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Vrykul are a race of half-giant warriors native to the Howling Fjord, located in southeastern Northrend.
The vrykul were created by the Titans during the Ordering of Azeroth. It is unclear if they played any part in the shaping of the world; indeed, very little is known about their civilization at that time. However, it is known that they revered their creators and worshipped them as gods. They were servants of the Titanic Watchers stationed in Northrend, including Thorim, and some still are. They were aware to at least some extent of the events which took place in that period, including Tyr’s battle with the mighty Galakrond, and incorporated at least some of their exploits during that period into their legends and mythology.
At an unknown time after the Titans left Azeroth, the vrykul became afflicted with a baleful curse; its origin is unknown, though mostly likely the Old Gods had a hand in it. The curse caused vrykul children to be born in a disfigured state, which was considered "weak and ugly" by vrykul standards. These infants were dubbed "aberrations" and "runts", and vrykul society was deeply divided on how to deal with them.
Some vrykul were disgusted by these "aberrations" and beseeched their ruler King Ymiron to have them all killed, citing a need to keep the vrykul race pure; others pleaded with him to show them mercy, protesting that despite their weakness, these infants were still their children. Ymiron meditated on the issue for some time before reaching a dangerous conclusion: that because the Titans had not come to aid them in their hour of need, and because the vrykul knew of no other beings with power on the same level as their gods, the curse must have been created by the Titans. Although this was not the case, the vrykul believed it, and at Ymiron’s bidding they forsook their gods and Titan worship was outlawed. Ymiron then took the side of those calling for the death of their malformed infants, and decreed that all parents with so-afflicted children must kill their young or be taken to Gjalerbron for execution.
However, not all vrykul could bare to kill their own flesh and blood. Despite their king’s harsh decree, they sheltered their children and took them away to a land far away from Northrend, likely somewhere near the modern Arathi Highlands. There they nursed and raised their children in secret, and taught them the stories and values of ancient vrykul society. Finally, they gave them some supplies to help them survive on their own before returning to Northrend. These outcast vrykul "runts" would later form their own cultures and kingdoms, and became known as humans.
It is unclear what happened to all of those parents who did not kill their children, but many if not most of them would come to no good end; a vicious vrykul warrior, Skadi, relentlessly hunted them down and killed any of them he came across. For this he was judged to have committed a true act of depravity, and was thereafter known as Skadi the Ruthless.
Sometime later, the vrykul people went into a collective hibernation, leaving their homes, villages and keeps vacant as they slept. There they would remain undisturbed for thousands of years, even by the Sundering of the World. When the Aqir first came to Northrend, established the kingdom of Azjol-Nerub and became known as Nerubians, they came across traces of vrykul civilisation, their fortresses and villages lying silent and deserted as the barbaric race slumbered beneath the earth.
Wrath of the Lich KingEdit
Shortly before the beginning of the War against the Lich King, the Lich King stirred from his Frozen Throne and sent his Scourge minions to swarm across the land, destroying all in their path. The slumbering vrykul awakened soon after. Many of them would come to believe that the Lich King was a god of death, and pledged themselves to him and the Scourge.
When they arrived in Northrend, the Alliance and the Horde built two ports on the shores of the Howling Fjord, Valgarde and Vengeance Landing. The vrykul of the Dragonflayer Clan turned against Valgarde, launching an ongoing series of attacks which were coordinated by Ingvar the Plunderer from the fortress of Utgarde Keep. In turn, the Winterskorn Clan turned against Vengeance Landing.
The dwarven Explorer’s League set to work excavating Dragonflayer ruins near Valgarde, speculating that the vrykul were related to humans and that they were connected by evolution, via a "missing link" of some kind. It was then that a draenei shaman, Thoralius the Wise, sent an Alliance adventurer into the spirit world to uncover the vrykul’s past, where they found two visions of the past which revealed the events described above, thus revealing that there was no "missing link"; rather, the vrykul themselves were the missing link – they were the progenitors of humanity.
Other vrykul were seen around Northrend, often aiding the Scourge in their endeavours. They held competitions where many elite warriors competed for the chance to become powerful undead servants of the Lich King. The victors were made undead and became known as the Ymirjar; those who were not successful, or who fell in battle with adventurers, were turned into vargul instead. The responsibility for raising the dead in this fashion fell to the val'kyr, winged spirits of vrykul women with vast necromantic powers. The inhabitants of Valkyrion aspired towards this state, and many obtained it.
However, a small holdout of hyldnir situated in Brunnhildar Village refused the call of the Lich King and reasserted their loyalty to the Titans, or at least to the Titanic watcher Thorim. One of their number, Sif, had been Thorim's wife a long time ago, and they held a contest, the Hyldsmeet, to see which among them would prove worthy to rule alongside Thorim in her place. Another group outside the Scourge were the Kvaldir, vrykul covered in green scales, barnacles and seaweed who roam the ocean around Northrend in longships attacking coastal settlements and other ships at sea. Rumours long swirled that they were the vengeful ghosts of slain vrykul angry about having their gravesite plundered; in reality, they were simply regular vrykul in costumes, using their ghastly appearance and the mists they weaved before arriving as scare tactics. Finally, within the halls of Ulduar, a number of vrykul could be found as members of the Twilight's Hammer.
Loken created replicas of this race, the iron vrykul, to serve in his army.
By the time the Ashen Verdict lay siege to Icecrown Citadel, most of the vrykul loyal to the Scourge had been either killed or wiped out entirely. With the Lich King's defeat atop the Frozen Throne, some of the last remaining val'kyr pledged themselves to Sylvanas Windrunner afterwards, becoming part of the Forsaken. The fate of the vrykul people afterwards was left ambiguous, though they may have simply returned to their normal way of life and abandoned the Scourge to its fate.
A group of kvaldir are found in Vashj'ir where they battle the naga. Another group of normal vrykul joined the Twilight's Hammer. They became elite drake riders who served as Deathwing's personal guard, under the command of Warmaster Blackhorn. Both he and they are fought during the fight against him in the Dragon Soul raid. Adventurers could become archaeologists and uncover vrykul artifacts.
Mists of PandariaEdit
Ruben Holen in the Shrine of Two Moons mentions the Pandaren having books about the vrykul but he doesn't know how they could possibly have encountered them.
A large amount of vrykul left Northrend and settled on the Broken Isles. They live in the region of Stormheim and follow the God-King. The God-King agreed to align with the Burning Legion, and so did his followers.
Vrykul appear as very large and muscular humans, usually with beards.
Cairne Bloodhoof (who had never seen one in person) describes them as such: "They looked like humans—if humans were larger than tauren and sometimes had skin that was covered in ice, or made of metal or stone."
Note that this is the only known official mention of "stone vrykul" that some players assume to have existed at some point. Interestingly, Cairne implies that they have already been seen. He may mean that iron vrykul have some stone parts, though it is possible that this was meant to be confirmation that there were stone vrykul.
The frost vrykul believe that wearing a necklace of polar bear claws will grant them otherworldly strength.
There's an old vrykul saying that goes, "Let sleeping worgs lie, unless you don't want your face anymore."
In vrykul culture, it is the woman of the household who keeps all the keys, often displaying them prominently to show her status.
Contrary to popular belief, vrykul drinking horns were not common drinking vessels. While most drank mead or ale from bowls or cups, only those of great prestige quaffed wine from elaborate horns. Indeed, even the passing of such a vessel to the vrykul in question was a matter of ceremony, usually performed by the highest-ranking female present along with formal declarations of rank and deed.
Vrykul technology is slightly behind that of the Horde or Alliance.
Scramseax are large, straight knives with a single edge and a simple hilt worn by many vrykul warriors as a sidearm. One common fighting style among warriors involves an axe in the main hand and the scramseax in the offhand.
Many of the axes forged by the vrykul display an unusual style: the bottom edge of the axe blade extends down below the width of the butt. This style increases cutting area while minimizing weight; it can be used on both weapon and tools. Some dwarven axes show a similar construction.
A few subraces of vrykul exist. The only currently known ones are:
Have stone or metal-like skin with engraved runes. Sjonnir The Ironshaper appears to be this type of vrykul. Iron vrykul serve the titan Loken, as well as his master, Yogg-Saron. They are not true vrykul, however, as Loken created them from a saronite/iron alloy and so they are more akin to earthen.
Have blue skin and are covered in ice. They are adapted to living in the colder areas of Northrend.
A fleshy variation, covered in green scales and barnacles; they are almost entirely aquatic. They come from an unknown location and attack the beaches of southern Northrend.
Incorporeal undead raised from vrykul females. The inhabitants of Valkyrion aspire to this transformation.
Vrykul brought to undeath that weren't found worthy by the Lich King. They are the losers of the challenge to "ascend" at Jotunheim. The winners are the Ymirjar.
- The vrykul are apparently vampiric.