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Know Your Lore: The mystery of Morgan's Militia

Know Your Lore The mystery of Morgan's Militia
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.

Who are these guys? Is Morgan a first or last name? If it's Morgan's Vigil, how come she was never seen there? Where did she raise this Militia of hers?

On the surface, Morgan's Militia seems fairly straightforward. They've been in the Burning Steppes for years now. Those of us who played Alliance back in classic can remember them and their camp at Morgan's Vigil, where they could gather various quests to penetrate Blackrock Depths and Blackrock Mountain. When Cataclysm revamped the old world, we finally were introduced to Morgan herself. Morgan's purpose in invading Blackrock Depths is to start the process of reclaiming the Steppes, formerly the Redridge Mountains before the destruction caused by the summoning of Ragnaros to Azeroth.

Morgan tells those she's willing to work with (Alliance players) that she is a survivor of the creation of the Steppes and that she intends to wage war against the Dark Irons and Ragnaros until she finally has defeated them utterly and can turn her attention toward building a new kingdom in the Steppes, one dedicated to justice and peace. As she herself says, she's there to fight for what's rightfully hers.

The only problem is, what exactly is that? What's going on with Morgan's Militia? What right do they have to start their own kingdom in the Burning Steppes, especially while flying Stormwind's colors and seeking assistance from the Alliance in general? And it's not like they're hiding that they plan to build an entirely new nation right in the middle of the Redridge Mountains, either. They're quite up front about it.
In the mountains

On the surface, the Militia seems noble enough. We've been working alongside them for years, helping them oppose the Dark Irons and Blackrock Orcs. While the current focus on the Dark Irons exclusively seems short-sighted (how do they intend to make a nation of their own in the Burning Steppes while ignoring the Blackrock Orcs and the Dark Horde?), it can't be argued that the Dark Irons of Blackrock Depths aren't a clear and present danger to the people around the Steppes. After all, they blew the whole place up -- perhaps as long as 300 years ago.

That's right. The summoning of Ragnaros to what was then the Redridge Mountains could well have been three centuries ago, during the War of the Three Hammers. During that war, the dwarven nations of the Dark Iron, Bronzebeard and Wildhammer clans were at war, and Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan of the Dark Irons executed simultaneous assaults on Grim Batol, home of the Wildhammer dwarves, and Ironforge, formerly home to all dwarves and seat of Bronzebeard power. Thaurissan's wife Modgud died assaulting Grim Batol but fouled it forever in the process, while Thaurissan's assault on Ironforge failed and he was driven back to the Mountain in defeat.

But Thaurissan and the Dark Iron Dwarves did not accept defeat. And in his madness over the loss at Ironforge and the death of his wife, Thaurissan somehow failed so greatly at summoning that he brought Ragnaros the Firelord to Azeroth in a conflagration so great that it shattered the Redridge Mountains, a blast of fire so great that the combined hosts of the Bronzebeards and Wildhammers turned away and left rather than risk it, sure that the Dark Irons had been destroyed. But they had not. They'd merely been enslaved.

A long and lonely vigil indeed

Now, the War of the Three Hammers took place over many years, and they're slightly vague as to how many, exactly. But it's hard to miss the fact that if Madoran Bronzebeard was the father of Magni, Muradin and Brann Bronzebeard, the statue of Madoran erected next to that of Khadros Wildhammer following the War of the Three Hammers would probably say that he was, rather than being vague about it.

It seems clear enough that, by the time of the Second War when the Alliance fought the Horde on the slopes of Blackrock Mountain, the Dark Iron dwarves had been long since driven into the ground. Now, chronology in the Warcraft setting has always been iffy -- sometimes very iffy -- but here's a timeline from 2007 that places the War of the Three Hammers over 237 years before the First War, which is itself some 30 years ago by this point. That would indicate that at the very least, Ragnaros blew up Redridge more than a century ago, and more likely over two centuries in the past.
This means that Morgan, who appears in game as a completely normal-looking woman, albeit a heavily armed one, can be nothing of the kind. This discrepancy, combined with the fanatical devotion of her followers and her seeming complete disinterest in the orcs and their black dragon masters at first led me to believe her to be a black dragon herself, similar to Kalaran Windblade aka Kalaran the Deceiver.

But two things led me to reject that idea. If Morgan were a black dragon, why would she keep to her human guise when other dragons like the aforementioned Kalaran had abandoned theirs, and how could she have avoided Wrathion's crusade to annihilate his own flight? As I said, Morgan isn't hiding. And while she has the right look for a black dragon, her goals seem entirely alien. From our conversations with Kalaran and Nalice and other black dragons over the years, they're an arrogant, contemptuous lot. They're just not very good at pretending to care about things like justice and peace, much less make impassioned speeches about them. Even Wrathion, the only uncorrupted black dragon, tends to talk down to us mere mortals. No, Morgan just doesn't fit as a black dragon.

I will have my vengeance

That still leaves us with the troubling question of just how Morgan has managed to live hundreds of years while waiting for the chance to take back the Burning Steppes from the Dark Irons, especially when the Dark Irons aren't even the ones in control of the Steppes at the moment. The Searing Gorge, absolutely, but if you really want to find the ones in control of the Steppes, it's clearly the Blackrock Orcs and their black dragon masters. Now, it's true that it's absolutely the Dark Irons of Blackrock Depths who are to blame for the Steppes.

That's when it occurred to me. Perhaps the reason for Morgan's obsession with the Dark Irons is related to how she lived for at least a hundred years waiting for a chance at revenge.

Maybe she didn't.
Know Your Lore The mystery of Morgan's Militia
We know from multiple sources that not all ghosts are raised by necromancy. Some simply cannot rest. Before Ragnaros was summoned, the Redridge Mountains were indeed filled with human settlers, living their lives without much contact with the Dark Irons to the north, connected to the kingdom of Stormwind mainly by tradition. They were their own people, and they died, horribly and without knowing why.

It doesn't take much to imagine one of these people, killed in an instant so awful that she simply couldn't accept it, clinging to a life torn away from her and haunted by herself. Morgan's obsession with the Dark Irons and Ragnaros makes perfect sense in that regard, and her desire to carve a just and peaceful nation out of the Steppes could well be her attempt to bring rest to the Steppes, and in so doing, to the vengeful spirits of the men and women who were caught in the nightmare blast of the Firelord's arrival.

If this is the case, Morgan herself might not even be aware whether or not she's a specter of vengeance and grief only given purpose by the war against the Dark Irons, willing to die in the prosecution of said war because she already has.

We don't know, of course. All we know is that Morgan saw Ragnaros destroy her home and create the Steppes, and she won't rest until she's made it right. How she lived so long, how she intends to found a new nation in Stormwind's very backyard (and how she's gotten Alliance backing to do it) and what she'll do with her nation if she ever succeeds in creating it are all up in the air. To the Dark Irons, she is death itself.

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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