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Know Your Lore: Garrosh Hellscream, part 2, page 2

Anne Stickney

Garrosh wasn't upset by Cairne's death. Before you demand his head on a pike, an explanation: Garrosh and Cairne both knew, going into that duel, that one of them was going to die. Both were absolutely prepared for whatever outcome might have occurred, had Magatha not interfered.

What upset Garrosh was that Magatha's interference robbed him of what was meant to be an honorable battle. He made that very clear to Magatha in a note sent to her after she requested his aid in her coup of Thunder Bluff:
Unto Elder Crone Magatha of the Grimtotem,
Acting Warchief of the Horde, Garrosh Hellscream,
Sends his most sincere wishes for a slow and painful death.
It has come to my attention that you have deprived me of a rightful kill. Cairne Bloodhoof was a hero to the Horde and an honorable member of a usually honorable race. It is with disgust and anger that I discover you have caused me to bring about his death through accidental treachery.
Such tactics may work well for your renegade, honorless tribe and Alliance scum, but I despise them. It was my wish to fight Cairne fairly, and win or lose by my own skill or lack of it. Now I shall never know, and the cry of traitor will dog my steps until such time as I can sport your head on a pike and point to you as the real traitor.
So ... no. I will not be sending any truehearted orcs to fight alongside your treacherous, belly-crawling tribe. Your victory or your defeat is in the hands of your Earth Mother now. Either way, I look forward to hearing of your demise.
You are on your own, Magatha, as friendless and disliked as you have ever been. Perhaps more. Enjoy your loneliness.
And after all was said and done, Garrosh apologized to Cairne's son for his place in the murder of Chieftain Bloodhoof. He set about trying to make things right. He built a new Orgrimmar, one considerably less flammable than the previous incarnation. He set aside areas for the tauren, the new goblin allies and yes, even the trolls -- perhaps as a silent apology to Vol'jin. Whether or not Vol'jin will accept that apology has yet to be decided, but Garrosh made an effort. He watches the Forsaken like a hawk, wary of any future acts of betrayal. And when those under his leadership act dishonorably, his punishment is swift.

A new outlook

What Garrosh got out of Northrend wasn't just the leadership role that he craved. He also listened, albeit stubbornly, to what Varok Saurfang had to say, which is perhaps why Thrall sent Saurfang along on the journey -- he knew Garrosh had never been in a war, nor did Hellscream have any experience on the fields of battle. But the Warchief knew that Saurfang had and that Saurfang would be able to guide Garrosh in a way that wasn't outwardly apparent. He knew that Saurfang, war hero and veteran of the Horde, had plenty to teach young Hellscream, whether Garrosh was immediately willing to listen or not.

As for Saurfang, he had his own struggles with Garrosh in Northrend, but he exhibited the kind of patient tolerance that Garrosh needed. Rather than beat Hellscream over the head and demand that he change his ways, he led instead by example. It took a great deal of time, but in Cataclysm, Garrosh appears to have learned at least a little from Saurfang.
I spent a very long time in Northrend, Krom'gar. I learned much about the Horde at that time. While there, a wise old war hero told me something that I would carry with me forever ... "Honor," Krom'gar. "No matter how dire the battle... Never forsake it."
The one thing that Garrosh lacked in his life was a father figure, someone to guide him through his life and show him how to make the tough decisions that a leader needs to make. It's an odd dilemma, given that Garrosh spent most of his childhood obsessed with his bloodline and his absent father. Perhaps in Northrend, Saurfang became a little like a father figure to Garrosh -- though Hellscream would never, ever admit it. But the lessons Varok taught Hellscream will be carried with him always.

Garrosh Hellscream still has much to learn, but the results of his first few actions as Warchief -- the duel with Cairne, the bickering with Vol'jin -- taught him that allies should not be taken for granted. He learned that leadership isn't just about rallying the troops into a blood frenzy; it's about having a gentle hand with your allies and treating them honorably, the way a Warchief expects to be treated.

In Cataclysm, we start to see a Garrosh who is slowly becoming a more tempered being -- a Warchief capable of making the difficult political decisions that need to be made, a Warchief who can lead the Horde to victory. Thrall said it best to Vol'jin, when the troll leader told the former Warchief that he was worried about Garrosh's motives:
I chose Garrosh because he has the strength to lead our people through these trying times. For all my supposed wisdom, there have been moments that I've barely been able to hold the Horde together. The Wrath Gate and Undercity displayed that clearly.

The Horde cries for a hero of old. An orc of true blood that will bow to no human and bear no betrayal. A warrior that will make our people proud again. Garrosh can be that hero. I did not make this decision lightly, Vol'jin.

I know our alliances will suffer for it. I know the Horde will be irreversibly changed. But I made this choice with confidence that Garrosh is exactly what the Horde needs. I'm trusting you and the other leaders to not let this divide our people. You are stronger than that.
Garrosh Hellscream spent the majority of his life with the shadow of his father's failure looming over his head like a death sentence. In Wrath, he desperately tried to live up to the legacy of a father who was not a failure at all, but instead a hero to the orcs of Azeroth.

In Cataclysm, perhaps Garrosh will finally learn that it isn't his father's legacy he has to worry about, but his own. He must consider whether he will be thought of as an honorable leader, how to best lead the Horde, and what he will leave behind after he steps down -- whether it be from Thrall's return, or his own demise.

For more information on related subjects, please look at these other Know Your Lore entries:

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.

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