Gurubashi War

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For the earlier internal conflict within the Gurubashi Empire, see Gurubashi Civil War.
Gurubashi War
Gurubashi War
Location: Stormwind, Elwynn Forest, Westfall
Provocation: An expedition led by Prince Llane Wrynn of Stormwind assassinates the warlord of the Gurubashi, provoking a retaliation
Outcome: Stormwindian victory
Belligerents
Commanders and leaders
Strength
Casualties and losses
  • Moderate
  • Very heavy
Previous: Gnoll War
Next: First War

The Gurubashi War[2][3] was a major conflict fought between the human Kingdom of Stormwind and a coalition of Gurubashi jungle troll tribes, in the south of the Eastern Kingdoms (primarily within the territories of the Kingdom of Stormwind). Occurring around 18 years before the First War, the Gurubashi War saw a massive army of trolls lay siege to, and nearly sack, Stormwind City itself in response to the assassination of their previous warlord.

The war was preceded by a long period of smaller conflicts between the two factions, largely over the territories bordering Stranglethorn Vale that Stormwindian settlers began expanding into. Though initially isolated, the conflict quickly escalated out of control, despite the best efforts of Stormwind's King Barathen Wrynn.

The final provocation came when Prince Llane Wrynn personally led a small party to strike at the Gurubashi leadership in central Stranglethorn, which succeeded in uniting the trolls against Stormwind. Though costly and close-run, the human kingdom eventually emerged victorious, largely due to the intervention of the Guardian Medivh.

With the entire troll army completely destroyed or routed at the gates of Stormwind City, the jungle trolls of the south would never succeed in threatening the kingdom again. The war's conclusion also marked the beginning of nearly two decades of relative peace for Stormwind, to be eventually interrupted by the onset of the First War against the Orcish Horde.

History

Prelude

The south of the Eastern Kingdoms, showing both Stormwindian and Gurubashi territories.

Years after the Gnoll War, from which the humans emerged victorious, the isolated Kingdom of Stormwind continued to prosper in the southeastern areas of the Eastern Kingdoms. Now living in relative peace, Stormwind's settlers and farmers began to expand the kingdom's borders, pushing farther in all directions. In particular, vast new territories were claimed south of the human nation, located perilously close to the jungles of Stranglethorn Vale — the ancient homeland of the Gurubashi tribe of jungle trolls.

Inevitably, skirmishes eventually began to break out between the expansionist humans and territorial trolls, though they remained for a time largely localized and small-scale. Stormwind's ageing ruler, King Barathen Wrynn, adopted an non-aggressive stance to these instances of violence, hoping to prevent provoking an all-out war between the two races. In time, what were once small clashes erupted into much larger disturbances. Organized troll warbands frequently began raiding Stormwindian lands and an ever-increasing amount of blood was spilled in the conflict.[4]

In response, King Barathen continued his policy of static defense, ordering his troops to intercept and engage any invaders but forbidding them from launching retaliatory attacks into troll lands. This decision proved bitterly controversial within the kingdom, where the king's own son Prince Llane strongly advocated for a more aggressive approach. His determination that Stormwind should strike back against the trolls ultimately led him into harsh conflict with his father.

While King Barathen's efforts against the Gurubashi were effective, his armies could not stop every troll attack. At one point, a raiding party was successful in slipping past Stormwind's patrol lines, penetrating deep into the kingdom's breadbasket of Westfall. There they cut a swathe of destruction through the region, razing three separate towns to the ground. Ultimately, the invaders were caught up with and slain, but the barbaric and gruesome destruction they had managed to wreak shocked the kingdom. In response, the king held meetings with the nobility and his allies, although he remained adamant in his adherence to a policy of de-escalation. King Barathen declared that, while Stormwind's armies would be strengthened and bolstered, no offensive action would be taken against the Gurubashi trolls.[5]

Prince Llane became furious at his father's decision, and publicly challenged him in front of onlookers, demanding that he take firm action in response to all the blood that was spilled. Though the king was forced to rebuke his son in front of the court, the humiliation only served to galvanise the prince. Many other Stormwindians shared Llane's views on the issue, including the knight Anduin Lothar and the majority of the Stormwind Army. Nevertheless, the prince understood that he could not defy his father openly. It was thus on the suggestion of Lothar that Llane began to formulate a plan to infiltrate deep into the heart of Gurubashi lands, and end the troll threat once and for all.[5]

A Secret Mission

At about this time, a powerful figure in the form of the Guardian Medivh reentered life in the kingdom. Having been lying in a magically-induced coma for years (following the emergence of his full and terrible powers) Medivh was now determined to aid his friends, Sir Lothar and Prince Llane, in order to escape his many newfound internal troubles. Llane understood that while his planned covert mission into jungle troll territory would be small enough to evade the vast majority of both trolls and humans, the expedition needed Medivh.

Medivh had long since told his two friends the secret of his true destiny as the Guardian of Tirisfal, which they now used to argue for the mage to join their mission. Medivh, still deeply troubled and confused over the recent events of his life, considered the situation at great length before hesitantly agreeing. Alone, the three set off on their journey.

Making it through Stormwind's borders unnoticed, the small party utilized Medivh's magic to remain hidden as they pressed into Gurubashi lands. Their objective became the trolls' leader, named Jok'non, who ruled from a large ziggurat in central Stranglethorn. If their leader were slain, Llane and his party were confident that the Gurubashi would descend into chaos and infighting. Unbeknownst to the humans, however, Jok'non and his followers had been dabbling in the forbidden blood magics of one of their most powerful gods, the loa spirit known as Hakkar the Soulflayer.

When Llane and his companions finally engaged the troll leader, the ensuing battle proved brutal. Large attention was drawn to the fight atop the ziggurat as Medivh personally dueled Jok'non. The troll's dark blood magics came perilously close to overwhelming Medivh, who was forced to unleash the full might of his Guardian powers. The resulting spell instantly slew every troll in the area, their screams echoing throughout Stranglethorn.[5]

Shaken by their friend's display of raw power, Llane and Lothar (with Medivh in tow) immediately set off back to Stormwind. Though they had successfully achieved their expedition's goal, both men were shaken by the display they had witnessed, and began to harbor doubts as to the well-being of their long-time companion.[2]

Gurubashi Vengeance

The gates of Stormwind City.

Although no Gurubashi jungle troll survived the encounter in central Stranglethorn to testify as to the events that occurred there, the other trolls quickly pieced together who was responsible. Furious at this brazen attack, the Gurubashi forces united under the leadership of the late Warlord Jok'non's son, Zan'non. The trolls then immediately prepared for all-out war on the humans, and began to mobilize and march in the direction of Stormwind City.[2]

Though Stormwind had been fighting with the Gurubashi for some time, they had not yet faced the trolls fully united as they were now. Used to dealing with relatively minor raiding parties, Stormwind's southern defenses instantly crumbled under the tide of foes. The trolls' numbers proved well beyond anything the kingdom could have foreseen or imagined. Large numbers of civilians unable to escape the Gurubashi advance were slaughtered in grotesque and shocking ways upon being overtaken. Having achieved a common purpose for the first time in hundreds of years, the Gurubashi jungle trolls wasted little time on anything other than their primary objective: the utter destruction of the humans' capital city of Stormwind. To this end, pushed directly toward the city itself, encountering nothing that could effectively halt their invasion.

King Barathen understood the gravity of the situation, though most of the kingdom continued to reel. The king recalled all major forces to the gates of Stormwind City itself, to face the attackers in a pitched battle if necessary. At this time, Prince Llane and his two friends informed the king of what had transpired in Stranglethorn; though upset, King Barathen did not see fit to punish the three men given the already dire circumstances. Before long, the Gurubashi army arrived outside Stormwind's walls in terrifying numbers.

Zan'non had since learned of many of the dark magics of his father, and used these powers to create powerful new mutated soldiers. These beasts scaled the city's walls with ease, using their unholy strength to rip apart fortification and defender alike. As the trolls continued to clash with the soldiers of Stormwind, the death toll began to rise rapidly. Realizing that the current situation was unwinnable, King Barathen chose to mount a desperate attack with his own elite guards directly into the heart of enemy lines. Bravely seeking to slay Zan'non himself, Stormwind's king was still desperately outnumbered. Barathen Wrynn came close to his goal but was ultimately killed on the field of battle.[2]

Llane Wrynn, now king, was overcome with guilt at his father's death, lamenting his actions that began the conflict originally. Despite his grief, the former prince refused to give into despair. Though Stormwind's defenses were on the verge of collapse, Llane would not give up on those that now looked to him for leadership. He pleaded with Medivh to once more unleash the full might of his powers to turn the tide of battle, to which the mage ultimately agreed. From atop the battlements of Stormwind, Medivh the Guardian once more harnessed the full might of his abilities. With unmatched fire, frost, and arcane magics, the mage laid waste to the troll forces. Innumerable Gurubashi were frozen, incinerated, or simply ripped apart by the unbridled powers at work. The trolls' deaths were particularly torturous, a fully intended action on Medivh's part.[3]

When Medivh had finally finished, Stormwind City and its defenders still stood unscathed, though the same could not be said for the Gurubashi. Almost the entire troll army had been annihilated in the maelstrom of raw power (including Warlord Zan'non) with only a small handful fleeing alive.

Aftermath

In the wake of the destruction, the citizens of Stormwind began to bury the dead and repair the damage to their city. They rejoiced for their salvation at the hands of Medivh, who was now regarded as one of the kingdom's greatest protectors, and happily accepted King Llane as their new ruler. Anduin Lothar, too, benefited from the recent events, being raised to one of the highest commands in the military.

The general populace never became aware of the secret expedition into the heart of Stranglethorn that sparked the war, or the direct involvement of their new king. However, the consequences of their actions weighed heavily upon Llane, Lothar, and Medivh, having led to the deaths of hundreds.[3]

His unrestricted use of his full and terrible powers deeply troubled Medivh, who now doubted whether he possessed the will required to temper such abilities. The events of the Gurubashi War were what ultimately convinced the Guardian to seek out answers to the many questions that had been plaguing his mind. Shortly afterward, he traveled to the ancient tower of Karazhan at the behest of a mysterious woman in his dreams.[3] There, Medivh would ultimately uncover his destiny and his Guardian birthright, which would alter the course of Azeroth's history forever.

Some time later, the demon lord Sargeras (residing within Medivh) would utilize the example set by the Gurubashi War to convince the Guardian of Azeroth's pettiness. The flimsy and arbitrary reasons for the war between humans and jungle trolls was placed in stark contrast to the powerful unity of the races of Azeroth during the War of the Ancients, millennia before.[6]

Notes and trivia

  • The Gurubashi War seems to be inspired by the graphic novel Bonds of Brotherhood set in the film universe. It is not exactly identical, however. In said comic the Gurubashi used the power of fel, not blood magic, and Medivh likewise used fel instead of arcane magic to defeat them.
  • King Barathen intentionally abstained from asking the other human kingdoms in the north for aid against the Gurubashi. In addition to there being not enough time, the king (and Stormwind as a whole) also reasoned that their northern kin would not be willing to help them, as evidenced by their behavior during the earlier Gnoll War.[3] This would later also affect the outcome of the First War, with the northern kingdoms being unwilling or not informed enough to send help.
  • The Clerics of Northshire were known to have healed some jungle trolls during the war, an act which notably displayed their compassion for all life regardless of race.[1]

References