But the damage had already been done. Despite Medivh's death, the orcs were now in Azeroth proper and constantly attacking the forests of Elwynn. Garona, no longer "allied" to the orcs, became a trusted confidant to King Llane, who was one of the few people she'd known in her life to treat her with kindness from the moment she met him. But there was something that Garona never told anyone, apart from Khadgar. While on the way to battle Medivh, she experienced a vision in Karazhan -- that of herself, a future version of herself, standing before King Llane and murdering him. This shook her deeply -- and as they battled Medivh, Garona threw herself at him in an attempt, perhaps, to kill herself and prevent the vision from coming to pass. Unfortunately this failed, and though she was a confidante to King Llane, the doubts that plagued her never let her really form a true allegiance.
This is where we break off from the story for a moment and mention another player in the tale, one who hasn't really been spoken of so far. Varian Wrynn was the son of King Llane, merely a boy when the orcs first appeared at the Dark Portal and began their rampage across Azeroth. He lived a happy, joyful life as prince of Stormwind, with both his father and his father's best friend, Anduin Lothar, to look up to. Doubtless during this time he encountered Garona, and his father explained to him that while most orcs were to be feared, not all of them held hatred or bloodlust in their hearts, as evidenced by Garona's actions. This was just the way that Varian's father, King Llane, worked. He was an ideal ruler -- fair and just to all his subjects, kind and beloved by all, and willing to let a person, despite what race he happened to be, prove himself by his actions, rather than blindly losing himself to hatred. And despite the efforts of the orc forces, they were largely kept at bay.
However, with Warchief Blackhand leading the orc forces, the tides of battle inevitably turned in favor of the Horde. Llane rallied Stormwind's forces, sensing that the final confrontation was at hand -- but he would not live to see the resolution. Unbeknownst to him, Garona was under the control of the Shadow Council, and had been since her birth -- indeed, she was "bred" to be a tool for the Shadow Council, and they held her under their thrall through a series of control words that had been forced into her while she was but a child. Garona met with King Llane and played out the destiny foreseen in Karazhan that she so desperately hoped to avoid. She murdered King Llane, and then cut out his heart to deliver to Gul'dan personally.
And as she tore into his chest, sobbing with sorrow, a young and terrified Varian Wrynn watched.
This is the moment that Varian Wrynn became what we know of him today. It wasn't the war, it wasn't Garrosh, it was just this -- one green-skinned woman who his father insisted was an example of a good, decent orc, turning on the one man who'd shown her an ounce of kindness, his beloved father. People can argue all they want over whether or not Garona was in control of her actions. They can argue that Garona didn't really want to do it; they can argue that she was crying at the time -- it doesn't matter. What matters is that a young boy, not more than 12, 13 years of age, had his entire world shattered in one fateful instant, and he saw it with his own eyes. You don't forget a moment like that, ever. And Varian never did.
Anduin Lothar knew that Stormwind was lost, and as the orcs rampaged through the city, he gathered the survivors aboard boats and set sail for the north -- the other city-states would have to be warned, as there was no doubt in Lothar's mind that the orcs would not stop at merely conquering Stormwind. It was only a matter of time before their forces reached the shores of Lordaeron, and from there the rest of the human nations. The ships landed at the port town of Southshore, and the weary citizens of the once-great Kingdom of Azeroth continued northward to the capital city, where they were given a warm, if concerned, welcome.
It was during this time that Varian met the next two important figures in his life: King Terenas Menethil, who treated him with gentle respect as an equal in rank, and Terenas' son, Arthas. Arthas turned out to be a best friend for Prince Varian, who was still devastated over the loss of his father and provided a welcome distraction to the events going on around the both of them. Anduin Lothar, now Regent Lord of the former kingdom of Azeroth, spoke with Terenas and convinced him of the utter, dire threat that the orcs posed to the human race. He proposed an alliance between the kingdoms -- the first of its kind since the days of the Arathor Empire -- and sought to convince the leaders of the other human nations to join as well. Terenas agreed to this and used his considerable political influence to form the first known Alliance, or the Alliance of Lordaeron.
Dalaran immediately agreed to join, as did the naval country of Kul Tiras, led by Admiral Daelin Proudmoore. Proudmoore was an old friend and ally of Anduin Lothar, and he was more than willing to join the Alliance. Stromgarde and the small outlying kingdom of Tol Barad also immediately joined the Alliance, having been a close ally of Lordaeron for years. The other city-states, however, were harder to impress. The kingdom of Gilneas, led by Genn Greymane, was particularly stubborn -- the kingdom of Gilneas was a proud, sometimes arrogant example of humanity, convinced that its own armies were more than enough to deal with any threat, orcs or no. However Gilneas had no love toward the Horde, and thus grudgingly agreed to the Alliance despite their grumblings. Gilneas spent most of their time in the Alliance complaining about it, Lord Greymane arguing endlessly about the need for its existence.
The last human kingdom to join was the kingdom of Alterac, led by Lord Aiden Perenolde. Perenolde was a spineless coward who hungered for power and didn't really care one way or another for the neighboring kingdoms -- indeed, he wanted the kingdom of Lordaeron for his own, despite having no blood claim to it. Despite this, after watching the rest of the seven kingdoms agree to the Alliance, he joined as well, not wishing to face the forces of the Horde alone.
Terenas didn't stop with the humans, however. He sent word to the quel'dorei, the high elves who once fought beside the Arathor Empire during the Troll Wars so long ago. Anduin Lothar was a key figure in all of this; not only was he one of the finest warriors of Stormwind, he was also the last descendant of King Thoradin's bloodline. It was because of this that the quel'dorei agreed to join the Alliance -- they were merely honoring the pact made thousands of years before. Along with the high elves, there were other allies: the Wildhammer dwarves of the Hinterlands as well as the Ironforge dwarves of Khaz Modan and their strange friends the gnomes. The dwarves had been feeling the pressure of Horde attacks, and upon hearing about the Alliance, sought to join it in the hopes of saving their respective homelands.
The Alliance was far from perfect; the humans weren't entirely trustful of the foreign races. Regardless, the combined forces of the Alliance of Lordaeron proved enough to defeat the Horde -- at a cost. At the foot of Blackrock Spire during one of the last battles of the Second War, Lothar faced off against Orgrim Doomhammer and lost. His sword and shield were taken up by Turalyon, his second in command, and Lothar's death only served to fuel the Alliance's fire; the Horde forces were quickly decimated and chased all the way back to the Dark Portal. The Alliance were victorious, and despite the mistrust of the foreign races, the elves, dwarves and gnomes had proved themselves worthy allies on the battlefield, and the leftover orcs were herded into internment camps, kept under watchful guard.
The largest obstruction to victory lay not in the hands of other races, but in the hands of the humans themselves -- namely, Lord Perenolde. Despite his supposed compliance with the new Alliance, Perenolde sought power, and the orcs provided a perfect opportunity to seize it. Instead of helping his "allies," Perenolde made deals with the Horde forces in exchange for the power he craved. He secretly fed information to Orgrim Doomhammer and arranged revolts, kidnapped prominent Alliance members from Dalaran and sent pirates after the well-known paladin Uther Lightbringer in an attempt to remove the driving force from the Order of the Silver Hand.
It was during this time that a newcomer showed up in Lordaeron, hailing from the most mountainous, obscure regions of Lordaeron -- a newcomer who could claim bloodlines in the royal house of Alterac. His name was Lord Daval Prestor, and he quickly ingratiated himself within the high council of the Alliance, his quick wit, handsome looks and engaging manner urging smiles out of even Genn Greymane. Prestor quietly watched from the wings as treachery of Alterac was discovered, and he suggested to Terenas that Lord Perenolde be deposed and his kingdom placed under martial law. King Terenas took it one step further; he decided that a strong leader, trusted by the Alliance leadership, should be placed in power as King of Alterac. He declared that Lord Prestor was the perfect choice -- so much so that he offered Lord Prestor the hand of his daughter Princess Calia, once she came of age, as an alliance between the two kingdoms.
Oddly, the mages of Dalaran began to be left out of council meetings at this point; King Terenas simply didn't invite them. When Terenas' decision regarding Prestor came into play, the high council of the Kirin Tor finally decided to investigate and were shocked at what they found. Lord Prestor was a complete blank magically -- implying that he possessed great power, dangerous amounts, almost as powerful as Medivh had been. One mage named Krasus chose to investigate further and discovered Prestor's secret.
For "Lord Prestor" wasn't even a human at all. He was Deathwing, Aspect of the Black Dragonflight. Krasus wasn't who he seemed, either -- despite his disguise, Krasus was in fact the red dragon Korialstraz, consort of the dragon queen Alexstrasza, who had been imprisoned in Grim Batol during the Second War. Krasus, as an acting member of the high council of the Kirin Tor, sent someone to go investigate the events in Grim Batol, a mage named Rhonin, and ordered him to free Alexstrasza once he'd gotten there.
Krasus was horrified to discover that Deathwing was not only alive and well, but meddling with the affairs of Alliance politics and surely on his way to destroy Alexstrasza himself. Between the combined efforts of Krasus, Rhonin, an elf named Vereesa Windrunner, a dwarf named Falstad Dragonreaver (who would later in history be known as Falstad Wildhammer) and the bronze, blue and green dragon Aspects, they managed to free Alexstrasza and "defeat" Deathwing. Back in Lordaeron, Lord Daval Prestor had suddenly disappeared, his influence vanishing right along with him. With the absence of his charm, wit and general mental control over their leaders, the united kingdoms of the Alliance of Lordaeron soon drifted apart.
- Genn Greymane of Gilneas pulled his resources from the Alliance, refusing to spend any of his nation's resources on keeping the orcs alive or on rebuilding other nations. Greymane not only withdrew, he did so with the irrepressible gruffness of the Gilnean people, constructing the Greymane Wall and essentially sealing the whole kingdom off from Lordaeron and away from "other people's troubles."
- Stromgarde also argued for the execution of the orcs, questioning Terenas' decision to keep the "beasts" alive. In addition, Stromgarde wanted part of Alterac in recognition for their efforts in the Second War -- a request that was not granted. Disgruntled, Stromgarde pulled out of the Alliance and retreated to the hills of Arathi Highlands.
- The elves of Quel'Thalas withdrew from the Alliance and retreated to their preferred solitude, though a few high elves remained behind of their own choosing. As far as the majority of the quel'dorei were concerned, their oath to the bloodline of King Thoradin had been fulfilled, and as there were no remaining heirs in his line, they held no further obligation to the Alliance.
- Dalaran remained a staunch supporter of Lordaeron and the Alliance, and vowed to keep a closer eye on any peculiar disturbances -- or, for that matter, strange lords who popped up out of nowhere.
- The kingdom of Kul Tiras stayed as ever a strong supporter of the Alliance even after the Second War, though Grand Admiral Daelin Proudmoore held little love for the orcs. During the war, the Horde ships absolutely devastated the Kul Tiras fleets, a loss from which they have never recovered.
- The Wildhammer withdrew a bit, though their support was firmly on the Alliance's side, while the dwarves of Ironforge and the gnomes of Gnomeregan continued to keep in touch with their newfound allies.
- The kingdom of Alterac, with no one left to lead it, lay in ruin. Lord Perenolde remained under a state of house arrest, unable to reclaim his throne and unwilling to abdicate. As a sovereign king, he could not be exiled, imprisoned or executed -- and so he simply sat with his family, and bided his time as the once great nation of Alterac rotted away.
In the meantime, young Varian Wrynn, who Terenas now fondly looked upon as a second son, returned to Stormwind, officially crowned King at the age of 18. With the Horde defeated, Varian Wrynn could now concentrate on continuing his father's legacy and rebuilding the once glorious kingdom. The Stonemasons, a group of builders led by a man named Edwin VanCleef, came to Stormwind's aid in the hope of forging a new future for themselves out of the ruins of the Second War. It took months, but finally Stormwind was finished, the city even greater than it had been during his father's reign. The kingdom settled into a blissful state of tranquility, perhaps spurred on by King Varian, who'd fallen in love with a woman named Tiffin. The two were wed, and a son was born who Varian named after Lothar, in gratitude of the man who was not only the savior of his kingdom but a friend and father after King Llane died.
Everything seemed to be exactly as King Varian could have hoped -- Stormwind was now at peace, the orcs safely stowed away in internment camps to the north. His best friend Arthas finally came of age and was inducted into the Order of the Silver Hand. His son Anduin was beautiful, his wife perfect and his kingdom at peace. Despite efforts to find the half-orc responsible for King Llane's murder, Varian was unsuccessful -- however, it mattered little in the long run. His father's spirit lived on in the kingdom Varian had lovingly restored.
Of course, none of that was really going to last for long. Come back next time for the continuation of human politics, or "Why Varian Wrynn is absolutely right, for all the wrong reasons."