|Race||Eternal One (Humanoid)|
Court of Night|
Night Fae Covenant
|Occupation||Queen of the Night Fae|
|Location||Heart of the Forest, Ardenweald|
“We have but one ruler, and she is our Winter Queen. She beheld the birth of the forest and shall witness the end of all who dare defile her home.”
- — Anonymous night fae
The Winter Queen is the creator and ruler of the realm of Ardenweald and its inhabitants, the night fae, who defend the spirits of nature. She is charged with the sacred task of maintaining the cycle of rebirth: restoring perished Wild Gods, Ancients, loa, and other nature spirits and returning them to the mortal plane. She and the land are one; when the land thrives, so does she. Her sister and counterpart is Elune, who resides in the realms of Life. Together, they embody the balance of the great cycle of Death and Life.
Ardenweald has suffered more keenly from the anima drought than any other realm in the Shadowlands, and this has taken a bitter toll on the queen. For the first time in endless ages, she has been forced to choose which of the land's lush groves—and which souls—will be fed the last precious drops of anima and which will fade away forever, a task enacted by the Wild Hunt.
According to Marasmius, in the early days of Ardenweald, it was just him and the Winter Queen. During this time she was awfully busy and was noted to be a real hard worker. As Ardenweald and its link to the plane of Life, the Emerald Dream, was observed by the nathrezim apparently before Sargeras was corrupted, the Queen has existed as long as the Pantheon was previously active in the cosmos.
The Winter Queen joined with her fellow Eternal Ones in imprisoning Zovaal within the inescapable Maw to be forevermore its Jailer in response to him attempting to steal their sigils to gain access to forbidden knowledge. In order to keep him bound, she channeled the magics of the Heart of the Forest to ensure that the Maw would be inescapable, and that the Banish One would remain forever bound.
Years later, following the machine of Death breaking down and the anima drought which hit Ardenweald, the Winter Queen turned to her sister Elune for aid. Having heard her sister's cries and felt her pain Elune, in the wake of the War of the Thorns, thus sent the slain night elven souls to sustain her. However, unbeknownst to Elune, the breaking down of the machine of death meant every soul was being funneled directly into the Maw. Thus ignorant that her sister sought to help her, the Winter Queen became bitter towards her for the presumed silence.
Winter Queen personally accompanied the Wild Hunt when they sacrificed the wildseeds in the grove of Tirna Noch, among which was the soul of the Wild God Ursoc. The grove's keeper, Ara'lon—who had previously sworn an oath to the queen to protect the wildseeds—initially lashed out against this effort by attacking the hunters. When the queen herself appeared, Ara'lon told her that he had kept faith that she would save them from the anima drought, and he didn't understand why she would send scavengers to his grove. In response, the queen showed Ara'lon a vision of Ardenweald's future, in which the dream trees would topple and the whole forest would perish in the drought. Ara'lon was faced with the choice of honoring his oath or sacrificing Ursoc's soul to preserve the forest. Now tearful, the queen told Ara'lon that his heart was pure and that she would honor his choice. Ara'lon sorrowfully decided to drain the anima from Ursoc's wildseed and subsequently joined the forces of the Wild Hunt.
Maw Walkers were assigned with delivering the Primus's warning to the Winter Queen by Tal-Inara. However with her focus on the anima drought threatening the forests of Ardenweald, the Winter Queen couldn't grant them an audience. Lady Moonberry was quick to offer them a deal, if they could carry out some her duties, she would seek out and deliver their rescue to the Winter Queen. While the Maw Walker would fulfill the end of the bargain, Lady Moonberry was unable to do the same.
After Tirna Vaal was prepared for her arrival, the Winter Queen briefly visited the town. After casting a spell at the tree, she left, not even noticing the Maw Walker walking towards her. As a result of this, Lady Moonberry deduced that despite the Maw Walker's aid, the Queen's focus was still divided across the forest. Thus, she and the mortals united with the goal of lessening her burden, and ensuring that she gave them an audience.
In the midst of her focusing on the Grove of Awakening, the Winter Queen was approached by a group of followers escorting the dying wildseed of Ysera, the fallen matriarch of the Green dragonflight from Azeroth. Upon hearing of Lady Moonberry's request to save her, she questioned why she should save her sister's pet. In response, Lady Moonberry spoke of how those who dreamed by Ysera's side, awake with joy and peace that whispers of wonder, and how if Ysera dies, all that is emerald will die with her. Ara'lon backed her up mentioned that while some must be sacrificed, others must be saved, and should they forgot then all that will remain will be empty shells and sorrow. Agreeing to their requests, the Winter Queen channeled some of her anima and resurrected Ysera, while declaring that she was bound to Ardenweald, and she will share its fate.
After hearing the Primus' warning, she remarked that the Jailer stirring was a greater threat than the anima drought. She then remarked to the Maw Walker that the Heart of the Forest was not only vital to Ardenweald but to the protection of the realms beyond. She then revealed that the magics of the heart was used to ensure that the Maw would be inescapable. That the Banished One would remain forever bound. However, the drought has caused the Heart to wither, and that its strength must be bolstered. However in light of the lack of anima in her realm, she implored her newfound allies with heading to Revendreth and seeking out Sire Denathrius.
She, along with Kyrestia the Firstborne, were stunned at learning from Prince Renathal that Denathrius betrayed them by causing the anima drought and sending it into the Maw itself, revealing his allegiance to the Jailer. Though disheartened by this, she joined Renathal in declaring that the Maw Walker could turn the tide in their favor. After Kyrestia agreed to their reasoning, and declared that each mortal must join a covenant, the Winter Queen promised that when their realms regained their strength, they shall stand together against the darkness.
She then attended a play showcasing the great deeds of those who joined the Night Fae. Following the play's completion, she judged it "an excellent performance." After the mortals personally swore their oaths to her, she declared that they were fortunate to call them an ally and declared them <huntsman/huntress> of the Wild Hunt, champion of the Court of Night, and protector of Ardenweald. She then directed them with seeking out Laurel, the keeper of Renown, in order to get acquainted with the magic that they bestow upon their huntsmen and huntresses.
According to Bwonsamdi, the Winter Queen is too prideful to deal with him. Thus he turned to the mortals in her court to aid in discovering who was responsible for the missing loa wildseeds. After discovering that Mueh'zala was behind the theft, the pair rushed to inform the Winter Queen, who initially believed it to be a mere squabble between loa, before learning of the true scope of Mueh'zala's plans. Though loathed to do Bwonsamdi any favors, she declared that Mueh'zala's must answer for his crimes. Thus she called upon the Wild Hunt for battle. She was later informed of their victory of Mueh'zala's forces, news she welcomed, while promising Mueh'zala will pay for his transgression. She then declared that she must attend to Ardenweald, while revealing that Bwonsamdi's fate was not her concern, leaving it up to the mortals. Said mortals then headed off the De Other Side in order to aid Bwonsamdi against Mueh'zala.
After receiving , detailing how there was no way to liberate those possessed by the Drust, she vowed that Gorak Zhar will pay dearly for the wound inflicted upon her realm. Sometime later, she was approached by Pelagos and Maw Walkers from the Kyrian Covenant, who requested the aid of Ardenweald's magic to forge a new Crest of Ascension, the previous one having been destroyed by the Forsworn. In response, the Winter Queen revealed that while the groves teemed with the magic they sought, only a vessel of Ardenweald could contain such power, and they were precious to her. It was then that the faerie Willowblossom stepped forward and offered to help the kyrian's prepare a vessel. The Winter Queen warned that her choice must not be made lightly, to which Willowblossom declared her understanding of what was being asked of her, and she swore to see it through. The queen acknowledged her words and subsequently ordered her to prepare the vessel for the ritual.
After Willowblossom completed her preparations, the Winter Queen and her court gathered to enact the final ritual. To the kyrian's shock, they learned that Willowblossom had willingly become the vessel for Ardenweald's magic. After being informed that Willowblossom was ready, the Queen and her court successfully completed the ritual. With the last item needed to forge the Crest of Ascension anew, the kyrians departed, with Pelagos promising to honor Willowblossom's sacrifice. Soon after this, she was approached by Bwonsamdi, Vol'jin, Ashamane, Hir'eek, and Shadra. After taking the spirits and Vol'jin, due to being intrigued by his spirit being entwined with that of fallen loa Rezan, under care. After Bwonsamdi then attempted to request something in exchange for Vol'jin's soul, she told him to depart, to which the loa complied.
After Drust invasion force was beaten back from reaching the Heart of the Forest, the Winter Queen was informed of Ara'lon being bent to their will, how the Wild Hunt was subsequently deceived into killing him, and how the Drust now marched upon the Grove of Awakening, while conscripting her own subjects into their ranks. The Winter Queen mourned Ara'lon, and declared that their sacrifices will not be in vain. She then called all of Ardenweald for war and called upon the Maw Walker to lead the charge. After reaching the Grove of Awakening, she remarked that while the Drust believed seizing the grove would bring them victory, in reality the grove shall be their downfall. She then sent Droman Aliothe, Lord Herne, Lady Moonberry, and Zayhad, The Builder to win back the grove's anchors, while instructing the Maw Walker to be the instrument of her wrath. However, despite her fury, the Winter Queen noted that that the Drust could have been protectors of nature and thus almost pitied them for choosing to steal and destroy. In response, Gorak Zhar rejected this pity and taunted her about the Heart of the Forest being destroyed. Unmoved by this taunt, the Winter Queen and the Maw Walker reclaimed the grove's magic and disposed of Gorak Zhar. With the Drust beaten back, the Winter Queen and her court celebrated their victory. In the midst of this she remarked that the Jailer's powers grow and with the Shadowlands facing unrelenting peril, the Maw Walker must stand ready.
The Winter Queen later fully restored the Heart of the Forest, after learning from Lady Moonberry that they had the anima resources for it.
Chains of Domination
Following the attack on the the Archon and the theft of her sigil, the Winter Queen convened with her, Draka, Prince Renathal, and Bolvar Fordragon within the the Arbiter's chambers. During this meeting Bolvar and the other leaders vowed to stand as one and defend the Jailer's next target: Ardenweald.
During the subsequent battle, the Winter Queen was able to deceive Sylvanas into thinking that she had her sigil upon her person, when in reality she had placed it within the Heart of the Forest. As the Winter Queen focused on protecting recovered wildseeds from the Mawsworn, she instructed the Maw Walker to join with Bolvar and Jaina Proudmoore in checking on her sigil. The three subsequently discovered the mind-controlled Anduin Wrynn had already claimed the sigil, and after being informed the Winter Queen declared that their enemy's plan edged closer to fruition. The Winter Queen then ordered for the Maw Walker to return to Oribos and that they must answer for this loss, and action must be taken.
As the Night Warrior power was being drained from Tyrande Whisperwind, Elune took control of her, prompted the Winter Queen to arrive, and demand what her sister was doing coming to Ardenweald after denying their cries for aid. The Winter Queen subsequently learned that Elune did attempt to help, and Elune was devastated to learn that the souls of her favored were condemned to the Maw. Letting go of her former bitterness, the Winter Queen was quick to reassure her that by their hand they may yet guide those souls unto their spring, starting with Tyrande herself. In response, Elune noted that Tyrande had invoked her and it was ultimately Tyrande's choice to choose vengeance or renewal.
In the end, Tyrande choose renewal and released the Night Warrior power, ending Elune's hold on her, and left the Sisters' Tear behind that the Winter Queen used to restore her Sigil and the Heart of the Forest. In the aftermath, she listened as Tyrande spoke with Astarii Starseeker about renewing their people.
Following the end of the Sanctum of Domination, in which Zovaal successfully absorbed the Arbiter into his being and left afterwards through a portal, the Primus called for the covenants to deliver their sigils to him, so that they may follow and stop the Jailer before he could claim the secrets within the Sepulcher of the First Ones. The Winter Queen answered the call by sending Lady Moonberry to deliver the sigil and the steadfastness of Ardenweald to the cause.
- <The Queen regards you steadily.>
- Ardenweald would hear your plea.
- The stars turn, the cycle continues.
- I grant you an audience, mortal.
- We are no strangers to difficult choices.
- Speak, and the forest shall listen.
- Our sacred charge remains unchanged.
- The draught beleaguers us all.
- The Court of Night stands with you.
- Come what may, we must fulfill our duty.
- There is a time for compassion, and a time for resolve.
- The weald shall be watching.
- May your efforts bear fruit.
- Hunt well, Maw Walker.
- Go with the blessings of the wilds.
- I am eternal; my patience is not.
- Do you have a sister, mortal? You are certainly as vexing as mine.
- In place of a Jailer you would have a Queen, as cold and beautiful as the winter. All would love me and despair.
Notes and trivia
- The Winter Queen uses female human animations.
- When designing the Winter Queen, Blizzard's artists initially aimed to create something that stood above and beyond the common Night Fae and felt somewhat different from them, since she is part of a greater order. Beyond this starting point, they considered what kind of characteristics and emotions she would embody and aimed to make her a regal, reserved, and serious mother figure who is experiencing a great deal of sorrow due to having to watch her realm die around her. On top of this, the artists pulled in elements from the creatures the Winter Queen watches over, such as antlers and a cape resembling moth wings, based on the idea that the creatures spawn from her or are shaped by her in some way. Finally, the artists tried to make sure that she and her fellow realm rulers look distinct and stand out from each other while also being a visual embodiment of the zone they belong to.
- The Winter Queen was voiced by Maria Angelico in Afterlives.
- The Winter Queen is welcoming to the mortals for their aid in Ardenweald, however, she has no fondness for Bwonsamdi, to the point of even loathing doing him any favors, even after he warned her of Mueh'zala's planned attack on her realm. The reason for this dislike is currently unknown.
- The Winter Queen is inspired by Western European fairy queen folklore and Tolkien's Galadriel, with some British customs regarding their queen.
- The Winter Queen is based upon various iterations of the Fairy Queen (such was Queen Maeve and Titania), with some aspects borrowing from the Scandinavian jotunn goddess of winter Skadi and the Greek goddess of the underworld that tends to gardens Persephone.
- The people of Ardenweald having a saying that is frequently used as a farewell quote: "For queen and grove!" This saying is likely a reference to the British saying "For queen and country."
- The line the Winter Queen does upon being irritated is a reference of the reply Galadriel gives to Frodo after he offers her the One Ring at the Mirror of Galadriel during the Fellowship of the Ring book by Tolkien.
- The Winter Queen's dress resembles a blue, slightly more elaborate version of the dresses Galadriel wears in the movies.
- The distrust, attitude, and contempt the Winter Queen has for Bwonsamdi may be a nod to how the Irish Brigid is said to have been syncretized and became Irish Saint Brigid of Kildare who then syncretized and became the Haitian Maman Brigitte, who is Baron Samedi's wife but regularly in conflict with him.
- The fact the Winter Queen commands the Wild Hunt gestures to how the British monarch is the Head of the British Armed Forces.
- Her role in the cycle between Life and Death as the counterpart of Elune in being the fall and winter of nature and the Wild Gods, as well as her unique designation as "queen" in the Shadowlands, is similar to Persephone's role in the Greek underworld.
In the Beyond the Veil cinematic.
On the loading screen for Shadowlands.
Quest interface sketch of the Winter Queen and Sire Denathrius.
"Covenants of the Shadowlands" key art by Bayard Wu.
- Patch 9.0.2 (2020-11-17): Added.
- ^ Bwonsamdi in
- ^ a b c
- ^ The Art of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, pg. 127
- ^ a b Blizzard Entertainment 2020-06-03. Shadowlands Preview: Ardenweald and the Night Fae Covenant. Archived from the original on 2020-06-03.
- ^ a b
- ^ Blizzard Entertainment. Night Fae - Covenants - Shadowlands. Retrieved on 2019-11-06.
- ^ Marasmius#Quotes
- ^ a b
- ^ a b
- ^ Afterlives: Ardenweald
- ^ a b
- ^ a b
- ^ Garth Holden 2020-08-20. A deep dive into Ardenweald, the Shadowlands realm of hibernation. SA Gamer. Retrieved on 2020-08-27.
- ^ Terran Gregory on Twitter