Second War

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WC2BnE logo 16x42.png Second War
Second War
Part of: Burning Crusade
Location: Eastern Kingdoms (Continents of Lordaeron, Khaz Modan, Azeroth, and their surrounding oceans)
Prelude: First War
Provocation: Doomhammer's Horde launches a campaign to defeat an Alliance of human nations, which mobilizes in response
End: The Great Portal
Outcome: Alliance victory
Belligerents
Commanders and leaders
Strength
Casualties and losses
  • Heavy
Major Battles: Siege of Ironforge, Battle of Hillsbrad Foothills, Burning of Quel'Thalas, Razing of Blackwood, Siege of Lordaeron, Battle of Crestfall, Siege of Blackrock Spire, Battle of the Dark Portal
Previous: First War
Next: Invasion of Draenor

The Second War, also known as the second Great War,[6] was a major conflict that took place in the Eastern Kingdoms around four years following the opening of the Dark Portal,[7] between the armies of the Orcish Horde and an Alliance of several other races. The conflict immediately succeeded the First War, and saw the two factions clash for mastery of the entire continent, as well as Azeroth at large.

After the fall of Stormwind, the new Warchief Orgrim Doomhammer set out to conquer the rest of Azeroth so that the orcs would have a new home world of their own. He was responsible for instigating a renewed campaign to seize control of the other lands to the north, certain that the human kingdoms would avenge themselves if the orcs didn't strike first. At the same time Lord Anduin Lothar, the former Champion of Stormwind, led his surviving people across the Great Sea to the shores of Lordaeron. He met with King Terenas and warned him of the invasion to come. A meeting with the leaders of the other human nations was called and led to the formation of the Alliance of Lordaeron, which would eventually grow to encompass almost all of the Eastern Kingdoms' major races, with Lothar as Supreme Allied Commander.

The Horde led two major assaults. The southern offensive was through the dwarven lands of Khaz Modan but after a series of savage battles, Alliance forces pushed the Horde back to the bridges of the Thandol Span. The northern offensive came from the Great Sea.[8] Though the Horde achieved early success by using enslaved red dragons and almost took the Capital City of Lordaeron after Alterac betrayed its comrades, the war began to turn in favor of the Alliance due to a number of factors, most notably the founding of the Knights of the Order of the Silver Hand and the betrayal of the orc warlock Gul'dan. Outmaneuvered and outmatched, the Horde was ultimately forced to retreat south to its previous holdings. The pursuing Alliance armies caught up and did battle with Doomhammer's forces in the Burning Steppes, the outcome of which proved a decisive victory for the Alliance. However, Lothar had fallen in the battle and leadership was taken up by his second in command Turalyon.

The war soon came to an end after the final battle at the Dark Portal which was subsequently destroyed. The conflict had raged on for over a year, and had seen the destruction of villages and populations on an unprecedented scale. The Alliance would last for many years to follow and led to the nations of Azeroth became more intertwined with each other. Though the Horde found itself was thoroughly defeated, the conflict did not secure long-term peace on the continent. Two years later, a new war would once again break out, culminating in the Invasion of Draenor.

Prelude

Territories of the Horde and the Alliance during the Second War.

Following the events of the First War, the survivors of Stormwind led by the hero Anduin Lothar fled north across the Great Sea to the northern kingdom of Lordaeron to beseech aid from King Terenas Menethil II. The survivors' arrival additionally served as a warning to the other human nations of the relentless threat posed by the Orcish Horde; a threat which could no longer be denied. Following an impassioned plea by Lothar, King Terenas organized a gathering of leaders from all the human nations in Lordaeron's Capital City, an event which became known as the Council of Seven Nations. Having finally awoken to the seriousness of the Horde threat, Azeroth's human nations presumably began to pursue large military build-ups in preparation for war.

Meanwhile, the Horde began to consolidate its new holdings in the far south, further pillaging Stormwind City and effectively destroying all human holdings south of the Burning Steppes.[9] In a coup d'état led by Orgrim Doomhammer to end what he saw as their corrupting influence over the Horde, the Shadow Council had been destroyed along with its puppet Warchief, Blackhand the Destroyer, in the final days of the First War.

Warchief Doomhammer now fervently pondered the future of his people, and eventually came to the conclusion that the Horde must march against the remaining human nations. Doomhammer was aware of the gathering of leaders in Lordaeron from his scouts, and realized that if the Horde did not strike against this threat immediately, then they would surely be overwhelmed by the combined might of their enemies. Thus, Doomhammer began to prepare the Horde to make war once more.[7]

History

Arming the Horde

The Warchief learned much about human politics and culture from prisoners, and came to recognize the strategic and overall symbolic importance of Lordaeron's Capital City. Yet, to take the capital, Doomhammer required more powerful weapons.

Four years after their arrival on Azeroth,[7] the Horde's strength was much depleted from constant war, and they now sought means to strengthen itself in preparation for the renewed offensive. Much of Stormwind's previously-strong infrastructure now lay in ruins, and the orcs failed to salvage much of use from the kingdom's ashes. The Dragonmaw clan, on the other hand, had recently unearthed an ancient artifact known as the Demon Soul, a disc of immense power dating back to the War of the Ancients. Potent though it was, the Dragonmaw required more time to fully unravel its secrets, a task given to Nekros Skullcrusher.

The orcs had recently opened contact with the Amani tribe of forest trolls, who were delighted to learn of Stormwind's destruction, having harbored a hatred of humans dating back many years. The trolls pledged to support the Horde in its continued war, on the condition that Doomhammer rescue the Amani leader Zul'jin, who had been captured and was currently being held near the town of Hillsbrad.

The warlock Gul'dan eventually emerged from his magically-induced coma (after attempting to probe the mind of Medivh during the First War) not long after Stormwind's fall. Having purged the Shadow Council and other elements of Gul'dan's warlocks from the Horde, Doomhammer fully intended to complete the task by dispatching their leader. Desperate, Gul'dan produced a proposition should his life be spared: disavowing his connection to the demonic Burning Legion, he promised to provide the power to create new types of incredibly powerful warriors for the orcs, capable of countering humanity's potent magi and clerics. Though distrustful, Doomhammer gave Gul'dan the chance to prove his worth, and provided his consent for the warlock to form a clan of his own, the Stormreavers.

Gul'dan then set about delivering on his promise, though he attempted to ensure that the powerful new warriors created were loyal to him alone. Along with his ogre lieutenant Cho'gall, Gul'dan gathered the spirits of the slain members of his Shadow Council. Though Horde dead were sacred, slain humans would serve as the perfect vessel for these disembodied souls. Eventually, the orc warlock succeeded in infusing the spirit of the once-orc Teron'gor into the corpse of a deceased knight. Teron'gor, now known as Teron Gorefiend, would rise as the first of a new type of soldier, the death knights. These beings wielded necromantic, rather than fel magics, and though their horrifying appearance and foul nature disgusted Doomhammer, their incredible power would be required in the coming conflict.[10]

Though Doomhammer managed to reinforce the Horde with ogre enforcers, most of the forces on the other side of the Dark Portal couldn't be mobilized in time for the next war.[citation needed] With several new potent weapons in its arsenal, the Horde now looked toward replenishing its armaments, supplies, and other resources. For this, the orcs turned their attention on the nearby dwarven kingdom in Khaz Modan.

Invasion of Khaz Modan

Occupied by the Bronzebeard clan of dwarves, the region of Khaz Modan was rich in a variety of resources, including valuable metal ores and oil, in addition to the dwarves' mighty forges. Before launching their assault on Lordaeron, the Horde thus decided to first seize Khaz Modan, and they quickly began a full-scale invasion of the region.

The dwarven capital of Ironforge and its surrounding mountains

Six years after the opening of the Dark Portal, the orc army advanced into Khaz Modan amidst a major blizzard, though their arrival did not take the dwarves by surprise. Demolition teams skillfully collapsed numerous mountain tunnels and passes, delaying the Horde's approach, while the dwarves also contacted their traditional allies: the gnomes of Gnomeregan, in the west. Together, the dwarves and gnomes pooled their resources to resist the invasion, and established strong defensive positions across Khaz Modan.[11]

Despite their organization, the dwarf-gnome coalition was little match for the Orcish Horde. Outnumbered, their outposts and settlements eventually fell one by one before the furious advance of the orcish forces. Hundreds were killed in defense of their homeland,[11] but these defenses gradually withered before the onslaught. The dwarves and gnomes ultimately retreated to their mountain strongholds of Ironforge and Gnomeregan respectively.

Doomhammer focused his attention on Ironforge, seeing the dwarves as the greater of the two threats, and quickly laid siege to the underground city. The dwarves recognized that this would be their last stand and were prepared to dying fighting. They mobilized all of their resources and nearly their entire population took up arms to resist the siege. Though the Horde assaulted Ironforge in great numbers, the death toll proved horrendous for the orcs. For every dwarf that fell, ten orcs were brought down with them. Eventually, the cost grew so great that Doomhammer called off the siege.[11]

At the same time, some orcish forces also advanced on Gnomeregan, though with similarly disastrous results. The gnomes used their advanced technologies to defend their home, rigging various powerful explosive traps in the forests surrounding Gnomeregan that exacted a bloody toll on the invaders before even reaching the city. When the attackers finally reached Gnomeregan, the city's virtually impenetrable great iron gate withstood weeks of bombardment from Horde siege engines. The siege of Gnomeregan too was ultimately called off.

The two cities had proved too costly in time and manpower to take properly, but Doomhammer already had what he needed in the form of Khaz Modan's rich resources. The warchief stationed the Bleeding Hollow clan outside each city, ordering them to keep the dwarves and gnomes contained for the duration of the war. Horde smiths quickly got to work in the region, and before long were fully equipping the Horde with vast quantities of new armaments and siege weapons, placing the orcs one step closer to their goal.[12]

Formation of the Alliance

As the Horde further marshaled its strength in the south, the Council of Seven Nations continued in Lordaeron's Capital City. Those in attendance still found themselves debating a proper response to the orcish threat, as well as the merits of human unity. In attendance were all major rulers of Azeroth's human nations, including: King Terenas Menethil II of Lordaeron, King Genn Greymane of Gilneas, Lord Admiral Daelin Proudmoore of Kul Tiras, King Aiden Perenolde of Alterac, Archmage Antonidas of Dalaran, and King Thoras Trollbane of Stromgarde. Also present was Sir Anduin Lothar, representing the recently-ruined Kingdom of Stormwind.

Refugees from Khaz Modan brought news of the conflict there, as well as the Horde's intentions on encroaching north; news which shocked the human leaders and gave a sense of urgency to the council. King Terenas and Anduin Lothar pushed heavily for all of humanity's kingdoms to unite into one mighty Alliance in order to defend their people. Lord Admiral Proudmoore was also supportive, largely due to his friendship with Lothar, and King Trollbane's close relationship with Lordaeron also secured his support. Archmage Antonidas too was in favor of an Alliance, having received firsthand accounts of the orcs' power.[13]

Only Kings Greymane and Perenolde stood in opposition to unity, at first due to skepticism as to true threat the Horde posed, and eventually out of a fear of losing regional power in the process. Additionally, King Perenolde personally feared that there existed no real hope of defeating the Horde, and King Greymane was adamant that Gilneas would be able to stand by itself without the aid of others.

The arguments between the human leaders began to grow so intense that Gilneas and Alterac threatened to quit the negotiations entirely. It was then that Turalyon, one of Lordaeron's most famed priests, stood to address the gathered rulers. With Stormwind's young prince Varian at his side, Turalyon delivered an impassioned and charismatic speech, pointing to Stormwind as an example of what awaited any nation that fell to the Horde, and urging those in attendance not to let their pride and lust for power lead humanity to destruction. As he concluded his address, the priest cited humanity's shared virtues of bravery, devotion, and leadership as proof that they could overcome any foe together.

Turalyon was rewarded with widespread applause, his words having gotten through to even the most doubtful present. That very day, the council voted unanimously to form the Alliance of Lordaeron, comprising all of humanity's kingdoms.[14]

It was soon decided that Anduin Lothar would best serve as commander of the new Alliance's military, being from Stormwind and thus occupying a uniquely neutral position among the kingdoms. Lothar accepted the position with humility, recognising the near-unprecedented power he now wielded as Supreme Commander of the Alliance army; few in history could ever call upon the collective might of humanity combined. Lothar's first order was for the Alliance's forces to gather in the Hillsbrad Foothills, a region blocking the Horde's advance.

Amid this preparation, Lothar also began to look into finding something for all the disparate nations to rally behind, irrespective of heritage. Though clerics of the Holy Light were suited to this role, they were wholly unfit for the dangers of combat, as evidenced by events in the First War. A solution was presented by the Church of the Holy Light. Its head, Archbishop Alonsus Faol, worked closely with Lothar in the formation of a new order of warrior-priests, the paladins. A handful of chosen knights and other individuals were trained stringently in both the ways of combat and the Light. Representing the highest values of humanity, this group of paladins became known as the Knights of the Silver Hand.[14]

Faol's training of the paladins training was vigorous, and they accompanied the Alliance army as it massed in Hillsbrad. Each paladin was gifted with a unique and sacred libram by the Archbishop which embodied a specific virtue they were to adhere to. Lothar himself was so impressed with their progress that he took paladins Turalyon and Uther as his lieutenants.

Lothar continued to bolster his forces, seeking aid wherever it could be found in preparation for the war ahead. To this end, the Supreme Commander contacted the high elven nation of Quel'Thalas. As a descendant of the famed king Thoradin, Lothar was able to make use of an ancient oath sworn to the ancient king by the high elves in times past, during the Troll Wars. Despite this, the high elves proved reluctant, not viewing the Horde as a serious threat.

King Anasterian Sunstrider only subsequently sent a small, token, fleet to aid the Alliance. Some high elves, however, disobeyed the king's orders, choosing instead to join in the fight against the orcs, and answering Lothar's call to war. Chief among these was the renowned ranger captain Alleria Windrunner, who led a handful of her kin south with her. Though disappointed with the generally poor response from Quel'Thalas, Lothar nonetheless welcomed those elves who arrived, particularly Windrunner and her skilled rangers.[15]

Preparing to sail

As the human kingdoms rallied in the north, Orgrim Doomhammer and the Horde plotted their next move. After crossing the Wetlands just north of Khaz Modan, and overrunning more dwarven strongholds at Dun Algaz and Dun Modr, the only land route to Lordaeron led across the Thandol Span, a narrow crossing and one that could easily be fortified and defended. Doomhammer subsequently chose to do the unexpected; the orcs would construct a fleet of warships and launch a surprise attack directly into the heart of the humans' lands.[12]

With the support of Gul'dan and his Stormreaver clan, Doomhammer succeeded in convincing the Horde of the plan's merits. Thus, construction of a vast fleet began at a bay in the southwestern Wetlands (the eventual site of Menethil Harbor). While the orcs possessed little maritime knowledge, the Horde's ogres and Amani trolls were able to guide them in building varied and crude vessels.

To augment this, Doomhammer also enlisted the aid of the goblin Steamwheedle Cartel. The warchief provided the goblins with vast quantities of gold as payment for new technologies, maps, information, and ship-building services. The orcs had virtually no need for gold currency, and they were still rich in it from plundering the Kingdom of Stormwind. The Horde and goblins subsequently set to work on constructing the new fleet.

At this same time, the Red Dragon Aspect Alexstrasza and her red dragonflight were on a hunt for the missing artifact known as the Demon Soul. The weapon had been recovered by the Dragonmaw clan (through the subtle guidance of the black dragon Deathwing) and thus Alextrasza's search eventually led her to the Horde. Disgusted by the violence the orcs' had wrought in Khaz Modan, the Life-Binder and her servants quickly descended upon the one who possessed the Demon Soul: a Dragonmaw orc named Nekros Skullcrusher.[16]

The red dragons had underestimated Nekros, who was still being guided by Deathwing, and the ensuing confrontation proved disastrous. Unleashing its full and terrible power, Nekros struck out at Alexstrasza with the artifact, forcing the Dragon Aspect to crash into the nearby mountains. Nekros then had Alexstrasza subdued and placed in chains, lashing out at her if she or any member of her dragonflight attempted to intervene. The Dragonmaw now exercised complete control over the red dragons, who desperately feared something would befall their matriarch if they resisted.

Warchief Doomhammer, overjoyed at the subjugation of the dragons, ordered the Dragonmaw clan to occupy the nearby fortress of Grim Batol, an old and long-abandoned Wildhammer dwarf stronghold. The orcs chained Alexstrasza in Grim Batol's depths, forcing her dragonflight to follow. There, Nekros and his followers set about training and fitting the red dragons as they had done with the rylaks of Draenor. With the eggs that the Life-Binder continued to produce, the Dragonmaw hoped to create a new generation of loyal and deadly mounts.

Seas of fire

Red dragons begin to incinerate the Alliance navy

Although they had taken efforts to conceal their activities, the Horde's work to build a fleet was eventually discovered by human scout ships. The orcs remained unfazed, however, and finished their construction work before eventually boarding the ships. Doomhammer remained confident that the Horde would arrive in Lordaeron before the newly-formed Alliance could muster an effective defense. The warchief's sights were firmly fixed on Lordaeron's Capital City; if the capital fell, he believed the fledgling Alliance of nations would subsequently unravel.

Hundreds of ships packed with soldiers and supplies departed from the Wetlands and set a course for human territories. As they traveled through the Great Sea, the Horde fleet was spotted by naval forces under Admiral Daelin Proudmoore, and were eventually intercepted near the island of Zul'Dare. The Horde's lumbering ships were significantly outmatched by Proudmoore's forces, which hailed from the traditionally-seafaring island nation of Kul Tiras. The human ships were able to easily outmaneuver their enemies, and their cannon volleys succeeded in tearing the orc vessels apart.[15]

As dozens of transports sank, and countless Horde soldiers drowned, Admiral Proudmoore redoubled his efforts, realizing that the destruction of the entire orc army was within his grasp. However, the Horde fleet was not alone. Doomhammer, who had been wary of the humans' naval superiority, had ordered the Dragonmaw clan to supply the newly enslaved red dragonflight as support. Though reluctant to do so as battle mount training had not yet been completed, Nekros Skullcrusher sent three red dragons to protect the Horde fleet as it crossed to Lordaeron. When the Battle of Zul'Dare began, these dragons descended on the Alliance ships, wreathing them in flames.

Unable to respond to this new aerial threat, and suffering increased losses as a result, Admiral Proudmoore called for a full retreat. As the Alliance armada scattered, the Horde forces were preserved and continued their advance toward Lordaeron.

The shores of Lordaeron

Main article: Battle of Hillsbrad Foothills

With the Horde's victory at Zul'Dare, the Alliance was unable to oppose Orgrim Doomhammer's landing in the Hillsbrad Foothills. Very few defenses were pre-existing in the region, and as human forces rushed to the area they floundered in disarray. The entire Horde army continued ashore (though the red dragons refused to go any farther and kill any more humans), and began securing territory inland. Doomhammer's forces marched towards the Alterac Mountains, which would provide them a clear, if perilous, path to the Capital City.

Alliance forces were hastily ordered to block the orcs' path, which had been predicted by Supreme Commander Anduin Lothar. Though all northern and western routes to the capital were now barred, the human armies remained in a brittle state, terrified by the overwhelming numbers and ferocity of their foes. Many were reassured by the presence of the paladins of the Knights of the Silver Hand who, having completed their training, now rode among the Alliance ranks.

Before long, the two sides clashed, constituting the first time the full might of the Horde met that of the Alliance. Amid the carnage, the human forces held; in addition to Lothar's paladins, they were supplemented by Alleria Windrunner's highly skilled elven rangers, as well as powerful magi of the Kirin Tor led by Khadgar. Both groups rained death down on their enemies, slaughtering many Horde warriors. As the fighting intensified, an unnatural and deathly fog crept over the battlefield. Where the mist touched the bodies of the Alliance fallen, they would rise again in undeath and throw themselves back at their former comrades. Heading this effort was a group of hooded, shadowy figures atop skeletal horses; the death knights.[17]

The unholy warriors proved highly effective in battle, able to bring to bear potent necromantic magics against their adversaries. Additionally, the death knights had devastating psychological consequences on human soldiers. Deeply horrified by the mounted knights and their magics, the Alliance lines quickly began to buckle. The day was ultimately saved by the paladins, who charged into the fray wielding the full power of the Light. Their radiance steadied their human brethren, struck down the reanimated dead, and drove back the death knights' foul mist.

Turalyon, Uther the Lightbringer, and the other paladins used their powers to heal wounded Alliance troops, and boost the morale of those still in combat. Having rallied under the inspirational aura of the paladins, and recovered from their initial shock, the Alliance forces regrouped and slammed into the Horde lines with renewed determination.

Into the Hinterlands

A stalemate eventually developed, with isolated battles continuing across Hillsbrad. Although both sides were evenly matched, Doomhammer and the Horde leadership were aware that as time passed, the Alliance could amass more and more reinforcements. The decision was made to push east in an attempt to find a longer, but unprotected, path to Capital City. For this, Doomhammer needed the Amani trolls to act as guides for the region; the trolls agreed to help on the condition that the orcs made good their promise to help free the captured Amani warlord Zul'jin. Scouts reported Zul'jin's location to the warchief, and Doomhammer wasted no time in organizing a large raiding party to attack the prison camp located near Durnholde Keep. The warchief's forces easily overwhelmed the defenders and liberated the Amani leader, who was then offered a permanent place within the Horde for himself and his people.[18]

Zul'jin initially refused Doomhammer's proposal, viewing it as a path to servitude under the orcs. After being reassured that he would retain full autonomy over his people, and stand as an equal to the warchief, Zul'jin changed his mind, on a single condition: if the Amani agreed to join, the Horde would help them in destroying their perennial rivals, the high elves of Quel'Thalas. The path to the high elven kingdom would require his forces to move farther north than previously planned, yet Doomhammer understood he needed the trolls' support. The Horde's position remained precarious, and he would require every advantage he could muster to ensure victory.

With everything prepared, the Horde began to push east. A strong rearguard of Blackrock orcs under the command of Varok Saurfang, one of the warchief's lieutenants, protected the army as it gradually crossed a mountain pass into the Hinterlands. With the Amani to guide them, the Horde forces traveled relatively quickly through the region, taking a path bound for Quel'Thalas, while Zul'jin rallied all nearby Amani trolls to join in the march. The advance went uninterrupted until winged shadows began to appear in the skies. Rather than the Horde's own dragons, these winged creatures proved to be the region's fearless gryphon-riding Wildhammer dwarves.

Highly isolationist, the Wildhammer clan was virtually unaware of the Horde's existence, only discovering their presence when they barreled into their territory in the Hinterlands. Based from Aerie Peak, the dwarves bombarded the Horde army with shaman-enchanted stormhammers from atop their mounts. Their leader, Thane Kurdran, ensured that the orcs were under constant harassment from the skies, viewing the invaders as a threat to the clan's safety. The Horde could field no reliable method to deal with the Wildhammers, all their dragons having remained behind with the ships. As a result, serious losses were suffered as the Horde's numbers were slowly whittled down.[19]

In order to resolve this issue, Warchief Doomhammer led his army in an assault on Aerie Peak itself. With their capital threatened, all Wildhammer forces were recalled to take part in the battle developing outside its walls. Doomhammer then took half his forces and slipped away from the conflict north, leaving the remainder of the Horde to continue the fight in the Hinterlands. The warchief continued north unmolested, just as Anduin Lothar entered the Hinterlands at the head of the Alliance army. Lothar immediately came to the aid of the Wildhammers, and their combined might eventually broke the siege of Aerie Peak, driving the Horde into the forests.

In gratitude, Kurdran Wildhammer pledged his people to the Alliance; the addition of the dwarven gryphon riders to the Alliance arsenal was well-received by Lothar, who was deeply concerned over the Horde's complete aerial superiority in the form of the dragon riders. Lothar and the Alliance soon learned from Kurdran of half the Horde army moving north, information which was received with dread. With Doomhammer having outmaneuvered his forces, Lothar dispatched Turalyon and a large portion of the Alliance army to track down the escaped Horde force. All other routes to the capital were apparently secure, with all paths through the Alterac Mountains having been blocked, and so the remainder of the Alliance army stayed in the Hinterlands to deal with the remaining Horde there.

Ashes of Quel'Thalas

The high elven kingdom of Quel'Thalas

Orgrim Doomhammer and his sizeable force continued its march towards the elven kingdom of Quel'Thalas uninterrupted, having succeeded in losing the pursuing Alliance army in the Hinterlands. As they passed the Amani capital of Zul'Aman, Warlord Zul'jin entered the city to rally his entire race to join in the impending assault on their enemies. Whipped into a frenzy, thousands of forest trolls streamed out of Zul'Aman, ready for battle, and marched alongside the Horde in its advance on high elven lands.

Outer high elven defenses were easily razed to the ground by an army the size of which Quel'Thalas's citizens had never seen. Though their advance was unstoppable, Horde magic-users soon discovered that their powers were becoming gradually weaker the further they pushed into elven territory. The warlock Gul'dan quickly discovered the source of this anomaly. The Ban'dinoriel (meaning "the Gatekeeper") was a large magical shield place over Quel'Thalas by its occupants thousands of years ago. Consisting of a network of huge runestones, this defense mechanism prevented outside entities (mainly the demonic Burning Legion) from detecting the arcane magics wielded by the elves, and also served to weaken the powers of foreign wielders of magic, such as the trolls or death knights.[20]

Though suspicious, the warchief permitted Gul'dan and his followers to dismantle the runestones; doing so would, Gul'dan claimed, remove the dampening effect on the Horde's magic. The warlock and his allies quickly went about reducing one of the great stones, which they would chisel into an Altar of Storms. Harnessing the power inherent in these stones, one of Gul'dan's lieutenants in the form of Cho'gall was able to perform a ritual of immense power that could turn ordinary ogres into two-headed ogre magi. These newly-created ogres were incredibly gifted in spell-casting, and provided the Horde with another potent weapon for its upcoming offensive.

With the powers of its spellcasters returned, the Horde continued its push through Quel'Thalas. The army ravaged the countryside as it marched, burning villages to the ground and slaying every elf in its path toward the elven capital of Silvermoon City. King Anasterian Sunstrider issued orders to resist the invaders, calling on his greatest generals and warriors. There seemed to be little hope for Quel'Thalas, however, before the arrival of Turalyon and a large Alliance army.

While Turalyon deployed his forces against the Horde, Alleria Windrunner returned to Silvermoon City to meet with her kin. There, she notably brought the head of a freshly-slain forest troll warrior before the Convocation of Silvermoon, throwing the grisly trophy at King Anasterian's feet. The ranger then implored her king to join forces with the Alliance to push the Horde from their lands permanently. Enraged and moved to action, King Anasterian called for the full mobilization of his armies to take the field. The elven war machine was able to provide many archers, rangers, and destroyers for the conflict, as well as numerous craftsmen for the Alliance lumber mills. These efforts were largely coordinated by Sylvanas Windrunner, the Ranger-General of Silvermoon. Now, for the first time in hundreds of years, humans and elves were united against a common enemy, and the Horde suddenly found itself at a conspicuous disadvantage.

Alleria Windrunner hunting orcs through the forests of Quel'Thalas

Unfortunately for this new union, red dragons soon arrived to drastically turn the tide of battle. Having finally mastered their mounts, the Dragonmaw clan were now ready to descend into battle with the full might of the enslaved red dragonflight. The dragon-riders' appearance threw the dwarven gryphon riders present into disarray, as they had no experience battling such beasts. The dragon fire decimated the Alliance ranks, burning their troops to cinders. The Horde's actions destroyed much of Quel'Thalas's forests, and soon a firestorm enveloped the Eversong Woods whose smoke blotted out the sun.

To escape the flames, the majority of the high elves took shelter in Silvermoon City. Though they could no longer resist the Horde by force of arms, the elves turned to another source of power for salvation. By harassing the boundless energy of the sacred Sunwell (the epicenter of high elven power and culture) Quel'Thalas's sorcerers were able to summon a colossal shield around the city. Long having served as a means to build and expand their civilization, the Sunwell now formed a barrier that Doomhammer's forces found impossible to break through. The Horde smashed against the shield time and again, yet even the dragons' fire was unable to pierce the shield.[21]

Warchief Orgrim Doomhammer was deeply displeased at this turn of events, and chafed against the time being wasted on the elven kingdom. His objective since the outset of the Second War had been the fall of Lordaeron's Capital City, and the longer the Horde spent laying siege to Quel'Thalas, the higher the likelihood of this goal going unrealized. Although he still had not fulfilled his pact to the Amani, Doomhammer decided to call off the assault on Silvermoon City and to instead march south, back towards human lands. The path the Horde would travel would take them through the perilous and inhospitable Alterac Mountains.

Zul'jin and the Amani categorically refused to abandon the siege of Silvermoon. They vowed not to cease their assault until all of high elven civilization lay in ruins. Infuriated, Doomhammer was nonetheless forced to leave the forest trolls behind, despite their immense value in the war so far. Gul'dan observed these events with interest, and finally acted on schemes which had been in the making for years. He came to the warchief with a proposal. He claimed that he and his Stormreaver clan were mere days away from finding a way to break through the elves' shield, and if they remained behind while the rest of the Horde began its march southwest, then they could ensure the destruction of Quel'Thalas before rejoining the Horde with the Amani in tow.

As ever, Doomhammer did not trust the orc warlock, and yet Gul'dan was able to convince both him and Zul'jin of the merits of this course of action. In truth, Doomhammer had little time to worry about such issues; with the Alliance armies scattered across the east, the Horde would never get a better opportunity to march on Capital City. He agreed to give Gul'dan three days to bring down the barrier, but left behind the Dragonmaw clan to keep watch on him, and force him to begin the march west if he exceeded his time limit.

Unbeknownst to Doomhammer, Gul'dan no longer had any intention of wasting his time on Quel'Thalas—or the Horde, for that matter. A few days following Doomhammer's departure, the warlock gathered his allies and revealed his plans to abandon the Horde in favor of reaching the infamous Tomb of Sargeras where, he promised, each and every one of them would be granted unimaginable power. Under the warchief's very nose, Gul'dan had been turning many of the spies placed within his clan to his own side, and they were now loyal only to him. Cho'gall and the Twilight's Hammer clan were also committed to following him, and so Gul'dan's plans were set in motion.

The Amani, uninterested in Gul'dan's promises, continued their siege of Silvermoon. The Dragonmaw clan was reluctant to risk annihilation by actively engaging Gul'dan and his allies, and so instead chose to depart to warn the rest of the Horde of this betrayal, even as Gul'dan's forces began their journey south. The Amani ruthlessly continued their fight against the high elves, though they were now fighting alone and it was all ultimately in vain. The trolls were eventually beaten back after much bloodshed, and Zul'jin himself was taken captive by a group of rangers led by Halduron Brightwing, though he narrowly escaped and went into hiding.

Meanwhile, the Stormreavers and Twilight's Hammer met little resistance by the time they eventually reached the Hillsbrad Foothills. There, they commandeered a portion of the Horde fleet and set off west into the Great Sea.

Siege of Capital City

Lordaeron's Capital City, the seat of its power and the Horde's primary objective

Doomhammer's Horde continued its journey west, eager to reach the human capital before their prize slipped through their fingers. The primary obstacle in the way of the invaders would be the formidable Alterac Mountain range; if they were adequately defended, these alpine passes could slow Doomhammer's advance for months. Fortunately for the Horde, however, their arrival was greeted by the ruler of Alterac, who had an offer. King Aiden Perenolde had, from the beginning, been reluctant to do battle with the Horde, believing them to be unstoppable even by an Alliance of human nations. The arrival of the orcs at his doorstep, among them terrifying death knights, ogre magi, and even dragons, was the last straw for the King of Alterac.[22]

To assure survival, Perenolde sought to make a deal with Doomhammer, even if doing so meant committing high treason and betraying the Alliance. The king agreed to give the Horde safe passage through the mountains in exchange for a promise that Alterac be spared their wrath. The warchief was quick to accept and, with the help of King Perenolde, the Horde army was successfully able to avoid all defensive positions in the mountains as they made swift progress towards the Tirisfal Glades and Capital City. Upon arriving in the area, Doomhammer immediately ordered his forces to begin a full siege of the city, understanding that time was of the essence if they were still to claim victory.

Meanwhile, Turalyon and the Alliance army still in the Quel'Thalas region scrambled to prevent disaster. Though they had suspected for some time that the Horde would eventually move to strike at Lordaeron's capital, yet the sheer speed with which they did so came as a dire shock. None had foreseen the possibility of King Perenolde's betrayal, and the implications were now disastrous. Though Turalyon and most of his army made for the city with all the haste they could muster, the paladin still doubted that it would fall before reinforcements could arrive.

Within Capital City itself, King Terenas II took charge of the city's defense. The king was not personally experienced in the ways of war, but he was cunning, determined, and highly charismatic. He rallied the city's populace with moving speeches, spurring them on with the knowledge that humanity's future would be decided in the coming conflict. Against advice, the king took a position of the city's very battlements as he personally oversaw the outer defenses. Even Doomhammer himself held a certain respect for Terenas's tenacity, as well as that of his people. Yet, as siege engines continued to reduce the walls of Capital City, the warchief knew that it would inevitably fall as soon as the remainder of the Horde arrived from Quel'Thalas.[23]

The three clans—Stormreaver, Twilight's Hammer, and Dragonmaw—had been left behind to oversee the final destruction of Silvermoon City, yet they were noticeably late in rejoining the main Horde force for the siege. A damning omen came in the form of Turalyon's approach from the east. The arrival of this army drew Horde resources away from the siege, which slackened slightly as a result. Doomhammer did not dread Turalyon and his forces—he dreaded what their appearance represented. If Turalyon had arrived before the other Horde forces, then other Alliance armies were shortly en route as well. The need to breach the city became critical, and although the Horde still possessed the death knights and other powerful assets, they required the numbers of the other three clans to effectively storm the battlements.

Eventually, the Dragonmaw clan arrived alone from the east, reaching Doomhammer's army but bringing calamitous news; Gul'dan had taken the other two clans and fully abandoned the rest of the Horde. The warchief also learned that the Alliance had discovered King Perenolde's actions, and troops from Stromgarde led by King Thoras Trollbane had seized the kingdom and its open mountain passes, blocking them properly. The Horde army in Tirisfal was now completely isolated, and could harbor no hope of receiving additional reinforcements from the Hillsbrad Foothills or the Hinterlands. It was in this moment that Doomhammer understood the campaign was lost; at this point, even if Capital City fell, he would be unable to withstand the full power of the Alliance present.

Filled with rage at such a momentous setback, Doomhammer gave the orders for a full retreat back to Khaz Modan, sending a Dragonmaw messenger to deliver the same command to the Horde forces still in the Hinterlands. The warchief hoped to regroup what remained of his armies in an attempt to salvage some success from the war. To cover their retreat, the red dragon riders were dispatched to waylay the Alliance forces, while the Black Tooth Grin clan were given the mission of pursuing and dispatching Gul'dan for his betrayal that may have cost Doomhammer the war.[24]

Full retreat

The warlock Gul'dan, who abandoned the Horde in its time of need

The Horde was in full retreat as it attempted to escape back to friendly territory and stay ahead of the Alliance armies in ruthless pursuit. The orcs in the Hinterlands just managed to break through Anduin Lothar's troops, and made a desperate dash for the Thandol Span in the south, closely followed by the primary Horde force under Warchief Doomhammer. After long weeks of marching and scattered battles with the Alliance, Doomhammer's warriors were in a poor state as they limped into the Wetlands. Time was a luxury they could not afford, however, and they did not pause as they pushed on into the cold mountains of Khaz Modan proper.

The Alliance was quickly able to push enemy forces back across the Thandol Span and retake it, with naval support from the newly-retaken island of Tol Barad. Dun Modr and Dun Algaz were also subsequently liberated as the human armies pushed further south, though Grim Batol was left virtually untouched, with the Alliance unaware of the major Horde presence there.

Across the seas, at the newly-raised Tomb of Sargeras in the Great Sea, Gul'dan had finally met his end at the hands of the tomb's demonic guardians. His followers, including the majority of the Stormreaver and Twilight's Hammer clans, had similarly been slaughtered by the Black Tooth Grin clan.[25] Maim and Dal'rend Blackhand, leading the Black Tooth Grin, had pursued Gul'dan's followers to the island as ordered, and ensured that very few of the traitorous warlock's lackeys escaped.[26]

Dragon riders sent by Doomhammer eventually found the Black Tooth Grin on their return journey. They relayed the news of Gul'dan's death to the warchief, who relished the news and regretted only not having been able to deliver the death blow. Those forces still returning by sea, however, would be unable to aid Doomhammer's army in its current predicament. The Horde force that arrived in Khaz Modan was less than half its original size, and the warchief understood he would not be able to resist the Alliance in this state. Khaz Modan itself would be indefensible, particularly if and when the dwarves and gnomes rejoined the fight.

Doomhammer sent messengers back to Draenor itself to gather reinforcements from the savage and bloodthirsty clans who remained behind there. Any soldiers available to fight would be required, and he now designated Blackrock Spire as the rendezvous point at which the Horde would make its stand. Deep in Horde territory, the mountain's location would allow Doomhammer to trade space for time and make the Alliance pay for every step closer. The Bleeding Hollow clan, which had occupied Khaz Modan for most of the Second War, was given the dire task: they would delay the Alliance army in area for as long as possible to buy time for the rest of the Horde.

The warchief also contacted Chieftain Zuluhed of the Dragonmaw clan, telling him to gather all of his scattered dragon riders for the final battle. He was also ordered to transport Alexstrasza and any other red dragons from Grim Batol to Blackrock Mountain immediately, and guard the Black Tooth Grin as they sailed back to safety.

Supreme Commander Anduin Lothar pressed his army to keep pace with the retreating Horde, urging them onward in the knowledge that ultimate victory was within their grasp. A great deal of credit for this swift pace, after months of withering marches and battles, also went to the paladins who accompanied the army. Working with the soldiers day and night, healing the wounded, and providing encouragement to the doubtful, the Knights of the Silver Hand succeeded in maintaining high morale and a sense of resolve among the human forces. The Alliance's push into Khaz Modan was rapid, and they quickly defeated the Bleeding Hollow clan.[27]

Now freed from the invaders, the dwarves of Ironforge and the gnomes of Gnomeregan emerged from their cities for the first time in years. They celebrated the lifting of the siege on their homeland and eagerly joined the Alliance, pledging their support to destroy the Horde once and for all. Hunting parties, often led by paladins, scoured much of the region to root out any remaining enemy presence before the main army moved on.

At sea, northwest of Khaz Modan, the Black Tooth Grin clan continued their voyage back to Horde-controlled territory. When word reached them of the Horde's retreat to Blackrock Mountain, Dal'rend and Maim Blackhand altered their course for Stormwind City, still under Horde control, and from which they could make their way to Doomhammer. Near the island of Crestfall, however, the Alliance's navy finally overtook the Horde fleet. Admiral Daelin Proudmoore once more commanded his ships to strike at the lumbering orc vessels, though this time his forces were supported by dwarven gryphon riders. The agile birds now had experience battling the Horde's red dragons, and were able to skillfully outmaneuver their larger foes. Meanwhile, down below, the Alliance fleet virtually annihilated their enemies, blowing Horde ships apart with cannon fire and sending thousands to a watery grave.

The Battle of Crestfall ended in a decisive Alliance victory, securing human naval supremacy against the Horde, and preventing additional enemy reinforcements reaching safety. Dal'rend and Maim's ship, as well as several others, managed to escape the slaughter, though the vast majority of their fleet now resided at the bottom of the Great Sea. However, despite the presence of the gryphon riders to neutralize the dragon threat, the beasts were still successful in doing terrible damage to Proudmoore's navy. In addition to many ships and sailors lost, the admiral's own son, Derek, was killed in the dragon's flames, a loss that would forever haunt the commander.[28]

March on Blackrock Spire

Anduin Lothar, Supreme Commander of the Alliance military

Eventually, the Alliance army began its advance into the Burning Steppes and toward the Horde's greatest bastion at Blackrock Mountain. Thousands of human soldiers, along with dwarves, elves, and gnomes, pressed on relentlessly to lay siege to the mountain itself. Despite all his efforts, Warchief Doomhammer still did not possess the reinforcements he needed nor desired; the Dragonmaw clan and their dragons from Grim Batol had not arrived yet, the Black Tooth Grin clan had been nearly wiped out at the sea Battle of Crestfall, and no forces from Draenor would make it in time to be of any aid. Despite this, Doomhammer refused to bow to defeat, and instead resigned himself to a glorious last stand against his enemies.

The warchief called on the Horde to rally and remember its past, stoking their bloodlust and making them eager for the battle to come. Though the siege engines pounding the main gates had not yet breached them, the great doorway to the mountain suddenly yawned open and thousands of Horde warriors spilled out from its depths. Doomhammer himself led the main Horde charge, though he was under no illusions he could defeat the vast Alliance army through sheer force. Instead, he focused on cutting a path toward the Alliance's commander, Anduin Lothar, believing that (as with the orcs) the sight of their leader falling on the field of battle would strike a crippling blow to the human ranks. The abrupt and unexpected Horde attack caught their enemies largely off guard, and Doomhammer's suicidal charge eventually allowed him to cut a path to Lothar himself.[28]

The Supreme Commander engaged Doomhammer in single combat without flinching, and a duel between the two commanders ensued even amid the carnage going on around them. Much of their forces looked on with bated breath as the sound of sword against hammer rang out across the region. While Lothar was large and powerful, even by orcish standards, and had the advantage of skill and experience, Doomhammer was yet even larger and stronger, and had the advantage of fighting in his prime youth. Though both were skilled warriors, the warchief eventually began to gain ground against his adversary; forcing him gradually back with unrelenting ferocity. Ultimately, the Doomhammer shattered Lothar's greatsword in one great sweep, driving Lothar to his knees. With a final swing of his weapon, the warchief crushed Lothar's skull, killing him instantly.

Turalyon rallies the Alliance to final victory

The outcome of the duel between the two warriors had an immediate impact on their respective armies. Heartened to see their leader triumphant, the Horde forces pressed ahead with renewed vigor. Alliance soldiers were meanwhile filled with sorry, fear, and doubt. They were losing their will to fight, as sorrow and despair spread through their lines. Unwilling to accept what was happening around him, however, the paladin Turalyon, one of the late Lothar's closest lieutenants and friends, unleashed all his holy powers. Radiating pure light from his person, Turalyon blinded all those around him, bringing an immediate halt to the fighting. Instantly, the paladin retrieved his commander's broken weapon from where it lay and knocked a stunned Orgrim Doomhammer unconscious with it in one blow.

Turalyon took up the mantle of commander, calling on all his allies to fight on, even in such a dark hour. He invoked the memory of Anduin Lothar, pointing to how their commander had never given into despair, even at the very bleakest of moments. As Lothar's sons and daughters, it was their duty to carry on his legacy and fulfill his quest to rid Azeroth of the ruinous Horde.

Every member of the Alliance who heard Turalyon that day was filled with an entirely new sense of hope and justice that rivaled the despair experienced mere moments before. Wasting no time, their new commander reformed their ranks and, with a final battle cry, the Alliance once again crashed into the Horde army. The orcish forces buckled under the impact and were subsequently shattered beyond any hope of recovery. The Horde host scattered in all directions, with many fleeing south back toward the distant Dark Portal. Some small groups continued to fight on near the mountain; instead of putting them to the sword, Turalyon ensured that these few were overwhelmed and captured alive. The fallen warchief, and all the prisoners seized during the battle, were bound in chains, signifying a definitive end to the conflict.

Destruction of the Dark Portal

The defeat at Blackrock Mountain irreparably shattered Doomhammer's Horde. A large group of those who fled the battle made their way south, led by the death knight Teron Gorefiend. Their intention to reach the Dark Portal and, by extension, the relative safety of Draenor, was ruthlessly harassed by Turalyon and his armies. They tracked Gorefiend's force as it reached the Black Morass; the Alliance was eager to discover the exact location of the mystical portal from which the orcs had first invaded their world, which had eluded the human leadership thus far.

Turalyon and his forces descended upon their enemies just outside the Dark Portal itself. The ensuing battle proved to be one of the most brutal and desperate fought in the war, with the Horde and their death knights battling furiously for simple survival. In the end, they were able to hold off their Alliance foes long enough for the majority of their own forces to escape through the gateway. Unwilling to take the risk of pursuing, Turalyon ordered his soldiers not to follow the Horde through. Instead, he chose to have the demonic gateway sealed forever.[28]

To carry out this task, Turalyon called upon the Kirin Tor mage Khadgar and his fellow spellcasters. Together, they gathered around the Dark Portal and channeled an immense spell to rip the structure apart. The incantation succeeded in pulling apart the very threads keeping the rift open, forcing the path to another world to slam shut. The backlash of residual energy blasted apart the stone frame of the Dark Portal in a blinding arcane explosion. As the portal crumbled to dust, the gathered Alliance forces jubilantly cheered the development. The destruction of the gateway to Draenor marked the end of the Second War and, for the vast majority of those gathered, the end of a dark and personal chapter in their lives. The Alliance was victorious, yet the cost had been high.

Aftermath

For the Horde

In the wake of the disaster that was the Second War, the Horde was left fragmented and temporarily broken. Kilrogg Deadeye and his Bleeding Hollow clan arrived at the Dark Portal in the final days of the war only to be blocked access by the large Alliance army present. Having failed to arrive in time to take part in the battle at Blackrock Mountain, the Bleeding Hollow now disappeared into the wilds near the Blasted Lands to plot their next move rather than risk destruction by attacking the humans.

Similarly, the Dragonmaw clan had also failed to take part in the final climatic battle. Seeing the Alliance victorious, and still remaining undiscovered, the Dragonmaw now fortified themselves within their fortress at Grim Batol. There, they continued their work of breeding and training Alexstrasza's red dragons, to be used as a powerful weapon should the need arise.

Teron Gorefiend would mastermind the Horde's next plan for conquest

Dal'rend, Maim, and the Black Tooth Grin clan had also survived the war. They had continued their sea voyage back to Horde territory,[28] and arrived at Blackrock Mountain some time after the battle there. Hiding their presence, they succeeded in gathering other Horde survivors (mainly from the Blackrock clan) and reoccupied the stronghold in Blackrock Spire when the Alliance eventually pulled out of the region. The two sons of Blackhand now formed what they deemed the true Horde, renouncing the failed leadership of the previous warchief and ruling their new faction as they saw fit. They contacted several other fragmented groups, such as the Bleeding Hollow and Dragonmaw clans, in their attempt to reforge the once-mighty Orcish Horde. Though Kilrogg Deadeye had no interest in joining what he believed was a "false" Horde, the Dragonmaw agreed to pledge their support.[29]

Other isolated Horde elements remained scattered throughout the Eastern Kingdoms, alone or in packs. Members of the Alliance, often in groups, dedicated their time to hunting down these individuals. The famed elven ranger Alleria Windrunner became one notable example, and the hatred harbored by these hunters often led them to kill their prey on sight. As they combed the vast wilds and remote mountains, many of the orcs found were captured and placed with the multitude already in captivity from the war.

Life for the orcs on Draenor, meanwhile, remained bleak. Those who escaped there at the end of the Second War returned to a world dying from fel energies, where all natural life remained on the brink of extinction.[30] Though many of these orcs felt only despair at this time, the death knight Teron Gorefiend remained hopeful of future success. He began to formulate a plan that may have yet brought about the salvation of the Horde, and he would eventually find the perfect ally for this in the infamous former shaman Ner'zhul.

For the Alliance

As the Horde struggled to maintain its existence, the Alliance enjoyed victory celebrations in every city. All of its varied races—humans, high elves, dwarves, and gnomes—were united in commending the great victory achieved. Despite such jubilation, the peoples of the Alliance were also struck by the terrible cost of such a victory. The Eastern Kingdoms had been rocked by war for the last seven years; countless villages and cities had been razed by the orcs, and thousands of soldiers and civilians had been slain in the savage conflict, from the mountains of Khaz Modan to the forests of Quel'Thalas.[31] Many of the surviving combatants were forever haunted by physical and psychological wounds suffered in the war, with plenty having experienced or outright witnessed the deaths of numerous loved ones.

Anduin Lothar's death weighed heavily on a great many in the Alliance, who had long looked to him as a source of inspiration and hope. An immense stone statue of the fallen commander was subsequently erected on the very spot where he was slain in the final battle at Blackrock Mountain, and points towards the distant spire. Ironically, the materials used to construct the memorial were hauled by orc prisoners put to work following the war's end.[32]

In the wake of war, Quel'Thalas proved to be a reluctant member of the Alliance at best.[33] Relations deteriorated as the human kingdoms began to distance themselves from Quel'Thalas,[34] and the elves in turn started to view the deteriorating coalition with increasing coldness.[34] King Anasterian perceived the Alliance's retreat to Lordaeron during the war as a betrayal which left the elves to deal with the rampaging Amani trolls alone. Anasterian claimed that the Alliance had abandoned Quel'Thalas in its darkest hour, and while not all of the high elves agreed with this assessment, a significant portion did.[35]

The tension eventually came to head when King Anasterian withdrew his support from the Alliance entirely. The official stance was that the humans' poor leadership resulted in the burning of Eversong Woods (though King Terenas reminded him of the many humans who gave their lives to protect Quel'Thalas); in addition, with Anduin Lothar dead and the Horde defeated, Anasterian considered the debt to Thoradin and his descendants repaid. With few exceptions—including some elven priests and sorceresses, as well as Anasterian's son and heir, Prince Kael'thas, a member of the Kirin Tor of Dalaran—the majority of the elven race shut themselves inside their enchanted kingdom.

In the aftermath of the Second War, the paladin commander Turalyon, having led the Alliance armies to final victory in the conflict, now focused on doing whatever he was able to rebuild. He helped to organize a gathering of Alliance leadership in Lordaeron, where many of the key issues still facing their people were discussed and addressed. From the outset, these leaders agreed to pool their nations' resources in rebuilding their war-torn kingdoms. Notably absent from these discussions was the Kingdom of Alterac; a verdict on how to deal with the mountain nation for its betrayal was still being awaited.[31]

Stormwind City, following its reconstruction

An important item on the agenda became the reconstruction of the Kingdom of Stormwind, the first victim of the Horde's invasion of their world during the First War. King Terenas II fully pledged his support to this end, and personally guaranteed the eventual ascension of the young Prince Varian Wrynn to the throne of Stormwind. Stormwind itself soon became a potent symbol of humanity's future, with many viewing its rise from the ashes as proof that others could do the same. Although many Stormwindian refugees in Lordaeron returned to Stormwind City to help rebuild, many more chose to stay. To these individuals, their old home was a reminder of all they had lost, and they preferred to continue with their new lives in Lordaeron.[31]

Turalyon himself personally oversaw much of Stormwind's reconstruction, and while he did so his fellow paladins went to work in Lordaeron. The Knights of the Silver Hand's purpose and duties did not disappear with the defeat of the Horde. In coordination with the Church of the Holy Light, these paladins dedicated themselves to healing the sick and providing shelter and support to the many victims of the war.[36]

The question of what to do with the vast quantities of captured orcs became one of the more controversial issues facing the Alliance. The kingdoms of Gilneas and Stromgarde argued for the execution of the prisoners, though Lordaeron itself was against the idea. They argued that the Alliance's capacity for mercy is what elevated them above the callous Horde. In keeping the tenets of civility and honor, they proposed the orcs be locked away in Alliance-funded internment camps, where they would no longer pose a threat. The Kirin Tor of Dalaran also supported this course of action; they were eager to study the orcs (particularly their strange magics) and asserted that doing to would give them a strategic advantage if war ever broke out again.[36]

An agreement was finally reached: the Alliance would fund the construction and maintenance of a series of internment camps to house the captured orcs, which would be overseen by Danath Trollbane, one of Stromgarde's most celebrated warriors. If order could be effectively preserved, then the camps would be allowed to remain. If not, the Alliance would revisit execution.[31] The camps would ultimately prove tenable, though much bitterness remained over their existence. King Terenas was subsequently forced to levy a new tax in order to effectively pay for the vast camp system, an act which inspired some unrest within the kingdom.[37] Gilneas still regarded the camps as a pointless burden on the Alliance, which was already spending a fortune on Stormwind's reconstruction. This controversy would eventually serve to drive Gilneas away from the Alliance in the years that followed.[36]

For Azeroth

As the rest of the Alliance busied itself with other matters, Khadgar (newly appointed to the role of archmage) remained far to the south, watching over the location where the Dark Portal once stood. There, he monitored the fel energies still seeping from the vicinity. When the Dark Portal was active, this energy killed much of the land in the surrounding region, yet this did not cease even after the portal's supposed destruction. Khadgar soon discovered the reason for this. A connection, in the form of a lingering dimensional rift, still existed between Azeroth and Draenor.[36]

Though he could not close this rift, Khadgar and his magi were able to hold the fel energy at bay, preventing it from spreading across the Eastern Kingdoms and bleeding the land of life as it had done on the orc homeworld. These findings were quickly brought to the Alliance leadership, with the warning that so long as the connection between the worlds existed, another invasion would remain a possibility. Khadgar called on the Alliance to fund the creation of a fortress from which his magi could monitor the rift and continue to negate the spread of the fel. After some debate, the request was approved, and Nethergarde Keep arose on a hill overlooking the southern portion of the Black Morass (now the Blasted Lands).

Ultimately, the invasion Khadgar feared would eventually come. Under the leadership of the orc Ner'zhul and the death knight Teron Gorefiend, a reformed Orcish Horde would once again charge through the rift between the worlds. The invasion's goal, however, would not be conquest, and a prepared Alliance would soon find itself launching its own invasion, this time of Draenor.

Notes

Gallery

Fan art

See also

References

  1. ^ Rosenberg, Aaron. Tides of Darkness, 115. ISBN 1416539905. 
  2. ^ Rosenberg, Aaron. Tides of Darkness, 340. ISBN 1416539905. 
  3. ^ Rosenberg, Aaron. Tides of Darkness, 47. ISBN 1416539905. 
  4. ^ Rosenberg, Aaron. Tides of Darkness, 47, 124, 166, 244-45, 275-7, 357. ISBN 1416539905. 
  5. ^ Rosenberg, Aaron; Golden, Christe. Beyond the Dark Portal, 33, 127, 129. ISBN 1416550860. 
  6. ^ The Green Hills of Stranglethorn
  7. ^ a b c World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 146
  8. ^ World of Warcraft: Ultimate Visual Guide, pg. 45
  9. ^ Tides of Darkness, pg. ??
  10. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 148-149
  11. ^ a b c World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 150
  12. ^ a b World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 151
  13. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 142
  14. ^ a b World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 152-153
  15. ^ a b World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 156-157
  16. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 155
  17. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 158
  18. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 160
  19. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 161
  20. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 162-163
  21. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 164
  22. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 165
  23. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 167-168
  24. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 168
  25. ^ The Tomb of Sargeras (WC2 Orc)
  26. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 169
  27. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 171-172
  28. ^ a b c d World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 172-174
  29. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 175
  30. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 182
  31. ^ a b c d World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 176-177
  32. ^ Rosenberg, Aaron. Tides of Darkness, 373. ISBN 978-1-4165-3990-2. 
  33. ^ Ultimate Visual Guide
  34. ^ a b Beyond the Dark Portal, pg 60
  35. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. ??
  36. ^ a b c d World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 177-178
  37. ^ Lethargy of the Orcs, pg. 1
  38. ^ Tol Ronal (WC2 demo)
  39. ^ Zul'dare (WC2 demo)
  40. ^ Matt Burns on Twitter
  41. ^ Matt Burns on Twitter