The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how, but do you know the why? Each week Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.
So far, we've talked about human politics and the first Alliance -- the Alliance of Lordaeron, formed by King Terenas and Anduin Lothar after the fall of Stormwind and King Llane. When we left off, King Varian Wrynn had blissfully taken both the throne and a new wife who had given him a fine, healthy son. He was a staunch supporter of the Alliance of Lordaeron, having had King Terenas to look up to as a father figure and a mentor after the death of King Llane. Stormwind had been rebuilt through the efforts of the people of the kingdom, notably the Stonemasons, led by Edwin VanCleef. Varian was in love, the kingdom was happy, and prosperity blessed the land.
Of course this means that all hell was about to break loose. This is Warcraft, after all. Varian wasn't the only one that held power within Stormwind's walls -- there was also the House of Nobles, the governing body of Stormwind under the King. It was the House of Nobles that originally contracted the Stonemasons and agreed upon a sum of gold to be paid after their work had been completed. Ordinarily this arrangement would've gone well, but there was a wrench that had been thrown in the works back when Varian was crowned king. Her name was Katrana Prestor.
Were Dalaran paying attention at the time, they probably would've noted the woman's name and immediately connected it to Lord Daval Prestor, mentioned in the previous Know Your Lore. They were however concerned with other activities that were slightly more pressing -- namely, the outbreak of a curious plague in Lordaeron. The leader of the Kirin Tor, Antonidas, suspected the plague was magical in origin and sent his apprentice -- a young woman named Jaina Proudmoore -- to investigate.
But things really weren't as simple as all that. Back in Lordaeron a council meeting was interrupted by the arrival of a black raven. As King Terenas watched, the strange creature transformed into a man who spoke of a prophecy -- according to him, the "tides of darkness" were at hand, and the people of Lordaeron needed to relocate to the lost continent of Kalimdor before it was too late. Terenas brushed the prophet off, unwilling to listen to his mad ramblings any further. The "madman" then appeared before Antonidas, warning him as well -- and just as Terenas before him, Antonidas refused to listen. However, young Jaina overheard the conversation and despite Antonidas' reassurances that the prophet was simply an old fool, she questioned whether or not his warnings were true.
Jaina Proudmoore wasn't just Antonidas' apprentice, and she wasn't merely a gifted mage of the Kirin Tor -- she was the daughter of Grand Admiral Daelin Proudmoore, and a noble in her own right. In her youth she spent time here and there at Lordaeron, and caught the attention of a young Prince Arthas. As they grew, the two soon fell in love -- or so Jaina thought. It turned out to be too soon for the prince, and he called off their relationship before it could get too serious, stating that he wasn't ready for a serious commitment at that time, but that he wanted to remain friends and possibly look at their future together when both of them had grown up a little bit. While Jaina was initially hurt by this, she understood why he wanted to hold off in due time. When Antonidas sent her to investigate the strange plague, he arranged for her to have an escort as well -- the now slightly older, slightly wiser Arthas.
The story of Arthas is well enough known that I don't think I need to go over it in detail -- with the discovery of the plague was the discovery of the necromancer Kel'Thuzad, a former member of the Kirin Tor. After Kel'Thuzad's death, the plague continued to spread, and as Arthas desperately tried to stall its advance, he grew more and more ... atypical with his methods. Arthas and Jaina immediately felt the attraction between them when they met again, but Jaina could only watch in confusion and fear as the man she loved grew more obsessed, more brutal with every step of the path he strode. The pivotal moment occurred outside of Stratholme -- Arthas realized they were too late to reach the city before its citizens were infected by the plague, and ordered Uther and his knights to start killing ... everyone.
Every single person in the city, man, woman and child. As far as Arthas was concerned, the fact that they'd been exposed to the plague meant it was only a matter of time before the city turned into the scourge they'd witnessed in their travels. Uther refused, and Arthas stripped him of his rank, accused him of treason and sent him packing back to Lordaeron. To Arthas' shock, Jaina took Uther's side and left with him. Again, what happens to Arthas next is well known -- the journey to Northrend, his rise to power as the Lich King. But Jaina Proudmoore, left behind and heartbroken, would turn out to be a key player in history, though she wasn't aware of it just yet.
She returned to Stratholme after Arthas and his men had left for Northrend. All that was left of the once great city were burning buildings that should have sputtered out long before her arrival, leading her to believe that the plague was indeed magical in origin. And along with the buildings, a curious raven that transformed before her startled eyes into the prophet who'd visited Antonidas not so long before. Jaina listened as the prophet recounted his tale -- and this time, the prophet had a willing audience. Jaina agreed to gather all the people and resources she could and travel to Kalimdor as soon as possible.
Before she could do so, Arthas returned to Lordaeron a hero. Bells rang, rose petals streamed from the parapets of the city as Arthas made his way to his father's throne. And before Terenas could say more than a few pleasantries, Arthas strode to the throne and ran Frostmourne through Terenas' heart, the crown clattering to the ground in a spatter of blood still visible on the floor of the Undercity. Arthas was no longer a prince of Lordaeron, nor was he the kind boy that Jaina had fallen for -- a death knight, he now served the orders of the Lich King and the Burning Legion.
Lordaeron had fallen. Word spread quickly throughout the kingdom, and Dalaran prepared for an inevitable assault. Jaina visited her mentor one last time, and Antonidas bid her farewell and good luck on her journey to Kalimdor. She teleported out just before the mages of Dalaran activated the wards to prevent the scourge from entering the area, and just in time to avoid seeing Antonidas slain by Arthas' hand. Soon after, the demon lord Archimonde was summoned to Azeroth, and his first act was to lay waste to the city of Dalaran. Decimated, Dalaran was nothing but ruins -- but this didn't stop the Kirin Tor. They returned to Dalaran months later and destroyed the few undead that remained, placing the ruins of the city under a violet dome that none could enter, and quietly worked to rebuild their home.
This was really the beginning of the end of the Alliance of Lordaeron. Terenas was essentially the leader of it, and when he perished, so did the remaining link between the allied kingdoms. Dalaran had sealed itself away, Lordaeron was lost -- taken over by the forsaken after a time -- Stromgarde remained quiet in the Arathi Highlands. Many from Kul Tiras followed Jaina Proudmoore to the west, where the identity of the prophet was finally revealed -- Medivh.
Oh wait. Wasn't he supposed to be dead? Well, yes technically, but you can never really assume anyone is truly dead in World of Warcraft, and Medivh was no exception. After being slain by Lothar, Medivh's spirit escaped, and foresaw the eventual downfall of Lordaeron. With the help of his mother Aegwynn, Medivh was able to obtain form once more, though the act of doing so drained almost all of the remaining power Aegwynn possessed. No longer under the control of Sargeras, Medivh desperately wanted to atone for the sins he had committed -- which is why he went out of his way to try and orchestrate the army of the Third War.
Jaina joined forces with the night elves, led by Malfurion Stormrage and Tyrande Whisperwind, and another, far stranger ally -- an orc warchief, in fact the warchief of the Horde, Thrall. While initially hesitant about the alliance, she was soon impressed with Thrall's strength, intelligence, and almost human like understanding of mercy and diplomacy. Jaina impressed Thrall as well -- she reminded him of Taretha, the human girl who was almost a sister to him when he was imprisoned in Durnholde Keep. After Archimonde's defeat at Hyjal, Jaina and Thrall sought to continue the diplomatic peace between their two nations, convinced that between the two of them, they could convince the rest of the world that peace was a necessity when there were far greater dangers in the world, dangers that could shatter Azeroth itself.
Unfortunately Jaina's father didn't feel the same way. The fleets of Kul Tiras followed after Jaina, and when they arrived Daelin Proudmoore told his daughter in no uncertain terms that the orcs were a menace that needed to be exterminated. Try as she might, she couldn't convince him otherwise -- and in the name of peace, she made the greatest sacrifice she could. She allowed the Horde into Theramore, and the half-orc Rexxar killed her father. Needless to say this wasn't the easiest of decisions for her, but her father stood as a firm opposition to the peace and understanding that she knew were so important, so essential to the world's survival.
Jaina remained in Theramore, Thrall remained in Durotar, the night elves returned to a somewhat uneasy state of solitude and Medivh vanished to take his place, as he called it, "amongst the legends of the past."
As for the Alliance of Lordaeron, it had all but evaporated. Lordaeron was gone, Dalaran had fallen, Kul Tiras fell quietly off the face of the map. Stromgarde continued to work quietly on its own, Gilneas sat behind a wall and stewed, and Alterac was still in ruins. The only remaining members of the old Alliance were the dwarves, the gnomes, and Stormwind.