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Know Your Lore: Alleria Windrunner

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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.

She was never Ranger-General of Silvermoon. She was bloodthirsty to the point of her own allies and friends fearing her. She was the first of her people in generations to leave Quel'Thalas behind, although she did so motivated to save it. She may have been the best archer and the fiercest warrior of her celebrated bloodline. She took her family's deaths so personally that she swore a blood oath of vengeance upon every orc and sent many to their deaths.

Alleria Windrunner's statue stands today in Stormwind, graced by the words of her sister Sylvanas. Alleria's legacy lives on both in the Horde (due to the presence of the blood elves and through Sylvanas as the Banshee Queen of the Forsaken) and the Alliance (thanks to her membership in the Alliance Expedition to Draenor and her sister Vereesa, head of the Silver Covenant). She was a force to be reckoned with during the Second War, the first of the high elves into the fray and leader of those of her people who traveled beyond the Dark Portal.

Alleria Windrunner is many things. The most important of those things is that she is missing. With her may have gone the last chance for peace or an unending voice crying out for war.

Your heart flew straight

Alleria's young life is mostly unknown to us. We know she was the eldest child of her parents, part of an extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles in addition to her and her siblings. We know at least four of the Windrunner children by name: Alleria, Sylvanas, Vereesa and Lirath. In addition, she became one of the Farstriders of Quel'Thalas, as did her two sisters (her brother Lirath also sought to become one), although it was her younger sister who became Ranger-General. In part, this may have been due to Alleria's fiery temper. While she was relentless and skilled, she was also intimidating and reckless.

It was the Second War that changed Alleria's life forever, along with those of her family. When Anduin Lothar invoked the ancient debt the Sunstrider kings owed his bloodline, Anasterian Sunstrider saw the Horde as not really a threat to the high elves. Instead, he viewed the war as an excuse to send a token force to discharge the debt his people had incurred during the Troll Wars rather than as a sincere effort to help. Alleria was one of the few of her people who believed this to be short-sighted. Tragically, she would be proven right.

Alleria departed Silvermoon and Quel'Thalas with a force of rangers to aid the Alliance on her own initiative, despite no official request that she do so. Arriving in Southshore, she began working alongside the Alliance forces in the area, led by Turalyon. Both Turalyon and his friend Khadgar were impressed by her skill, efficiency and willingness to engage the enemy. As result, they worked together effectively, a partnership that would prove successful later. In time, Turalyon and Alleria began to grow closer, despite her high elven heritage and its disdain for humans. However, the relationship barely had time to start moving past mutual attraction when the news came to Turalyon's army that the Horde had moved to the borders of Quel'Thalas proper and was burning the Eversong Woods. Enraged and fearful for her people, Alleria led Turalyon's army north to chase down the Horde.

She arrived in time to save Silvermoon. However, it was too late for her.

As any arrow upon the wind

The Windrunner family was on the front lines of the Horde invasion, and it paid the price. Alleria's parents, her aunts and uncles, many of her cousins, and her youngest sibling, her brother Lirath, all died at the hands of the Horde. Orgrim Doomhammer was driven out of Quel'Thalas. Zul'Jin was thwarted. The high elves were saved.

But for Alleria, the world had ended, her extended family nearly wiped out, and the anger that kindled inside her called for blood alike. For every one of her kin slain, orcs had to die. She no longer cared how many. Using her grief and outrage, she rallied her people to finally commit more than a token force to the Alliance of Lordaeron, and it was thanks to Alleria's grief and rage that Turalyon sailed out of Silvermoon at the head of an elven armada and arrived at Lordaeron in time to break Doomhammer's forces during their invasion of the city.

It was at this time that Alleria and Turalyon first consummated and then seemed to abandon their relationship. She was totally focused on her role as scout leader and avenger of her people and her family, while he was Lothar's second-in-command, focused on ending the war. After Lothar's death and the Alliance victory at Blackrock Mountain, Alleria busied herself by hunting down and exterminating any surviving orcs she could find as if they were insects or other pests to be totally annihilated. Her fixation and ferocity during this period left even Turalyon and Khadgar uncomfortable, and even her sisters and old colleagues in the Farstriders saw the change in her and lamented the warm, caring friend, sister and ally that had been lost. Still, her proficiency in hunting orcs led to her inclusion in the Alliance Expedition to Draenor after the Horde of Draenor began renewed attacks through the collapsed Dark Portal.

You were the brightest of our order

Before leaving for Draenor, Alleria had an heirloom left to her by her parents broken down into three necklaces. One she kept, with an emerald from the original brooch, while she left Sylvanas and Vereesa the ruby and sapphire in pendants. She charged Verana, her second throughout the Second War, with distributing the necklaces if Alleria failed to return from Draenor. This, Verana did after waiting to return the necklaces to Alleria upon her return.

This act showed that Alleria at the least did not expect to return and indeed might not have even wanted to return from the expedition. Having lost so many that she cared about and having devoted herself to the wholesale slaughter of those she held responsible for her loss, Alleria had become so wholly dedicated to her purpose that little else mattered but vengeance. Even her love for her sisters was that of someone unable to move past her pain.

It is also possibly during this period that she concieved and bore Arator, her half-elven son with Turalyon. He may have been conceived during the aftermath of her family's loss, as she spent that night with Turalyon. While it is also possible that Arator was conceived after the expedition was stranded on Draenor, we as yet have no significant details one way or another to determine when Arator was born and who raised him.

Alleria's role in the Alliance Expedition was much as it had been during the Second War, chief scout of the Alliance forces and often working closely with Turalyon and Khadgar. While she sent most of her rangers to assist Danath Trollbane while he chased after Ner'zhul and sought to rescue Kurdran Wildhammer, she herself went with Khadgar and Turalyon to ultimately recover the Skull of Gul'dan from Deathwing.

During this period, she and Turalyon found their way back to each other and restarted their relationship, in part due to her unwillingness to lose him as she had most of her family. This also helped her stop viewing vengeance as her only reason for living and ameliorated her bloodlust when dealing with the orcs to a degree.

Ultimately, Alleria and Turalyon helped Khadgar shut the Dark Portal to prevent Azeroth from being affected by Ner'zhul's reckless sorcery and the destruction of Draenor. The three of them used one of those portals Ner'zhul had summoned to escape the destruction of the red world and returned to the fragment we now call Outland, making their way to Honor Hold.

However, while Danath, Kurdran and Khadgar are all accounted for, Turalyon and Alleria soon disappeared. Even when the Alliance and Horde forces found Outland again following the Doom Lord Kazzak's retreat through the Dark Portal, no trace of Turalyon or Alleria has been found. Even their son is searching for them with no success. The lost hero of the high elves has vanished completely.

You were the most beloved of our kin

Her legacy is, of course, her divided sisters, both involved with humans as she was (Sylvanas and Nathanos Marris, Vereesa and Rhonin Redhair), both rangers as she was, and both in leadership positions in opposite factions. It's impossible to say how Alleria would react to Sylvanas' transformation or her role as the Banshee Queen, although the idea of an alliance with the same orcs who murdered their entire family would probably not go over well with her. Likewise the idea of the blood elves, especially since Alleria disdained the Sunstrider line for its shortsightedness and considered them somewhat responsible for her family's loss in the Second War. Had Anasterian taken the Horde threat seriously, they probably would still be alive today.

Still, I have difficulty imaging Alleria turning her back on Sylvanas or Vereesa, the sisters she clearly loved so much that she left them the only legacy she could. Oldest of her family and its head were she to ever return, it's possible that only Alleria could look past undeath to find the sister she knew and loved. It's hard to say, but Alleria is the only person Sylvanas has been seen to cry for or sing for since she became the Banshee Queen.

Next week, we play What If?

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 Insider's Guide to Warcraft Lore.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore

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