The Kyrian story progresses in patch 9.1 — what does this mean for the ultimate story of Shadowlands?
Last week, we found out through datamining that the Kyrian are changing the way they do things in patch 9.1. I wanted to talk about that change and how it will affect the Kyrian going forward, because it’s a sign of positive influence from players in an expansion’s storytelling, and we don’t always get to see that — often, it feels like we’re just disaster tourists, going places, getting into gigantic fights and leaving things in ruins behind us as we run off to the next disaster. Its rare for World of Warcraft to give us a moment of reconstruction.
So let’s talk about what the Kyrian are up to in patch 9.1.
Datamined spoilers for patch 9.1 to follow.
The storyline for our old friend Uther the Lightbringer in patch 9.1 is one that bridges Warcraft lore from the days of the second and third RTS games to the present day Shadowlands storylines. With Polemarch Adrestes, Kleia, and Pelagos, we help Uther to face his memories and deal with the lessons learned from them, see how in his anger at what Arthas had done he abandoned the three principles of his Paladin oath — Respect, Tenacity, and Compassion.
We also find out that the Jailer has a special soul vault in Torghast where he keeps various souls and soul fragments, including Uther’s as the First Paladin. Other souls include the Betrayed Father, the Grand Magister, the Archmage Mentor, the Holy Lifebringer, the Golden King, the Guardian of Naxxramas, and the Blood-Queen. We unfortunately can only get one out, and therefore must choose to grab Uther’s, but I’m sincerely hoping we get to go back here at a later date.
After reuniting the two halves of Uther’s soul and facing the memories contained within, Uther and Adrestes move on to reclaiming the Temple of Loyalty, because with Anduin having stolen the Sigil from the Archon the only way to create a new one is with all five Paragons, and with Devos gone and Loyalty lost this cannot be done. Uther realizes his error as they confront his past — that when Arthas expressed doubt before becoming a Paladin, Uther did not listen to him and set him on a path he was not ready for, and when Arthas confronted him after becoming a Death Knight, Uther did not attempt to reach his former student with Compassion but instead met violence with violence, forfeiting any chance to save his soul. Furthermore, his and Devos’ act of throwing Arthas’ soul into the Maw was a complete abandonment of the virtue of Compassion. Armed with this knowledge, Adrestes makes a fateful decision.
The Kyrian reborn, the Forsworn returned
Adrestes takes Uther’s message of compassion to heart, and offers this to the Forsworn holding the Temple of Loyalty — they will be allowed to return to the ranks of the Kyrian, without having to give up the memories they’ve sought to reclaim. Furthermore, from that moment on, the Kyrian will offer new aspirants the choice — they can choose to do so and progress as aspirants free of the pain of their pasts, or they can do as Uther has done, and hold on to their pasts in order to learn from the harsh lessons of failures that made them worthy to serve in Bastion in the first place.
Under Fallen Disciple Nikolon, the Forsworn accept, and the Temple of Loyalty is returned to the Kyrian. Adrestes rises as a Paragon, but not of Loyalty — for in this new path he has forged with Uther’s example, it’s Devotion that will lead them forward, devotion to the principles of helping and shepherding the dead to their final rest. Kleia becomes his Hand, and you have a moment to talk with her about all she’s seen and experienced since you arrived in Bastion, about the positive influence you’ve had on the Covenant and on her personally.
Pelagos and Uther then ruminate on how Uther and Devos threw Arthas into the Maw without the Arbiter’s knowledge, and how he might well have still had a chance at redemption, an act that Uther says was not his choice to make, a dark path Devos led him down. Pelagos then muses that having seen the Maw, he now doesn’t believe anyone should go there, no matter what they did in life.
The future of the Kyrian?
This whole questline is utterly fascinating to me, because it not only addresses the very real problems we as players have had with the Kyrian since the beginning of Shadowlands, but it does so in a way that clearly results in the player’s actions — as a member of the Covenant as well as the Maw Walker — changing the status quo of the Covenant and redressing the flaws that we saw when we first reached Bastion. The idea of erasing memories as the only path to purity and service always seemed really weird to me personally, and this change addresses that — it’s the lessons that Uther learned from the reunion of his fractured soul that allows Adrestes to figure out how to repair the rift between the Forsworn and the Kyrian, a lesson he could never have benefitted from if we hadn’t gone to Torghast and reclaimed it, much less if Uther’s memories had been wiped from him.
With Devotion taking the place of Loyalty, the Kyrian are no longer a group that follows the Archon, right or wrong — they’re now an order that devotes itself to the cause the Archon stands for, and can more readily challenge her decisions. Devos was right in her initial rebellion, which broke her loyalty to the Archon, but quickly veered off of her original purpose as she committed worse and worse acts, sabotaging the proper order of the Shadowlands in banishing Arthas to the Maw without the Arbiter’s knowledge or consent. It’s fascinating to consider what might have happened because of that action — was it this act that allowed the Arbiter to be disabled? We don’t know yet.
But we do know we’re looking at a wholly different Kyrian Covenant now, because of the actions of the player, and that’s really something we don’t see enough in WoW. With Kleia and Adrestes as Hand and Paragon of Devotion, with Pelagos now questioning the need for the Maw, and with Uther the first of a new kind of Kyrian who remember their pasts and take strength from them, Bastion is forever changed.
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