Air elementals are sentient manifestations of the air, one of the four building blocks of all matter in the physical universe. As with all elementals, they are primitive and chaotic by nature, but can be calmed down by the presence of the element of Spirit. Their primary place of residence is in the realm of the Elemental Plane known as Skywall, which is also the only place where they can be permanently killed. Air elementals are often found in windy areas like steppes, plains, and deserts, and are associated by many a shaman with the personality traits of Cunning and Madness.
Along with their fellow elementals of stone, fire, and water, air elementals were the first beings to exist on many worlds, including Azeroth. Azeroth wasn’t just another planet though, it was a growing titan called a World-soul. Azeroth’s World-soul was so strong, vast, and noble, that it naturally absorbed a large amount of the element of Spirit to grow. This lack of Spirit caused an unbalance in the other elementals, resulting in their, now-unsuppressed, chaotic nature dominating them.
The lord of the air elementals, Al'Akir the Windlord, led his armies in wars with the other elements for endless millennia, specializing in cunning and deceptive tactics. He would send elusive minions to spy on his enemies, sow distrust among them to turn against each other, and launch surprise attacks when they were weakened, enveloping his foes in monstrous cyclones.
When the Old Gods crashed onto Azeroth, they spawned armies of faceless ones and insectoid aqir to build their Black Empire. Like his fellow elemental lords, Al’Akir saw this as a challenge to his domain and, for the first time, united with the other lords to destroy the Old Gods. However, in the end he and all the other elementals were defeated and enslaved to the Old Gods’ will.
When the titans found the slumbering world of Azeroth, they knew they had to save it from the Old Gods. To accomplish this, they created the Titan-Forged Keepers to combat the Old Gods, their minion swarms, and their enslaved elemental lieutenants. The Keepers Ra, Thorim, and Hodir focused their attacks on Al’Akir, using their mastery over skies and storms to turn the elemental lord’s powers against him in his own domain. Because the Keepers knew that the elemental lords could not be completely destroyed, being bound to Azeroth itself, Ra called on Helya to create domains in a pocket dimension that would be called the Elemental Plane. Al’Akir and his air elementals were imprisoned in the cloud-filled domain of Skywall.
After being sealed away, Al’Akir and the majority of his air elementals would be unable to re-enter Azeroth. The only exceptions would be some of the weakest elementals who managed to somehow slip though every now and then. It wasn’t until the great Cataclysm heralded by Deathwing and masterminded by the Old God N'zoth that the full fury of the air elementals would be unleashed on Azeroth again.
When Deathwing, who had been taking shelter in the earth elemental realm of Deepholm, erupted into Azeroth, he shattered the World Pillar and tore a rift in the barrier between Azeroth and the Elemental Plane. N’zoth called on the elemental lords to serve it once again, with Al’Akir and Ragnaros the Firelord being the only two to accept the offer. N’zoth had promised to free them fully from their prisons and let them rampage across the surface of the world as they had done in ages past.
Relishing the prospect of war, Al’Akir assisted Deathwing’s quest to claim the ancient titan reorigination device in Uldum by making a bargain with its guardians, the titan-forged tol’vir. He offered to reverse Yogg-Saron's Curse of Flesh and return the tol’vir to their original stony forms, but only the Neferset tribe led by Dark Pharaoh Tekahn accepted. Among those who refused were the tol’vir of the city of Orsis, which Al’Akir had destroyed by burying it beneath the sands as punishment.
Siamat, Lord of the South Wind, a powerful member of the Conclave of Wind, was sent to cure the Neferset of the Curse of Flesh. However, because the task of curing the entire Neferset population was so intense, he became exhausted and drained after completing this task. Taking advantage of his weakness, the Neferset turned on him, imprisoning him in the tower of The Lost City. He was later accidentally freed when members of the Alliance and Horde stormed the city and slayed its leaders, but was immediately defeated by them upon his escape.
Above Uldum, gateways in the sky had appeared which allowed passage between Azeroth and Skywall. They served as staging grounds for invasions of Al’Akir’s elemental and Neferset forces. One such staging ground was The Vortex Pinnacle, led by Asaad, the Caliph of Zephyrs. It was eventually invaded by champions of the Horde and Alliance and Asaad was slain.
One of the air elemental soldiers of Vortex Pinnacle
Later, the champions would also invade the Throne of the Four Winds itself, defeating the remaining members of the Conclave of Wind: Anshal, Lord of the West Wind; Nezir, Lord of the North Wind; and Rohash, Lord of the East Wind. The invasion ended with a battle against Al’Akir himself, whereupon he was destroyed, leaving the air elementals leaderless and marking a great victory for the people of Azeroth against N’zoth’s cataclysmic agents.
Al'Akir in the Throne of Four Winds
Without Al’Akir, the air elementals dissolved into civil war over who should become the new elemental lord of air. During the Third Invasion of the Burning Legion, a djinn named Typhinius attempted to use the Fists of the Heavens to forcefully take command of Skywall and continue Al'Akir's war against the Ramkahen tol’vir. He was tracked down and defeated by Lili Stormstout, and one of her fellow monks, who took the weapon for their order. Eventually, the Earthen Ring was able to revive Al'Akir's true heir, Thunderaan the Windseeker, who then took his place as the ruler of Skywall. The new elemental lord pledged Skywall's armies to aid Azeroth's forces in the fight against the Burning Legion.
Like all elementals, air elementals come in a nearly infinite variety of shapes and forms. One of the most common is a rather simple, formless, but nonetheless powerful manifestation of their stormy nature.
One of the most powerful varieties, and one unique to air elementals, are the powerful djinn. They are often leaders of the other air elementals, as evidenced by the members of the Conclave of Winds. They have sometimes been known to become trapped in objects such as lamps, or grant wishes. Reno Jackson once encountered a djinn named Zinaar in the Temple of Orsis, accidentally releasing it after rubbing its lamp while searching for the Rod of the Sun.
More common to encounter in varying locations of Azeroth are air elementals who manifest in forms akin to living tornadoes of varying sizes.
Air elementals aren’t just found on Azeroth and its corresponding Elemental Plane. Several air elementals can be found in the Netherstorm region of Outland. One particularly worthy of note was Electra Stormsurge, the head meteorologist and living power conduit for Dr. Boom's headquarters of Boom Labs.
Boom Labs in the Netherstorm of Outland
Electra utilized her many elemental assistants and nether coil collectors to collect the power of the endless nether lightning from the constant stormy skies. She would then condense this raw energy herself, turning it into a usable power source for the facility. She also had a pet project, The Storm Bringer, which experimented with the ability of the lightning to permanently enhance and overcharge any ordinary creature, provided they survived of course.
Electra and some of her elemental assistants.
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