Shedding Some Light on the Dark Arts

by Hinote Kirase

Close your windows, shut your door, turn out the lights, and sit for a few moments by yourself. Count how long it takes for you to feel uncomfortable. For most people it doesn’t take long. You know why that is? Because you don’t know anything about your surroundings any more. Perhaps for a few seconds you’ll remember what your room looks like, but that picture will quickly fade to black, leaving your mind to run wild with all sorts of outlandish theories as to what’s there. Most of them probably won’t be accurate, but that doesn’t stop you from thinking about it, does it? We, as people, love to formulate our own stories about things when we know nothing about the thing in question. We do it every day. I suppose it’s no surprise, then, that there’s a great deal of misinformation about “dark” magic users, known more colloquially as warlocks. Why is that? There are a lot of reasons. Some skepticism is, of course, warranted; warlocks don’t exactly have a very sunny history. But let’s take a look, and perhaps shed some light on a few common misconceptions.

Warlocks: A Brief History

I think a large part of the reason warlocks are considered foreign and unnerving to a lot of people is the fact that the practices didn’t originate on Azeroth, or even on Draenor. In fact, it was the early demonic races, the Nathrezim (more commonly known as dreadlords) and later the Eredar (not to be confused with our friends, the draenei), that started them; in fact, the Eredar are widely considered to be the first to practice warlock magics as we know them today. This was thousands of years ago, well before even Azeroth’s recorded history, around the time of the Burning Legion’s formation. Some time after that, when the Legion arrived on what we now call Outland, they managed to recruit the orcs into the fold as well, and I’m sure many veterans of the First and Second Wars can tell you horror stories of the first orcish warlocks. Many other races of Azeroth were recruited into the fold later, when the Legion set its collective eye on us again; hence the diversity in the ranks we see today.

But that’s the Burning Legion, not the Horde or the Alliance. How did their practices make their way into our factions, you ask? The reason is simple: There’s no better way to know your enemy’s power than to use that power yourself. But if that’s the case, then what makes the latter two so different from the former? I can’t comment on the inner machinations of the Horde, but let’s take a look at what we do over here in the Alliance.

Control – Knowing the Boundaries

A key difference between the practices sanctioned (and I use that term loosely) by the Alliance and those of the Burning Legion is that we operate within certain confines that they do not. The warlock trainers in Stormwind are very mindful of their initiates’ progress, and are careful not to give them anything they aren’t thoroughly prepared for. The summoning of demons is also carefully monitored; before a warlock is allowed to bind a demon to his or her control, they must first summon it and subdue it without any outside assistance. Success in this endeavor shows that the warlock is ready to control the demon in question, and also that they’re capable of destroying it if it gets loose. Should they fail, other warlocks are present in the summoning room to help banish the demon, and the initiate must practice further before attempting it again.

Power is still the goal here – as it is with any martial or magical practice – but careful consideration is always given to the cost of that power, and to whether or not it clashes with the ideals of the Alliance as a whole. Sacrifices, for instance, are strictly disallowed. As mentioned before, initiates are tested thoroughly to make sure they’re prepared for any new powers or spells they receive, and are also watched carefully for signs of potentially destructive behavior. If an initiate is caught performing any kind of unauthorized action, be it a sacrifice, an unsanctioned summon, or whatever else, another warlock will stop them, excommunicate them, or, in the worst cases, hunt them down and eliminate them.

Perhaps it seems hypocritical for me to try and sell the idea of warlocks being okay and then bring up the fact that we hunt down and destroy our own members if they go too far, but harsh crimes warrant harsh punishments. Apart from that, it’s worth mentioning that in the Burning Legion, the sort of behavior mentioned above is often encouraged, not punished. Acknowledgement of and adherence to the physical, mental, and magical limits of mortals is a large part of what makes us different from them. That’s why we didn’t start using chaos spells (that’s green fire, for those wondering) until just a few years ago.

Motives – Fire Doesn’t Mean We’re Not Here to Help

Power isn’t the sole motivator for warlocks, just like it isn’t the sole motivator for mages, or soldiers, or any other discipline. Knowledge of your enemy is a wonderful thing to have in times of conflict, and any interaction with the Burning Legion is inevitably going to end in conflict. As such, the drive for many warlocks isn’t strictly power, but information. Warlocks are acutely aware of what types of demons perform what roles both in and out of combat, which ones are the leaders, which ones are the most powerful, and which ones can be controlled or turned against one another. To use an analogy, warlocks are to the Burning Legion as the Ebon Blade is to the Scourge, perhaps with a little less single-minded vengeance. A lot less, actually, but that’s because we didn’t come about due to breaking off of the Burning Legion like they did with the Scourge.

Nevertheless, the Burning Legion has one goal, which is the destruction of everything as we know it. While some of us are, perhaps, a little eager to bring havoc to our enemies, the overarching goal of the Alliance’s warlocks is not destruction, but a controlled pursuit of the power and knowledge of the Burning Legion. Perhaps that’s not immediately pertinent now, with the threat of the Burning Legion having taken a back seat to that of the Twilight’s Hammer, but I don’t see anyone pushing to kick death knights out of the Alliance just because we’re finished with the Scourge for now. We, like them, are perfectly willing to assist with the general causes of the Alliance in the meantime.

The Beauty of Transparency

Feeling better now that the lights are on? I hope so. I’m sure a lot of people who read this are set in their opinions of us, and nothing I say or do will change that. That’s fine; my goal with this wasn’t to get anybody to like us, but rather just to share some information and clear up some misconceptions. So for the rest of you, who aren’t so much scared or scornful of us as just plain ignorant, I hope this has helped you understand who we are and why we’re here, because make no mistake: We are here. We are here so that other, better people don’t have to do the things that we do. We are here, to put it in as simple terms as possible, for you. The sooner you’re comfortable with that, the sooner you can stop being afraid of the dark.

-Hinote Kirase is an experienced warlock and officer in the Order of the Rose. She thinks regular fire looks much better than green fire.


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