I've briefly mentioned Shadowmourne a few times recently, as it seems inexorably tied to the upcoming Icecrown Citadel patch. The weapon itself intrigues me to no end, and it's not because it's a great looking axe. No, you see, Shadowmourne is considered a legendary item, and this prods at a part of my mind that wants to balk at the idea.
A New Legend?
I can accept the idea of "newly added" weapons being legendary. We've seen this a few times: a weapon that wasn't previously in lore is introduced into the world and given a significant history. Thus, its [Legendary] tag still makes sense when you consider the lore of the weapon. It may have mechanically been added recently, but the backstory claims it's been around for a while.
Shadowmourne is created right before your eyes.
This is where I'll warn you. The information below leads to PTR / datamined information on WoWHead.com, and it contains spoilers for the upcoming content of 3.3. If you wish to avoid spoilers, you can stop reading here. The reason I didn't tag this with the bloody red "spoiler" plate at the top is simple: The spoilers are largely focused around the weapon itself, and seem to have only a passing relationship with the character-related events of Icecrown. Certainly, some quests require the defeat of various bosses (including the Lich King), but overall there's not much in these quests that'll ruin the surprises that may lie ahead.
I reserve the "Bloody Spoiler" graphic for the potentially big stuff.
That said? Follow the quest links and read on at your own risk.
The Forging of the Weapon (spoilers in links and text below)
The Sacred and the Corrupt
A Feast of Souls
The Splintered Throne
Since the above information comes from a pre-released state of the game, we cannot guarantee the order of these quests nor the exact accuracy of their goals. Keep that in mind throughout this article, please. Regardless of that, these quests still provide us with some interesting insights.
From what we can speculate, Shadow's Edge is either forged from Arthas's old hammer, or forged with Arthas's old hammer. We then take the axe and empower it through different stages. It seems these stages require the deaths of a lot of folk, including some significant bosses in the Citadel itself.
Once we've empowered Shadow's Edge sufficiently, we are tasked with "containing" that power by gathering shards of the Frozen Throne itself. Makes sense, right? The Frozen Throne was made to contain Ner'zhul's spirit, so it makes sense that the same "Legion ice" could be used to contain the forces being forged into Shadowmourne.
By this time, you're well on your way to crafting your legendary item. But this touches upon my one primary issue with Shadowmourne in general. How can anything be "legendary" if it's newly created? One of the definitions of the term is as such:
"Extremely well known; famous or renowned."
This weapon is brand new. How can it be famous or renowned? Certainly, the origins are rather intriguing, but there are certainly lore weapons of greater renown classified as much less (*cough*Gorehowl*cough*). Is it constructed from shards of a potentially shattered Frostmourne? Or is Frostmourne still reserved for a different fate entirely?
What makes Shadowmourne legendary?
Oh, indeed. That would do it.
But this is still where it gets confusing. It appears as though you actually get Shadowmourne at the point just before this quest, but the chain isn't complete. The final step ... is the death of the Lich King, yet you've already been given the weapon. Do you get a non-Legendary version which gets traded in for the Legendary version after Arthas falls? Or is Arthas's death just a formality? I'm certain we'll have to wait and see on that.
But perhaps you see why this weapon piques my interest even more now. This isn't a weapon where the legend is buried in history and lore. This isn't a weapon made famous by some grand hero of time past.
No. This weapon is made legendary by you. How's that make you feel?