Arakkoa

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Arakkoa
Arakkoa.png
Faction/Affiliation
Racial capital
Racial leader(s)
Homeworld
Primary language(s)
Secondary language(s)
An Apexis golem in Apexis ruins.
A winged arakkoa
A cursed arakkoa

The arakkoa are a bipedal, keenly intelligent avian race, native to Draenor (now Outland), which has an affinity for arcane magic and secrecy.[1] Most are aggressive to both Alliance and Horde, although there are friendly members of the arakkoa to be found.

The winged arakkoa are the proud descendants of the once-grand Apexis civilization, a glorious empire of the sun that ruled vast territories alongside the ogre empire centuries ago. While many of the great works of their forebears remain a mystery, the arakkoa in the time of Draenor's final days—proud, hateful and defiant—mastered their own form of sun magic. From atop the Spires of Arak they gazed down on Draenor with scorn and sought to restore their people to the heights of their power.[2]

A second group of arakkoa, called the Arakkoa Outcasts, were born from the treachery of their kin. Transformed into hunched shadows of their former selves and gifted with a mastery of shadow magic by the raven god Anzu, in Draenor's final days they desperately sought to survive the genocidal efforts of those who had betrayed them. Without champions, and without hope, the Outcasts ultimately heeded the influence of an Old God and were lost to the darkness in which they'd once taken refuge.

The arakkoa are well known for breeding various types of birds, such as owls and ravens, and training them as guards and companions. The species of owl known as Kaliri is particularly prized by the arakkoa and known to have valuable feathers.

History

The Gods of Arak

The origins of the arakkoan race and its two distinct subcultures are tightly bound to the three primal gods of the Draenic region known as the Spires of Arak: The strong and graceful Rukhmar, mother of the kaliri; the slight but clever Anzu, father of the dread ravens; and the cold and scornful Sethe, father of the wind serpents. Preceding the creation of the arakkoa, Sethe and Rukhmar clashed above the Spires. Rukhmar, forewarned of Sethe's attack by Anzu, managed to cast the serpent down from the skies—but it was Anzu who stepped in to deliver the killing blow. With his last breath, the defeated Sethe cursed his own flesh and blood to rot and corrupt all that it touched. As Anzu devoured him in an attempt to contain the curse, a trickle of blood escaped, creating the Sethekk Hollow where it touched the ground. The curse crippled Anzu; flightless and pained by dark visions, he would eventually seal himself away in a realm of shadows. Meanwhile, Rukhmar fled the Spires in fear, vowing never again to touch the ground.

Though Brann Bronzebeard once connected the origins of the arakkoa to Anzu,[3] he was only partially right: it was Rukhmar who went on to create a new race of children—one that would represent not only her own power and grace, but also the guile and cleverness of Anzu, who had so selflessly taken Sethe's curse upon himself.[4] She named them the arakkoa in the hopes that they would one day bask in the wind and sun of the Spires of Arak as she had.[5]

The Apexis

It is unknown exactly where Rukhmar created the first arakkoa, or where their first empire was established. Archaeological evidence suggests that this first arakkoan civilization, known as the Apexis, may have come to power in what are now the Blade's Edge Mountains of Outland before migrating south to the Spires of Arak. The Apexis vanished from history without warning, the only sign they existed being the ruins of their grand civilization that dot the Spires, the remnants of their advanced solar-powered technology, and the rare and valuable Apexis Crystals—unimaginable solar energy in crystalline form. The Apexis had blueprints for a flying "Temple in the Sky", but it is unclear if they ever actually built it.[6] If the Temple in the Sky was built, that may be where they vanished to.

The Adherents and the Outcasts

The next arakkoan culture was that of the sun-woshipping High Arakkoa based in the majestic city of Skyreach, perched atop the mountain spires of their resettled homeland.[7][8] The greatest and most loved king of these arakkoa was known as Terokk, and it was said that he and the goddess Rukhmar were one and the same.[9] However, the sages of Skyreach were jealous of Terokk and, turning on him, they cast him down from Skyreach into the pools of the Sethekk Hollow, formed from the cursed blood of the dead god Sethe. The blood mutated Terokk: his body transformed, his wings shriveled, and his sanity began to leave him. It was Anzu, the Raven Lord who had first encountered Sethe's curse and who for so long been watching the arakkoa from the shadows, that took pity on Terokk. He gave him command over dark magic with which to save his sanity—and the sanity of his loyalists who were cast down with him—and the Eye of Anzu with which to contact him. Terokk had become the first of the Arakkoa Outcasts, and with the help of Anzu built the city of Skettis as a refuge for his kind. From that day forward Skyreach would be ruled not by a king but by the sages, now calling themselves the Adherents of Rukhmar.

Other lawbreakers would be tossed into the pools, and eventually the surviving Arakkoa Outcasts became a civilization unto themselves. Deep in the shadowed trees at the base of the Spires, Sethe's curse passed from one generation of Outcasts to the next without any hope of a cure.[10] Rukhmar and her Adherents feared and hated these cursed arakkoa and the dark magic gifted to their Talonpriests by Anzu, and so waged war on them. To aid in their battles, the Adherents searched for ancient Apexis technology, unleashing powerful golems to subjugate their enemies and turrets that fired beams of concentrated light to purge the Outcast settlements with flame.

At some point the arakkoa invaded the Tanaan Jungle and attacked the Bleeding Hollow clan, forcing the orcs to hide in fear in their villages until they were inspired and led to victory by Kilrogg Deadeye.[11] While it's unclear if these were the Adherents or the Outcasts, the arakkoa at the Den of Haal'esh in modern-day Hellfire Peninsula may be remnants of this invasion; if so, it becomes apparent that the Outcasts were responsible for the incursion.

The arakkoa predicted the arrival of the draenei a century before it happened.[12]

The Rise of the Sethekk

As the years wore on, Terokk's health declined, grief tore at his heart, and Sethe's curse chewed at his mind. He began to hate the world, abandoning Skettis and even sacrificing the lower castes of his own people to dark powers in search of a cure.[13][14] His fellow Outcasts did not seem to know the reason for this abandonment and attributed it to their turning away from the worship of Rukhmar.[9] Hoping to rejuvenate their king, the Talonpriests sealed Terokk away in a realm of shadows. All that remained of their beloved leader were several artifacts he left behind, among them his spear, his mask and his writings.[14]

After some time, in the wake of continued and escalating attacks by the Adherents of Rukhmar, the Arakkoa Outcasts sought to contact Terokk. Their rituals were unsuccessful, however, and without any champions to guide them the Outcasts became increasingly dire and desperate. The Sethekk cult, followers of the dead god Sethe, gained more power, and the Outcasts spiraled into darkness.[15] The loss of Terokk also saw the loss of the Eye of Anzu, cutting off communication between the Outcasts and the only god who had watched over them after being rejected by their own creator, and the Sethekk began to harness Sethe's powers to find the raven god and bend him to their will.[16][17] The only arakkoa who would continue to worship Anzu were those of the Grishna cult, located today in the Blade's Edge Mountains of northern Outland.

The Fall of the Spires

The arakkoa survived the harshness of Draenor for decades, though they suffered terribly during the Orcish Horde's rampage across their world. By the end of this rampage, the Sethekk and the Outcasts had abandoned Sethe in favor of an unnamed Old God.[9] A group known as the Dark Conclave attempted to summon this new master to stop the Horde, but Gul'dan used a powerful spell to destroy their camps and twist their spirits, successfully delaying their rituals.[18]

The first known contact of an arakkoa with the races of Azeroth occurred during the Alliance of Lordaeron's expedition to Draenor. Grizzik, an arakkoa emboldened by his people's suffering at the hands of the orcs, offered to serve as a tracker and guide for Danath Trollbane's forces, leading them to the Bleeding Hollow fortress of Auchindoun and aiding in the battle there.[19]

When Draenor shattered and became Outland, the Spires of Arak were destroyed, taking with them Rukhmar, her Adherents, and the remains of Sethe. Only the Sethekk and the Outcasts—some within the ruins of Skettis, safely nestled in the northernmost reaches of the Spires, and others who had long since left the Spires—escaped the devastation.

The Legacy of Terokk

By the time the modern Alliance and Horde came to Outland, the minions of Terokk—who was still largely revered by the arakkoa—were working in his name to commit evils throughout Terokkar Forest, with the Talon King himself presumably losing the mental battle with Sethe's curse and going mad. At Veil Shienor and Veil Reskk, the Eyes of Skettis allowed Terokk to spy on those areas. At Veil Skith, the arakkoa used the Darkstone of Terokk as an altar of worship. At Veil Rhaze, Terokk raised the spirits of the dead arakkoa killed in the Auchindoun explosion. At Veil Lithic, his minions corrupted the avians into his service. At Veil Shalas, the closest colony to Skettis, the arakkoa sages conducted wars against the Light.

However, a few had broken away from Skettis—some to free themselves from Terokk's madness, and others deluded by power. The Skettis Exiles, taken in by the naaru A'dal, reside in the Lower City of Shattrath, where they battle against Terokk's forces. The Sethekk also broke away from Skettis, but for a different reason: when Auchindoun exploded due to the actions of the Shadow Council, an arakkoa named Ikiss believed that this signaled the arrival of the arakkoa's Old God master. He and his Sethekk followers set out for Auchindoun, where they set up in what became known as the Sethekk Halls. Ikiss believed himself Terokk reborn, and that he and his followers were the true disciples of their master and, by extension, the true leaders of the arakkoa. Having finally dominated the will of Anzu, the very deity that had saved their forefathers from madness, Ikiss and the Sethekk had the raven god attack the Emerald Dream. Adventurers of the Alliance and Horde ultimately invaded his stronghold, however, and ended his and Anzu's lives.

Meanwhile, deep inside Skettis, the arakkoa continued their battles against all who opposed their efforts to bring Terokk back from the realm of shadows. The Sha'tari Skyguard, an airborne detachment Sha'tar warriors, established a base at Blackwind Landing, just outside of the Blackwind Valley where Skettis is located. On an island in the middle of Blackwind Lake, Terokk awaited the proper alignment of the stars to herald his return. With the help of the Sha'tari Skyguard and Skettis Exiles the adventurers who had slain Ikiss also invaded Skettis and prepared a ritual to summon the maddened Talon King before the proper time. This led to Terokk returning to his now shattered planet as a weakened shadow of his former self who immediately attacked the adventurers for interfering. In the ensuing battle the adventurers killed the once mighty Talon King, ending the final legacy of Arak.

Though many arakkoa remain in Outland, their once proud civilization remains largely scattered and in ruins. Without the leadership of their deities, it falls upon the strength of the arakkoa themselves to determine what comes next for their people.

Biology and Culture

Arakkoa are as "smart as any gnome you ever met", according to Gremni Longbeard in the Hellfire Peninsula. Grizzik demonstrates that arakkoa are able to become fluent in languages at a remarkable rate by observing speakers for only a short time.

They have brightly feathered bodies in a veritable rainbow of colors, hooked beaks, clawed hands, taloned feet, and an erectile crest of feathers on their heads. High arakkoa stand tall and have wings coming from their arms, while the cursed arakkoa are hunched over and wingless. Arakkoa gender is not reflected in feather color or any other detail apparent to non-arakkoa.[20] The arakkoa appear androgynous to other races.[20] Female arakkoa, such as Ornekka, do have distinctly feminine voices, however.

Both flying and cursed arakkoa have caste systems; Hazzik mentions it in regards to the cursed, while Shadow-Sage Iskar mentions that of the high arakkoa. The cursed arakkoa wear ragged cloaks about their bodies and two of their castes appear to be "sage" (with ornate shoulder and head ornaments) and "warrior" (with a metal helm and mail epaulets) classes. High arakkoa, meanwhile, dress in anything from robes to extravagant armor. Some of their castes appear to be guards[21] and priests.

Faith

Originally, the arakkoa worshipped the sun goddess Rukhmar, who created them. Talon King Terokk, who was Rukhmar's chosen, was believed to be the goddess himself and hence was highly revered by her followers, the Adherents.

Some turned away from Rukhmar, but seem to still hold Terokk in high regard. The group of arakkoa once known as the Arakkoa Outcasts worshiped Anzu and Terokk, but by the time they became the Skettis faction in The Burning Crusade Anzu seems to have become looked down upon and only worshiped by the Grishna cult. In the past, a group known as the Ravenspeakers followed Ka'alu the Raven Mother, leader of all dread ravens and Anzu's consort.[22]

In Outland, the arakkoa of Skettis now worship the Summoned Old God, who is also worshiped by the Sethekk and their leader Talon King Ikiss (who thinks himself Terokk reborn). Before the worship of the Old God, the Sethekk followed Sethe. Some arakkoa of the Sethekk cult also mention something known as "Darkfire".[23]

Known arakkoa factions

The banner that flanks the entrance to Skettis.
  • Skettis: The hidden arakkoa capital, under which it is believed that all the Veils of Outland are united. The city was reportedly built by Talon King Terokk, a revered hero of the arakkoa, who ruled for many hundreds of years before his sudden disappearance. Terokk's disciples within Skettis, having turned to evil in an attempt to summon their maddened Talon King, were confronted and defeated by adventurers from Azeroth. Skettis is made up of four Veils, and is believed to have dominion over arakkoa settlements within Terokkar, Blade's Edge Mountains, Shadowmoon Valley and Hellfire Peninsula. They were once known as the Arakkoa Outcasts.[24]
  • Skettis Exiles: A small faction of arakkoa who broke away from Terokk's evil and now reside in Shattrath City. Led by Kirrik the Awakened and his apprentice, Rilak the Redeemed, the Skettis Exiles are affiliated with the Lower City of Shattrath, where the refugees of every war ever fought on Draenor (before and after its transformation into Outland) make their home. According to Rilak, the exiles' break from Skettis is believed to have been influenced, in no small part, by a revelation from the naaru.
  • Sethekk: A cult, led by the demented Talon King Ikiss, who believe themselves to be the only true servants of the mysterious master of all arakkoa. When Auchindoun exploded after the summoning of Murmur, the Sethekk believed that this was a sign of the second coming of their master. Ikiss led his followers from Skettis to the ruins of Auchindoun, taking the relics of Terokk with them, and set up in what is now known as the Sethekk Halls. Here, Ikiss has declared himself Terokk reborn and expects all arakkoa to bow before him as their new ruler.
  • Dark Conclave: A group of arakkoa, loyal to Skettis, who resided in Shadowmoon Valley prior to the rise of the First Horde. The conclave prepared to strike against the warlock Gul'dan as he conducted the ritual that would sever the orcs from the elemental spirits, but were discovered; using powerful magic, Gul'dan destroyed their encampments and left them as little more than ghosts. Undeterred by their undeath, the Dark Conclave continued their work to summon an ancient and powerful evil into Outland, but were ultimately thwarted by adventurers from Azeroth.
  • Grishna: A group of arakkoa living in Grishnath and Raven's Wood in the northern Blade's Edge Mountains. Worshipers of Anzu, and seemingly his only followers left in Outland.

Defunct

  • Apexis: The first great arakkoa civilization, believed to have resided in the Spires of Arak and near the area of the Blade's Edge Mountains now known as Ogri'la. The exact cause of their extinction, as well as the exact nature of the relics they left behind, is unknown. Apexis technology was solar-powered and was used by the Adherents of Rukhmar in their genocidal war against the Outcasts.
  • Adherents of Rukhmar: Winged followers of the sun god Rukhmar, who feared and hated the arakkoa that bore the curse of Sethe. The Adherents were based in the city of Skyreach, where punishment for crimes was to be cast down into the pools of the Sethekk Hollow, transforming arakkoa into a cursed, flightless state. They used salvaged Apexis technology to fire beams of light down on these Outcasts, scouring their Veils from the world with fire. The Adherents and their empire were destroyed along with the Spires of Arak when Draenor was shattered and became Outland.
  • Arakkoa Outcasts: The emergent society made of those cast down into the Sethekk Hollow by the Adherents of Rukhmar. Misshappen and flightless, but saved from insanity and gifted with dark magic by the raven god Anzu, they were led by Terokk, the greatest Talon King and first of their kind. After his disappearance—and in the absence of champions to aid them—the Outcasts entered a spiral of darkness that eventually consumed them. All of the current factions of arakkoa on Outland are descendants of these Outcasts.
    • Ravenspeakers: A group within the Outcasts, based at the Nest of the Ravenspeakers near Veil Terokk. They revered Ka'alu, Anzu's mate. It is possible the Ravenspeakers became the Grishna, although this is only speculation.

Alternate Timeline Only

  • Order of the Awakened: A group of both high and cursed arakkoa that seek a new, peaceful era for their people. The Order gathers Apexis Crystals in an effort to battle the Adherents of Rukhmar. The Order of the Awakened was not formed in the main timeline; it is a product of the players' actions in the Spires of Arak storyline.[25]

Colonies

Arakkoa building concepts.

The arakkoan capital is the hidden city of Skettis, located high in the mountains in the southeastern corner of Terokkar Forest. In arakkoan myth, the city was built by Terokk himself, with the help of the raven god Anzu, as a refuge for all Arakkoa Outcasts. Assuming the modern Skettis is in fact the same city, it represents the only remaining portion of the Spires of Arak, the ancestral home of the arakkoa and their primal gods long since lost to the transformation of Draenor into Outland.

Most colonies established by arakkoa are known as "Veils", numerous examples of which can be found throughout Terokkar Forest. Veil Shienor and Veil Reskk can be found in the north of Terokkar near the border with Hellfire Peninsula, and several exist along the outer rim of the Bone Wastes: Veil Skith, where the Darkstone of Terokk is located; Veil Rhaze, destroyed by the Auchindoun disaster; Veil Lithic, where the arakkoa corrupt avians into Terokk's service; and Veil Shalas, their greatest colony at the base of Skettis itself, where Terokk's sages wage war against the Light. The arakkoa also have established presences at Veil Ruuan, Veil Lashh, and Veil Vekh in the Blade's Edge Mountains.

The exceptions to the "Veil" naming convention tend to coincide with unique traits in the arakkoa at each location. The Grishnath settlement in the Blade's Edge Mountains, for example, is the northernmost arakkoan settlement in existence and plays host to the only remaining worshipers of Anzu, the dread raven god of arakkoa lore. The arakkoa of the Den of Haal'esh in Hellfire Peninsula, meanwhile, are the only ones who have been observed settling in an entirely treeless environment, instead nesting in rocky crags; it is theorized that these are the same arakkoa that once waged war on the orcs of the Bleeding Hollow Clan. Finally, and perhaps most mysteriously of all, are the two areas where arakkoa appear to have settled in Shadowmoon Valley. All that remain of these Sketh'lon settlements are ruins and the ghosts of the inhabitants, who were twice thwarted in their attempts to summon a mysterious god into their midst—once by the orc warlock Gul'dan, and again by fearless Azerothian adventurers.

Despite the inquisitive nature of the arakkoa, there have been no attempts made of arakkoan settlement in Azeroth; only the occasional visitor.

Time-Lost Figurine

A Horde player in arakkoa form.

Players can use a trinket called the  [Time-Lost Figurine], obtained from the Terokk encounter in Skettis, to turn their player character into an arakkoa for five minutes. Players are able to enter combat while in this form, making this a fun and near must-have accessory for many players. The length of the related quest chain and rarity of the actual drop, however, make it so players with this trinket are few and far between.

Inspiration

The arakkoa are aesthetically inspired by the Skeksis, an evil race of bird-men who feature in Jim Henson's 1982 fantasy movie The Dark Crystal, further possible references to which include the "Darkstone" in Veil Skith, on the western edge of the Bone Wastes (as a reference to its title), and the arakkoa capital city of "Skettis" (as a reference to the Skeksis themselves). They also bear a strong resemblance to the Shrykes of The Edge Chronicles, both in appearance and architecture.

The name "arakkoa" may have been derived from the Aarakocra in Dungeons & Dragons, or the Aracuan from the Disney movie The Three Caballeros. Though not proven, the lore of the arakkoa may also be inspired by the bird-like Chozo of the Metroid video game series, whose mysterious disappearance and powerful, ancient artifacts parallel those of the extinct Apexis civilization and the relics they left behind.

As with many of the races of the WarCraft universe, arakkoa culture may have a real world analogue, here in the real world's Indian civilization. This is most evident in their caste system, but the high arakkoa also predominantly use chakram—weapons invented in India—and some have traditional Indian names. The Warlords of Draenor alpha also contained a reference to chakras in the Dungeon Journal entry for Ranjit, a boss in the arakkoa-themed Skyreach dungeon, but it was removed before the official release of the game.

See also

Gallery

References