Author: Chris Wickham
Vashj'ir is an ancient city which formerly housed some of the most revered night elves, included Queen Azshara of the Highbourne. However, the city was swallowed by the Great Sea and sank into the depths of the ocean along with the Highbourne, who were transformed into the amphibious naga. Following the cataclysm, earthquakes tore apart the ocean bed, revealing Vashj'ir for the first time in millennia. All that remains of Vashj'ir are crumbling ruins of the ancient palaces amidst numerous undersea caves, dense strands of seaweed, and hundreds of naga warriors. However, its position mere miles off the west coast of Khaz Modan make it a key strategically point for both Horde and Alliance.
The sonic landscape of Vashj'ir creates an ominous yet beautiful ambience for the depths of the ocean. Composer David Arkenstone uses ethereal choir melodies which when doubled with high strings, create a gentle movement which reflects the constant flow of water through the region. A solo 'cello often repeats these melodies in an expressive sorrowful tone with decorations from the harp, creating a serene, peaceful ambience. The harp often uses chords that are unstable, including augmented chords and familiar chords with colourful extensions. They create not only an impression of instability but also mystery and wonder. Throughout this peaceful atmosphere, low brass timbres shatter the serenity, but their distance in the arrangement reflects a dangerous presence within the seemingly calming atmosphere of this ancient underwater world.
Towards the end of the piece, the strings begin to increase speed, relentlessly chugging on with more urgency. Interjections from the evil low brass and timpani lurk in the background and begin to pierce through the arrangement. Decorations from the harp and woodwind eventually become less prominent as the strings and brass burst into a display of power, reminding us of the dangers that await players in Vashj'ir.