What If: Shadows of the Assassin

Anne Stickney
A. Stickney|08.12.13

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What If: Shadows of the Assassin
What If Shadows of the Assassin
When we last left off with the what-if challenges, Rossi wrote up a perfectly delightful idea for the premise of Shandris Feathermoon being a main antagonist for an expansion, then left me with the notorious half-orc assassin Garona Halforcen for my next challenge. One would think it'd be easy enough to build an expansion around someone who makes a habit of stabbing people, but Garona has essentially been a non-entity since we last saw her, briefly, in the Twilight Highlands.

Her absence from the final fight with Cho'gall was noticeable. One would think that she'd be more than happy to pitch in and help defeat the creature that had been controlling her the majority of her life, forcing her to do things that colored her fate in such a way that she's been forced into hiding. Yet ... Garona wasn't there. In fact, she's all but disappeared. Which makes one wonder ... how much of Garona is, in fact, Garona -- and what would she do if given the unique opportunity to change her fate?

What If Shadows of the Assassin
Garona Halforcen began her life as the product of Gul'dan's experiments. Conceived in the most brutal of fashions, Garona was then magically aged and tortured by Gul'dan, her mind broken. Although she carried out her life as normally as a half-breed could in that day and age, Garona was unwittingly a tool for the Shadow Council -- a series of spells were used on the assassin that forced her to act on the Shadow Council's behalf. This is why she cried as she murdered King Llane -- her mind didn't want to carry out the task, but her body was moving seemingly of its own accord, a puppet for the Shadow Council's demands.

In a moment of lucidity, she and Medivh shared some time together and it ended up in a son, Me'dan, who she then gave to her friend Meryl Winterstorm to raise, uncertain of her ability to keep herself under control. In later years, as Med'an grew, Garona was forced once more into action by Cho'gall, sent to assassinate King Varian Wrynn and his son Anduin. During the course of this, she discovered the magical spell that forced her to act without thinking. With the death of Cho'gall, she assumed the long years of control were over.

And that brings us to the Twilight Highlands, where Horde players discover Garona. Cho'gall is still alive, and he has an ultimate weapon that Garona intends to destroy. Yet strangely, Garona never shows up for that final confrontation with Cho'gall. She isn't seen again after his death. Where did she go? What happened to the half-orc assassin? We can presume she didn't show because she was aware that Cho'gall could control her -- she knew that much. Yet after his defeat, one would assume she would be elated, as the last creature that held any thrall over her was at last dead.

What If Shadows of the Assassin
But here's the interesting thing about Garona -- she's never been able to lead her own life. Even with Cho'gall's defeat, even with the knowledge that she was under the Shadow Council's control, Garona is still a wanted criminal for the death of King Llane. Even though she is presumably of her own free mind, she hasn't sought out her son -- in fact, her son is nowhere to be found. After a life of forced servitude, Garona is doubtless thinking what we're all thinking -- is she really free at all?

What kind of freedom lies in running for your life from a king who blames you for the death of his father? What kind of freedom lies in the face of the son you never really knew, and will continue to never know? Who says that Cho'gall was the last creature that held you under his sway -- who's to say someone else won't pop up out of nowhere and unexpectedly make you do the last things on earth you ever wanted to do? In a life that is a vicious cycle of consequences for wrongs she was forced to commit at the behest of others, when does that cycle end? Does it ever break?

It's enough to drive a creature mad. And oh, Garona, poor wonderful Garona is ripe for madness. Not at the hands of the Shadow Council, not at the hands of an Old God, but from the sheer cacophony that her life has been to date. How do you break that cycle of living life at the whim of another -- that cycle of paranoia, shame and regret?

Well thankfully, there's a place where history can be overwritten. If you're crazy enough, and if you're sneaky enough to get around the bronze dragons.

What If Shadows of the Assassin
Imagine if you will, a "free" Garona, left to her own devices. Wouldn't it make sense, in her semi-addled state, to simply go back and wipe out everything that has ever gone wrong in her life? Step through a portal, change what went wrong, and either fix what happened to her ... or end her existence entirely, and show herself a moment of mercy that she was never given? And she'd have a tailor-made set of allies waiting for her in the timestreams -- the Infinite Dragonflight.

Oh, you can argue that we killed the leader of the Infinite, but the way that time works in Azeroth is nebulous, able to be shifted and changed. And while we may have killed one instance of Murozond in one particular timeline, other parallel timelines may exist where the Infinite live on, content with carrying out their task of wrecking Azeroth's history. You could argue this is totally the case due to the presence of the Timewalkers in Mists of Pandaria -- why would we need mortal wardens of time, if the threat to the timeways had been completely obliterated?

Poor Garona goes back to correct the mistakes that were made, and the Infinite are quite happy to help her ruin whatever history she'd like to "correct." In the process, let's ask ourselves, what were the key moments of Garona's history that she would want to destroy?

What If Shadows of the Assassin
How about Cho'gall? He's the one that had the most control over her in the future. And while she was at it, she could take out the rest of the Shadow Council. If this were the case, Stormwind would never have fallen -- in the chaos and confusion of orcs suddenly dropping like flies in the middle of the night, it's entirely possible they simply would have retreated -- unless of course Medivh ordered them otherwise. And that wouldn't sit well with Garona at all.

Besides, her son was another thing that should not have been. He was a glorious child from a moment in time that was for a moment, good -- yet she was unable to simply enjoy his existence and raise him on her own. And even though Cho'gall was defeated in present day, Med'an was nowhere to be found, leaving a half-orc mother to wonder in despair if any in the world cared for her at all -- her son obviously didn't deign to view her as important.

Which is when Garona would assassinate Medivh, before Khadgar. Before Lothar, before Garona herself, the younger Garona, had the opportunity to conceive a son that would bring nothing but more sorrow and chaos to an already sorrowful and chaotic life. Perhaps Garona would cry as she cut the Guardian down like a dog, using his trust in her to gently lead him into a moment of weakness. But it's likely she wouldn't have cried for long.

What If Shadows of the Assassin
Because Medivh was most definitely not alone in his head. And the creature that lived within Medivh would have a very interesting problem to consider -- stay with the Guardian, who was about to die ... or make the switch and see what happened with this incredibly curious half-orc that was not of this time or place? Stay entrenched in a past that was quickly falling apart, or take a leap and see what kind of havoc could be wrought in the future?

And what would the future look like, when Garona at last emerged from the Caverns of Time? Would the Horde exist? Would the Alliance? Would the Cataclysm have even happened? What would the face of the future be, when Garona stepped into the sunny sands of Tanaris, a shadowy traveler attached to her spirit? And what would the mortals of the world do, confronted with a history that was quickly spinning out of control? How would they handle the return of Sargeras, in the form of a desperate half-orc who, in trying to regain control of a shattered life, shattered history as a result?

Of course this would be an incredibly convoluted and bizarre choice for an expansion, but I think it'd be interesting, to say the very least. Now let's see what Rossi would cook up for us all in an expansion whose central figure was Gelbin Mekkatorque.

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