The Burning Legion’s return to Azeroth instantly wrought destruction and chaos across the world. The Horde and the Alliance had one chance to head them off at the pass; stop Gul’dan at the Tomb of Sargeras before he had a chance to open an even bigger portal for his demonic masters. However, things did not go as planned…
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOR WORLD OF WARCRAFT LEGION PRE-PATCH QUESTS AHEAD
They failed and paid the price.
Now Azeroth can do nothing but tremble in the wake of the Legion’s might.
It was supposed to be a suicide mission; Azeroth’s last hope, but it wasn’t supposed to be like this. The casualties from The Broken Shore reverberated throughout the entire world; the Alliance, the Horde, the Argent Crusade, it seems that none escaped the Legion’s wrath.
None will be spared in the Legion’s largest invasion since the War of the Ancients.
One of the casualties suffered was Varian Wrynn, now the former King of Stormwind and leader of the Alliance.
I have always primarily been an Alliance player. Of course, I dabble in the Horde, but my heart has always lied with the Alliance. My very first character was a human warlock and, not surprisingly, the first leader I happened to meet was the King of Stormwind.
The grandness of Stormwind Keep, nestled in the heart of Elwynn Forest stands as a testament to the humans’ resilience. Standing in the keep for so long, Varian was the embodiment of that resilience.
In a way, the Alliance represents stability to me. Of course it’s not completely stable, with characters deviating for one reason or another, but there hasn’t been any major infighting in the Alliance for a long time.
Since The Cataclysm the Horde has been through treacherous times, going through multiple warchiefs. Until now, Varian Wrynn remained as the figurehead of the Alliance.
I was proud to stand united with the other races, refusing to be led by hatred or prejudice.
None were more fit to lead, just like none are more fit to lead now than Anduin.
Whether it was the orcs, trolls, the Burning Legion, the scourge, the Twilight’s Hammer, the humans never completely crumbled. Despite being physically weaker than many other races on Azeroth, the humans were resourceful and tenacious.
Varian or Lo’Gosh, as he was known to the Orc crowd during his enslavement as a gladiator, went through a lot. He had been kidnapped, enslaved, had his mind split in two and had lost his young wife to the Defias riots. All of this happening before the reawakening of the Lich King.
He wasn’t a king who sat in a throne room all day (at least, not in-story…), he was a king who could and would fight.
As I grew up alongside World of Warcraft, I watched Varian become a more versatile leader and a better person.
I watched a man, who at the time of the assault on Ulduar would not hesitate to fight Garrosh Hellscream in the middle of Dalaran, deny his execution and call for a fair trial at the end of the Siege of Orgrimmar.
Once a prisoner, forced to fight for sport, Varian grew into a leader of tactics and patience. He overcame his greatest weakness, his brashness and short-sighted rage, and became much more diplomatic and measured.
I watched a man, who once held resentment towards his son for not inheriting his gladiatorial nature, come to terms with Anduin’s fondness for diplomacy and inclination towards becoming a priest.
In Anduin, Varian found a new perspective to leadership.
I watched as Horde heroes attempted to claim Varian’s life as a trophy time and time again, only to be stopped.
I watched as Varian became the voice of reason during the campaign on Pandaria, urging Tyrande Whisperwind to be patient and not rush into a battle in a temple so important to the Pandaren.
Just as Sylvanas’ retreat was to save the Horde from crumbling, Varian’s sacrifice ensured the future of the Alliance.
He gets the job done, single-handedly killing a Fel Reaver, before it’s simply him and an endless torrent of demons. He knows he’s already dead at this point, but the gladiator’s instinct kicks in and he fights until his body can no longer function.
It’s a very similar situation to Noble 6 in Halo Reach, your job is complete and you have no chance of survival, may as well take down as many as you can.
He goes like like a warrior, a gladiator, a father, a king.
Varian’s last words were one final stand of resilience against those who threatened to destroy everything he held dear,
“For the Alliance.”
The plead that Gul’dan desperately wanted to hear would never be spoken.
He was a king that gave his all for his people.
I don’t think that Varian’s final words were a slight against the Horde, despite that being many people’s interpretation of the line.
Varian’s sacrifice was not in an effort to stop Gul’dan, but an effort to save the Alliance gunship. The instant he handed his letter to Anduin over to Genn Greymane he knew he was going to die.
Whether or not Varian died thinking he had been betrayed by Sylvanas, The Horde had nothing to do with this sacrifice. He died ensuring the safety of the Alliance and their leaders aboard the gunship.
Varian saw beyond the events at The Broken Shore, he saw hope. In Anduin, in the rest of the Alliance, in the Kirin Tor, even in the Horde and their heroes.
As heartbreaking as it was to watch Gul’dan rip the life essence from Varian’s tired body, the words of another human king rung in my mind,
“No king rules forever, my son.”
It is now Anduin’s time to lead his people in this time of darkness.
As father and son, Varian and Anduin learned so much from each other. As Varian exclaims in his letter to Anduin,
“Anduin, I now believe as you do, that peace is the noblest aspiration, but to preserve it you must be willing to fight”
Varian watched as his son, surrounded by war and danger, became the most diplomatic and understanding person he’d ever met. This is the same, stubborn boy who would stand in the face of Garrosh Hellscream and ask him to politely not shatter the Divine Bell, never minding the consequences of standing up to such a foe.
Whereas this once might have been a point of resentment, the notion that Anduin was physically weak, you hear Varian’s voice overflowing with his pride at his son’s tenacity towards peace.
Likewise, Anduin has learned that sometimes he will have to fight in the name of peace. As oxymoronic as it sounds, there are creatures that will not listen to reason. They want nothing more than to watch the world burn, a world inhabited by so many, a world that has seen so much sorrow and yet so much beauty.
I also have to add that I absolutely love the two tracks in Legion’s soundtrack, Anduin Part 1 and Part 2 respectively, that deal with this theme.
Part 1 is absolutely harrowing and just chills me to the bone. It says, ‘how can we possibly pick up the pieces? How can I lead like my father did?’
Part 2, however, is the complete opposite. It’s a declaration of hope that exclaims, ‘we will not let Azeroth fall, we will drag it kicking and screaming towards the light’
Because, like his father, Anduin is resilient.
Now, Anduin bears the weight of the throne, just as Sylvanas now leads the Horde. Both factions are entering a new period, a time that could very shape the destiny of Azeroth itself and whether it survives or perishes at the hands of the Burning Legion.