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Know Your Lore: High General Turalyon

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.

He saved his people.

Not many people can say that, but High General Turalyon can. On the slopes of Blackrock Mountain, when the greatest warrior the humans of the world of Azeroth had ever produced went down to dusty death, one man turned shattering defeat into hallowed victory. That man was Turalyon, paladin of the Order of the Silver Hand, strategist of the combined forces of the Alliance of Lordaeron during the Second War. It was Turalyon's hand that raised Lothar's broken sword in outrage over orcish perfidy. It was Turalyon's voice that roused the fury of the Alliance at the sight of the dead hero. And it was Turalyon's will that broke the orcs once and for all, that drove Doomhammer to his knees in defeat.

Turalyon beat the Horde at Blackrock Mountain. Turalyon led the Alliance to the very site of the Dark Portal, where Khadgar destroyed its physical form. And beyond that, it was Turalyon who led the Alliance Expedition beyond that same portal, to face the shaman Ner'zhul and his twisted ambitions. Turalyon's forces managed to seal the Dark Portal and prevent Ner'zhul's destruction of Draenor from affecting Azeroth, and in so doing, possibly saved the world entire.

Since then, no word has of his ultimate fate reached those he led, saved and left behind. It is indisputable that this paladin is one of the greatest heroes of his people, possibly even the greatest paladin who has ever lived. (With all due respect to Uther, Turalyon's record is unambiguous in its greatness.) Yet Turalyon never felt himself to be great. Struggling with doubt every day of his life, convinced the death of Lothar was his fault, he endured and pressed on, steadfast unto the edge of death and perhaps even past it.


Chosen of the Light

Before I get started on this post, (yeah, yeah, ship has sailed), I will say this: some of the most awesome characters in WoW lore are paladins. Of those awesome characters, two really stand out, and those two are Uther and Turalyon. Of those two, Turalyon is most likely my favorite by an extremely narrow margin because Turalyon was so haunted. (I don't really like playing the paladin class in WoW all that much, but I love them in its lore.)

Turalyon was one of the first five to be chosen by Alonsus Faol to become members of the Order of the Silver Hand at its inception, along with Uther, Saiden Dathrohan, Gavinrad the Dire and Tirion Fordring. Unlike his fellow knights, however, Turalyon almost immediately drew the attention of Anduin Lothar as the Alliance of Lordaeron's military was created and the Second War began, and the Lion of Azeroth chose the young paladin to be his second in command.

It was during this time that Turalyon made the friendships that would serve him for the rest of the war and beyond, meeting the mage Khadgar and the elven ranger Alleria Windrunner. Serving alongside Lothar, Turalyon first met the Horde's forces in Hillsbrad before pursuing them north into Aerie Peak, home of the Wildhammer Dwarves. The young paladin soon discerned that the supposed Horde advance north to Aerie Peak was in fact a feint meant to distract the Alliance's main forces while the Horde and their new trollish allies under Zul'jin decimated northern Lordaeron and carved their way through the Eversong Woods to Quel'thalas itself. Indeed, despite taking Plaguemist Ravine as a shortcut, the Alliance forces Turalyon led were too late to save Caer Darrow or prevent the Horde from laying waste to Stratholme.

Race to Quel'thalas

Turalyon managed to keep the Horde from reaching Quel'thalas and eventually drove their forces south, but the experience of the Horde feint showed the young man the true face of the enemy he'd enlisted against. Their tactical acumen was far greater than he'd expected, and the devastation they wreaked across Lordaeron and into Quel'thalas' borders was shocking. Combined with their enlisting the trolls (one of the ancient enemies of humanity and the very force the humans of Strom had united to defeat) and their fast march north, the new situation greatly troubled him. Around this time, he first began his troubled relationship with Alleria as well, in part due to her distraught reaction to the destruction of so much of her homeland at the hands of the Horde. However, the relationship mostly simmered, due to her developing obsession with killing every single member of the Horde she came across and due to his responsibilities to Lothar and the Alliance.

Turalyon managed to use the attack on Quel'thalas to convince the elves to fully commit themselves to the Alliance, leaving on board elven ships that arrived at Lordaeron just in time to save the city from a clever Horde advance through the traitorous nation of Alterac. Combined, Turalyon and Lothar's forces (with some help from the traitorous Gul'dan's choosing this exact moment to abandon Doomhammer and his forces) drove the Horde away from its greatest chance at final victory and began pushing them back down the length of the entire Eastern Kingdoms. It was during this chaotic time, while Uther cleaned up the mess left behind by the traitorous Aiden Perenolde (which allowed the Horde to use Alterac as a path straight to Lordaeron in the first place), that Turalyon and the other Knights of the Silver Hand first encountered death knights, the twisted necromantic creations of Gul'dan.

Doomhammer's bane

Even these horrors didn't stop the Alliance push south. Eventually, the main forces of the Alliance and Horde met at Blackrock Mountain, the home base of Doomhammer's Blackrock clan. In that battle, Lothar met his end (some argue because of orcish treachery; others credit Doomhammer's might), and Turalyon finally lost control of his anger at all the atrocities he'd witnessed across the campaign. From the burning of Stormwind to the destruction of the Eversong Woods, from the siege of Lordaeron to the long battles south, these atrocities had been one long series of horrors inflicted by the orcish warchief in his relentless desire for victory at all costs. It was more than Turalyon or the Alliance could endure to lose the one man who had led them, united them and given them their focus.

Turalyon lifted the Great Royal Sword of Lothar, shattered during his last battle, and drove himself like wrath itself into the teeth of the orcs, who had expected Lothar's death to demoralize the humans. Instead, under Turalyon, it galvanized them. It drove them wild. They crushed the orcs, and Turalyon crushed Doomhammer with a brutal assault the orcs simply did not believe possible from a human, driving him defeated to his knees.

It might have been a very different world had someone other than Turalyon been the one to defeat the orcs at Blackrock Mountain. Even in his battle rage, Turalyon remembered the lessons he'd learned at Alonsus Faol's feet, the essence of what it was to serve as a paladin, and he could not murder a defeated foe. Doomhammer was spared, and while the Alliance forces struck further south and destroyed the Dark Portal itself, the simple act of mercy that Turalyon displayed at the site of Lothar's death made the eventual rise of the new Horde possible. Would Thrall have ever been able to unify his people without Doomhammer's tutelage? Impossible to say.

Beyond the Dark Portal and disappearance

After the defeat of the Horde, Turalyon was fairly idle for a few short years. But when the Horde of Draenor breached the ruined Dark Portal and returned to Azeroth, Turalyon answered the call of King Terenas Menethil of Lordaeron. Soon, Turalyon and his old friend Khadgar and sometime-lover Alleria found themselves joined by Danath Trollbane and Kurdran Wildhammer and the forces they commanded, in what would be called the Alliance Expedition to Draenor. Thus this assemblage of heroes was the first to set foot on a world once verdant but now drained and corrupted by demonic warlock magics. In the process of working to stymie Ner'zhul's plans, Turalyon found himself alongside Khadgar and Alleria in direct combat with the black dragon aspect Deathwing (an enemy so fierce that they found themselves allied to Gruul himself, father of the Gronn) to reclaim the Skull of Gul'dan. It was during this series of battles that Alleria and Turalyon resumed their relationship, and their son Arator was either conceived following the burning of Eversong or at this time. (I'll admit I don't know how long half elves take to gestate.)

In the end, Ner'zhul's descent into madness could not be stopped, but thanks to their reclaiming of the Skull, the Alliance Expedition managed to shield Azeroth from the effects of his magics by sealing the Dark Portal again. They escaped Draenor's destruction by leaping into the indecipherable madness of an alien world. Returning to the shattered remnants of Draenor (what would become known as Outland), Turalyon led his forces back to the Honor Hold base and began entranching his people, trapped as they were with no contact from Azeroth. However, while his son Arator is seen trying to discover his whereabouts, both Turalyon and his lover Alleria are (as of this writing) missing. Unlike Danath, Khadgar and Kurdran, no one knows the whereabouts of the High General or his Ranger. The last known act of the High General was to erect a memorial in Outland for his former mentor, Lothar.

While his ultimate fate is unknown, the legacy he left behind endures, not only in his son (the union of two disparate peoples) but in the continued existent of the Alliance and the peoples of Azeroth, both due to his actions in defeating Doomhammer and his efforts to protect his homeworld from Ner'zhul's reckless sorcery. Without Turalyon, the Alliance would most likely have broken at Blackrock Mountain. Without Turalyon, the elves would not have come to the aid of Lordaeron in time to prevent the Horde from destroying it. Without Turalyon, Azeroth may well have been pulled into the Twisting Nether alongside Draenor.

Turalyon saved his people. In so doing, he may well have saved even his enemies. He defeated Doomhammer in single combat. He stopped the Horde. He fought Deathwing. Alongside the greatest heroes of his generation, he fought back the shadow and bought Azeroth a tomorrow.

He is, although he would never admit it, the greatest paladin who has ever lived.

While you don't need to have played the previous Warcraft games to enjoy World of Warcraft, a little history goes a long way toward making the game a lot more fun. Dig into even more of the lore and history behind the World of Warcraft in WoW.com's Guide to Warcraft Lore.

Filed under: Paladin, Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore

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