Words of Wind and Earth
The Fist of Ra-den
THE FIST OF RA-DEN AND THE HIGHKEEPER'S WARD
The mythical Highkeeper Ra bore two great items in his battles against the Old Gods. One was the Fist of Ra-den, a weapon infused with the destructive might of storms. The other was the Highkeeper's Ward, a shield pulsing with the primordial elements of fire, earth, air, and water.
No one has successfully wielded these armaments since they passed from Ra's care. Even Lei Shen, Thunder King and emperor of the mogu, could not. Will you succeed where he failed?
It is known that the titan Aman'Thul crafted the Fist of Ra-den. How he did so is another question.
According to one legend, Aman'Thul called on mysterious celestial beings to forge an instrument that would hold sway over the power of storms. These creatures reached into Azeroth's sky and took a single bolt of lightning, which they shaped with their hands as if it were mere clay.
When the craftsmen had finished their work, Aman'Thul encased the captured lightning in stone and branded the rock with titan runes of containment.
Aman'Thul gave his lightning-infused weapon to Ra, one of the legendary titan-forged. These stone- and iron-skinned giants were created by the titans to liberate Azeroth from the Old Gods.
The Old Gods were immensely powerful, and their minions were beyond count. But never for a moment did Ra and his allies hesitate. Under the guidance of Aman'Thul and the other titans, the noble giants defeated the Old Gods and shackled them in prisons buried deep under the earth.
Ra accomplished many feats during this war. He wielded lightning with the lethal accuracy of a blade, carving through the Old Gods' servants and reducing them to cinders. There was only one enemy who matched Ra's command over storms: the cunning elemental lord known as Al'Akir.
From an ancient mogu legend detailing the battle fought by Ra and his allies against Al'Akir the Windlord:
" Master Ra and his brethren pursued the Windlord to a mountain so high it scraped the belly of the heavens. All the while, Al'Akir boasted of his coming victory, but his words were as empty as air.
" True, he was great and powerful. True, he could command the storms. But he did not breathe thunder and speak lightning as Master Ra did. He did not wield the fist that breaks the sky.
" Master Ra and his kin turned Al'Akir's own tempests against him until the Windlord faltered.
" To seal Al'Akir's demise, Master Ra slammed his fist into the mountaintop. The heavens split wide, and all the fire and fury they contained crashed down atop the Windlord's head."
An excerpt from The Banishing of the Elemental Lords, by the historian Llore:
" The elemental lords served as the Old Gods' greatest lieutenants, and the titan-forged had defeated them all. The victory was momentous, but it also presented a unique challenge. The spirits of the elemental lords were bound to Azeroth. If the titan-forged destroyed them, they would eventually manifest on the world again. To prevent this, Highkeeper Ra decided to imprison the destructive beings.
" He worked alongside the titan-forged sorceress Helya to create a pocket dimension that would be known as the Elemental Plane. It included four domains, representing the four elements: fire, air, earth, and water. Into this prison realm, Ra and Helya banished the elemental lords and almost all of their servants.
" Ra and Helya crafted a shield, the Highkeeper's Ward, to act as a key to the Elemental Plane. It thrummed with the energies of the four elements, which Ra could call upon whenever he desired."
After the Old Gods were defeated, Ra and his allies created new kinds of titan-forged to protect and reshape Azeroth. Among them were the mighty stone-skinned mogu. Led by Ra, they journeyed to the southern reaches of the world and began their long guardianship.
Aman'Thul and his fellow titans closely watched these events unfold. Confident that Azeroth was safe in the hands of their servants, they eventually departed the world.
On a stormy day, Ra and his mogu followers ascended a colossal mountain to see the titans off. The legends say that the Highkeeper slammed his weapon against his shield, and the elements answered to his will. The rains ceased and the clouds parted. The mountain at their feet rose higher, and lightning and fire illuminated the skies so that Ra and his followers could better glimpse the titans.
Lastly, the winds howled a sorrowful farewell.
An excerpt from The Rise of the Thunder King, by the historian Llore:
" Many ages after the titans left Azeroth, a strange affliction called the curse of flesh took hold among the mogu. It weakened their stone forms and transformed them into creatures of flesh and blood.
" The mogu fragmented into warring clans. For years upon years, they fought each other for control of Azeroth's southern lands. From this crucible of violence, one mogu emerged and forged his people into an empire.
" His name was Lei Shen, the Thunder King, and his strength was without equal.
" Many tales exist about how Lei Shen acquired his power. The most widely accepted theory is that he stole it from a legendary being named Ra-den, which means "Master Ra" in the mogu tongue.
" But what of this creature's fabled artifacts, the Fist of Ra-den and the Highkeeper's Ward? Surely, Lei Shen would have taken them as well, but there is very little mention of the Thunder King using them."
For all his might, Lei Shen could not harness the energies of the Fist of Ra-den and the Highkeeper's Ward. His inability to do so infuriated him. After all, Lei Shen had conquered the mogu and forged them into an empire. He had defeated Ra. How could two artifacts defy his will?
But defy him they did. The shield and the fist weapon were simply too much even for the Thunder King to control. Every time he tried to use the artifacts, elemental energies lashed out at Lei Shen and overwhelmed him.
Despite these repeated failures, Lei Shen did not give up. One way or another, he would harness the power of these ancient weapons.
Lei Shen gave the Fist of Ra-den and the Highkeeper's Ward to a gifted blacksmith, Forgemaster Deng. The Thunder King ordered him to unlock the artifacts' secrets, but he also warned the artisan not to harness their power for himself, or he would suffer grave consequences.
Deng promised Lei Shen that he would follow his command, but he secretly plotted to disobey his master. The blacksmith reasoned that if he could find a way to use the weapon and the shield, something the Thunder King had been unable to do, he could take control over the mogu empire himself.
While Deng was tampering with the Fist of Ra-den, a bolt of lightning tore down from the sky and slammed into him. The artifact absorbed most of the energy, which saved the blacksmith's life.
But Deng did not escape unharmed. The lightning left him forever disfigured.
After much experimentation, Deng found a purpose for the Fist of Ra-den and the Highkeeper's Ward. He used the two artifacts to power an immense engine known as the Thunder Forge. This machine churned day and night, creating armaments of exceptional quality for the mogu military.
Lei Shen was pleased by the work, and he ordered Deng to personally craft him weapons and armor that would put all others to shame. The blacksmith toiled over the Thunder Forge to satisfy his master. Deng's labors gave rise to what would be his three greatest creations: a massive spear, a battleaxe, and a mighty helm.
In time, Deng and Lei Shen died. The mogu empire crumbled. Seasons passed. The world changed.
A race known as the pandaren came to power in the lands once lorded over by the mogu. The new rulers governed with wisdom and benevolence, unlike Lei Shen and his brutal kin. Under the pandaren, an era of relative peace and prosperity settled over the region.
Thousands of years after the fall of the mogu empire, a group of pandaren guardians called the Shado-Pan discovered the artifacts that had powered the Thunder Forge. These explorers were led by Master Wan Snowdrift, who was unaware of the dangerous energies stored in the items he had found.
Snowdrift took up the Fist of Ra-den, and he was immediately struck by a spear of lightning that seared his flesh and scarred his body.
Though he was injured, Master Wan Snowdrift survived his encounter with the Fist of Ra-den. He and the other Shado-Pan feared that the weapon and its counterpart shield could do grave harm to the world if they fell into the wrong hands. To prevent this, they took the artifacts to Xuen, the White Tiger.
The White Tiger was one of the August Celestials, ancient and incredibly powerful creatures revered by the pandaren. Wise Xuen agreed with the Shado-Pan's assessment of the weapon and the shield. He secured them within his lair, the Temple of the White Tiger, where they would be safe.
Yet Xuen did not plan to keep them there forever. He knew the history of the artifacts. Though the mogu had used them for evil, the titan Aman'Thul had originally created them for good.
Xuen believed it was only a matter of time before a mortal arrived who was fit to wield the weapon and the shield for their intended purpose.
Forged in elemental fury, handed down from generation to generation, a harbinger of destruction to all who oppose it, the Doomhammer is prophesied to bring about both salvation and doom.
Some of the most renowned orcs in history have possessed the Doomhammer: Blackhand, Orgrim, Thrall. And now it passes to you. In your hands, the Doomhammer carries the potential for either victory... or ruin.
The Doomhammer's origins have been traced to the ogre empire's rise to power on Draenor, and to an orc named Gelnar.
It is said that Gelnar, faced with the problem of preventing the orcs from being enslaved by the ogres, wandered alone in contemplation for days upon days. When a mighty storm forced him to take shelter in a Gorgrond steam cavern, Gelnar experienced fever-induced visions. Pledging his body and spirit to the elements, he submerged himself in a pool of lava and was miraculously unharmed.
According to legend, the head of the Doomhammer was coaxed forth from the heart of Draenor itself. When Gelnar later crafted an oaken handle, the forming of the Doomhammer was complete. From that day forward, both the weapon and the name Doomhammer would be passed down from father to eldest son.
From the writings of Tolla Kol'gar, orc shaman:
" Our clan faced an army of ogre invaders.
" Gelnar raised the Doomhammer to the sky, and it spoke-it spoke in fire and lightning. Thunder rolled through the blackened clouds above, shaking the very ground beneath our feet. Draenor boomed with all its fury.
" Rain anointed us with the elements' blessing, and as Gelnar rushed toward the enemy, I knew that somehow our clan would survive.
" Emboldened and with a fierce war cry upon our lips, we charged forward to meet our fate.""
There is a long-standing prophecy associated with the Doomhammer: "The last of the Doomhammer line will use it to bring first salvation and then doom to the orc people. Then it will pass into the hands of one who is not of the Blackrock clan; all will change again, and it will once again be used in the cause of justice."
For generations, the Doomhammer was passed from father to eldest son upon the father's death. The chain was temporarily broken when a young Orgrim Doomhammer took the weapon to the lava pool where it had been created. There, he attempted to negate the prophecy associated with it, while retaining the hammer's power.
The pool reclaimed the weapon from Orgrim. It remained in the lava until an orc chieftain, clearing his mind of pride and dreams of glory, reached in and took the Doomhammer in his grasp. Though the lava left him permanently scarred, the chieftain did not die.
From that day forward, that chieftain would be known as Blackhand.
Blackhand used the Doomhammer to forge weapons and help fight off an invading ogre army. When the battle was complete, Blackhand returned the weapon to Orgrim, who would carry it until his death.
Throughout the First War between orcs and humans, Orgrim Doomhammer crushed enemies with the weapon of his namesake, blazing a path of destruction through one settlement after another.
As the war drew to a close, Orgrim used the Doomhammer to kill his commander, Blackhand, and claim the title of warchief of the Horde.
Doomhammer in hand, Orgrim led the charge against the human capital of Stormwind, sacking it and winning a decisive victory for the orcs.
From the writings of General Turalyon, recounting the battle between Orgrim Doomhammer and Lord Anduin Lothar:
" I drove my way through friend and foe alike in an effort to reach the two combatants. A massive blow from Orgrim crumpled Lothar's shield, but our leader answered with a fierce strike of his own, nearly rending the orc commander's breastplate. Orgrim tore his armor free even as Lothar discarded his shield.
" The two re-engaged, trading vicious blows. Punishment and pain were dealt and endured. Orgrim punched, forcing Lord Lothar back; the orc followed with an overhead swing that our leader attempted to block, but before my horrified eyes, the massive hammer clove through the mighty blade of Stormwind, smashing down into the helm of our beloved commander.
" With his broken blade and his final breath, Lord Lothar opened a gash across the chest of Orgrim. Then, the Lion of Azeroth fell, his life's essence draining out onto the battlefield."
In the aftermath of the Second War, Orgrim Doomhammer went into hiding. It was his desire to liberate his fellow orcs from human internment camps, but he needed a strong ally. He would find that comrade in an orc raised by humans--Thrall.
Upon first meeting the hooded Orgrim, Thrall was unaware of the stranger's identity. When Thrall challenged him to a fight at the camp of the Frostwolves, the former chieftain accepted.
Thrall quickly proved his mettle, trading blows with the armored combatant, grappling with him, and at one point, successfully wrenching the Doomhammer from the other orc's grasp.
By the end of the bout, Orgrim was so pleased with his opponent's tenacity that he named Thrall his second-in-command.
An account of the death of Orgrim Doomhammer, by Warchief Thrall:
" I was outraged! Orgrim lay there, dying, attacked from behind. The lance haft still protruded from his back. This was a cowardly act!
" I knelt beside him. 'My lord,' was all I could manage to say.
" My mentor then told me that I must carry on, that he had led the Horde once but it was not his destiny to do so again. At last he said, 'Yours is the title of warchief, Thrall, son of D-Durotan. You will wear my armor and carry my hammer.'"
When a dying Orgrim Doomhammer bequeathed his armor and hammer to Thrall, the young orc felt that he was unworthy of such an honor.
Orgrim told Thrall that there was no one breathing who was worthier.
The last words of Orgrim Doomhammer to Thrall were, "You will lead them... to victory... and you will lead them... to peace."
Orgrim expired in Thrall's arms. To show that the orcs were not without a leader, Thrall took on the old warrior's armor. Once the plate mail was secured, Thrall bent down and picked up the Doomhammer--passed on not from father to son, but from mentor to student.
Over many years, the appearance of the Doomhammer has changed, based on alterations made by its owners.
In the possession of Thrall, a Frostwolf symbol was added to the head of the hammer to honor his ancestral clan.
The newly modified Doomhammer quickly became an icon of strength and justice. Most importantly, though, it served as a symbol of hope for all orcs.
Long ago, before Orgrim passed the Doomhammer to Thrall, he confided that although the weapon had once brought him closer to the elements, over time it had become a dead weight in his hands.
Through the years, Thrall wielded the Doomhammer with honor and integrity. However, following his execution of the malign warchief Garrosh Hellscream, Thrall felt conflicted. This internal struggle was reflected in the Doomhammer as well. In Thrall's mind, the weapon that had embodied the ideals of justice and virtue had now come to represent vengeance.
History repeated itself as the Doomhammer had once again become a "dead weight." This has caused many to wonder whether the Doomhammer will reclaim its place as a symbol of righteous wrath.
Sharas'dal, Scepter of Tides
SHARAS'DAL, SCEPTER OF TIDES
By merely touching Sharas'dal, one can feel the weight of the world's oceans at their fingertips. This extraordinary scepter can command the rivers and the seas, and even manipulate life itself.
Just like the tides, Sharas'dal's power can ebb and flow between acts of good and evil. Some have used the scepter to destroy, but its true potential lies in its ability to serve as a fount of healing and hope.
The ancient night elf empire was one of the greatest mortal civilizations that ever spanned the lands of Azeroth. At its apex, one figure held sway over it all. Her name was Azshara. She was a leader of leaders, a queen of queens. Her power was absolute, and her thirst for knowledge and glory was unquenchable.
Of the records that speak of Azshara, nearly all mention her bejeweled scepter called Sharas'dal. The legends claim it granted the queen command over the world's seas, among other miraculous feats. So cherished was this scepter that Azshara rarely let it out of her sight.
It was with her when she raised the night elf empire to new heights. And it was with her when she later brought the civilization crashing down in blood and fire.
An excerpt from The Coronation of Queen Azshara:
" For days the coronation ceremony went on. Each night, the Highborne nobility lavished precious gifts on Azshara to curry her favor, but there was one she cherished more than all the others. A night elf named Lord Xavius presented the queen with a jeweled scepter, etched with delicate magical sigils. He promised Azshara that so long as she kept it close, it would bring her prosperity and great power.
" Azshara held the scepter aloft, and the jewels shimmered in the light of the moons like brilliant stars. The sight of the queen and her gift was so beautiful that it brought many of the attendant Highborne to tears."
At the heart of ancient Azeroth sat a massive lake of scintillating energy called the Well of Eternity. For decades, the night elves studied this fount of arcane magic, and they became learned sorcerers. Queen Azshara carried on this tradition, as did her loyal Highborne servitors. They devoted themselves to plumbing the Well of Eternity's depths in search of knowledge and power.
Perhaps no one was more suited to this task than Azshara. She was one of the greatest magic users who had ever lived. As she honed her command over the lake's energies, she infused a drop of its living waters into her bejeweled scepter.
Queen Azshara's enchanted scepter afforded her great power. Imbued with the Well of Eternity's potent waters, it held sway over the rivers and the seas, aquatic creatures of all kinds, and the life energies that stirred within Azshara herself. She granted it a new name, one befitting its remarkable properties: Sharas'dal, Scepter of Tides.
One of the first things Azshara did with Sharas'dal was use its power to enhance her legendary beauty. As the years wore on, the queen seemed to grow younger and more mesmerizing. A brilliant aura enveloped Azshara, enthralling those who looked upon her. The Highborne marveled at this strange phenomenon. A few even took it as a sign of divinity.
An excerpt from Glory to the Queen Born of Stars:
" Of the wonders our queen brought to this world, perhaps none was so great as Lathar'Lazal. As masons constructed the temple, Azshara shaped the waters around it with the Scepter of Tides. She spoke the names of the rivers and the seas, and they moved at her command. Salt water from the roaring ocean and fresh water from the mountain streams trickled to Azshara's side. With the flick of her wrist, the queen partitioned them into great lakes that hugged Lathar'Lazal's sturdy foundation.
" Creatures of all kinds populated these waters, and they were at Azshara's beck and call. Whenever she walked the bridges of Lathar'Lazal, nearby schools of exotic fish would array themselves in colorful patterns. She even kept a colossal sea giant bound to one of the lakes. She used her scepter to make him perform tricks and feats of strength, much to the delight of the watching Highborne. Curious night elves from the far corners of the empire journeyed to Lathar'Lazal to study the mythical creature and his habits."
As the night elf empire stretched across the world, Azshara spent more and more time in her palace at the Well of Eternity's shores. She obsessed over the lake and used Sharas'dal to manipulate its mysterious energies. Azshara dreamed of making the world into a paradise--her paradise. But it would only be possible if she and her Highborne servitors could harness the Well of Eternity's true potential.
Their reckless experiments eventually sent arcane magic crashing through the Twisting Nether, the realm of demons. In time, the Burning Legion learned of the Well of Eternity and the world of Azeroth.
An excerpt from The War of the Ancients, by the historian Llore:
" Azshara's obsession with remaking the world led her straight into the clutches of the Legion's ruler, Sargeras. The queen forged a pact with him for unfathomable power. All that Sargeras asked in return was for Azshara and her Highborne to summon his minions into Azeroth.
" It was a difficult request, even for such gifted sorcerers. Azshara and the Highborne approached the challenge with great fervor. Legends say the queen helped her servants open a gateway for the Legion's agents. She used Sharas'dal to gather the Well of Eternity's energies and fuel the Highborne's spellwork.
"Through this portal, the first armor-clad demons spilled into Azeroth. Many more would follow. The Legion would march across the land, spreading fire and death, bringing war and cataclysm."
The War of the Ancients ended in catastrophe. Azshara's hubris and abuse of power would lead to the destruction of the Well of Eternity. The enormous lake buckled in upon itself, eventually igniting a monstrous explosion that shattered the world's surface.
Azshara watched these events unfold from her broken palace. She refused to believe that her dreams of paradise were dead, that the world she had once cradled in her palms was coming apart beneath her feet. Many of the Highborne were just as delusional as the queen, and they remained at her side.
As the ocean roared in to fill the void left by the destroyed Well of Eternity, Azshara raised Sharas'dal high. She wove a magical shield around herself and the Highborne, saving them from being crushed by the colossal waves.
But it was only a momentary reprieve. The howling ocean soon swallowed the queen, Sharas'dal, and her followers.
Then it sucked them down and down into darkness.
From a fragmented text called The Song of Scales, author unknown:
" They drifted into the abyss, but Azshara and her Highborne remained unbroken.
" The darkness around them was absolute, and so the queen willed Sharas'dal to bring them light. It did.
" Azshara's and the Highborne's blood ran cold, and so the queen willed Sharas'dal to warm them. It did.
" Their lungs burned for air, and so the queen willed Sharas'dal to let them breathe the water... but it did not. The scepter could not save them. Oblivion spread its arms and beckoned the desperate Highborne.
" As the ocean crushed the life from their bodies, ancient creatures stirred in the darkness. Their whispers flowed through the currents. Their powers wrapped tight around the queen and her servants.
" The Highborne became something new. Something more.
" A fleece of scales shimmered over their skin. Tails thrashed against the currents. The unknown entities made the queen and her followers one with the sea... they made them into the naga."
Though Azshara's old empire was in ruins, she crafted a new one far from the light of the sun. The queen and her naga servants created a capital, Nazjatar, at the bottom of the sea. With patience and cunning, they expanded their dominion over the oceans. It is even said that Azshara nurtured an alliance with the mysterious and powerful entities who had transformed them into naga.
As the years wore on, Azshara relied on Sharas'dal less and less. She still treasured the scepter, but she found it was more useful in the hands of her fearsome sea witches. These loyal servants wielded Sharas'dal as a weapon to spread the naga's domain and crush all who opposed them.
It was not long before the naga sea witches learned to harness Sharas'dal as Azshara had. With a swipe of the scepter, they drove thousands of aquatic predators into a frenzy and unleashed them against troublesome sea giants. With a whispered incantation, they boiled Kvaldir raiders from the inside out and scattered their remains to the currents.
When the sea witches were not wielding Sharas'dal, Azshara would often carry it at her side and reminisce about times long past. She still remembered Lord Xavius's promise: so long as she kept the scepter close, it would bring her prosperity and great power.
The queen had lost much, but she was not dead. Far from it. In her heart, she knew that one day her empire under the sea would eclipse even that of the ancient night elves. One day, the world would be hers again, and she would not let it slip through her fingers a second time.
- World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2 artwork depicted Blackhand as similar to his design in the Warcraft movie, with full hair and a tattooed black hand instead of a stone one. Matt Burns explained that Blizzard had ultimately decided to move away from Blackhand's Warlords of Draenor design and backstory; the main universe Blackhand still helped Orgrim retrieve the Doomhammer, but he was not consumed by fire, slightly retconning the Doomhammer part of this book.
- Patch 7.0.3 (2016-07-19): Added.
- ^ Matt Burns on Twitter (2017-03-11). Retrieved on 2017-03-16. “Yeah that was something we ultimately decided to go away from in Chronicle. Not to say he didn't help Orgrim get the--”
- ^ Matt Burns on Twitter (2017-03-11). Retrieved on 2017-03-16. “--hammer back, but just the stuff related to him being "consumed" in fire.”