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For the 5-man instanced dungeon of the same name, see Azjol-Nerub (instance).
Neutral 32 Azjol-Nerub
WWI Azjol-Nerub
Population20,000
RacesIconSmall Lich MaleIconSmall AbominationIconSmall BansheeIconSmall GhoulIconSmall Skeleton Scourge (16,400)
IconSmall NerubianVizierIconSmall NerubianIconSmall NerubianFlyerIconSmall NerubianSpiderling Nerubian (3,400)
IconSmall Dwarf MaleIconSmall Dwarf Female Dwarf (200)
GovernmentMonarchy
RulerAnub'arak
Major settlementsAzjol-Nerub (was a city in itself)
Minor settlementsDoorward (200)
AffiliationScourge
LocationBeneath Northrend
Azjol-Nerub
Azjol-Nerub (5)

Krik'thir the Gatewatcher
Hadronox
Anub'arak

Ahn'kahet: The Old Kingdom (5)

Elder Nadox
Prince Taldaram
Jedoga Shadowseeker
Amanitar (heroic)
Herald Volazj

Azjol-Nerub (pronounced "ah-ZHOL nuh-ROOB") (a.k.a. Spider Kingdom or Azjol Empire)[1] is the vast underground nation/empire of the arachnid-like Nerubians, located on the icy continent of Northrend. The entrance to Azjol-Nerub can be found in the Pit of Narjun in the western reaches of the Dragonblight. Before its destruction by the Scourge, Azjol-Nerub contained huge libraries of literature, philosophy, and arcane lore.

In Lands of Mystery, Azjol-Nerub is described as being its very own region and located underground. The kingdom consists of two main sections, the Old Kingdom and Upper Kingdom. Part of the Upper Kingdom is controlled by Dwarves, who control a small town known as Doorward, while other areas are controlled by the Scourge. Deeper underground is the Old Kingdom which is controlled by undead nerubians. Brann Bronzebeard claims it may be possible for an alliance with living nerubians if one is willing to help them clear out the Scourge from their empire. Still, some areas are controlled by Faceless Ones.

In World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, the in-game Azjol-Nerub is comprised of two 5-man dungeons: Azjol-Nerub and Ahn'kahet: The Old Kingdom, levels 72-75. Anub'arak, the former king of Azjol-Nerub, is the final boss of the first dungeon. Azjol-Nerub stretches much further than people thought, as it appears that the Argent Crusade has built the Crusaders' Coliseum above the northern reaches of it.

History

AzjolEntrance

Azjol-Nerub concept art

The ancient kingdom of Azjol-Nerub was a result of the aqir split. The Gurubashi and Amani troll empires managed to split the kingdom of Azj'Aqir into two: Azjol-Nerub and Ahn'Qiraj.[2]

Azjol-Nerub was the center of nerubian civilization. It's unknown if the nerubians began here, but certainly most of their race, if not their entire, dwelled here. They left the rest of the world in peace and pursued their interests beneath the ground. Around 20 years ago, the nerubian civilization was still alive and strong. Azjol-Nerub was their kingdom, and the spider-men controlled all its tunnels. Their culture is almost as old as the dwarves', and every bit as attuned to life underground. The biggest difference is that the nerubians focus more on the cerebral and less on the physical; their society had more scholars and artists and fewer smiths and miners.[3]

The Gilded Gate

The Gilded Gate.

That was all before the Lich King, of course. He saw immediately that the nerubians posed a major threat. None of the other races in Northrend had their numbers, their organization, or their discipline. In fact, the nerubians rarely ventured above-ground, but he couldn’t risk that chance. The Lich King eventually attacked; he chose to swarm the underground kingdom and wiped it clean during the War of the Spider. It was long and hard, and the nerubians almost won — They may prefer thought and art but they’re fearsome foes when roused. Unfortunately, the Scourge had an endless supply of warriors and every dead nerubian potentially added to its ranks. In the end the Scourge’s numbers prevailed, and the implacable undead swept through Azjol-Nerub and emptied its tunnels of defenders. The Lich King defeated the nerubians, killing most of them in the process and converting many of the survivors into crypt fiends and other undead. Those who could, fled his touch. The Lich King conquered, and the nerubian civilization all but died. Now most of Azjol-Nerub lies in ruins. It’s still a fascinating place, and many of its murals, frescoes and columns stand intact. The Scourge doesn’t care about riches, material or scholarly, and rich tapestries still hang on the walls while impressive tomes line bookcases. One could spend months roaming the tunnels and still never see all of the great kingdom.

Naz'anak- The Forgotten Depths

Naz'anak: The Forgotten Depths.

Two years ago, Arthas Menethil and the mighty Anub'arak traveled through this area on their way to the Frozen Throne. Azjol-Nerub is a mystery waiting to be explored. It once held a powerful and advanced civilization, and many of its treasures still rest there undamaged. Great riches litter the lower halls, not only gems and magic items but art and literature and scholarly tomes. The Scourge infests this place, and forgotten ones seethe below, eager to return to the world above.[3]

Despite the Lich King's victory over the Spider Kingdom, numerous pockets of nerubians remain, evading the wrath of Ner'zhul, while at the same time coordinating hit-and-run strikes against the forces of the Scourge; however, it is currently unknown who leads the remaining nerubians, or if they even possess a centralized command at all.

Now dwarves are located near the main entrance to the city, keeping the gates shut in hopes that Scourge forces do not reach them. The undead hold many of the floors of the Upper Kingdom. The nerubian rebels hold floors in the Old Kingdom. Many of deepest areas are held by faceless ones.

People And Culture

NerubHive

"Once crafty engineers"[4] just does not cut it.

Most of Azjol-Nerub's once grand culture has been either destroyed or sublimated by the Scourge; they once were a proud race of scholars and artisans, rarely giving in to anger. Nowadays, they are a nervous, almost paranoid race; more commonly giving in to rage, violence, and grief. Since the invasion of the Scourge, they have changed their outlook, activities, and appearance to reflect the event. Most of the kingdom is in the icy grip of the Scourge, with its leader being a former nerubian (now turned Crypt Lord): Anub'Arak.

A more temporary group has sprung up as well — the remains of Muradin Bronzebeard's party, currently led by Baelgun Flamebeard and encamped at the main entrance to the ruined kingdom. There are precious few left, decimated by frequent skirmishes with the Scourge, and unable to hold back the full might of the assault, should one take place. They occasionally trade with what remains of the nerubians for food, information, tools or other goods. More an alliance of necessity, in the vein of "The enemy of my enemy is my friend", both honorable races are unlikely to devolve into backstabbing and trickery.

Yet a third race dwells in the mysterious deeps of the ancient kingdom: The Faceless Ones. Reports vary, with the most common form encountered being roughly humanoid, and bearing a squid-like face and misshapen tentacles where arms would be. Rumors abound that they have some relation to the Old Gods that were banished beneath the earth millennia ago.[5]

Geography

Hadronox's Lair

Hadronox's Lair.

Azjol-Nerub is entirely underground. It’s a fascinating place and stretches for miles. It may lie beneath most or all of Northrend. The rock there is predominately granite, mixed with some igneous stone where volcanoes once rose and where magma from deep beneath bubbled up long ago. The nerubians were thorough artisans and left nary a corner untouched; every edge is smooth and faceted, every corridor planed and polished. They preserved the odd angles created by nature but straightened and widened tunnels into corridors and vaulted ceilings.

Little lives in Azjol-Nerub now. Various lichen and fungi grow in corners and along the walls. The nerubians evidently nurtured certain phosphorescent and luminescent varieties to provide light, and these have since grown unchecked. Bats perch on door-frames and columns, as do spiders of varying size. Underground lakes teem with blind, silvery-white fish, and insects and worms crawl through the soft dirt alongside. Monsters prowl the deeper caves, and the less said about these the better. Adventurers should not approach them unless heavily armed and surrounded by friends.

Shimmering Bog

Shimmering Bog.

Azjol-Nerub can be divided into two sections: the Old Kingdom and the Upper Kingdom. Azjol-Nerub has no separate settlements. Once it was a single unified kingdom. Now it is a shadow of its former self, controlled by the Scourge except where pockets of nerubian resistance lurk or where the dwarves hunker down or where even darker creatures roam unopposed. Azjol-Nerub is not a safe place for several reasons: First, the Scourge controls it. Second, creatures live below, including the strange faceless ones: Ancient monsters long imprisoned beneath the ice and recently loosed again. Yet, even uninhabited, this kingdom would be dangerous. The nerubians set all manner of traps there, including circular doors that must be moved just to avoid them crashing down on the person opening them; statues that release streams of frost at intruders and pits hidden beneath seemingly normal floor tiles. Many adventurers have ventured into this place, hoping for gold and other treasures, only to find death instead.[6]

Subregions

Azjol-NerubThe Brood Pit · The Gilded Gate · Hadronox's Lair · Passage of Lost Fiends
Ahn'kahet: The Old KingdomBefouled Terrace · The Desecrated Altar · Fallen Temple of Ahn'kahet · Hall of the Conquered Kings · Shimmering Bog
The Icy Depths · Naz'anak: The Forgotten Depths · Pit of Narjun

Lore locations
Doorward · Inner Kingdom · Upper Kingdom · Shadow Web Caverns

Dungeons

Ahn'kahet gate

The gate to Ahn'kahet.

NameLevel rangeGroup sizeApproximate run time
Wrath-Logo-Small Azjol-Nerub 72-74 5-man Unknown
Wrath-Logo-Small Ahn'kahet: The Old Kingdom 73-75 5-man Unknown

Implementation as a zone

Azjol-Nerub was going to be World of Warcraft's first subterranean zone. "Buildings, temples -- a look and feel very similar to Naxxramas, since the nerubians are where the Scourge stole that architecture from", says Stockton of Blizzard.[7]

That plan was dropped and developers split the zone into two dungeon instances, Azjol-Nerub and Ahn'kahet: The Old Kingdom.

However, Azjol-Nerub is a huge zone, with a lot of unrevealed secrets and lore locations, so the idea could return for a future expansion.

Denizens

Anub'arak

Anub'arak was formerly the king of the nerubians, but was transformed into a mighty Crypt Lord by the Lich King after the Scourge destroyed Azjol-Nerub, and now serves the Lich King absolutely. Anub'arak was introduced in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne as a secondary hero character. Unfortunately, he does not receive very much story line attention in Wrath of the Lich King.

His character, as portrayed in The Frozen Throne, seems to be strong-willed, cold, calculating, intelligent, a little twisted and devoted to the Lich King's cause. He, as with the nerubians in general, has a distinctly mysterious aura about himself.

References


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