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Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: The Durotarian Candidate

Matthew Rossi

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.

This one's all speculation, guys, and what's more, it's arrant speculation, too. This one takes the Tinfoil Hat and welds it on: not only is nothing in this essay established canon, even I don't think it's remotely likely. But when has that ever stopped us?

With the arrival of patch 5.3, Alliance players have noticed a bit of a disconnect. Why are we in the barrerns, they ask, instead of attacking the Horde elsewhere and reclaiming some lost territory while it's distracted with the rebellion? Others wonder why we're working with Vol'jin at all, instead of just letting the Horde fight amongst each other until there's an exhausted winner at the top and attacking him... or perhaps her, depending on how it all shakes out.

Still others find King Varian's sudden (to them, anyway) gear switch from raging, barely in control ball of rage to this singleminded, purposeful character who is uniting the Alliance behind him strange and unusual. Why is Varian suddenly counseling caution to Tyrande and refusing to make use of an obviously powerful weapon like the Sha? Why is Varian content to let Jaina take the lead against the Thunder King, and why did he acquiesce to the player and SI:7's plan to support Vol'jin's rebellion?

For a completely made up answer to these questions, let's look at Lo'Gosh, the gladiator. But first, let's look at Croc-Bait.

Without repeating what we've covered quite a few times before, let's discuss Varian's history. A human with amnesia woke up on the coast of Durotar, was attacked by a crocolisk, and after successfully defending himself with a broken spar of wood tossed to him by an orc nearby, found himself enslaved by said orc. That orc, a shaman named Rehgar Earthfury, enrolled his new human slave into the gladiator contests he was a part of, the Crimson Ring. Allowing Croc-Bait to arm himself, the shaman was soon to discover that his new acquisition could fight, and fight extremely well, dispatching an orc blademaster named Hykul Steeledge and claiming his swords in the process.

After killing Steeledge in the Ring of Valor training ground, Croc-Bait became the leader of Rehgar's gladiator team, consisting of a night elf druid named Broll Bearmantle and a blood elf rogue named Valeera Sanguinar. Somehow, despite not even knowing his own name or identity, Croc-Bait managed to unite the team and overcome his own reticence to fight and led them to victory in the Dire Maul arena. It was at this event that the Horde spectators named him Lo'Gosh, the Ghost Wolf (the Horde equivalent of Goldrinn) due to his skill and ferocity in battle.

Following the battle, Rehgar took his team to Thunder Bluff, having in his own words 'recouped my investment a thousand fold' - he sold Valeera to Hekla Grimtotem, and intended to buy a replacement. But soon, following a meeting with Hamuul Runetotem, all three of the gladiators had escaped, and no one was less surprised than Rehgar.
"At Dire Maul, I recouped my investment in those two a thousand times over. I knew this day was coming. A man is truly a prisoner only as long as he agrees to remain one. After that, in his heart, at least, he is free. And where his heart is, his body may follow if his will is strong enough."
What interests me is how quickly Rehgar abandons his life as a slaver and gladiator master, how he becomes one of Thrall's trusted advisors almost immediately, and how he is quickly and repeatedly given positions of respect and authority under Thrall's rule. He attends the Theramore council where Garona attacks Varian, he becomes part of the New Council of Tirisfal (which promptly does absolutely nothing ever again) and he assists Thrall at the Maelstrom following the Shattering. Even after Thrall is no longer Warchief, Rehgar Earthfury keeps his hand in. He's kept abreast of developments and when Garrosh destroys Theramore, he's seen musing worriedly about what it will mean for the future of the Horde.

I can't be the only one suspicious of all this, can I?

First off, lets look at Rehgar's backstory. Supposedly (I say supposedly because we only have Rehgar's word for any of this) he was born on Draenor while his clan was at war with a group of ogres, learning to fight and kill even earlier than other orcs. Quite frankly, I wonder if that's even possible. And I also wonder if we'll ever get that Warcraft Babies spin off so we can see infant Rehgar murdering ogres, but that's beside the point. Rehgar the juvenile assassin was captured by ogres and used by them as a training tool, thrown into combat with young ogres to teach them how to fight orcs. It didn't work out as they had hoped - instead of killing Rehgar, the orc killed several of the juvenile ogres. Instead of killing him with spears and fire, the ogres sold this demented murder-orc child to the arena combat of their own orc enemies.

So let's look at this story. If it's true, then even before the invasion of Azeroth (because this all took place on Draenor) the orcs were pitting each other in slave combat to the death. Rehgar apparently so impressed his owners that he was emancipated and given the honor of taking part in the invasion of Azeroth. Once the invasion was defeated, Rehgar was captured and placed in an internment camp, but unlike most orcs he couldn't be controlled by his captors, and he ended up being sold to a human named Lord Agrovane who again put Rehgar into gladiatorial combat.

Apparently Rehgar had a "If found, please engage me in your local bloodsports" sticker on his underwear.

Okay, admittedly I'm being overly flippant, but I can't be the only one reading this story and saying 'waaaaaait a minute here' because it has some huge freaking holes in it. Rehgar gets free of Agrovane, enrolls himself in the undergrund arena circuit, makes a name and keeps his winnings and uses his savings to become an arena master on his own, buying and training a young Blackrock orc named Bloodeye Redfist. At this time, Rehgar, who has been murdering since he was a wee tyke, somehow just up and becomes a shaman following Thrall's teachings. This in no way impedes his whole slave gladiator pokemon trainer shtick, as Bloodeye and he go into business together and buy two more slaves, the captured night elf druid Broll Bearmantle and the blood elf rogue Valeera.

Oh, right, I forgot Bloodeye. Following in Rehgar's footsteps the young orc had bought his freedom and even became Rehgar's business partner. He used his winnings to help buy Broll and Valeera, only to get himself killed by the lover of someone he'd killed in the arena previously, going out from poison but killing his poisoner as he died. Very stirring and heroic, but it forced Rehgar to find a new slave.

So this guy, who was enslaving random passer's by and forcing them to fight in gladiatorial combat, stops doing that and the next day is working for Thrall, the former slave gladiator? I guess he and Rehgar might have bonded over tales of being forced to fight in arenas when they were children. Considering Thrall was raised by humans who didn't want to kill him, and Rehgar by ogres who had intended to kill him, though, I guess their stories would have been different. Still, Rehgar even had common ground with Thrall in terms of the whole 'Human lord puts me in gladiator combat but I escape' thing. Questions that aren't answered sufficiently include:
  1. Why doesn't Rehgar suffer from the Blood Curse after the end of the invasion? All the other orcs stand around and do almost nothing... even Grom Hellscream, the first orc to drink, feels the curse in his veins every day and has to fight constantly to keep himself and his Warsong Clan moving and fighting after the Second War.
  2. How does Rehgar 'follow Thrall's teachings' to become a shaman? Does he go study under Thrall? Considering we see in the Shattering that Thrall still had a lot to learn about being a shaman, does Rehgar also have a lot to learn? He certainly seems proficient - none of the Earthen Ring protest his involvement at the Maelstrom.
  3. How is it a guy who was basically a gladiatorial slave master had such easy access to Hamuul freaking Runetotem and Thrall himself? Dude is just chatting away with the Horde's premier Archdruid and as soon as he decides 'Well, my human just escaped, time to not be forcing slaves to fight anymore' he just walks up to the Warchief and is an honored advisor that same day? Is it the rocking wolf hat? Do all Horde see that wolf hat and go 'I'd better listen to this guy, he's got a wolf head on top of his own head' or what?
So here we have Rehgar Earthfury, the mysteriously powerful shaman trained by just reading a book or something, who just happens to be leading his caravan past the exact spot that Varian Wrynn's amnesiac butt is going to wash ashore. At no time does this shaman, who will in the future serve alongside Jaina freaking Proudmoore on the New Council of Tirisfal and alongside Thrall, Aggra and Nobundo at the Maelstrom as part of the Earthen Ring, at no time does this guy notice anything magically unusual about Varian? Varian, who has been divided in half by an evil black dragon's magic? The elemental spirits don't say boo about this? We are to believe that Rehgar is so monumentally lacking in curiosity that he didn't bother to ask the elements where Varian came from - surely the water spirits would have some idea, the guy had been floating in the ocean - or anything about him.

I am having significant difficulty accepting this. Let us consider an alternative scenario:

Thrall needed agents, loyal eyes he could count on at all levels of Horde society. The new Horde was, for lack of a better word, hastily put together following Doomhammer's death and the liberation of the orc internment camps, and old traditions and customs were all jostling together. Rehgar, a former gladiator with a mystical bent, was personally chosen and trained by Thrall due to their similar life stories in order to serve as Thrall's eyes and ears in places the Warchief's presence would not be possible. The underground fighting circuit would be distasteful to the former gladiator turned warchief and shaman, but it served a purpose by allowing orcs who were finding their strength and purpose again an outlet for an aggression they were coming to realize was natural to their people. Freed of the Blood Curse, they fought not for demonic bloodlust, but to test and harden themselves, and Rehgar had been so tested and hardened as a child.

He could move in this world.

Rehgar's presence on that beach wasn't an accident, nor was his having purchased the perfect slaves to make up a team with Varian, but rather was due to advice from the spirits. Rehgar chose slaves that would be willing and able to escape with Varian once the human rediscovered who he was, and what's more, consider Rehgar's wolf headdress and shamanic nature - he knew full well that Varian was under some form of magical compulsion. He even manipulated Broll Bearmantle into attempting to place Varian in a trance. It was no accident that Rehgar happened to have Anduin Lothar's belt buckle in the Ring of Valor - how could it be? How could he have even gotten hold of it, if not through the actions of the spirits? And it was no accident that Varian and Lo'Gosh became entangled, no, it was the deliberate manipulation of the crowd to place a wolf spirit with some affection for the Horde in a position to direct and influence Varian's behavior. Rehgar knew exactly who Varian was, and by exactly, I mean he knew Varian was magically divided. So he found a way to stabilize the unsteady king, by making him part of the Lo'Gosh legend.. because when dealing with the Ancients, legends become facts.

How hard was it to arrange for Hamuul to give Lo'Gosh and Broll a reason to escape? Especially after having created bonds of loyalty between the two and Valeera, and then deliberately selling her, to a Grimtotem no less, so that not only would they want to escape (no longer trusting him) but so would she. And he even made a tidy profit and discomfited a Grimtotem in the process.

Why ate we in the barrens helping a Darkspear rebel against Garrosh? Because Rehgar Earthfury is an agent of the new Horde, and he made the King of Stormwind what he is today. Who knows what the spirits will whisper in Varian's ear next? There's a wolf ancient prowling around in there, and it doesn't hate the orcs.
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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