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- "Dread lord" redirects here. For the Warcraft III unit, see Dread Lord (Warcraft III).
- “That's the problem with the Nathrezim - at least an infernal has the courtesy of announcing its presence.”
Nathrezim (called dread lords or dreadlords in the Common tongue) are intelligent and cunning demons who usually act as intelligence agents, interrogators and emissaries for the fiery lords of the Legion, notably Kil'jaeden, as well as tacticians and lieutenants upon the field of battle in times of war. While they are powerful foes on the battlefield, they prefer to turn nations against each other through manipulation and guile. The nathrezim are merciless villains who feed upon the energies of mortal creatures. They utilize terror and subterfuge - often turning brother against brother as whole worlds fall before their dark influence. They are known to be extremely manipulative and masters of trickery; they sometimes refer to themselves as thal'kituun in their language, meaning "the unseen guests".
Their homeworld, Nathreza, found a similar fate to Draenor, as Illidan Stormrage obliterated a great part of it. The demon hunter believed that he caused a cataclysmic explosion by overloading the portal he had opened to Nathreza.
Dreadlords are psychic vampire-like beings who feed on the weak-minded and often use their victims as slaves. They have dead, grey skin like a corpse, no hair, and two sharp canines jutted down their mouth. They are cunning and extremely skilled at magic — on par with the eredar — they are also deadly fighters. Their demonic magics can drain the life of their victims, and they have been reported to devour the souls of their slain victims. They can amass a swarm of flying carrion insects, and have been known to put their enemies to sleep. They prefer to work from the shadows, corrupting slowly, as opposed to assaulting their enemies directly. This makes the dreadlords the perfect henchmen for the most cunning of demons, Kil'jaeden the Deceiver.
Masters of trickery, deceit, and guile, they take pride in the fiendish destruction they have wrought on Azeroth. Affiliated with the Burning Legion, the nathrezim — also termed dreadlords — acted as commanders of the undead Scourge during the Burning Legion’s second invasion, slaughtering thousands with their unnatural hordes. The dreadlords lost much power when several of their most influential members fell to the Forsaken armies under Sylvanas Windrunner's banner. For a while, the dreadlords seemed almost a myth, a story told to frighten children. People felt safer when they thought the dreadlords were a remote tale; some instead comforted themselves with the lie that the great Varimathras was the only surviving dreadlord. More practical sorts knew that evil never truly dies and that just because they couldn't see something did not mean it was not there.
Dreadlords invariably stay behind the scenes and affect change through proxies. Adventurers might go their whole lives and never realize a dreadlord has acted against them in countless, seemingly unrelated ways. Only after much exertion and investigation do the heroes uncover the dreadlord behind a plot. Even then, the task of tracking and slaying a dreadlord can overwhelm the most competent hunter of evil. Dreadlords live in heavily fortified lairs or march at the center of an army. They also act as intelligence agents and interrogators, likely when not commanding on the field of battle or manipulating things behind the scenes.
The nathrezim have a war-centered culture with an emphasis on codes of conduct. It is forbidden for one of the nathrezim to kill another, a law broken twice, by Varimathras when he was ordered to kill his brother Balnazzar by Sylvanas Windrunner, and another time when Balnazzar attempted to kill Lothraxion. The nathrezim serve as both the tacticians and field commanders of Archimonde and the henchmen of Kil'jaeden.
The nathrezim also seem to be quite talented smiths, being responsible for some of the most horrific and dangerous weapons to ever grace the world of Azeroth. Primary among these are the plague-infused blade Apocalypse, and the infamous sword of the death knight and second Lich King, Frostmourne.
After adventurers dealt with Mal'Ganis on behalf of the Knights of the Ebon Blade and Balnazzar twice for the Argent Dawn and the Argent Crusade, the Argent Crusade started taking any report that a nathrezim was "dead and gone" with a grain of salt. Indeed, they stated that a nathrezim killed in a conventional manner in the mortal plane only sends it back to the Twisting Nether. As such, the Argent Crusade considered any defeated nathrezim known to them to be alive and active; by name, this includes the brothers Balnazzar, Varimathras and Detheroc.
Little is known of the dreadlords' past, but it is said they were once an enlightened and powerful race with unmatched summoning abilities. The nathrezim were one of the original races of demons born from the chaotic energies of the Twisting Nether. Cunning and manipulative, they dedicated their existence to mastering shadow magic and infiltrating mortal civilizations, turning nation against nation and corrupting the populace into new horrific breeds of demons as their societies crumbled from within.
One conclave of nathrezim dwelled on a world almost completely corrupted by the Old Gods, basking in their shadowy power, until the titan champion Sargeras discovered them. He ruthlessly interrogated the dreadlords, and it was from them that he learned of the Old Gods and the void lords. The dreadlords revealed that the void lords had sent the Old Gods out into the cosmos in order to find and corrupt a titan world-soul, transforming it into an unspeakably dark creature that not even the Pantheon could stand against. Enraged by this discovery, Sargeras killed the nathrezim and shattered the corrupted world upon which they dwelled.
Sometime after the creation of the Burning Legion Sargeras recruited the eredar into his service and one of their leaders, Kil'jaeden, enslaved the nathrezim under his terrible power. The dreadlords would serve as his personal agents through the universe, and they took pleasure in locating primitive races for their master to corrupt and bring into the fold. First amongst the dreadlords was Tichondrius the Darkener. Tichondrius served Kil'jaeden as the perfect soldier and agreed to bring Sargeras' burning will to all the dark corners of the universe.
More than 2,600 years before the First War, Kathra'natir returned to Dalaran. He spread plagues and disease, and used Apocalypse to warp the minds of the non-mage civilians, turning them against the magi. He stole the Amulet of Waters from the Council, and through it he was able to control and corrupt Lordamere Lake. He was later banished by Alodi, the first Guardian of Tirisfal and the Council of Tirisfal. When he was banished, his sword Apocalypse was left behind.
Reign of Chaos
Dreadlords are incredibly powerful demons who wield the powers of darkness and mental domination. These cunning, malefic beings once served as the demon Kil'jaeden's most trusted lieutenants. Yet, at Kil'jaeden's request, the vampiric Dreadlords were sent to watch over the Lich King Ner'zhul, and ensure that he carried out his orders to sow chaos in the mortal world. Though Dreadlords have been known to revel in the gore of single combat, they generally prefer to manipulate and beguile their enemies from the shadows.
As Prince Arthas and Jaina Proudmoore were investigating rumors of plague, they were attacked again and again by the forces of the Scourge posing as the personal army of the dreadlord Mal'Ganis. Kel'Thuzad helped play the part by telling Arthas that it was Mal'Ganis himself and not the Lich King behind the plague. Each attack, each town destroyed hit at Arthas' weakness, his pride. Arthas began to take his inability to protect his people from the Scourge personally, and soon became obsessed with killing the dreadlord.
Mal'Ganis led Arthas to Stratholme, and left him with the choice of either slaughtering all of its inhabitants or watching them fall to the plague. Arthas chose to kill his own subjects rather than let them become slaves to Mal'Ganis in death, killing most of the inhabitants of the town. Mal'Ganis was there in the wreckage, and goaded Arthas once again to come to Northrend to finish their battle. As expected, Arthas took the royal fleet and sailed north. The Prince's obsession with the hated dreadlord led him further down the path of evil, first lying to his men, betraying his mercenaries, and finally forsaking his own soul to take up the runeblade Frostmourne, grievously wounding Muradin Bronzebeard in the process.
The moment Arthas took up Frostmourne he became a tool of the Lich King, completely subservient to his will. This was what Mal'Ganis had planned all along. Confidently he approached Arthas and informed him of his fate. However, the manipulative and traitorous dreadlord was himself betrayed, as the Lich King's first whispers to Arthas were that the time for his vengeance had come (this was the first step towards Ner'zhul's independence). Arthas defeated the dreadlord and believed him to be slain.
Prior to the Third War, Tichondrius was chosen by Kil'jaeden to personally police the newest agent of the Legion, Ner'zhul, the malefic Lich King. Tichondrius was none too pleased with the appointment, but accepted it in the end. As befitting his status as the greatest of the nathrezim, Tichondrius was placed in charge of a number of Scourge operations. Following the corruption of Prince Arthas Menethil, Tichondrius introduced himself to the Death Knight, providing him with orders from Ner'zhul, especially concerning the resurrection of Kel'Thuzad. Because he didn't entirely trust Arthas, Tichondrius pretended to be another one of the Lich King's followers. The ghost of Kel'Thuzad, however, informed Arthas that Tichondrius and the other dreadlords were actually the Lich King's jailers.
Tichondrius regularly discussed the Scourge's progress with his colleagues, Anetheron and Mephistroth, who remained on a Legion planet in the Nether. The Darkener expressed (justified) concern that Ner'zhul had alternative plans for his new "champion", but Mephistroth pointed out that he "wouldn't dare undermine our efforts now."
The dreadlord continued his work, eventually overseeing the death of Uther the Lightbringer, the invasion and destruction of Quel'Thalas, and the siege of Dalaran. Once Archimonde was summoned, he decreed that the Lich King was no longer needed, and gave Tichondrius control of the Scourge.
Invasion of Kalimdor
The humans, having lost their most powerful leaders and heroes, quickly fell before the might of the Legion, now joined by Mannoroth. Mannoroth was still sore over the orcs' failure to conquer Azeroth years before, and was angrier still when Tichondrius smugly observed that the Scourge had done the job the orcs couldn't. Mannoroth became even more enraged when Tichondrius informed him that the orcs had left the continent. The pit lord was eager to take his frustrations out on the orcs, so at the first opportunity he and Tichondrius picked up the trail and followed the orcs to the ancient land of Kalimdor.
The arrival at Kalimdor reminded the pair of demon lords only too well that the threat of the night elves still remained, as well as the demigod, Cenarius. Mannoroth suspected that unless weakened, they would still pose a considerable threat. Tichondrius, however, came up with a solution. He knew that the orcs had earned the wrath of Cenarius, and he believed that corrupting the orcs once again would give them the power to defeat Cenarius, leaving him defeated when the Legion began their invasion of Kalimdor in full. Encouraged by the Darkener's plot, Mannoroth spilled his burning blood into a sacred pool that was eventually sensed by the Warsong Clan, who would eventually drink the blood in order to kill Cenarius. Following the death of Cenarius Mannoroth would personally recruit the Warsong back into the Legion's fold, while at unknown point either during or after these events Tichondrius would return to Archimonde's side.
In spite of Mannoroth's death at the hands of Grom Hellscream, Tichondrius proceeded with the invasion. The Scourge, more dangerous than ever thanks the demonic support of felhounds, doomguard and infernals, was more than successful in penetrating Ashenvale without Cenarius's intervention. The combined forces of the orcs and the humans, coupled with the resistance of the night elves, eventually managed to halt their progress.
As the invasion of Kalimdor progressed, Tichondrius began corrupting the forests of Felwood using a powerful warlock artifact, the Skull of Gul'dan. However, the skull was consumed by Illidan Stormrage, who had been tipped off by none other than Arthas. Transformed by the skull into a demon-hybrid, Illidan used his newfound power to defeat Tichondrius.
Meanwhile Anetheron had went with Archimonde, and served as a personal guardsman. Anetheron showed his tenacity when he led the Scourge against the Sentinels, Alliance, and Horde in the final, climactic Battle of Mount Hyjal. He invaded the Great Alliance's base several times during the battle, calling infernals to serve him, with the objective of defeating the resistance so that Archimonde could ascend to crush the World Tree. However, Anetheron was killed during the battle.
A kingdom divided
Balnazzar and his brothers, Varimathras and Detheroc, were not aware that the Burning Legion had been defeated at Mount Hyjal until months after the fact. It was only when Arthas returned from his sabbatical to Kalimdor that he announced Archimonde's destruction. Arthas stated that their deaths would complete their folly. Balnazzar and his brothers quickly teleported away before Arthas could strike.
The Dreadlord Insurgents plotted in the safety of the Tirisfal Glades, and began to form a plan to ruin the undead king. Knowing that Ner'zhul, and Arthas, were losing their powers, they called to Sylvanas, who was no longer locked in loyalty to the Lich King, and asked for her assistance in the coup that was sure to entail. Sylvanas, hungry for vengeance for her current form and the slaughter of her people, agreed. Balnazzar and his brothers staged an ambush for Arthas within the Capital City ruins, separating Kel'Thuzad from him and attacking him with their minions. Balnazzar even loosed other dreadlords on him, but Arthas, rounding up the forces he could find still loyal to him, escaped, or so he thought.
Escorted by a cadre of banshees, Arthas was attacked by Sylvanas, who had prepared a long, grisly death for her murderer, and was about to begin her work when Kel'Thuzad interrupted and chased her off. Though he still lived, Arthas was gone from Lordaeron, or the Plaguelands as they were now called, and Balnazzar was free to reign over it as he liked. He sent Varimathras to bring Sylvanas to join their new order, but things went horribly awry.
Unfortunately for Balnazzar, Sylvanas had plans of her own and laid siege to Lordaeron. She had defeated Balnazzar’s brother Varimathras, who offered to serve her in exchange for his life. Sylvanas accepted and the dreadlord fought at her side in the attack on Lordaeron. Balnazzar received word from his scouts that Sylvanas had coerced Varimathras to her side, killed Detheroc, and allied with his human minion, Garithos. The banshee and her forces laid siege to Balnazzar's base, which he had fortified within the city ruins. Even armed with demons as his minions, Balnazzar found himself attacked from both ends by Sylvanas and Garithos, and despite his many threats, Balnazzar's forces were defeated.
Following their victory Sylvanas, Varimathras, and Garithos approached Balnazzar. Sylvanas ordered Varimathras to kill his brother as a testament to his loyalty to her. Varimathras was reluctant as killing another nathrezim was forbidden, but Sylvanas was adamant. Balnazzar was sure that Varimathras would never take that final step and was apparently destroyed.
Post Third War
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Balnazzar was later revealed to have faked his death and has taken the guise of Saidan Dathrohan. As Saidan Dathrohan, he has gained control of the Scarlet Crusade, who believing that they alone were not infected by plague and attacked and killed all non Crusaders on sight.
Mal'Ganis was killed in his encounter with Arthas Menethil. He reformed in the Twisting Nether and later returned as Barean Westwind. Taking over control of the Scarlet Onslaught, he led them to the Dragonblight in Northrend to get revenge on the traitorous Lich King. He stood in seclusion in the Onslaught Harbor until agents from the Knights of the Ebon Blade confronted him, and forced him to flee.
After the Battle of Angrathar the Wrathgate, Varimathras led demons of the Burning Legion and Forsaken renegades in a coup against Sylvanas Windrunner. Ultimately, Varimathras and his conspirators were defeated at the Battle for the Undercity, but his betrayal elicited war between the Horde and the Alliance.
After the Cataclysm rocked the world, Balnazzar slaughtered the Scarlet Crusaders in Stratholme and transformed them into the undead creatures they once hated as the Risen, using his necromantic powers to resurrect them. Eligor Dawnbringer tasked adventurers to slay him.
Third invasion of the Burning Legion
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After Archimonde's death, the Legion launched its third invasion of Azeroth and the nathrezim participated in its events. One of them disguised himself as the spirit of Medivh in Karazhan and tempted Khadgar to accept power in order to become Legion's pawn. Another one infiltrated Stormwind Keep taking a guise of a Stormwindian soldier who tried to assassinate the new High King of the Alliance, Anduin Wrynn. The king bested him and the dreadlord offered him to join the Legion, but Anduin ultimately destroyed him.
The names of individual eredar and pit lords are not commonly known, as the former have not been seen in great numbers on Azeroth and the latter are never encountered in a situation where their names will be remembered. However, Archimonde relied heavily on the dreadlords during the second invasion, as they are useful as mages, strategists, and warriors (they were also on Azeroth already and required the least energy to summon). Many of the nathrezim became known during this period. Many of Kil'jaeden's dreadlords watched over the Lich King and aided him at times, while some of Archimonde's dreadlords commanded the Scourge after the invasion commenced.
* Not defeated in the Twisting Nether, and thus presumed to still be alive
Note: Some of these are the randomly assigned names for the Dreadlords in Warcraft III.
In the RPG
In the nathrezim's eyes, malice is the ultimate gift. To torment another creature with physical and moral agony offers something superior to happiness or contentment. Dreadlords prefer to turn their talents to psychic assault and manipulation, seeking to dissolve the bonds that unify individuals, groups, and nations and leave their mortal victims floundering amidst chaos and decay. A nathrezim-occupied world eventually abandons higher morality as irrelevant to the context in which its inhabitants find themselves, joining the dreadlords in their callous worship of the maligned. Although fierce warriors, nathrezim prefer a leadership role, standing behind a wall of ghouls or other allies and retreating when their enemies press too close. This is particularly true of the weaker nathrezim, whose magical abilities cannot always prevent their swift, bloody execution by a determined fighter, wizard, or rogue. A dreadlord engages in melee combat only when convinced he holds the upper hand. A dreadlord studies his opponent first and learns their weaknesses. Then he remains at range, unleashing his most powerful spells on his enemy.
Nearly all dreadlords choose to study both the arts of war and the arts of magic. Almost all have the ability to summon an Infernal, while a few choice dreadlords can create a doomguard from their fallen foes. Some of them, such as Mal'Ganis, are proficient at necromancy. It is important to note that the nathrezim are not as talented in magic as the eredar — whereas the eredar have become adept at almost all forms of magic, the nathrezim show talent for only a handful of types. They most often are arcanists, but some dreadlords favor the physical arts of the rogue or warrior. The nathrezim are called nathrezite two times in the non-canonical Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, but it is unknown if this is a misspelling or an alternate name.
Dreadlords can apparently understand any tongue psychically. Dreadlords can speak with any creature that has a language. However, since they are members of the Burning Legion, it can be assumed they would speak Eredun most of the time.
Notes & trivia
- Their description during the Warcraft III alpha was as such: "Dread Lords are incredibly powerful demonic entities that are masters of darkness and mental domination. These cunning, malefic beings were once considered to be the most trusted lieutenants of the Burning Legion. Yet Kil'jaeden, the Lord of the Legion, tasked his faithful Dread Lords to watch over the Lich King Ner'zhul, and ensure that he carried out his orders to sew chaos in the mortal world. The Dread Lords carried out their task flawlessly, yet over time they fell under the influence of Ner'zhul's undead plague. Now, unbeknownst to Kil'jaeden and his Legion, the Dread Lords serve the Lich King and live only to carry out his dark agenda. Dread Lords generally appear as dashing human males and are adept at charming and beguiling mortal creatures through telepathy. Dread Lords radiate darkness around them and are fond of travelling within shadows."
- In Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, nathrezim had long tails, but they lack tails altogether in later games and artwork.
- Originally the nathrezim were one of the reasons for Sargeras's fall. The exact text stated: "While his confusion and misery deepened, Sargeras was forced to contend with another group intent on disrupting the Titans' order: the nathrezim. This dark race of vampiric demons (also known as dreadlords) conquered a number of populated worlds by possessing their inhabitants and turning them to the shadow. The nefarious, scheming dreadlords turned whole nations against one another by manipulating them into unthinking hatred and mistrust. Sargeras defeated the nathrezim easily, but their corruption affected him deeply."
- Accounts from the War of the Ancients state that the nathrezim can fly without using magic.
- Strangely, some nathrezim are labeled as undead in-game. This is likely a game mechanic preventhing them to be enslaved by warlocks.
- A Nathrezim Blood Orb artifact was available during the alpha stage of Heroes of the Storm.
- Dreadlords are a step below pit lords in the Burning Legion's hierarchy.
- Nathrezim have dark blood.
- Nathrezim have been end bosses of several dungeons. These include Balnazzar in Stratholme, Mal'Ganis in the Culling of Stratholme, Dantalionax in Black Rook Hold, and Mephistroth in the Cathedral of Eternal Night.
- While the nathrezim are competent necromancers, they were derided by Amal'thazad, who said they were merely making "puppets of bone" when trying to recreate the masterpiece that was the Scourge.
The abilities of the vampiric San'layn to serve both as field commanders and infiltrators imply that they were created by the Lich King to replace the nathrezim, who stayed loyal to the Burning Legion.
- ^ The Demon Soul, chapter 14, pg. 396. "Brox had found the necromancers. The two Nathrezim had done the abominable, successfully raising the dead they and their comrades had so brutally slaughtered."
- ^ Lothraxion is a protection paladin
- ^ The Sundering, chapter 13, pg. 455 (ebook). "Nathrezim and Eredar cast monstrous spells, but they were caught between defending against the dragons and fighting the Moon Guard. The warlocks could not do both. They perished more often than they slew, mostly under the unyielding flame of a leviathan’s breath."
- ^ TCG War of the Ancients/195
- ^ a b Dreadlord (Warcraft III)
- ^ Ultimate Visual Guide, pg. 38
- ^ Manual of Monsters, pg. 112
- ^ a b Manual of Monsters, pg. 117
- ^ a b c d Monster Guide, pg. 50
- ^ a b Death is Contagious
- ^ a b
- ^ Exodar Holographic Emitter
- ^ a b The Demon Soul
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 21
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 24
- ^ Sargeras and the Betrayal
- ^ a b c Libram of the Dead: Apocalypse
- ^ The First Guardian
- ^ Whispers, 5
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3
- ^ Balnazzar (tactics)
- ^ Ultimate Visual Guide, pg. 191
- ^ Harbingers
- ^ Anduin: Son of the Wolf
- ^ Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 96
- ^ Dreadlord
- ^ Sargeras and the Betrayal
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- ^ Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, 345 (ebook).