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Ny'alotha, the Sleeping City of N'Zoth
22/05/2019 à 03:09
The 8.2 Rise of Azshara PTR recently updated the upcoming raid boss Za’qul with a new honorific - Harbinger of Ny'alotha. Formerly called the Herald of N'zoth, this name change explicitly links the sleeping city of Ny'alotha, referenced for years in whispers, with the Old God N'Zoth. Let's review past mentions of Ny'alotha and what it means if this city is the realm of N'Zoth.
Za'qul, Harbinger of Ny'alotha
Za'qul is the penultimate boss of Azshara's Eternal Palace, before confronting the Queen herself. While the rest of the instance focuses on Azshara's forces - Naga commanders, behemoth, underwater monstrosities, and the Queen's Court, Za'qul stands out as both a reminder of Azshara and the Naga's connection to the N'Zoth as well as the ever present threat of the Old God's awakening.
In our last speculative post,
Where is the Prison of N'Zoth?
, we noted that the design of the platform itself hints at dark motivations, leading us to speculate that Azshara was not at odds with N'Zoth as originally surmised, but was in fact still in league with the Old God. Nazjatar, for the most part, is bathed in blue and purple tones, but as we reach the end of the raid, we begin to see more pink within the Queen's Court and red by Za'qul. In our Warbringers: Azshara analysis, we saw how the three distinct color palettes were representative of the three forces at work: elven rosy pink and purple echoed in Azshara's dress and barrier, the cool blue and silver of the ocean, and red and gold for N'Zoth. Echoing this color scheme within the raid isn't mere coincidence, and so before even seeing the boss, we're reminded of the insidious Old God's presence. This theory was confirmed when Za'qul opened for testing and we saw the platform light up with blazing red circles and black tentacles.
The domed enclave holding back crashing waves is reminiscent of another frequent Old God phrase - the Circle of Stars, with glittering patterns formed by the churning waves resembling constellations in the sky.
Za'qul's encounter is a four phase fight within multiple nightmarish realms. It bears striking similarities to
Uu'nat, the final boss of Crucible of Storms
, who the Encounter Journal tells us was Queen Azshara's loyal servant. Defeating Uu'nat proved us worthy in the eyes of N'Zoth, presumably to carry out his prophecy and complete the Circle of Stars.
Stage One: The Herald
, Za'qul opens a Portal of Madness, summoning Nightmares. In Phase 1 of Uu'nat, the boss summons
Yeux de N’Zoth plongeant dans la folie
Stage Two: Grip of Fear
, Za'qul pulls players into the Fear Realm which grants stacks of Hysteria. In Phase 2 of Uu'nat, the boss uses the
Don de N’Zoth : hystérie
Stage Three: Delirium's Descent
, Za'qul pulls players into the Delirium Realm, inflicting
on players that take fatal damage. In Phase 3 of Uu'nat, the boss uses the
Don de N’Zoth : démence
ability, also signifying a descent into delirium.
Stage Four: All Pathways Open
, pays homage to earlier Old God whispers:
N'Zoth in Xal'atath's ritual: Receive my gift and see all truths before you.
Stage Three of Uu'nat: His gaze falls upon every path... every dream given form!
Wiping on Uu'nat: They were not the ones you sought, master. We will find others to open the way.
Defeating Uu'nat: N'Zoth: She will show you the way. Come... come. The hour approaches when all eyes shall be opened.
We passed our trial within the Crucible of Storms, and against Za'qul we face an even greater challenge as we take on all of N'Zoth's tricks at once.
The loot from Za'qul is also predictably ominous, with names like
Rupture, lame de la folie
Fin du rêve
foreshadowing that the era of imprisonment is over, as the Old Gods gain freedom and awake from their slumber, turning their maddening visions of power into sinister reality. At the end of Crucible of Storms, N'Zoth proclaimed "My dream has become your own. The circle of stars made flesh," and now in 8.2 "Your heart, your offering, all dreams made real." Whatever N'Zoth has planned, it doesn't bode well, and our victories appear to play right into his hand.
The Herald Becomes a Harbinger
While the Za'qul encounter has not changed much throughout the PTR cycle, Za'qul's name and description changed in the last week:
Old - Za'qul, Herald of N'zoth - The mouthpiece for the end of days, Za'qul shreds the last vestiges of sanity from a world in chaos, laying the foundation for Azeroth's new god.
New - Za'qul, Harbinger of Ny'alotha - The harbinger for the end of days, Za'qul shreds the last vestiges of sanity from a world in chaos, laying the foundation for Azeroth's new master.
While Ny'alotha has been referenced frequently as the sleeping city in Old God whispers, it's never been as explicitly linked to N'Zoth as in this description. If all goes according to plan, the end of days will usher in both Ny'alotha and Azeroth's new master, N'Zoth; when this comes, all pathways will open and dreams will become reality. As we know, Old Gods and their minions frequently speak through whispers and dreams, using them to lure others into their service, often driving them completely mad in the process as made famous in corrupting the Black Dragon Aspect Neltharion the Earth-Warder into Deathwing the Destroyer.
After vanquishing Za'qul, we encounter Queen Azshara directly, facing us on a dark platform surrounding by the very chains that encircle N'Zoth. There she reveals her master plan, the reason for luring heroes out in the first place - to use the power collected by our Hearts of Azeroth to break the chains that bind her master, freeing N'Zoth, and ushering in a new Black Empire:
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.
Leading up to Rise of Azshara, we had strong hints that Ny'alotha was linked to N'Zoth, but no confirmation. The update to the Encounter Journal text strengthened that link, placing Ny'alotha as N'Zoth's sleeping city deep beneath the ocean, and part of N'Zoth's plan to turn dreams into reality and awaken all who sleep - though it's unclear whether that refers to the dead or as of yet unseen minions of the Old Gods.
Ny'alotha, the Sleeping City
Ny'alotha has been discussed in hushed whispers throughout multiple Warcraft expansions, always a sleeping city of unspeakable horror and eternal slumber. Previous mentions of the city give us some clues as to what it's return or awakening could imply.
Ny'alotha was first introduced as the sleeping city of horrible dreams in several
Boîte à secret de Yogg-Saron
In the land of Ny'alotha there is only sleep...
In the sleeping city of Ny'alotha walk only mad things.
Ny'alotha is a city of old, terrible, unnumbered crimes...
These whispers that name the city, help us infer several other whispers also reference the same place, through similar descriptions of sleep and dreams:
The silent, sleeping, staring houses in the backwoods always dream... It would be merciful to tear them down..
In the sunken city, he lays dreaming...
Do you dream while you sleep or is it an escape from the horrors of reality?
Have you had the dream again? A black goat with seven eyes that watches from the outside.
From these quotes, Ny'alotha may be a prison or even a powerful city from the Black Empire, with the black goat likely representing Y'shaarj, the seven-headed Old God.
Mists of Pandaria
Ny'alotha is revisited in the whispers of
Xal'atoh, reflet profané de Hurlesang
, which Garrosh wields during the Siege of Orgrimmar after unleashing the power of Y'shaarj's heart. When the player using it dies, the weapon whispers:
You will rest in Ny'alotha.
And another death whisper links Ny'alotha to the realm of an Old God:
With each thread unraveled, a step closer to my realm...
Warlords of Draenor
Warlords of Draenor
didn't highlight the threats of the Old Gods too much, but the quest started upon defeating Archimonde in Hellfire Citadel,
Des eaux sombres
, ties in nicely to the Emerald Nightmare storyline which came with
. When we share the
Vestige de Chaos
with Malfurion, he identifies it as a fragment of the nightmare from the Rift of Aln, a corner of the Emerald Dream which could never be cleansed of corruption.
Malfurion Stormrage: I have encountered this power once before, within the depths of the Emerald Dream, near an abyss known as the Rift of Aln.
Malfurion Stormrage: That place radiated an ancient evil with such intensity that we dared not venture closer.
Malfurion Stormrage: It was all we could do to attempt to seal the taint away from the rest of the Dream. But it appears that we failed.
Malfurion Stormrage: And now, to find a fragment of that power in the hands of the Legion? A terrible portent...
, we finally enter the Emerald Nightmare as the very first raid of the expansion, encountering Xavius as the final boss within the Rift of Aln itself. Il'gynoth, an earlier boss, presented us with more tantalizing whispers which riddled players for years until the
events of Patch 8.2
made phases like the
Circle of Stars
king of diamonds
clearer. He also offered clues that N'Zoth's realm existed in a dream reality, whispering the following upon death:
N'Zoth... I journey... to Ny'alotha...
approaching Il'gynoth are also told:
It appears the prison of N’zoth is not as strong as it once was. What you see is a tiny growth of the behemoth that may yet consume your world.
Both these quotes put together imply that Il'gynoth came from Ny'alotha, and upon dying, will return what is surmised to be N'Zoth's realm.
In addition to Il'gynoth's whispers, another part of the Emerald Nightmare returns to puzzle us in Patch 8.2. After cleansing the Emerald Nightmare, a Remnant of the Void still remains, upon which Xal'atath remarks:
Almost completely gone, as if it never existed. But the rift is deep and vast, and somewhere down there it stirs. Something has changed, the last prison weakens. We must prepare.
This echoes her warning to us in Val'sharah:
The God of the Deep writhes in his prison, breaking free ever so slowly. You should hurry and defeat the fallen titan... there are greater battles yet to fight.
Should N'Zoth's prison extend to the Emerald Nightmare, which exists in multiple realms, Ny'alotha too may be a city accessible through several realms.
Xal'atath also offers her own quotes on Ny'alotha as players quest outdoors:
Stormheim: Do not be impressed by tall icons of the titans which stand here. The towers of sacrifice in Ny'alotha dwarf these pathetic temples.
Suramar: This city of the elves pales in comparison to the sleeping city...
Both these quotes lend credence to the theory that the imposing towers depicted in Warbringers: Azshara are actually Ny'alotha.
Battle for Azeroth
The Old Gods plot took a backseat for much of
Battle for Azeroth
, even though Xal'atath keeps ominously whispering to Priests, ending the expansion by thanking them for granting her access to the Seal of the Pantheon. But the Old God plot line returned in full force with 8.1.5, as players once again discovered Xal'atath, freeing her from the Blade of the Black Empire and summoning N'Zoth. We then head into the
Crucible of Storms
to take back the Relics of Power away from the Old God, but even that was a part of N'Zoth's plan - a test devised by the manipulator intended to prove our worth by defeating his minions. Meanwhile, references to the sleeping city continue to grow:
Xal'atath questline: All that were sleeping... shall be awakened.
Restless Cabal: He has awakened, and they shall slumber in his stead.
N'Zoth upon defeating Uu'nat: Receive now the greatest of all gifts. My dream has become your own. The circle of stars made flesh.
The act of passing through realms, swapping place with reality and dreams, echoes the imagery of the Island Expedition quest
. This quest teases a similarly ominous future in which we swap places with a black seven-eyed goat, commonly speculated as a stand-in for Y'shaarj. With the revelation in Rise of Azshara that
N'Zoth's prison is near the Well of Eternity
, a volatile place created by the result of ripping Y'shaarj from the earth, this quest takes on additional significance:
<The tendril writhes and pulsates in your hand as your mind is assailed by all manner of vicious thoughts. One vision in particular surfaces in your mind again and again. In your mind's eye, you picture a many-eyed goat laying in a pool of black water. As you approach, its eyes burst open, and in an instant you find yourself looking upward at the goat from deep within the puddle. As you sink into the icy darkness, everything goes black. You pocket the mass and shake the thoughts from your head.
Now in Patch 8.2, while progressing on the
Heart of Azeroth Essence questline
, we encounter the Emerald Dream under attack by corrupt dragons, and the Remnant of the Void flourishing with massive roots. The Remnant was originally symbolized as a tiny hint of the rift which remained after our expedition into the Emerald Nightmare early in
, and passed by unnoticed as we turned our efforts to combating the Burning Legion. However, this masked the true extent of the Rift and the grave risk it presents until it was too late.
It's also worth noting that Ysera's spirit is nowhere to be found in the Emerald Dream during the questline, disappearing at some point after the completion of the Emerald Nightmare raid. Both N'Zoth and Ysera are associated with dreams and wakening; Ysera was known as "the Dreamer" in her eternal trance, and <the Awakened> in
after waking from her long slumber. There's certainly a connection, and as the Dragon Aspects were empowered by the Titans who originally fought the Old Gods, it would not be surprising to learn that Ysera was meant to guard against their insidious methods of corruption.
Finally, several of the early
Boîte à secret de Yogg-Saron
whispers come full circle with dialogue datamined in 8.2:
Boîte à secret de Yogg-Saron
: Ny'alotha is a city of old, terrible, unnumbered crimes.
8.2: Your crimes are terrible, numberless, glorious.
Boîte à secret de Yogg-Saron
: You will all be alone in the end.
8.2: Thief, renegade, murderer, servant…all alone in the depths. Let go.
We end the raid as an unwitting accomplice to Azshara's plan to free N'Zoth. We've been deemed worthy by N'Zoth in the Crucible of Storms, and now we're described as a criminal - matching the description of Ny'alotha's inhabitants. With the Circle of Stars complete and N'Zoth free, will we enter Ny'alotha and is that meant to be the gift of N'Zoth - entrance to his city?
Ny'alotha as N'Zoth's City
Since the beginning of
, N'Zoth's goal has been to restore the glory of the Black Empire - the kingdom of the Old Gods that ruled Azeroth before the Titan's defeated and imprisoned their leaders. Ny'alotha being a city associated with sleep, which is commonly used as a metaphor for death throughout the Old God whispers, implies that its inhabitants may be all those imprisoned or dead minions who fell in the war with the Titans. Therefore, it may be the central key to restoring the Black Empire - if the city awakens, so to do all its inhabitants, and that does not bode well for the current residents of Azeroth!
We've previously written about a world in which N'Zoth could
resurrect the other Old Gods
, positing that since some of Hearthstone's lore from it's Whispers of the Old Gods expansion has made its way into WoW canon, what about other elements hinting at the Old Gods return? Notably, Hearthstone introduced original art for both Y'shaarj and N'Zoth, of which the latter artwork also made its way into WoW. Could this imply that Y'shaarj might also return? It seems likely if
is now near the location of Y'shaarj's death, the Well of Eternity.
Speculation on this topic increased when Alex Afrasiabi left an open-ended comment on the
possible return of the Old Gods
Third Chronicles have information about Old Gods. Every Old God, except N'Zoth, have been beaten, but not "killed". It is true? Are Old Gods like C'Thun or Yogg-Saron still alive?
AA: I would say we should consider them dead. However as with all things in World of Warcraft and the Warcraft's universe dead isn't always dead. If there was a coming of forth of the Old Gods or herald of the Old Gods come down from the great dark-- I can see that easily happening. Not saying that happening, I'm just saying death isn't the end of the line in World of Warcraft, and it really never has been. I think that's kind of been from your character to the world around you. There is a cycle.
With the opening of Eternal Palace for raid testing, we confirmed that the
end of the instance
held massive chains for an Old God - N'Zoth's prison. This originally led to confusion, as
placed N'Zoth's prison far away from the Well - but it should be remembered that was its positioning
the Sundering, which could have easily moved due to tectonic shift and oceans rushing in to fill the void as the world split apart into multiple continents (or other, more outlandish theories). Now, N'Zoth's prison appears to be by the Maelstrom, the powerful turbulent remains of the Well of Eternity, made up of the volatile lifeblood of Azeroth.
The keepers' most pressing concern was the horrific scar left behind when Aman'Thul had torn Y'Shaarj from the world's crust. A constant stream of volatile arcane energy bled from the colossal rift, lashing out across the world. The keepers knew that, if left unattended, these energies would consume Azeroth over time.
The keepers labored day and night, crafting magic wards sealed around the gaping wound to stanch the escaping lifeblood. Eventually, the tumultuous energies calmed and settled into balance. All that remained of the scar was an immense lake of scintillating energy that the keepers would call the "Well of Eternity." Thereafter, the power of this wondrous fount would be infused in the ailing world, helping life to take root and bloom across the globe.
N'Zoth's plans to bring back the Black Empire could use the raw power of the Well of Eternity, the "heart of the world's magic and natural power," to awaken all that lie dreaming. Perhaps the Well of Eternity is even a conduit to another realm, as it draws its "energies from the infinite Great Dark," similar to how
Le geôlier des damnés
describes Icecrown as "an anchor dat holds dis world to da next."
N'Zoth playing with the constraints of death, possibly tampering with the Shadowlands, reminds us of another central Battle for Azeroth figure obsessed with mastering death--Sylvanas. Her motives have always been unclear, hinting at a larger outcome than just a simple faction war, but in Patch 8.2 she tips her hand a bit more and references a
. Analyzing her motives and quotes throughout Battle for Azeroth, we speculated in
Sylvanas' Endgame, Old Gods, and the Faction War
that her ultimate goal is to master death, saving herself from an eternity of torment that she experienced in the Shadowlands after her death at Icecrown... or perhaps a
of the Shadowlands, as she fell upon Saronite, the "hardened blood of an Old God."
N'Zoth and Sylvanas could clash in more ways than one - not only fighting over Azeroth, but over the power to manipulate death itself. With N'Zoth free, the path to the sleeping city of Ny'alotha may be open and the Black Empire returned, with a weakened Pantheon unable to defeat them a second time. By proving ourselves worthy of his gift, we've become N'Zoth's honored guests - dreamers in a new world of chaos and fear.
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