Lore Spotlight: "I am Arthas" - Uther's Tragically Prophetic Story in Folks & Fairy Tales of Azeroth
Blizzard's latest book,
Folk & Fairy Tales of Azeroth
, is filled with interesting tidbits about the lore and possible hints about what's to come. While at first glance Uther's story,
The Paladin's Beast
, reads very much like a King Arthur-like tale, there's a lot more to it than immediately meets the eye.
Folk & Fairy Tales of Azeroth is a collection of short stories set in Azeroth. What makes these stories unique is they are not just stories we are being told about the world - they're the stories that the people of the world tell each other. It's important to note that, while some of these stories are rooted in canon, they are still fables that should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Long ago, soon after the first Paladins were made, they were given by their bishop a task to go out and find ways to prove their resolve. Each Paladin went a different way. As Uther journeyed, he was caught in a storm and thrown into a lake when a bolt of lightning startled his horse. As Uther managed to make his way out of the lake, he found himself in a whole new land, a beautiful maiden bathing nearby with her attendants.
Uther is welcomed by the maiden who tells him her name is Miatharas, and invites him to her palace, though she also seems saddened by his arrival. When he asks why, she explains that, as he's a knight, she expects he will want to fight in the tournament - which means he will die. She hates the tournament, because every year, knights fight in it and die - but it keeps going on. For his part, Uther believes winning this tournament is the way he's destined to prove himself as a Paladin, but he tries to comfort Miatharas by promising not to kill the knights he defeats. Miatharas explains that the knights do not compete against each other. They face a beast, who always wins.
Despite her warnings, Uther is still determined to enter the tournament and win. He attends the feast hosted by the maiden's father, King Gilvin Artenes, where he meets the other knights that have come to fight the beast. A bard at the feast seems to be the only person able to comfort Lady Miatharas. He sings of the king who came before Gilvin - Aslin Artenes - who was slain through treachery.
Though Miatharas continues to beg him not to fight, telling him that raising his sword to the beast will ensure his doom, Uther enters the tournament, and watches as all the other knights die to the creature - a great frost dragon.
He had never seen such a creature, breathing white ice fire, its scales pale blue and black, the ground cracking with frost wherever its clawed feet fell.
- Folk & Fairy Tales of Azeroth
As Uther watches the dragon, he realizes it's shackled and hurt, and that its eyes show pain and fear. He remembers Miatharas's warning about raising his sword to the beast, and makes a decision to approach the fight a different way. He tells it he will not raise his weapon to it, and shows empathy instead. In return, the dragon surrenders, and Uther is granted victory through his compassion.
Uther is told his prize will be given to him by Lady Miatharas, but she still seems saddened. As he approaches her, he notices bruises on her wrists and crusted blood under her fingernails - and realizes she's the beast. She begs him not to take his prize - a jewel that she says is the only thing that she cherishes in this world, that was a gift from her "fated", indicating the bard. Uther agrees to allow her to keep it, but asks why she's made to fight in the tournament. She explains that she disobeyed her father and broke his line - and that this is her punishment. When Uther tries to get her to return to Lordaeron with him, she refuses, explaining that she and the bard, her "chosen", are bound to this place. In fact, when Uther leaves, he himself will forget all he's seen - though she promises it will come back to him one day.
"Many years from now, on a broken field blazing like fire. You will think of me, and I hope the memory will bring you comfort." Her wavering smile vanished, and she clutched the pendant around her neck. "Though I fear it will not."
- Folk & Fairy Tales of Azeroth
Uther returns through the lake, back to Alonsus Chapel in Lordaeron, where he admits he has nothing to show for his time away, not even a memory of his deeds. The bishop, however, points out a crack on Uther's breastplate - cold to the touch, as if struck by ice.
As the years passed, Uther sometimes dreamed of this winter kingdom that he visited, but he would remember no more until he found himself on a bloodied field, blazing like fire, where he saw the beast once more. And then he remembered as his armor cracked again.
Lady Miatharas - Arthas Menethil
The first, most important clue in this story is the fact that Lady Miatharas's name is an anagram. She represents Arthas, her beast form being the terrible power of the Lich King.
MIATHARAS - I AM ARTHAS
The icy cold crack in Uther's armor is, of course, the same wound that Arthas gave him when he died.
King Gilvin Artenes and the king slain by treachery in the bard's song, Aslin Artenes, are also anagrams - for Arthas's father, King Terenas Menethil II - who Arthas murdered shortly after picking up Frostmourne.
GILVIN ARTENES - LIVING TERENAS
ASLIN ARTENES - SLAIN TERENAS
We would like to thank
LFR: A Casual Warcraft Podcast
for pointing out these anagrams!
The bard who gave Miatharas her jewel is not given a name, but he is described. From his description, the fact that he gave Miatharas the power that transforms her into the beast, and the fact that he bound to be punished with her - her "fated" and "chosen - we believe he is the Lich King.
the bard had darting quixotic eyes and a mop of hair that seemed sometimes blue and sometimes black. His face was gaunt, not ugly but severe, the flesh clinging dearly to his bones. Garbed in hose and vest, he stared intently at Uther,
If this story is to be believed, it means Uther received a prophecy long ago, warning him that the only way to defeat Arthas the Lich King would be through compassion.
The story is presented as one "old nans and old grans" of Lordaeron like to tell "fussy princelings and princesses who refused to sleep". We think this means Arthas himself would have heard this story growing up - a prophecy about his own fate delivered as a bedtime tale.
We already believe at least one other story in
Folks & Fairy Tales
involves a character seeing an accurate vision of the Shadowlands -
Vereesa Windrunner in
Sister is Another Word for Always
- and so we can't help but wonder if what Uther saw was also a glimpse into the Shadowlands as well.
We haven't seen Arthas since we watched Uther throw him in the Maw, and have assumed the Jailer has him someplace special. Though it isn't quite as torturous as we'd expect from the Maw, perhaps this endless loop is where Arthas is being kept. The sense that Miatharas still loves her power - and the one who gave it to her - despite the hurt it's caused her and others feels very much like something that should be dealt with in Revendreth. Perhaps her inability to let go of that power - the lack of anything in this loop to help her learn to let go - is, in itself, what happens to a soul that goes directly to the Maw rather than pass through Revendreth. Perhaps by throwing Arthas into the Maw, it's Uther who sealed Miatharas's fate.
Either way, Arthas has had a way of influencing events in Azeroth even now, years after we killed him atop of Icecrown - and it turns out Uther's decision to throw him directly into the Maw had a huge impact on the Shadowlands as well. We're eager to see what's next.
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