The wait for patch 3.1 is on, and with it Ulduar. As someone who hasn’t raided anything more than partial Naxx, it will likely be some time before I get there. Even still, people are already talking about what comes after Arthas. Rumour again has it the next Expansion will be called The Emerald Dream. Assuming that’s the case I can see a viable opponent in the post-Arthas conquering: Azshara.
You can read about the Queen of the Naga, and former Night Elf ruler, and I think you’ll agree we could very easily see her and Nazjatar. Nevermind the fact that at one time Blizzard mentioned the Naga city and Northrend in the same breath as being future expansion locations, so already the idea has merit.
In terms of lore, the Azshara alive/dead debate continues. Many Night Elves believe their former leader died in the War of the Ancients, but there’s really no concrete proof. She was one of the most powerful magic users in the history of Azeroth, and the fact the Naga waited several thousand years to announce their presence suggests she’s content to let the world develop while she bides her time. It’s also believed she sent Lady Vashj to the surface world.
There are many means by which the battle could come about, but rest assured the Naga would assault Darnassus and Auberdine directly. With Azshara’s sheer hatred of the Night Elves, it makes for a solid launch point. I picture a massive wave myself, but the effects would require more depth than perhaps the game developers would want to readjust. Instead, perhaps the wave hits the shores of Azshara itself, even reaching up over the cliff.
Once we get into full swing, I can see the “battle” of the expansion taking place in three ways. The first, is the Emerald Dream. I see the Queen using magic to tap into the Dream and turning it into more of a nightmare. This calls on both the Horde and Alliance, simply from a Druid standpoint (granted only the Tauren and Night Elves are directly affected). Second, the Queen herself. Heroes would have to venture into Nazjatar, which could be divided into regions much like Northrend, only smaller, with a vast structure in the centre where the Queen herself awaits.
It could be built up with much more depth and possibilities than what I’ve described here, but that’s for those with far more lore insight than what I have. Plus, it borrows from the first two expansions in terms of execution, so some new flavour would have to be intertwined (though this also explains the introduction of water-based mounts).
But wait, you’re thinking. That’s only two fronts. I’m glad you caught that. I needed to turn your attention away for a moment to make the idea for my third angle more impactful (not that it needs it). Quite frankly I could see this whole thing build towards one being, The Destroyer himself.
Let’s face it, Sargeras has been pissed off at Azeroth for a very long time. In fact, he played a huge role in Azshara as it is. He also nearly had it made with Medivh, but like all classic villains, he keeps getting thwarted. His essence or soul or what have you is believed to be somewhere in the Twisting Nether, but much like Azshara there’s no real proof of this. There’s even suggestion Azerothians have never actually faced or seen Sargeras but merely an avatar of him.
So why not have him combine with the Queen to launch a full out assault? Yes, it would involve even more Burning Legion than we’ve already seen, but the water aspect could introduce a vast array of creatures and options we’ve not yet encountered. It would also give reason to streamline the world a bit and tie things back in to Outland. There could be genuine reason to go back there (other than Talbuks), as there may be things in Outland that are needed in the battle (also known as questing).
Let’s face it, there’s not a lot of options left in terms of the world of Azeroth. This is one of the few “open doors” that Blizzard could do something with and after Arthas and the icy north, I think it’s the logical next step. The story is there and can write itself, no doubt much better than I have.