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Azshara's Theatrical Performance in the Eternal Palace
29/05/2019 à 05:31
Queen Azshara's raid encounter in the Eternal Palace starts with an unexpected theatrical performance. While it's strongly hinted the end of her encounter will shock us with revelations concerning Azeroth, the Old Gods, and Azshara's ultimate scheme, the first phase feels a bit puzzling, even lighthearted. In this post, we'll look at how this phase plays into Azshara's megalomania and references Highborne culture, while cleverly foreshadowing the rest of her encounter.
The Cursed Lovers
In the first phase, Azshara summons the cursed lovers Aethanel and Cyranus to fight players.
Stage One: Cursed Lovers
Azshara summons the cursed lovers: Aethanel, and Cyranus to attack the players. Overzealous Hulks storm the playspace in an effort to disable the Ancient Wards while Azshara herself torments players with her own abilities.
This stage ends when both Aethanel and Cyranus are defeated.
Aethanel and Cyranus, the Cursed Lovers
Aethanel and Cyranus have been cursed to constantly swap between periods of Longing to see each other and Painful Memories of a life that could have been. Their Cursed Hearts poison the ground beneath them.
Mere sight of one another causes the Cursed Lovers to relive Painful Memories. While they can see each other, they are Tormented.
The caster yearns to see their love again, igniting their Cursed Heart for until cancelled. If they cannot see their lover they are Tormented.
Seeing each other while reminded of their Painful Memories or failing to find each other while Longing to see one another Torments the hearts of the lovers, increasing their haste by 65% and their damage by 50%.
Standing in the cursed ground inflicts 15 Shadow damage every second, decreases your attack and casting speeds by 30% and your movement speed by 30%.
Aethanel conjures several lightning orbs that bounce through the playspace, inflicting 60 Nature damage to all players within 2 yards of their impact. The orbs each bounce 3 times or until they collide with an obstacle.
Fires a bolt of lightning that arcs through the target and jumps to several targets, inflicting 30 Nature damage. Each successive victim suffers 20% less damage than the previous target in the chain.
Blasts the target with intense cold, inflicting 30 Frost damage. When Cold Blast is cast on a target with 3 applications, the victim is Frozen for 5 sec.
The target is frozen solid for 5 sec.
Aethanel always attacks her Frozen victims with an Ice Shard.
The caster hurls a spike of intensely cold ice at the victim, inflicting 80 Frost damage and shattering any frozen effects currently active.
Cyranus' blade is extremely sharp, causing its victims to bleed for 30 Physical damage over 9 sec.
Any time Cyranus' opponents block, dodge, or parry, the blade will fail to inflict a wound.
The caster hurls a Charged Spear that strikes all targets in a line for 15 Arcane damage and detonates when it reaches its destination.
The detonation deals 60 Arcane damage to all players within 100 yards, and 30.00 Arcane damage to all other players.
As we fight the lovers, Azshara exclaims:
Azshara: I call the Cursed Lovers to enter the stage.
Azshara: Their eyes long for one another, yet their gaze incurs calamity.
Azshara: There is no power I cannot defile.
Taken on its own, this phase feels a bit abrupt. The Cursed lovers, Aethanel and Cyranus, haven't been encountered previously in the game, so there's not much emotional weight. If we saw them trying to escape Zin-Azshari together as part of the
Shandris and Thalyssra Nazjatar questline
, only to be trapped by Azshara and punished, their end might feel more tragic and connect with players a bit more. Alternatively, if they're meant to be willing and obedient subjects of Azshara acting out a role under her command in order to showcase her power, their status as court subjects is unclear.
Queen Azshara raid testing courtesy of
The platform also isn't really reminiscent of a theater or stage, without any props or more importantly, a script! Azshara comments on the situation a few times, but there's no coherent narrative or explanation as to what tragedy befell the lovers. We've seen theatrical performances as boss encounters previously, such as the
in Karazhan, but they were handed with much more build-up, including a backstage area, theater manager, and plot narration.
This is a stage!
Tragedy in Three Acts - Highborne Culture
The Night Elf archaeology artifacts, added back in Cataclysm, revealed new details about Highborne culture. Here we learned more about the Night Warrior (
Collier avec pendentif d'Elune
) and Azshara's pact with the Old Gods (
Os de transformation
), details which came to fruition years later in
Battle for Azeroth
. We also glimpsed the day-to-day lifestyles of the vanished Highborne culture, from their outlandish fashion (
Miroir de l'âme de Bien-né
Robe de chambre de la reine Azshara
) to their love for cosmetics and jewelry (
Pyxide de Bien-né
Peigne en ivoire damasquiné
). With the
Tragédie en trois actes
achievement, the name itself a reference to the narrative structure of plays, we see that the Highborne also enjoyed a good tragic theatrical romance, which adds more context to Azshara's choice of entertainment in the Eternal Palace.
Tragédie en trois actes
page has sparked animated discussion in the Wowhead comments over the years as players piece together the story of the doomed lovers. One popular interpretation is that the events take place pre-Sundering, when caste mattered more, as Pyramond is Highborne while Theleste is a commoner. Let's look at the six items that comprise this achievement:
Boîte à musique délicate
: "This box is of sandalwood with a tiny clockwork elf and nightsaber within. Although the winding mechanism is no longer functional, you can imagine the two would dance together while music played. Engraved on the bottom: 'To my dearest Theleste.'" This is likely a gift from Pyramond to Theleste.
Epingle à cheveux en argent et malachite
: Engraved beneath the setting for the precious stone are the words 'To Theleste, on her twenty-fourth birth year.' Another gift from Pyramond to Theleste, showing the gift-giver is of some wealth, due to the precious stones.
Fibule ornée de ramures
: "This clasp is fashioned of lacquered wood carved to resemble stag antlers. On the reverse is engraved the name 'Pyramond' in Darnassian." The finely-crafted clasp shows Pyramond's noble standing.
Coffre de minuscules animaux en verre
: "Remarkably, you managed to find an entire menagerie of these elven glass animals in their original storage container. While some of the animals have understandably suffered cracks and chips, it is clear that the head of the stag has been deliberately severed. The initial 'T' is carved on the bottom of the chest." Another gift, this one showing heartbreak as the stag's head, representing Pyramond, is severed.
Étui à parchemin en argent
: "While this elven scroll case is graced with much ornamentation, it is the message inside, written in Darnassian, that is of the most interest: 'Pyramond, under no circumstances are you to spend time with that tavern wench. Your mother and I forbid it. She is far beneath your station.'" In this silver scroll case, again emphasizing the wealth of Pyramond's family, his father forbids him to associate with Theleste due to her lower rank.
Fiole de cristal craquelée
: A note in rich vellum is tied to the bottle. 'Dearest P, now that I know we can never be together, it is my wish to drink this draught of spider venom. If this note finds you, my hope is that you might do the same. May Elune watch over our souls.' Theleste, knowing they cannot be together, drinks spider poison to end her life. It is unclear if Pyramond finds this note, as it's still tied to the bottle.
These relics are rich in theatrical references. The names Pyramond and Theleste are clear references to Pyramus and Thisbe from Ovid's
Coffre de minuscules animaux en verre
as a nod to Laura's animals from
The Glass Menagerie
Fiole de cristal craquelée
to the tragic death of the lovers in Pyramus and Thisbe, the inspiration for
Romeo and Juliet
To further the theater metaphor, the
Eye of the Corruptor
in Nazjatar describes a chorus of Old God whispers, inviting us to join:
Eye of the Corruptor: Listen. Listen. Listen. LISTEN.
Eye of the Corruptor: You were right to doubt them.
Eye of the Corruptor: The undrowned will join the chorus. Listen to it.
Eye of the Corruptor: Listen. Open the gate. Step into the abyss. Complete the circle.
Eye of the Corruptor: Listen. You know this is the truth. It is but one of a thousand. You have only to listen.
Eye of the Corruptor: Everywhere you look, the stars gaze back. You know their form already. You have but to listen.
Eye of the Corruptor: Listen. She is a threat. Kill her. KILL HER.
Eye of the Corruptor: The queen threatens the king. There is no way to win. Listen.
In classical Greek theater, the chorus provided commentary on the events of the play, emphasizing certain elements and serving as a literary device. If we, as raiders, are the chorus in the Azshara fight, we emphasize the ineffectiveness at saving the cursed lovers, reacting to their violence with further bloodshed, and serving as Azshara's puppets.
Azshara, Breaker of Hearts
Azshara has never appeared sentimental, so her choice of a romantic tragedy is puzzling puzzling. She acknowledges the odd choice at the opening of her encounter, asking us to be indulgent:
At last! The final preparations are in place, and we have a captive audience.
Thalyssra: Stay vigilant, champions! Azshara conceals schemes within schemes. She wants something..
Azshara: You must indulge the theatrical nature of tonight's performance. We have waited so very long for this moment, and we simply cannot resist savoring it.
In this early phase, she shows how two lovers have grown to hate each other, their love defiled. While she wants to draw things out, watching us fight her subjects one more time, we should also pay attention to the line about "schemes within schemes." This isn't just a performance for Azshara, but a symbolic gesture foreshadowing what she will do to us later in the fight.
Battle for Azeroth
, Azshara has meddled in the politics of Kul Tiras and Zandalar, helping Lady Ashvane and Zul with their respective coups, as well as manipulating the Tidesages and stealing the Kul Tiran fleet outright! In spite our success in
, the fragile piece is short lived, falling apart soon after our victory in Antorus. Our artifacts, originally prized artifacts of Warcraft's history, are burned out by Sargeras' power - reduced to husks of their former selves. Our victory over the Legion soured and everything we worked to achieve unravelled just as quickly - our artifacts, our faction allegiances, and the safety of Azeroth itself - which brings us back to Azshara's line:
There is no power I cannot defile.
While we should have been enjoying a time of celebration after Legion, instead old conflicts bubble to the surface as tensions arise everywhere between the factions, again reminding us of her line:
Their eyes long for one another, yet their gaze incurs calamity.
Azshara begins her encounter by manipulating the hearts of two cursed lovers, and later in the encounter we learn that she has been manipulating the Heart of Azeroth all along. So far in
Battle for Azeroth
, Azerite has been a source of destruction - sparking the conflict in Before the Storm, used in Lady Ashvane's explosives, and the impetus behind the Seething Shore battleground, to name a few. Magni wants us to take the Heart of Azeroth for good, but it's not working out, as he and MOTHER realize that Azeroth is still dying. Continuing the Heart of Azeroth questline in 8.2 reveals that the Dragonflights of N'Zoth are gaining in strength, with the Twilight Dragonflight back in full force and the Emerald Dream invaded by Void Dragons. The Heart of Azeroth, envisioned as an artifact of healing, instead heralds destruction.
Azshara: You see the truth now, don't you, heroes? Every move you've made has been according to my will.
Azshara: That lumbering dwarf believed you could save Azeroth by empowering your shiny little Heart. The gift of a sleeping titan.
Azshara: Yes, a titan's heart was exactly what was needed. Not to heal the world... but to shatter the prison of a god.
Azshara: The ritual nears completion. The Black Empire rises... and the world awaits its true queen.
Jaina: There will be no coronation this day.
Azshara enjoys her schemes within schemes, and this phase serves as a riddle for her intentions -taking something pure and noble, the Heart of Azeroth, to use for her own twisted purposes.
While the theatrical phase of Azshara's encounter could benefit from more details and context, the phase works as both a manifestation of Highborne culture, one last chance for Azshara to be a gracious yet twisted host, and also a metaphor for Azshara toying with both our intentions and the Heart of Azeroth. We look forward to seeing how the final phases of the encounter unfold, and making sense of Azshara's grand plan when it's finally revealed.
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