Ner'zhul

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This article is about Ner'zhul's life as an orc. For his existence after being transformed, see Lich King. For the character from an alternate universe, see Ner'zhul (alternate universe).
NeutralNer'zhul
Image of Ner'zhul
Title Elder Shaman,[1]
Greatly Deceived One,[2]
Warchief of Draenor,[1]
Lich King,
He Who Would Be King[3]
Gender Male
Race Orc (Undead)
Class Shaman, Necromancer (as the Lich King), Warlock[4][5]
Affiliation(s) Scourge
Former affiliation(s) Burning Legion, Horde of Draenor, Old Horde[6]
Occupation The Lich King, Warchief of Draenor (formerly), Elder Shaman and chieftain of the Shadowmoon clan (formerly)
Location Echo in the Blades of the Fallen Prince, Icecrown Citadel
Status Deceased[7]
Relative(s) Rulkan (mate), Neema (mother-in-law)
Student(s) Gul'dan
Companion(s) Skychaser (wolf mount)

Ner'zhul was the chieftain and elder shaman of the Shadowmoon clan as well as the Warchief of Horde of Draenor, the clans of Draenor that remained uncaptured after the Dark Portal was destroyed in Azeroth. He was tricked into making a Blood Pact with Kil'jaeden the Deceiver; one that bound the orcs into the service of the Burning Legion. Following the Second War, he opened several portals on Draenor in an attempt to seek out new lands to escape to and conquer, but was immediately captured by Kil'jaeden. His mortal form was destroyed and his spirit was transformed into the spectral Lich King, which was then encased in the mystical ice of the Frozen Throne atop the Icecrown glacier in distant Northrend.

Ner'zhul is the primary antagonist of Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal and the supporting antagonist in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne.

Biography

Early life

Ner'zhul the shaman by Chris Metzen.

During his youth, Ner'zhul would often venture near Auchindoun with his clan-mates. He was the only that was brave enough to enter its entryway.[8]

Ner'zhul grew up to become the chieftain and elder shaman of the Shadowmoon clan and one of the most popular figures in orcish society. He was respected by all the clans and an advisor to all shaman regardless of their affiliation,[9] appearing at the Kosh'harg celebration in Nagrand.[10] Eventually, Kil'jaeden instructed his agent, Gul'dan, to find a suitable leader for the Horde that would be, and Gul'dan decided on Ner'zhul due to the respect and admiration he demanded from all the orcs, seeing him to be the perfect person for such a role. Gul'dan arrived at Shadowmoon Valley, telling a false tale of how his village was destroyed by ogres (it was, in fact, Gul'dan himself who did that) to gain the sympathy and pity of the Shadowmoon clan. He succeeded, and Ner'zhul took him under his wing as his apprentice.[11]

At this point in time, Gul'dan had used his fel powers to challenge the elemental spirits at the Throne of the Elements, and he succeeded in throwing the elements in turmoil and their contact with the orc shaman was severed as a result.[12] Ner'zhul was deeply troubled by the natural upheavals that plagued Draenor and the red pox outbreak that struck them, and furthermore, he had sought the comfort of the spirits when he grieved over his deceased wife, Rulkan.[12] Since the spirits would no longer commune with him, he had begun to venture deeper into his grief, both his sources of comfort having disappeared. Kil'jaeden preyed on this vulnerability, and began visiting Ner'zhul in his dreams under the guise of his spouse.[11] Under this guise, Kil'jaeden told Ner'zhul that the draenei were the reason the elements were in disarray, as well as the cause of the red pox epidemic and how they planned on destroying the entire orcish race, and that the only way to stop them would be to unite the orcs and kill the draenei. At first Ner'zhul was skeptical, but the destruction of the Bladewind clan by the draenei put an end to his doubts. He informed the clan leaders at the next Kosh'harg festival of what he had learned from Rulkan, and the orcs, revering ancestral spirits as they did, did not question that at all and obliged, forming the Orcish Horde.[13]

The breaking of Ner'zhul by the Shadow Council.

Ner'zhul watched as the Horde increased its aggression against the draenei, but he did not see any benefit come from it, instead, he saw the Horde devolving into savagery and bloodthirst. Kil'jaeden, sensing Ner'zhul's skepticism took a different approach to contacting him. He began appearing as a radiant elemental entity, advising Ner'zhul that destroying the draenei was the only way to please the elements.[14] Ner'zhul was initially in awe of this being, but he was still overcome with doubt, this entity's obsession with brutalizing the draenei deeply upset him. In addition, Rulkan no longer appeared to him, and he needed her guidance in such a crucial time for him and the Horde. He secretly traveled to Oshu'gun to commune with the spirits, and was horrified to learn from the real spirit of Rulkan that he was being deceived. Being shunned by the ancestors and learning of the deception he fell for devastated Ner'zhul. Full of shame, he left Oshu'gun to return to Shadowmoon Valley, unsure of what he would do when he arrived there. Kil'jaeden knew of Ner'zhul's trip, and informed Gul'dan, instructing him to subdue Ner'zhul and take over the Shadowmoon clan leadership without killing him, as Ner'zhul was no longer reliable to lead the Horde. Gul'dan instructed a few Shadowmoon shaman on the secrets of the fel, and they formed the Shadow Council. The Shadow Council intercepted Ner'zhul on his return from Oshu'gun and kidnapped him. Though many of them wanted him dead, Gul'dan knew that that was not Kil'jaeden's will, and instead relished in abusing and mistreating Ner'zhul along with the other members. Authority of the Shadowmoon Clan was transferred to the Shadow Council, and Ner'zhul was left as a decorative figurehead with no actual power. His public appearances began to dwindle and lessen, as did his power and authority over the Horde.[15]

Ner'zhul, being as powerless as he was, posed no threat to the Shadow Council. They made him privy to many of their meetings and he knew a great deal of information about them as a result. After the Temple of Karabor was captured by the Horde, the Shadow Council used it as their headquarters, and Kil'jaeden informed Gul'dan of the next step in transforming the Horde into the Legion's vanguard: they had to drink the blood of a demon to bind their will to their new masters. To that end, Gul'dan and the Council summoned the demon Mannoroth and kept his existence in the Black Temple a secret until the time to feed his blood to the Horde was right. Ner'zhul learned of the summoning an, with this knowledge, wrote an anonymous missive to Chieftain Durotan of the Frostwolves informing him of Gul'dan's intention of giving the Horde demon blood, and snuck it into the Shadow Council's outgoing correspondence. The missive safely reached Durotan, and as a result of Ner'zhul's intervention, the Frostwolf clan would evade demonic servitude. Durotan's refusal to drink demon blood infuriated Gul'dan, but he knew that the Frostwolves were powerless to completely oppose the Horde, and did not mind it much.[16]

Beyond the Dark Portal

Ner'zhul, Warcraft II cinematic.
Ner'zhul holding the Skull of Gul'dan.

Throughout the First and Second Wars, Ner'zhul was left on Draenor by Gul'dan as he had no purpose in bringing him to Azeroth. During that time, Ner'zhul was plagued with thoughts of death and felt personally responsible for the scourging of Draenor and for dooming the orcs to demonic servitude, infighting, and possibly extinction. His chance for redemption came in the form of his former disciple Teron'gor, or as he was known by then, Teron Gorefiend.[17]

Following the Old Horde's defeat in the Second War the Alliance pressed the Horde back to the Blasted Lands, ultimately destroying the portal. On the Draenor side Ner'zhul was caught in the blast and gravely wounded. For two years while he recovered the clans of Draenor fought amongst themselves until Teron Gorefiend devised a plan of opening new portals and finding fresh worlds for the Horde to conquer. Teron went to Ner'zhul and asked the old shaman to lead the Horde once again. Ner'zhul having since recovered, had isolated his clan in Shadowmoon Valley, where he began seeing visions of death (potentially a foreshadowing of his future fate). He painted his face with a white skull. When Gorefiend, a being of undeath, came to him, Ner'zhul was not surprised, and after some persuasion, agreed to Gorefiend's plan to open more portals. In order to fullfill the plan he sought out several artifacts from Azeroth: the Skull of Gul'dan, the Book of Medivh, the Jeweled Scepter of Sargeras, and the Eye of Dalaran. Except for the Skull of Gul'dan these artifacts corresponded to three constellations on Draenor, and using them in conjunction with a celestial event involving those constellations gave Ner'zhul the power to open the portals. Ner'zhul, Gorefiend, and several death knights combined their powers and used the Skull of Gul'dan to reopen the Dark Portal to begin Gorefiend's mission of acquiring the artifacts. The clans that had remained on Draenor formed a vanguard that would distract the Alliance armies with war to give Gorefiend time to complete his mission.[18]

Upon receiving the Skull of Gul'dan, it began to influence Ner'zhul. His wayward apprentice was speaking to Ner'zhul through his last remains. Ner'zhul became more and more concerned with his own power and well being rather than that of the Horde. The ogre mage Dentarg became his enforcer, putting back in line through fear and brute force[19] the clans of Draenor when they opposed Ner'zhul's absolute rule.[20] As part of a pact between Gorefiend and Deathwing, the fallen aspect would lead Gorefiend to the locations of the artifacts, and Gorefiend would take several of Deathwing's "precious cargo" to Draenor. The cargo were batches of unhatched black dragon eggs, and Deathwing had intended to repopulate his flight on Draenor away from the other dragon aspects. Upon meeting Deathwing, Ner'zhul was intimidated and terrified of the power the dragon held. He surrendered the Skull of Gul'dan to Deathwing per the dragon's request, and Deathwing rewarded him with the use of several black dragons.

Ner'zhul uses the Jeweled Scepter of Sargeras to open countless portals.

Gorefiend was successfully able to deliver all the artifacts, and after Ner'zhul gave Deathwing the Skull of Gul'dan, he began searching for a location to open his portals. There were two known ley line nexuses on Draenor: the first was the location of the Dark Portal, and the second was the location of the Black Temple. Ner'zhul decided the Black Temple would be the best location to perform the ritual and began his journey there. The Sons of Lothar were quickly able to get on his track and follow him through Hellfire Peninsula and Terokkar Forest. Realizing he would not be able to outmaneuver Kurdran Wildhammer's gryphon riders, Ner'zhul elected to traverse the underground labyrinth of Auchindoun to reach the Black Temple. It was a success, and he arrived at the Black Temple with enough time to set up a defense and begin the ritual.

Feeling the surge of power that came with having control of Draenor's magic, Ner'zhul stopped caring about the welfare of the Horde, and thought only of harnessing his new powers. In his hubris, he ordered his followers through the portals, leaving behind the Horde. Obris, one of his servitors, protested at Ner'zhul's choice to abandon the rest of the Horde. In response, Ner'zhul blasted him aside; he no longer cared. Inundated with power he previously could only have dreamed of, Ner'zhul's greed overcame him, and whatever vestiges of honor and altruism still remained in him vanished as he and his followers went through the first portal, abandoning the rest of the Orcish Horde to its fate. The vast energies that the Spell of Conjuration created then tore the planet apart once Ner'zhul had fled, and the shattered realm of Outland was created.

Birth of the Lich King

Main article: Lich King

Upon entering one of the portals, Ner'zhul and his followers were immediately captured by Kil'jaeden. The Elder Shaman was torn apart, though his spirit was kept alive. Agreeing to enter into the service of the demon once more, Ner'zhul's spirit was bound to the Helm of Domination and trapped inside the Frozen Throne. His perception, mental powers, and magical abilities expanded tremendously. Thus the Lich King was born. As the Lich King, Ner'zhul would rule the Scourge alone until his merger with Arthas Menethil, who largely consumed his spirit to rule as the Lich King alone.[21][22][23][24] Vestiges or at least memories of Ner'zhul remained in the new Lich King, who once referred to himself as a former shaman.[25]This Lich King would be killed by adventurers some time later, ultimately ending the fallen shaman's legacy.

Legion

Legion This section concerns content related to Legion.

Main article: Echo of Ner'zhul

When one of the Knights of the Ebon Blade enters the Blades of the Fallen Prince, reformed from Frostmourne's shards, echoes of Ner'zhul and Arthas can be found with Ner'zhul tempting Arthas to take up Frostmourne. Arthas is defeated and once more states that he sees only darkness, while Ner'zhul exclaims that his plans have been ruined.

Visions of Ner'zhul

Ner'zhul had the gift of true visioning and all he had seen would indeed come to pass.[26] He had seen many events that take place in World of Warcraft, including:

Quotes

Beyond the Dark Portal

  • I... have dreamed of you. I have had visions of death, and now you are here.[27]
  • Gul'dan and his twisted schemes — they reach out and destroy lives even from beyond the grave! You and your plans! And how much power would you gain from success? Power is all you Shadow Council bastards care about![27]
  • We did much harm, you and I. Deathbringers, doom callers, both of us. But now we can try to save them. And your skull, my old apprentice…your skull will be part of that. Dead you are better use to the orcs than you were alive. Back you have come, to your old master. Maybe together we can give them a new chance.[27]
  • The other orcs are lost. They have served their purpose. From this point on, all that we gain will be ours alone. I am the Horde, and I will survive. Choose me, or choose death![27]

Warcraft III: Frozen Throne

The Lich King, trapped within the Frozen Throne.
The runeblade, Frostmourne, was once locked inside the Throne as well. I thrust it from the ice so that it would find its way to you... and then lead you to me. And so it has. For now we face a grave danger. My creator, the demonlord Kil'jaeden, sent his agents here to destroy me. If they should reach the Frozen Throne before you, all will be lost. The Scourge will be undone. Now hurry! I will grant you all the power I can spare.[28]

Arthas: Rise of the Lich King

  • There is so much more. So much more, but only if you continue to walk this path fully.[26]
  • Yes! I knew you would make this choice. For so long you have wrestled with the last dregs of goodness, of humanity in you, but no longer. The boy held you back, and now you are free. We are one, Arthas. Together, we are the Lich King. No more Ner'zhul, no more Arthas—only this one glorious being. With my knowledge, we can—[29]

World of Warcraft

Legion This section concerns content related to Legion.

Main article: The Call of Icecrown#Notes

In the RPG

The RPG Icon 16x36.png This section contains information from the Warcraft RPG which is considered non-canon.

Ner'zhul was given Plate of the Damned and he gave Kel'Thuzad special chains[30] and was considered a lich.[31]

Notes & trivia

  • It was originally said that Ner'zhul once had his soul bound to Gul'dan, the elder shaman wanting to keep watch over his disciple.[32]
  • It was stated that Amnennar the Coldbringer had a direct telepathic link to Ner'zhul (when he and Arthas were the Lich King).[33]
  • Ner'zhul was described to have brown eye color.[34]
  • This piece of art "may" have inspired Ner'zhul's story.[35]
  • When asked about Ner'zhul at BlizzCon 2010, Chris Metzen said, "Yes. Yeah, Ner'zhul is done. He served us well in that capacity, but really the Lich King idea... really is the ultimate expression, you know, as Arthas or whatever. Ner'zhul's done."[36]
  • In Legion Ner'zhul is voiced by Vic Mignogna, who also voiced his alternate counterpart in Warlords of Draenor.
  • The servers Ner'zhul US and Ner'zhul Europe are named after him.
  • There are several differences between Ner'zhul's story as told in Rise of the Horde, and the version that was canonized in the Chronicles series:
    • Overall, Ner'zhul is portrayed as less ambitious and power-hungry than Rise of the Horde saw him to be.
    • His contact with Rulkan is slightly different. Rise of the Horde has Rulkan introduce Ner'zhul to Kil'jaeden in his proper demonic form. While Kil'jaeden advocated the destruction of the draenei, his resemblance to the draenei confused Ner'zhul and his trip to Oshu'gun was to seek answers to that question. Chronicle implies that Kil'jaeden never revealed his true form to Ner'zhul, as his trip to Oshu'gun was for different reasons.
    • In Rise of the Horde it is Gul'dan who betrays Ner'zhul and alerts Kil'jaeden of the shaman's intention after his visit to Oshu'gun, while Chronicle reveals that Kil'jaeden and Gul'dan were aware and working together all along.
    • Gul'dan did not replace Ner'zhul as the leader of the Shadowmoon clan, as Rise of the Horde states. Ner'zhul retains the title but any power behind it was delegated to Gul'dan and the Shadow Council.

Speculation

Questionmark-medium.png
This article or section includes speculation, observations or opinions possibly supported by lore or by Blizzard officials. It should not be taken as representing official lore.

Gallery

Video

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Slayer of the Shadowmoon (WC2 Orc)
  2. ^ Rise of the Horde, chapter 17
  3. ^ Ultimate Visual Guide, pg. 42
  4. ^ The Warcraft Encyclopedia/Alleria Windrunner: However, the orc Ner'zhul and other Horde spellcasters used magical artifacts on the Draenor end of the Dark Portal, which was still intact. In this manner the powerful warlocks reestablished the pathway between Draenor and Azeroth.
  5. ^ Tome of Blighted Implements Other than the Dark Titan, the Scepter of Sargeras has had few wielders. One of them was the orc warlock Ner'zhul.
  6. ^ Ultimate Visual Guide, pg. 42
  7. ^ Ultimate Visual Guide, pg. 42
  8. ^ Beyond the Dark Portal, chapter 19
  9. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 66
  10. ^ Legends: A Warrior Made--Part 2
  11. ^ a b World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 70
  12. ^ a b World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 69
  13. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 73
  14. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 75
  15. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 76 - 77
  16. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 88 - 89
  17. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 182
  18. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 187
  19. ^ Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal manual, Clans of Draenor, Shadow Moon Clan
  20. ^ Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal manual, Legends of the Land, Dentarg
  21. ^ Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, epilogue. "Arthas, the Lich King, alone in his glory and power, slowly opened his eyes."
  22. ^ Warcraft: Legends Volume 4 Fate. "Ner'zhul is no more. He is consumed. There is only Arthas now... Arthas, whom you shall serve for all eternity."
  23. ^ BlizzCon 2010 Lore Q&A Panel. "Yeah, Ner'zhul is done. He served us well in that capacity, but really the Lich King idea... really has the ultimate expression, you know, as Arthas or whatever. Ner'zhul's done."
  24. ^ Chris Metzen on Twitter (2012-11-18)
  25. ^ A [71] The Echo of Ymiron :The Lich King says: Shamanism has brought you here... Its scent permeates the air. *The Lich King laughs* I was once a shaman.
  26. ^ a b Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, pg. 303 - 305
  27. ^ a b c d Beyond the Dark Portal
  28. ^ "Legacy of the Damned: Boiling Point", Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment.
  29. ^ Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, pg. 306 - 307
  30. ^ Manual of Monsters, pg. 174, 175
  31. ^ Magic & Mayhem, pg. 15
  32. ^ The Tomb of Sargeras (WC2x Orc)
  33. ^ H [37D] Bring the End
  34. ^ Rise of the Horde, chapter 9
  35. ^ Warcraft: Orcs & Humans art - The Dead
  36. ^ BlizzCon 2010 Lore Q&A Panel
Preceded by:
Latest known:
Mother Om'ra
Position:
Chieftain of the Shadowmoon clan
Succeeded by:
Earliest known:
Teron Gorefiend
Preceded by:
Orgrim Doomhammer
Position:
Warchief of the Horde
Succeeded by:
Orgrim Doomhammer
Preceded by:
Gul'dan
(as Master of the Black Temple)
Position:
Lord of Shadowmoon Fortress
Succeeded by:
Magtheridon
(as Master of the Black Temple)
Preceded by:
None
Position:
Ruler of Draenor
Succeeded by:
Magtheridon
Preceded by:
None
Position:
Lich King of the Scourge (alone)
Succeeded by:
Arthas Menethil and Ner'zhul
(conjoined spirits)
Preceded by:
Ner'zhul (alone)
Position:
Lich King of the Scourge
(conjoined spirits with Arthas)
Succeeded by:
Arthas Menethil (alone)