Continuing from yesterday’s post on Agamaggan and Crokuta, here are two more of the Dark Ancients.
Kubo the Candlekeeper
Few remember this rat Ancient, but his efforts during the war against the Legion left a lasting impact. There once stood a great hill near the foot of mighty Mount Hyjal, and upon this hill the demons had constructed a fort from which to launch their attacks upon Cenarius and his resistance. Kubo, the Great Rat, and his children, the kobolds, labored silently but fiercely in digging tunnels under the great hill, intent on collapsing the tunnels and destroying the fort without loss of life. As fate would have it, though, the demons discovered the tunnels, and a battle raged beneath the fort between Kubo and the legionnaires. The Ancient was injured grievously, but the demons were driven back. Kubo knew that the only way to win the day was to collapse the tunnels, but he knew he could not escape due to his wounds. He ordered his kobolds to leave him with a lit brand of fire for his funeral pyre, and once they were safely away, he would bring down the great hill.
No one knew if Kubo died upon his pyre or not, but the hill fell, the land shattering into great chasms in the earth, which became called Darkwhisper Gorge. Kobolds shunned the place ever after, but as a token of remembering their patron, they always carry a lit flame with them.
Now that the Ancient of the Deeps has returned and rallied his children, no fortress that stands upon the earth is safe.
To a great extent, kobolds get the short end of the stick as enemies. They’re not exceptionally fearsome, and in a lot of cases they’re just cheerfully laboring at a mine on their own when we, as heroes, come stomping in because there’s something in the mine we want.
I also thought there was an opportunity to really explore why the kobolds insist on keeping candles on their heads: if we assume the idea that these races have dropped in intelligence and culture without the guidance of their Ancients (as evidenced with the quillboar and harpies) then it computes that kobolds might adopt a practice that might persist through the centuries but take on a different, and in this case more ridiculous form. If the kobolds have to subsist through mining, they can’t have one hand tied up holding a torch. A candle on the head is almost clever.
A couple notes: I’m aware that Brann’s documentation stated that kobolds were somehow related to troggs, which is something that never made any sense to me. Creating Kubo would constitute a retcon, but I think Kubo’s got a better story than having an offshoot of an offshoot of a professionally-designed, purpose-built race suddenly gain animal characteristics for no conceivable reason.
Nakhbet the Dirge
In the deserts of Tanaris, at the far-flung edge of Kalimdor, it was said that Death itself roosted, a great black vulture with a shadow a league wide, waiting for unwitting travelers and foolish explorers to find themselves at her mercy. When a messenger from Cenarius arrived seeking Death, she was intrigued. “It is war,” said the messenger, “and where war treads, Death must follow. You are needed.” So Nakhbet the Dirge, Ancient of Death, took wing and flew north to do her duty.
When she entered the fray, Nakhbet claimed many lives, a terror for the demons but a mercy for her allies should their wounds prove mortal. When Azshara’s Highborne saw that Nakhbet had come, they knew fear, but their swollen power gave them pride. They believed that if they could kill Nakhbet, they would ensure that Death would never find their Queen. So they laid a trap for Nakhbet, and the Ancient, intent upon her duty, was ensnared. The Highborne laughed in their victory as they prepared the killing blow, but Nakhbet’s shadow fell over them, and she spoke: “Ignorant fools. You can not escape Death. Your Queen may yet live, but in life there is suffering, and with me gone, none will there be to give her sweet release. Come with me now, and know that your Queen shall curse your names forevermore.”
When the Druids of the Flame brought Nakhbet back into the living world, she inquired as to the fate of the Light of a Thousand Moons. “She has been twisted against her very nature, and suffers still, ten thousand years after the time when I was meant to claim her for the sake of the world.”
“She shall wait awhile yet. As thanks for returning me to life, Death shall serve you. For now.”
I’ll admit that Nakhbet is really an original creation for me. I wanted an avian Ancient to round out the four I had (the boar in the front, the hyena in the back, the rat underground, and something in the air) and in keeping with the “animals with negative connotations” pattern, a crow or a vulture made the most sense. From there, a great bird that personified an ominous death through casting a great shadow wrote itself.
At the same time, I recognize that there have been many personifications of death in this franchise: the Lich King is the strongest example, but Yogg-Saron and Deathwing (in his anti-Alexstrasza “Aspect of Death” sobriquet) also played on this concept as well. As such, I wanted Nakhbet to try and represent death in as positive a light as possible: she’s destroying the Legion because for the living to die by alien hands steps on her domain, but she’s also granting a merciful death to her allies when it’s warranted. I also wanted her to treat death as a necessary sequel to life: the idea that she would find the immortality of the kaldorei as abhorrent as Azshara’s naga transformation is something I would love to play with further.
More to come later. ^_^