Chapter V: Return of the Burning Legion
The Scourge of Lordaeron
Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos
After preparing for many long months, Kel'Thuzad and his Cult of the Damned finally struck the first blow by releasing the plague of undeath upon Lordaeron. Uther and his fellow paladins investigated the infected regions in the hope of finding a way to stop the plague. Despite their efforts, the plague continued to spread and threatened to tear the Alliance apart.
As the ranks of the undead swept across Lordaeron, Terenas' only son, Prince Arthas, took up the fight against the Scourge. Arthas succeeded in killing Kel'Thuzad, but even so, the undead ranks swelled with every soldier that fell defending the land. Frustrated and stymied by the seemingly unstoppable enemy, Arthas took increasingly extreme steps to conquer them. Finally Arthas' comrades warned him that he was losing his hold on his humanity.
Arthas' fear and resolve proved to be his ultimate undoing. He tracked the plague's source to Northrend, intending to end its threat forever. Instead, Prince Arthas eventually fell prey to the Lich King's tremendous power. Believing that it would save his people, Arthas took up the cursed runeblade, Frostmourne. Though the sword did grant him unfathomable power, it also stole his soul and transformed him into the greatest of the Lich King's death knights. With his soul cast aside and his sanity shattered, Arthas led the Scourge against his own kingdom. Ultimately, Arthas murdered his own father, King Terenas, and crushed Lordaeron under the Lich King's iron heel.
Sunwell - The Fall of Quel'Thalas
Though he had defeated all of the people he now saw as his enemies, Arthas was still haunted by the ghost of Kel'Thuzad. The ghost told Arthas that he needed to be revived for the next phase of the Lich King's plan. To revive him, Arthas needed to bring Kel'Thuzad's remains to the mystical Sunwell, hidden within the high elves' eternal kingdom of Quel'Thalas.
Arthas and his Scourge invaded Quel'Thalas and laid siege to the elves' crumbling defenses. Sylvanas Windrunner, the Ranger-General of Silvermoon, put up a valiant fight, but Arthas eventually eradicated the high elf army and battled through to the Sunwell. In a cruel gesture of his dominance, he even raised Sylvanas' defeated body as a banshee, cursed to endless undeath in the service of Quel'Thalas' conqueror.
Ultimately, Arthas submerged Kel'Thuzad's remains within the holy waters of the Sunwell. Although the potent waters of Eternity were fouled by this act, Kel'Thuzad was reborn as a sorcerous lich. Resurrected as a far more powerful being, Kel'Thuzad explained the next phase of the Lich King's plan. By the time Arthas and his army of the dead turned southward, not one living elf remained in Quel'Thalas. The glorious homeland of the high elves, which had stood for more than nine thousand years, was no more.
Archimonde's Return and the Flight to Kalimdor
Once Kel'Thuzad was whole again, Arthas led the Scourge south to Dalaran. There the lich would obtain the powerful spellbook of Medivh, and use it to summon Archimonde back into the world. From that point on, Archimonde himself would begin the Legion's final invasion. Not even the wizards of the Kirin Tor could stop Arthas' forces from stealing Medivh's book, and soon Kel'Thuzad had all he needed to perform his spell. After ten thousand years, the mighty demon Archimonde and his host emerged once again upon the world of Azeroth. Yet Dalaran was not their final destination. Under orders from Kil'jaeden himself, Archimonde and his demons followed the undead Scourge to Kalimdor, bent on destroying Nordrassil, the World Tree.
In the midst of this chaos, a lone, mysterious prophet appeared to lend the mortal races guidance. This prophet proved to be none other than Medivh, the last Guardian, miraculously returned from the Beyond to redeem himself for past sins. Medivh told the Horde and the Alliance of the dangers they faced and urged them to band together. Jaded by generations of hate, the orcs and humans would have none of it. Medivh was forced to deal with each race separately, using prophecy and trickery to guide them across the sea to the legendary land of Kalimdor. The orcs and humans soon encountered the long-hidden civilization of the Kaldorei.
The orcs, led by Thrall, suffered a series of setbacks on their journey across Kalimdor's Barrens. Though they befriended Cairne Bloodhoof and his mighty tauren warriors, many orcs began to succumb to the demonic bloodlust that had plagued them for years. Thrall's greatest lieutenant, Grom Hellscream, even betrayed the Horde by giving himself over to his baser instincts. As Hellscream and his loyal Warsong warriors stalked through the forests of Ashenvale, they clashed with the ancient night elf Sentinels. Certain that the orcs had returned to their warlike ways, the demigod Cenarius came forth to drive Hellscream and his orcs back. Yet Hellscream and his orcs, overcome with supernatural hate and rage, managed to kill Cenarius and corrupt the ancient forestlands. Ultimately, Hellscream redeemed his honor by helping Thrall defeat Mannoroth, the demon lord who first cursed the orcs with his bloodline of hate and rage. With Mannoroth's death, the orcs' blood-curse was finally brought to an end.
While Medivh worked to convince the orcs and humans of the need for an alliance, the night elves fought the Legion in their own secretive ways. Tyrande Whisperwind, the immortal High Priestess of the night elf Sentinels, battled desperately to keep the demons and undead from overrunning the forests of Ashenvale. Tyrande realized that she needed help, so she set out to awaken the night elf druids from their thousand-year slumber. Calling upon her ancient love, Malfurion Stormrage, Tyrande succeeded in galvanizing her defenses and driving the Legion back. With Malfurion's help, nature herself rose up to vanquish the Legion and its Scourge allies.
While searching for more of the hibernating druids, Malfurion found the ancient barrow prison in which he had chained his brother, Illidan. Convinced that Illidan would aid them against the Legion, Tyrande set him free. Though Illidan did aid them for a time, he eventually fled to pursue his own interests.
The night elves braced themselves and fought the Burning Legion with grim determination. The Legion had never ceased in its desire for the Well of Eternity, long the source of strength for the World Tree and itself the heart of the night elf kingdom. If their planned assault on the Tree was successful, the demons would literally tear the world apart.
The Battle of Mount Hyjal
Under Medivh's guidance, Thrall and Jaina Proudmoore - the leader of the human forces in Kalimdor - realized that they had to put aside their differences. Similarly, the night elves, led by Malfurion and Tyrande, agreed that they must unite if they hoped to defend the World Tree. Unified in purpose, the races of Azeroth worked together to fortify the World Tree's energies to their utmost. Empowered by the very strength of the world, Malfurion succeeded in unleashing Nordrassil's primal fury, utterly destroying Archimonde and severing the Legion's anchor to the Well of Eternity. The final battle shook the continent of Kalimdor to its roots. Unable to draw power from the Well itself, the Burning Legion crumbled under the combined might of the mortal armies.
The Betrayer Ascendant
Warcraft 3X: The Frozen Throne
During the Legion's invasion of Ashenvale, Illidan was released from his barrow prison after ten thousand years of captivity. Though he sought to appease his comrades, he soon reverted to true form and consumed the energies of a powerful warlock artifact known as the Skull of Gul'dan. By doing so, Illidan developed demonic features and vastly magnified power. He also gained some of Gul'dan's old memories - especially those of the Tomb of Sargeras, the island dungeon rumored to hold the remains of the Dark Titan, Sargeras.
Bristling with power and free to roam the world once more, Illidan set out to find his own place in the great scheme of things. However, Kil'jaeden confronted Illidan and made him an offer he could not refuse. Kil'jaeden was angered by Archimonde's defeat at Mount Hyjal, but he had greater concerns than vengeance. Sensing that his creation, the Lich King, was growing too powerful to control, Kil'jaeden ordered Illidan to destroy Ner'zhul and put an end to the undead Scourge once and for all. In exchange, Illidan would receive untold power and a true place amongst the remaining lords of the Burning Legion.
Illidan agreed and immediately set out to destroy the Frozen Throne, the icy crystal cask in which the Lich King's spirit resided. Illidan knew that he would need a mighty artifact to destroy the Frozen Throne. Using the knowledge he had gained from Gul'dan's memories, Illidan decided to seek out the Tomb of Sargeras and claim the Dark Titan's remains. He called in some old Highborne debts and lured the serpentine naga from their dark undersea lairs. Led by the cunning witch Lady Vashj the naga helped Illidan reach the Broken Isles, where Sargeras' Tomb was rumored to be located.
As Illidan set out with the naga, Warden Maiev Shadowsong began to hunt him. Maiev had been Illidan's jailor for ten thousand years and relished the prospect of recapturing him. However, Illidan outsmarted Maiev and her Watchers and succeeded in claiming the Eye of Sargeras despite their efforts. With the powerful Eye in his possession, Illidan traveled to the former wizard-city of Dalaran. Strengthened by the city's ley power lines, Illidan used the Eye to cast a destructive spell against the Lich King's citadel of Icecrown in distant Northrend. Illidan's attack shattered the Lich King's defenses and ruptured the very roof of the world. At the final moment, Illidan's destructive spell was stopped when his brother Malfurion and the Priestess Tyrande arrived to aid Maiev.
Knowing that Kil'jaeden would not be pleased with his failure to destroy the Frozen Throne, Illidan fled to the barren dimension known as Outland: the last remnants of Draenor, the orcs' former homeworld. There he planned to evade Kil'jaeden's wrath and plan his next moves. After they succeeded in stopping Illidan, Malfurion and Tyrande returned home to Ashenvale Forest to watch over their people. Maiev, however, would not quit so easily, and followed Illidan to Outland, determined to bring him to justice.
Rise of the Blood Elves
At this time, the undead Scourge had essentially transformed Lordaeron and Quel'Thalas into the toxic Plaguelands. There were only a few pockets of Alliance resistance forces left. One such group, consisting primarily of high elves, was led by the last of the Sunstrider dynasty: Prince Kael'thas. Kael, an accomplished wizard himself, grew wary of the failing Alliance. The high elves grieved for the loss of their homeland and decided to call themselves blood elves in honor of their fallen people. Yet as they worked to keep the Scourge at bay, they suffered greatly at being cut off from the Sunwell that had empowered them. Desperate to find a cure for his people's racial addiction to magic, Kael did the unthinkable: he embraced his people's Highborne ancestry and joined with Illidan and his naga in hopes of finding a new magical power source upon which to feed. The remaining Alliance commanders condemned the blood elves as traitors and cast them out for good.
With no place left to go, Kael and his blood elves followed Lady Vashj to Outland to help contest the warden, Maiev, who had recaptured Illidan. With the combined naga and blood elf forces, they managed to defeat Maiev and free Illidan from her grasp. Based in Outland, Illidan gathered his forces for a second strike against the Lich King and his fortress of Icecrown.
Civil War in the Plaguelands
Ner'zhul, the Lich King, knew that his time was short. Imprisoned within the Frozen Throne, he suspected that Kil'jaeden would send his agents to destroy him. The damage caused by Illidan's spell had ruptured the Frozen Throne; thus, the Lich King was losing his power daily. Desperate to save himself, he called his greatest mortal servant to his side: the death knight Prince Arthas.
Though his powers were drained by the Lich King's weakness, Arthas had been involved in a civil war in Lordaeron. Half of the standing undead forces, led by the banshee Sylvanas Windrunner, staged a coup for control over the undead empire. Arthas, called by the Lich King, was forced to leave the Scourge in the hands of his lieutenant, Kel'Thuzad, as the war escalated throughout the Plaguelands.
Ultimately, Sylvanas and her rebel undead (known as the Forsaken) claimed the ruined capital city of Lordaeron as their own. Constructing their own bastion beneath the wrecked city, the Forsaken vowed to defeat the Scourge and drive Kel'Thuzad and his minions from the land.
Weakened, but determined to save his master, Arthas reached Northrend only to find Illidan's naga and blood elves waiting for him. He and his nerubian allies raced against Illidan's forces to reach the Icecrown Glacier and defend the Frozen Throne.
The Lich King Triumphant
Even weakened as he was, Arthas ultimately outmaneuvered Illidan and reached the Frozen Throne first. Using his runeblade, Frostmourne, Arthas shattered the Lich King's icy prison and thereby released Ner'zhul's enchanted helm and breastplate. Arthas placed the unimaginably powerful helm on his head and became the new Lich King. Ner'zhul and Arthas' spirits fused into a single mighty being, just as Ner'zhul had always planned. Illidan and his troops were forced to flee back to Outland in disgrace, while Arthas became one of the most powerful entities the world had ever known.
Currently Arthas, the new and immortal Lich King, resides in Northrend; he is rumored to be rebuilding the citadel of Icecrown. His trusted lieutenant, Kel'Thuzad, commands the Scourge in the Plaguelands. Sylvanas and her rebel Forsaken hold only the Tirisfal Glades, a small portion of the war-torn kingdom.
Old Hatreds - The Colonization of Kalimdor
Though victory was theirs, the mortal races found themselves in a world shattered by war. The Scourge and the Burning Legion had all but destroyed the civilizations of Lordaeron, and had almost finished the job in Kalimdor. There were forests to heal, grudges to bury, and homelands to settle. The war had wounded each race deeply, but they had selflessly banded together to attempt a new beginning, starting with the uneasy truce between the Alliance and Horde.
Thrall led the orcs to the continent of Kalimdor, where they founded a new homeland with the help of their tauren brethren. Naming their new land Durotar after Thrall's murdered father, the orcs settled down to rebuild their once-glorious society. Now that the demon curse was ended, the Horde changed from a warlike juggernaut into more of a loose coalition, dedicated to survival and prosperity rather than conquest. Aided by the noble tauren and the cunning trolls of the Darkspear tribe, Thrall and his orcs looked forward to a new era of peace in their own land.
The remaining Alliance forces under Jaina Proudmoore settled in southern Kalimdor. Off the eastern coast of Dustwallow Marsh, they built the rugged port city of Theramore. There, the humans and their dwarven allies worked to survive in a land that would always be hostile to them. Though the defenders of Durotar and Theramore kept the tentative truce with one another, the fragile colonial serenity was not meant to last.
The peace between the orcs and humans was shattered by the arrival of a massive Alliance fleet in Kalimdor. The mighty fleet, under the command of Grand Admiral Daelin Proudmoore (Jaina's father), had left Lordaeron before Arthas had destroyed the kingdom. Having sailed for many grueling months, Admiral Proudmoore was searching for any Alliance survivors he could find.
Proudmoore's armada posed a serious threat to the stability of the region. As a renowned hero of the Second War, Jaina's father was a staunch enemy of the Horde, and he was determined to destroy Durotar before the orcs could gain a foothold in the land.
The Grand Admiral forced Jaina to make a terrible decision: support him in battle against the orcs and betray her newfound allies, or fight her own father to maintain the fragile peace that the Alliance and the Horde had finally attained. After much soul-searching, Jaina chose the latter and helped Thrall defeat her crazed father. Unfortunately Admiral Proudmoore died in battle before Jaina could reconcile with him or prove that orcs were no longer bloodthirsty monsters. For her loyalty, the orcs allowed Jaina's forces to return home safely to Theramore.
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