Val'kyr are a type of winged, undead female vrykul. The original val'kyr were ascended warriors of the Light who served the titanic watcher Odyn by bringing the spirits of the glorious dead to his Halls of Valor. The Scourge val'kyr, however, act as the Lich King's agents in the spirit world, being described by Thoralius the Wise as being "fearsome creatures made of pure nightmare" that "now stand watch over the realm of the elements".
The first val'kyr was Helya, a titan-forged sorceress who was the surrogate daughter of Keeper Odyn. Odyn, having disagreed with the creation of the Dragon Aspects, offered vrykul warriors who died in glorious combat to become part of his Valarjar. To take the spirits of these departed vrykul from the Shadowlands and into the Halls of Valor, Odyn transformed Helya into the first val'kyr against her will. Helya would later rebel against Odyn. The vrykul bard, Helgus, lived in the town of Nifflevar and wrote three sagas, one of which was the . This is ancient knowledge. It is unknown if other mentions of the val'kyr in the Fjord are references to ancient details, or are direct references to the Lich King's then-current forces.
The val'kyr are "warrior maidens of old" and "each was the greatest warrior of her generation." They are sisters who "served the warriors of the north in life, and chose to continue [their] service in death." The val'kyr are ascended vrykul warriors of the Valkyra, who prove their worth to Eyir and then become val'kyr. As val'kyr, they take worthy vrykul warriors who die with glory in battle to the Halls of Valor, where they will feast and battle for eternity as part of Odyn's Valarjar. Val'kyr are considered "sunborne" when they are honored in the presence of Odyn.
Wrath of the Lich King
This section concerns content exclusive to Wrath of the Lich King.
The Scourge val'kyr are a creation of the Lich King, bound to him without a choice. They were created from the female vrykul of Valkyrion, who fought and trained to receive the Lich King's unusual "gift." At least one example exists of a female vrykul being turned into a val'kyr at another location as well. Those that were deemed worthy underwent the transformation from simple vrykul to val'kyr. It is said that the val'kyr serve to judge the fate of vrykul combatants, transforming the favored contestants to Ymirjar, and the failed contestants to the ranks of the undead Vargul. Val'kyr are considered "unborn" until they vanquish a creature of high nobility.
Beyond this, the Val'kyr Battle-maidens also watched the fates of the training death knights of Acherus, making sure the newly born warriors didn't fall in battle before their time. In fact, these val'kyr were acting much like the spirit healers of the undead Scourge. If they fell in battle, the val'kyr would return them to their unlife. During the Battle for the Ebon Hold shortly after the death knights are freed, they are level 60 elite enemies aiding Scourge remains.
The Val'kyr Annhylde the Caller is a part of the Ingvar the Plunderer encounter in Utgarde Keep. Upon Ingvar's death, Annhylde judged Ingvar and found him unworthy. Annhylde resurrects him as Vargul and begins phase two of the fight giving him a second chance. Fjola Lightbane and Eydis Darkbane are two very powerful Val'kyr that were originally sent by the Lich King along with their Vengeful Val'kyr army to disrupt, destroy, and terrorize the Argent Tournament and its citizens. But during this attack Argent Confessor Paletress comes to the defense of the tournament and battles the twins. Paletress is victorious, and Fjola and Eydis are captured. Their bonds are maintained by Priestess Alorah and Priest Grimmin. They later appear as the "final" challenge of the coliseum after the raid has defeated the Faction Champions.
Edge of Night
After the events took place within the Icecrown Citadel, and the death of Arthas, only nine val'kyr remained in the world. These nine, lead by Annhylde the Caller, were bound to the will of their new dormant Lich King. Imprisoned atop the Icecrown, possibly for eternity, they hungered for their freedom. To gain this freedom they need a vessel, one like them, a sister of war, strong, and who understands life and death. Someone who has seen the light and the dark. Someone worthy of power over life and death. Sylvanas Windrunner, after having just committing suicide off the Frozen Throne, was shown what would happen to her people and herself if she was gone, using this information they convinced her to make a pact with them. In this pact the val'kyr would be free of the Lich King forever, but their souls would be bound to the Dark Lady. Sylvanas will walk with the living once again, but through the sisterhood of the val'kyr. As long as they lived, so too will Sylvanas. All of them will have their freedom, life, and power over death.
Sylvanas agreed to this pact, if only to prolong her fate, which filled her with terror. Annhylde took Sylvanas's place in death as the pact was made and the remaining eight sisters were bound to their new leader.
Part of the Forsaken
The Forsaken had one major flaw working against them; they could not reproduce. The Lich King was the one who created the Scourge, and now that the Lich King was gone, there were no Scourge left to turn to Forsaken. The val'kyr were her salvation and solution to her dilemma. Since the val'kyr could raise the undead, they were essentially the key to keeping the Forsaken "alive" as a viable race. After leaving Northrend, a few of the val'kyrs were sent to the Deathknell Graves to "recruit" any remaining corpses there into the Forsaken, while the Dark Lady made her way to Silverpine to prevent her people from being slaughtered by Garrosh's command. With her were the rest of the val'kyr making their presence known.
After Garrosh backed down and allowed Sylvanas to take command of the campaign for Gilneas, Sylvanas had decided that her people would no longer be carelessly used or squandered away for some orc. They would be used wisely and with a purpose, as a bulwark to safeguard her and their kingdom. A bulwark that grows stronger as the val'kyr raises the living's dead to bolster their numbers, even with former enemies joining their ranks. This is due to the fact those raised by the Val'kyr who die in combat or under extreme stress, enter into a violent, frenzied state. Undead in this state are easily manipulated and their rage is often directed at the foes of those who raised them. After the effects wear off, the remaining resurrected are given the option of joining the Forsaken or being returned to the grave.
The val'kyr themselves have been deployed into several battles since their conscription, notably throughout Silverpine and Andorhal, both of which were sound Forsaken victories due to the val'kyr's input. However, the val'kyr were only able to reanimate human corpses as Forsaken. The humans trapped in the conflict with the Forsaken sought to escape that fate by turning into worgen, and thus the surviving leaders and refugees of Hillsbrad Fields and Southshore were willing to take the worgen curse and became Hillsbrad Worgen to prevent the Forsaken from raising them into undeath.
When Sylvanas was killed in Silverpine Forest, Agatha, Arthura and Daschla sacrificed themselves to revive her once more. Then later in the battle at Andorhal, the Alliance would kill Aradne, thus leaving only four val'kyr in existence. It's unknown where they currently are, but they're likely in a safe area continuing to raise more Forsaken members.
This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.
During the battle at the Broken Shore, Sylvanas called her Val'kyrs. Two of them took Baine and Thrall to her position and later, five of them arrived and picked the bodies of fallen heroes of the Horde.
The Val'kyr are encountered yet again in the Halls of Valor. Unlike the ones that were bound to servitude by the Lich King, the Val'kyr residing within these halls are pure beings that are warriors of the Light. They are tasked with bringing the souls of deceased Vrykul heroes from Stormheim and Northrend to these halls for eternal feasts.
The Vrykul shieldmaidens of Skold-Ashil employ a rite of ascension to be granted access to a vault which provides an audience with Eyir. Sylvanas Windrunner made a deal with Helya and is granted a magical lantern called the Soulcage which Sylvanas intends to subjugate Eyir with and force her to make more val'kyr for the Forsaken. Sylvanas has a mercenary undergo the rite of ascension to gain access to the vault in Skold-Ashil and uses the Soulcage to bind Eyir. Genn Greymane follows Sylvanas into the vault and foils Windrunner's plan by smashing the lantern and freeing Eyir.
After the defeat of the Lich King nine Val'kyr remained. These nine bound themselves to Sylvanas. To seal the pact, Annhylde took Sylvanas' place in the Darkness. Later in Silverpine; Agatha, Daschla and Arthura sacrificed themselves to revive the Dark Lady once more. In Andorhal another one, Aradne, was killed by Alliance forces. So of the nine, there are only four Val'kyr left, who are strong enough to revive her. Even so, multiple Lesser Val'kyr maidens were spotted in the skies during the Battle for Andorhal. These Lesser Val'kyr can raise new Forsaken like the original nine but as pointed out during Blizzcon, these lesser Val'kyr are not part of the original pact and are thus not strong enough to revive Sylvanas. Though how exactly they are created remains unknown, Thassarian believes that the main nine Val'kyr have the power to sire these Lesser Val'kyr but if the original Val'kyr is destroyed, the Lesser Val'kyr will dissipate. Where they dwell now is a mystery, but they are likely being safeguarded by Sylvanas.
- Main article: Spirit Healer
As a companion pet
- The Unborn Val'kyr is an extremely rare wild battle pet that has a chance to appear in three specific locations in every Northrend zone.
Concept art of a more banshee-like val'kyr
Val'kyr from the Entomb card in the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game
"Val'kyr" is an obvious reference to the Valkyries of Norse myth — minor female deities in the service of Odin. Their duty was to choose the most heroic spirits of slain warriors and take them to Valhalla, where they would serve at Odin's side in the Ragnarök.
Lady of the Sword
The Lady of the Sword mentioned in may be a val'kyr.