Know Your Lore: Garrosh Hellscream, part 2

Anne Stickney
A. Stickney|12.05.10

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Know Your Lore: Garrosh Hellscream, part 2

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.

Garrosh Hellscream, son of the mighty Grom, came to Azeroth at the bidding of Warchief Thrall. Garrosh knew very, very little of Azeroth -- he knew that the Horde of Azeroth was not only made up of orcs, but other races as well. He knew that the Alliance were the enemies of the Horde. He'd heard of the internment camps and what the humans had done to the orcish race. He didn't know much, but he knew that the Horde were his allies and the Alliance his enemies -- and any enemy, as far as Hellscream was concerned, was only there to be eliminated.

But where did this drive to eliminate the Alliance actually originate? Garrosh was not present during the Second War. He was not present for the battles at the Black Temple. He was sick, in Garadar, with the rest of those stricken with the red pox. For someone who had spent so long living a life in which he was certain he would never be a competent leader, Garrosh certainly had a lot of nerve in the Warcraft comics, the events leading up to Wrath of the Lich King, and during Wrath itself. When, exactly, did this hothead emerge -- and why did Thrall choose Garrosh to lead in his absence?

First, we have to look at what Garrosh had done so far. He was raised in a little village with a group of people who knew only of the mistake Garrosh's father had made. As a result, Garrosh was under the impression that his bloodline was a cursed one and that he was doomed to lead the Mag'har to their destruction. His father's involvement in the blood pact with Mannoroth and the Burning Legion was the only truth that Garrosh knew. His father was a disgrace, and therefore, his bloodline was a disgrace and he should be ashamed of it.

It wasn't until the arrival of Thrall and the revelations he carried and shared that Garrosh realized the exact opposite was true -- on Azeroth, that is. His father was a hero, and as far as the orcs on Azeroth were concerned, anything he may have done in his past was atoned for the moment he gave his life to free them from the pact that held them firmly under the Burning Legion's thumb. When Thrall told Garrosh the truth, young Hellscream was at last fully prepared to lead the Mag'har to whatever glory awaited them. But instead of letting him lead, Thrall took him to Azeroth.

Ready and willing

Garrosh was at this point completely ready and eager to lead his people and show that he could be the hero his father was. Instead of being ashamed of his bloodline, he was suddenly overwhelmed with how amazing that bloodline was -- and left with the enormous task of trying to live up to it. After spending so many years in sorrow, of course he immediately went overboard. It was a matter of pride -- pride that he never experienced until Thrall showed him there was pride to be had. In a way, the Warchief was directly responsible for every action Garrosh took after he brought young Hellscream to Azeroth.

But Garrosh wasn't allowed to lead. Instead, he was placed in a role as Thrall's advisor and expected to be content with that. After years of Geyah trying to convince him he could lead, after years of the Mag'har trying to show him the same, after all the quests that players did in Nagrand to show Garrosh that his people weren't doomed to their fate, after Thrall showing him that his bloodline didn't stand in his way, that he could be a leader -- he simply wasn't allowed to step up. The sheer amount of frustration that Garrosh felt at being denied that which everyone had been preparing him for infuriated Hellscream.

Not only that, but Garrosh was raised with the ideals and values of a Draenor orc. He didn't experience the effects of the blood pact, he didn't experience the Second War, he didn't experience the internment camps, and he wasn't there when Thrall freed the orcs from those camps. So he had a completely different way of thinking than Warchief Thrall. Thrall brought him to Azeroth and expected Garrosh to simply fall into line as any Azerothian orc would -- a mistake that would cost him.

Because Garrosh yearned to lead. It was in his blood. Yet as an advisor, Garrosh was expected to sit and offer Thrall advice on political situations he had no way to grasp. Thrall took Garrosh to a peace summit in Theramore, and that's where it started to go downhill. First of all, a peace summit with an enemy was a concept so completely foreign to Garrosh that he couldn't comprehend why any orc in his right mind would seek it. Second and more importantly, it introduced him to another hot-headed leader who was quicker to condemn his enemies than try to make peace with them -- Varian Wrynn.

Cut from the same cloth

In a way, Varian and Garrosh were incredibly alike. Both were prone to thinking with their fists rather than their brains, both were incredibly quick to anger, both experienced areas of their lives during which they spent a tremendous amount of time deeply depressed for different reasons. And both came out of that depression with a vehement will to lead and destroy those who stood in their way.

It's no wonder the two of them clashed at that peace summit. When Garona showed up to try and assassinate Wrynn, both Wrynn and Garrosh immediately stepped up to take care of the situation, each growing agitated with the other for trying to do so.

Meanwhile, Thrall stood in the middle of it all and tried to calm Garrosh down and explain to him what they were really there for -- that they were seeking peace with the human race. Not only did Thrall get in the way of an orc who was desperate to lead, but his reasons for doing so made absolutely no sense to Garrosh. Why would a leader of a mighty orc nation try and make peace with his enemies? This was not the way of the orc -- not the way of someone like Hellscream, someone like the orcs of Draenor would accomplish anything. And yet the supposed Warchief continued to approach everything with extreme amounts of caution.

After returning to Orgrimmar due to reports of Scourge invasions, Garrosh had finally had it. He didn't just explode -- he detonated. Thrall wanted to coordinate with their enemy, the Alliance, to figure out what to do about the events in Northrend; Garrosh wanted to send troops north immediately. Not only did Thrall disagree with the tactics of his new advisor, he thought that the Scourge attacks might actually be trying to bait the Horde into traveling to Northrend and straight into a trap. Then he pointedly asked Garrosh not to make the same mistakes as Grom, provoking the younger Hellscream into a duel.

Conflict with Thrall

Young Garrosh Hellscream, devoid of pride or the will to lead, had suddenly had his life returned to him -- and promptly found himself chained down and not allowed to lead. He was appointed as advisor, but the Warchief was unwilling to listen to any of his advice. Garrosh didn't understand the reasons behind Thrall's decisions, but he wasn't about to stand there and let his father be insulted -- especially not by the Warchief who'd shown him how heroic his father really was. Thrall and Garrosh fought, but a Herald of the Lich King and an attack on Orgrimmar interrupted the outcome of the duel.

This was probably a good thing, given how enraged Garrosh had become. After the attack was over, Thrall agreed to send forces to Northrend and put Garrosh in charge. He also sent along Varok Saurfang to keep an eye on Hellscream and hopefully put an end to his rage.

The campaign in Northrend was brutal. Countless Horde and Alliance died to the sheer might of the Scourge, and Garrosh led the Horde forces valiantly north to Icecrown. This did not stop him from clashing with Varian Wrynn and his Alliance forces whenever the opportunity arose.

Garrosh Hellscream finally got to do what he was destined to do: lead. And so he did -- successfully, at that. Though the Horde lost a great deal of warriors, the final outcome resulted in the Lich King's defeat and Hellscream's triumphant return to Orgrimmar. During his time in Northrend, Hellscream was given almost free rein to show the Horde forces his idea of leadership: honor and glory to the Horde, death to anyone who dared oppose them, be it Scourge or Alliance. Saurfang quietly tried to teach Hellscream what Thrall was unable to get into Garrosh's thick head: tactics, strategy, honor.

A hero in the eyes of the Horde

And when Garrosh returned to Orgrimmar, he returned a hero in the eyes of the Horde. Garrosh was a leader, born and bred, and the majority of the Horde followed him willingly into battle. As Thrall contemplated his own qualities and capabilities as leader and tried to understand the strange uprising of the elements, he realized he would have to step down and let someone take his place for a time. In a move that surprised his advisors, Thrall chose Garrosh Hellscream to take his place.

But Hellscream didn't take the post easily. Leading the Horde into war, where the enemy was defined and the actions to be taken were as clear as day, was one thing. Leading the Horde in day-to-day activities and taking the responsibilities of a true leader were another. Suddenly, those old feelings from Nagrand came back to Garrosh -- the feelings of helplessness and ineptitude. He was a Hellscream, a fighter -- not a diplomat, not an advisor. Would he lead the Horde to victory, or would he fall into the same mistakes his father made?

In those first few weeks as leader, Garrosh made plenty of mistakes. He was trying to lead the Horde in the same way that he'd led the Northrend troops, through strong words and sharp rebukes designed to bring soldiers into line, rather than the inspirational words of a leader. His first mistake was mouthing off to Vol'jin during the meeting discussing the elemental unrest -- a foolish move that made him a target for the Darkspear chieftain. Later, the two exchanged words that were even more heated:
Vision of Garrosh Hellscream says: Don't talk back to me, troll. You know who was left in charge here. Haven't you stopped to ask yourself why Thrall chose me instead of you?
Vol'jin's image appears.
Vision of Vol'jin says: Dere be no question why, Garrosh. He gave ya tha title because ya be Grom's Son and because tha people be wantin' a war hero.
Vision of Vol'jin says: To which I tink ya be even more like ya father den he thought, even without ya havin' da demon blood.
Vision of Garrosh Hellscream says: You are lucky I don't gut you right here, whelp. You are foolish to think that you can speak to your Warchief in such ways.
Vision of Vol'jin says: Ya be no Warchief of mine. Ya've not earned my respect and I'll not be seein' tha Horde destroyed by ya foolish thirst for war.
Vision of Garrosh Hellscream says: And what exactly do you think that you'll do about it? Your threats are hollow. Go slink away with the rest of your kind in the slums. I will endure your filth in my throne room no longer.
Vision of Vol'jin says: I know exactly what I'll be doin' about it, son of Hellscream. I'll be watchin' as ya people slowly become aware of ya ineptitude. I'll laugh as dey grow ta despise ya as I do.
Vision of Vol'jin says: And when tha time comes dat ya failure is complete and ya "power" is meaningless, I will be dere to end ya rule, swiftly and silently.
Vision of Vol'jin says: Ya will spend ya reign glancin' over ya shoulda and fearin' tha shadows, for when tha time comes and ya blood be slowly drainin' out, ya will know exactly who fired da arrow dat pierced ya heart.
Vision of Garrosh Hellscream says: You have sealed your fate, troll.
Vision of Garrosh Hellscream spits at Vol'jin's feet.
Vision of Vol'jin says: And you yours, "Warchief."
Driving away one of the staunchest supporters of the Horde? Terrible idea, Garrosh.

In addition, there was the matter of Cairne Bloodhoof, who didn't trust Hellscream at all -- and Magatha Grimtotem, another tauren who was incredibly keen on making friends with Garrosh and bringing her people, the Grimtotem tribe, into the Horde as allies. Garrosh trusted her intentions as good -- a fatal mistake. When Cairne Bloodhoof, fed up with Garrosh's actions and unwilling to see the Horde led into needless bloodshed, challenged Hellscream to a duel to the death, Magatha poisoned Garrosh's weapon. The end result was the death of Cairne Bloodhoof.
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