This is one I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time. Since I first saw it. It captivated me in a way that no one in my group at the time understood. Namely because much like a movie teaser or a hinted at plot point in a tv show, it immediately set off my brain into a thousand different directions to postulate what could this mean for future content in Wrath of the Lich King. So now you are sitting there, reading this, and wondering what I could possibly be talking about. What the heck is in Gundrak that could have good ol’ Vry worked up in such a Lore-Frenzy like this? Well my trusted readers, there is a giant snake in Gundrak.
No! Not Slad’ran. While, yes, he is a big snake. A Snake-Man. That is not what I’m talking about. No, this is further into the instance just before you fight the Drakkari Colossus. Just wander over to the ledge opposite of the Colossus and peer over. Do you see it? Yes. THAT giant snake. There have been dozens of forum threads, many questions raised, and still no one has any answers to exactly what that is, or what it’s doing there. Well, that sounds like a job for Oddcraft now doesn’t it?
The first thing I would like to examine with this beastie is it’s location. On the in-game map of Gundrak, the snake is put in the far south (The Tomb of the Ancients). But in relation to how Zul’Drak is structured, that is not actually south. Because the two entrances to Gundrak (the North one leading to Slad’ran, the South one leading to Moorabi) don’t line up on the in-game dungeon map. If you were to line up the entrances with the world map, you would find that the location of Gal’darah in the Ritual Chamber of Akali is the closest to the steps that lead up to the top-tier of Zul’Drak (West), that puts the Tomb and the Giant Snake… roughly leading towards the giant temple you can’t go into at the Eastern edge of Zul’Drak.
There’s a large number of people who believed that back before Patch 3.2 came out that the “surprise raid” that Blizzard had in store was going to be inside that temple. After all, what is World of Warcraft without its Troll Raids? There was Zul’Aman in the Burning Crusade, and of course Zul’Gurub in Vanilla, but instead of a troll raid in Wrath of the Lich King, we got The Argent Tournament. Wow. I hope people were happy about it. After all the griping on the official forums about “not another troll raid!!!1!!one!,” we were given the Trial of the Crusader instead. (For the record, I like ToC. I think it’s fun. I also was never in a guild that had to grind it for months on end waiting for Icecrown Citadel either. Maybe that’s part of it.) Now I have no idea if there were plans for a Troll raid inside that building, but there are walled up doors where a raid portal would go (Similarly to Zul’Aman) and of course, the Giant Snake leading into the Building! So it seemed like that would have been an interesting thought.
That doesn’t answer the question of what that snake is though. For my leading theory on that, let’s review the storyline of Zul’Drak. The Drakkari trolls, under pressure from the encroaching scourge led by the traitor Drakuru, have begun to sacrifice their Gods (Loa) in order to absorb their powers. This of course turns them into strange beast-trolls that have exceptional powers. This act of desperation has set the Drakkari trolls on a very dark path. One must begin to wonder exactly how far would they go to purge their empire of the Scourge? Would they be as desperate as the Gurubashi were to survive after the Sundering? Are you seeing what I’m getting at?
My very first instincts when I saw that tail in Gundrak were immediately along those lines. That Hakkar the Soulflayer had been resurrected somehow. [Insert “Merely a Setback” joke here]. But that might not be the only possibility. After all, the Blood God was an ancient and terrible creature in the Troll Pantheon. He is called an “old god” to the trolls, which is not to say that he is part of the Old Gods like Yogg-Saroth but even Brann Bronzebeard speculated that the Soulflayer may have been spawned from an Old God. But what other ancient evils reside within the annals of history that comprise the Troll religions? After all, the Amani worshipped Ula-Tek, the Goddess of Serpents, who seems to be surrounded with similar speculation as Hakkar in terms of a relation to the Old Gods. Who is to say that the Drakkari didn’t have their own Ancient Demi-God of Awesome Power that they worshiped?
The other point that interestingly ties in to this lies in Drak’Tharon Keep. The Last Boss, Prophet Tharon’ja seems to share a similar fate as the other Drakkari prophets in becoming more beast than man. While at first he seems to have been the Prophet for the loa Quetz’lun, the Prophet of Quetz’lun already shows up in Zul’Drak at the corresponding altar. Which means that Tharon’ja is another loa’s prophet. Drakuru also mentions that the relics that rendered Drak’tharon nigh impervious to attack were ancient and powerful. The other point to note is that Tharon’ja uses the model as the Avatar of Hakkar, which had to be destoyed and have its essence removed to assist in the resurrection of Hakkar.
Leaves me wondering if there was another god in the ice troll pantheon. One that got more than just an altar, but a massive temple built to them. One even more powerful. A snake/wind serpent like beast similar to Hakkar and Ula-Tek. Maybe with the power of life and death from its daddy Yogg-Saron just as Hakkar had dominion over blood.
It also might just a big snake that got stuck down there. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of room to maneuver. So there’s also maybe that.
We may never actually know. Perhaps Blizz will sneak something nice in after the Ruby Sanctum. Perhaps we’ll have to be content with jousting instead of Troll Lore… I’d personally would rather have the Troll Lore.