World ofWorlds

Though it sparks a great many debates, the common starting point for many discussions of the interrelationships between the planes is the cosmology laid out by Khadgar in Contemplations on Many Worlds as he studied the planes at Nethergarde. After he identified the Known Planes — physical worlds such as Azeroth and Draenor, the untamed realm of the Elemental Plane, the madness of the Twisting Nether, and the nothingness of the Great Dark Beyond—Khadgar spent two chapters speculating about their possible arrangement in "a larger world of worlds, a great cosmos."

At the base of Khadgar's cosmology lay the Elemental Plane, the "raw stuff of creation." Khadgar explained how he arranged the elements within the plane:

Let us consider the elements of Fire and Water. A bucket of water will douse a spark, and a raging fire will boil away the water that will fit into a nutshell. On the Elemental Plane, these elements are at their purest and most potent, and in equal, enormous quantity. We must, therefore, assume that the two are separated by the only element with which both will intermingle, Earth. Earth and Air might coexist, but they may never commingle — even when a handful of dust is scattered to the winds, dust and wind never become one. Further considering that Air lies above even the highest mountains, we place it in the highest layer of the Elemental Plane. Fire, Earth, Water and Air in their most primal forms, with only a gossamer veil keeping them from entering the crude mix of our world.

Atop the Elemental Plane sat the mortal, material worlds. Khadgar described them as "matter-mounded plates resting on the founda-tional table of the Elemental Plane." Azeroth lay on one part of the "table," Draenor a distance away. When the Emerald Dream was later revealed, followers of Khadgar's work added it to the metaphor as "a silken napkin placed over the plate of Azeroth, a perfect representation of the world's form with none of its messy imperfections." A few arcane scholars who also know Kaldorei history have theorized that Elune and the ancient dragons may have created the Emerald Dream as a protective barrier against the return of the Burning Legion, as there has yet been no evidence that other material worlds such as Draenor possess their own equivalent (though they also say that Draenor's own spiritual plane may have been destroyed in the magical explosion that shattered the world and transformed it into Outland). As the existence of the Emerald Dream failed to prevent the return of the Legion to Azeroth, many other scholars argue that these theories have no merit.

With his extensive studies of the planes and planar travel, Khadgar well understood that the various planes were surrounded by another interstitial plane, the Twisting Nether. "The material worlds are the seat of rational thought, with the tides of madness ceaselessly crashing against them, threatening to tear them apart as the sea shatters the rocks on the shore," wrote Khadgar, who as the guardian of Nethergarde was particularly attuned to the idea of invasions from the other planes.

Only in recent years, with the cataclysmic destruction of Draenor, has it been realized how fragile the planes may truly be. Arcane scholars now fear that excessively powerful planar magic might not merely pierce the planar barrier but destroy it altogether — which Draenor, whose remains now float in the Twisting Nether, demonstrated was of particular danger for material worlds.

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