Fire elementals are sentient manifestations of fire, 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 the Firelands, which is the only place they can be permanently killed. Fire elementals are most often found near or inside volcanoes, but are capable of manifesting in almost any place where fire is present. They are associated by many shamans with the personality traits of Passion and Fury.
Along with their fellow elementals of stone, air, and water, fire elementals were the first beings to walk 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 inbalance in the other elementals and caused their now-unsuppressed chaotic nature to dominate them.
The lord of the fire elementals, Ragnaros the Firelord, led his armies in wars with the other elements for endless millennia, embracing brute force to annihilate his enemies and despising trickery and strategy as cowardly. He longed for the seas to boil, the earth and mountains to be reduced to slag, and the skies to choke on his ash and embers. This earned him much hatred from the other elemental lords.
When the Old Gods crashed onto Azeroth, they spawned armies of faceless ones and insectoid aqir and built their Black Empire. Like his fellow elemental lords, Ragnaros 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 battle with these dark forces and their enslaved elemental lieutenants. The Keepers Tyr and Odyn battled Ragnaros for weeks, their metal forms keeping them safe from the heat of the elemental lord’s fire and magma. They pushed him back through sheer force of will to his volcanic lair in the east where they defeated him. Because the Keepers knew that the elemental lords could not be completely destroyed, being bound to Azeroth itself, Highkeeper Ra called on Helya to create domains in a pocket dimension that would be called the Elemental Plane. Ragnaros and his fire elementals were imprisoned in the smoldering domain of the Firelands.
After being sealed away, Ragnaros and the majority of his fire elementals would be unable to re-enter Azeroth, with the only exceptions being some of the weakest elementals who managed to somehow slip though every now and then. However, Ragnaros would regain the ability to enter Azeroth during the War of the Three Hammers. This was a war waged between the three most powerful dwarf clans in Ironforge, the Bronzebeards, the Wildhammers and the Dark Irons, after the death of the high king, Modimus. The members of the Bronzebeard clan were experts in warfare, and managed to drive the other clans from the mountain. Humiliated by this defeat, Thaurissan, sorcerer-thane of the Dark Iron clan, forged an army in secret to exact his vengeance and claim Ironforge and the entire region of Khaz Modan as his own. Uniting against this threat, the Bronzebeards and Wildhammers drove the Dark Irons back to the Redridge Mountains. Desperate to turn the tide of battle, Thaurissan attempted to draw from the fiery power beneath the world to use as a weapon. Unfortunately for him, his rage caused him to unwittingly breach the Firelands with his spell and summon Ragnaros himself to the surface of Azeroth. The following apocalyptic explosions that resulted from the Firelord’s violent rebirth transformed the surrounding land into the great volcano known as Blackrock Mountain, and the regions of the Burning Steppes to the south and the Searing gorge to the north. Ragnaros retreated within the molten core of Blackrock Mountain to gather his strength, enslaving the Dark Irons to his will as they carved out a new home there, Shadowforge City.
The accidental summoning of Ragnaros by Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan
During the First War of the Orcish Horde’s invasion of the Eastern Kingdoms, the orc warlock Gul'dan sought to empower his soldiers by infusing them with the energies of broken elementals. Sensing the elementals of Blackrock Mountain, he sent his apprentice, Cho'gall, to investigate. Cho’gall was delighted to learn that these elementals were in league with the same Old Gods he had recently begun serving. The Shadow Council was unable to subjugate the elementals due to both their power and the strength of their Dark Iron slaves. Instead, they had to settle for a small refuge at the top of the mountain called Blackrock Spire that, unknown to anyone besides Cho’gall and the Twilight's Hammer clan, was permitted by the Old Gods through their fire elemental lieutenants to allow the Horde to continue their spread of chaos on Azeroth. Later, after Warchief Orgrim Doomhammer purged the Shadow Council from Blackrock Spire, Ragnaros secretly commanded the Dark Irons to allow the Horde to use it as its new headquarters, eager to see the orc’s march of chaos continue under the change in leadership.
Years later, after the events of the Third War, Thaurissan’s descendant, Emperor Dagran Thaurissan, was commanded by Ragnaros to wage a new war on the other dwarf clans. Thaurissan was happy to follow these orders, as he dreamed not only of ruling the other dwarf clans, but in wielding their united power to free his people from their enslavement. His first act was to kidnap Moira Bronzebeard, the daughter of King Magni Bronzebeard of Ironforge. Surprisingly to everyone, the two fell in love and were married. Furious at this, Magni ordered a team of Alliance champions to infiltrate Blackrock Mountain and rescue his daughter. The champions fought their way through Shadowforge City and killed the emperor, only to be shocked when Moira refused the rescue and worked to continue her departed husband’s plans to break free from the rule of the fire elementals. Taking advantage of the moment of chaos that distracted the Firelord’s lieutenants with reasserting control over the dwarves, Moira quietly spread the word that the Dark Iron’s were being forced to create a massive army for Ragnaros, as well as rumors of great riches and artifacts hidden deep within the mountain in order to attract adventures to come to her aid. The plan worked even better than she hoped, as the Hydraxian Waterlords—high-ranking water elementals and natural enemies of Ragnaros—caught wind of the rumors and recruited anyone they could to challenge the Firelord. The adventures fought their way through the Molten Core and defeated many powerful fire elementals, including Baron Geddon and Majordomo Executus, before confronting Ragnaros himself. Unable to be killed on Azeroth, the battle ended with him being banished back to the Firelands.
Ragnaros in the Molten Core
It wasn’t until the great Cataclysm heralded by Deathwing and masterminded by the Old God N'zoth that Ragnaros would return and the full fury of the fire elementals would be unleashed on Azeroth again. When Deathwing burst from the earth elemental's realm of Deepholm 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 Ragnaros and the Al'Akir the Windlord 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. Ragnaros was commanded by Deathwing to assault Mount Hyjal, home of the World Tree Nordassil, which Thrall and the Dragon Aspects were currently working on to heal in order to speed up the mending of the Cataclysm. From a newly opened rift to the Firelands, fire elementals poured out in an invasion force while Ragnaros’s newest minions, Fandral Staghelm and the Druids of the Flame, ambushed Thrall to stop his meddling.
While some adventures went on a quest to save Thrall, Malfurion Stormrage led the druid organization of the Cenarion Circle in an assault into the Firelands itself to deal with Ragnaros once and for all. Joined by members of the Alliance and Horde, the Circle slowly pushed their way from their stronghold of the Molten Front to Ragnaros’s citadel of Sulfuron Keep where Fandral, his Druids of the Flame, and eventually Ragnaros himself met their end.
Ragnaros in his stronghold of Sulfuron Keep in the Firelands
During the third invasion of the Burning Legion, the shamans of the Earthen Ring sought the aid of the Elemental Lords to recruit for the fight against the Burning Legion. Upon witnessing the civil war raging in the Firelands thanks to the power vacuum left by Ragnaros’s death, they helped Smolderon overcome his rival, Pyroth, after realizing that Smolderon was far more willing to work with mortals. Now free to rule uncontested, Smolderon became the new Firelord and vowed to assist in defending Azeroth against the demon invasion. He even journeyed to the Broken Shore himself to disrupt the Legion's control over the elements and to request the Ring to put an end to Barastagax the Flamecleaver, a demon who had somehow been able to tap into the power of the Firelands, greatly angering Smolderon.
Smolderon, the new Firelord, on the Broken Shore
During the Blood War between the Alliance and Horde over the newly-discovered Azerite, the Dark Iron Dwarves were officially welcomed into the Alliance. However, during the finalizing of the agreement, Anvil-Thane Thurgaden made a disturbing discovery. Smolderon had gone missing and a cult of Dark Irons led by High Justice Grimstone were trying to resurrect Ragnaros, although exactly how they planned to do it and the whereabouts of Smolderon remained a mystery.
In the Hearthstone Tavern, a mysterious troll fortune-teller named Madame Lazul told stories about the Old Gods and what a world would be like were they all break free from their prisons and rule once more. According to her cards and stories, if this were to happen, the already-corrupted Ragnaros would somehow have a double-negative effect if further Old God corruption were infused into him, resulting in him becoming a benevolent champion of The Light. The specifics of exactly how this would work are unknown, even if Lazul’s stories were to be trusted in the first place.
Fire elementals have a large variety of forms they can take, the most common and basic being a mostly formless mass of flames, ranging in size from simple sparks to living infernos.
Fire Elementals can also have animal-like forms, including spiders, turtles, hawks, or worms. Phoenixes are one of the most majestic examples of this category and are capable of being summoned by mages. When a phoenix dies, it creates an egg that will hatch into a new phoenix. It also creates fire hatchlings from its ashes and dark hatchlings from its shadows.
Molten giants, also known as magma giants, are enormous fire elementals reminiscent of titan-forged mountain giants. Molten destroyers are the stronger, tougher brethren of the molten giants, and stand guard deeper in the Molten Core. These elementals are powerful, unpredictable and violent. The summoning and controlling of molten giants is forbidden by the Earthen Ring, as the use of such coercion could anger the elements and trigger an event similar to the Cataclysm. However, during the attack on Theramore Isle, Garrosh Hellscream ordered his dark shaman to force molten giants into battle.
Flamewakers are a race of ruthless serpentine fire elementals that once served as Ragnaros’ lieutenants. They dwell mostly in the Firelands and the Molten Core. Ferocious and terrifying, flamewakers are among the most feared elemental guardians, although few of them remain following Ragnaros' defeat in the Firelands.
Another fire elemental of note is Rakanishu, the living flame that resides within King Togwaggle’s lantern crown. It is likely that he has a place in kobold folklore, as they have a tendency to yell his name when attacking adventures. Togwaggle was given the lantern crown by Arch-Villain Rafaam in order to help him become king so he could gather treasures in the Catacombs for Rafaam.
The crowning of Togwaggle by Rafaam
Unfortunately for Togwaggle, his treasure hordes were raided by adventures and treasure-hunters such as Marin the Fox, leaving him with less treasure and a large desire to give the adventures some payback for stealing from him. To accomplish this, Togwaggle officially joined Rafaam’s League of E.V.I.L and raided the Dalaran Bank with Rakanishu's help during the Dalaran Heist.
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