The Horde's Dark Bargain

Story Forum
I'd like to preface this by saying this is acrazytheory. This very likely isn't the way the story is going, and it's just me connecting a lot of dots to come to this conclusion. I'm very likely wrong, and I freely admit to it, but I think it's fun to speculate.

The horde story of late has been... challenging to say the least. From the burning of Tedrassil to Brennadam and beyond, the story seems to be painting the Horde as either evil, or being led by a very evil character. Blizzard has said that the Horde is not evil however, and continues to urge us to 'wait and see'. They've also stated that Sylvanas will not be "Garrosh 2.0" or a repeat of past story beats. This got me thinking, what could possibly be going on to explain any of this? I have a theory as to all of this: Sylvanas has already made a deal with Bwonsamdi.

Before I discuss what I think the deal is, I'd like to point out a few things about Bwonsamdi from what we know of him so far. Bwonsamdi has been a Loa that has been worshiped by the Darkspear Trolls for generations, as well as a Loa that had a following in Zandalar, before at some point his temple fell into disrepair. He both seems to move souls to the "other side" as well as being always eager for yet more souls. Doing so seems to increase his power as well, through nebulous means. Bwonsamdi was portrayed as Vol'jin's patron Loa in the events of "Vol'jin: Shadows of the Horde". It is there we learn a bit more about him, and his powers. One of his main powers in the book is the ability to keep people from dying. He uses it once to keep Vol'jin from succumbing to the poison, and again at the end of the book when Vol'jin bargains for Tyrathan's life. Quoting that section from the book:

A shadow hunter's oath. Vol'jin lifted his chin. Perhaps that be sufficient to influence you
The spectral loa shrugged. You have given me many to harvest
He did too. [Vol'jin speaking about Tyrathan]
True.

What's curious about this exchange is that Vol'jin seems to make the claim that Tyrathan claimed many souls for Bwonsamdi, despite the human having never made any pact or bargain with the Loa. (And as a human, one can assume had never interacted with a Loa previously) This seems to infer that even people who have not directly made a pact with Bwonsamdi can still give him souls to harvest, only have the souls either pledged to him by another, or by proxy of having another nearby. We do know that Vol'jin seemed to indicate earlier in the book that this battle, and the ones he and his allies slayed would go to Bwonsamdi. In WoW soul ownership and claiming seems to be fairly loose, and not at all consistent with other fictional worlds. In theory, one could dedicate any battle, and the kills of their side to the Loa of Death.

Now to get into the meat of the theory. Azeroth is dying, and we may not be able to save it even with the Heart of Azeroth. There are too many Azerite desposits all over Azeroth, many of which also seem to be shooting off mists and geysers of Azerite. We may be unable to save Azeroth even if both factions worked together to stop every wound, and put as much as possible into the Heart. If we fail, Azeroth dies, but maybe it could yet be spared. Bwonsamdi has the ability to spare the dying, perhaps he could even spare a dying World Soul, yet to do such a feat he would need an incredible amount of power. The sheer number of souls required to be fed to him would be staggering, if it was possible at all. What if Sylvanas entered a pact with Bwonsamdi then to feed him enough souls so that he could spare Azeroth? She would need to kill thousands ... and the only way she could get enough souls was by starting a war, and pledging that every person slain by the Horde would go to Bwonsamdi.

If this was true, (and that's a big IF) it would let so many of the pieces of this expansion begin to fall into place. We know from questing that Bwonsamdi values certain souls far more than others. Notably he calls out the souls of those who have been corrupted or empowered by Loa as being especially worthwhile. Malfurion, who has been empowered by a demi-god and is the strongest druid on Azeroth, would certainly quality as one of these exceptional souls. Perhaps even worth thousands, or ten thousand lesser souls. It would explain why Sylvanas would want to slaughter entire towns, lure enemy forces into traps to kill them, or even fire upon her own, so long as it is the Horde that kills them. Actions that all become necessary if one needs to harvest as many souls, cause as much death, as possible.

It also does not change the core motivations of Sylvanas, or Bwonsamdi. Sylvanas is still a ruthless, amoral, pragmatist who will do anything to get her goals. Saving Azeroth is important to her since she would die if it died, and if keeping herself alive means killing all her enemies so much the better. Bwonsamdi has every motivation to keep his worshipers alive, and the benefits of gaining so much power would be highly desired for him. Not to mention that it would leave him as Patron Loa of the strongest empire in Azeroth. Lastly it proves Vol'jin's dying action to not be foolish. No other Horde leader would be willing to start a war, cause so much death except for Sylvanas, and without this plan the world would die. Ultimately though, the deal would not make Sylvanas a hero, or her actions 'good', but they would help explain the reason for them. It would change the narrative of the Horde war effort as well, and really explain why this is a 'war for survival', and one that they have to fight. The actions may not be heroic, but they would be necessary as least as far as the Horde understands it.

One final note, is in questing when helping Zul deal with his apprentice, the final quest is called 'Plot Twist', and in it Zul finishes by saying "Remember <Character Name>, Death is a tool."
Just want to point out the Zandalari Tyrathan killed were definitely sent to Bwonsamdi just by being Zandalari. They are trolls and he is one of the most thoroughly venerated Loa if only out of necessity.
Interesting theory and could pan out but we have no indication that Boswandi has that kind of power.

Let me offer an alternative theory.

Sylvanas is already know to be consorting with beings of Shadowlands. Perhaps Boswandi(as he isn't happy with Vol'jin) reached out to her prior to broken shore and offered her a deal. Ill save your soul from the shadowlands if you die and give you power but in return send me a million souls.

Come to the broken shore and Voljin is killed and the "Loa" have told him to put Sylvanas in charge granting her power over the Horde.

You then have Sylvanas going to Stormheim for Valkyr. Perhaps Boswandi told her to go to Helya to get Valkyr to collect the souls.

You have Sylvanas killing thousands of Civilians and Wisps to send the souls to Boswandi during the War of thorns. She is also shown to be able to go toe to toe with Malfurion who is supposed to be the strongest mortal alive. Perhaps its because shes been given Boswandi's power and this could explain her new Fancy powers she shows off at Lordearon.

Come to the current expansion you have Boswandi making more deals with the Horde and Rastakan for more souls/servitude in return for power.

The Interesting thing is the Soul of Vol'jin when you take the urn to Boswandi. Its missing which means someone else has it or hes already been returned to Life. When he says the boss will be mad about this he could be talking about Sylvanas because Vol'jin is the one person who could stop her.
09/04/2018 04:57 PMPosted by Korzuk
Blizzard has said that the Horde is not evil however, and continues to urge us to 'wait and see'. They've also stated that Sylvanas will not be "Garrosh 2.0" or a repeat of past story beats. This got me thinking, what could possibly be going on to explain any of this?

I think this says more about Blizzard's understanding of their own lore than it does future plot developments.
I genuinely like this idea, but I think you are falling into the same trap I was earlier in the prepatch, which is assuming blizzard has more depth in their writing than they actually do.

If your theory is right though, I would be pleased.
Then you have to remember Sylvanas bargain with Helya (who is still alive by the way), and the possibility Bwonsamdi and Helya working as allies under the same "Boss" is out there.
:O I really like this theory. Would not complain at all if this became true, would also explain why she didn't raise the people she killed in Teldrassil as undead if thats her ultimate goal.
I really like this theory but I'm wondering if/how Vol'jin's missing soul plays into it? (Is that a spoiler? I figure most people who would be interested in the story probably already did that quest.)
This would be awesome and restore my faith in CDev.

Which means it will never happen.
Hopefully blizzard reads this, cops your idea and replaces their stupid idea with yours cause God knows they haven't thought of something this brilliant.
Sorry for the delay in replies, and thank you to all the positive comments, as well as rightful criticism. Now that I'm back I'd like to add one small addition to this.

I believe that this theory also does one other critical thing, which is that it explains why we haven't been told about a 'better reason' yet. They keep saying the story will pan out, that things will be explained, but haven't just... given us an explanation. If they wanted to fix the problems that much of the player base (but not all) has with this development, they could have done so. Yet they stick with their 'wait and see'.

If this theory was true (or some approximation) then this helps to explain why it hasn't been told to us yet. That is because, quite simply, it undercuts the tension of the Horde finale "Zandalar Forever". In it the King, in a moment of desperation, decides to bargain with Bwonsamdi and bind himself to the Loa. Then at the end of the scene it shows Bwonsamdi proudly claiming "The kingdom is Ours." If Bwonsamdi is on the 'Horde's Side' or at least has made the Bargain with the Horde, then this entire scene has a changed context. Instead of it being a moment of tension for the viewer, it is a moment of elation. Since it more or less shows that Zandalar, for all our efforts, are now also helping to empower Zandalar, and that we've 'done it'. In short, the reveal of this theory would undercut the desired feel they wanted for the end of that cutscene at the time of viewing it, and that is why they have chosen to wait.

--Also to respond to some feedback all at once--

To Myrothan: Yes, I thought of that too, but at the same time, it seems that people under bargain with Bwonsamdi will send -any- person they kill to him. Else the deal with the Horde player for a million souls, or his general story of being worshiped by the Darkspear would both seem impossible if only Zandlari were eligible. Although I do agree that your view is likely the right one, if this theory does not pan out.

To Hordehacker: Well... the whole point of the alternate theory is to show a way for the Horde to have a reason beyond 'we are pure evil / selfish' and that twist... doesn't really do that? I mean, if they want to make the Horde more evil, they don't exactly need some twist on prior events...

Also, on the power, we do have indication from the Shadows of the Horde that Bwonsamdi has the power to spare the dying, seeing as the book seems to indicate it was due to Bwonsamdi's intervention that both Vol'jin and Thyrathan lived.
09/05/2018 09:30 PMPosted by Korzuk
To Myrothan: Yes, I thought of that too, but at the same time, it seems that people under bargain with Bwonsamdi will send -any- person they kill to him. Else the deal with the Horde player for a million souls, or his general story of being worshiped by the Darkspear would both seem impossible if only Zandlari were eligible. Although I do agree that your view is likely the right one, if this theory does not pan out.


I think we're both right here tbh. All rando Zandalari souls going to him doesn't negate him being able to bargain with other races. He's older than Trolls so him not being to bound to them and just preferring them makes sense to me.
I'd be fine if this is how it pans out, though I kind of doubt it. It'd make her internal dialogue in the books where she goes over her justifications outright lies that she was telling herself in her own head, which would be weird.

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