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For the raid instance, see Emerald Nightmare (instance). For other uses, see Nightmare.
Un'goro tree Nightmare raid

A corrupted world tree in the Emerald Nightmare version of Un'Goro Crater.

Xavius legion model

Xavius, the Nightmare Lord.

“I came upon what I can only describe as an overwhelming corruption within the Emerald Dream. An unending nightmare that seized me in its claws and tore at my very mind. I could not break free of its grasp; my disciples were unable to wake me.”


The Emerald Nightmare (or the Nightmare for short) is the name given to the Old God corruption of the Emerald Dream. When the Nightmare spreads, it consumes the life force of all it touches. The more it spreads, the weaker druid magic becomes.[1] It is a realm of death, decay, and nightmare.[2]

During the War Against the Nightmare, it was revealed that the Emerald Nightmare was under the rule of a figure known as the Nightmare Lord, who in fact was really Malfurion Stormrage's old nemesis Xavius. However, it was also revealed that Xavius himself was a minion of a powerful yet ancient evil, residing in the Rift of Aln, and possibly also beneath Azeroth's oceans.[3] Despite the defeat of Xavius and the removal of much of the nightmare through the course of Stormrage, the noting of a still-corrupted area indicates that the Nightmare is still a threat. Its influence is slowly overtaking the forests of Val'sharah through the World Tree Shaladrassil during the events of Legion.

The Nightmare acts like a heavy shroud, warping reality, altering the perception of all living things,[4] and bending the boundary between reality and dream.[5] None are immune to the Nightmare's corruption,[6] and it has been known to take hold of former Dragon Aspects, demigods and even demons. When a mortal has become corrupted by the nightmare, there is no return. Only death will set them free,[7][8] although Elune's power in Tyrande Whisperwind's presence has seemingly cleansed or resisted its corruption to varying degrees on several occasions, such as with Eranikus, Elothir and Ysera.[9][10] Once cursed, the nightmare will begin consuming the victim's thoughts and filling their head with the voices of other corrupted beings, even the nearby flora.[11] The curse itself, however, is known to make the victims very, very powerful, rivaling even that of ancients.[12]




The Dragons of Nightmare, Emeriss, Lethon, Eranikus, Ysondre, and Taerar

The origins of the Nightmare stretch back to 4,500 years before the First War, when a small group of druids led by Fandral Staghelm took six branches from Nordrassil, the World Tree, and planted them over saronite that had begun to appear across the world. The five first branches grew into Great Trees, while the last and greatest branch—planted over the largest source of saronite in the Grizzly Hills—became the World Tree Andrassil. Unfortunately, Andrassil's roots went deep enough that they touched the prison of the Old God Yogg-Saron, corrupting the tree and spreading madness throughout the nearby wildlife. The druids sorrowfully destroyed the World Tree, believing that this act would halt Yogg-Saron's corruption. What they did not know, however, was that Yogg-Saron had used the trees planted by Fandral as a doorway for the Old Gods to access the Emerald Dream. The Old Gods spread small seeds of corruption throughout the dreamways, in time these seeds polluted the Dream beginning what would become known as the Emerald Nightmare.[13] While Yogg-Saron was the Old God who opened the Emerald Dream to its brethren, N'Zoth later became the one who took the most active role in its corruption.[14]

World of Warcraft[]

WoW Icon update This section concerns content related to the original World of Warcraft.
Dragons of Nightmare - Legion

The Dragons of Nightmare in Legion

The night elf druid Naralex's former acolytes in the Wailing Caverns were corrupted by the Nightmare - transformed into the wicked Druids of the Fang, while Naralex himself slept, trapped within the Nightmare. The Green Dragon Eranikus was corrupted by the Nightmare. Even Ysera's most trusted lieutenants (Lethon, Emeriss, Taerar and Ysondre) were warped by this dark power within the Emerald Dream. Malfurion fought at Cenarius' side against the Nightmare within the dream, but was eventually turned into an Unwaking himself.

During the opening of the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj, a satyr which preached the Nightmare's power was situated in Duskwood.

The Burning Crusade[]

Bc icon This section concerns content related to The Burning Crusade.

Thunder Bluff Nightmare raid

A destroyed Thunder Bluff in the Emerald Nightmare version of Mulgore

The Nightmare found a way into one of the wings of the Stormrage Barrow Dens where strange creatures of nightmare suddenly came into the waking world. The Cenarion Dreamwarden were constantly trying to keep the threat at bay. Plantlife was thriving here, but this was not the case in the Emerald Dream. Clintar Dreamwalker could be found asleep in one of the rooms and he was part of the quest chain for Ability druid flightform [Swift Flight Form]. It seems Anzu was behind these attacks.

Wrath of the Lich King[]

Wrath-Logo-Small This section concerns content related to Wrath of the Lich King.

While on the Icecrown quest N [25-30] Hope Within the Emerald Nightmare, Remulos sends the player into a phased version of a portion of Moonglade to gather Inv misc food 02 [Emerald Acorns].

During the Valithria Dreamwalker encounter she opens portals to the Nightmare, where the player can find dream clouds.


WoW-novel-logo-16x62 This section concerns content related to the Warcraft novels, novellas, or short stories.
Barrens 071010 010347 - Overgrowth - Kirkburn 12319

The Nightmare Scar in the Barrens

During the events of the War Against the Nightmare, the Emerald Nightmare was almost able to take hold of the whole Emerald Dream and Azeroth at the same time trapping most of the most powerful heroes of the world in sleep reliving their nightmares.

However, the Nightmare Lord was eventually defeated with the help of a coalition of races, stopping the crisis.

Despite Xavius' defeat at the hands of Malfurion Stormrage and his allies, the Nightmare was not entirely destroyed following its master's defeat. One small part stubbornly stayed in the Rift of Aln, and Malfurion could only seal off the vicinity around the rift until a time that another war would be in their favor.[15] Xavius's spirit was also sealed inside the Rift of Aln.[16]


Cataclysm This section concerns content related to Cataclysm.

The Emerald Nightmare is present in the Nightmare Scar, located at the center of the regrown area of Southern Barrens known as the Overgrowth. The Nightmare's influence in the Barrens following the Cataclysm suggests that the evil controlling the Nightmare may have taken advantage of the Shattering to attempt to infect Azeroth once again.

Taerar still plagues Feralas from the portal at Dream Bough, and Ysondre is trying to stop him for good.

The Nightmare is present in the dream around the Hyjal Barrow Dens, trying to prevent Fandral Staghelm's transfer out of the prison.

Dawn of the Aspects[]

WoW-novel-logo-16x62 This section concerns content related to the Warcraft novels, novellas, or short stories.

During a meeting of the Wyrmrest Accord, Merithra notes that the Nightmare is stirring within the Rift of Aln and seems to be seeking a new Nightmare Lord to replace Xavius. However, Ysera says it is now the duty of the druids to watch over the Emerald Dream as she has become mortal following the Hour of Twilight.[17]


Legion This section concerns content related to Legion.

Il'gynoth, the Heart of Corruption.

The Emerald Nightmare is revealed to be still active, with its source being located at the tainted World Tree, Shaladrassil in Val'sharah at the Broken Isles. Xavius has been revealed to have re-established his ties to the Burning Legion and attempts to use the Nightmare to corrupt the world, while his satyr underlings roam the tainted glades of Val'sharah.[18] However, his true loyalties remain with the Old Gods.[19]

After Xavius is killed, the Emerald Nightmare begins to dissipate and the Emerald Dream is restored. However, a small remnant of void remains in the form of a flower. A shadow priest with Inv knife 1h artifactcthun d 01 [Xal'atath, Blade of the Black Empire] will hear it state that the Nightmare was almost completely removed, but that the Rift of Aln is deep and vast and that the Old God's prison is weakening. The Nightmare still holds a grip on areas of the Dream, as seen in the Deaths of Chromie.

The Deaths of Chromie[]

At an undisclosed point in the future, but before the end of the Fourth War,[20] the Emerald Dragonshrine comes under attack by the Nightmare. The satyr Thalas Vylethorn plots the death of Chronormu.

Battle for Azeroth and aftermath[]

Battle for Azeroth This section concerns content related to Battle for Azeroth.

True to Xal'atath's words, the Nightmare has survived the death of Xavius, at least in a form. It was most prominently discovered by an Alliance adventurer and the Order of Embers during the investigation into the Drustvar region of Kul Tiras. There, the ancient enemies of the Kul Tirans and former rulers of the island, the Drust, and their king Gorak Tul were discovered to have survived destruction at the hands of Kul Tirans centuries ago by escaping into a death realm they called 'Thros, the Blighted Lands'. Though unknown to them, and to the Alliance, this was, in fact, an off-shoot of the Emerald Nightmare.[2]

Later, while the Alliance adventurer worked with Katherine Proudmoore to discover Jaina's location, they found that she had been pulled into Thros. Though the two succeeded in freeing her from the dark realm, and fend off Gorak Tul once more, the Blighted Lands appear to still persist.

Additionally, during the Alliance and Horde's ongoing struggle over Darkshore, Gren Tornfur seems to be wielding the power of the Nightmare in the form witnessed in Legion.

During the fight against Ra-den the Despoiled, Essences of Nightmare and Night Terrors are fought.

WoW-novel-logo-16x62 This section concerns content related to the Warcraft novels, novellas, or short stories.

According to Zekhan after the Fourth War, the corruption of the Nightmare has remained in the Wailing Caverns since Naralex's rescue. In his words, the corruption is stronger than any war machine, greed, or blind bravery.[21]


Shadowlands This section concerns content related to Shadowlands.

While in her wildseed in Ardenweald, Ysera was troubled with nightmares. When the Maw Walkers were working on helping Ysera, nightmare manifestations such as Disturbed Nightmares appeared.[22]


The corrupted environment and beings take the colors black, gray, red, and violet in their appearance. The nightmare seems to have a penchant for fleshy and thorny black-red growths; spreading like weeds and vines. It leaves an ichorous purple mist, from which sometimes nightmare lurkers erupt.

The nightmare affects the ancients and dragons most prominently. Ancients become withered, their bark turning black with red-hewn streaks within it. The dragons become thin and emaciated with strange red light growths. Their skin becomes shades of black and gray in the case of dragons and whelps. In the case of the drakes, their skin seems to have disappeared, leaving them emaciated black bone and red growth skeletal dragons.

Corrupted races[]

In the RPG[]

Icon-RPG This section contains information from the Warcraft RPG which is considered non-canon.

The Emerald Nightmare was created using the twisted thoughts and fears of sleeping beings' subconscious minds to corrupt the Emerald Dream. The Nightmare travels slowly through the Dream, leaving corrupted, vicious animals and Unwaking travelers in its path. Many druids were called to the Emerald Dream to help fight back its effects. The green dragons did what they could, though they dared not risk becoming themselves corrupted. The Eye of Ysera had not yet been approached by the Nightmare, but some feared that one day it will.[24]

The Emerald Dream is not a place of total perfection. It can be shaped and twisted by dreams, usually without a sleeper's knowledge. Sadly, nightmares are themselves a crafting of the subconscious and have given rise to their own place within the Dream. The Nightmare, as the denizens call it, is not a specific location, but a constantly roaming effect that travels about unpredictably. The skies above the Nightmare are constantly clouded, creating a gloomy, depressing zone that weakens and deadens everything it touches. The beautiful green vegetation is twisted into brown decay, while ordinarily peaceful creatures are corrupted into shadowy, mutated versions of themselves known as Corrupted Ones. The Corrupted Ones are vicious and cruel, hunting anything they can, even after they leave the Nightmare's affected zone.

Worse still, some dream-travelers who enter the Nightmare — or are engulfed by its movements — become trapped in the Emerald Dream. They cannot leave, so their bodies back on Azeroth remain in a permanent sleep, slowly starving to death unless tended by helpful aides. While trapped, they are known as the Unwaking; they are also corrupted and will do anything to get back home. The Nightmare is believed to be slowly growing in size and power.[24]

Memorable quotes[]

  • Malfurion Stormrage says: I fear for the worst, old friend. Within the Dream we fight a new foe, born of an ancient evil. Ysera's noble brood has fallen victim to the old whisperings. It seems as if the Nightmare has broken through the realm to find a new host on Azeroth.
  • Eranikus, Tyrant of the Dream yells: My redemption? You are bold, little one. My redemption comes by the will of my god.
  • From the novel Stormrage: ...many, regretfully, were like Lethon and Emeriss, and could not survive without the Nightmare; they melted away as the shadow satyrs had. For that and who they once had been, Malfurion mourned them.



Corrupted races
Concept art


See also[]


  1. ^ N Druid [45] Cleaning Up
  2. ^ a b The Lost Codex 2018-11-03. Blizzcon 2018 Interview: Alex Afrasiabi & Patrick Dawson - Story and Systems | The Lost Codex. YouTube. Retrieved on 2018-11-03.
  3. ^ Stormrage, pg. 389
  4. ^ N [45R] The Emerald Nightmare: Piercing the Veil
  5. ^ N [45R] The Emerald Nightmare: Fall of Cenarius
  6. ^ The Art of World of Warcraft: Legion, pg. 67
  7. ^ N [10-45] To Old Friends
  8. ^ N [10-45] Given to Corruption
  9. ^ Stormrage
  10. ^ N [10-45] The Fate of Val'sharah
  11. ^ N [10-45] Reading the Leaves
  12. ^ Thaon Moonclaw
  13. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 122 - 124
  14. ^ a b World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 25 - "The touch of Yogg-Saron (and later, N'Zoth) was gradually corrupting the Emerald Dream [...]"
  15. ^ Stormrage, pg. 389
  16. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 191
  17. ^ Dawn of the Aspects Part 1, chapter 1
  18. ^ Legion: Heroes & Villains - A World Divided. Blizzard Entertainment. Retrieved on 2016-09-17.​ “With an army of vile satyrs at his command, Xavius will stop at nothing to vanquish all who oppose the Burning Legion.”
  19. ^ Emerald Nightmare raid: Malfurion Stormrage yells: No doubt Xavius and his ancient master delight that so much of our attention goes to fighting the Legion. Their insidious shadow seeps into our world, distracting us with whispers and doubts.
  20. ^ Wrathion's appearance in Deaths of Chromie is his younger model instead of his older one
  21. ^ World of Warcraft: Exploring Azeroth: Kalimdor, pg. 141
  22. ^ N [55-60] The Restless Dreamer
  23. ^ Campaign Cleansing the Vale
  24. ^ a b Shadows & Light, pg. 147
  25. ^ Generic Her Foulness
  26. ^ As revealed by Chris Metzen during the BlizzCon 2010 Quests and Lore Panel