Ashran is contested territory, home to active skirmishes and assaults on both sides, with the Ogre ruins in the center of the conflict. It is often subjected to various archaeological raids, in which both sides desperately scour for old artifacts that may aid in winning control of the land.
For eons, the island was home to a flourishing ogre civilization, aptly named The Ashran empire. Much like the Gorian Empire, Ashran was founded through bloody conquest against the Gronn, with many of of its citizens adopting the use of arcane magic at this time. Surrounded by the barrier sea, Ashran was also an accomplished naval nation, and is believed to have engineered the first Ogre Juggernauts. At its height, the empire was able to conquer large swaths of Eastern Tanaan and Jungle Shadowmoon Valley, enslaving much of the local population. Their expansion was stopped only by the mighty Arakkoa, and their Gorian cousins to the west.
This would change several hundred years ago, when the Naaru vessel Genedar tore through the skies Draenor, and thousands of powerful Draenei refugees poured into Shadowmoon Valley. Disparaging the brutal affairs of the Ogres, the Draenei liberated much of Ashran's former territories, taking much of Shadowmoon for themselves. Soon, the empire found itself surrounded by enemies, and locked in desperate turmoil.
Kor'lok, widely regarded as the last Ogre King of Ashran, began funding a magical arms race against the Draenei and Arrakoa, delving ever deeper into the land, and uncovering incredibly powerful artifacts. At the same time, his court sorcerer, Gor'vosh, was allowed free rein to study what ever fields of magic he saw fit, and to any extent. However, as Gor'vosh learned more, he grew greedy and seditious, particularly as he began to practice necromancy.
In what modern Ashmaul view as far too suspicious a coincidence, Kor'lok was assassinated with a Rangari's poisoned arrow, after a particularly heated discussion with the sorcerer. Whether the assassin accomplished this before or after Gor'vosh slew and reanimated her remains a topic of heated debate, or rather, in ogre fashion, a catalyst for an immediate bloodbath. Regardless, Ashran soon found itself in a widescale. bloody civil war, tearing itself apart from within. In the coming centuries, much of the vast knowledge of the empire was lost, and most of its subjects descended into the typical brutishness of the average Ogre.
Modern Ashran became dominated by two clans, the Ashmaul, the larger clan descended from the warriors and average citizens of the empire, and the Gor'vosh Clan, who follow in the footsteps of their namesake. The two continue to war against eachother, with the Gor'vosh making up for what they lack in numbers by raising the dead of the Ashmaul.
In the aftermath of the Second War, Deathwing built a lair on the island, but this was later razed, forcing the dragon to return to Azeroth. Soon after, Ner'zhul's destructive magic tore Draenor apart, purging the world of nearly every trace of the former empire.
As portals carried soldiers to alternate Draenor, many set their sites on the valuable treasures of the land.
Ashran is of great importance to both the Alliance and the Horde due to the presence of ancient artifacts which hold great power. While officially at peace after the Siege of Orgrimmar, the rival factions established large, very fortified bases in the North and South, and an intense proxy war began between the two, with The Explorers League representing the Alliance and The Reliquary representing the Horde.
The fragments of artifacts found scattered across the isle are valued by both factions, as well as by the Gorian Empire, while organizations such as The Reliquary keenly seek larger and more intact specimens from which to gain understanding and power, with the remarkable effects witnessed in the intact Ancient Artifacts occasionally found on the island demanding further investigation. The Alliance's investigations are headed up by Harrison Jones, while Belloc Brightblade leads the Horde's efforts.
The Alliance are seeking a specific, large artifact, theorized by Harrison Jones to have powers rivaling that of titan technology. The artifact appears to have military applications, with the possibility of using it or the knowledge gained from it against the Horde. The Horde are aware of the Alliance's search, and are attempting to find it first. Both factions claim to seek control of the artifact in order to defend themselves against the other.
The Reliquary claim to wish to study the artifacts in order to give the Horde the upper hand in the war, in which pursuit they have come into conflict with the Steamwheedle Cartel, who have taken possession of quantities of the artifacts for their own commercial interests, and have a very different idea of the true meaning of the word "priceless". Apparently the goblins have begun selling Ashran "souvenirs", stringing together Artifact Fragment and selling them as jewelry.
Since arriving on the island, each faction has established control of an entrance to the main mines beneath the island, subsequently blocking access even to revered adventurers due to "work" going on inside, and posting guards at the barricaded entrances. Harrison Jones believes the artifact sought by both factions to be located in the mines, and according to Horde spies the Alliance is currently building machinery used to drill through rocks. Not to be outdone, the blood elves had already discovered "something big" in the mines, supposedly a part of the artifact for which the Alliance have been searching.
The Reign of Gor'vosh
After Gul'dan established control over the Iron Horde, his master Archimonde enacted a plan to eliminate the prevent Draenor's would-be saviors from foiling him once more. The Gor'vosh clan, in their bid for dominance of the isle, signed a pact with The Defiler, recovering their ancient overlord's desiccated remains and bringing them to Hellfire Citadel. There, Archimonde raised the king as a Lich, granting him the title, Gor'vosh the Eternal. Gor'vosh would use the corpses of fallen ogres, Alliance and Horde on Ashran to build an army that would resemble the Scourge that had served Archimonde decades earlier. The giant, rotting ogres that Gor'vosh raised would be aptly named, "Zogres," and immediately caused devastation to all in their thundering path. Seemingly out of thin air, Varian and Vol'jin would be faced with a two pronged assault, which immediately threatened to turn the tide in the Legion's favor.
Due to the taxing assault on Hellfire Citadel, neither the Alliance or Horde had any forces to spare on Draenor. As a result, the remaining combatants were ordered to band together against the undead. Alongside, the Alliance and Horde, the Ashmaul ogres offered their reluctant assistance, citing their mutual hatred of the Gor'vosh clan as their primary motivation. Among the resistance was Sir Aemon Bayne, a Gilnean veteran and primalist, and Rhotwyr Bargoer, a traveling Dark Iron brewmaster. The goal of this battle was simple: Hold out for as long as possible and keep zogres occupied, waiting for the armies in Tanaan to at last relieve this assault.
While the living were able to keep Gor'vosh at bay, the zogres wrecked havoc on their forces for months, wearing away at their numbers in sudden, devastating strikes. The battle raged on for many months, until at last, the champions assaulting Hellfire Citadel were victorious, casting Gul'dan into the nether and eliminating Archimonde once and for all. Now united, the combined forces of Iron Horde and Draenei assaulted Ashran en masse, beginning a bloody campaign of righteous carnage against the undead. Ultimately, they were able to eradicate the zogres from Ashran, slaying the Ogre-Lich and destroying his phylactery.
Places and people
While clearly in ruin, the island features signs of a once great settlement, including towers, arenas and extensive mines.
The Ashmaul Ogres dominate the native populations, with the clan's ranks including pyromancers, flamespeakers and magma casters, as well as the support of a host of summoned fire elementals.
The smaller Gor'vosh ogre clan, found only in the southeast of the island, appear to be the less dominant clan. Making their home in the Ashmaul Burial Grounds, these ogres practice necromantic arts, and have raised a number of undead ogres from the remains in the area, presumably belonging to ogres from the Ashmaul clan, given the area's title. The two clans appear to be locked in a bitter rivalry.