The first of the Shadowlands animated cinematics

Finally after months of waiting, at GamesCon 2020 we were given the first animated cinematic of Afterlives. 

The animated cinematic have become something of a tradition when it comes to new expansions being released, ever since Mist of Pandaria. The storytellers and Artists at Blizzard have done it again with the first instalment of their new series Afterlifes following all 4 of the zones that we’ll be adventuring into when we visit the Shadowlands. 

The first cinematic is connected with Bastion, Bastion is one of the five playable outdoor zones in the Shadowlands expansion, and is the primary home of the Kyrian covenant. A land of soaring angelic architecture, light, and purity, Bastion is a fitting home to the guardians of the noble dead. It is also the first of the four Covenant realms that new players will quest through to gain the privilege of choosing a covenant at level 60.

Uther’s death

In this cinematic we were shown one of the main characters that we’ll be interacting with when we visit this zone, Uther. 

Uther was the teacher of Arthas Menethil, the heir to the lordaeron throne but more commonly known for being the Lich King from Warcraft 3 till the end of Wrath of the Lich King. Uther was a beacon of light itself, being one of the first paladins to ever exist in Azeroth. He was betrayed by Arthas, who was then being controlled by the Runeblade, Frostmourne, which we’ll talk about more later on. Uther was killed by Arthas in warcraft 3 and even though we haven’t interacted with him much during our time in World of Warcraft, he’s a hero and champion we’ve heard so much about during our time and our adventures. 

The start of the cinematic had us watching the final dark moments of Uther’s life. He utters the words “Light protect my soul” as the Runeblade pierced his heart. We were then transported to the bright blue region of Bastion. This is where devoted worshipers of the Light, those of who have pure hearts go to ascend, into angelic forms. Guiding other souls to their correct regions. After the Arbiter has chosen which one they should reside in. Uther being of the purest heart went to Bastion. However there is something holding him back from ascending to his future.

Unable to ascend

His ‘Guide’ Davos is unable to help him achieve ascension however she finds this interesting. She pushes Uther deeper to find out the reason he can’t ascend. Uther then tells her about Arthas and how he betrayed Lorderon and the people that lived under its rule. Davos then sees the scar on Uther’s chest crying ‘Your soul is wounded?’ As Frostmourne pierced Uther’s heart it looks like his soul was torn into 2 pieces. One being sent to Basiton and the other being trapped in the blade itself. Which would explain why he wasn’t able to ascend since not his whole soul was there.

The Runeblade frostmourne was crafted in the Maw, the place in the shadowlands were souls that can’t be redeemed. The helm of domination was also created by the Runecrafters there. The problem that Davos has with this is that the Maw is supposed to be inescapable. However if something like Frostmourne is able to come out of that place then what else can ? 

Davos rightly is worried about this. Since she has spent so much time with Uther it seems like some sort of bond has formed between them. I would point out that this  ‘Bond’ seemed very much just from her. Uther didn’t really show that he felt the same way, I’m not sure if that is important or not. Knowing that something is seriously wrong Davos goes to explain to her arcon about what she has seen.

The Archon seems to just ignore the worrying claims that Davos is trying to explain and tells her that ‘you must follow the path’. The path seems like the system in which the shadowlands uses, which also keeps the shadowlands in order. Davos not happy with the actions of the Archon takes it upon herself to punish Arthas for the actions he took whilst under the control of the Lich King, and tell Uther that he will have his ‘vengeance’ when Arthas falls, however Uther corrects her by saying ‘Not vengeance… Justice’. 

The fall of Arthas

The next scene takes us to a top Icecrown citadel, at the point of Arthas’s fall (Which we made happen) Frostmourne laid shattered on the floor. If you played through Wrath of the Lich King you would know that when the blade was broken the souls of which it took were set free. But as Arthas laid dying he uttered the words ‘I see only darkness before me’ a line that we only took for him dying and seeing darkness, however now we know that it was Davos and Uther taking him before he was able to be sent to a region of the Shadowlands by the Arbiter. Davos and Uther take it upon themselves to fly him above the entrance of the Maw. Since Uther thinks that he is nonredeemable Uther drops him into the swallowing whirlpool of the Maw. Explaining that this wasn’t vengeance but justice.

Thoughts after the cinematic

I could write for hours about what I think this all means, however I’m going to make one point about this. When you have a well working machine with all the cogs and gear working in order, the machine does what it is supposed to do. However if you remove or break or stop one of those gears the entire machine can break. I think that Davos and Uther throwing Arthas somewhere, in which he wasn’t supposed to go, has broken the entire shadowlands. Since everything with sylvanas seems to have changed after Arthas’s death as the Lich King. In my opinion Arthas did what he thought was right for his people. He should have really gone to Revendreth to repent for the actions he took. But Davos and Uther making the decision to throw him into the Maw, may just be the thing that started all the problems in the shadowlands. The only thing that it doesn’t explain is how did Frostmourne get to Azeroth in the first place. 

This cinematic has probably asked more questions then it has answered but in true WoW writing it has left us wanting more. Hopefully most of these questions will soon be answered when we visit the Shadowlands in the coming months.