Many of us thought that the Shadowlands is the AFTERLIFE. However, it turns out that death is not that end seeing as you can die in Shadowlands and that it is just one part of the cosmology chart competing for power. This means that other forces in the universe have attempted to invade it and take over. In particular, the Void Lords launched assaults on the realm of death. What do we know about these campaigns and what really is the Shadowlands?
When Shadowlands was announced, have you ever thought about the point of Maldraxxus? Why does the afterlife need a military and why does it need defending? Afterlife is supposed to be the end, once you die it is over. However, that is now what is happening at the Shadowlands. As it turns out, death is just another force in the cosmology chart and nothing else. In fact, other forces in the universe are battling for it and trying to shift the balance in their favor. This might be hard to wrap your head around due to Blizzard being vague about it but let us focus on the information that we have.
The most important evidence is the memory of the void invasion in Bastion (which you can actually play through as a side quest). It tells us that eons ago, the Void Lords launched a massive attack, not just against Bastion, but against all the Shadowlands in an attempt to shift the balance of the cosmos. This blindsided the Kyrians and involved all of Bastion into chaos. The Kyrians were barely able to beat it and the void was super powerful- how this happened we don’t know exactly. It was not an isolated attack on Bastion as it happened to other realms as well. A theory is, Maldraxxus was defeated or maybe even bypassed as they should be Shadowlands’ frontline to prevent breach from other forces. Which brings us to another interesting bit- we can find monuments to heroes of Maldraxxus, who fought and died against the Void Lords. However, we do not know if this is related to the same invasion but truly is interesting.
In Bastion, after we go through the memory, we are told that there is an eternal tug of war between the cosmic forces of existence. They constantly compete for power over each other but if one fell, all worlds would fall into chaos. Another interesting thing which hints to what is to come in the future World of Warcraft expansions. Certainly it also hints to the first ones as all are brilliantly designed to be connected to one another. This could even be what Sargeras learned about this tug of war, which is why he went crazy and as a creature of order he wanted to make everything neat and tidy. Shadowlands seems unnatural, as if it was supposed to counter the light and the void. So far, we know that Shadowlands is not the only afterlife, but it seems to be so for the mortal souls. We know that demons have their own afterlife, so does the void and the light and even the titans. What Sylvanas and the entire expansion suggests is that Shadowlands is more than likely enslaving us and isn’t good at all which is why they are trying to break it. Paladins Uther and Mograine are two good examples. Why is the Paladin of the Paladins, Uther the champion of the light, being sent like an eternal “taxi driver” for Bastion instead of whatever the light offers? Is the life of service really deserving to work for someone else for all eternity? The light should be able to take him and it does not seem that he has much of a choice in Bastion. As you reach Bastion, you are forced to wipe out your memories and serve them. However the reality is you do not have a choice that is why there is rebellion and so much doubt. Same goes for Alexandrios Mograine who did everything to protect his people and fight the Scourge that was sent to Maldraxxus. He is forced to protect Shadowlands and not by choice. Maldraxxus seems to be a set up where they pick warriors across the universe and use them as their army. They may have lost their faith in the light which is why they were not sent to the light and were not “rescued” by the light forces.
We have seen with Anduin and Revendreth that the light was able to reach the Shadowlands, influence and invade it. Big guess is the void would attempt to consume the souls to empower their souls and to eliminate everything as the void’s purpose is to create chaos. They constantly attack everything from the Titans, to legion and mortal life which explains why they would also invade the Shadowlands. However, the void seems to be afraid of death and sees it as an enemy, maybe even the Jailer. They mentioned Sylvanas serves the true enemy and does not seem to like death. If they took over the void and the light, they would not have their own afterlife and would be forced to be part of their machinery that was set up. At this point, death seems like another force in the universe that somehow managed to enslave life. It is definitely not the end as you can die within the Shadowlands which contradicts the purpose of death. Seems like the void took over life and now every mortal was sent there after death to serve the Void Lords and help them with their plans. Long ago, the Jailer did something like this and got out of control and controlled the entire universe thus the creators of the universe set up a mechanism to keep him in check so the cosmology chart does not get out of hand. If it gets uncontrollable, one force would consume everything. The void wants to attack everything and create a void titan- the titans want to order the entire world in their image and the light wants to do the same thing. Thus it is not surprising that death has the same agenda, but someone put a lid on them by forcing this mechanism and imprisoning the Jailer. All in all, everything revolves around the first ones. The original state of things with the Jailer and Arbiter and how all these forces in the universe were created.
Blizzard did a good job as the lore right now is lush for speculations and it is hard to get accurate predictions on what will happen as it can go either way. The future is seen going towards the void and the light and exploring chart as the story unravels in the Shadowlands.