The Burning Legion: Part 1 | Explore the Lore – World of Warcraft

 In General Geekiness

Last time we looked at Drizzt and the Forgotten Realms, exploring the Underdark.  This week I want to go to another dark place, the Twisting Nether, and look at The Burning Legion from the World of Warcraft.  We will look at how it began, what creatures make it up, and the war they have raged across many worlds.  I will have a few updates from new content about the lore of the Titans and Sargeras too.

With the release of World of Warcraft: Chronicle One, new information has come forth on where Titans come from. They sleep within growing worlds until they come into their power.  Not all worlds will yield a Titan, but some are able to. That is what the Titans’ ultimate goal is; to find and nurture Titans from worlds able to birth them.

The Fall of Sargeras & the Rise of the Burning Legion

Before the Burning Legion there were just demons coming forth from the Twisting Nether to wage war on worlds.  Sargeras was the champion of the Titans and spent much of his time fighting the demons of the Twisting Nether.

While Sargeras was fighting the demons, he learned of a darker power, the Void Lords.  They lived outside the physical universe and sought to consume all matter. Only the most powerful could manifest themselves in the physical universe and this only happened for a short time. They could, however, warp reality and twist living beings to their will. The Void Lords found that the Titans were beyond their ability to control and thus came up with a plan. They combined all their power and sent forth dark creatures throughout the universe to find a world with a Titan inside it.  Once found, the Void Lords would try to corrupt the Titan while it grew and slept. The dark creatures that they hurtled throughout the universe would become known as the Old Gods. While Sargeras was exploring the worlds he came across one that had been corrupted by the Old Gods.  He found that the Titan at its heart had become corrupted too.  By capturing some Nathrezim that were serving the Old Gods and torturing them, he learned the Void Lords’ plans. They sought to turn a sleeping Titan into an ultimate being under their control that could wipe out all existence.  For the first time he knew fear.  Sargeras cleaved the planet in two, destroying the Old Gods and the Titan.

Burning Legion Army
The Burning Legion Army | Photo via: wowwiki.wikia

Sargeras returned to the Titans and informed them of the Void Lord’s plans.  As such, Sargeras’ plan was to wipe all life from the universe, stating “A universe without life is better then no universe at all.” The other Titans opposed this and Sargeras felt betrayed. He then left the Titans forever.

Upon leaving, Sargeras decided that life was flawed and must be burnt from existence. But to do this he would need an army.  He knew where one was imprisoned.  He went to the Twisting Nether and the planet of Mardum where he had been imprisoning the demons. He tore the prison open and found his army.

Generals Needed.
Sargeras brought his crusade to its first world. It was a success. They destroyed every living creature on it and consumed the world in fel fire. He went unchecked until Aggramar heard of these atrocities.  Seeking out the source, he found Sargeras and a battle ensued. It ended when each swung their blades with all their might, shattering them both and sending Aggramar fleeing back to the Pantheon.Aggramar returned with the full might of the Pantheon with him.  He still believed that there was something noble and good in Sargeras and tried to reason with him.  Sargeras cleaved him in two for his efforts. The Pantheon tried to attack Sargeras, but found they were weak to fel magic and thus were nearly destroyed.  Norgannon weaved a spell that protected the spirits of the Pantheon. Thus, even though their bodies were destroyed, their spirits we’re saved and were sent hurtling through the cosmos.

Sargeras the Defender
Titan Sargeras, Before His Fall | Photo via: hipnosworld.deviantart
The Burning Legion
Sargeras Leads the Burning Legion | Photo via: wow.gamepedia

Corruption of the Eredar
This battle with the Pantheon exposed a flaw in Sargeras army to himself.  His army was vast but he could not control it all by himself; he needed generals.  Sargeras found exactly what he needed on the planet of Argus.

Argus was inhabited by a race known as the Eredar. They were intelligent and strong, exactly what he needed in generals.  The Eredar were led by a council of three brothers; Archimonde, Kill’jaeden, and Velen.   Sargeras knew that in order to draw them into his legion he would have to corrupt them fully. He approached the three in the disguise of a beautiful, all-knowing deity who sought to share the mysteries of the universe with them and tell them the secret flaw of creation.  In exchange, they must devote themselves to him fully. Archimonde and Kill’jaeden were taken in by Sargeras, but Velen was not convinced.


Velen meditated on the offer using the Ata’mal crystal, an ancient artifact given to his race by the Naaru.  In his meditation he saw the Eredar becoming corrupt and turned into demons.  He tried to warn Archimonde and Kill’jaden of this, but they made it clear they intended to accept the offer.

Velen was contacted by the Naaru K’ure and was offered a way to flee the planet. He took his most trusted followers and fled the world as Sargeras arrived.  They changed their name to Draenei (lost ones) and left Argus forever.When Sargeras arrived he filled the Eredar with fel energy, corrupting their minds and bodies.  From this point forward Kill’jaden would be known as the Deceiver and would be in charge of finding races to join the Burning Legion. Archimonde would be known as the Defiler.  He would be in charge of driving the demonic force as its leader.

Archimonde, Kill’jaeden & Velen | Photo via: moon-guard.wikia
Photo via: mmo-champion

The Demons of the Burning Legion

Eredar– These are the generals and chief spell casters of the Legion.

Nathrezim (dread lords)– These winged demons are master warlocks and tacticians.

Pit Lords– Act as siege tanks for the Legion, demolishing all in their path.

Twin Eredar Warlocks
Eredar Warlocks | Photo via: wowwiki.wikia
Nathrezim | Photo via:
Brutallus Pit Lord WoW
Pit Lord | Photo via: engadget

Doomguards– These winged demons act as the commanders of the Legion.

Mo’arg– These fiends are the engineers behind the Legion. They design all the weapons, armor and equipment used.

Felguard– The shock troop of the Legion. They are the most numerous demons that lead the way in every battle.

Doom Guard Lord Kazzak
Doomguard Lord Kazzuk | Photo via: wowwiki.wikia
Mo’arg | Photo via: wowwiki.wikia
Felguard | Photo via: wowwiki.wikia

Succubus– These beautiful demons are the spies of the Legion. They use their manipulative magic to infiltrate and manipulate worlds.

Shivarra– Many handed priestesses of the Legion. They inspire the fanatical devotion needed to crush their enemies.

Fel hound– These hound-like demons crave magic and seek it out.  The tentacles on their back act like lampreys and suck a magic caster dry, leaving a desecrated husk behind.

World of Warcraft succubus
Succubus | Photo via: wowwiki.wikia
Shivarra | Photo via: wowwiki.wikia
Fel hound from WoW
Fel hound | Photo via: wowwiki.wikia

Imps– Small fiends. They are usually linked to a warlock as a familiar.

Satyrs– Corrupted Night Elves that have hooves and horns. They seek to sow chaos.

Void hound– These giant beasts have multiple heads and are usually guards of some sort.

World of Warcraft imp
Imp | Photo via: veliaf.wordpress
Nazzivus Satyr
Nazzivus Satyr | Photo via: wowwiki.wikia
Void Hound
Void hound | Photo via: wowwiki.wikia

Fel beast- These guys are much the same as the Void hounds

Infernals– Giant monstrosities made of fire and stone. They are often dropped on their opponent’s armies to create havoc.  Despite their strength and size they have no intelligence whatsoever.

Floating eyes (beholder)– Giant floating orbs with multiple eyes and tentacles hanging down.  Not much is known about their purpose in the Legion.

Demonic Hound from WoW
Fel beast | Photo via: wow.gamepedia
WoW Infernal
Infernal | Photo via: wowwiki.wikia
World of Warcraft floating watcher
Floating Watcher | Photo via: hearthstone.gamepedia

Azeroth and The War of The Ancients

In his battle with the Titans, Sargeras learned of another sleeping Titan on Azeroth.  He knew it had to be burned clean and set out to find it.

In the meantime on Azeroth, the Night Elves had built a vast and intellectual society.  The common folk lived close with nature, using magic to make homes out of the trees. The Highborn, along with the Night Elf queen, Azshara, lived in a huge city along the banks of the Well of Eternity. The Well of Eternity was a vast lake that gave off magical energies that the Highborn would tap into to cast arcane magic.

Mannoroth | Photo via:

The Highborn began delving more and more into the arcane arts and this drew the attention of Sargeras. At last he found Azeroth.  He reached out to the Highborn, and with promises of power, got them to open a portal (for some unknown reason, Sargeras and the Burning Legion are unable to come to Azeroth without these portals?). Small at first, he sent forth one of his commanders, Mannoroth, a great Pit Lord, to help strengthen the portal.  With his help the Highborn were able to strengthen the portal enough to allow troops to start coming through.

Once enough had amassed, the troops were unleashed on the common Night Elves, causing destruction and leaving death in their wake. The Highborn however remained safe in their castle and had taken up the mantle of Sargeras.

Azshara and the Portal
Azshara & The Portal | Photo via: engadget

The Legion moved forward fairly unchecked, since they caught the Night Elves by surprise.  This did eventually change though. Lord Ravencrest led his army to meet the demons.  Two brothers, Illidan and Malfurion Stormrage, aided him.  Malfurion would become known as the first druid and learned the art of nature from the demigod, Cenarius, himself.  Illidan was a sorcerer of much power.  The sisterhood of Elune, led by Tyrande Whisperwind, also joined him. The priestesses added healing magic as well as a devastating fighting force to the army.

The battle raged on, constantly shifting back and forth, but the Night Elves could not keep replacing their troops. On the other hand, the Legion had an endless supply of soldiers that kept flooding into the world.  At this time, a Highborn sorcerer named Lord Xavius had managed to strengthen the portal enough that Archimond had come forth to lead the armies of the Legion, making them an even more deadly force.  Xavius would eventually fall in combat to Malfurion, only to be reborn by Sargeras as the first Saytr.

The Forging of the Dragon Soul
The Night Elves knew that they were fighting a losing battle and sought help from the dragon flights. After much deliberation the dragon flights came up with a plan. They put part of each Aspect’s power into a disk called the Dragon Soul. With this disk they hoped to drive the demons back and close the portal.

Lord Kur'talos Ravencrest
Lord Kur’talos Ravencrest | Photo via: wowwiki.wikia
Xavius Lord of Satyrs | Photo via: wow.gamepedia

Unbeknownst to them, the Earth Warder, Naltharion, had gone insane from living near an Old God’s prison.  As the dragon flights descended on the Legion’s army and decimated them, Naltharion unleashed the power of the Dragon Soul on demon and Night Elf alike. The other dragons sought to stop him. Malygos, the Aspect of magic, led his flight in a heroic attempt to stop him. Naltharion turned the power of the Dragon Soul on them, almost destroying the entire flight.

The power of using the Dragon Soul (from this point forward it’ll be known as the Demon Soul) caused Naltharion’s body to tear apart and he was forced to retreat and mend. He encased himself in adamantite armor and from then forward, he would take on the mantle of Deathwing.

During this event, Illidan decided to leave the resistance.  He sought power and he thought he could gain it by joining the Burning Legion.  He planned to betray the Legion once he had attained this power. He went to them and Sargeras bestowed a gift on him. He seared out Illidan’s eyes and replaced them with magical fel flame that allowed him to see magic at its core.  With his new powers he could seek out and obtain the Demon Soul and place it at the center of the Well of Eternity; with the hope of creating a portal big enough for Sargeras to come through.

WoW Dragon Aspects
Dragon Aspects | Photo via: ereptile.deviantart
Cenarius vs Mannoroth
Cenarius vs. Mannoroth | Photo via: wow.gamepedia

At this time, Jarod Shadowsong led the Night Elves. He began adding many other races to their army in the hope that this would turn the tide. Even the wild gods lead by Cenarius had come to do battle.  Some of the Highborn did not agree with their brethren. They defected and joined the resistance, lending their great arcane might to the army.  Many were be lost in this battle, including most the wild gods, but the Legion began to be pushed back.

As the war waged on, Tyrande and Malfurion led an elite task force to the Well of Eternity to try and stop the portal. Sensing Sargeras. Malfurion knew that if Sargeras stepped foot onto Azeroth it would be the end of everything.  He knew he needed to destroy the portal and the Well. He conjured a huge thunderstorm that destroyed the castle and disrupted the spell casting of the Highborn controlling the portal.  The portal collapsed in on itself, sucking all the Burning Legion back through.  But it didn’t stop the storm over the Well. It raged on for days, sundering Azeroth’s giant continent and leaving a giant maelstrom at the center for all eternity. The Night Elves fled to Mount Hyjal and survived this catastrophe and began to rebuild their civilization anew, preparing for the day when the Burning Legion would return.

Well of Eternity & Portal
Well of Eternity & Portal | Photo via: wowwiki.wikia
Tyrande, Illidan, Malfurion Stormrage
Illidan, Tyrande & Malfurion Stormrage | Photo via: blizzardheroes

I want to end here as the story of the Legion is still vast and has much more to be told. I will do the second part of Legion lore right before the WoW expansion, Legion, comes out. I would like to recommend that you read the War of The Ancients trilogy by Richard A. Knaak.  They are wonderful books and tell an in-depth account of the war.  Next time I am going to delve back into Magic the Gathering and look at the lore behind Zendikar.  Till next time, may the light of Elune guide you.

Ron, author of Explore the Lore

Meet the Author: Ron
Hello, I’m Ron. I’m a passionate nerd who loves a good
back story. I look forward to sharing that love with you.

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Showing 3 comments
  • Ashlee

    Holy what, SO THOROUGH! I very much enjoyed reading this! The War of the Ancients have been my favorite lore books to read so far, so this in depth explanation is pretty dang cool. Also, yay for Chronicle One! I haven’t made it all the way through yet but man, I’m blown away by the detail and artwork.

    • Ron

      Glade you enjoyed it who is your favorite character. Mine is Broxigar.

    • Jessica (aka The Nifty Nerd)

      Lots of strong and varied characters to learn about and love in the War of the Ancients!
      Totally agree that the artwork in Chronicle One is fantastic.

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