What is life?
An illusion. A blindfold.
We cling to life desperately, afraid of what the world would become without its familiar embrace. Afraid of its absence.
But life is nothing. We are nothing.
We place faith in the Light, an ephemeral, abstract power to structure our existence, give us a moral compass, a series of rules and ethics to live our lives by. We ask it to nurture us, protect us, keep us safe in the dark hours of the night.
But I have seen the truth. I believed in the Light, once. I was devout. I was true. I was faithful.
But the Light betrayed me.
Where were you, O Light, when the monsters came? Where were you when the Scourge battered down our doors?
O Light, I trusted you. My family, my children, trusted in you. We believed that our unshakable faith would shelter us, ward off the slavering undead horde. That a champion would chase them away, save us, or that your divine wrath would abolish these aberrations for their wickedness.
O Light...you did nothing.
I begged you as my wife was torn limb from limb, her warm blood painting the walls of our home. I pleaded to you as my children were butchered, devoured at the hands of monstrous horrors. I screamed out to you, O Light, until my voice was gone and my throat was raw. But you remained silent. Absent. Uncaring.
They tore at me, raked my flesh with their filthy claws, and still, still you did not answer my pleas. And I realized, as the last spark of life fled my ravaged body, that it was all a lie. That you, O Light, did not truly exist. For if you did, how could you turn your back on us? How could you leave us to be slaughtered like lambs in an abattoir?
No, there is no Light. No benevolent deity watches over us as we sleep, guards our children, steers us down the path of the righteous. Monsters walk among us, murderers and rapists plying their craft, and there is nothing that punishes their evil ways.
There is no divine justice. There is Just Us.
And if the Light will not administer retribution to those who flaunt the supposed moral laws of the living, are those who act in its name not simply imposing their own personal, selfish desires upon others who follow different beliefs? Who are we to say what is right or wrong?
There is no right, no wrong. No good, no evil. Our choices in life are meaningless.
WE are meaningless.
It is death that gives our existence purpose.
Alive, we are but parasites upon this planet. We devour, we consume, we whittle away her diminishing resources. We fight wars, we destroy, we act in the name of kings, nations, causes. But why? What do we hope to attain? Material wealth? Meaningless titles? Power or sway over others?
All fleeting, temporary. Eventually, none of it will matter. Kings will die, nations will fall, causes will fade and be replaced by new ones. And what did we accomplish? Nothing of any lasting significance.
Life is flawed. Life is imperfect. Life is selfish.
The living are nothing but dust waiting to return to the dirt. Life is nothing but the time before death. For in death we achieve perfection. In death we are divine.
For the dead do not steal.
They do not lust.
They do not hate.
My family is dead. They have left behind the pain and suffering that comes from living, and now serve a new ideal. They provide nutrients for animals and plants and rejuvenate the soil, helping the planet grow and thrive. And through the coldest winter or the most violent storm they do not complain. They are devoid of worry, of pain, of sorrow. They are one with the elements, with Azeroth, with the universe.
They are free.
I am not perfect. Though I do not live, I am not dead. I walk, I think, I exist. And I hate the ones who jailed me in this parody of true freedom, even as deep inside I thank them for opening my eyes to the truth.
We Forsaken walk the existential line between the worlds of life and death. I am capable now of seeing what death offers - how I can truly exist in flawless, selfless synergy with Azeroth. But this peace remains beyond grasp. I still feel hatred, bitterness, human emotion. And I still wish revenge upon the Scourge. Thus, I am flawed.
But though I am not prepared to release myself from my quasi-life, I do possess knowledge. I see what needs to be done. I see...everything. And I intend to share this invaluable knowledge with those who have not yet been fortunate enough to attain it on their own.
I expect it to be difficult, impossible even, for someone to experience this revelation without having confronted the true nature of their misplaced faith. It was not until I was on the brink of death that I realized the Light which I had based my entire existence upon was not going to rescue me.
So I intend to help this world's inhabitants find their truths, as I did. I will free them from the folly of life, show them that the true path to harmony lies in the blessed freedom and benevolence of death.
I still hate the Lich King, despise the Scourge. I cannot fight the curse that is the nature of our race. But though I resent them and desire vengeance upon them with all my dead, unbeating heart, this is but a temporary emotion that will soon be forgotten, a brief interlude that in the end, will have no meaning at all.
The Scourge is a ravenous, mindless wave of destruction sweeping across these lands...but really, are the living really so different?
No. They are not.
I will free the living from the burden of life. I will free the Scourge and the Forsaken from the Limbo state that imprisons us. And after everyone has transcended mortality and achieved emancipation, Azeroth will finally enjoy true, ultimate harmony. Only then will I join my family in the eternal embrace of death, and become one with All.
I will start at the Wrathgate.
Show/Hide Letter Notes
Grand Apothecary Putress
Putress was...an amazingly complicated, fascinating procedure.
He was responsible for probably the biggest dramatic moment in WotLK, and we never really found out WHY he did it. Was he insane? Out for power? Or did he just really hate the living? A lot of people are comfortable with the idea that he's just plain evil, but I wasn't content with such a simple explanation. I figured there had to be some underlying reason behind his actions.
The letter started off as being addressed to Sylvanas, criticizing her for losing her way and forgetting the true purpose of the Forsaken...vengeance. I was going to paint him as an extreme loyalist, who believed that all living should perish and suffer like they did. Putress would be frustrated with Sylvanas palling around with Thrall, Cairne and the others, and accuse her of growing soft. And that if she wasn't prepared to lead the Forsaken to their revenge, he would instead.
This was okay...but I got a few paragraphs in and decided it sounded too mundane. It was too plain. Putress needed something better.
I tossed around a few different theories for him before remembering a character in a movie I had just watched - Owlman, in Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths. Similar to Putress, Owlman wanted to destroy the entire universe. He was an Existential Nihilist, and while this philosophy is much too complicated to get into fully, basically it is someone who believes that life is useless, that everything we do, think or experience is meaningless.
In Owlman's case, it was because every time someone made a choice, it created an alternate Earth/reality for each choice, so "choice" was meaningless because the other option happened anyway. (Confused? I don't blame you.) If you're curious to hear Owlman explain his beliefs, here's a youtube link.
I spent some time researching this philosophy online and realized it would work very well for Putress. However, I wanted him to take it a step further, so I wrote a backstory for him where the Light did not save his family (or him). I wanted him to believe that if there is no higher power (the Light), then there could not really be a moral scale, no true sense of right and wrong. Why? Because without the Light to tell/teach us that "doing X is good, and doing Y is bad", everything is neutral. For example, a murderer saying: "Murdering someone is evil and wrong? Maybe to you, but not to me, and since there's no higher power to tell us otherwise, my opinion is just as valid as yours."
Continuing this idea, if there is no good or evil, no moral distinction, then the choices we make in life end up being meaningless since we are all the same in the end. It wouldn't matter if you lived a good or evil life, since there IS no good or evil. Everyone simply just lives.
This was a perfect mentality for Putress, but I wanted to add to it. I didn't think that apathy was a strong enough motivator to make Putress want to kill everyone. So I came up with the perspective that life isn't just meaningless, but rather, wasteful and sinful. That compared to the consumptive habits of the living, the dead are at peace with the world, in harmony with it.
In Putress' mad, twisted mind, being dead is the best thing one can do for the world, and the one choice he could make that would have any meaning would be to kill everyone.
It's all quite complex. It makes my heart spin even trying to summarize it.
I wanted the tone of the letter to be prophetic and chilling. Almost lecturing, or like a religious sermon. Putress in-game is intelligent, educated and dignified, and I wanted to be sure to capture those traits in his letter. And most importantly, while his words would be tinged with madness and obsession, it was really important to me that his message having an alarming amount of accuracy and truth to them. That maybe, just maybe, Azeroth would be better off if everyone was dead and could not betray each other, start wars, etc.
In my eyes, Putress wasn't evil for the sake of being evil. He honestly thought he was doing everyone a favor by freeing them of the sin of life. A fanatic who had the determination, intelligence and means to carry out his plan, and the firm belief that he was doing the right thing.
Now that's scary.
(Note: His "I see...everything" line is one of the things he'll shout at players during the Battle for Undercity, Alliance-side.)