Not to be confused with Đeathwing.
For strategy on the future encounter, see Deathwing (tactics).
For Warcraft II stats, see Warcraft II Units.
The massive monstrosity before you rises up like a black, crag-covered mountain of scales and hide. The head is a spade-like terror spiked with cruel red eyes that shine with a frightening malevolence. Rivulets of lava and magma are visible beneath the great wyrm’s scorched scales.[2]

Deathwing the Destroyer[3], originally Neltharion, the Earth-Warder, is one of five Dragon Aspects and leader of the black dragonflight. Thousands of years ago, Neltharion was empowered by the Titans with dominion over the earth and the deep places of Azeroth. However, driven mad by the Old Gods, he turned against the other Aspects during the War of the Ancients. Among both mortals and dragons his name has become one whispered with a feeling of fear and contempt.

The black aspect involved himself in Second War, adopting the form of Lord Daval Prestor, in order to destroy the Alliance from within. He also managed to turn his greatest enemy, Alexstrasza, into a slave of the Horde, with whom he later allied himself. After suffering a series of defeats culminating with his being chased off by the other Aspects, Deathwing retreated to the elemental plane Deepholm to recuperate. From Deepholm, Deathwing observed his former mate Sintharia's experiments with the twilight dragonflight in Grim Batol. Deathwing now continues his late consort's work.

Deathwing will make his return as the primary antagonist in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the third expansion.[4] Though long believed by most to be dead, Deathwing is regaining his strength in Deepholm and plotting a return that will shake Azeroth to its foundations.

Deathwing has control over the land and its fathoms, including lava. His main attack, and that of his dragonflight's, is to use his breath as a cannon of lava. He can live within volcanoes and high temperature areas.


Early history

Neltharion originally was the mighty black wyrm chosen by Khaz'goroth and given dominion over the earth and the deep places of the world. He was empowered by the titans as one of the five Dragon Aspects. In peaceful times, Neltharion's wisdom and power were renowned, and he was known as Neltharion the Earth-Warder, a great protector of the land. Malygos the Spell-Weaver, the Aspect of magic, was his closest friend.

Then came the madness that destroyed Neltharion's mind, which changed him and his kind forever. The ultimate cause of his fall into madness was the item of great power known as the Dragon Soul, later known as the Demon Soul. The inner-voices of the Old Gods convinced him that he could have power beyond his imagination if he served them. The voices made him paranoid of even his black dragonflight. Neltharion began to want a world where only he and his dragonflight and some servants that yield to him could exist — a world where all the other dragonflights no longer existed and where Ysera and Alexstrasza would be his petty slaves for mating.

The Old Gods convinced Neltharion to create the Dragon Soul. With the help of goblins, Neltharion created a simple golden disc made of Neltharion's blood and forged in the goblin's cauldrons and anvils deep beneath the earth. Empowered by Neltharion's magic, the simple golden disc was shielded magically so that the other Dragon Aspects couldn't see within the disc. There was an evil within the disc, some taint of the Old Gods, though what exactly it is not known.

War of the Ancients


When the Burning Legion entered Azeroth during the War of the Ancients, Neltharion saw the opportunity to complete his Dragon Soul. Guided by the voices of the Old Gods, he first captured demons of the Burning Legion, and added their powers to the Dragon Soul. Neltharion then convinced Malygos to help him with the other Dragon Aspects. All of them agreed to give a portion of their powers to the Dragon Soul, including all dragons of their dragonflights. Neltharion proposed that the Dragon Soul disc could be a weapon of great power to destroy the demons of the Burning Legion. Unkown to the rest, Neltharion was the only one who did not give of his powers to the Dragon Soul.

Neltharion, the Dragon Aspects and their dragonflights flew toward Zin-Azshari where the night elves held the demons at bay. Heralded by the black dragon Neltharion, the dragons awaited his first attack. Neltharion grabbed the Dragon Soul and by channeling his destructive power through it destroyed thousands of demons with one swing of radiant magic. The Dragon Aspects watched in horror as Neltharion also killed hundreds of night elves and other allies along with the demons.

Neltharion revealed the depths of his betrayal at last. Now with the disc at his command he wanted all races and the demons to see his power and to bow to him. The Dragon Aspects attacked Neltharion in an attempt to take the Dragon Soul from him and to reason with him in hopes of determining the cause of his perfidy. Malygos' blue dragonflight surrounded Neltharion, but with a swing of the Dragon Soul most of the blue dragons perished. The next swing of the Dragon Soul paralyzed all dragonflights and the Dragon Aspects in mid-air, rendering them unable to move or speak. Neltharion then struck out at the Dragon Aspects and their dragonflights, destroying many and scattering them far across the land.

Neltharion's betrayal had struck a great blow to the Aspects, and their fear of being destroyed like the blue dragonflight kept them in seclusion. In desperation, the Aspects shielded themselves and hid to become undetected even by each other.

Rise of the Destroyer


Deathwing in Warcraft Legends

The growing corruption in Neltharion's heart warped his body, as the angelic dragon began taking a more demonic appearance, similar to how Sargeras changed to a more demonic form after his corruption. Neltharion's body cracked open, revealing his molten heart, and magma and fire flowed off his chest. His eyes became aflame in red, demonstrating the magnitude of his power and the depths of his evil. Thus was Deathwing the Destroyer born, and the Dragon Soul was renamed: the Demon Soul.

Deathwing returned to his lair beneath a mountain. His proximity to the Demon Soul was ripping his body apart, so the goblins forged an armor of adamantium to serve as a vessel to contain Deathwing's raging powers and keep them in check.[5] Only the adamantium plates kept the power from destroying his body.

The Old Gods had manipulated Deathwing into creating the Demon Soul, but their true intention was that the demons would inform their lord Sargeras of the great power of the weapon used against them. Sargeras would no doubt want the Demon Soul to power the gateway that would let him enter Azeroth. By using the Demon Soul to amplify the gateway, the three Old Gods hoped to escape their prison beneath the planet.

However, Malfurion Stormrage used the Emerald Dream to find Deathwing's lair and stole the Demon Soul from the black dragon, who tried to pursue the thief in vain. Illidan and Varo'then captured Malfurion and took the Demon Soul back to Zin-Azshari, to Mannoroth the Destructor, the general of the Legion's armies. It was used to power up the portal that would allow Sargeras to enter Azeroth.

Deathwing tried one last time to recover the disk, when it was being used by both Sargeras and the Old Gods, and actually succeeded in reaching it. Deathwing was almost destroyed in the attempt, but after he had gotten the Demon Soul, an enormous surge of power made him lose his grip on the disk, and sent him spiralling far away from the portal.

After the Burning Legion was defeated, the Dragon Aspects sealed the Demon Soul with their energies, so that Deathwing should never be able to manipulate the Demon Soul. The artifact was hidden in an undisclosed location by Malfurion at the request of the Dragon Aspects. No longer in possession of the artifact and now unable to use it, Deathwing vowed to destroy most life and to wreak havoc on the planet. With his powers over earth, Neltharion caused volcanoes to rise along with the destruction already caused by the Well of Eternity's implosion, sinking most of Kalimdor below the ocean.

When he succumbed, Neltharion ceased to exist, taking up a new name and a bitter purpose. He became Deathwing and his subjects were placed beneath the iron rule of a tyrant. Upon his irrevocable shift to evil, he turned against his destiny, and his mind unwound, causing suffering wherever he could.[2][6] He himself chose Deathwing as his title, to better show his contempt and intentions for the lesser creatures around him.[7]

Certain legends surrounding Deathwing claim that as the Earth-Warder, Deathwing shaped the land so the races would not go to war over land and resources. When he went mad, Deathwing lowered the mountains and allowed the races to intermingle. He ruined fertile land and destroyed other terrain so that the races would be forced to fight for food. Deathwing's efforts gave birth to an occupation that has remained with all races since then: war.[2][6]

Second War


Deathwing in Warcraft II.


Deathwing as depicted in the Warcraft II manual.


Deathwing in a Warcraft II cinematic.

Ten thousand years later, during the Second War, Deathwing discovered the Demon Soul's location. Although he couldn't wield its power because of the enchantment placed upon it by the Dragon Aspects, he realized that he could manipulate someone else to do so. Eventually, he found the perfect pawns: the orcs of the Dragonmaw clan. Through visions, Deathwing led the chieftain of the clan, Zuluhed the Whacked, to find the Demon Soul. Zuluhed in turn gave the Demon Soul to the warlock Nekros Skullcrusher. Nekros had no clue as to the power he was wielding, but was able to tap into enough of its power to capture and enslave Alexstrasza and her consorts in order to breed dragons for the Horde.

Kryll, a goblin servant of Deathwing, was sent to infiltrate the Dragonmaw clan and to serve Nekros Skullcrusher. Nekros ended up being manipulated by Kryll into doing Deathwing's bidding. The goblin served as an "advisor" to Nekros, whispering ideas to the orc in order to further Deathwing's aims.

After Ner'zhul reopened the portal to Azeroth, his forces were approached by Deathwing. He offered his own children for assistance in exchange for safe passage to Draenor. They agreed and Deathwing helped them prepare for several key battles to steal two artifacts from the Alliance in order for Ner'zhul's newly reformed Horde to create new portals to other worlds. They then fled back to the Dark Portal to Draenor. Deathwing believed the world would be a relatively safe haven for his offspring and secreted away a cache of black dragon eggs there. While at his great mountain lair, he was attacked by the forces of the Alliance Expedition, who destroyed several of his eggs.[8] Deathwing was temporarily defeated but survived.

Having escaped back to Azeroth, Deathwing ended up in a fight with some of the archmagi of Dalaran and feigned defeat, falling into the sea, where most of the council assumed at the time that he died.[9] He was not dead, however, and he took a human guise, pretending to be a heroic noble named Lord Prestor in an effort to be declared king of Alterac, where he could manipulate the Alliance from within.[10]

Soon after Ner'zhul recklessly opened multiple portals on Draenor, the magical stress tore the planet apart. The energies released in this catastrophe altered Deathwing's eggs, resulting in the nether drakes: partially corporeal and partially ethereal dragons who possess the ability to shift between the astral and physical planes. Without Deathwing's guidance, these otherworldly nether drakes are just now finding their own way among the blasted ruins of Outland.

Lord Prestor and the battle of Grim Batol

Main article: Lord Daval Prestor

Deathwing, posing as Lord Prestor, managed to make himself popular with King Terenas and the kings of the Alliance nations, and for a while had strong influence in the decisions of state. Using subtle magic, he was able to ensnare the minds of the human leaders and forced them to grant him the title of king of Alterac.[11] He also managed to trick King Terenas into giving him the hand of his daughter, Calia Menethil. His ultimate goal was to obtain a high level of power and influence within the Alliance, so he could destroy it from within.

Deathwing began his campaign against the Alliance by pitting the kingdoms of Lordaeron, Stromgarde, Gilneas and Kul Tiras against the Kirin Tor of Dalaran - who Deathwing considered threats to his new identity. The only one to ever fully uncover the truth about his identity was the dragon mage Krasus, the mortal form of Korialstrasz. However, the Kirin Tor were able to discern that he was a powerful being hiding in a human form, and tried to devise a way to stop him.

The orcs of the Dragonmaw clan at Grim Batol kept their hold over Alexstrasza, even though the bulk of the Horde had already been defeated. Deathwing tried to frighten the Dragonmaw orcs into believing that the humans were attacking Grim Batol, so that they would move Alexstrasza and her eggs north to Dun Algaz; this left her eggs vulnerable. Deathwing hoped to steal Alextrasza's latest cache for himself to create a new dragonflight; though bearing the crimson scales of the Dragonqueen, they would be raised by Deathwing and carry his hatred for the mortal races.

Deathwing used his pawns to manipulate the mage Rhonin, who had been sent to Grim Batol by Krasus, as part of a plan to free Alexstrasza. He saved the young mage several times, and helped him reach Grim Batol, hoping that his appearance inside the mountain fortress would further convince Nekros to flee from it. Though the orcs were convinced and began leaving Grim Batol, Deathwing's attack on the caravan, however, failed. Nekros tried to use the Demon Soul on Deathwing, but was unsuccessful due to the disk having no power over the black dragon. He then sent Tyranastrasz, old and sick, to stop the Deathwing, but he failed and was killed.

At the behest of Krasus, the three remaining free aspects, Malygos, Ysera and Nozdormu, grudgingly decided to come out of their lairs and attack Deathwing. However, due to the power they had given to the Demon Soul, they were no match for the black leviathan. But Rhonin was able to steal the Demon Soul from Nekros, freeing Alexstrasza in the process. Furthermore, he discovered its weakness and destroyed it, releasing all the powers of the dragons who had given their power ten thousand years earlier. Deathwing was sent retreating with four very angry, fully-empowered Dragon Aspects on his heels, though he managed to elude them in the end. Lord Prestor vanished when Deathwing was forced to go into hiding, and Deathwing's influence over the nobles disappeared along with him.

Onyxia and Nefarian, offspring of Deathwing and masters of the black dragonflight in the absence of their father, have tried to control the world. Onyxia followed in her father's footsteps by taking the Prestor name to attempt to manipulate the Alliance. She posed as a human counselor named Katrana Prestor for the new child King of Stormwind. Her lair is in the Wyrmbog in Southern Dustwallow Marsh on Kalimdor. Nefarian, meanwhile, poses as a human named Lord Victor Nefarius, Lord of the Blackrock Mountain in the Burning Steppes. He was able to enslave the Blackrock Clan orcs who now serve him on the top of the mountain, the Blackrock Spire. Nefarian wishes to take control of the lower Blackrock Mountain, trying to destroy the Dark Iron dwarves and Ragnaros. Once they have been dealt with, Nefarian plans to take control of the world.


Hidden away in Deepholm, the corrupted Dragon Aspect Deathwing waited, recovering from the wounds of his last battle against Azeroth and biding his time until he could reforge the world in molten fire.[12] That time came; Deathwing tore a rift between the Elemental Plane and Azeroth, causing the Cataclysm.[12] His subsequent flight to Grim Batol in the Twilight Highlands laid waste to much of the landscape of the world. He now resides in Grim Batol, and has begun his own experiments to improve upon the horrific twilight dragonflight created by his mate Sintharia.

In World of Warcraft

Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath-Logo-Small This section concerns content exclusive to Wrath of the Lich King.

Neltharion in his human form, as seen in Yogg-Saron's mind chamber.

Deathwing first made his debut in World of Warcraft as a cameo appearance during the battle against the Old God Yogg-Saron, inside Ulduar. He appears in human form and under his original name of Neltharion, and is featured along with all the other Aspects in a flashback that depicts the creation of the Dragon Soul, ten thousand years earlier.

This was Deathwing's first official appearance in a Warcraft game since Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal.


Cataclysm-Logo-Small This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
Deathwing human art

Artwork of Deathwing in his human form.

Deathwing Cataclysm 3

Deathwing as depicted on Cataclysm Official Website

Deathwing will finally appear within World of Warcraft as the final boss encounter of its third expansion, Cataclysm, which will mark his formal entry into World of Warcraft's present era. Deathwing will be the last of the Dragon Aspects to appear in dragon form in the game, and will be the second one that can be confronted by raids (the first being Malygos).


In recent years, the whisperings of the Old Gods have gotten worse; the Old Ones' dread power steadily increased as C'Thun and Yogg-Saron stirred from their ancient slumbers, and the growing influence of the Old Gods has magnified Deathwing's power ten-fold.[13] From within his lair in the elemental plane of Deepholm, Deathwing has awoken from his slumber and literally erupted into the world. His explosion into Azeroth was so powerful that it caused earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and floods, reshaping the very face of the world. No region has remained untouched in the wake of the devastating Cataclysm.[13]

The Badlands

The main storyline quest of the Badlands in Cataclysm is centered around Rheastrasza and her research of the black dragonflight and of a way of purifying them. She has captured the black dragon, Nyxondra, and forces her to lay eggs for the experiments. She feels pity for the black dragon, but knows it is for the greater good. After succeeding in creating a purified black dragon egg, she constantly moves around to avoid being found by agents of the black dragonflight, who want to destroy the egg. In the quest Neutral 15 [47] Rheastrasza's Gift, she is killed by Deathwing, who was after the egg. The egg he destroyed, however, was not the purified one, but Rheastrasza's own egg.

Mount Hyjal

At the beginning of the storyline, Deathwing summons the Firelord, Ragnaros along with his fire elemental servants into the world of Azeroth, aided by his mortal followers, the Twilight's Hammer clan with the ultimate goal of destroying Nordrassil.


During the Uldum storyline it is revealed that Deathwing enlisted the aid of Al'Akir and his air elemental minions to do his bidding. The Tol'vir, native residents of Uldum have joined his ranks as well, seduced by the promises of power and removal of the Curse of Flesh. He also sent his mortal minions, led by Commander Schnottz to gain control of the Maker's Terrace and reconfigure it into a weapon of mass destruction.

The Twilight Highlands

His work with the twilight dragonflight will also be expanded upon in the Twilight Highlands that surround Grim Batol.


While Deathwing was once a benevolent entity, he is now completely evil. He hates all mortal races, and wishes to kill them all. He's also utterly insane, most notably shown when he had the Demon Soul. Deathwing was attached to it, such that even when warned by the goblin alchemists who made his armor that the Demon Soul's energies would kill him if he kept it with him too long, it wasn't enough for him to let go of it, and was only willing to part with, temporarily, when reminded that it would likely be stolen from him if he was dead.

In spite of his insanity, Deathwing does display a degree of cunning. Although he hates mortals, he is apparently willing to tolerate them if it can prove of any help in his plans, though inevitably he will do away with them when they have outlived their usefulness.

Despite Deathwing's overall loathing of mortals, he has respect for, and perhaps even a fear of, Medivh, stating in Day of the Dragon, that he would never willingly face Medivh in combat, though this might technically be fear of the portion of Sargeras locked inside Medivh.


Deathwing is a terrifying opponent who is as cruel as he is vicious. He cares nothing for honor or nobility, striking with whatever weapons and cunning he has at his disposal, reveling in causing earthquakes and ripping open volcanic fissures. He often sends his minions into combat while he surveys the battlefield, striking at whatever weaknesses he discovers.[2]

Names and title

Daval Prestor

Lord Daval Prestor II in the World of Warcraft Beta — likely depicting a son. He was replaced by Onyxia.

He is usually referred to as "Deathwing" by the majority of beings. Only a few mages, night elves and dragons still call him "Neltharion". However, over the years Deathwing has been given many names, including, but not limited to:

  • Neltharion the Earth-Warder
  • Neltharion the Betrayer
  • Deathwing the Black
  • Deathwing the Destroyer
  • Deathwing the Worldbreaker
  • Xaxas (used by the night elves; "chaos", "fury" "elemental fury" in Darnassian).[14]
  • Blood's Shadow (used by the orcs)[15]
  • Lord Daval Prestor/King Prestor the First, ruler of Alterac.[16] (human disguise)
  • The Black Scourge (used by the other Dragon Aspects)
  • The Dark One[7]
  • Death Aspect/Aspect of Death
  • Blackwing Greatfather (used by the gronn)

Memorable quotes

War of Ancient Trilogy

  • "You will learn to show respect. You are in the presence of my glorious self, I, Neltharion. I am the Earth-Warder. You will treat me with the reverence I deserve."
  • "You know me... but I do not know you. You would speak against me... make the others see me as you do... you would have them distrust their comrade of old... their brother... You will not be allowed to spread any of your malicious falsehoods..."
  • "For it to be as it must, yes." (responding to Ysera question about the Dragon Soul's glow)
  • "It is done! All that which must be given has been given, I now seal the Dragon Soul forever!"
  • "Yes, and you will press him time and time again with it, will you not?" (in a discussion about whether Nozdormu should be granted more time for his choirs or not)
  • "No! I will say what will be done from here on! I, not you, Alexstrasza! Be silent!"
  • "After I have slain all of you, I shall take your eggs, Alexstrasza, and create my perfect world!"

Beyond the Dark Portal

  • "My children! My children, murdered! Come forward, disgusting, cowardly wretches, murderers of defenseless infants, and know torment and madness before I devour you whole! Who will be the first to be blasted to ashes?" (yelling at the gronn)
  • "Puny mortals! I have had many names throughout history, all of them spoken with dread: Neltharion, Xaxas, and many more. Yet you shall know me best as Deathwing, for so I am! I am the bane of life, the darkness within history, the lord of death, the master of destruction. And I tell you now, and so it is true, that this world is mine!"
  • "You may have won this battle, I give you that. But hear this, and hear it well. I have seen you, mage."

Day of the Dragon

  • "I am power incarnate! You are nothing but shadows of the past!"
  • "Have you not been through enough? Will you continue to fight what you cannot defeat?"
  • "What are they to me - or, for that matter, even you? I will never understand that!"
  • Deathwing: I have faced the ravages of time, the curse of nightmares, and the mists of sorcery, thanks to the others! What weapons do you bring?
    Alexstrasza: Life... hope... and what they bring with them...
    Deathwing: Then you're as good as dead already!

Night of the Dragon

  • "The Day of The Dragon is over, its night is almost upon Azeroth...and after the night has swept away the old fights...there shall come new dawn... the dawn of my new world..."

Cataclysm Cinematic

Deathwing narrates the Cataclysm cinematic as his armor is reforged in Deepholm. As it nears completion, various areas of Azeroth began to tremble, until Deathwing explodes from Deepholm causing the Shattering. Deathwing flies around the world to Stormwind City where the cinematic ends.

Pain. Agony. My hatred burns through the cavernous deeps. The world heaves with my torment. It's wretched kingdoms wake beneath my rage. But at last, the whole of Azeroth will break! And all will burn beneath the shadow of my wings!

Lord of the Clans


Thrall's encounter with Deathwing.

During the cancelled Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans game, Thrall would have met with Deathwing in order to match wits.[17] Whether this is still part of the lore remains to be seen, but it seems unlikely given that no source mentions a meeting of the two and other lore sources since have contradicted the possibility. The reason why Deathwing is seen smoking a hookah is blamed on "miscommunication," though Blizzard liked it enough that they decided to leave it in.



Deathwing vs Alexstrasza in Grim Batol


See also


  1. ^ Shadows & Light, 92
  2. ^ a b c d Shadows & Light, 93
  3. ^ Monster Guide, 39, 41
  4. ^ BlizzCon 2009
  5. ^ At BlizzCon 2009 it was said that Deathwing's plate armor was made of iron.
  6. ^ a b Manual of Monsters, 29
  7. ^ a b Day of the Dragon, 135
  8. ^ Shadows & Light, 57
  9. ^ Day of the Dragon, 3
  10. ^ Shadows & Light, 94
  11. ^ Lands of Conflict, 34
  12. ^ a b Blizzard Entertainment. An ancient evil lies dormant within Deepholm, the domain of earth in the Elemental Plane. (English). ''World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
  13. ^ a b Chris Metzen. [BlizzCon 09] Deathwing! (New Cataclysm end boss exclusive) (English). Youtube interview. Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
  14. ^ Day of the Dragon, 136
  15. ^ The Well of Eternity, 101
  16. ^ Day of the Dragon, 87
  17. ^ Bill Roper. Warcraft Adventures. PC Gaming Graveyard 3. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2007-08-15.

External links

Preceded by:
Patriarch of the black dragonflight
Succeeded by:
Nefarian and Onyxia
Preceded by:
Nefarian and Onyxia
Patriarch of the black dragonflight
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Khardros Wildhammer
Ruler of Grim Batol
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