Lord Kur'talos Ravencrest and Jarod Shadowsong
Technically that's two people, but their legacies are fairly intertwined in the setting, and it's difficult to imagine what the latter would have done without the work of the former. Since both were night elf warriors belonging to a long martial tradition that effectively vanished beneath the waves when the Sundering happened, only returning in recent years as young male kaldorei learned the way of the sword, they both bear scrutiny as exemplars for the current generation.
When the War of the Ancients began, you could have been forgiven for assuming that the night elves were doomed from the start, if for no other reason than their leadership was almost completely suborned by Sargeras and his servants. Queen Azshara, Xavius and the Highborne caste were quickly converted to a form of worship centering around the fallen Titan and spent much of their time working to create a stable portal powerful enough for Sargeras to enter Azeroth bodily. When the demonic servitors of the Burning Legion began rampaging through night elf cities, the citizens cried out in panic and terror for their queen, not realizing that she was the one responsible for their fate.
It was Kur'talos Ravencrest, lord of Black Rook Hold, who gave the kaldorei the closest thing they had to effective leadership in the opening days of the War, when the queen and her Highborne servants were in full collusion with the enemy. Kur'talos was descended from a long line of warriors, each in his or her turn ruler over the defensive fortification known as Black Rook Hold for the raven crest of its rulers. As many have pointed out, we have little idea of how Ravencrest led his people or how he died before the time-traveling antics of Rhonin, Broxigar and Krasus. In the timeline resulting from their actions, Ravencrest died at the hands of an assassin during a battle with the Burning Legion, and an elf named Desdel Stareye took over as leader of the Kaldorei's resistance to the Legion.
You'll notice Stareye's name isn't up there in the heading. That's because he was a terrible leader. Think of him as the kind of guy who dumps 71 points in arms and then tries to tank. Frankly, the best thing he ever did for the night elves was die. His death left a power vacuum that Jarod Shadowsong found himself stepping into. A former guard captain from the now-lost city of Suramar, he ended up involved in the resistance and a key supporter of Lord Ravencrest, after becoming embroiled in the affairs of the aforementioned time travelers as well as those of Malfurion and his allies. Shadowsong's sister Maiev was a strong rival to Tyrande Whisperwind, but if that affected Jarod in any way, he made little sign of it.
Shadowsong's rise to commander and eventual leader of those night elves fighting the Legion wasn't a case of ambition; he took over the role simply because no one else seemed to understand how to do it. Despite this, he served with great distinction. Using the exotic allies (the tauren and also the earthen ancestors of the dwarves), he managed to browbeat Stareye into contacting to their best, keeping his own troops in order and even finding himself in command of the very Ancients themselves, the cadre of demigods under Cenarius' guidance. Only Jarod Shadowsong seemed unaware of his natural charisma, his tactical skill and his gift for leadership as the war unfolded. Even Maiev, who often felt Jarod too self-effacing and lacking in ambition, found him to be a compelling leader as the war unfolded. The army, finally under a leader it could respect after the disaster of Stareye, managed to begin driving the Legion back.
Jarod also managed to find time to unwillingly fall in love with Shandris Feathermoon, one of the female warriors serving in the resistance under the command of Maiev and then directly under Tyrande when she became the High Priestess of Elune. Since Shandris was younger than he was (to be fair, he had no idea that they'd both become immortals), he resisted the relationship during his time leading the resistance.
In the end, while it was the magic of the Stormrage brothers that ended the Legion's invasion, it was Jarod Shadowsong who stood alone in single combat with Archimonde, even though he knew he had no chance to win or even survive. Starsong managed to stay alive long enough for the portal at the Well of Eternity to be destroyed and the Legion to be banished back to the Nether, and he was one of the acknowledged leaders of the night elves following the titanic implosion of the Well and the great Sundering of the continent of Kalimdor.
While others (Archdruid Fandral Staghelm comes to mind) have sought power and influence in the years following the Sundering, Jarod did not. His sister's opinion of his essential character, although unnecessarily harsh, is still generally correct: Jarod Shadowsong was not ambitious. He did not seek leadership, despite being a natural leader. He did not seek command, despite being inherently talented at it. His tactical acumen and gift for inspiring others did nothing to inspire himself, and so he more than willingly allowed Tyrande to step in and become effective monarch of the kaldorei and leader of an entirely new kind of army, the Sentinels. As the majority of kaldorei males became druids, sleeping for centuries at a time, old warriors like Shadowsong became an anachronism, and he willingly disappeared from the society of the very people he saved.
Still, with the return of the demigods who once looked to him for guidance as they battled a great evil, can even Jarod Shadowsong continue to hide?
Jarod Shadowsong is an exemplar of the old pre-Sundering kaldorei warrior tradition, but his sometime-paramour Shandris Feathermoon is the architect of the modern kaldorei Sentinels
and their foremost military leader. While Shandris is a renowned archer, don't make the mistake of thinking her anything but a coldly proficient and deadly, plate-clad killer. Her leadership of the Sentinels is absolute, her only superior being her close friend Tyrande Whisperwind herself, and Shandris has remained deeply involved in night elf society for thousands of years.
Shandris is one of the few survivors of a small night elf village wiped out during the opening moves of the Burning Legion invasion. She joined Lord Kur'talos Ravencrest's nascent resistance to the demons when his troops rescued the few survivors of Ara-Hinem, her home. An orphan amidst a grim, outmatched army, Shandris might well have faded into obscurity as another victim of the Legion if not for a chance meeting with Tyrande, which would alter both of their lives forever. Shandris came to view Tyrande as a mentor and sought to follow the young priestess into battle despite the elder elf's attempts to dissuade her.
In the end, Tyrande failed to keep Shandris away from the war. The orphan made her way to the site of the battle between the forces of the kaldorei and their allies and the Burning Legion itself, where Neltharion the Earth Warder earned the name Xaxas
by using the Demon Soul against his own allies in a bid for supreme power. In the aftermath of that calamity, the night elves found themselves under attack by a renewed demonic offensive without their now-decimated dragon allies. Shandris found her true calling in life by following Malfurion and attempting to aid him in rescuing Tyrande from the Legion. It was Shandris' skill with the bow that made it possible for Malfurion to remove Xavius from the battlefield, and it was Shandris' determination to rescue her friend that broke through Malfurion's self-pity following the battle.
Shandris now took her rightful place in the war and participated in every battle until the final defeat of the Legion and the horrific devastation the Well of Eternity's destruction unleashed. Despite signs of attraction between Shandris and Jarod, the elder night elf eventually departed from their changing society, leaving Shandris (as Tyrande's right hand) in effective control of the military forces of their people. Due to so many males' taking up the druidic arts and slumbering for years at a stretch, Shandris reorganized the kaldorei military forces into the nearly all-female Sentinels.
It was as leader of the Sentinels that Shandris first encountered the Horde and ultimately witnessed the death of Cenarius at their hands while attempting to drive them out of Ashenvale. Since the orcs had attacked the trees of Ashenvale and were (as far as she knew) all consumed by demonic blood lust, it appeared to her as though the Legion had returned (which indeed, it had). She also led the Sentinels against the hordes of undead assaulting Mount Hyjal and took part in the final assault, staying close to Tyrande and guarding her friend's life with her bow.
Following this, Shandris has served as leader of the Sentinels from her base in Feralas, the Feathermoon Stronghold. She was also de facto leader of all Darnassus for a brief time during the assault of the Nightmare Lord and the recent return of Malfurion Stormrage. Organized, deadly and completely loyal to her people, Shandris Feathermoon is effectively the fist of the night elves. The Sentinels go nowhere and do nothing without her order. And while her organizational skills are remarkable (she created and has administered the Sentinels for thousands of years), her personal lethality is even more notable. When she was barely out of her childhood, she could hit Xavius in the shoulder from a distance at which most archers couldn't even see the target; she has killed countless numbers of demons, undead and others, over the millennia. She's potentially the best shot in the entire world of Azeroth. And she wears plate when she does it.
Man, I want a ranged warrior spec now.
Next week: warrior tanking in the beta -- what's good, what really isn't.
Check out more strategies, tips and leveling guides for warriors in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column, The Care and Feeding of Warriors.