Balor is an island familiar to most for being an important battleground during the Second War and for nothing else. However, it took a much greater part in early human history – one that is rarely spoken of these days, for various reasons. Subject of one of the earliest human myths, like most of pre-Light human beliefs it has been conveniently forgotten or written out. When the Holy Light took over the old human faiths and replaced the myths of their gods with moralizing stories teaching people how to behave according to the virtues of the Light, many of those old stories were dismissed as simply stories sown by malicious spirits that would seek to lead the mortal men astray, away from the purifying Light. What those early priests did not consider was that in many of those stories, there was a grain of truth.
The original myth is tied to the Great Exodus. According to human mythology, their race came to be in the land of evil giants. However, a great deity called Tyr led them away from this land of slavery and brought to their new homelands. Where exactly those new homelands were supposed to be varied from nation to nation, usually corresponding to the nation the speaker was from in order to magnify their own pride, One element is common, however, between all those variants. They were not left to their own devices after Tyr’s tutelage. A king of the evil giants called Balor followed them to their new lands after three generations and enslaved them again, only to be defeated and slain by his slaves another generation later.
In the light of information revealed us in Northrend, I believe we can make a more complete picture of the true events that transpired then. We now know humanity is descended from the vrykul, creatures of gigantic posture, at least compared to humans. The land of evil giants from which Tyr leads the nascent humanity away is undoubtedly King Ymiron’s domain in Northrend and their new lands are disputed to be either somewhere in Lordaeron, or far south near Stormwind if the Azotha theory is correct. Now, the arrival of Balor “three generations later” would point towards the latter.
The island of Balor was reputedly named after Balor himself, who allegedly made his capital there. According to the myth, Balor was originally sent in order to destroy humanity (which would fit what we learned of Ymiron) but upon seeing what they built in this short – to him – time, he decided to enslave the humans instead and rule as their king. Thus, Balor defied Ymiron’s orders and forced the humans to build him a fortress on the peak that became the island of Balor. Unlike the mogu tyranny over Pandaria, Balor’s rule was short-lived and his slaves rebelled and destroy all the “evil giants” he brought with him. What remained was a ruined ancient fortress and the name of his mountain – and later, after the Sundering, an island.
Some Lordaeroni historians who took the story of Balor as real argued that the name, or the great stone fortress, were not related to Balor the person. The Lordaeronian origin theory claimed that human civilization first developed up north and only spread to the south much later. These historians claimed that the Hill of Balor was instead located in Alterac, and was still one of the mountains there. There was very few material evidence for any kind of giant settlement in these parts, but those historians were adamant it was ruined in the Sundering, like most of the land. According to that theory, the island near Stormwind was named retroactively by the Azotha as a reminder of their past.
Whichever the case, although in my personal opinion the island near Stormwind was the true location of Balor’s base, this myth combined with the revelations from Northrend teaches us that in every myth, there is a grain of truth. And in some of them, there is even more than a grain. In a world as soaked with powerful magic as Azeroth, which cannot be said of all worlds out there, many things that would seem fictional may prove to be, in fact, based on real events.