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- "Dread lord" redirects here. For the Warcraft III unit, see Dread Lord (Warcraft III).
- "That's the problem with the Nathrezim - at least an infernal has the courtesy of announcing its presence."
- — Thalanir Dawnrise, sin'dorei scholar
Nathrezim (called dread lords or dreadlords in the Common tongue) are intelligent and cunning demons who act as intelligence agents and interrogators of the Burning Legion. While they are powerful foes on the battlefield, they prefer to turn nations against each other through manipulation and guile. The nathrezim are merciless villains who feed upon the energies of mortal creatures. They utilize terror and subterfuge - often turning brother against brother as whole worlds fall before their dark influence. Little is known of their homeworld and even that is rumor. They act as tacticians and lieutenants upon the field of battle in time of war, as well as being emissaries and agents for the fiery lords of the Legion, notably Kil'jaeden. During the Third War, they served as the Lich King's jailors, on the behest of Kil'jaeden, and commanded the Plague that swept through Lordaeron.
Little is known of the dreadlords' past, but it is said they were once an enlightened and powerful race with unmatched summoning abilities. The nathrezim were one of the original races of demons born from the chaotic energies of the Twisting Nether. Cunning and manipulative, they dedicated their existence to mastering shadow magic and infiltrating mortal civilizations, turning nation against nation and corrupting the populace into new horrific breeds of demons as their societies crumbled from within.
One conclave of nathrezim dwelled on a world almost completely corrupted by the Old Gods, basking in their shadowy power, until the titan champion Sargeras discovered them. He ruthlessly interrogated the dreadlords, and it was from them that he learned of the Old Gods and the void lords. The dreadlords revealed that the void lords had sent the Old Gods out into the cosmos in order to find and corrupt a titan world-soul, transforming it into an unspeakably dark creature that not even the Pantheon could stand against. Enraged by this discovery, Sargeras killed the nathrezim and shattered the corrupted world upon which they dwelled.
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Dreadlords are psychic vampires who feed on the weak-minded and often use their victims as slaves, they have dead, grey skin like a corpse, no hair, and two sharp canines jutted down their mouth. They are cunning and extremely skilled at magic — on par with the eredar — they were also deadly fighters. Their demonic magics can drain the life of their victims, and they have been reported to devour the souls of their slain victims. They can amass a swarm of flying carrion insects, and have been known to put their enemies to sleep. They prefer to work from the shadows, corrupting slowly, as opposed to assaulting their enemies directly. This makes the dreadlords the perfect henchmen for the most cunning of demons, Kil'jaeden the Deceiver.
Masters of trickery, deceit, and guile, take pride in the fiendish destruction they have wrought on Azeroth. Affiliated with the Burning Legion for centuries, the dreadlords — also termed nathrezim — acted as commanders of undead legions during the Burning Legion’s second invasion, slaughtering thousands with their unnatural hordes. The dreadlords lost much power when several of their most influential members fell to the Forsaken armies under Sylvanas Windrunner's banner. Now the dreadlords seem almost a myth, a story told to frighten children. People feel safer when they think the dreadlords a remote tale; some instead comfort themselves with the lie that the great Varimathras is the only surviving dreadlord. More practical sorts know that evil never truly dies and that just because they cannot see something does not mean it is not there.
Dreadlords invariably stay behind the scenes and affect change through proxies. Adventurers might go their whole lives and never realize a dreadlord has acted against them in countless, seemingly unrelated ways. Only after much exertion and investigation do the heroes uncover the dreadlord behind a plot. Even then, the task of tracking and slaying a dreadlord can overwhelm the most competent hunter of evil. Dreadlords live in heavily fortified lairs or march at the center of an army. They also act as intelligence agents and interrogators, likely when not commanding on the field of battle or manipulating things behind the scenes.
The nathrezim have a war-centered culture with an emphasis on codes of conduct. It is forbidden for one of the nathrezim to kill another, a law broken only once, by Varimathras when he was ordered to kill his brother Balnazzar by Sylvanas Windrunner. However, the killing was either staged or a failure, for Balnazzar is still alive today and secretly rules the Scarlet Crusade. The nathrezim serve as both the tacticians and field commanders of Archimonde and the henchmen of Kil'jaeden.
Although none of the nathrezim encountered in the Third War were actually seen to fly, accounts from the War of the Ancients clearly state that they flew without using magic.
Though many dreadlords were killed in the War of the Ancients and Third War, the continued existence of Balnazzar and the recent discovery of Mal'Ganis' revival suggest that the nathrezim are immortal, or at least much, much more difficult to kill than previously thought.
After adventurers dealt with Mal'Ganis on behalf of the Knights of the Ebon Blade and Balnazzar twice for the Argent Dawn and the Argent Crusade, the Argent Crusade now takes any report that a nathrezim is "dead and gone" with a grain of salt. Indeed, they state that a nathrezim killed in a conventional manner in the mortal plane only sends it back to the Twisting Nether. Until a way is found to permanently kill (and confirm) that a nathrezim is no more, the Argent Crusade considers any defeated nathrezim known to them to be alive and active; by name, this includes the brothers Balnazzar, Varimathras and Detheroc.
In the RPG
In the nathrezim's eyes, malice is the ultimate gift. To torment another creature with physical and moral agony offers something superior to happiness or contentment. Dreadlords prefer to turn their talents to psychic assault and manipulation, seeking to dissolve the bonds that unify individuals, groups, and nations and leave their mortal victims floundering amidst chaos and decay. A nathrezim-occupied world eventually abandons higher morality as irrelevant to the context in which its inhabitants find themselves, joining the dreadlords in their callous worship of the maligned. Although fierce warriors, nathrezim prefer a leadership role, standing behind a wall of ghouls or other allies and retreating when their enemies press too close. This is particularly true of the weaker nathrezim, whose magical abilities cannot always prevent their swift, bloody execution by a determined fighter, wizard, or rogue. A dreadlord engages in melee combat only when convinced he holds the upper hand. A dreadlord studies his opponent first and learns their weaknesses. Then he remains at range, unleashing his most powerful spells on his enemy.
Nearly all dreadlords choose to study both the arts of war and the arts of magic. Almost all have the ability to summon an Infernal, while a few choice dreadlords can create a doomguard from their fallen foes. Some of them, such as Mal'Ganis, are proficient at necromancy. It is important to note that the nathrezim are not as talented in magic as the eredar — whereas the eredar have become adept at almost all forms of magic, the nathrezim show talent for only a handful of types. They most often are arcanists, but some dreadlords favor the physical arts of the rogue or warrior.
Dreadlords can apparently understand any tongue psychically. Dreadlords can speak with any creature that has a language. However, since they are members of the Burning Legion, it can be assumed they would speak Eredun most of the time.
Info from the official site
- While his confusion and misery deepened, Sargeras was forced to contend with another group intent on disrupting the Titans' order: the nathrezim. This dark race of vampiric demons (also known as dreadlords) conquered a number of populated worlds by possessing their inhabitants and turning them to the shadow. The nefarious, scheming dreadlords turned whole nations against one another by manipulating them into unthinking hatred and mistrust. Sargeras defeated the nathrezim easily, but their corruption affected him deeply.
- In his fury, Sargeras shattered the prisons of the eredar and the nathrezim and set the loathsome demons free. These cunning creatures bowed before the dark Titan's vast rage and offered to serve him in whatever malicious ways they could. From the ranks of the powerful Eredar, Sargeras picked two champions to command his demonic army of destruction. Kil'jaeden the Deceiver was chosen to seek out the darkest races in the universe and recruit them into Sargeras' ranks.
- Kil'jaeden's first move was to enslave the vampiric dreadlords under his terrible power. The dreadlords served as his personal agents throughout the universe, and they took pleasure in locating primitive races for their master to corrupt and bring into the fold. First amongst the dreadlords was Tichondrius the Darkener. Tichondrius served Kil'jaeden as the perfect soldier and agreed to bring Sargeras' burning will to all the dark corners of the universe.
Defeating a dreadlord
In the case of nathrezim, it should be noted that they posses the ability to reform themselves after being defeated (in some situations), to that end certain terms should be given context-specific meanings for the purpose of explaining this ability. To "kill" a dreadlord typically implies that their body is slain but their spirit endures, capable of regenerating its lost physical form after a particular amount of time or some other condition has been met. The complete eradication of a dreadlord, both in body and spirit, is generally thought of as "destroyed", representing a final end to their existence in both forms.
Considering that more than one nathrezim has been killed and yet returned, dying by conventional means may even be considered a reasonable tactic (if held back as an ace up their sleeve) by them to fool mortals. It may likely be that only nathrezim themselves and their superiors in the Burning Legion know how to permanently kill them, and using this knowledge is what may be considered forbidden for nathrezim.
It is also notable that many high ranking dreadlords have cheated death, or can be seen to be immortal unless vanquished in a particular fashion (similar to homage of the species, the vampire). Both Mal'Ganis and Balnazzar have returned in Warcraft lore after being "killed" once before; Mal'Ganis having been felled by Arthas and his new-found Frostmourne, Balnazzar by Varimathras in a situation which may have been a set-up on the part of the dreadlords involved. Both dreadlords reappear at later times in the story of World of Warcraft as having possessed the bodies of high ranking members of either the Scarlet Crusade or Scarlet Onslaught in order to manipulated events related to either faction. At a point after his revival Balnazzar was defeated (and apparently decapitated) by adventuring heroes, but managed to return once more. Mal'Ganis has not yet been vanquished since his rebirth despite by the Knight of the Ebon Blade.
Other dreadlords, such as Tichondrius, Detheroc, and Varimathras have also been defeated in lore but have not shown any signs of revival since. Tichondrius is seen to have been defeated by Illidan Stormrage after the latter had been imbued with the power of the skull of Gul'dan. Detheroc was defeated in battle with the Forsaken, Sylvanas herself claiming to have "torn him to bloody shreds". Lastly Varimathras was defeated by the might of Thrall, Sylvanas and several additional individuals.
With this in mind one could theorize that a dreadlord can be destroyed in one of two ways:
- Complete destruction of the body, as in the case of Detheroc and possibly Varimathras (given the Forsaken's experience with dreadlords it would be reasonable to guess they might take this precaution, having done similarly before with Detheroc). Mere decapitation does not seem to be sufficient, as demonstrated by Balnazzar.
- By being vanquished by a being possessing magic power significantly greater than their own, as in the case of Tichondrius (though it is unknown as to whether this power is required to be fel in nature as it was in the case of Illidan; Arthas was not able to completely destroy Mal'Ganis with Frostmourne, though having just found the runeblade his power would likely have been nowhere near his full potential at the time). Another suspected way is by using the power of the Holy Light which was extremely painful and destructive for them. In The Demon Soul, Deathwing used the Demon Soul on the demons, amongst them the nathrezim, where it's power incinerated them completely without any traces left behind.
Neither of these methods can be completely confirmed but the fact that none of the above-mentioned dreadlords, who were killed in either fashion, have yet to return is cause for considerable speculation. Given that many dreadlords have simply remained hidden for long periods after being defeated it is difficult to be certain as to whether they can be destroyed at all, regardless of the method used. It is possible dreadlords killed in either fashion mentioned above have simply been reborn somewhere else in the Twisting Nether and their rebirth is simply not known to the beings of Azeroth and Outland.
The names of individual eredar and pit lords are not commonly known, as the former have not been seen in great numbers on Azeroth and the latter are never encountered in a situation where their names will be remembered. However, Archimonde relied heavily on the dreadlords during the second invasion, as they are useful as mages, strategists, and warriors (they were also on Azeroth already and required the least energy to summon). Many of the nathrezim became known during this period. Many of Kil'jaeden's dreadlords watched over the Lich King and aided him at times, while some of Archimonde's dreadlords commanded the Scourge after the invasion commenced.
|Lord of the nathrezim||Alive||Twisting Nether (presumed)|
|Second-in-command of the dreadlords||Defeatable||Hyjal Summit; Black Gate, Hellfire Citadel|
|Third-in-command of the dreadlords||Alive||Twisting Nether (presumed)|
|Lord of the Risen||Alive||Scarlet Bastion, Stratholme|
|Rival of the New Council of Tirisfal||Alive||Twisting Nether|
|Leader of the Scarlet Onslaught, led Arthas to pick up Frostmourne||Alive||Nathreza|
|Former Arch Lord of the Undercity and majordomo of Sylvanas Windrunner||Alive||Twisting Nether|
|Slain by Chieftan Hargal||Unknown*||Twisting Nether (presumed)|
|Slain by Holia Sunshield||Unknown*||Twisting Nether (presumed)|
|Overseer of the Soul Engine||Defeatable||Soul Engine, Mardum|
|Renegade dreadlord and holder of the Spirit's Song||Defeatable||Ruins of Farahlon, Netherstorm|
|Leader of the Scourge forces in Dalaran||Unknown*||Twisting Nether (presumed)|
|Custodian of the Plaguelands||Unknown*||Twisting Nether (presumed)|
|Leader of demonic forces in Ashenvale||Defeatable||Demon Fall Ridge, Ashenvale|
|Leader of demonic forces in Demon Fall Canyon||Defeatable||Demon Fall Canyon, Ashenvale|
|Leader of Jaedenar||Defeatable||Shadow Hold, Felwood|
|Stablemaster of Xoroth||Removed||Formerly Dire Maul|
|Servant of Illidan||Defeatable||Illidari Point, Shadowmoon Valley|
|Leader of a scavenging crew||Defeatable||Arklon Ruins, Netherstorm|
|Overseer of demonic activity in the Blasted Lands||Possessing Loramus||Rise of the Defiler, Blasted Lands|
|Corruptor of Kalecgos||Defeatable||Inner Veil, Sunwell Plateau|
|Legion agent in Silithus||Unknown*||Twisting Nether (presumed)|
|Demonic gladiator||Unknown*||Twisting Nether (presumed)|
|Jailor of Maiev Shadowsong||Unknown*||Twisting Nether (presumed)|
|Holder of Sha'tari||Defeatable||Deathweb Hollow, Talador|
* Not defeated in the Twisting Nether, and thus presumed to still be alive
Note: Some of these are the randomly assigned names for the Dreadlords in Warcraft III.
- The nathrezim are called nathrezite two times in Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, it is unknown if it's a misspelling or an alternate name. This, however, hasn't showed up in canon lore.
- In Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, nathrezim had long demon tails, but in World of Warcraft, they are non-tailed demons.
- Strangely, some nathrezim are labeled as undead in-game. This may be simply game mechanics so that they cannot be enslaved by warlocks.
- A nathrezim blood orb was temporarily available in Heroes of the Storm.
- Dreadlords are a step below pit lords in the Burning Legion hierarchy.
- Nathrezim have dark blood.
- Sean Copeland stated that calling dreadlords necromancers seems to pidgeonhole their abilities because they are demons.
- ^ The Sundering, chapter 13, p 455 (ebook). "Nathrezim and Eredar cast monstrous spells, but they were caught between defending against the dragons and fighting the Moon Guard. The warlocks could not do both. They perished more often than they slew, mostly under the unyielding flame of a leviathan’s breath."
- ^ The Demon Soul, chapter 14, p 396. "Brox had found the necromancers. The two Nathrezim had done the abominable, successfully raising the dead they and their comrades had so brutally slaughtered."
- ^ TCG War of the Ancients/195
- ^ Dread Lord (Warcraft III)
- ^ Ultimate Visual Guide, pg. 38
- ^ Manual of Monsters, pg. 112
- ^ a b Manual of Monsters, pg. 117
- ^ a b c d Monster Guide, pg. 50
- ^ a b Death is Contagious
- ^ a b
- ^ Exodar Holographic Emitter
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 21
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 24
- ^ a b The Demon Soul
- ^ Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 96
Sean Copeland on Twitter(Dead link)
- ^ Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, 345 (ebook).