In World of Warcraft, Vol’jin is proving to be one of the most important characters yet, which is pretty impressive, considering the troll Warchief died at the beginning of the last expansion, Legion.
After Vol’jin was stabbed to death by demons on the Broken Shore, he told us and the Horde leaders that his gods, the Loa, had granted him a vision: Sylvanas Windrunner must step out of the shadows and lead the Horde. This went pretty well up until the end of Legion, when Sylvanas kicked off Battle for Azeroth by invading the Night Elf capital of Darnassus and burning it to the ground to ensure that no one else could get their hands on the magical mineral of Azerite.
Vol’jin’s back in Battle for Azeroth. First, we bring his urn to the Loa of Death, Bwonsamdi; Bwonsamdi and Vol’jin had a deal in life, and Bwonsamdi wants to talk to the guy now that he’s dead. Once we bring his urn to Bwonsamdi, we find out ... it’s empty. There’s no soul.
In a recently added quest, we get a happy ending to that mystery: Vol’jin has ascended into being a spirit, and stands side by side with the Zandalari royal Talanji after we clear the first raid tier, Uldir.
In 8.1, Tides of Vengeance, Horde players start to ask questions like: Wait, what happened to Vol’jin to make him a spirit? And why did he make Sylvanas Warchief again when that seems to have been the worst possible choice? In order to figure this out, Horde players accompany Vol’jin to talk to Bwomsandi, Bolvar Fordragon (who is currently serving as the undead, clearly up-to-no-good Lich King), and the Queen of the Val’kyr, Eyir. Thanks to datamining from WoWhead, we can find out what conversations these lore powerhouses have — although as always, be aware that datamined content is subject to change before hitting live servers.
First, we chat to Vol’jin about why he put Sylvanas on the throne. He said many would not understand at the time, and as it turns out, even he’s confused.
I remember dyin’. I remember glimpsin’ da Other Side. I was expectin’ ta see ol’ Bwonsamdi, or Shadra, or Hir’reek... any of da loa. Dere was a presence. Somethin’ movin’ in da shadows. Somethin’ powerful. I remember it takin’ me somewhere, but da memory of where be hidden from me. Ta keep me from sharin’ da truth...
In short, he doesn’t remember why he made the choice, or who spoke to him ... so we go to figure it out. Bwomsandi denies it; Sylvanas keeps the souls of what she kills, so they’re not on good terms. Bolvar has been up to some really bad stuff lately, like invading paladin halls and killing red dragons, but he’s not a fan of Sylvanas either. Eyir, the Queen of the Val’kyr, says that someone has saved Vol’jin’s spirit from whatever manipulated him, but she doesn’t know who.
So we’re left with two major mysteries, the first of which is: Who convinced Vol’jin to make Sylvanas Warchief?
The first and most obvious guess is the Old Gods. N’Zoth is the hidden puppetmaster of this expansion. Yogg Saron has also quietly been making moves; his infamous puzzle box is a raid mechanic for an optional achievement in Uldir. The Old Gods are by far the safest choice. A little more spicy guess is the Void Lords, who are the bosses of the Old Gods ... but we haven’t heard from them yet, so this would be their first move on the chess table.
If we’re talking about Battle for Azeroth death beings, we know that Gorak Tul is a new kid on the block. The king of the Drust is a new addition to the lore, and we find out that they were the people who lived in Kul Tiras before the humans came. Gorak Tul rolls around with death magic and he legitimately hates the Kul Tirans. He also swore that he would face us again in battle. What if he used his death magic to influence Vol’jin to make Sylvanas Warchief, knowing that she’d ultimately kill a whole lot of Kul Tirans? This one’s a long shot, but it’d tie nicely into the expansion.
Could it have been Sylvanas herself? She’s a master of manipulation. Before the Storm suggests Sylvanas was as surprised as anyone when she was made Warchief, but the novella A Good War clearly states Sylvanas has some kind of hidden master agenda, and that’s her real motivation behind starting the war. We don’t know what it is, but it’s clearly pretty extreme if it starts with mass murder.
What if it was Azeroth? There’s a theory that Sylvanas must be redeemed by the end of the expansion; she’s one of Blizzard’s most popular characters, after all. What if Darnassus was corrupted by the Old Gods, and only the World Soul of the planet knew that? What if Azeroth wants to make sure Azerite, her magical blood, is only harvested by one faction? This theory probably isn’t true, and it’s a little bit silly, but it’s one of the few options available at the moment for a possible Sylvanas face turn.
But who saved Vol’jin’s soul and made him “something more?” It wasn’t anyone who hungers for a mortal throne, so that rules out Sylvanas and Anduin.
What about the Horde’s last stable Warchief? Thrall isn’t necessarily supposed to be the deciding force between life or death, but it does seem like the kind of thing he’d be more than happy to meddle in. If Vol’jin has some larger purpose in the world and a bigger role to play, it would actually make some sense that Thrall acted to keep his chosen Warchief alive despite his massive mistake.
So maybe it is Azeroth. We honestly don’t know much about the World Soul and her motivations. What if she knows Vol’jin is real sorry about putting a vengeful maniac in charge of the Horde, you guys. He didn’t mean to. In fact, what if he is so sorry, that Azeroth itself decides it’s important he comes back from the dead to make up for his mistake?
There’s always the benevolent forces of The Light, or maybe even the Night Elf Goddess Elune ... but neither of these forces have much reason to mess with Vol’jin and make him a deity. There are a ton of suspects for people who meddled with Vol’jin on the way out, but as for those who saved him? We may be seeing a new power player in World of Warcraft lore. Or maybe Blizzard will throw us for a major loop and we’ll find out it was Sylvanas ... somehow. When the plot’s this wild, anything goes.
We currently don’t have a release date for patch 8.1, which will include a new Warfront, story scenarios, a new raid and changes to Azerite armor. We can expect more info on Battle for Azeroth at BlizzCon 2018, which begins on Nov. 2.