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World of Warcraft’s new raid sets up a 20-year old twist

Spoilers for Shadowlands and, uh, Warcraft 3

World of Warcraft - two Venthyr draw the anima from a soul in Revendreth Image: Blizzard Entertainment

World of Warcraft players are getting ready to battle through Castle Nathria, the first Shadowlands raid. Raids are always a big deal in World of Warcraft, and many of them work as kind of a season finale to wrap up certain plotlines and start new ones. One of those storylines goes all the way back to Warcraft 3 in 2002. Here’s everything you need to know — with spoilers included — about Sire Denathrius and why, despite being the final boss of a raid, he’s probably coming back in the future for some more delicious drama.

Castle Nathria is a big vampire castle, and it’s jam-packed full of sexy villains and plot twists. Throughout the main campaign of Shadowlands, the players learn that the big boss in charge of each zone — the Winter Queen from Ardenweald, Bastion’s Archon, the Primus of Maldraxxus, and Sire Denathrius for Revendreth — are part of a godly pantheon of death called the Eternal Ones. The group banished the expansion’s main villain, the Jailer, to rule over the Maw, which is the Warcraft equivalent of super Hell.

World of Warcraft - two Venthyr characters stand in the Revendreth zone
Pictured: two Venthyr, the inhabitants of Revendreth
Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Now, he’s back, and Sire Denathrius is in league with his exiled colleague. Players help the Revendreth resistance and reveal Sire Denathrius as a traitor, and we corner him in Castle Nathria. Once raiders finish the raid, which is currently available in Normal and Heroic difficulties, we lock Sire Denathrius in his own magical sword to be rehabilitated into a productive member of death society.

That’s all pretty straightforward (for World of Warcraft at least), but things start to get twisty when players pick up a few clues around the zone that strongly suggest that Sire Denathrius is the creator of the Dreadlords.

The Dreadlords featured heavily in Warcraft 3 as manipulative demons working for the evil Burning Legion. They convinced Prince Arthas to set about on his genocide and corpse-raising journey across the world in the real-time strategy game, and then showed up in the MMO a few times pulling some kind of manipulative scheme like infiltrating a religious order or pulling a coup on the Undercity. They even serve as the origin story for the setting’s biggest bad, Sargeras, who players locked up at the end of Legion. They’re basically “what if the political intrigue of Game of Thrones was injected into a monster truck demon with sick wings and horns”?

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands - Sire Denathrius from the Shadowlands launch cinematic Image: Blizzard Entertainment

There’s a tower in Revendreth called Spire of the Unseen Guests. The Dreadlords have been called “unseen guests” in quest text before. In the tower, there’s a book players can read that is written by one of these Unseen Guests, bragging at length about how they’ve been infiltrating the six cosmic realms of existence, including the Shadowlands.

As a final hint, they both have hooves, horns and massive pecs. Denathrius is just prettier and buffer than the Dreadlords, but they have a lot in common body-wise.

All of that really makes it seem like Sire Denathrius has been up to some wild stuff, including engineering the events of Warcraft 3 and multiple World of Warcraft expansions. It’s not confirmed, but Denathrius is still in the setting — we just put him in stasis.

He’s also our only link to another character from the past: Garrosh Hellscream. Garrosh Hellscream died back in Warlords of Draenor, which means he got sent to the afterlife. Specifically, Revendreth, where they could torture his soul until he repented for all of his genocides.

Weirdly enough, Blizzard hinted at an alternate timeline version of Garrosh who was infused with the Light back during Battle for Azeroth. Then, in the short animation Afterlives: Revendreth, we saw Garrosh again, and we learn he’s getting his soul milked in Hell to produce the energy the vampires need for their basic needs. There is, so far, no follow-up on Garrosh. Denathrius is probably the only guy who knows he’s even in the basement. If we ever need to pull him out of Hell to help fight some existential threat, we may have to go back to Nathria.

I would be OK with that — Denathrius is one of the best additions to the game in a long time. While players can go fight him for epic loot, it’s definitely not the last time that rascal Denathrius will put us in a pickle. That means the Dreadlord reveal, which would be a big twist, could come at any time.

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