Those of you who have been following World of Warcraft news will know that part of the ramp up to Cataclysm will consist of the re-taking of the Echo Isles in Durotar and Gnomeregan in Dun Morogh.
Blizzard has released new information about this content, which will apparently be released with the 3.9 content patch shortly before the expansion goes live:
Gelbin Mekkatorque is known as much for his technical brilliance as he is for his just leadership of the gnomes. In addition to being elected high tinker, the most prominent rank in gnomish society, Gelbin proved himself to be an inventor without equal by leading the construction of the Deeprun Tram, which links Stormwind and Ironforge. Yet all of the high tinker's achievements have been overshadowed by one catastrophic event that occurred under his rule: the fall of Gnomeregan.
Around the time of the Third War, an ancient menace known as the troggs surfaced in Gnomeregan from the depths of Azeroth. This barbaric race, thought to have been unintentionally released during the Uldaman excavation, crushed the gnomes' defenses and became entrenched in the lower sections of the city. Gelbin, for all his genius, was at a loss for a way to eradicate the savage invaders until his chief advisor, Mekgineer Sicco Thermaplugg, proposed that they inundate Gnomeregan with toxic radiation.
Confident in Thermaplugg's radical plan, Mekkatorque gave the order to irradiate the city. This bold move worked at first: toxic radiation spread throughout Gnomeregan and momentarily stopped the troggs' incursion. Soon, however, it was evident that the radiation was killing gnomes as well as troggs. In the end, nearly 80 percent of the gnomish race died, and many of those who survived were mutated into deranged leper gnomes. To add to the tragedy, the troggs then resumed their assault on the city.
Mekkatorque and the healthy survivors evacuated Gnomeregan and were taken in by the dwarves of neighboring Ironforge, but Thermaplugg disappeared. The high tinker later learned troubling news that his former advisor had seized control of the toxic gnomish city and instated himself as its twisted overlord. Much to Mekkatorque's shock, he also discovered that Thermaplugg had secretly desired the office of high tinker and might have been previously aware of or even complicit in the trogg invasion.
The immense loss of life at Gnomeregan weighed heavy on Mekkatorque's shoulders, and in his fury he ordered the death of Thermaplugg. A band of heroes took up the mission and returned with a tale of victory, but after analyzing the claim, Mekkatorque realized that the mechanized overlord defeated in the depths of the city was likely nothing more than a cleverly engineered facsimile of Thermaplugg.
Aware that defeating his nemesis would require a more robust approach, Mekkatorque labored over strategies to retake his city. His tireless brainstorming recently paid off with the formulation of Operation: Gnomeregan, a brilliant multi-phased assault plan devised to liberate the gnomish capital and bring the real Thermaplugg to justice. With the operation set to begin, resourceful gnomes such as "Doc" Cogspin, Captain Tread Sparknozzle, and Drill Sergeant Steamcrank have been overseeing preparations and fine-tuning new technology that will be vital to the offensive.
Meanwhile, Mekkatorque has begun rounding up all able-bodied gnomes to join in the attack, and his call to arms has also been heard by other members of the Alliance. The gnomes' techno-savvy has been vital in past conflicts, and many Alliance heroes are likely to join the offensive to recapture the extraordinary inventions within the fallen city. For Mekkatorque, however, his plan goes beyond just reacquiring lost technology. The retaking of Gnomeregan will determine his place in history, either as the high tinker who lost the gnomes' beloved capital, or the one who reestablished it as the center of innovation on Azeroth.
Operation: Gnomeregan is about to get underway.
Most of Azeroth's savage trolls are infamous for their extreme hatred of other races, but the Darkspear tribe and its leader, Vol'jin, are an exception. Over the years, the Darkspears have proven to be invaluable members of the Horde. Vol'jin in particular is known to offer strategic advice to Warchief Thrall on a regular basis, and the cunning troll played a role in retaking the Undercity after it was overthrown by the rebel forces of Varimathras and Putress.
Yet for all of the tribe's accomplishments, the Darkspears are still plagued by a tragic history of exile. Long ago they were driven from Stranglethorn Vale's mainland by the more powerful trolls of the Gurubashi empire and then settled on a remote island. The Darkspears later sought refuge with the Horde when their isle was destroyed by a mysterious sea witch, and Thrall granted the trolls new lands on the Echo Isles off the coast of Durotar. Aside from a brief exodus when Daelin Proudmoore's fleet arrived to hunt down orcs, the Darkspears enjoyed relative stability until one of their own, Zalazane, drove his brethren from their latest home.
The witch doctor Zalazane had been one of the tribe's leading mystical instructors when he was inexplicably driven to insanity by the powers under his control. Utilizing dark magic, he enslaved many of his fellow tribespeople and amassed an army of mindless Darkspear trolls. Fearing that all of his tribe would come under Zalazane's sway, Vol'jin ordered the remaining free Darkspears to abandon the Echo Isles.
Vol'jin's Darkspears settled in nearby Sen'jin Village, which they have since used as a staging point to attack Zalazane. Over the years, members of the Horde looking to test their worth have braved the Echo Isles to confront Zalazane, and many of them even returned seemingly victorious with his severed head. These victories, however, proved to be nothing more than illusions created by the twisted witch doctor's dark magic. Days after these trophies were taken to Sen'jin Village, they reverted to their true forms: painted rocks and coconuts adorned with wooden tusks, or even the heads of Zalazane's enslaved trolls.
Despite these setbacks and his preoccupation with advising Thrall on Horde-related matters, Vol'jin has spent considerable time formulating a strategy to recapture the Echo Isles. Now he believes that the time to strike at Zalazane has come. As the Darkspear leader and his close allies Vanira and Champion Uru'zin await approval of their plan from the ancestral spirits, they have begun rounding up new troll recruits and staging reconnaissance missions to learn about Zalazane's minions.
Yet Vol'jin's trolls are short on forces, and the enslaved Darkspears on the Echo Isles outnumber them. The Darkspears are well-known for being among Azeroth's bravest combatants, however, and fortunately many non-trolls have expressed interest in assisting Vol'jin, perhaps hoping that restoring the Echo Isles will eventually bolster the Horde's strength.
Vol'jin is also aware of the strategic importance that a Darkspear homeland offers his allies, but he is motivated by more personal reasons. Zalazane's betrayal was an affront against Vol'jin's dream of a better life for his tribe, a destiny that his late father, Sen'jin, envisioned years ago. Only by retaking the Echo Isles will Vol'jin be able to honor his father and at long last secure a permanent homeland for the long-exiled Darkspear tribe.
No more information about the actual player participation in the event has been forthcoming, but this does alot to add some substance to the lore behind the event.
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