Know Your Lore: The Shattering, part 3

Anne Stickney
A. Stickney|10.23.11

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Know Your Lore: The Shattering, part 3
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 is probably one of the most contentious additions to the Cataclysm expansion. Oh sure, he existed all the way back in The Burning Crusade, but he wasn't Warchief at that point in time. Nobody thought for a moment that the depressed Orc in Garadar would one day be leading their characters into battle against the Lich King. And nobody dreamed that Garrosh would one day be sitting on the Horde's throne.

It wasn't so much the surprise of the situation that people took issue with, however. Instead, it had much to do with Garrosh's attitude throughout Wrath of the Lich King. Headstrong, ruthless and downright bloodthirsty, Garrosh's decisions in Wrath didn't ring right or true with the playerbase. Even more jostling to players was the notion that despite the player dislike of the character, the NPCs of the world loved the guy. It may very well be the first time that a large chunk of a faction's players have blatantly disagreed with a fictional NPC faction -- and the NPC faction won out.

The Shattering makes it clear that Garrosh's position is only temporary, but in Cataclysm, he's certainly attacking the job with gusto.

Today's Know Your Lore contains pretty much every possible spoiler that exists for the novel The Shattering by Christie Golden. If you're avoiding spoilers, run away! Run away!

Unpleasant beginnings

Thrall arrived at Nagrand, happy about his return and looking forward to seeing his grandmother again. Aggra intercepted his approach, not bothering to introduce herself and instead getting off to an excellent start with the Warchief by insulting his choice in using the name Thrall and generally being rude. After informing him that Aggra would be teaching him, she finally clued him in to the fact that she was Aggra. Thrall wasn't exactly pleased about this development.

Nor was he pleased as Aggra continued to be blunt and curt to the point of rudeness to Geyah. When Aggra left to go get some water for the Greatmother, Thrall asked her about her student and why Geyah put up with her terrible attitude. Geyah replied that Aggra was curt, yes, rude, possibly, but it was because she spoke what she felt in all things. Sometimes she was right, sometimes she was wrong, but she always spoke what she felt was the truth -- and thus, Geyah appreciated her opinion and would never seek to silence her.

Thrall thought back to his conversation with Cairne and how he had dismissed Cairne's observations about Garrosh. Cairne was simply speaking what he felt was true. The Warchief resolved to apologize to Cairne once he'd returned to Orgrimmar, ashamed of his actions.

Upon Aggra's return, Geyah filled Thrall in on what was to come. While Geyah would train him as much as she could, she was old and not able to travel. Aggra would take him where he needed to go and teach him along the way in the event that he needed to leave Nagrand for a lesson.

Thrall and Aggra began their journey, and Aggra continued to insult Thrall at any given opportunity. When Thrall finally got frustrated enough to call her out on her behavior, bluntly informing her that he was not the idiot she seemed to believe he was, her attitude changed for a moment, but only a moment. The two continued onward to distant parts of the world, so that Thrall could speak to the corrupt and twisted elementals of Nagrand and see if their behavior could somehow help him discern the behavior of the upset elementals of Azeroth.

Unpleasant returns

Anduin Wrynn stayed in Ironforge at his father's request -- Varian thought that the Dwarves needed their support now more than ever, and as the prince had made several connections with the Dwarves, he was the ideal choice to stay behind as representative. King Varian admitted it wasn't a pleasant situation to handle but that as future king, Anduin would one day have to deal with unpleasant situations such as this one. At the very least, Anduin should remain until a new heir had been found.

Anduin didn't have to wait very long. While speaking with High Priest Rohan, the two were interrupted by a royal guard in a state of panic, who told them they were both needed at the High Seat at once. Puzzled, they made their way to the High Seat and were absolutely shocked at what they saw. For there, sitting on Magni's throne, was none other than his estranged daughter Moira Bronzebeard -- or rather, Queen Moira Bronzebeard, as she called herself. Moira returned to Ironforge with her infant son, the son of a Dark Iron.

Moira sweetly requested that she and Anduin have a nice, long chat. Anduin tried to get out of the situation by mentioning that his father wanted him to return to Stormwind as soon as an heir was found. Moira vetoed the option. Every word from her mouth was sweetness and light, and Anduin felt a sinking sensation as he left the throne room. His gut feeling was that he had just walked in on a coup, despite the fact that Moira was indeed the rightful heir.

That feeling was confirmed when he discovered that Moira had proclaimed all gryphons terribly sick and in need of quarantine, allowing no visitors presently in the Dwarven capital to fly out. And it was doubly confirmed when he discovered that the Deeprun Tram had been mysteriously damaged and was out of service -- and that Moira was having all mages arrested for suspicious behavior, to prevent them from creating portals out of the city. Anduin was, in a word, stuck.

Unpleasant ends

In Thunder Bluff, Hamuul Runetotem and Cairne Bloodhoof discussed the changes that Garrosh had made. While the new Warchief insisted upon rebuilding Orgrimmar as quickly as possible, a decision that Cairne agreed with, the new Warchief was still blatantly unwilling to listen to any advice offered. Cairne decided it was best for him to return to Thunder Bluff, as it was obvious his advice was not wanted.

But Garrosh's response surprised Cairne. Instead of being relieved or completely indifferent to Cairne's departure, Garrosh told Cairne that he had no wish to offend the old bull, but he needed to make his own decisions, the decisions that he thought would be best for the Horde, whether Cairne agreed with them or not. And Cairne was perfectly fine with that -- if Garrosh truly meant those words. But he had a sneaking suspicion that Garrosh did not.

Hamuul had good news for Cairne, however. Despite the atrocities committed against the Night Elves, the druids of the Cenarion Circle were still willing to meet with Hamuul and discuss the strange behavior of the elements and the unusual weather that had been popping up all over Azeroth. The meeting was scheduled to take place at a secret glade in Ashenvale, and Hamuul was getting ready to leave. Cairne wished him luck with the peace talks and sent him on his way.

The meeting started off tense, the Night Elves wary of the Tauren despite their common ground in the Cenarion Circle. But Hamuul gently reinforced that he had no wish for violence of any kind. Though the Night Elves were dismayed to hear that Thrall had not only gone to Nagrand but left Garrosh in his place, Hamuul reassured them that Garrosh's place was temporary and that Thrall would return as soon as he had figured out what was disturbing Azeroth. The peace talks continued, and the Night Elves began to relax, as well as the Tauren.

... Which is precisely when everything went horribly wrong. Out of nowhere, the meeting was ambushed by a group of Orcs who proceeded to brutally murder the Night Elf delegates despite Hamuul's horrified pleas. As soon as the attack had begun, it was over. The Night Elves were dead as well as one of the Tauren delegates, and the remaining delegates were all injured. Hamuul demanded to know the name of the Orc in charge and the meaning behind the attack, enraged. Gorkrak, the leader of the group, replied that they had seen the Night Elves planning to attack, and when Hamuul angrily demanded to know if Garrosh was behind this, Gorkrak had no idea who Garrosh was.

And before Hamuul could think, Gorkrak and his companions turned on the remaining Tauren and slaughtered them as well. Once dead, they piled the bodies in a mass grave and buried them, but not too well. The grave was meant to be discovered in due time. After all, both Horde and Alliance were beginning to pin the blame on Garrosh Hellscream for the prior attack. The Twilight's Hammer was delighted to let the blame continue to be assigned to him.

Hours later, Hamuul Runetotem awoke in the middle of the mass grave, confused and disoriented, and clawed his way to the surface as the memory of the event came back to him -- he'd been shot in the back by fellow members of the Horde. To his dismay and sorrow, none of the others had survived. He was the only one left alive in the pile of bodies, both Tauren and Night Elf. Struggling to heal himself, Hamuul called an owl to carry a message to Cairne Runetotem, a message written in his own blood.

Suddenly, there was far more to worry about than just the troubled elements of the world.

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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