Your master appreciates your patience. I know it cannot have been easy to hide yourself and the Waterlords away, lurking in the ocean depths, while our ancient enemy has resurfaced and ravages unopposed across Azeroth. Though you did not openly protest my orders, I could tell the command displeased and confused you. Doubtless you likely wondered if you and your lords had done something to offend your master, or if you were out of my favor.
Rest easy, my trusted lieutenant. All shall now be made clear.
You are aware of the Naga that have long inhabited my waters. As an elemental, I know you have little interest in the affairs of mortal creatures except where they concern your common master, but some history is necessary.
Thousands of years ago, these serpentine beings were not aquatic creatures at all, but landwalkers - Kal'dorei, or "Night Elves" as the mortal races now call them. Their leader, a sorceress of some power named Azshara, opened a great rift that shattered the fragile land and split their world asunder. The foolish creatures plunged into the seas, where they would have surely perished had Azshara not made a desperate bargain with our former masters...the Old Ones, who transformed the fallen mortals into the Naga that we know today.
When I first learned of the new species that had joined us in the seas, I was initially quite displeased. The tainted touch of the Old Ones? In MY realm? The Naga's new forms may have been physically capable of surviving in the infinite depths, but no creature may long dwell in the Tidehunter's domain without his express permission!
You may recall, Duke, my fury upon learning of the existence of these creatures. Even you, my faithful retainers, quailed and cowered, so outraged was I at their temerity. And yet, I did not fall upon them like a raging storm as so many of you expected. Instead, I let them slowly acclimate to their new realm, establish cities and societies, and come to grips with what they had become. Then, I appeared to them and offered them a choice: serve me, or perish.
Let this be a lesson, Hydraxis. Emotion is a powerful motivator - it can be used to dominate, to threaten, to inspire. But it can also blind you. Part of me wanted to annihilate the Naga for daring to invite themselves to my realm, and for carrying the corruption of the Old Ones within their bodies. But why dispose of such potentially valuable pawns without first determining their value, and how they might further my goals?
And so I permitted them to live, with the condition that, like all other creatures in my seas, they obey my command and serve my will. Even their queen, the "mighty Azshara", knew she could not oppose my power. She is, after all, merely a mortal, and I am the Tidehunter, the master of all water, the strongest of the Elemental Lords. I fear no one.
It was not a seamless transition. The Naga chafed at first, and some prideful upstarts even refused to serve me, threatening open rebellion. However, in time they all submitted to my domination. It was not a difficult process. A few palaces torn apart by unstoppable riptides does much to change one's worldly perspective, I find.
I know these machinations comes as a foreign revelation to you, Hydraxis, and I am not surprised. You are a creature of elemental manifestation; your actions are direct and straightforward. You are a blunt object, to be steered and aimed as I see fit. It is your purpose, and it is why you are a valued servant. I know your heart and mind, and I know you would never betray me, for to do so would mean betraying the very core of your being.
The Naga, on the other hand, are mortal beings, consumed by lust and avarice. They yearn for power and control, especially their queen. For a creature of flesh and blood, her insatiable ambition nearly matches my own. Even I would hesitate to turn my back on her, so grand and limitless are her aspirations.
However, one of the luxuries of possessing a servant so akin to myself is knowing exactly how they think. She is much like myself, only with thousands of years less experience and wisdom. I know exactly how her mind operates and what she plans, even before she does. As such, it is trivial to predict her actions and manipulate them to serve my needs.
I also learned something of amazing importance, back then, something I did not share with anyone, not even my most trusted servants. I did not dare, not because I worried about one of you betraying my trust, but because I did not trust anyone but myself with this critical information.
The rift that shattered the land in twain and cast Azshara's people down into the sea had also had another effect, one that had gone unnoticed in the vast chaos and upheaval. Unnoticed by all, that is, except your master.
Their rift had actually broken through the planar barrier! For the first time since the Old Ones fell, I was able to extend my power through this breach from the Elemental Plane of Water, and into the material realm!
Shocked, I quickly obfuscated this discovery, deciding to first carefully consider what it could mean to me. It was an avenue into the mortal world, yes, but it was also a direct route back into my own native plane, where I am at my strongest, but also, my most vulnerable. Should a sufficient force invade my sanctum and strike me down in my own realm, I would be forever destroyed. I know of no such force capable of accomplishing this, save the Old Ones, or if the other Elemental Lords were to somehow ally themselves against me - both all but impossible - but I decided the risk was too high, and hid the rift and its secrets away for future utilization, when the time was right.
When the Firelord was summoned unexpectedly to the mortal realm a short time ago, I wondered if I had missed my opportunity. I feared the Firelord, unopposed by myself or the other Elemental Lords, would quickly devastate and seize control of Azeroth. I knew I would be unable to muster my forces in time to properly combat him, and that Al'Akir and Therazane would be similarly unprepared.
However, something entirely unforeseen occurred. The squabbling, petty mortal races somehow managed to unite, and struck back at Ragnaros! I waited for my fiery rival to quash the pathetic resistance, but as time went on, I began to slowly grasp what these short-lived breathers were capable of. I had vastly underestimated their capabilities, it seems. Suddenly, I was quite glad I had resisted the temptation to surge through the planar rift and try to conquer the mortal world myself, all those years ago.
Partially out of curiosity, and partially to hamper the Firelord in whatever way possible, I sent you as my envoy to assist the mortals in their endeavors. As you lent the power of the Waterlords to their crusade, I also realized what a unique opportunity had presented itself. Not only would I be able to assess the mortals' power and abilities, and hurt our hated foe, but these short-minded, simple creatures likely now regarded us as their allies!
Hydraxis, you likely had no idea this was occurring, but as you bolstered their strength and prepared them to battle Ragnaros in his volcanic home, the mortal creatures began regarding you not as a partner in a mutually-beneficial agreement but rather, as a trusted friend.
It was then that I realized an important conclusion about mortals - they were capable of great feats and accomplishments, yes, but they were also utter fools. They knew nothing about you or your allegiance, but once they saw that you also opposed the Firelord, they were convinced you were an ally. The thought that you were only helping them to further your master's ambitions never even occurred to them.
It really is remarkable, this lack of foresight. As the mortals vanquished Ragnaros back to his fiery abode, I considered how I might turn these events to my advantage. The mortals, as odd as it seems, were no longer a non-factor to be dismissed. Properly motivated, they could be a powerful hindrance...or benefit.
Like a tsunami breaking itself over Therazane's cliffs, inspiration struck me. The best way for me to avoid battling the mortals down the line was not to hide from them, but rather, simply ensure that their attention was focused elsewhere. And what better way to do that than present myself as a friend in need, in dire plight against a common foe? Their sympathetic and heroic hearts would never be able to resist this hook, and I knew they could come to my aide, weakening themselves in the process while also conveniently dealing with whatever foes were hassling me.
And who would these foes be? Why, Azshara's Naga, of course. Though they ostensibly remained my loyal servants, I knew better than to think I could ever truly trust them. No, their queen has spent centuries plotting and devising plans to escape my reign and seize my power. Foolish, pathetic creature. Does she not realize that the very water she breathes whispers her secrets in my ears? That the sand she slithers over is a written history record for my eyes, that the barnacles and kelp plastered to her promenades tell me everything they witness?
No, I have always been aware of Azshara's growing duplicity. Like myself, she has lain dormant, coiled like a deepsea lurker, waiting to strike when I bared my throat.
When Deathwing the Destroyer resurfaced and brought the Firelord back to Azeroth, and allied with that coward Al'Akir, I knew I had my opportunity. The mortals would never forgive Deathwing for ruining their precious world, and they would strike back against him, and by extension, my Elemental Lord brothers.
There would never be a more opportune moment. I surreptitiously let Azshara's minions learn of the long-hidden rift, knowing they would immediately take news of this "discovery" to their beloved queen. Sure enough, upon learning that she might be able to invade my realm and depose me, the treacherous serpent gathered her forces and immediately began her assault. As a result, news of Azshara's return reached mortal ears, and it wasn't long before her old enemies had hurled themselves into the fight.
It really was simplicity to steer the currents of war to my favor. I knew the mortals, especially Azshara's old Kal'dorei foes, would never forgive her for breaking their world thousands of years ago. They would ally themselves with whoever the Naga queen was fighting, and if it happened to be their "old friend" Neptulon and Duke Hydraxis, they would be even more inclined to come to our aid.
And so, Duke, this is why I had you withdraw from the fighting and sequester yourself and the Waterlords away. Once the mortal armies arrived, there was no need to exhaust and weaken my own forces battling the Naga. The helpful Alliance and Horde soldiers would handle this for us, while we sat back, conserving our strength and waiting.
For you see, I have a special mission for you, Hydraxis. The Firelord and Al'Akir are foolish to have thrown their lot in with Deathwing, for they are destined to lose. Ragnaros should know this better than anyone, but my brothers have always been rash and impetuous. They stride forward boldly, infuriating the mortals and hardening their resolve. They seal their own dooms.
It is only a matter of time before the mortals march through the gates joining my brothers' homes to the material plane, furious and seeking vengeance. Though Ragnaros and Al'Akir are weaklings compared to myself, they are still Elemental Lords, and countless mortals will fall to their might. But they are innumerable and persistent. Eventually, they will overwhelm my brothers, and destroy them. They will be triumphant, but at a staggering cost in terms of manpower and resources.
At the same time, I expect Azshara's forces to push my mortal pawns to their limits. The Naga queen is no weakling, and she has had thousands of years to plan her attack. I could, of course, gather my power and crush her pathetic rebellion, but I would pointlessly lose valuable servants in doing so, and simply defeating her is not my true goal anyway. I need the mortal armies who have come to our aid to push the Naga to the breaking point, while suffering enormous losses of their own, so that neither side can rally any real defense when I make my move.
Can you see it now, Hydraxis? Ragnaros, dead, the Firelands vacant and exposed. Al'Akir scattered to the winds, Skywall vulnerable for the first time in history. Azshara's forces, depleted and weakened by the long struggle against my fearless mortal assistants. And of course, the mortals themselves, battered and weary, having lost thousands of their finest warriors and exhausted their decidedly finite resources.
Could I ask for a more tantalizing opportunity?
That is where you come in, Hydraxis. Once my brothers fall, and once the Naga and mortals battling in my realm have destroyed themselves for us, you and the other Waterlords will rise out of hiding and strike! We shall seize the Elemental Planes of Fire and Air, and fall upon the fractured remains of the forces battling upon my doorstep - both Naga and mortal - and slaughter them. Once I control the spheres of Water, Fire and Air, I will be unstoppable.
The only presence unaccounted for is my erstwhile sister, Therazane. It is true that she could interfere in my plan, perhaps by seeking dominion over one of our brothers' realms for herself. I would be foolish to ignore her considerable strength.
Worry not, my servant, for I have already arranged for Therazane to be quite preoccupied with calamitous events in her own earthen domain. It seems that when Deathwing emerged back into the world from Deepholm, he carelessly shattered Therazane's precious World Pillar, causing my sister great distress.
Complicating this matter is the fact that the doomsday Twilight Hammer have invaded her realm, seeking the fragments of the Pillar for their own ambitions. I'm sure Therazane is quite furious at these insects leeching into her home, plundering her riches and interfering with her attempts at re-building the Pillar. With all her attention focused on local concerns, I would be surprised if she was fully aware of what Ragnaros and Al'Akir are up to, and even if she was, she will be far too preoccupied and distracted to attempt to conquer one of their vacant thrones when her own court is in such anarchy.
Which of course, is what I intended when I informed the Twilight Hammer about the World Pillar in the first place.
You may have wondered why I did not send Lord Ahune into hiding with the rest of you. Well, I still needed the Frostlord for a crucial task - to serve as a liaison with the Twilight Hammer. Between Ahune and my loyal pawn Skar'this, I was confident that word of the World Pillar's great power - and potential for catastrophe - would leak back to the cult's leaders, and it would prove impossible for them to resist.
Sure enough, their persistence and zealotry have taxed even Therazane's boundless patience. Her temper roused, my sister is now fully committed to squashing the insolent cultists, never suspecting they are but a distraction to keep her from noticing my sudden, suspicious "weakness."
This is perhaps the most frustrating element in this grand scheme of mine - feigning weakness to convince the mortals that they need to assist me in battling the Naga. For one as powerful as myself, it is a daunting, humiliating act, yet it is entirely necessary to convince the mortals that Azshara is a legitimate threat that they have to deal with.
I am fortunate that their noble hearts are bigger than their brains, for surely a more intelligent species would have grown suspicious that I, an Elemental Lord, would be laid low by mere Naga sorcerers or a simple kraken. And to think that any Lord, myself or one of my siblings, would require assistance in our own realm? What folly! On the contrary, it is all I can do to keep from accidentally drowning the ignorant landwalkers as they stumble into my Throne, shivering and bedraggled, thoroughly out of their element.
It is a galling experience, having to endure their clumsy, miserable efforts. Sometimes their ineptitude and bickering makes me wonder how such creatures were able to ever defeat the Firelord, though perhaps my brother is simply weaker than I ever imagined. Even with my power bolstering their might, the wretches were not even capable of slaying Azshara's pet kraken Ozumat, who dared lay its tentacles upon my divine being. When this charade is over, I will enjoy tearing the beast limb from limb and scattering it to the far corners of the seas.
Regardless, I must force myself to keep up the act, to ensure that the mortals fully commit themselves to "our" cause. Meanwhile, Hydraxis, remain hidden and spread the word among my servants to await my command. After we conquer the empty Thrones, our tides will turn next against the remaining landwalkers before they can gather themselves to oppose me.
Our attack will be sudden and devastating. How will their mages battle us when their ice and frost magics will not obey them, when their "loyal" water elementals turn on them? How will their shamans heal the wounded when their healing waters boil and sear the flesh they are meant to soothe?
Their ships will sink, demolished by towering tidal waves, and their airships will be hurled into the ocean by my waterspouts. Their precious undersea tunnel will shatter, and we shall surge forth into the heart of their cities, flooding their streets and drowning all in our path.
Even my smallest, most harmless minions have successfully infiltrated the mortals, hidden under the guise of harmless companions. The careless mortals coddle and fawn over these elementals, unaware that when nobody is watching, they are under my orders to siphon moisture out of their surroundings. Soon the fleshlings will find their wells running dry, their wooden structures suddenly dried out and brittle.
Remain patient, Hydraxis. The path to victory lies not in the violence of the crashing wave, but the slow, insidious erosion of the gentle stream.
In time, water overcomes all.
Show/Hide Letter Notes
I've always felt there were many suspicious elements to our supposed allegiance with the Tidehunter, in Vashj'ir, especially how he has been decidedly NOT been a good guy in the past, and how weak he apparently is, being unable to fend off Lady Naz'jar (one of Azshara's lieutenants) and Ozumat, the Naga's kraken. In my eyes, there's no way an Elemental Lord is truly that weak, especially in his home (Throne of the Tides). It has to be a ruse of some kind.
Then there is of course the sudden disappearance of Duke Hydraxis and the Hydraxian Waterlords, even though their old enemy Ragnaros is back. Why would they be missing and not helping us once again fight the Firelord? Simple - because Neptulon told them not to fight, but rather, to hide. And why would they hide? To conserve their strength so they can pop out later on, when everyone is weak, and win. It's pretty basic strategy.
Finally, I thought including Withers would be a funny touch. Withers is a vanity pet that, when brought near a body of water, absorbs the water, growing in size. This is unremarkable in itself, except it reminded me very strongly of another creature doing this same exact thing - the Summer Scorchling, during the Midsummer Fire Festival. When players bring the Scorchling some incense, it starts to swell and grow in power, and its friendly dialogue takes on some very sinister overtones:
Summer Scorchling says: Now! Finally! Our plans can take effect!
Summer Scorchling says: KNEEL, LITTLE MORTAL! KNEEL BEFORE THE MIGHT OF THE HERALD OF RAGNAROS!
Summer Scorchling says: YOU WILL ALL PERISH IN FLAMES!
Of course, it then shrinks down and says it was "merely jesting." A likely story! Anyway, it was pretty similar to what Withers does, so I thought it would be funny (and entirely possible) for Neptulon to have a little elemental herald just like the Firelord.