Dark Portal

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"The Dark Portal" redirects here. For the quests, see B [91] The Dark Portal.
TCG artwork.

The Dark Portal, also known as the Great Portal,[1] is one of the two gateway portals that teleport between Azeroth and Draenor (Outland). The Azeroth side's portal is located in the central parts of the Blasted Lands in southern Azeroth, while the Draenor counterpart, the Stair of Destiny, is located in eastern section of the Tanaan Jungle in the alternate timeline, or Hellfire Peninsula of today.

History

Medivh opening the Dark Portal.

The First Opening

The Dark Portal was created through a joint effort between the human mage Medivh, possessed by the Dark Titan Sargeras, and the warlocks of the orcish Shadow Council as a means to allow the Horde, under the demonic influence of the Burning Legion, to invade the world of Azeroth. The Portal bridged the cosmic distance between the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor, and was at first only large enough that individuals might pass through it. Gul'dan, leader of the Shadow Council, immediately dispatched scouts through the Portal in preparation for the coming invasion. After the Portal was widened, the armies of the orcs poured through it into the unsuspecting Kingdom of Azeroth, beginning the First War.

Years later, following the defeat of the Horde in the Second War, the Dark Portal was secured by the forces of the Alliance of Lordaeron. Hoping to end the threat of the orcs, the Archmage Khadgar attempted to close the gateway to Draenor by destroying the structure in Azeroth, after which he convinced the Alliance high command to construct Nethergarde Keep to keep watch over its ruins. Unbeknowst to the archmage and the people of Azeroth, however, the link between the worlds remained as an unseen tear in the fabric of reality.

The Second Opening

On the Draenor side of the Portal, the elder shaman Ner'zhul, Chieftain of the Shadowmoon Clan, planned to open multiple portals that would lead the Horde to new, unspoiled worlds to conquer. Powering these portals, however, would require several mystical artifacts from Azeroth: the Book of Medivh, Jeweled Scepter of Sargeras, and Eye of Dalaran. To procure them, the elder shaman reopened the Dark Portal using the Skull of Gul'dan and sent his forces through, who struck quickly and retreated to Draenor with the enchanted objects in tow. King Terenas of Lordaeron, convinced that the orcs were preparing a new invasion of Azeroth, assembled his most trusted lieutenants, including Khadgar and the paladin Turalyon, to form an expedition through the Portal to put an end to the orcish threat once and for all.

Despite the Alliance counterattack, Ner'zhul finally opened his portals to other worlds, but he did not foresee the terrible price he would pay. The portals' tremendous energies tore Draenor apart. The orc chieftains Grom Hellscream and Kilrogg Deadeye—who saw that Ner'zhul's portals would destroy their world, and his insanity would destroy their people—led their clans through the Dark Portal back to the relative safety of Azeroth. The Alliance expeditionary forces, meanwhile, remained on Draenor, agreeing to make the ultimate sacrifice by destroying the Dark Portal from their side in order to prevent that world's destruction from destroying Azeroth as well. There were indications they may have taken one of Ner'zhul's portals to another world, but they in fact managed to survive Draenor's destruction, taking refuge near the portal in hopes it may yet be opened again.

The Third Opening

The Dark Portal remained dormant for twenty years, until an artifact of incredible power was found by the demon Lord Kazzak, a lieutenant of Kil'jaeden. Though the exact nature of the artifact is unknown, Kazzak used it to reopen the Dark Portal and cross into the shattered remains of Draenor now known as Outland. In his wake, legions of demons came spilling through into Azeroth. The forces of Nethergarde Keep were quickly rallied, and with aid from the Argent Dawn and numerous adventurers the demons were pushed back through the Portal, securing it once more. The adventurers, not satisfied in securing only one side of the Portal, pressed through to Outland after Kazzak, where they went on to reestablish contact with the lost Alliance expeditionary forces and tame the savage world, defeating many of its demonically corrupted inhabitants before they could threaten Azeroth. Despite continued attempts by the Burning Legion to reassert control over the Stair of Destiny—the Outland side of the Dark Portal—the gateway was kept open to allow for the free flow of supplies and reinforcements into Outland.

Some time after the combined forces of the Alliance and Horde had taken control of the Outland-side of the portal, an army of fel orcs and nether dragons led by the death knight Ragnok Bloodreaver attempted to seize the Stair of Destiny. The defenders successfully fought back the assault, but a stray blast from one of the nether dragons resulted in the temporary closing of the gateway. The blue dragon Tyrygosa was, however, able to open a rift to Azeroth, which was stabilized by magicians of the Alliance and Horde after she and a group of nether dragons left though it.[2] These same magicians were presumably able to then use this rift to restore the Portal to proper working order.

With the Dark Portal open but effectively secured on both sides, it would fall from the public consciousness for several years, perceived as nothing more than an historical landmark and arcane curiosity.

During the war against the Lich King, a naga sea witch Zhahara Darksquall created a storm in the crater of the Dark Portal to distract its guardians. Fel orc Rahjak then stepped to Azeroth through the portal and killed some of the guardians.[3] Since the Cataclysm, a fragile Alliance between Nethergarde Keep and Dreadmaul Hold was forged, even if neither side trusted one another in order to continue guarding the portal. Other than that, both sides would keep fighting against the demons coming through the dark portal and those surrounding it.

The Portal Preempted

This perception changed dramatically when powerful magic was used to redirect Azeroth's Dark Portal—not to another place, but to another time. The escaped Horde Warchief Garrosh Hellscream, having traveled across space and time to an alternate version of Draenor's past with the aid of the bronze dragon Kairozdormu, changed the parallel universe's course of events to prevent the demonic blood pact that ultimately led to the original opening of the Portal. Manipulating his people to suit his own ends, Garrosh instead orchestrated the creation of the Iron Horde, an uncorrupted—and seemingly unstoppable—orcish war machine under the command of Grommash. In Garrosh's Draenor, it was this Horde that constructed the Stair of Destiny, enslaving the members of the Shadow Council to power it. Finally, using the  [Vision of Time], the very artifact with which he and Kairozdormu had arrived in the alternate timeline, Garrosh linked the Stair of Destiny from the past of his parallel universe to the present of ours, turning the Portal a bloody shade of red and initiating the Iron Horde Incursion.

Adventurers once again stormed the Dark Portal, but not before Nethergarde Keep and its Horde counterpart, Okril'lon Hold, fell to the invading forces. Scrambling to regain lost ground but nevertheless better prepared than their predecessors, these heroes, led by none other than Dark Portal veteran Khadgar, Alliance hero Maraad and the former Warchief Thrall fought the Ironmarch Vanguard back through the gateway and into the alternate Draenor. After confronting the orc leadership—the Warlords of Draenor—Khadgar and his companions used the Iron Horde's own advanced weaponry to destroy the Stair of Destiny once again, ending the immediate threat it presented to Azeroth. Unlike the last time, however, an older, wiser Khadgar had not trapped himself in Draenor: The Alliance and Horde quickly established fortified bases on the island of Ashran, where they conjured portals to Azeroth to allow for free passage to and from their homeworld. Meanwhile, skilled mages in Stormwind and Orgrimmar reestablished contact with Outland's Hellfire Peninsula using portals of their own, circumnavigating the newly severed connection between Azeroth and modern Outland.

Azeroth's Dark Portal has currently been redirected to convey troops and supplies to the fortresses of Warspear and Stormshield on Ashran. Given this security it remains largely unattended, a silent monument to its own violent legacy. The path out of the Portal crater was widened extensively by the invaders, and the ramp of the portal, already grooved from the march of the orcs and their equipment from previous wars, has now borne the full brunt of much larger and heavier war machines in great numbers. The lower portion of the ramp especially has taken extensive damage, appearing battered and frail as if ready to break apart.

World of Warcraft

The Dark Portal was also featured on the original...

When World of Warcraft launched, the Dark Portal was a noticeable (but unusable) feature in the Blasted Lands, located southeast of Stormwind in the Eastern Kingdoms. The Portal is located in the southeastern corner of the Blasted Lands and (until Patch 2.0.1) was surrounded by elite demons and servants of the named demons, and the glow around the Portal's gateway was blue, indicating its inactivity. When a player walked through the gate they merely passed through to the back of the gate as if nothing was there - the portal was merely for show in game. At the time, the portal was considered to be decorative only, a piece of Warcraft lore to look at. The Portal on the Azeroth side appears to be rather simple - the only decoration on it being the two "guardians" on either side of the gateway and the coiled snake-head above it.

With the announcement of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, it was revealed that the Dark Portal would be reopened and be the primary means of traveling to Outland. In preparation for the expansion, Blizzard released Patch 2.0.1, "Before the Storm", which prepared the original areas of the world for the impending expansion. In addition to the changes to the map, the addition of new NPCs and the new means of transportation to the new races' capitals, the demons and demon-slaves were removed from around the Dark Portal and the crater it rests in, and replaced with what appears to be a base camp of both the Horde and the Alliance, either helping those going in, or keeping something from coming out. The glow around the gateway turned green, indicating that the Portal is open.

The usually quiet portal temporarily became a hub of server activity when a quest (N [60] Into the Breach) associated with the World Event "The Dark Portal Opens" took place there.

Going through the Portal, like accessing the Blood Elf and Draenei starting areas, once required the World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade expansion pack to be installed; since Patch 4.2, this content is included with all paid accounts. Prior to this, when a player tried to enter the Dark Portal without having that expansion pack installed, the player would simply pass through to the rear side and get a notification reading "Burning Crusade Expansion Pack Required". A player used to need to have a character of level 58 or higher, but this is no longer a requirement. If the Expansion Pack was installed, but the character is under level 58, the player used to get "Must be Level 58", but now players are able to access the region at any level. The 'Travel Hubs' section below includes directions for reaching the Dark Portal before level 58.

See the Stair of Destiny for information about the other side of the portal.

Reopening

Main article: Dark Portal Opens

The final patch before the release of The Burning Crusade (2.0.3) included a world event surrounding the reopening of the Dark Portal. Invading Felguards and invading Voidwalkers began to pour through the dark portal, and the camps in front of the portal were manned by Argent Dawn defenders. The leader of these forces offered the quest Into the Breach. This quest simply involved killing six of the invading Felguards (due to number of people fighting for these kills.) Completing the quest earned you the [Tabard of the Protector], a special version of the [Tabard of the Argent Dawn]. When used, the Tabard produced a visual effect similar to [Holy Nova], and the wearer would flex.

Lord Kazzak also vanished from his former place in the Blasted Lands to take up his new residence in Outland. His vacated office was taken up by Highlord Kruul. Not content to sit in a hole in the Tainted Scar, Highlord Kruul would periodically lay siege to major cities and other areas, summoning demon minions and killing everybody in sight until driven off.

Travel hubs

To reach the Dark Portal, Alliance players can fly or ride to Nethergarde Keep, while Horde players can travel to Dreadmaul Hold. From either base, players may then ride down the main road down to the Portal crater.

With Patch 3.2.0, there are portals to the Dark Portal from near the portal trainers in major cities (e.g.: the Mage Tower in Stormwind, the mage trainer area in Silvermoon, the Pools of Vision in Thunder Bluff). These portals require level 58 to use, and will deposit the player into a crack in the crater in front of the portal. Alliance and Horde portals all drop players in the same location; though players will be Honorless Targets for thirty seconds following their arrival in the Blasted Lands, players on PvP servers will not be completely safe from combat until they reach the Stair of Destiny on the Outland side of the portal.

Closest flight path in Azeroth

Physical appearance

While it remains unclear if the rift between Azeroth and Draenor actually requires a physical housing of some kind in order to allow more than a few beings to pass through it at a time, it is worth noting that every time it has been widened for this reason the Portal has been seen to have a large, stone-carved facade that lends it a well-defined rectangular shape. If nothing else, this facade seems to have a stabilizing effect on the rift: on both ends of the connection, destruction of the Portal's frame has proven to render it impassable until it can be reopened by a being of suitable magical ability.

The First Portal

The original Dark Portal's physical construction is something of a mystery: It was first described simply as a fifty-foot tall "portal" encircled by a ring of towering obsidian stones, with no clear indication of how or by whom any of this was set in place.[4] In its first actual appearance, the Portal rift itself was depicted as a blue gateway set within a stone archway atop a small flight of steps. Interestingly, when adventurers from Azeroth were sent back in time to protect Medivh during the original opening of the Dark Portal, its stone construction—with the exception of the ring of obsidian towers—was already in place prior to the completion of the ritual. This suggests that Medivh previously conjured or erected the structure himself with the aid of magic, perhaps as a focal point for his spell. Alternatively, its physical form may have simply appeared at the opening of the rift, summoned from the Twisting Nether in a manner similar to a warlock's [Demonic Gateway] or [Ritual of Summoning] portal.

This first incarnation of the Portal featured pairs of large, curved horns protruding from either side of the Portal frame proper, which itself was adorned with carvings of curved runes and rather angry looking skulls. The aforementioned "towering obsidian stones", missing at the time of Medivh's original spellwork, may have been added added as embellishments during the orcish occupation of the area. It was destroyed at the conclusion of the Second War by archmage Khadgar of the Alliance of Lordaeron.

The Second Portal

The Portal was later reconstructed when the orc chieftain Ner'zhul, in search of powerful enchanted artifacts with which to open yet more portals, reopened the rift from Draenor and sent his forces back to Azeroth. Like it's predecessor, there is no record of exactly by whom or what means it was built, but by the time it was used by the Alliance Expedition to launch a counter-attack on Draenor, the Dark Portal's facade had been restored. This second version, flanked by carvings of large, hooded figures wielding swords and crowned with a stone serpent baring its fangs as if petrified mid-strike, is the one known to most modern adventurers; it stands to this day within the Blasted Lands of the Eastern Kingdoms.

Though the second Portal's frame has changed little in the years since it appeared, the rift it contains has changed color multiple times. Both before and after the Destruction of Draenor, during which Khadgar severed the connection between Azeroth's Dark Portal and its sibling on the Draenor side, the rift appeared blue. Many years later, its hue shifted to a green color when the demon Lord Kazzak used an unknown artifact to restore this connection and pass through to Outland. Finally, it took on a shade of crimson red when its connection to modern Outland was preempted by powerful magic that instead linked it to a past, alternate version of Draenor.

Compared to the Stair of Destiny

Main article: Stair of Destiny

It is interesting to note that as imposing as the Dark Portal is, it is significantly smaller and less ornate than its modern Outland and alternate Draenor counterpart, the Stair of Destiny. It's unknown what the potential ramifications of this size discrepancy are—it would appear that something far larger could enter the Stair of Destiny than could actually exit the Dark Portal. Perhaps luckily for those involved, this does not seem to have ever been attempted.

Both versions of the Stair of Destiny featured larger, more detailed versions of the hooded guardians that adorn Azeroth's Dark Portal, and replaced the upper image of a striking serpent with full, intricate carvings of a dragon's head and two claws. They were further embellished with all manner of runes and stonework on the front, side, and even rear faces, in contrast with the relative plainness of the Azeroth Portal. While Outland's version of the Stair is by no means pristine, with large chunks of stone and other features likely knocked off the structure during the cataclysmic events of Draenor's destruction, the alternate Draenor's newly constructed version of the Stair lies in ruins following the counterattack to the Iron Horde Incursion.

Of all the various incarnations of the Dark Portal, whether in Azeroth, Draenor, or Outland, the only one to ever be seen under construction is the alternate Draenor's Stair of Destiny. It is still unclear if Azeroth's Dark Portal—or even the original Stair of Destiny—were similarly constructed using some form of manual labor.

Alternate Draenor

Known discrepancies

There are a few instances in which the appearances of the first and second Dark Portals were unintentionally switched:

  • In Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, the second Dark Portal's models (both in-game and cinematic) were represented as visually identical to the first's. When the second Portal's design was later changed to its current version, these models became anachronisms.
  • In Warcraft: The Last Guardian, the cover art used is intended to depict the orc invasion of Azeroth via the first Dark Portal during the First War. Ironically, the cover actually features one of the first illustrations of the redesigned second Dark Portal instead.

Other portals

A few whisper that the Dark Portal that first brought the demons to Azeroth (during the War of the Ancients) yet remains and rests under the sea waiting for someone to reopen it.[5]

One of the Dimensional Gateways that Ner'zhul opened is called The Dark Portal in the official site.[6]

Kael'thas and Lady Vashj escaped with many blood elves from Dalaran through the Portal to Outland when Garithos betrayed them.[7]

See also

Reference list