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The Gurubashi Empire was once one of the most powerful forces of Azeroth, controlling much of the southern part of the eastern continents. It took its name from the strongest tribe of jungle trolls at the time, the Gurubashi. Their former capital of Zul'Gurub is located in Stranglethorn Vale. Eventually, this great nation splintered into separate tribes such as the Darkspear tribe.
When a group of trolls awakened Kith'ix the C'Thrax viewed the troll nations with contempt and thus sought to destroy them with the aqir. At the onset of the Aqir and Troll War numerous smaller tribes fell before the aqir. The Gurubashi were one of the many troll tribes to join the Empire of Zul, in which the Zandalari took on the role of commanding the troll armies. The Empire of Zul forced the aqir to retreat and Kith'ix would be gravely wounded by the trolls and their loa allies.
Seeking to permanently end the aqir threat, the Zandalari knew that no corner of the continent could be left unguarded, and so the Zandalari convinced the most power-hungry of the troll factions to establish new and permanent strongholds across Kalimdor. At the forefront of these groups were the Gurubashi, Amani, and Drakkari tribes. After they had fully vanquished the aqir in their new regions, they could lay uncontested claim to the untouched fertile lands that they now lived in. The ambitious tribes listened to the Zandalari and readily agreed.
The Gurubashi tribe would then venture to the southwest, where they encountered corrupted titan forged. The trolls soon discovered that the aqir had overrun the ancient city of Ahn'Qiraj, originally built as a prison complex for the Old God C'Thun. When they seized the fortress, the aqir enslaved the resident guardians, the anubisath giants who guarded the prison. Early engagements between the two forces proved disastrous for the Gurubashi. The insectoids, along with their constructs, marched on and massacred several large troll forces and razed numerous encampments. Observing the situation, the Zandalari instructed the Gurubashi leaders to separate their tribe into smaller, more maneuverable raiding parties instead of large and easily-targeted armies. This new tactic allowed the Gurubashi to constantly bleed the aqiri forces over the years, whittling down their numbers while remaining impossible to effectively be attacked themselves. This worked extremely well and, although not quite able to wipe out the aqir completely, the Gurubashi were successful in securing uncontested control of the entire region. And so the Gurubashi Empire was born.
In troll legends, it is said that the first made its appearance on the coast of Stranglethorn. It was found and picked up by a wandering troll warrior. Intrigued by the blue stone he found, he took it with him on his journey. As time passed, the troll discovered that the stone gave him control over water. He could summon water elementals, manipulate the tides, and accomplish feats that only the powerful mages of the Kirin Tor were able to manifest. The warrior traveled back to Zul'Gurub to show his newfound abilities to the Emperor. He gained the court's audience easily with his powers and gained the title "Tidebearer", leaving his old name behind. The troll also received a place of honor in the Court of Gurubashi. Tidebearer served the Gurubashi Empire for years, but as time wore on, he became more reclusive. The Stone of Tides carried a curse as well. The Bearer of the stone would start to fade over time until he would disappear from the physical world forever. Keeping this secret from the Empire, the Tidebearer went to the beach where he found the stone and walked into the water, where he disappeared. Many generations later the stone would wash upon the Vale and be picked up by a new Tidebearer. This process would continue, and Tidebearers would come and go just as the last before them.
1,500 years before the opening of the Dark Portal, the powerful Gurubashi Empire was torn apart by a massive civil war. An influential group of Gurubashi priests called forth the avatar of an ancient and terrible blood god named Hakkar the Soulflayer and named themselves the Hakkari, soon a large amount of Gurubashi joined and became devout followers of Hakkar. With their newfound power, the Gurubashi Empire began to soundly defeat nearby gnoll clans, murloc tribes as well as trolls who opposed Hakkar. Under Hakkar, the Gurubashi and Hakkari began conquering large swaths of land as well as outlying islands around the South Seas, achieving all that they had hoped for.
The Zandalari began to observe the events from afar, at first pleased with how the Gurubashi had began to return to conquest and traditional worship. Though it soon became clear that Hakkar's bloodlust would never be sated, the fiendish god would drive not only the troll race to destruction but the entire world as well.
It did not take long before the Zandalari rallied their forces and set sail towards the Eastern Kingdoms where they met with Gurubashi trolls who had hidden their dissent from the Hakkari. The Zandalari and their new Gurubashi allies quickly learnt that a faction of Hakkar's most zealous priests, the Atal'ai, were attempting to summon the loa's spirit into a living form. This would awaken terrible new dimensions of his power and spell certain doom for the troll race.
Horrified by the plans, the Zandalari hosts stormed the Gurubashi capital of Zul'Gurub. Battles raged among the vine-covered ziggurats of the temple city day and night. Though finally, atop of Hakkar's bloodstained shrine, the Zandalari defeated Hakkar and most of his crazed followers.
A number of his fanatical Atal'ai priests had though escaped into the jungles surrounding Zul'Gurub, in time these trolls finally settled in the Swamp of Sorrows north of the Gurubashi capital. In the heart of the wild marshland, they secretly constructed a great temple to their bloodthirsty loa: the Temple of Atal'Hakkar.
Deep within the temple, the Atal'ai continued their worship of Hakkar, practicing grisly rituals and ceremonies hoping to once again summon the loa into the physical world. Dark magics twisted the flora and fauna surrounding the temple. Which in turn drew the attention of the green Dragon Aspect Ysera. Upon learning of the Atal'ai's plans to summon Hakkar, Ysera unleashed her powers on the temple and its inhabitants. The Dragon Aspect's attack buckled the temple's walls and blasted its foundations apart. The immense ziggurat began to sink beneath the land, the swampy mire engulfing the temple with terrified Atal'ai abandoning their rituals and scattered into the marshlands.
Though Ysera thwarted Hakkar's return, she knew that the Atal'ai might someday attempt to summon the loa again, thus the commanded a number of her loyal green dragons to watch over the ruined temple and ensure it would never again be used to bring such evil into the world.
Var'gazul, Min'loth and the Fall of Gurubashi
Var'gazul, chief of the Gurubashi, prepared plans of war, an invasion on an unknown enemy. However his plans were thwarted by the appearance of Neptulon and his kraken, who destroyed the land west of Zul'Gurub and sunk the city of I'lalai.
- Bloodscalp tribe
- Darkspear tribe
- Gurubashi tribe
- Razorbranch tribe
- Shatterspear tribe
- Skullsplitter tribe
Majority if not all of the Gurubashi Empire is located in Azeroth subcontinent of Eastern Kingdoms. The following is a list of ruins that are currently associated with tribes descended from the Gurubashi Empire and given their antiquity are also likely to be part of the Gurubashi Empire during its reign.
- Stranglethorn Vale
- Gurubashi Arena
- Silvershard Mines
- The western wing in the Silvershard Mines is that of an underground jungle troll area, having been part of the Gurubashi Empire (and possibly connected to Zul'Gurub) as the mines are located in Stranglethorn Vale.
- The The Twin Empires book gave a different background to the empire during the Aqir and Troll War.
- Several unused NPCs from Battle for Azeroth, Ambassador Shala, Embassy Headhunters, and Enraged Headhunters are tagged with Gurubashi Empire title, rather than the tribe. The was added in 8.1, but was also unused.
- It is possible that the islands in the South Seas the Gurubashi conquered over 1,500 years ago, are a hint towards Gillijim's Isle and Island of Doctor Lapidis that existed during the initial build for World of Warcraft. As both of them had troll cities located on them, one more finished than the other.
- Though there are not many other named islands in the South Seas that we know of, said sentence might imply that there are many more, unexplored islands than we currently know of, small or big.