Empire of Zul

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NeutralEmpire of Zul
Zuldazar.jpg
The temple city of Zuldazar, de facto capital of the Empire of Zul
Type

Empire / Coalition

Capital
Races
Government

Tribalism

Rulers

Unknown rulers from each of the empire's component tribes

Languages
Faiths

Loa worship

Location
Status

Defunct

The Empire of Zul[1] (also called the Zandalari Empire[2] or Zandalar Empire[3][4]) was a powerful coalition of troll tribes which formed in response to the Aqir and Troll War, around 16,000 years before the First War. United by the most powerful and influential troll tribes on Ancient Kalimdor, the Zandalari, the Empire of Zul sought to halt the relentless advance of the insectoid aqir, who had begun to swarm across the breadth of the continent. The alliance was one of necessity, with each faction of trolls facing extinction at the hands of the aqir.

Working together and employing new tactics, the empire succeeded in repelling the aqiri invasion, significantly preventing the fall of the strategic Zandalar Mountains. Following these victories, however, the united troll tribes launched several brutal and concurrent campaigns to not only destroy the aqir threat permanently, but also to expand their borders to new and untouched lands. Having emerged the decisive victors at the war's conclusion, the empire nevertheless remained intact and continued to flourish. The Empire of Zul was now uncontested in its domination of all of Kalimdor.

The Empire of Zul would continue to exist for thousands of years, although its relevance and effectiveness waned as the various troll nations began to become more independent and isolated. The organization survived at least until the rise of the Kaldorei Empire, at whose hands they were soundly and repeatedly defeated. At this point, troll power had been greatly reduced on the continent, with the night elves now becoming the dominant race on the landmass. It is assumed that, with the Great Sundering, the last vestiges of the once-mighty Empire of Zul were eradicated, as Kalimdor was torn apart and the troll race scattered.

It is unknown exactly how the Empire of Zul was led and governed. Although referred to as an empire, it was composed of largely independent tribes which maintained a majority of autonomy even during the war with the aqir. It is likely that meetings were held among representatives from each tribe to discuss and govern major aspects of the empire (as has been known to occur with other examples of unified troll tribes).[5]

History

Formation

Around 16,000 years before the First War, the troll race flourished on the continent of Ancient Kalimdor. Skilled and adapted to their environment, the trolls began forming their own tribes and claimed new and untouched lands which were plentiful in all directions. In this period of relative prosperity, the troll race also began to develop its own culture, traditions, and religion. All trolls, regardless of tribe or opinion, revered Kalimdor's ancient Wild Gods which they referred to as Loa. The most religious and powerful of the tribes was the Zandalari, which made their home on the Zandalar Mountains, a sacred location to all trolls.[6] The Zandalari were allied with the mogu and their empire, but both the mogu and Zandalari held contempt for one another. The Zandalari thought themselves above the mogu for two reasons: the presence of the loa, and that the Zandalari did not use slaves as the mogu did. The mutual contempt between the two would grow to polite indifference. They trusted the other not to attack, because they were confident they would defeat the other. While Zandalari and mogu stood back to back, they did not watch the other and did not see the other falter.[7]

The Zandalari were heavily dependent on a caste system, and as time went on those castes evolved into their own people. The lower castes eventually left the Zandalari, and the Zandalar trolls were content to see them go, seeing them as children who would see the folly of youthful rebellion and come back begging for Zandalari approval.[7]

The Icon of Shadows

This peace, however, was shattered when the C'Thrax known as Kith'ix was awakened from millennia of hibernation by a small group of curious trolls. Seeking to please the ancient Old Gods once more, it reached out to the dormant race of insectoids known as the aqir and ordered them to prepare to swarm across Kalimdor, destroying troll civilization. When the aqir eventually launched their assault, many smaller troll factions were immediately overwhelmed, unable to withstand the vast insectoid legions. As the aqiri advance continued, it looked unstoppable. Before long Kith'ix's army was nearing the trolls' most sacred location, the Zandalar Mountains.

Determined to prevent the aqir from continuing further, the Zandalari Tribe used its influence and power to negotiate an alliance between the largest of the troll tribes: the Gurubashi, Amani, and Drakkari. Understanding the threat to all tribes that the aqir posed, the disparate tribes agreed to unite. They resolved to put aside their differences and past grievances and to focus on defeating the insectoids. Under the leadership of the Zandalari, the tribes united into a single mighty force which they termed the Empire of Zul.[8]

The Empire at war

From atop their temple city of Zuldazar in the mountains, the Zandalari commanded and directed the united troll forces in battle. From this strategic point, they possessed a commanding view of the surrounding region and were thus able to detect the movement of enemy forces while directing their own to weak points. At the Zandalari's behest, the other trolls now employed cunning ambush tactics against the aqir in the jungles surrounding the region. These proved highly successful and allowed the Empire of Zul to effectively whittle down their enemies' numbers while remaining difficult to pin down. Troll mystics and priests also utilised their close ties to the loa to enlist their aid against the insectoids. These Wild Gods proved so effective that they even wounded Kith'ix in combat.

An aqiri swarm

Under the relentless onslaught of the united tribes, the aqir were forces to retreat from the Zandalar Mountains before they could truly lay them under siege. Kith'ix, now injured, fled to the northeast to recover while the other aqiri swarms continued the war. Although they had successfully driven the aqir back from their lands, the leaders of the Empire of Zul knew that the threat was far from eliminated. They recognised that, if the troll race was to be truly safe, the aqir would have to be exterminated altogether. Otherwise, the insectoids would simply rebuild their numbers and relaunch their assault. As a result, the empire mobilised its forces and moved out in various directions to hunt the aqir. The coalition's most powerful factions apart from the Zandalari themselves, were convinced to establish their own strongholds in distant lands from which they could attack the aqir.[9]

The Gurubashi, Amani, and Drakkari tribes readily agreed and set off in different directions to defeat the aqir once and for all in the name of their united empire. Although each encountering different groups of aqir and struggling with different obstacles in beating them, all the tribes ultimately succeeded in breaking aqiri power throughout the continent. Declaring themselves the victors of the great war, the Empire of Zul now revelled in the fact that it had permanently ended the greatest threat to their race.

After the war

The Empire of Zul at the end of the war

Following the conclusion of the war against the aqir, the empire's major tribes decided to lay claim to the lands that they had occupied in their quest to eradicate the insectoids. The Empire of Zul now stretched across the continent from Zul'Aman in the east to Zul'Farrak in the west. The new nations founded by the Gurubashi, Amani and Drakkari tribes soon began to thrive, free from any conflict with each other. Through the power and unity of the Empire of Zul, the troll race had come to dominate the continent.

Without the war and imminent threat of destruction to bind them together, the troll nations grew ever more distant and insular from each other. The new territories which the tribes now ruled were very far from each other and so equated to relatively little interaction between the troll factions. Although successful in its one and only objective, the Empire of Zul as an idea now began to fade in relevance and necessity. The tribes' newly-established strongholds eventually blossomed into vibrant homes, temple cities, and ultimately the seats of empires in their own right. The Zandalari, meanwhile, content with the outcome of the war and the general direction the troll race was taking, withdrew to their mountain plateaus and cities to pursue spiritual knowledge. Regardless, they would still maintain immense influence over the thriving yet disparate troll societies, having ensured the trolls' continued survival in their time of greatest need.[10]

The Rise of the kaldorei

The rising Kaldorei Empire

In the millennia that followed the founding of the empire, the troll race continued to maintain control over much of the continent of Ancient Kalimdor. This changed, however, when a new race known as the kaldorei emerged near the waters of the mystical Well of Eternity. Although originally evolved from trolls (greatly influenced by their proximity to the well) the kaldorei, or night elves, bore very little resemblance at all to the other ancient race. Physically, they were much more sleek and elegant, but culturally they had adopted their own traditions. They adopted new religious beliefs and quickly established their own civilization in the center of Kalimdor. The night elves, highly intelligent and able to harness the innate magical forces of the world, began to forge their own empire completely independent of their troll ancestors.[11]

Despite the size and glory of the mighty Empire of Zul, despite its vast temple cities and rich culture, it was utterly eclipsed by the rapid expansion and development of the glorious Kaldorei Empire. In an ensuing golden age, the night elves expanded across the entire continent, driving the other races, including the trolls, farther away. At this point, the Empire of Zul was a shadow of its former self, devoid of the unity and energy it possessed when it warred with the aqir. Eventually, under the fantastic reign of the kaldorei monarch known as Queen Azshara, the two empires came into direct conflict. Of all the threats that the kaldorei encountered during the expansion of their empire, only the trolls had drawn their full attention.

Sporadic battles soon broke out between the two sides in the south and although what remained of the Empire of Zul fought ferociously to defend their lands, they were simply unable to resist the power of the night elves' sorcery. Their armies buckled under the onslaught and they found themselves unable to prevail against their elven foes. Azshara, however, had no interest in controlling the trolls' lands and so an accord was reached between the kaldorei and the Zandalari tribe, ever the leaders of the troll race. In exchange for a strict end to all troll incursions and expansion near night elf territory, they would—by Azshara's grace—be permitted to remain in possession of their sacred mountain ranges to the south. Though the terms were extremely uneven and humiliating for the trolls, they had no choice but to acquiesce. The shame of this agreement would sow the seeds of resentment among all trolls for thousands of years to come. Even in the modern day, the inherent troll resentment of elves can be attributed to these events.[12]

The Empire's final days

The continents of Azeroth after the Great Sundering

When the demonic Burning Legion invaded Azeroth for the first time around 10,000 years before the First War, it sparked the legendary War of the Ancients. Although the trolls largely did not take part in the war, they suffered many of its terrible effects. Foremost of these was the event known as the Great Sundering. At the conclusion of the war, the Well of Eternity exploded as a result of its use. The ensuing devastation tore Ancient Kalimdor apart and led to the creation of several new, smaller continents. For the last remnants of the Empire of Zul, this meant the end.[citation needed] The remaining unity of the troll nations, a far-cry from the days of the aqir war, was utterly destroyed when the various tribes were scattered with the landmass. The Zandalari, the leaders and greatest proponents of troll unity, were left isolated on an island in the middle of the newly-created Great Sea, unable to continue their traditional role. Now separate and shaken, these nations not be united again for many thousands of years and would instead seek their destinies as now fully independent countries.

Legacy

The Empire of Zul ranks as one of the largest empires/political organizations in Azeroth's history. It represents a time when the troll race was at its most united; never again would the trolls see such levels coordination and cooperation among each other. As a result of its size and power, the coalition had a great impact on many aspects of history.

The Zandalari attempt to unite the tribes as in times of old

The success of the empire in hunting the aqir, as well as its domination of the continent for many years, forced the remaining insectoids into relatively small pockets around Kalimdor. Some, such as the qiraji, nerubians, and mantid embraced their isolation by establishing their own, distinct nations and developing their own cultures and goals. As a result of these developments, many of these new insectoid races played different, but significant, roles in Azeroth's history in the millennia to come.[13]

Though the Empire of Zul was utterly destroyed during the Great Sundering, its influence and ideas remained for thousands of years to come. The concept of troll unity emerged once more at various stages again throughout history, most notably during the events of the, when the Zandalari attempted to once more (unsuccessfully) unite troll tribes, namely the Gurubashi and Amani. Even though a failure, this attempt at reunification is still symbolic of the Empire of Zul's lasting legacy and teachings among the trolls.[14]

Religion

The Loa of Blood

The Empire of Zul, its component tribes all included, possessed deeply held and strictly observed religious beliefs. A key part of all troll society, the empire's religion revolved around the reverence and worship of specific Wild Gods known as loa. Though all troll tribes worshiped these beings, each one tended to have its own set of loa which they in particular deified. An example of this is Hakkar, the Loa of Blood, worshiped almost exclusively by the Gurubashi tribe. Priests dedicated to the loa were common and important in virtually all troll tribes, even playing an significant role in their war against the aqir. The capital cities and fortresses of the greatest and most powerful of the troll tribes were invariably temple cities dedicated to the worship and exaltation of the deities of each culture (e.g. Zul'Aman, Zul'Gurub, or Zuldazar).

In tandem with their worship of the loa, many trolls of the Empire of Zul also devoutly practiced a form of magic which they themselves developed, known as voodoo. The vast majority of troll societies contained mystics and priests often specialized in using voodoo.

Notes

  • According to the quest N [60R] Kezan's Taint the island of Kezan was a part of the Zandalar Empire, yet Chronicle details that the Zandalari trolls found Kezan after the Sundering.

References