March 18, 2009
Gathering Thunder! is the 17th installment of the World of Warcraft comic.
It's an historic day as Thrall arrives in Theramore to attend an important summit. But when natural enemies like Horde and Alliance converge, there's sure to be bloodshed. And in the shadows, Garona plans on making matters worse for the Horde!
Thrall, Garrosh, Rehgar, and some of the warchief's Kor'kron bodyguards disembark from their newly-arrived zeppelin to stand in front of Varian, Anduin, Jaina, Valeera, and Aegwynn. Jaina tells the assembled parties that it is time to lay down their weapons and enter Theramore Keep.
Meanwhile, in the clouds high above the island, Stasia scolds Garona for not attacking Varian and Anduin while they were in the open. Garona throws back that the attendants of the summit were supposed to be unarmed but are still carrying their weapons, and either way the cloaked figures are impossible to tell apart due to the storm summoned by Stasia's shaman.
On the ground, Varian and Thrall are busy staring dramatically at each other until Anduin steps between them and throws his bow on the ground, encouraging the two leaders to do the same with Shalamayne and the Doomhammer. Impressed by the "young diplomat", Thrall asks Anduin to lead the way to the keep. Jaina accompanies them and mentions that the weapons will be carried by trusted guards to be stored in an armory. Valeera remains behind for a moment with her old master Rehgar and quietly tells him that fate is laughing at them. While walking with Anduin, Valeera explains to him that Rehgar used to own her and Varian when they were gladiators. Meanwhile, Rehgar tells Thrall that while he knew Lo'Gosh had been well trained, he never expected him to turn out to be Stormwind's lost king. Thrall muses that he and Varian have similar backgrounds in that they are both gladiators who escaped their servitude to play larger roles in shaping Azeroth's future.
Meanwhile, Med'an and the bat he calls "Snubnose" are flying through the storm and approaching Kalimdor's eastern coast. Med'an is unable to shift the storm and correctly suspects that it's not natural. Since the weather makes it impossible to see where they're heading, he decides to fly low and skim the waves. Meryl would've warned him not to do so, but Med'an decides he shouldn't care what Meryl says since the mage lied to him about his mother. A few moments later, however, a huge tentacle erupts from the water to grab hold of Med'an and Snubnose. Med'an quickly severs the tendril with his axe and summons lightning to drive the creature back into the depths before continuing on his journey.
Inside Theramore Keep, Jaina, Varian, Anduin, Valeera, Thrall, Garrosh, and Rehgar now sit assembled around a table. Jaina explains to Thrall how Varian was kidnapped and ensorcelled before the previous summit. Rehgar recounts how, after Lo'Gosh and Broll escaped, the orc realized that his heart was with them rather than the profit he could have made from their service. He then knew that he had had his fill of the Crimson Ring and instead offered his services to Thrall. Valeera points out that Rehgar let Lo'Gosh and Broll escape but sold her to Helka Grimtotem. Rehgar reminds the blood elf that she and Broll fought constantly, that Helka offered a fortune for her, and that she would have received a leadership role in Helka's team. Rehgar then asks where Broll is, and Varian explains that he has left for urgent business in Teldrassil. Thrall recounts his own story of escaping from slavery in Lordaeron. Valeera reminisces about how Varian defeated Sparkeye's gladiator team followed by Hyku Steeledge, and Rehgar recounts how Lo'Gosh even then showed signs of being a king by refusing to fight for others' entertainment but willingly fighting to protect his companions.
Jaina, Thrall, and Varian begin to discuss how to ease the tensions between the orcs and humans. Thrall explains that the orcs lack certain resources in their new home and are in constant conflict with the night elves over the harvesting of timber. Varian and Thrall conclude that Alliance merchants might gladly trade their timber to the orcs, and in exchange the Horde can offer copper from deposits near Orgrimmar and exotic animal hides from the Barrens. Garrosh questions why the orcs should need to make concessions when they can simply take what they want by force, but Anduin points out that he could gain much greater profit with a few words than by wasting his resources and warriors in battle.
Med'an reaches Dustwallow Marsh and comes upon Garona and her Twilight's Hammer captors gathered on an island. He lands Snubnose on the neighboring island and begins swimming towards his mother when the cultists are suddenly attacked by huge wind serpents. One of the beasts begins flying toward Med'an but is killed by a threshadon that rises from the water, causing Med'an to realize he should get back on land. Meanwhile, Garona finishes dispatching the rest of the serpents and resumes bickering with Stasia. Med'an questions the exact details of Garona's captivity and wonders why he should even have bothered to try and prove himself to her or maker her feel sorry for abandoning him.
The following morning in Theramore, Varian informs Thrall that he may have to end their summit early after receiving word of simultaneous Scourge attacks on Goldshire and Southshore. Thrall states that he has already begun sending a few ships to Northrend, but it would be best for the Alliance and Horde to have some level of cooperation before facing the Lich King, their common enemy. Rehgar points out to Valeera that Garrosh is obviously not happy with how Varian and Thrall are getting along.
In Dustwallow, Med'an wakes up after having inadvertently fallen asleep and overhears more arguing between Garona and Stasia. Stasia tells Garona that they'll attack Theramore as a unit, but the half-orc — apparently starting to shake off her "programming" — insists on working alone and leaves on her wyvern, leaving the cultists to follow her on their bats. Med'an is horrified at Stasia's mention that Garona will die after completing her orders, and decides that this time he'll lend his aid to his mother.
Before long, Garona and the cultists swoop down on Theramore to attack the gathered leaders. Even unarmed, the summit attendants quickly respond and begin to fight back, picking up weapons dropped or thrown by their assailants. As planned, the Alliance races among the cultists attack the Horde targets and vice versa, and Garrosh declares the attack to be the result of "human treachery", dismissing the Horde races as being hirelings sent by Varian to kill their own kind. On her wyvern up in the sky, Garona is unable to understand why she is doing what she's doing. Varian spots the half-orc and immediately accuses Thrall of hiring his father's murderer, proclaiming that "it's clear that treachery remains the orcs' main tool of diplomacy".