First things first, massive spoilers coming up for those who haven’t seen the latest Ardenweald short from Blizzard‘s Afterlives series! If you want to see the video without anything spoiled, you can watch it here.
In the hype leading up to World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, Blizzard has been releasing videos that help introduce us to characters new and old, as well as showing the upcoming lands that we’ll be exploring. Similar to the Warlords and Warbringers series of the previous expansions, the primers give us something to expect from the expansions.
The latest released is one that tells the tale of the Ardenweald, a druidic font of nature and rebirth highly reminiscent of the depictions of the Faewild that many might be used to from titles such as Dungeons and Dragons.
There, we watch the spirit of Ursoc find release after his defeat in the Emerald Nightmare of the Legion expansion. Guided to rest in a wildseed until he would be reborn, We see a sylvar by the name of Ara’lon, one of the recurring characters for the upcoming expansion, swear an oath to watch over him and the others in his glade of Tima Noch.
Sometime later, the Ardenweald is suffering from a drought, and the anima used to nourish the life of the wildseeds of Tima Noch, Ursoc included, is becoming harder and harder to find. It’s then that Ara’lon finds members of the Wild Hunt – no, not the one from The Witcher – scavenging anima from the wildseeds of the grove.
The Winter Queen beckons. The Night Fae are ready. Ardenweald wallpapers are here. #Shadowlands
— World of Warcraft (@Warcraft) September 12, 2020
Attacking until told to stand down by the Winter Queen, Ara’lon speaks against her, saying that he was faithful she would protect them. In turn, he’s given a vision of the whole of Ardenweald dying to the drought.
Given the choice to sacrifice Ursoc’s wildseed – and his eternal life – or to use it to save others, Ara’lon chooses to break his oath and join in the Wild Hunt. With this sacrifice, Ursoc, one of the first creatures to ever roam Azeroth, has been met with a true, final death.
Lorewise, Ursoc was an Ancient Guardian, a demigod that was worshipped by the furbolgs of Northrend’s Grizzly Hills as a deity. Answering the call of Cenarius to fight the Legion during the War of the Ancients, Ursoc fell to eventually be resurrected in a corrupted form.
Once cleansed, he took his place as the demigod he was once again until ultimately being corrupted by the Emerald Nightmare, serving as a raid boss in the raid of the same name. Slain by adventurers here, he was sent to Ardenweald, where the events of the Afterlives video take place.
Serving the Wilds and the balance of life and nature for his entire existence, Ursoc was one of the most stalwart protectors of Azeroth and the beings that called it home. With his death, World of Warcraft has lost one of its oldest – both lorewise and gamewise – characters.