Know Your Lore: Jarod Shadowsong and the War of the Ancients
Sometimes, greatness is revealed in hesitation.
Jarod Shadowsong never sought to be a leader. Younger brother to Maiev Shadowsong, Jarod grew to adulthood during the period just before the War of the Ancients, and while his sister was a powerful and ambitious priestess of Elune (and in line to become High Priestess) Jarod was a Captain in the home guard of the city of Suramar, their home. Still, neither Jarod nor Maiev were nobility, and so their accomplishments were through merit, and this meant a great deal to the younger Shadowsong.
Then came the War, and everything Jarod knew about his world, his people, and his place in life became upended. Forced to act, he rose to the occasion, and then when the time for action had passed he found himself no longer in tune with his people, and so stepped aside. For many years it seemed that he’d become a footnote — the hero who stood for his people in their most desperate hour never seen again, those that knew him unsure of his ultimate fate. And perhaps he would have been happier if that had been all anyone had ever known of him.
This is the life of one Kaldorei, of humble birth, whose talents carried him farther than he knew he could go. Farther even than he ever wanted to go.
Time out of joint
It’s possible that had the wizard, the dragon and the Orc not appeared, Jarod would have remained a footnote. Perhaps in some alternate timeline he remained a simple Captain of the Guard in Suramar, and a very different destiny befell him. Born to a humble family, Jarod never sought glory. He was content to serve as a Captain of the Guard, to patrol the area around Suramar and watch for threats to his people. It was all he wanted. Rumors reached Suramar of monstrous beings that attacked the Night Elf lands, but like most of his people, Jarod believed that Queen Azshara would attend to the issue, never suspecting the truth of her involvement.
Thanks to the machinations of the Old Gods, the power of the Bronze Aspect Nozdormu, and the meddling of the red dragon Korialstrasz, Jarod found himself caught up in the events of the Burning Legion’s invasion of Azeroth. In so doing, he changed the destiny of his people and himself. After Krasus (Korialstrasz in his mortal form) arrived in the past, it was Jarod who found and captured him. The dragon was too weak to resist him, due to the trip in time and his own existence in two places at once. Because Krasus had in fact already lived through the War of the Ancients once, he was effectively splitting his life between two beings, and both were sickened unless past Korialstrasz and future Krasus were in close proximity. And so Jarod found himself essentially babysitting a dying captive.
Out of fear that the prisoner would die before he was questioned, Captain Shadowsong went to the Temple of Elune and requested aid from a young acolyte named Tyrande Whisperwind. The demonic invasion was still not fully understood at this time — not many knew that Queen Azshara was in league with the demons, and certainly Jarod didn’t at that time. Suramar was a mighty city, but it had been eclipsed by Azshara’s palace at Zin-Ashari — the conflict had not yet reached Suramar when Jarod arrived at the temple seeking aid.
Lead to glory
Soon Jarod found himself dragged along a path he never sought. Tyrande and Krasus eventually worked together to help save Malfurion Stormrage from a comatose state, which caused Jarod to find himself in the company of Cenarius himself. From this meeting with the demigod, Jarod helped the bedraggled group — a sickly dragon, a half-dead Druid, a forest god and a young priestess — meet with Lord Kur’talos Ravencrest. Ravencrest was the de facto commander of the Night Elven army that had risen to confront the demons of the Legion. Unlike Jarod, Ravencrest was nobility, but from the older tradition that predated the rise of the Highborne mage-lords, and his distrust for them was great. However, he still believed Azshara to be innocent of their actions.
Ravencrest saw potential in Jarod, and placed him in command of a squad of troops. From this moment, Jarod Shadowsong was set on a path he could never have seen coming.
While serving in the army Jarod distinguished himself many times. Thanks to Illidan Stormrage and Rhonin, the Night Elves under Ravencrest discovered how they could use their magic despite the interference of the Highborne, who had placed a shield over the Well of Eternity that kept them from accessing its power directly. This ability meant that the Night Elves were capable of fighting the Legion, and this meant that the portal that would allow Sargeras to step through could not yet be opened. Enraged at this turn of events, Queen Azshara ordered Varo’then, the head of her personal guard, to assassinate Ravencrest and thus allow her forces to destroy the remaining Night Elf resistance. This Varo’then did.
Ravencrest’s successor was Desdel Stareye, another member of the displaced nobility. Like Ravencrest, he viewed the Highborne with suspicion, but he also harbored the same racial prejudices as Ravencrest had — he allowed Jarod to serve as an ambassador of sorts to the Earthen and Tauren tribes, but saw this as a foolish waste of time, and only allowed it because he believed Jarod would be essentially making a sacrifice of his time and effort for no gain. Stareye was as committed to the defense of his people as any of the Night Elves in the army, but he lacked Ravencrest’s tactical acumen — or for that matter, Jarod’s. During an engagement with the Legion he panicked, refused to listen to Jarod’s advice, and died screaming, boiled alive by demons dumping cauldrons of seething liquid on the army.
So many leaders died in this engagement — including Lord Del’theon, Stareye’s nominal successor — that the army’s remaining officers had no clear successor to appoint. Of the various officers and leaders still alive, Jarod was the one who’d displayed the most tactical acumen and sensible leadership, and thus he found himself appointed Commander of the Kaldorei forces.
To end the war
Jarod soon found himself not merely in command of the Night Elves, but the forces of the Earthen and Tauren that he had sought to find common ground with as ambassador. Then the coming of the Ancients, the demigods of the natural world, as Cenarius explained to a shocked Jarod that these immortal figures of legend would indeed serve to aid in the defense of Azeroth against the Legion.
All under Jarod’s command.
Jarod still viewed himself as the mere soldier who’d headed up a guard patrol in Suramar, but his view no longer accurately reflected his situation. He’d become the overall commander of all of Azeroth’s defenders. The Earthen, the Tauren, even the Ancients listened to his commands and followed his orders. After the disaster of the Dragon Soul when Neltharion the Earth Warder became Deathwing, it was Jarod who managed to tactically isolate the Legion, keep his forces engaged and hold the line, keeping the pressure up so that the portal could not be widened.
During this time he first met the young huntress Shandris Feathermoon, who had appointed herself Tyrande’s personal guard after Tyrande had been chosen by Elune to become High Priestess. It would be inaccurate to say they ever had more than a flirtation, due to Jarod’s reticence — she was younger than him, and in those days Night Elven immortality did not exist — but he found himself drawn to her despite himself.
As the war dragged on, the Legion’s greatest took part. Malfurion and Illidan made common cause to finally end the conflict, but it was Jarod who found himself in personal combat with Archimonde himself — the demon lord deciding to toy with the Night Elf Commander, hoping to hear him break before he died. Jarod’s doubt in himself was a real thing, but he never once allowed the Defiler to see it, and stood firm even as he was being killed by the Eredar. In the end, Archimonde’s own cruelty meant that when Illidan and Malfurion managed to tap into the Well, he was dragged back into the Twisting Nether — and Jarod survived their battle, becoming an even greater hero to his people in the process.
With the implosion of the Well came the Sundering, the destruction of the ancient continent of Kalimdor. Suramar was gone, meaning that Jarod could never go home. Jarod helped his people escape the new ocean that drowned the center of their old continent, and was one of the Kaldorei who discovered what Illidan had done in creating a new Well of Eternity. Jarod deferred to Malfurion when it came time to judge Illidan for his crime, even though his sister Maiev nearly killed Illidan for having injured Jarod when he was caught. Jarod witnessed the pact between the Aspects and the Night Elves that bestowed immortality on his people, but this left him with a dilemma. What was to be his role? He was no Druid, to sleep for centuries and guard the Emerald Dream. He’d never wanted to be a hero, and although his people saw him as one, he did not.
And so Jarod faded into the shadows of history. For ten thousand years, no one knew what had become of the Night Elf who saved his world.
Next week, we’ll look at Jarod’s second act.
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