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When supplanted as 's favorite pawn, he began to reorganize the clans into a single engine of destruction. To this end, he promoted a public figurehead, of the Blackrock clan to the new position of Warchief. Though Blackhand was cunning, he lacked the loyalty to Kil'jaeden and deviousness needed to drive the Horde. Thus, Gul'dan secretly brought together a collection of warlocks, necrolytes, chieftains, and even the occasional ogre into a clandestine council — the Shadow Council.
The original purpose of the Council was to ensure the stability of the Horde in their quest to destroy the draenei, manipulate the clans and spread the use of warlock magics. When the time came, the Shadow Council fed the blood of to the clans, apart from the Frostwolf clan (whose chieftain, , forbade them from partaking) and a few other individuals.
The Council made their headquarters at the Black Temple and oversaw the destruction of the draenei until Kil'jaeden mysteriously vanished. As the Horde began to fragment, the Shadow Council was contacted by , who offered a new world to plunder.
The First War
The Shadow Council operated a number of the Horde's workings during the war effort against the Kingdom of Azeroth. But their time was near.
Following the death of , was incapacitated for several weeks. During this time, killed Blackhand the Destroyer and seized the mantle of Warchief. King Llane Wrynn was assassinated by one of the Shadow Council's finest killers: the half-orc, Garona. Orgrim captured and tortured Garona to learn of the location of the Shadow Council, and sensing it threatened his position, launched an attack on Gul'dan's citadel near the ruins of Azeroth, annihilating most of the warlocks of the Council. Their spirits were subsequently imbued into the death knights, while the magical energies of other long dead warlocks were infused into the bodies of the ogre magi.
Beyond the Second Invasion
Even in the aftermath of the second invasion of the Burning Legion, the Shadow Council still remains. It is not clear how the Council was reformed after the death of most of their members, including Gul'dan. It is known that some of its members, including Vorpil and Blackheart, survived by hiding in Auchindoun. The current Shadow Council now includes members of all races, provided they possess the ideology of acceptance of the tenets of the Burning Legion.
This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.
An alternate Gul'dan rallies the members of the Shadow Council who have been in hiding to help him retrieve the Book of Medivh and Eye of Dalaran. leads a team to obtain the book from the Cult of the Damned at Caer Darrow, while and go to Tol Barad for the eye. All three are killed by a warlock adventurer.
Structure and operations
The shape of the original Shadow Council is unclear. Gul'dan is described as a "warlock of the Inner Circle" (also an "initiate of the Seventh Circle") and Cho'Gall as an "initiate of the Fifth." This means that there are at least seven circles of the Shadow Council, the Inner Circle being the Seventh.
The hold of the current Shadow Council is extensive; they control cell-based organizations throughout Kalimdor including the Burning Blade and Searing Blade cults, which utilize the powers of the . Agents of the Council have even infiltrated areas of the Orcish capital city of Orgrimmar. It is also revealed from a questline in Darkshore that the Cult of the Dark Strand is another branch of the Shadow Council, and certain clues, like Argus Wake members they employ, , and , lead some to believe that the Syndicate may be affiliated, if maybe loosely, with the Council. The Shadow Council is also present at Jaedenar in Felwood, Grangol'var Village in Terokkar Forest, and Kil'sorrow Fortress in Nagrand. Its headquarters are in the Shadow Labyrinth of Auchindoun.
Cults and groups
- "Many cults exist within the Council, but only to hide its actions against the foolish. Groups like the Burning Blade, the Argus Wake, and the Searing Blade are tools of the Council. Consider them one and the same."
- Burning Blade - Primarily orcs. Concerned with undermining Thrall's Horde. Based in Durotar, Orgrimmar, Desolace, the Barrens and elsewhere. Led by .
- The Cabal, a faction in Outland consisting of Shadow Council remnants from the time before the First War.
- Searing Blade - Primarily orcs. Concerned with undermining Thrall's Horde. Once based in Ragefire Chasm, beneath the city of Orgrimmar, they were driven out by the Dark Shaman. Led by and .
- Argus Wake - Primarily humans. Concerned with sowing chaos among the areas of Lordaeron controlled by the Alliance and Horde. Allied with the Syndicate of the Alterac Mountains. The Wake's leader is unknown, but its members in Alterac were once led by the orc , who disappeared during the Cataclysm.
- Cult of the Dark Strand - Various mortal races. Concerned with cultivating an alliance between themselves and the foul satyrs. Based in Darkshore and Ashenvale, led by . Since the Cataclysm, the Dark Strand has been annhiliated.
- Sargerei - Currently known to exist only in the parallel timeline's Draenor, the Sargerei are draenei that have decided to side with the Shadow Council of that universe to further Burning Legion's agenda in that world in exchange for power.
Note that most Shadow Council members are orcs; although they worship demons, most of them are not fel orcs.
The Shadow Council has set up its main base in Shadow Hold, Felwood. There they reign with massive force and numbers. The Burning Blade is active in Desolace, The Barrens and Durotar, and even have a spy in Orgrimmar, while the Searing Blade dwells beneath the orcish capital in the Ragefire Chasm. The Cult of the Dark Strand operates in Darkshore and Ashenvale and the mysterious Argus Wake manipulates the Syndicate in Alterac and the Arathi Highlands.
The Cabal acts from within Auchindoun, but members of the Shadow Council are widespread all over Outland.
During the Opening of the Dark Portal in the Caverns of Time, members of the original Council can be seen.
- The orcs of the Shadow Council empowered the Shadow Orb, Gul'dan's artifact, that was found by Maiev in the Tomb of Sargeras.
- Not all the warlocks of the Old Horde were members of the Shadow Council, such as and .
- ^ Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness manual, Ground Units of the Orcish Horde, Death Knight
- ^ Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness manual, Ground Units of the Orcish Horde, Ogre-Mage
- ^ Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness manual, Orc Buildings, Altar of Storms
- ^ Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness manual, Legends of the Land, Gul'dan
- ^ Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness manual, The History of Orcish Ascension, The Rise of the Shadow Council
- ^ Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness manual, Legends of the Land, Cho'gall
- ^ The Tomb of Sargeras (Warcraft III)