Mantid History

Much of Mantid history is a bit vague. In game, it's only hinted at briefly, but the Warcraft Chronicles books provide information on their origin, and a bit on how they came to be as they are now. They began as part of the Aqir, a race of insectoids created from the "organic matter" of the Old Gods [1]. The Old Gods are vaguely Lovecraftian gods who once ruled the Black Empire before being defeated by the Titans, another set of gods from space. During this time, the Aqir were fanatically loyal to the Old Gods, and served as both both workers, constructing massive cities and temples, and soldiers directly fighting the Titans [1]. Few details are known of what life was like during the Black Empire, but considering the the Old Gods are generally regarded as tremendously evil, it probably wasn't good. The empire spanned the entirely of Azeroth, including what would go on to become the Dread Wastes [2]. After their war with the Titans, the Old Gods were imprisoned, their servants were killed, the world was remade according to the Titan's plans, and the remaining Aqir fled underground. They spent an unknown amount of time hibernating underground, and would only emerge at the start of the Troll-Aqir War [3].

The Troll-Aqir War occured around 16,000 years before the start of WoW. It is an interesting chapter in Azeroth's history, but most of it is irrelevant to the mantid. What is important is that the Aqir ultimately lost, with only three major groups surviving. One in Northrend, one in southwest Kalimdor, and one in Pandaria. Each stronghold was located near one of the imprisoned Old Gods, and over time they began to change, physically and culturally [4]. Those that settled in Pandaria found themselves near the remains of Y'shaarj, the only Old God killed by the Titans. It is unclear whether they inhabited the area before the Troll-Aqir war and simply retreated, or if this was a new area to them. The Chronicles imply it's the latter, while archeology details implies the former. Either way, the lingering presence of Y'shaarj changed the Aqir into an entirely new species: the mantid.

One of the earliest discoveries of the mantid was the power of kypari sap. It was eaten, forged into weapons, and used to heal their wounds [5]. They built their empire beneath the roots of the trees, and their culture evolved away from the Aqir. And soon enough, the found enemies of their own.

To the east of the mantid were the mogu, ancient servants of the Titans. Beneath the mogu's land lay the Heart of Y'shaarj, and the mantid were drawn to its power. They launched an attack on the mogu, but they were fought off, and retreated [4]. While a great number of soldiers were lost, the survivors returned stronger, and were able to teach new techniques to the next generation. The early mantid empire waited 100 years before another attack was launched, but it was again defeated. Once again, the surivors grew stronger. This change did not go unnoticed. During this time, the mantid began developing a new philosophy on war. They believed endless attempts to conquer their neighbors would would only deplete their resources, and that they could better serve the Old Gods by conserving and refine their strength for the future. Over time, these attacks ceased being genuine attempts to claim the Heart, and became a part of their culture; a ritual where their strength would be honed again and again.

The mogu noticed this change, and created a plan. In the lull between swarms, when they outnumbered the mantid, they struck and devestated the few warriors that remained [4]. But when all hope seemed lost, one mantid, Korven, managed to turn the tide and drove off the mogu. His skill in battle was legendary, and he instantly became a hero among his people. Upon returning, he was even given the honor of planting the tree that would be known as Kypari'Zar [6]. He was declared a paragon, yet he wasn't satisfied.

He predicted that the mantid would face similar threats in the future, situations where the empire itself was in danger. Yet there was no way to ensure he or any other hero would be present to prevent another diaster. He set to work researching a potential solution. After years of work, he discovered a new property of kypari sap, which allowed living beings to survive for millenia in statis [4][5]. He was the first to undergo this process, and in doing so became known as Korven the Prime, first of the paragons. He was buried near the tree he planted, and would remain until the events of WoW.

After this, the history of the mantid becomes less clear. Eventually, the great mogu emperor, Lei Shen, would unite the mogu clans and conquer much of Pandaria, yet he never attempted to conquer the mantid. Rather, he chose to build the Serpent's Spine, a colossal wall seperating the lands of the mantid from the rest of Pandaria [7]. During this time, a mantid known as Ka'roz would gain fame by raiding labor camps and farms to slow construction. He single-handedly delayed its construction by decades, and for his skill he was declared a paragon [8]. But while it took generations and countless lives to build, Lei Shen had his wall. From then on, the borders were clearly marked, and they had a powerful position to defend from the swarm.

Over time, more paragons would come to fame, and the technology of the mantid would steadily improve. At one point, the mogu came close to destorying the mantid outright, but they were defeated by Kil'ruk, who would go on to become a paragon [9]. Eventually, the mogu were overthrown and replaced by the Pandaren empire, but the mantid continued to swarm every century, becoming foes with the Pandaren as well. 2,000 years after that came the Sundering, an event which changed the face of Azeroth, and led to Pandaria becoming seperated from the rest of the world. Its impact on the mantid empire is not known, since they were already pretty isolated. For the next 10,000 years, the mantid remained roughly the same (in World of Warcraft, it is perfectly normally for entire nations to go thousands of years without changing at all, don't worry). The next significant event in their history was the arrival of the Horde and Alliance to Pandaria, and the start of Mists of Pandaria.

While the history of the mantid is long, there's very little information about what life was actually like during those early periods. However, that doesn't mean clues don't exist, and that we can't speculate. One point to remember is how their culture and military tactics changed from the Aqir to the mantid. The Aqir had a very distinct fighting style. They overwhelm the enemy with raw numbers, usually relying on other creations of the Old Gods to guide them [1][3]. Zerg rushing, basically. From the Titans to the trolls, this was the main approach they used. The qiraji and silithids, other descendants of the Aqir, followed the same path of using crushing numbers to defeat their foes [10][11]. While it's hard to say they never used military tactics to their advantage, there is no evidence to show they did. The mantid, on the other hand, have a evidence of lots of stuff. They have siege weapons, sappers, and multiple styles of fighting [12][13]. These concepts didn't come out of nowhere, either. During the days of Kil'ruk the Wind-Reaver, it wasn't common for flying mantid to be in close combat, or to dive at their opponents. It was only after he personally proved its effectiveness that it becomes a staple of mantid fighting [9]. Other details, such as Kaz'tik's discovery of Kunchong taming, prove that scientific developments were also made. It shows a culture that is actively changing, even up to the modern day (even if those 10,000 years of stagnation makes no sense).

It's worth noting that the nerubians, the third major group of Aqir-descendants, also show tactical skill in warfare. They stood their own against the Lich King for a surprisingly long time, used hit-and-run tactics to drain his resources, and showed impressive intelligence and tenacity [14][15]. However, due to the general lack of good nerubian lore, it's hard to get an understanding on their culture, and their relationship to the other Aqir descendants.


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