Story of the Val'kyr with Nobbel87
This month's lore spotlight with Nobbel87 will talk about the different types of val'kyr in
as we prepare for
expansion. As usual, we'll transcribe Nobbel's video and then provide links to useful Wowhead quests and articles if you'd like to read more about this topic.
Hello everyone! When talking about the val’kyr, we can distinguish three different generations. The ones we first encountered with the Lich King, the ones connected to Odyn revealed later in WoW's development (but created earlier in the in-game universe's timeline) and now the ones revealed during the
expansion announcement, those that hail from an ancient and mysterious realm that predates the titans themselves.
Val'kyr from Shadowlands
At this point in time all we really know about the origin story of the Val'kyr is what was shared during BlizzCon presentations and the minor preview of one of the zones, Bastion. Not a whole lot to work with, but in
we'll dive deeper into the origin of the noble val'kyr as well as the spirit healers that guide us back to the land of the living.
Bastion is where the forbearers of the val’kyr and spirit healers seem to be hanging out, led by their covenant known as the Kyrian. Order and purpose, that’s what they’re all about. The souls that reach this destination had a natural calling to service in one way or another, but souls come with burdens and are not quite ready yet to take on their next role and ascend to a val'kyr, spirit healer, or other paths. That’s why they spend their time shedding those past burdens. Glimpsing and reflecing on events of their lives, both good and bad, and accepting themselves for who they were, who they became, how it all ended so they can move forward in the afterlife. Meditation, reflection, understanding yourself through combat and other means.
That’s the most recent origin story on the val’kyr which I’m sure will be greatly expanded upon as we get to play through the
expansion. These Spirit healers make the determination if your soul is going to pass on between the veil of life and death. A winged beared, a val’kyr, will come to carry your soul into the
where its brought before the Arbiter. Within a moment the Arbiter decides which realm in the Shadowlands you belong to, and off you, along with anima that sustains the realm.
The events of
will deal with the anima being out of balance and the problems that causes for each realm. We get to join the covenants of our choice, including the Kyrian one to prove ourselves, earn rewards and power.
Learn more about the Kyrian on Wowhead:
The Kyrian are the first Covenant that you'll encounter in the Shadowlands, located in the Bastion zone. They assume the role of angelic soul guides, tasked with shuttling souls between the lands of the living and the dead. We compiled all the information shared during BlizzCon into our
Kyrian Covenant Guide
All members of the Kyrian Covenant receive one movement-based ability and one class combat ability. The movement ability is the same for all Kyrian, while the combat ability is different for each class. All other covenants have different sets of abilities; not all have been revealed, but we compiled them in our
list of all covenant abilities
Each covenant will also unlock unique armor sets, mounts, pets, and more. Not many of the rewards were shown at BlizzCon 2019, but we were shown a Kyrian armor set and some cloak pieces with Val'kyr-like wings. Check out a list of all revealed rewards
The second generation of val'kyr calls back to the story of Odyn and Helya. Once upon a time Odyn was pissed off that his other keepers had decided to empower proto-dragons to make the Dragon Aspects. After all, their parents the titans had told them that he was the one left in the charge, the prime-designate, but whatever. He would instead make his own army to help with the defense of Azeroth, so with the aid of Helya they took a wing of Ulduar and lifted it into the skies. There he proclaimed to the vrykul down below that any who died a worthy death would find themselves brought back to his halls to become mighty Valarjar.
The only problem was that he didn’t exactly have the power to bring these souls back from the Shadowlands. They performed a ritual in which the keeper was surrounded in shadow. A spirit spoke to him, asked him what he would give to peer beyond the veil of this world and in response, Odyn sacrificed one of his eyes. The wrath swallowed it and great Odyn saw the Shadowlands. This story will also be expanded upon in the next expansion and from gazing into the realm beyond, the keeper found his answer. “For in life, there exists death, and in death, there can be life. But there are only beings of life and beings of death. My messengers must span both realms.”
The idea of making his own val'kyr did not sit well with Helya. It wasn’t exactly a fun job to have, to live as a cursed phantom being. None of his vrykul stepped up as volunteers so Odyn was ready to enforce the job on someone. She threatened the keeper that if he didn’t change his mind she would return the Halls of Valor to Ulduar which in turn had Odyn find his first victim. Helya, whom he viewed as his own adopted daughter, had now become a threat not only to his plans but to the entire world. The keeper has his own version of what happened next. He describes as them entering a heated battle in which Helya reached into the Shadowlands to grasp that domain’s power for herself.
And in return, she was sucked into that dread realm, lost forever if Odyn had not put his own life at risk and pulled her to safety.
That’s the version he would have you believe while in
, it was Odyn that struck out, shattered her physical form and remade her into the first of the Val’kyr.
Helya screamed a tormented cry which could be heard all the way into the Shadowlands but this violent transformation was just the start. She was now bound to his will and forced to push others into her cursed way of living. Dutiful and obedient they ferried the souls of worthy vrykul back to the Halls of Valor where Odyn turned them into Valarjar.
Learn more about Odyn on Wowhead:
Odyn is one of the central characters in the
expansion. Most players encountered him as a boss in the
Halls of Valor Dungeon
, which Hunters may still want to run for the
pet tame. Odyn then appeared as the first boss in the
Trial of Valor mini-raid
, who now drops the items for the
Warriors interacted with Odyn even more during
, as their Order Hall was part of the Halls of Valor. Players can complete a
for Odyn, recruiting Warrior heroes as followers, the title,
armor set, and the
As covered in the video, Odyn's version of events doesn't always line up with other sources. Inside the Halls of Valor, there are several books devoted to the myth of Odyn and the Valarjar and their artifact weapons:
Players can earn reputation with the
, the chosen Warriors of Odyn, for rewards like the
Helya's Split from Odyn
This went on for quite a while until Helya was given an opportunity to break free from Odyn’s control. She locked him and his army away within the Halls of Valor and sought out her own destiny. She decided to make her own domain far below the Halls of Valor, Helheim, bound to Azeroth's great seas which would be the destination for vrykul spirits after death. But her pain and suffering had put quite a bit of darkness in Helya's heart, her realm twisted and turned into a place of nightmare and shadow. Ending up here as a dead vrykul was not something you’d wish for your worst enemy. Those that ended up in the Halls of Valor became Valarjar, here they were turned into Kvaldir.
And as for the others that were turned by Helya...some of them followed her, others disappeared into the Shadowlands, while a few of them that still had a glimmer of nobility in their souls dedicated themselves to watching over the physical world. From within the Shadowlands, these val'kyr would guide the dead back to the land of the living. This is the origin they build upon in the
expansion announcement. Interesting to see how these vrykul were forced to become val’kyr whereas those in Bastion are actively working towards becoming one. Of course already being dead and having lived a full live helps with that rather than the job being forced upon you.
Yet that origin story of enforcing it doesn’t seem to have seeped into vrykul culture. For them being lifted into the Halls of Valor and become a Valarjar is a great honor. There are those working very hard to prove themselves worthy of becoming a val'kyr. Poems are written and passed down, one describing the histoy of Ashildir, ancient queen of the valkyra. The valkyra are members of the Tideskorn Clan that want to become val'kyr. They’re watched over in battle by Eyir, a titan-watcher that seemingly took over from Helya and goddess of the shieldmaidens who has the power to turn them into val'kyr. Only after they’ve gone through several trials and rituals to receive this blessing as they call it.
You might also notice the difference in color for the val’kyr, gold or a more necromantic blue. The golden or sunborne Val’kyr are only considered sunborne where they are honored in the presence of Odyn. You also have unborn val’kyr, both of them battle pets, the unborn ones have not vanquished a creature of high nobility...the more you know from the pet journal.
Learn more about Helya on Wowhead:
Helya is first encountered in Stormheim questing, when she gives Sylvanas the soulcage to subjugate Eyir in
. To this day, it is unclear what the agreement is between Helya and Sylvanas. Helya then keeps the player in Helheim, offering to release the player only if her champion is defeated. However, when Geir is defeated in
, Helya goes back on her word--but we're saved by a mysterious force.
Helya next appears as the final boss in the
Maw of Souls
dungeon, a fast-paced dungeon popular in
for AP farming. You may still want to defeat Helya for
which rewards the
Helya was not gone after all; she then served as the final boss in the
Trial of Valor Raid
, rewarding the on Mythic difficulty when the player cleared the raid without dying.
Learn more about Eyir on Wowhead:
After Sylvanas fails to subjugate Eyir, the val'kyr has two more notable appearances in-game. In Patch 7.2, Eyir tells Sigryn, daughter of God-King Skovald, that Odyn ordered the assassination of her family, a revelation that cause Sigryn to embrace the fel. This then leads to the
Artifact Challenge, which rewarded a
for some specializations before its removal in the BFA pre-patch. Sigryn was eventually cleansed of the few, and as she was the first Vrykul to do so, Eyir did not punish her, instead allowing her to rule over the Tideskorn.
Eyir later appears during the
in Patch 8.1. In the quest
, we learn from Eyir that Vol'jin was "touched by the hand of valor" which in retrospect could likely refer to the Arbiter in
The Lich King's Valkyr
Then there is the so-called third generation of val'kyr, the first we encountered in
, those that come from the Lich King. Far before
and naturally the
announcement, we were told that these val'kyr were either creations of the Lich King himself or original val’kyr that he submitted to his will, bound to him without a choice. Now, quite a few years later, we know that it’s a little bit of both.
Inspired by Odyn’s val’kyr, the Lich King set out to create his own. Quite a difficult task even for such a powerful being, but after a couple of mis-steps, he finally succeeded. The val'kyr greatly enhanced his ability to control the dark powers of undeath. One of the first things that unlucky new Death Knights encounter are val’kyr watching over them, making sure that the Lich King’s new creations don’t immediately perish in their starting area.
Utilized by the Lich King as a mighty force, you might remember fighting two very powerful ones during the Trial of the Crusader raid. Fjola Lightbane and Eydis Darkbane are known as the Twin Val’kyr, sent to the tournament grounds to mess things up and terrorize the poor people on the ground. Argent Confessor Paletress manages to entrap them, and later we must fight the val'kyr in order to prove ourselves ready to attack Icecrown. We just can’t seem to shake this whole ‘prove yourself thing’ when talking about the val’kyr.
The val'kyr were also a great threat during the Lich King encounter itself in Icecrown Citadel. Here, the val’kyr would just pick you up and slowly carry you to a certain demise. You'd pray that your raid team could focus long enough to damage them otherwise it was game over.
But not just the val'kyr were copied from Odyn (or to be fair, Blizzard copied pieces of the Lich King's story and later applied them to Odyn); the reward system was also offered to the vrykul in Northrend now allied to a death god. Those that were found worthy did not become Valarjar, instead they were turned into Ymirjar, elite warriors amongst the Lich King's ranks. The unworthy or unlucky ones did not become Kvaldir, instead they became Vargul. And once more their culture accepted this as a great honor, something to live and to die for.
Whereas in Stormheim we had the Valkyra pursuing their life goal of becoming a val’kyr for Odyn, in Northrend it’s the Valkyrion that want to prove themselves and become Val’kyr for the Lich King. Seeing this trend you’d almost predict another repeat for Bastion in
but let’s hope they got something more original in mind considering that zone is going to dive into the very origin of the val'kyr.
Find these val'kyr and other characters in Northrend:
are boss encounters in
, a raid located in northern Icecrown. You may still be interested in farming this raid for Tier 9 armor, the battle pets
, as well as notable weapons like
, the NPC who entrapped the Twin Val'kyr, is a boss encounter in the related dungeon needed for the
is the final boss of the
raid, as well as the entire
Wrath of the Lich King
expansion. In Phase 2, the
will pick up and carry players off the platform; it was tricky to rescue raid members as the Lich King also dropped growing pools of
in this phase. Nowadays, the encounter is easy to farm for collectibles such as
is a boss in the
; she discovers the Alliance and Horde plans to invade Utgarde, which leads the Lich King to praise her work. Mount collectors will be familiar with this dungeon due to the
boss who drops
Vargul are found throughout Northrend, notably in the Underhalls in Icecrown and the boss
in Utgarde Keep. You can encounter Vargul, or NPCs explaining more about their lore, in quests such as
King Ymiron, king of the Vrykul, shows up in several expansions. We first encounter
as the final boss of Utgarde Pinnacle, the leader of the Scourge Vrykul. After his defeat, the Halls of Valor were closed to him and he now served Helya in the Maw of Souls, now the
boss. Upon his new defeat in
, the Warrior Class Champion convinces Odyn to raise Ymiron as his servant for poetic justice.
Val'kyr in "Edge of Night"
Not all of the Lich King’s val'kyr were so happy about the partnership as Svala was. When Arthas was defeated and Bolvar picked up the crown, Sylvanas made her way to the top of Icecrown to check things out for herself. After so many years she finally claimed her vengeance of what arthas had done to her and her people. The banshee queen was ready for that sweet embrace of the afterlife she had felt. A sea of comfort, physical sensations replaced by the purity of emotion. She can grasp bliss, see joy, hear peace. This is the afterlife, her destiny. The eternal sea in which she found herself after she fell defending Silvermoon.
That was moments before Arthas ripped her spirit away. The pain so intense that it left her soul forever torn. But she was done now. Saw no reason to continue despite the nine val'kyr around her showing her visions of her life. She wanted it to be done so she jumped from the top of Icecrown onto the saronite spikes down below. This time however, her afterlife wasn’t as peaceful as she remembered it. The realm she ended up in this time was a realm of eternal torment. Even Arthas was there. His essence rushed to her, desperate, then shrank away in horrified recognition. The boy who would be Lich King. Just a scared little blond child, reaping the aftermath of a lifetime of mistakes. If any part of Sylvanas's soul were not at that moment torn and tormented, she might have even felt—for the first time—the slightest glimmer of pity for him. In the grand landscape of all the world's suffering and all the evils of the infinite, the Lich King was… insignificant.
Sylvanas ended up in pretty much what we could hell or after the details given about Shadowlands, most likely the Maw. This is where the Arbiter sends the most tainted, most irredeemable souls for punishment or to protect the Shadowlands from what they bring with them. I’ve personally always wondered why Sylvanas ended up in this place. Before the Shadowlands reveal, there was speculation that Yogg-Saron, self proclaimed God of Death, might have meddled and presented Sylvanas with a vision. As she killed herself by landing on the saronite spikes down below, and saronite is the blood of the Old God, perhaps the realm Sylvanas encounter wasn't real. However, after all of the Shadowlands announcements, her experience in hell definitely feels like a real place instead of an illusion. Perhaps her actions in trying to claim vengeance tainted her soul in such a way that a peaceful afterlife was not for her.
Perhaps all souls tainted like Death Knights or banshees are doomed to go to the Maw because they’re no longer pure. This might put a nice spin on Sylvanas threatening Saurfang with saying hello to his son again. Or perhaps the lord of this place going by the name of the Jailer had something to do with drawing her in--reasons still left unexplained. What we do know is that the val’kyr that were hovering around her on the platform showed up and offered a deal.
Annhylde the Caller and her sister battlemaidens apparently did not choose to serve the Lich King. And now with Bolvar sitting on the throne, not completely in full control of his powers, they want to be released from his control, binding their souls to Sylvanas instead to give her freedom, life and power over death. They would take her place here in the Maw, as Annhylde did right now, in case Sylvanas fell again. The val’kyr at her side are her bonus lives and also offer the power to raise more Forsaken to join their ranks--the undead can’t reproduce after all.
With the Old Gods storylines in
Battle for Azeroth
, we wrote a series of speculation articles on how they could tie in with Sylvanas' plan, or even return to Azeroth, such as
Sylvanas' Endgame and the Old Gods
(leading up to 8.2) and
Hearthstone's Whispers of the Old Gods in BFA
, in which we playfully analyze how the plot from Hearthstone's expansion, reviving all the Old Gods, could parallel a future story in WoW. While N'Zoth is (apparently) defeated in Patch 8.3, there are still many unknowns surrounding the Old Gods, including major details like the fates of Azshara and Xal'atath, and minor details like the
Darkmoon Faire Old Gods details
. There's even a
secret Mythic phase for N'Zoth
that implies we're not sure of our victory, and multiple interview hints, including a
Reddit interview at BlizzCon 2019
, that we could see a manifestation of the Old Gods elsewhere. In short, the Maw may be a concrete place, as opposed to an illusion created by the Old Gods, but I wouldn't rule out Old Gods continuing to influence the story of Sylvanas and death moving forward.
BlizzCon 2019 revealed more details about the Maw, a new max-level zone in Shadowlands, which you can read more about in our
Shadowlands Zones Overview
. Inside the Maw you'll find
Torghast, the Tower of the Damned
, a scalable dungeon with infinite variation and complexity. You'll need to run Torghast to collect runes to forge legendaries, but the lore implications are also huge, as we'll learn about Frostmourne and the Helm of Domination along the way.
Anyone who has played WoW recently is familiar with her current actions in
Battle for Azeroth
and why they're controversial, but if you want a look at her earlier history, including her heroic deeds as the Ranger General, check out our
biography of Sylvanas
Sylvanas' Val'kyr in Later Expansions
Funnily enough, for some reason the Worgen curse makes it impossible for the val’kyr to bring the fallen back to life. We see this play out in Silverpine Forest where Sylvanas is hitting the humans hard and their only choice is to either drink Crowley's blood and become a Worgen like him, immune to the depravity of the Forsaken, or be raised as a servant of the Forsaken. Honestly, they’d rather die than be turned into Worgen, but seeing as how even death provides no relief when dealing with the Lich King, I mean Sylvanas, they embrace it. They drink the blood, choose vengeance and Agatha has no choice but to retreat.
I wonder since seeing how the Worgen curse has its roots with both the Wildgod Goldrinn and Elune and considering how Elune apparently has a part in the future....I wonder if they’ll explain more as to why becoming a worgen apparently makes you immune to being raised by a val’kyr. Not so much being raised by other means but apperantly enough immunity to put a val’kyr on the run...Curious, hopefully next expansion will reveal more.
But back to the nine, those that entered the deal with Sylvanas. With Annhylde taking Sylvanas' place in hell, Sylvanas returned to Azeroth with eight of the nine val'kyr. The resurrected Godfrey shot Sylvanas point-blank too, which led Agatha, Daschla and Arthura to sacrifice themselves in order to revive Sylvanas. This left her with five val'kyr, and then during the battle at Andorhal, she lost Aradne to the Alliance forces, leaving her with four.
During the Darkshore campaign in which Tyrande embraced the dark side of the moon, Sylvanas lost Brynja, which means that three Val'kyr from the pact remain. Kyra who most recently joined Lilian in resurrecting Zelling, Signe who was there in Darkshore when Brynja died, and an unnamed third one.
That doesn’t mean Sylvanas only has these val'kyr at her side, these just seem to be the most powerful ones. A good example would be on the Broken Shore in
, when the Alliance and Horde seemingly worked together to stopping the Legion’s invasion. The Horde was quickly overwhelmed and had to call the retreat. Sylvanas summons her val’kyr for a quick pick up. Five of them are seen flying in the sky, but by that point she has only four from the bargain remaining.
The same can be applied to that final shot of the Shadowlands announcement cinematic. By that time she has three from the bargain left while four are shown on screen. That’s not to say that she hasn’t tried to add more val’kyr to her ranks but it’s not certain that new val’kyr would hold the same power as the original nine. Regardless, more val’kyr means more power for Sylvanas. More power to resurrect more troops. Once she even had a val’kyr participate in a ritual to empower Nathanos’ body.
You can play through the quests depicting the loss of Sylvanas' val'kyr:
in Silverpine Forest (Agatha, Arthura and Daschla),
in Western Plaguelands, and the
introduction to the Darkshore Warfront
Horde players can acquire the toy
with the interesting flavor text "It is said that only the most powerful can dominate the wills of the risen." This has led to speculation that Sylvanas has been using the val'kyr to raise the dead against their will.
If you'd like to learn more about the future of Elune in Shadowlands, BlizzCon 2019 revealed that
Tyrande will play a role in Ardenweald
; this could pick up the story between the val'kyr and Worgen curse, but also develop the story from the Burning of Teldrassil, explaining why Elune was too weak to fully protect the Night Elves.
Sylvanas' Pact with Helya
More val’kyr is a good thing to have for the Banshee Queen, and to accomplish this, she entered a bargain with none other than Helya.
The details of this bargain have not been fully explained, and it may be something that might still very well play a part in the next expansion. All we really know is that she got a lantern from Helya, a soulcage, which gave her the power to trap Eyir.
Sylvanas tried to make Eyir submit, which would allow her to claim the power of the val'kyr as her own, but Genn Greymane showed up just in time to stop the ritual and prevent these plans. That does leave the question as to what Helya wanted out of this deal and how that relates to what we know about Sylvanas. In the past, her
story description had her fate edge closer to the abyss. Sylvanas must decide how far she'll go to protect her people… and whether they're more precious to her than her soul.
Our very first collaboration with Nobbel, the
Story of Odyn and Helya
, covered the darker side of Odyn and Helya's unfinished story, started in Stormheim in
Helya's fate is unclear, as she's the final boss in
. We may be duped as the
Battle for Azeroth
reveals Helya has returned and Valdemar laughs at our surprise, noting "You cannot kill death!" Did Odyn have something to hide from us?
In our speculation post
Sylvanas' Plan - The End of Hope and Rise of the Lich Queen
, we review all of Sylvanas' mysterious allegiances throughout
Battle for Azeroth
, including Helya and Azshara.
Sylvanas Pact with the Jailer
Now it’s been revealed that she’s been in league with the Jailer ever since she killed herself. With the val’kyr at her side, she’s been sending souls to the Maw which in turn empowered her enough to eventually abandon the Horde all together, defeat Bolvar, and rip the Helm of Domination apart. A massive rift between Azeroth and the Shadowlands has now been opened and that’s just about as much detail as we have on the story right now, meaning that there’s a lot of questions left to be answered.
We know that a big part of her motivation ever since that fateful day at the top of Icecrown has been about staying out of hell and avoiding that realm of eternal damnation... So what’s her relation to the jailer? They’ve said she’s not enslaved to him. If you’re looking to avoid being tortured for the rest of your afterlife, a way of doing that would be to never die. Another would be to become the ruler of the Maw yourself. Could the Jailer end up jailed, under the control of the Banshee Queen? Maybe, but then I do wonder if the val’kyr were always aware of this ultimate plan seeing how they took her place. Were they always aware that the day would come in which Sylvanas could set them free?
Interesting stuff to be certain and I can’t wait to see the next expansion go down. See more details about the afterlife, a mysterious realm predating the Titans with infinite cameo possibilities, infinite zones to explore. Will we see a repeat of the "prove yourself" storyline, or will something new be created. Perhaps explain the origin of the Shadowlands and the val’kyr. Who knows! Lets just be thankful that there are spirits out there noble enough to act as spirit healers and guides to the afterlife. Who knows how many adventures we’d miss out on without them...
expansion revealed at BlizzCon 2019, more pieces of Sylvanas' backstory fell into place, which we recapped in
Sylvanas in Shadowlands - Edge of Night, Jailer of the Damned, and Vol'jin's Mystery
We learned at BlizzCon 2019 that the
Jailer is the main villain of Shadowlands
, and not a character we've met before. We dramatically see a silhouette of the Jailer at the end of the Shadowlands features cinematic, which also reveals Sylvanas, now in grey-toned armor and banshee smoke, standing in front of the Jailer along with dark Val'kyr.
In the Shadowlands expansion, players can
for special rewards and abilities,
leveling from 1-60
down from 1-20 due to a level squish, and explore
many realms of death
as new zones. You can catch up on all the BlizzCon reveals in our
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