the world safe from the shadows that stirred beneath it.

Hatred of the Centaur

As the mists of dawn faded and the age of memory advanced, the demigod, Cenarius, went his own way through the fields of the world. The Shu’Halo (Tauren) were sorrowful at his passing and forgot much of the druidism he had taught them. As the generations passed, they forgot how to speak with the trees and the wild things of the land. The dark whispers from the deeps of the world drifted up to their ears once again.

Though the children of the earth closed out the evil whisperings, a terrible curse befell their roaming tribes. Out of the black lands of the west came a horde of murderous creatures, the Centaur. Cannibals and ravagers, the Centaur fell upon the Shu’Halo like a plague. Though the braves and hunters fought with the Earthmother’s blessing in their hearts, the Centaur could not be defeated.

The Shu’Halo were forced to leave their ancestral holdings behind, and roam the endless plains as nomads forever after it was held that one day hope would return—and the scattered tribes of the Shu’Halo would find a new home under the loving arms of the Earthmother.

Books found at the Elder Rise, Thunderbluff

  • The origin of the Centaur is told by Celebras at Maraudon instance in Desolace.  Cenarius fathered two sons: Remulos and Zaetar.  Zaetar fell in love with an Earth Elemental named Princess Theradras.  From that unholy love were born the evil Centaurs.  Remulos fathered the Dryads and the Keepers of the Grove.

  • The Earthmother is rumored to be Therazane the Elemental Lord.  Other fans think it is Alexstrasza.  No further proof has been revealed in-game of the Earthmother’s identity.  Another theory is that Eonar the Lifebinder titan created the moon and the sun as part of her own essence, therefore creating Elune. We will update as info arrives.  These are only theories, not canon nor true.

  • War of the Ancients: The Sundering revealed that Ysera the Dragon Aspect was Malorne’s lover and mother of Cenarius.

    UPDATE: I invited Richard A. Knaak to a mini-Q&A to explain few questions that many fans commonly share among themselves—things that confused fans after reading War of the Ancients Trilogy.  Elune and Ysera are not one and the same, here he explains the relation between Cenarius and Ysera.

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