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This article is about the title of Arbiter. For the nameless Eternal One who held the title for most of history, see Arbiter.

The current Arbiter, Pelagos.

The Arbiter is the title given to the Eternal One responsible for judging all mortal souls that enter the Shadowlands and assigning them to appropriate afterlives—a role that is crucial to the function of the cosmic force of Death[1][2] and the design of the First Ones as a whole.[3][4]

Three beings have held the title of Arbiter throughout history: Zovaal, who was banished to the Maw and turned into the Jailer by his fellow Eternal Ones after he betrayed them;[5] a replacement, simply called the Arbiter, who continued judging souls for most of history until she was struck dormant by the soul of Argus[6] and later destroyed by Zovaal;[7] and Pelagos, the current Arbiter, formerly a humble kyrian who volunteered for the position in order to restore balance to the Shadowlands.[8]

Purpose

Attendants manifesting the sigil of the Arbiter.

The Arbiter resides in the Crucible, a sacred chamber atop the crown of the Eternal City of Oribos.[9] Kyrian Bearers are responsible for bringing the souls of recently deceased mortals to the city and depositing them into an ever-flowing soul stream which brings them to the Crucible.[10] There, all of the soul's contents—deeds, misdeeds, thoughts, accomplishments, and failures—are laid bare, absorbed, and understood by the Arbiter in the merest fraction of a moment[11][12][13]—an instant so brief that even the most precise broker instruments cannot measure it.[10] With this knowledge, the Arbiter then chooses an ideal afterlife for the soul from one of the infinite realms of the Shadowlands,[11][12][13] opens one of the gateways surrounding the Crucible, and sends the soul through to their destination.[14] The current Arbiter, Pelagos, gives each soul a voice in which afterlife to be sent to, unlike the previous two Arbiters.[15]

If the Arbiter did not exist to guide souls to their rightful destination, they would be lost forever within the infinite realms.[16] In rare cases, if a soul proves to be unsuited to an afterlife, they can be sent back to Oribos to be reevaluated by the Arbiter and assigned to a different destination.[17][18] Due to their central role, the Arbiter's decisions affect more than just souls, but the Shadowlands in their entirety.[19]

The Arbiter is served by the attendants, who tend to the Eternal City so their master can perform the judgment of souls without interruption.[9][20]

History

Zovaal, the first Arbiter

Main article: Zovaal

Zovaal, the first Arbiter, being punished by the Eternal Ones.

The original Arbiter, created by the First Ones in the Crypts of the Eternal[21][22] of Zereth Mortis,[4] was named Zovaal. However, he at some point came to believe that the divided cosmos that the First Ones had created was flawed and would not be able to survive an unknown threat that he foresaw coming in the future.[23] He believed that the sigils held by himself and his fellow Eternal Ones were keys to forbidden knowledge locked within Zereth Mortis' Sepulcher of the First Ones that he could use to remake reality, and consequently tried to claim the sigils from his siblings by force. For his crimes, the Eternal Ones stripped Zovaal of his power and used Domination magic to bind him to the Maw, making him its Jailer.[5][24]

As the Jailer, Zovaal continued to wield the Gavel of the First Arbiter, a weapon with the power to send souls to their rightful afterlives when swung.

The second Arbiter

Main article: Arbiter

The second Arbiter.

To replace Zovaal, the Eternal Ones used his anima and sigil to construct a new Arbiter, one that would be dispassionate and just.[5] This Arbiter continued carrying out her duty in Oribos, keeping the Shadowlands in order for countless eons.[1][13] The fact that the second Arbiter was created to replace Zovaal was not common knowledge. To most, the second Arbiter's origin was shrouded in mystery, and the attendants of Oribos incorrectly believed that she had been created by the First Ones themselves.[25] This Arbiter was eternally silent, so the attendant Tal-Inara was chosen to be her Honored Voice and speak on her behalf.[9][13][20]

The Echo of Argus.

At the end of the Argus Campaign in the world of the living, the adventurers of Azeroth slew the world-soul of Argus. As part of a "gambit" by Zovaal, the nathrezim had secretly corrupted Argus with Death magic in order to turn him into "a maul with which to crush the Arbiter".[6] As a result, Argus' soul traveled to Oribos and slammed into the Arbiter, causing her to fall dormant and cease directing souls to their just afterlives. Instead, all souls entering the Shadowlands began flowing past her to hurtle directly into the Maw.[13][9] This compromised the very purpose of the Shadowlands[2] 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.[12] Zovaal later managed to engulf Oribos in the Maw and destroy his replacement by reclaiming his sigil from her. This restored him to his full power and allowed him to open a portal to Zereth Mortis.[7]

Pelagos, the third Arbiter

Main article: Pelagos

Pelagos becoming the new Arbiter.

Without an Arbiter to stem the flow of souls to the Maw, the Shadowlands would never be able to be repaired.[8] Zereth Mortis would normally 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.[2] Instead, the oracle Saezurah contacted a Maw Walker and their companion, the kyrian aspirant Pelagos,[26] and guided the former into retrieving an empty vessel which would serve as the body of a new Arbiter.[4] However, to be completed, it needed to be infused with a soul from the Crypts of the Eternal.[2]

After several trials and tribulations, the Maw Walker and their allies helped Saezurah begin the ritual, but it was interrupted by a nathrezim who summoned the Echo of Argus with the intent of having Argus take the vessel and become an Eternal One. The Maw Walker defeated the echo,[6] but the vessel was left without a soul.[27] Unexpectedly, Pelagos offered himself up in service to the Shadowlands. Saezurah placed his soul in the vessel and transformed him into the new Arbiter. He then took his place in the Crucible[8][28] to direct the flow of souls to the afterlives once more;[29] a massive step toward restoring balance to the Shadowlands.[30] Pelagos retained his personality and identity[8] and a desire to judge each soul with compassion.[29][31] He decided to give each soul a voice in which afterlife they wanted to be sent to, and that no soul would ever again be sent to the Maw since he believed that everyone deserved a chance at redemption.[15]

References

 
  1. ^ a b World of Warcraft: Grimoire of the Shadowlands and Beyond, pg. 40
  2. ^ a b c d N [60] Restoration Project
  3. ^ N [60] What A Long Strange Trip
  4. ^ a b c N [60] Oracle, Heal Thyself
  5. ^ a b c N [60] Covenants Renewed
  6. ^ a b c N [60] Acquaintances Forgotten
  7. ^ a b Sanctum of Domination ending cinematic
  8. ^ a b c d N [60] For Every Soul
  9. ^ a b c d Blizzard Entertainment Blizzard Entertainment 2020-05-21. Shadowlands Preview: Oribos. Archived from the original on 2020-05-21.
  10. ^ a b World of Warcraft: Grimoire of the Shadowlands and Beyond, pg. 27
  11. ^ a b Blizzard Entertainment 2019-11-26. BlizzCon 2019 | World of Warcraft: What's Next | Full Panel (03:00). YouTube.
  12. ^ a b c Blizzard Entertainment Blizzard Entertainment 2019-11-01. World of Warcraft: What’s Next Panel Recap. Retrieved on 2022-03-12.
  13. ^ a b c d e N [50] Audience with the Arbiter
  14. ^ N [50] The Path to Bastion
  15. ^ a b Pelagos and Kleia dialogue in the Crucible
  16. ^ The Art of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, pg. 27
  17. ^ N [50-60WQ] Things Remembered: Pelagos says: I worry I will never ascend. I will be sent back to Oribos, and the Arbiter will peer at my soul and--
  18. ^ World of Warcraft: Grimoire of the Shadowlands and Beyond, pg. 80
  19. ^ N [60] Help From Beyond
  20. ^ a b World of Warcraft: Grimoire of the Shadowlands and Beyond, pg. 41
  21. ^ N [60] The Infinite Circle: Saezurah says: Howls of wrath and agony. Where once first breath was drawn, now only pain endures.
  22. ^ N [60] The Order Of Things: Pelagos says: If this is where the Arbiter was made, then which came first? These souls, or... so many questions.
  23. ^ The Jailer's Fall
  24. ^ N [60] Voices of the Eternal
  25. ^ World of Warcraft: Grimoire of the Shadowlands and Beyond, pg. 38
  26. ^ N [60] A Mysterious Voice
  27. ^ N [60] The Turning Point
  28. ^ Lore Book: The Purpose
  29. ^ a b N [60] Souls Entwined
  30. ^ N [60] Safe Haven
  31. ^ Arbiter Pelagos click quote: "I will judge souls with compassion."
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