- For the World of Warcraft expansion, see World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.
|The Burning Crusade|
- “Images of innumerable dead worlds flickered through his mind. He saw gigantic ruins, toppled buildings that had once reached the sky, lakes of glass where proud cities had once stood, endless plains of rubble. He saw the lights of life in the universe winking slowly out until only a few remained.”
The Burning Crusade was a vast war of destruction across the cosmos initiated by the fallen titan Sargeras, and carried out by his Burning Legion of demons. It was launched with the goal of destroying all life and razing or conquering all worlds in existence. In doing so, it would prevent their corruption by the Void and purge the universe from all potential influence of the void lords.
The conflict would span many thousands of years and would come extremely close to its final goal. After triumphing over countless worlds, the Legion's progress would be halted before its most important target, the planet of Azeroth and its world-soul.
Despite the determined efforts of Sargeras and his forces, the defenders of Azeroth turned back the Crusade on several occasions. This would culminate in an invasion of the Legion homeworld of Argus itself, and the imprisonment of Sargeras within the Seat of the Pantheon, marking the end of the Argus Campaign. With this, the Burning Crusade was brought to a decisive end, and the Legion dealt a crippling blow.
Though the Burning Crusade represented a war in and of itself, its size and time span meant that it encompassed a wide variety of sub-conflicts. Some of the major theaters for these conflicts include:
- Argus, homeworld of the eredar, the seat of the Legion's power, and one of the first to fall to its Crusade.
- Azeroth, often attacked, but never taken by the Legion.
- Draenor-Outland, conquered by the Legion, lost to Illidan Stormrage and later to the Alliance and Horde.
- Alternate Draenor, saved by the heroes of Azeroth.
- Fanlin'Deskor, a world destroyed by the Legion.
- Xandros, destroyed by the annihilan Mongrethod.
- Xerrath, destroyed as a sign of power by the Legion.
- Xoroth, enslaved by the Legion.
- Countless other worlds destroyed or occupied by the Legion.
The effects of the Burning Crusade were many and far-reaching and helped shape the future of the universe as a whole. It also served as a catalyst for many unrelated events. The most important events directly caused or influenced by the Crusade include (in chronological order):
- The destruction of the immensely powerful Titan Pantheon, the Legion's first major triumph.
- The corruption of Argus and the eredar race, resulting in the birth of the draenei and the formation of the Army of the Light.
- The destruction of the Kaldorei Empire and the Well of Eternity, causing the Great Sundering which reshaped Azeroth's landmass.
- The corruption of the world of Draenor and the orcish race. This would lead to the First and Second Wars.
- Genocide of the draenei that almost wiped out the entire race.
- The creation of the Undead Scourge, Plague of Undeath, and the Lich King, responsible for countless further wars and conflicts.
- The Third War, ruining most of the Eastern Kingdoms, and leading to the emergence of the modern Horde and Alliance.
- The birth of the Illidari and demon hunters under Illidan Stormrage to oppose the Legion, and the subsequent war across Outland.
- The coup in the Undercity during the Northrend campaign, one of the most tense moments during the fight against the Scourge.
- The later stages of the war in Draenor, including the corruption of the Iron Horde, and the near-conquest of Alternate Draenor.
- The third invasion of Azeroth, including numerous sub-conflicts, which united the world against the Burning Crusade. Caused widespread damage and losses across the planet.
In the RPG
It is a great war that rages beyond the ken of normal mortals. The universe houses innumerable worlds, and the Burning Legion currently invades a handful of them. Most mortals are blind to this secret conflict, but the wisest and strongest know of it - and some are heroes and leaders in this war. Champions from Azeroth and many other worlds battle across the cosmos, attempting to drive back the Burning Legion and keep the embattled planets safe from demonic corruption. Theirs is a desperate, epic war, and they welcome any who would join them. Beings of all sorts join forces - humans and draenei fight alongside orcs, high elves alongside night elves. Old rivalries are thrown aside in the face of the ominous legion. All who fight this secret war know that despite the posturing and ambition of individual demon lords, Kil'jaeden was always Sargeras' second. He is the Legion's true leader. Out in the Great Dark Beyond, Kil'jaeden waits as demons and mortals die, biding his time for his minions to grow strong once again. With the end of the Third War, the Burning Legion's existence is no longer a secret, but now a well known fact by the populace of Azeroth.
Notes and trivia
- The Burning Crusade was the longest and likely the most significant war in molding the future of the universe.
- When Sargeras approached the eredar on Argus, he presented himself as a benevolent entity and the goal of his Burning Crusade was to unify all the races of the universe, asking the eredar to spread his universal union with every world they touched.
- Sargeras and the Betrayal describes the beginning of the Burning Crusade as an attempt to destroy a flawed universe. In the now outdated Warcraft Encyclopedia the purpose of the Burning Crusade was described as to destroy all life and magic to remake the universe in order for 'true order' to be achieved. The Ultimate Visual Guide then later said that the Legion particularly targeted worlds that had been ordered and shaped by the ancient titans. Finally, World of Warcraft: Chronicle changed the Legion's goal to destroying all life in order to stop the void lords and the corruption of the Void.
Sargeras enlists the eredar to his Crusade
Legion and Azerothian forces battling during the War of the Ancients
The Scourge, one of the tools created by the Legion for conquest
The landscape of Outland, twisted by the Legion's influence
The planet Argus, main launching point for the Burning Crusade
Sargeras (top) and the Army of the Light, two of the primary combatants during the Crusade