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This article is about the nameless Eternal One who held the title of Arbiter for most of history. For information about the title and other Arbiters, see Arbiter (title).
NeutralThe Arbiter
Image of The Arbiter
Gender Female
Race Eternal One (Humanoid)
Level ?? Boss
Reaction Alliance Horde
Affiliation(s) Pantheon of Death
Occupation Arbiter of the Shadowlands
Location The Crucible, Oribos[80, 49.33]
Status Destroyed[1]

The Arbiter was an Eternal One[2] who dwelled in the Crucible in the city of Oribos and was responsible for judging all mortal souls that entered the Shadowlands and sending them to appropriate afterlives. Originally created by the other Eternal Ones in the ancient past to replace Zovaal, the original judge of souls,[3] the Arbiter carried out her duty for most of known history. She and Oribos were served by the attendants. The Arbiter herself was ever silent; the attendant Tal-Inara served as her Honored Voice to speak on her behalf.[4][5]

At the end of the third invasion of the Burning Legion, the Arbiter was struck dormant by the corrupted soul of Argus,[6] causing all new souls to flow past her into the Maw. She was later destroyed for good by Zovaal, who consumed her essence in order to regain his full power.[1] The kyrian Pelagos later took her place to become the new Arbiter, restoring balance to the Shadowlands.[7]

Background

Origin

The Arbiter judging souls in the Crucible.

The Arbiter's existence predates all memory—even older than the titans, according to some accounts.[8] The first being to hold the title of Arbiter was the Eternal One Zovaal, but when he defied the will of the First Ones and betrayed his duty as Arbiter, the other Eternal Ones stripped him of his power and banished him to the Maw to make him its Jailer. They then used his anima and sigil to construct a new Arbiter, one that would be dispassionate and just and would take up his role of judging souls.[9] According to Zovaal himself, he was "torn in two",[10] and Mal'Ganis described the Arbiter and the Jailer as "two parts of a whole".[11] According to Zovaal, the Eternal Ones designed the new Arbiter to be devoid of will to ensure that she would not defy the design of the First Ones like he had done.[10]

Regarded as infallible[12] and ever wise, the new Arbiter carried out her duty and kept the Shadowlands in perfect order for countless eons. She and Oribos were served by the attendants, who believe themselves to have been created by her. Since the Arbiter (unlike her predecessor) never spoke a single word aloud, the attendant Tal-Inara was given the honor of speaking on her behalf.[4][13]

The fact that she'd been created to replace Zovaal was not common knowledge. To most denizens of the Shadowlands, her origin was as shrouded in mystery as that of the other Eternal Ones. The attendants incorrectly believed that she'd always been the one to hold the title and that she'd been created by the First Ones themselves, as well as that she'd voluntarily chosen to live in the heart of Oribos. The attendants also insisted that the Arbiter had always been a fair and implacable judge. However, there are still some very ancient and worn records that reference a time when the Arbiter was "not quite so benevolent",[14] implying that they're remnants from Zovaal's time as Arbiter. The Jailer was said to be filled with hatred for the Arbiter, and Tal-Inara believed that if he struck her down, it would cause the end of everything the First Ones made.[4]

At some point in the ancient past, the Jailer's nathrezim infused the titan world-soul of the planet Argus with Death magic in order to turn him into a weapon against the Arbiter: if he was killed, his soul would travel to Oribos and slam into the Arbiter's heart. As she had been made to judge mortal souls and not something as powerful as a mad and broken world-soul, this would cause her to break down.[6][11]

Much later, as part of his alliance with Sylvanas Windrunner, the Jailer had his Val'kyr show many of the afterlives to her. Sylvanas saw countless cases of souls being separated from their loved ones and assigned to seemingly illogical and unfair fates, which led her to conclude that the Arbiter was fundamentally flawed—an uncaring judge who had never been alive and therefore couldn't understand any of the emotions and experiences that make mortals what they are.[15]

The breaking

The Arbiter is broken by the soul of Argus.

The dormant Arbiter in-game.

At the end of the Argus Campaign, mortals in the world of the living killed the world-soul of Argus. As the Jailer and the nathrezim had planned, Argus' soul flew to Oribos and rendered the Arbiter dormant,[6][11] causing her to cease directing souls to their just afterlives. Instead, all souls entering the Shadowlands began flowing past her to hurtle directly into the Maw.[4][5] This compromised the very purpose of the Shadowlands[16] as the realms of Death became starved of anima—the vital resource each soul brings with them—even as the Maw and its master Zovaal grew in power from the influx of souls.[4][8] The attendants did not understand what had happened and tried in vain to unravel the mystery.[5] When Maw Walkers first arrived in Oribos, the Arbiter briefly stirred but then returned to her dormant state.[4]

The Arbiter dissolves as her sigil is drawn out of her.

After claiming four of the five sigils he was after, the Jailer managed to expand the Maw to envelop Oribos and ascended to the Arbiter's Crucible. While his ally Sylvanas held off his enemies, the Jailer destroyed the Arbiter's defenses and merged with her,[17] absorbing her essence and sigil into himself and causing her physical form to dissolve. With his stolen power reclaimed, he opened a portal to Zereth Mortis and escaped.[1] Though the four covenants had at this point managed to recreate their respective sigils, the Primus needed to find something to replace the Arbiter's sigil as well in order to create a key that would allow him and his allies to pursue Zovaal to his destination.[3]

Legacy

Tal-Inara and the attendants summoning an image of the Arbiter.

Although the Arbiter's presence was lost to darkness, her voice continued to "sing" within Tal-Inara and the other attendants, allowing them to recreate her sigil with the Primus' help. They then used all five sigils to open a portal of their own to Zereth Mortis.[18]

Normally, Zereth Mortis would have created a new being to take the Arbiter's place, but the invasion of the Jailer and his Mawsworn forces disrupted the realm to the point where this was no longer possible.[16] The oracle Saezurah set out to manually create a new Arbiter,[19] but her ritual was interrupted by the nathrezim.[20] Ultimately, the kyrian Pelagos volunteered to be transformed into the new Arbiter[7] and took his predecessor's place in the Crucible to once again direct the flow of souls to their rightful afterlives.[21]

Notes

  • When Kel'Thuzad's soul arrived in the Shadowlands, the Arbiter assigned him to Maldraxxus due to the ambition he displayed in life. However, Ta'lora notes that, given how important Kel'Thuzad and his position in Maldraxxus later proved to be to the Jailer's schemes, it is possible that the Arbiter's judgment of him was somehow manipulated.[22]
  • An Arbiter pin is available from the Blizzard Gear Store.[23]

Inspirations

  • The Arbiter may be loosely borrowing from various themes common to most religions, and some fictional sources.
    • The notion of the Arbiter judging you immediately upon death (after a Kyrian brings you to Oribos) is representative of the divine judgment concept.
    • Her judging you as able to enter the Shadowlands or being cast into the Maw resembles the Ancient Egyptian judgment of the dead, where each person would be judged by Anubis with Thoth as witness against a feather of Maat, and if the person's heart was heavier, they'd be thrown into the maw of Ammit.
    • The six ribbons from the Arbiter's back, as well as the way there's two sets of motifs going down her chest, two sets from her back, and another from her lower back covering her "legs" partly, may be a reference to seraphs.
    • The idea of an unspeaking, unseen ruler of a city that is at the center of a cosmic plane and connects to all subsequent realms is very much similar to the Lady of Pain within Sigil from Dungeons & Dragons.

Gallery

Videos

Patch changes

References

External links

Preceded by:
Zovaal
Position:
Arbiter of the Shadowlands
Succeeded by:
Pelagos
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