The Banished One,|
the dark one
|Race||Eternal One (Humanoid)|
|Occupation||Jailer of Torghast|
“Too long I endured the makers' flawed design. I will forge a new reality, where all shall serve... me.”
- — Zovaal upon claiming the final sigil
Zovaal, better known as the Jailer, is an Eternal One who rules over the Maw in the Shadowlands. Ruling from the Sanctum of Domination in Torghast, Tower of the Damned, he is the singular and absolute master of the Maw: the realm continually alters and changes itself to his whims, and he observes all actions of note within the Maw through his magical eye. The damned souls who arrive in the realm are tortured and twisted by the Jailer until they willingly serve him for eternity as his Mawsworn soldiers.
The Jailer is an evil older than reality itself. Ages ago, each of the Eternal Ones was given a sigil symbolizing their covenant's purpose. Zovaal saw these sigils as keys to forbidden knowledge and tried to claim them by force, but his siblings—led by the Primus of Maldraxxus—managed to defeat him. His sigil was stripped from him and given to the Arbiter, leaving a gaping hole at the center of his chest. As punishment for his betrayal, the Primus bound Zovaal within the inescapable Maw through the use of Domination magic to make him forevermore its Jailer. The magic within the Heart of the Forest in Ardenweald was used to keep the Maw inescapable and ensure that Zovaal would remain bound forever.
The Primus hoped that eons of imprisonment might cause Zovaal to repent for his sins, but instead they only caused him to grow more malevolent. Over the ages, the Jailer found a way to weaponize the power of Domination and use it against his enemies. Unbeknownst to the other Eternal Ones, Zovaal did not act alone in his original betrayal; he had a group of like-minded allies who continued acting on his behalf after his imprisonment and have influenced various events on the mortal plane throughout history. The Eternal One Denathrius, ruler of Revendreth, willingly gave his sigil to the Jailer at some point. Another ally was the loa Mueh'zala, who made a pact with the titanic keeper Odyn, claiming one of his eyes in exchange for giving him the ability to gaze into the Shadowlands. This led to Odyn creating the Val'kyr as an imitation of the Shadowlands' kyrian. The Jailer subsequently twisted Odyn's eye into the Eye of the Jailer, an instrument allowing him to see all that transpires within the Maw, and possibly other realms as well. At some point, Mueh'zala also brought the first Val'kyr Helya to the Jailer's side.
The vessels of Domination
At some point, the Primus noticed that the Jailer's influence was seeping outside of the Maw and left Maldraxxus to investigate the matter. Before leaving, he left behind a warning message in his sanctum telling his fellow Eternal Ones that they had to see to their defenses, that Zovaal must not reach "the sepulcher", and that all would be lost if the Arbiter was not protected. He then traveled to the city of Korthia, entrusted his sigil to the attendants there, and bound it with the magic of memory, which he hoped that not even Zovaal could untangle. Once he arrived in the Maw, the Primus' suspicions proved true and the Jailer, having forged his chains into a weapon, brought about his brother's defeat. In a reversal of the way the Primus had once imprisoned him, the Jailer stripped him of his memories and turned him into a broken prisoner called the Runecarver.
The Jailer extracted countless designs to use for the Mawsworn army from the Runecarver's mind, the most notable of which were the designs for the mourneblade Frostmourne and the Helm of Domination. The Jailer intended for these "vessels of Domination" to be a way of establishing his influence on the world of Azeroth so that he could claim his final prize, "the secret that the First Ones sought to hide." Frostmourne and the helm were obtained by the nathrezim of the Burning Legion, who used the helm to imprison the spirit of Ner'zhul and transform him into the Lich King. Instead of heralding the Jailer's coming as he had planned, however, Ner'zhul and his successors Arthas Menethil and Bolvar Fordragon defied the Jailer's will. During his time as the Lich King, Bolvar could sense the Jailer's presence at the edge of his consciousness and realized that Zovaal was the helm's true master.
Sylvanas Windrunner allied with the Jailer after her suicide at Icecrown Citadel. He sent a group of Val'kyr to make a pact with her and allow her to return to the world of the living, so that she could ultimately claim the Helm of Domination from the "false king" Bolvar. Sylvanas and the Jailer have been working toward a common end ever since.
At some point during the Burning Legion's third invasion of Azeroth, the Arbiter fell dormant and all souls entering the Shadowlands began funneling into the Maw instead of being sorted to their just afterlives, thereby depriving the other realms of anima and threatening to make the Jailer strong enough to break free from the Maw. In the world of the living, Mueh'zala whispered to Vol'jin on his deathbed to convince him to name Sylvanas the new Warchief of the Horde. Sylvanas subsequently began bringing about great amounts of death and destruction on Azeroth, thereby feeding the Maw with even more new souls and causing both her and the Jailer to grow more powerful.
“His power rising... his chains broken. The remaking has begun! The hour draws near when the Banished One shall reclaim what is his. Death comes for the soul of this world. Make ready! Feed the lives of the unworthy to the hungering Maw!”
With his bindings broken, the Jailer intended to "reclaim what is his". He also had his sights set on the soul of Azeroth. Should the Jailer break free from the Maw, all of reality will be unmade. According to Tal-Inara, the Jailer is said to be filled with hatred for the Arbiter, and if he struck her down, it would mean the end of everything the First Ones made. Prince Renathal believed that if the Jailer escaped, all the realms of Death would fall. Similarly, Lady Moonberry was of the belief that a freed Jailer would plunge all of the realms of the Shadowlands into inescapable, crushing despair. Meanwhile, Sire Denathrius and Herald Dalora believed that the Jailer would bring a torrent of change that would leave Death, and those who shaped its victory, as the only powers remaining. In a private conversation with Anduin Wrynn, Sylvanas claimed that the Jailer would shatter the system of Death and forge it anew, with everyone truly having free will. Devos of the Forsworn believed that the Eternal Ones' imprisonment of Zovaal was a "great injustice" and that he "seeks to free us from the prison we have built for ourselves".
After Sylvanas destroyed the Helm of Domination and tore open a rift through the Veil separating the Shadowlands from the world of the living, the Jailer's Mawsworn kyrian kidnapped leaders of Azeroth's Alliance and Horde—Anduin Wrynn, Jaina Proudmoore, Thrall, and Baine Bloodhoof—and brought them to the Maw. The Jailer took a special interest in these four prisoners and personally oversaw their torture. According to Thrall, it sometimes felt as if the Jailer was testing them for some unknown purpose. The Jailer specifically wanted Anduin because his plan to obtain the sigils of the other Eternal Ones required a mortal with heroic personal qualities that would allow them to enter the realm of Bastion. The Knights of the Ebon Blade and the heroes of Azeroth soon ventured into the Maw to rescue the leaders and managed to meet up with Jaina, Thrall, and Anduin. The group was joined by Baine after the Jailer declared the tauren chieftain to be unworthy and threw him off a platform. The Azerothians subsequently fought their way to an Eroded Waystone of the First Ones in the hopes of using it to escape the Maw. The Jailer was stunned to see the waystone responding to the presence of Azeroth's champion and sent his Mawsworn army to stop them, but Anduin used the Light to hold off the attackers long enough for the champion to escape. The Jailer declared this to be "interesting", and when Anduin claimed that he had failed, the Jailer calmly responded "No... I have precisely what I need." The Jailer subsequently brought Anduin, Thrall, Jaina, and Baine into Torghast for further torture.
The adventurers, now called Maw Walkers, eventually breached the Seat of the Primus and discovered the Primus' warning. When Sylvanas informed the Jailer of this, he declared that while it was unfortunate, it was of little consequence, and that the nuisance would be dealt with. Not long after, Sire Denathrius revealed himself to be in league with the Jailer and channeled his immense amounts of hoarded anima into the Maw. Prince Renathal stated that the Jailer would surely use this power to shatter his bonds. The remaining Eternal Ones and covenant leaders subsequently decreed that each mortal had to choose a covenant so that the realms could regain their strength and once again stand together against the darkness. With the guidance of Bolvar—who used the shards of the Helm of Domination to peer into the tower—the Maw Walkers repeatedly ventured into Torghast to rescue their captured allies and take Baine, Jaina, and Thrall to the safety of Oribos. However, Bolvar's repeated gazing into the tower eventually allowed the Jailer to gaze back, and the heroes could not find any sign of Anduin, who had been taken deeper into the Torghast than the others. In a private conversation with Sylvanas, the Jailer proclaimed that they had to begin preparation of their new "weapon". Sylvanas convinced the Jailer to leave Anduin to her, arguing that bringing him around into believing in their cause would yield superior results.
Following the defeat and capture of Sire Denathrius, Sylvanas approached the Jailer—who was overseeing the creation of the new mourneblade Kingsmourne—and questioned him on their plans to recover Denathrius. In response, the Jailer merely declared that every soul had its purpose, and that Denathrius had fulfilled his. He then declared that it was time to forge their next weapon and reminded Sylvanas that they had come too far for her to falter. While Sylvanas took Kingsmourne to the captive Anduin and tried one last time to convince him to join their cause, the Jailer struck at Bolvar in Oribos through the Helm of Domination in an attempt to seize control of his mind. However, Jaina and the Maw Walker were able to sever the connection.
Chains of Domination
“The vessel performed its part flawlessly. Three keys remain. Then they will see... Death was never meant to be chained.”
- — The Jailer upon receiving the Archon's sigil
In the hopes of uncovering secrets of the First Ones and the key to fulfill his vision for the Shadowlands, the Jailer pulled a fragment of the long-lost realm of Korthia into the Maw, specifically in search of the Vault of Secrets and its most precious treasure: the sigil of the Primus.
With Sylvanas having failed to convince Anduin, the king was forcibly turned into an unwilling vessel for the Jailer and was equipped with a suit of armor covered in Domination runes that suppressed him to the Jailer's will. The Jailer sent the king to Elysian Hold in Bastion to obtain the sigil of Kyrestia, the Archon of the kyrian. Kyrestia recognized the Jailer's presence in Anduin and demanded that the former release the king from his grasp. In response, the Jailer's voice spoke through Anduin to proclaim that "He is bound to me, just as you once sought to bind your own brother". Anduin then stabbed the Archon through the chest with Kingsmourne to extract her sigil before returning with it to Torghast. The Jailer remarked that Anduin had performed his part flawlessly and that three keys remained before "they" would see that "Death was never meant to be chained".
The Jailer's next target was the sigil of the Winter Queen. He sent his Mawsworn—led by Sylvanas herself—to invade Ardenweald, and the four covenants rushed to defend it. During the battle, Tyrande Whisperwind confronted Sylvanas and revealed that she had killed the latter's champion, Nathanos Blightcaller. Sylvanas was surprised by this, and Tyrande mockingly told her that the Jailer was intentionally keeping secrets from her. The covenants ultimately pushed the Mawsworn out of Ardenweald, but Anduin managed to breach the Heart of the Forest and steal the Winter Queen's sigil. Meanwhile, the Jailer's forces assaulted Oribos to claim yet another sigil, that of the Arbiter, but the covenants and the Knights of the Ebon Blade managed to hold off the attackers. Unwilling to wait for the Jailer to make his next move, the Maw Walkers led the covenant forces in storming into the Maw and Korthia in order to waylay their enemy's efforts. Notably, the Maw Walkers worked with Odyn's Val'kyr to defeat the Eye of the Jailer and force it to leave the Maw for the safety of Torghast.
In Korthia, a Maw Walker, the attendant leader Tal-Galan, and the Primus' apprentice Heirmir recovered the sigil of the Primus from the Vault of Secrets before the Mawsworn had a chance to. Hoping to untangle the magic binding it, Heirmir and the Maw Walker brought it to the Runecarver in Torghast, causing all of his memories to be restored and transforming him back into the Primus. The Jailer immediately noticed this and arrived to the Runecarver's Oubliette with a Mawsworn army. While Heirmir and the hero battled the minions, Zovaal and the Primus fought by launching beams of energy at each other. As the battle progressed, the Jailer stunned Heirmir and the Maw Walker and summoned Anduin. The Primus reminded his brother that his sigil would be lost forever if he was struck down, but he wasn't expecting Anduin to be carrying a mourneblade. Anduin used Kingsmourne to sever the sigil from the Primus' body and launch it into the Jailer's waiting hand. Having now obtained all but one of the sigils he needed, Zovaal teleported himself and his minions away, allowing the Primus and his allies to leave Torghast alive. The Primus considered Zovaal to be a fool for letting them live and believed that his desire to have them bend to his will would be his undoing. He subsequently stated that the mortals had to face Zovaal in his seat of power, the Sanctum of Domination. As a contingency, each of the covenants also had to forge new sigils so that they could pursue Zovaal in case the assault failed.
The Maw Walkers and their allies—Bolvar, Thrall, and Jaina—later assaulted the sanctum, while the Jailer began enacting his plan to steal the final key from the Arbiter. The heroes fought their way through his minions and confronted Sylvanas, who stalled them long enough for Zovaal to envelop Oribos in the Maw, ascend to the Crucible, and absorb the essence of the Arbiter—the prize that was originally stolen from him. The orb-shaped sigil entered and filled the hole in his chest, causing him to gain a full set of armor. The victorious Jailer immediately opened a large portal of unknown yellow magic behind him before using Domination to chain Thrall, Bolvar, and Jaina and force them to kneel. Sylvanas shouted at Zovaal that they now had everything they needed, but he replied that he had endured "the makers' flawed design" for too long and revealed his true goal: not to break the system of Death and give everyone free will as Sylvanas had believed, but to forge a new reality where all would be forced to serve him. Remembering similar statements by Arthas and the Lich King, Sylvanas fired a black arrow at the Jailer, but he caught and destroyed it without so much as laying an eye on her. She told him that she would never serve, thereby effectively turning against him. After a brief silence, the Jailer told her that it was a "pity" that she was still "chained by mortality". However, as payment for helping him regain what was stolen from him, he gave Sylvanas the fragment of her soul that had been severed by Frostmourne many years prior, causing her to collapse. With Sylvanas no longer of any use to him, the Jailer unchained the Maw Walkers' allies and left Sylvanas' fate in their hands before telling Anduin to accompany him and bear witness to the end of reality. The two left through the portal, which closed behind them.
- Maldraxxus storyline
- Main article: A Glimpse into Darkness#Notes
- Torghast questline
- Main article: Rule 1: Have an Escape Plan#Notes
- Main article: Eye of the Jailer (mechanic)#Mechanics
- Main article: Torment Chamber: Thrall#Notes
- Main article: The Highlord's Vision#Notes
- Main article: A Mourneblade Born#Notes
- Main article: The Jailer's Grasp#Notes
- Chains of Domination campaign
- Main article: The First Move#Notes
- Main article: Untangling the Sigil#Notes
- Sanctum of Domination
- Main article: Sylvanas Windrunner (tactics)#Quotes
Notes and trivia
- Despite fan speculation, the Jailer is intended to be a new character and is not someone that players have met before (such as Arthas, Argus or Helya). Steve Danuser has described him as an important part of the Warcraft cosmology.
- Ion Hazzikostas has described the Jailer as a "titan-level" or "titan plus plus level" antagonist.
- Five large pillars can be seen floating around the Crucible in Oribos. Four are used by the covenant leaders during , but the fifth—which is located directly opposite of the Arbiter and has a noticeably damaged appearance—remains unoccupied. This fifth pillar apparently belonged to Zovaal before his banishment, as shown by the covenant leaders directing their gazes at it while discussing him in .
- The Jailer was first seen in the Shadowlands reveal trailer at BlizzCon 2019, in which only a silhouette of his body is shown. In late November 2019, an alleged piece of concept art of the Jailer where his design matches the one in the trailer was shared by the YouTuber Pyromancer, who had been sent an image of the concept after it was posted on Twitter. The Jailer's in-game model, however, looks drastically different from both of these depictions, notably lacking the hair and armor he was originally depicted with. When asked about this in April 2020, Ion Hazzikostas stated that the difference in design between the original trailer and his in-game model was not because of any story reasons but simply because Blizzard had not finalized the Jailer's design by the time the trailer was released at BlizzCon.
- The Jailer is voiced by Edward Bosco.
- Within the Sanctum of Domination, Kel'Thuzad claims to have served Zovaal all along. However, it is unknown if that meant Zovaal was in direct with Kel'Thuzad during the Third War or if the fact that the Lich King was meant to be his herald convinced Kel'Thuzad that the Jailer was the true master of the Scourge all along.
- The Jailer can be seen as a composite of various mythological antagonists from various cultures and religions.
- As both prisoner and ruler of the Maw, the Jailer shares similarities with some Christian depictions of Satan, notably the version depicted in Dante's Inferno given the cold/ice motifs, and his overlording of the Maw, which draws similarities to the popularized conceptualization of hell, and the fact he was banished for seeking forbidden knowledge, similar to the myths of the forbidden fruit.
- Other Abrahamic Satan motifs can be seen in both the winged Mawsworn (i.e. fallen angels of Christian Satan) and in the aesthetics of the shades in the Maw as spirits seemingly composed of ash and fire (i.e. jinn of Islamic Satan).
- Given his pulling of Korthia into the Maw (from the Mesopotamian underworld called Kur), and the fact he wasn't always in the Maw, Nergal may have been another source of inspiration.
- The way the Jailer's created the Lich King (likely inspired by a combination of Warhammaer's Arkhan the Black the Liche King and Tolkien's the Witch-King of Angmar who ruled the Nazgûl) gestures to his being inspired by Sauron.
- Zovaal's name may be derived from either or both Bulgarian зова (zova, derivative words meaning to summon/to name), Bulgarian зобам (zobam, to devour), Polish zobaczyć (to see).
The Jailer's original appearance in the Shadowlands reveal trailer.
In the Beyond the Veil cinematic.
On the Shadowlands loading screen
The Jailer from The Highlord's Vision in-game cinematic.
- Patch 9.0.2 (2020-11-17): Added.
- ^ a b c
- ^ a b
- ^ a b c d
- ^ The Art of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, pg. 201
- ^ a b c Sanctum of Domination ending cinematic
- ^ a b c d e
- ^ The Art of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, pg. 187
- ^ The Art of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, pg. 175, pg. 190
- ^ a b c d Blizzard Entertainment 2019-11-02. BlizzCon 2019 - World of Warcraft: Q&A. Retrieved on 2019-11-03. (MMO-Champion transcript/Wowhead transcript)
- ^ a b Jez Corden 2020-07-09. World of Warcraft Shadowlands interview: Customization, progression, balance, and more with Ion Hazzikostas. Windows Central. Archived from the original on 2020-07-14.
- ^ a b perculia 2020-07-09. The Final Boss of Shadowlands. Wowhead. Archived from the original on 2020-07-09.
- ^ The Art of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, pg. 204
- ^ a b
- ^ a b c d
- ^ a b c d Bellular 2021-02-22. Simply AWESOME! Blizz Devs Hint Spicy New Lore & Major Game Fixes - Torghast V2?! (0:40 - 03:45). YouTube. Retrieved on 2021-03-23.
- ^ The Lost Codex 2019-11-05. BlizzCon 2019 Interview: Steve Danuser & Frank Kowalkowski - Story and Systems (07:20 - 08:50). YouTube. Retrieved on 2020-11-23.
- ^ a b c Mueh'zala yells: It be Mueh'zala who brought Helya to da Jailer's side... struck a deal for ol' Odyn's eye... and made da Banshee warchief with a whisper!
- ^ The Legend of Odyn: The Keeper's Eye
- ^ Garth Holden 2020-05-28. A deep dive into Bastion, the Shadowlands realm of selflessness and greater purpose. SA Gamer. Retrieved on 2020-11-23.
- ^ Eye of the Jailer#Adventure Guide
- ^ Garth Holden 2020-09-24. A deep dive into Maldraxxus, the defenders of Death. SA Gamer. Archived from the original on 2020-09-24.
- ^ a b
- ^ a b
- ^ a b
- ^ Taelia, Jaina, and Calia dialogue in Oribos
- ^ a b The Art of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, pg. 197: The Veil between realms wanes. The Helm of Domination was crafted to be our way forward; instead, the one seared by the flames of Life uses it to keep us at bay.
- ^ a b Helm of Domination Exclusive Replica. Blizzard Gear Store. Archived from the original on 2021-03-21. “Forged according to the Jailer's will, the Helm of Domination was to be the vessel of Death's influence on Azeroth. The nathrezim imprisoned the spirit of the orc chieftain Ner'zhul within the helm, granting him command over a vast army of undead Scourge.”
- ^ a b c
- ^ Remnant of Ner'zhul#Adventure Journal
- ^ The Art of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, pg. 178
- ^ a b c Blizzard Entertainment 2019-11-26. BlizzCon 2019 | World of Warcraft: What's Next | Full Panel. YouTube.
- ^ a b Blizzard Entertainment 2019-11-01. World of Warcraft: What’s Next Panel Recap. Retrieved on 2019-11-02.
- ^ Azeroth Radio 2019-11-03. John Hight & Johnny Cash SHADOWLANDS Interview! | BLIZZCON 2019! (06:57). YouTube. Retrieved on 2019-11-07.
- ^ a b
- ^ a b c
- ^ Shadowlands - Home. Retrieved on 2020-12-27. “An ancient force of death threatens to break its bonds and unravel reality. [...] Now you must investigate a conspiracy to unmake the cosmos [...] Should the ancient evil chained here break free, all of reality will be consumed.”
- ^ a b
- ^ Conversation between Devos and Kyrestia at the Seat of the Archon
- ^ World of Warcraft 2020-02-21. BlizzConline 2021 - World of Warcraft Q&A (02:25). YouTube. Retrieved on 2021-03-23.
- ^ Blizzard Entertainment. Shadowlands - Home. Retrieved on 2020-12-27. “Once, the Jailer kept only the most dangerous souls in the cosmos confined in this eternal prison. Now, some of Azeroth’s greatest heroes are trapped here, and you’ll need to rescue them from the Jailer’s tower before he expends their very souls.”
- ^ a b
- ^ a b
- ^ a b
- ^ Blizzard Entertainment 2021-02-20. Shape the Fate of the Shadowlands in Chains of Domination. Retrieved on 2021-03-24.
- ^ BlizzCon 2019 | World of Warcraft: What's Next | Full Panel
- ^ Stan 2019-11-27. WoW Shadowlands: The Jailer's Identity Revealed in Early Concept Art. Icy Veins. Retrieved on 2020-07-03.
- ^ ZoltanTV 2020-04-28. Interview Ion Hazzikostas SHADOWLANDS (04:00). YouTube. Retrieved on 2020-06-27.
- ^ Kel'Thuzad (Sanctum of Domination tactics)#Quotes