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Know Your Lore: The unfortunate tale of Lilian Voss

Anne Stickney
January 2, 2011

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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.

Every zone in the old world was touched by Deathwing's emergence, and with the changes came new lore and storylines. One of the more poignant tales of new Azeroth comes from Tirisfal Glades, where newly raised Forsaken soldiers struggle to come to terms with their fate. Before the fall of the Lich King, every "newborn" Forsaken was raised from former members of the Scourge that had broken free from the control of the Lich King.

However, after the fall of the Lich King, the Forsaken were left without a way to create new Forsaken. Having lost countless Forsaken soldiers in the Northrend war, Sylvanas Windrunner sought out the val'kyr, former servants of the Lich King. The val'kyr had a very special talent -- they could raise the dead to life. Thus, Sylvanas had a way to create new Forsaken soldiers out of any corpses that happened to be handy.

The only drawback to this process was that one never knew how the awakened corpses would react. While some eagerly joined the ranks of the Forsaken, others were far too tied to their former lives to accept their fate. One of these newly minted undead was a woman named Lilian Voss, whose former life was unique to say the least. Lilian was a member of the Scarlet Crusade.

The Scarlet Crusade was created by former members of the Knights of the Silver Hand, paladins under the leadership of Uther Lightbringer. After Uther's death, the Silver Hand began to splinter and fall apart. A man named Saidan Dathrohan brought together some of these former members and attempted to fight the Scourge in the battered city of Stratholme. During the assault, Dathrohan was separated from the others and captured by the dreadlord Balnazzar, who promptly killed the man and possessed his corpse.

In the guise of Dathrohan, Balnazzar quietly worked to warp and twist the minds of those under his command, tricking Renault Mograine into killing his own father and thus paving the way for Balnazzar's ascension to power. Once Highlord Mograine was dead, "Dathrohan" prompted the formation of the Scarlet Crusade, an organization dedicated to the eradication of the undead.

But why was Balnazzar so obsessed with eliminating the undead? There were a couple of reasons behind this. The Lich King originally formed the Scourge under the orders of the Burning Legion. When Arthas came into the picture and began his service to the Lich King in earnest, he told Balnazzar and his two brothers, Detheroc and Varimathras, in no uncertain terms that the Lich King would no longer be following the orders of the Burning Legion, and he attempted to have the dreadlords killed.

They managed to escape and went to Sylvanas, the banshee who would later become leader of the Forsaken, asking for her help. Together, the dreadlords and Sylvanas staged a coup that nearly killed Arthas, but he managed to escape and flee to Northrend. Afterwards, Sylvanas turned on the dreadlords. She staged a coup of her own and took Lordaeron for herself and her people, now dubbed "Forsaken." After gaining Varimathras' servitude in exchange for his life, Sylvanas killed Detheroc and then ordered Varimathras to kill Balnazzar in order to prove his loyalty.

Balnazzar "died" but came back -- his hatred for both Arthas and his infernal scourge, and the Banshee Queen that made a fool of him burning bright and hot. And so he organized the events that brought together the Scarlet Crusade. After all, the humans were easily manipulated, and whether they killed Scourge or Forsaken, it mattered little; his enemies would be taken care of either way. And so the Scarlet Crusade continued its campaign of terror, mindlessly killing both living and dead, any that happened to cross its path in the upper reaches of the Plaguelands.

To the Scarlet Crusade, anyone and everyone who wasn't a member of the cause was a potential carrier of the plague or undead in disguise. After all, nobody in their right mind would idly wander through the plaguelands unless they were somehow in league with the Scourge. Balnazzar's slow and deliberate brainwashing of the group had its intended affect, and the Scarlet Crusade unknowingly followed the dreadlord's plans. They were fighting for the noblest of causes, and as far as they were concerned, the end result completely justified the means of getting that result, even if innocent blood was shed along the way.

But the Scarlet Crusade's reign could only last so long, and over the course of the Northrend wars, leadership within the Scarlet Crusade crumbled. Balnazzar was revealed, as was Mal'Ganis, and the senior leadership of the organization was slowly eliminated. With the Lich King's defeat, the Scarlet Crusade had nowhere to go, and many soldiers of the organization fell in the ensuing battle with the Forsaken -- including a young woman named Lilian Voss.

Lilian Voss was awakened by Sylvanas' val'kyr, finding herself utterly, completely horrifying. Her entire life had been devoted to the eradication of the undead -- and after her death, she found herself in the position of becoming the very thing she'd dedicated her life to wiping out. To the Scarlet Crusade, the undead are an unholy abomination. Every moment of Lilian's life to that date had been filled with the doctrine and dogma of the Scarlet Crusade.

Faced with her own horrifying reflection, Lilian fled, unwilling to accept or understand what had become of her. She sought out her father, a high priest of the Scarlet Crusade named Benedictus Voss. If no one else would help her, surely her father would know what to do. But before she could find her father, Lilian was captured by a group of Scarlet Crusade nearby. Though she told them who she was, the soldiers had no idea what to do with the young woman and kept her locked away while news of her fate was sent to the high priest.

High Priest Voss knew exactly what to do when confronted with news of his undead daughter. He ordered her immediate execution. Needless to say, the news did not go over well with Lilian, and in an astonishing display of power, she burst into violet flame, leapt through the bars of the cage that held her and incinerated her captor.
Scarlet Lieutenant Gebler says: The time has come, my little captive ... word has come back from your father.
Lilian Voss says: Gebler, you came! What did he say?
Scarlet Lieutenant Gebler says: High Priest Voss denounces you as a daughter. He's ordered that you be executed immediately.
Lilian Voss says: What? NO! This can't be! Gebler, you know me ... we were friends once!
Scarlet Lieutenant Gebler says: The High Priest sends his regrets. He had hoped that one day you would be a powerful weapon against our enemies.
Scarlet Lieutenant Gebler says: Unfortunately, you were too dangerous in life, and you're far too dangerous in undeath. I will enjoy killing you, you Scourged witch ...
Lilian Voss says: Gebler, father, why would you ...
Gelber attempts to kill Lilian, but she leaps through the bars, killing him.
Lilian Voss says: The world of the living may have turned its back on me, but I'm no damned Scourge.

Something in Lilian Voss snapped. Scourge she may not be, but a lethal killing machine -- well, it was what she was raised to be. Her father's betrayal affected her deeply, and at once the innate callousness of the Scarlet Crusade was brought to light. Confronted with the realization that she would find no comfort in the arms of her father, Lilian chose instead to continue down the path her father had pushed her down since she was a child: murder. Murder without consideration or care for those who fell beneath the onslaught of violet fire.

And if those she fought beside and dedicated her life to would not accept her, then they could fall before her in spades. It may be that Lilian finally saw the Scarlet Crusade for what it truly was: a killing machine, cold and mechanical without thought or feeling for those it ruthlessly mowed down in the name of the "Light." Lilian began a killing spree, enraged at the actions of her former comrades and leaving a trail of violet flame behind her.
An Urgent Message to all Scarlet Officers and Enlistees:

The Scourge agent known as Lilian Voss has escaped from her captivity at the Scarlet Palisade. She is to be considered highly dangerous, and should be killed on sight. She has already slain 15 of our men. None were left wounded.

Do NOT try to apprehend her. Doing so will likely result in death. She is an enemy to the Crusade and must be crushed immediately.

The crusader who returns her head to the High Priest will be rewarded with 1,000 gold. Refer any questions to your commanding officer.

All across Tirisfal Glades, the alert was raised by the Scarlet Crusade: The High Priest's daughter was a menace that needed to be destroyed, quickly. But Lilian had been trained by the very people she now killed. She knew their methods of fighting. Between her knowledge, her rage, and the mysterious fire that engulfed both her and her enemies, she left a trail of crimson-clad bodies wherever she traveled. It seemed there would be no reasoning with or stopping her.

Having come to the inevitable conclusion that there was no going back, Lilian approached High Executor Derrington at the Bulwark in Tirisfal. While she didn't swear fealty to the Forsaken, she was quick to swear her enmity against the Scarlet Crusade. The High Executor appreciated her odd eagerness for bloodshed and sent her to take care of one of the few remaining Scarlet outposts to the north. A trail of violet-flamed bodies followed in her wake as she relentlessly continued to eradicate those who betrayed her.

My name is Lilian Voss. Before I died, I was a member of the Scarlet Crusade. My father, High Priest Voss, raised me to be a weapon against the plagued. I studied stealth, sorcery, martial arts, anything to make myself stronger. I gave up my childhood for him.

Then, as fate would have it, I died and returned as... this. My father instantly forgot me and, when I returned, ordered me executed.

Come. We will speak with him now, in his tower to the northwest.

As Lilian made her way to the tower, mechanically ripping apart any Scarlet who stood in her way, her mind was set on one thing, and one alone: Lilian wished to see her father and say hello.
Lilian Voss says: Father!
High Priest Benedictus Voss says: Lilian ... you're ... it's so nice to see you well.
Lilian Voss says: Shut up.
Lilian jumps on the Scarlet Bodyguard and Captain Melrache, killing them instantly.
Lilian Voss says: You raised me to be a killer. How am I doing, daddy?
High Priest Benedictus Voss says: I, ah ...
Lilian Voss says: But wait ... I remember now. You taught me to only kill the undead. So you do want me to kill myself, daddy?
High Priest Benedictus Voss says: Lilian, I ...
Lilian Voss says: Then again, why kill myself ... when I can kill YOU instead!

Lilian Voss embraced her father one final time -- around the neck. Scaling the walls of his tower, she strangled the life from the man, then threw his corpse to the ground with nary a word. While her brutal and unusual attacks caused other Scarlet Crusaders to burst into flame, she curiously avoided doing so with her father, instead letting him feel the life being squeezed from him by his loving daughter's cold, dead hands. And after it was over, Lilian stepped from the tower and vanished.

Nobody has seen Lilian Voss since that day. Her strange powers, the violet flames that engulfed her body and consumed those she fought have never been seen in a Forsaken before. Was it her unusual heritage, her upbringing in the Scarlet Crusade that brought it about? Was it Lilian's twisted version of the holy fire the Crusaders used in their fight against the undead? Nobody really knows. Will we ever see her again? It's possible -- her unique talents make her just the type of weapon the Forsaken would like to have in their control.

Some speculate that Lilian Voss would be an ideal person to lead the Forsaken, should something happen to Sylvanas Windrunner. But what they fail to realize is that Lilian would never fully ally herself with the Forsaken; to her, she is outside of life, outside of death, and utterly alone. Lilian isn't quite sane; her steadfast pursuit of the Scarlet Crusade borders on insanity, and her life in undeath is dedicated to other, more pressing tasks.

Though Lilian herself is nowhere to be found in person, she's out there still, somewhere. And if in your travels you come across former encampments of a holy war, scarlet clad corpses bathed in violet fire, you can be certain that Lilian was there fighting a crusade of her own -- the eradication of her former life.

If you want to know more about the lore mentioned in this Know Your Lore, consult the following:

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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