By Our Hand Cinematic Analysis - What's Going On With Elune?
The latest chapter of the Chains of Domination storyline,
Chapter 7 - The Power of the Night
, became available this week, along with a new cinematic -
By Our Hand
- which features Tyrande, Elune, and the Winter Queen.
Warning: Story Spoilers Ahead
During this chapter, we help Huln Highmountain, the
legendary hero from Highmountain
, track down and recruit two former Night Warriors - Khaliiq from Maldraxxus, and The Stonewright from Revendreth - to help with a ritual for Tyrande Whisperwind.
The Story of Chains of Domination: Chapter 7 - The Power of Night
The Story So Far
Night Fae players will already know the third Night Warrior to help in this ritual, Thiernax, who resides in Ardenweald with his husband, Qadarin. During Chapter 5 of the Night Fae campaign,
Night Warrior's Curse
, players learned how Thiernax used the Night Warrior's power to save his world, but this power is too destructive for any mortal vessel to contain it for long, and it began to tear him apart. Qadarin attempted to lessen Thiernax's burden by sharing the power with him. So great was the power, it killed them both.
Chapter 1 - the Battle for Ardenweald
, Tyrande called on Elune to help her defeat Sylvanas, declaring, in Darnassian, "My life for hers". From the accounts of the other Night Warriors, Tyrande should have been granted this deal - however, both she and Sylvanas survived the encounter, with Elune's power fading before Tyrande was able to deliver the killing blow. It still left Tyrande in mortal peril, and, at the time, to save her and bring her peace, Ysera put her in a deep sleep.
Though the Night Warrior's power was too much for Thiernax and his husband to share, the hope is that several Night Warriors may be able to share the burden safely among them. It's a real risk that could destroy them all, but Tyrande's condition has become too critical to justify delaying any longer.
The ritual does not, in fact, go well, with Tyrande becoming more and more consumed by Elune's power. A cutscene plays immediately before the cinematic, during which we see Tyrande being overwhelmed, and the Winter Queen arriving - not to help, but to angrily demand why she feels her sister's presence in her forest.
Immediately after this cutscene, the 'By Our Hand' cinematic begins to play.
The Winter Queen - unusually emotional
The cinematic opens with a side of the Winter Queen that we've never really seen before - a visibly shaken and emotional Winter Queen.
From the moment when we first met her during
the Story of Ardenweald
, the Winter Queen has been almost distant, not because she is cold, but because she has a crisis on her hands. Our first interaction with her involves her leaving before we have a chance to approach and speak with her, as she is simply too busy to stay around and hear us out. Whether faced with the
heartbreaking decision to sacrifice certain groves to save her realm
news of Mueh'zala invading Ardenweald
Sylvanas's attack on her wildseeds
, the Winter Queen has always shown a certain level-headed calmness when dealing with upsetting situations.
This contrasts strongly with how she appears now - angry, upset, her voice shaking with emotion, both anger and hurt showing on her face, as she accuses her sister of abandoning her in her time of need. The Winter Queen has been dealing with devastating situation after devastating situation, yet has managed to keep her cool. Losing it now shows just how much she feels utterly betrayed by Elune.
Winter Queen: How dare you come here, sister, after our cries for aid went unheard, unanswered?
In contrast to the Winter Queen's confrontational tone, Elune, speaking through Tyrande, is not angry at all. As she tries to explain herself, her expression is sad and downcast. She tells the Winter Queen that she did hear her calls, and tried to help.
Elune's Voice: I heard your cries, felt your pain, and in the wake of tragedy, sent forth the cascade of souls to sustain you.
Realization dawns and the Winter Queen's expression softens, as she realizes, as we do, that Elune is talking about the Burning of Teldrassil.
Winter Queen: Oh, the Great Tree...
It has long been wondered why Elune didn't intervene to save the Night Elves at the Burning of Teldrassil. From this line, it seems that Elune, knowing her sister's realm was withering and dying due to the anima drought, chose to use an already tragic situation by sending the souls of the Night Elves who died to Ardenweald, to sustain both the realm and her sister.
There has been some debate and confusion about this exchange. Some have wondered if Elune allowed Teldrassil to burn and didn't intervene to stop Sylvanas for this reason. The line "in the wake of tragedy" suggests to us that Elune's decision came after it was too late to save the Night Elves - that the major decision was to send them to Ardenweald rather than have them become wisps.
Whether Elune did have the power to stop the tragedy completely, or even knew about it before it was too late, remains to be seen. We can tell that she is certainly not all-knowing - For example, Elune does not seem to have been aware of the cause of the anima drought, or of the fact that souls were being diverted to the Maw.
Elune already looks defeated and downcast, and as the Winter Queen tells her the fate of the Night Elves, a new wave of pain flashes over her face as she realizes what she's done to her most beloved children. In an expression of absolute despair, she closes her eyes, and a flash of light appears as a tear begins to roll down her cheek.
Winter Queen: All who perished there were claimed by the Maw.
Elune's Voice: Then I have condemned my favored children.
The Winter Queen's love for her sister
Just moments ago, we saw how angry the Winter Queen was with Elune, but this seems to have faded away as she shows an almost instinctive desire to comfort her sister. Her face has softened completely into an expression of comfort and love, as she reaches out a hand to catch the tear from Elune's cheek and promises her that they may yet be able to save the Night Elves.
Winter Queen: By our hand, we may yet guide their souls unto their spring. Starting with this one.
This change reminds us of the first time the Winter Queen mentioned her sister - when she was
asked to save Ysera
. At the time, she called Ysera her sister's "pet" and seemed reluctant to help her, but saved her anyway, sacrificing her own anima to do so. The Winter Queen initially showing harshness in her anger is not uncommon, but her caring heart shines through in the end every time.
Elune, Tyrande, and the Night Elves
For the first time, we see Elune show an expression other than utter hopelessness and despair. Her face grows thoughtful and alert as she focuses on Tyrande.
Throughout this cinematic, we have seen Tyrande hunched over, her eyes downcast or closed. It's the demeanor of someone who feels utterly defeated, who is weighed down by their own sense of failure and guilt. This, combined with the fact that Tyrande did not know about the fate of the Night Elves, suggests that, for some time, Elune has been well out of her depth.
In other words, the decision to send the Night Elves to Ardenweald does not seem to have been the calculated action of a goddess in full control. It seems to be the desperate action of a sister, frantic to help, making a snap decision that blows up in her face anyway. She is already upset even before the realization that the Night Elves went to the Maw. Elune likely already feels like a failure to her sister, and now, she feels like a failure to her favorite people - the Night Elves.
This moment of clarity on her face shows as she speaks of giving Tyrande the choice.
Elune's Voice: Tyrande invoked me. She must choose. Vengeance? Or renewal.
Suddenly, it becomes a little clearer why Elune's power has repeatedly faded from Tyrande when she's called on the powers of the Night Warrior. As the other Night Warriors that have been gathered can testify, it's a power that can and will lead to the death of the one who wields it. Even when Tyrande herself accepted this cost, calling on the power with the line "My life for hers", the Night Warrior's power would fade from her before it could completely destroy her.
The suggestion is that Elune herself has been stopping and pulling back, not out of any moral objection, but because she loves Tyrande and doesn't want her to die. However, now that she's realized just how much she's failed both Tyrande and the Night Elves, she seems to realize that the only possible way forward is to truly give Tyrande the choice about what happens next - to stop making the decision for her.
Tyrande seems to choose renewal as Elune and the Winter Queen create a new Tear of Elune, which will be taken to the Heart of the Forest, where it will act as the new sigil of Ardenweald.
With this decision made, Elune's presence disappears again. The Tyrande she leaves behind still wears the Night Warrior tattoos and armor, but her eyes have turned once again to blue. While this indicates she probably remains extremely powerful, she seems to finally be cured of the Night Warrior curse.
Sisters across the Cosmology chart: Elune - Life, the Winter Queen - Death
At the end of the questline, when we report the day's events to the Primus, he mentions the fact that Elune is the Winter Queen's counterpart in the realms of Life. It would be reasonable to assume that there are many more similar relationships across the Cosmology - counterpart siblings in Chaos and Order, or Light and Shadow.
The Primus says: The Winter Queen is bound to her counterpart in the realms of Life. Together, they embody the balance of the great cycle.
The Primus says: Through sorrow and understanding, the night fae sigil has been reborn. And perhaps their kinship as well.
Further speculation - What IS going on with Elune?
What's interesting is the fact that Elune does not seem to be fully aware of what's going on with Tyrande and the other Night Elves, even as their goddess, and even as she has been invoked by Tyrande. By this point,
Tyrande knows that the Night Elf souls went to the Maw
, and that though many have been saved, some still remain in peril. If Elune doesn't know about this, what else doesn't she know about?
One of the most striking things about this cinematic is just how utterly defeated and sad Elune seems to be. Her decisions do not, as I mentioned, seem to be the calculated actions of a goddess in control. Instead, she seems to be making increasingly desperate decisions in an effort to help the ones she loves - her sister, Tyrande, and even the Night Elves - only to find herself utterly failing all of them time and time again. And while many have responded to this cinematic with understandable feelings of anger towards Elune, it's important to note that Tyrande herself seems to have let go of her own anger and rage.
Shandris Feathermoon says: Mother... Is it you?
Tyrande Whisperwind says: I am myself again.
Shandris Feathermoon says: What I have seen this day, I can scarcely believe.
Tyrande Whisperwind says: I was present for every moment, and yet... outside myself. As much a witness as you were.
Shandris Feathermoon says: So much beauty in her voice. And sorrow as well. The tear...
Tyrande Whisperwind says: Was mine as much as hers.
Shandris Feathermoon says: The Winter Queen spoke of a purpose for the souls of our people. What did she mean?
Tyrande Whisperwind says: That, Elune did not tell me, daughter. Not yet.
One can't help wonder why Elune seems to be in this state. Bwonsamdi was able to find out what was happening in the Maw. Granted - he had a contact in Mueh'zala, but Tyrande and the Night Elves are Elune's own people. It seems uncharacteristically limited of her to be this much in the dark, this unable to help or make the best decision when she finds herself called upon.
I struggle to believe that we are seeing Elune at her fullest potential, her most powerful. Which leads me to wonder - why is she in the state that she seems to be in?
For ages, the Winter Queen, Tyrande, the Night Elves, and, frankly, the players have wondered why Elune - supposedly an all-powerful goddess - does not seem to be offering much help lately. But seeing her in this state raises the question - Does Elune need our help?
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