Generally speaking, that's the reaction you'll get when you mention Lor'themar. Though he's been leader of the blood elves since The Burning Crusade launched in 2006, barely a word has been heard from him, and few know his history. Indeed, the sindorei themselves have done little since the events involving the Sunwell's restoration. They hardly seem like strong supporters of the Horde at all. Given this, it's almost easy to see where Garrosh's viewpoint regarding the blood elves comes from.
But the very fact that few know of Lor'themar's exploits, that few know of any tales spun from the lands of Quel'Thalas, is a subtle indication of something far deeper that is actually going on in the forests. The blood elves have had to deal with the most crippling blow their society has ever faced, the destruction of the Sunwell, and the decision of how to proceed after the damage was done is something that plagues the Regent Lord to this day.
It's not easy being a leader. It's even more difficult to be a leader in the face of constant adversity and to do so while still retaining what parts of a decent creature you are while you're at it.
Lor'themar certainly didn't start out as a leader of kingdoms. His roots lay with the Rangers of Silvermoon, where he was second-in-command to Sylvanas Windrunner herself. Lor'themar took part in the Second War, when the forces of the Old Horde threatened to encroach upon the forests of Quel'Thalas, and he was there to see the original Alliance of Lordaeron, in which the elves -- at that time still high elves -- took part. He was also there to witness the damage done as a result of this conflict, and he was there to see how little the Alliance of Lordaeron had done to protect high elf lands. And when all was said and done, he was also there to witness the secession of Quel'Thalas from the Alliance.
But his presence grew from simply a witness to an active participant during the Third War. In this time, Lor'themar became a commander of the Farstriders, tasked with protecting the Sunwell that made the high elves what they were. It was during this time that Lor'themar made friends with Dar'Khan Drathir, which was probably the worst friendship he could ever make. Dar'Khan was a member of the Council of Silvermoon, but he was angry, bitter, and convinced he deserved far more recognition than he'd ever received for the greatness he imagined he possessed.
And because of this friendship and Lor'themar's trusting nature, Dar'Khan learned the secrets of the Sunwell's defenses. And because he knew the defenses, Dar'Khan turned right around and sold those secrets to one who promised him all of the recognition and accolades he'd been denied in his years with the Council -- Arthas.
By this point in time, Arthas was no longer the Prince of Lordaeron. He'd surrendered to the Lich King and become the puppet of the Frozen Throne. To this end, Arthas needed to reach the Sunwell in order to use its powers to resurrect Kel'Thuzad -- and Dar'Khan was the key to obtaining access.
The rest is history. The Scourge drove a path through the enchanted glades of Quel'Thalas, slaughtering everything in their path. They killed Sylvanas Windrunner, they killed High King Anasterian, they killed the Convocation of Silvermoon, and they wiped out the majority of the elven race. Arthas used the Sunwell to resurrect Kel'Thuzad, and the Sunwell was summarily destroyed. From the blood of their brethren, the high elves took their new name at the behest of Anasterian's son, Kael'thas -- blood elves. Sin'dorei.
And Lor'themar Theron went from a military commander to temporary leader of what was left of Quel'Thalas and her people.
The destruction of the Sunwell caused immediate problems with the sin'dorei. Their dependence upon the Sunwell's energies had gotten to a point where its removal resulted in symptoms of magical withdrawal. Faced with this realization, Kael'thas Sunstrider knew that a solution had to be found or his people, decimated beyond imagining at the hands of the Scourge, would soon die out entirely. And so, Kael'thas made the journey to Outland, taking the strongest of those who had survived the Scourge attacks with him.
And in his place, he appointed Lor'themar Theron, who was admittedly a great military commander. But Lor'themar had very little to do with politics in his lifetime. He knew how to lead soldiers that responded to orders; he didn't know how to lead an entire race of people. Lor'themar went from working with the Farstriders to having the beleaguered remnants of his people plopped in his lap, and Kael'thas clearly expected him to know how to handle them all.
It was likely due to this that decisions came much harder to Lor'themar. When Kael'thas sent Grand Magister Rommath and several magisters back to Silvermoon from Outland, perhaps Lor'themar hoped that this would be the end of his brief reign. But Rommath had orders for Lor'thmar from Kael'thas. Lor'themar was to remain in charge, protect Quel'Thalas, and prepare the remainder of the sin'dorei for their eventual journey to Kael'thas' side in Outland. In the meantime, Rommath had new methods for combatting the debilitating withdrawal symptoms that plagued the sin'dorei.
In what was one of the most difficult decisions he had to make, Lor'themar had to turn to his old allies and exile them from Quel'Thalas. Lor'themar's reasoning was sound -- after all, he could not lead a people so vehemently divided. Yet these were his friends and comrades that he was callously turning away, leaving them to fend for themselves in the wilds of Azeroth. This decision was seen as an almost unspeakable betrayal by those who had once called Lor'themar friend, and they would not soon forget his actions.
One might ask if Lor'themar were so opposed to leading -- if he were so unhappy with it -- why did he not simply step down? The answer hangs like a sword over Lor'themar's head every day.
"Have you forgotten who is responsible for the state of Quel'Thalas in the first place? Who is ultimately to blame?" She searched his face for a reply, and when he gave none, she continued. -- In the Shadow of the Sun, Sarah Pine
Guilt. It was Lor'themar's fault that the Scourge broke through the defenses of Quel'Thalas. It was his fault that Dar'Khan learned the secrets of those defenses. It was his fault that he did not see Dar'Khan for what he really was. Because of Lor'themar, Sylvanas was cruelly murdered. Because of Lor'themar, High King Anasterian would remain nothing more than a memory in the hearts of the sin'dorei. Because of Lor'themar, the Sunwell met its end. Because of Lor'themar, the sin'dorei regressed into magic-starved addicts, mere breaths away from succumbing to their addiction at any time. Because of Lor'themar, Kael'thas had to go to Outland and had to find a cure.
And that is an incredibly heavy burden to bear for any one creature in the world. Lor'themar bears it every day, every moment, every breath of his life. Despite this knowledge, despite this guilt, Lor'themar moves ever onward. He knows he has a deep responsibility to his people, and he knows that wallowing in guilt will do no good at all. Despite this knowledge, Lor'themar lifts his chin and presents a face to the world that says, "We will move on, we will survive, and we will persevere."
This made what he went through next all the harder to handle.
Kael'thas and his forces had one thing made strikingly, brilliantly clear when the Sunwell was destroyed and the Scourge ravaged the lands of Lordaeron: The Alliance would be absolutely no help at all. In fact, the Kirin Tor were just as unhelpful. Kael'thas and his men, who had left a beleaguered Quel'thalas to help the Alliance in Lordaeron, found themselves treated poorly and finally imprisoned, waiting for what would certainly be an execution, in the prisons below Dalaran.
It was incredibly clear to the sin'dorei that whatever assistance they had exchanged with the Alliance in previous years, the citizens of that Alliance would be of no further help. This was made even clearer when the Alliance sent a supposed ambassador to rebuild the broken alliance and that ambassador was uncovered as nothing more than a spy, with several spies in tow. Yet other far more unlikely allies emerged and offered assistance to Silvermoon, and they were led by an uncomfortably familiar face.
Why, exactly, Sylvanas Windrunner sought out an alliance with the sin'dorei was a very good question, and it's one that has yet to be answered. Did she feel a responsibility to help those she had known prior to her death? Was her cold, undead heart still inexplicably tied to the forests she'd so carefully protected all her life? Or was she seeking more arrows for her quiver, more forces to use toward achieving her ultimate goal, revenge against Arthas? We still don't know, exactly.
But when Lor'themar was confronted by the specter of his former commanding officer, he agreed to ally with Sylvanas and agreed to let her people offer their assistance. To Lor'themar, it was choice made out of sheer logic. The Ghostlands were crawling with Scourge who threatened to overwhelm what pitiful forces the sin'dorei could muster. Without assistance, it was all too likely the blood elves would fall. Making an alliance was a necessary move to protect his people. It was a necessary move to ensure the survival of the sin'dorei.
In between all of this, there was likely still a part of Lor'themar that thought Kael'thas would surely return. That his tenure as regent lord was a limited one, that as long as he held the line and did not let the sin'dorei fall, Kael'thas would eventually come back with a solution to the woes of his people and take back the reins of leadership.
Thus, the news of Kael'thas' alliance with the Burning Legion came as a horrific shock. And when Kael'thas returned, it wasn't with the best interests of his people in mind.
He took the naaru that he had gifted to his people and spirited it away to the Isle of Quel'danas. He took the avatar of what remained of the Sunwell, Anveena, and spirited her away as well. And Kael'thas Sunstrider seemed to have very little in mind for the people who desperately waited for his return when he did these things, far more concerned with ensuring Kil'jaeden's arrival on Azeroth.
Lor'themar was already leading a beleaguered, largely embittered people that clung to one shred of hope -- the return of Kael'thas, son of High King Anasterian. Those people suffered even more heartbreak when they realized the prince had gone utterly mad, allying with the Burning Legion and forsaking his people altogether. Those that had gone to Outland and faithfully followed Kael'thas turned on their former brethren and anyone who would stop Kael'thas' efforts.
The alliance with Sylvanas and the Horde meant that mere breaths after Kael'thas' defeat, the sin'dorei were expected to send more bodies north to Northrend. And there was nothing Lor'themar could do about that fact. Without the Horde, Quel'Thalas would collapse. Sheer logic dictated that Lor'themar had to send troops north, even if there were none to spare. A restored Sunwell was all well and good, but it did very little for a people who were still struggling to survive.
And that is the crux of the blood elf situation -- they are surviving. They are barely hanging on. We have heard little from the sin'dorei, because the sin'dorei are still, years after the Sunwell's restoration, trying to pull themselves back together again. They lost a giant chunk of their population when the Scourge ripped through Quel'Thalas, they lost another chunk that left to follow Kael'thas and summarily followed him to madness. They lost another chunk to the howling warzone of Northrend. The blood elves are not interested in Azerothian matters at the moment as much as they are interested in the survival and continuation of their race.
And they are clinging desperately to hope in the form of one man -- a former military leader who is trying his hardest to be a political leader with as much finesse as he handled the battlefields, and give his people something, anything to look forward to.
Who is Lor'themar Theron? He is just a man, a victim of his own circumstance. There was likely never a point in Lor'themar's life where he looked in the mirror and said to himself, "I will be Anasterian's successor and lead our people to glory." There was never a point where Lor'themar deliberately sought the accolades and rewards of higher societal standing. There was never a moment of the embittered entitlement that seemed to sweep through the higher echelons of sin'dorei society.
And yet here this man sits, in a position he never saw himself to be in. Here he looks at his people, battered and worn beyond all recognition. Despite it all, the sin'dorei have refused to simply lie down and die out, and a large part of that is due to Lor'themar. He may not be embittered, he may not be entitled, but his very nature will not allow his people to die. He will do everything in his unlikely power to ensure the survival of his people, even if his heart weeps for what he need do.
It may be easier to answer what Lor'themar is not. He is not a leader who seeks to make a war machine of his people. He is not a leader who froths at the mouth when thinking of the other side of the faction fence. He is not a leader who eagerly looks for war, having seen what horror comes from it. He is not a leader who lets his emotions get in the way of making decisions that are best for what remains of his people. And he is not and never will be a leader who simply gives up.
Lor'themar Theron may never had wanted to be a leader, but he handles the task with dignity as best as he can. And though he may some days find himself looking in the mirror and asking if it's all worth it, he finds the answer lying in the eyes of the sin'dorei who yet live, who look to him for comfort and for a direction to follow.
For more information on related subjects, please look at these other Know Your Lore entries:
- Current Horde Politics: The Blood Elves
- Kael'thas Sunstrider
- Interbellum part 2, Into the Outland
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.