Know Your Lore: From Barathen to Llane Wrynn
The Wrynn family has ruled Stormwind for years. (Indeed, they may have ruled it continuously since it was founded, but we don’t know for certain.) During that time, Stormwind found itself isolated and alone against hostile forces, and the other kingdoms of Humanity offered little if any help to their southern kin. So Stormwind and the Wrynns fought on alone. They were aided by their people, a resilient bunch descended from the original Arathi of Strom, and especially by the bloodline of Thoradin himself, the line that had ruled in Arathor from its founding.
We don’t know why the Arathor bloodline ended up as generals and warriors supporting the Wrynn kings. The relationship seems fairly amicable, however — Anduin Lothar, the last known member of the bloodline of Thoradin (as far as we currently know) served both Barathen and Llane willingly, and ultimately sacrificed his life to ensure that Llane’s son Varian would have a kingdom to rule over. If he ever resented his friend or saw himself ruling instead, it never showed.
Perhaps this is because Llane and Anduin were such close friends, and had been from childhood.
The Later Adamant Years
Barathen Wrynn ruled Stormwind for a very long time, for a Human king — nearly 58 years, from 75 years before the Dark Portal opened to 18 years BDP. The Gnoll Wars were the opening of his reign, a period of conflict that saw his kingdom on the brink of destruction. The results of that war — how Barathen and hand-picked members of the Brotherhood of the Horse routed the Gnolls under Garfang and ended the threat they posed — stayed with Barathen and his house. And the biggest lesson in Barathen’s mind was this — stability was more important than wild adventuring.
It took Barathen and his wife Varia many years to have a child. Llane, the only son of King Barathen Wrynn, was born 40 years before the opening of the Dark Portal. His father had already sat on his throne for 35 years and was not a young man when Llane was born, and the Prince would have no siblings, no other possible heir to Barathen to rival him… or support him. Thus Llane grew up with a full awareness of the responsibility that would one day be his, and stories of his father’s heroism against the Gnolls were widespread. Growing up with such a towering figure, Llane wanted to emulate him.
Like his father, Llane found a close band to assist him in that, but to Llane these two men — Medivh, son of court enchanter Nielas Aran, and Anduin Lothar, last member of the Arathor bloodline — were akin to his brothers. One adventure saw the three ambushed by Trolls of the Gurubashi tribe, an ambush that caused young Medivh to faint after unleashing his powers to defend himself and his friends. This would lead to Medivh’s coma and his absence from the affairs of the Kingdom for many years.
The Coming of the Gurubashi
Years earlier, before the Gnoll War, Stormwind had pushed the Gurubashi Trolls out of Westfall and Brightwood, territories on the border of their strongholds in Stranglethorn Vale. Now they encroached still further, claiming farmland and planting crops in territories that verged on the Vale. The Gurubashi took affront at this, and began increasing their raids. During this period, an aged Barathen was set on a policy of containment, and while it was successful in keeping the Trolls penned up and Stormwind largely at peace, it didn’t prevent the Trolls from raiding fairly deep into the kingdom. Several villages in Westfall were raided and their people slain (and the Knights of the Horse who answered these raids found evidence that the Trolls had butchered and even eaten many of them).
Llane did not agree with his father’s policy. Both Barathen and Llane wanted to protect their people, but Barathen was aware of the terrible cost of a potential war with the Gurubashi (having seen the carnage of war first hand) while Llane had never actually fought in one. His adventures with Lothar and Medivh had often been dangerous, such as the ambush of the Gurubashi, but they’d always been him and his friends, mere skirmishes and not full scale war. To Llane, the idea of continuing the policy of containment was flawed because there was no way Stormwind could stop every attack, and if they couldn’t, they risked more destroyed villages and more people dying gruesome deaths. Which was exactly what happened, as the Trolls struck again.
Llane defied his father and reached out to Anduin and Medivh, who agreed to aid him in a strike deep into Troll territory. They’d already been ambushed once in Troll lands, they knew them better than most of Stormwind’s defenders. Barathen had ordered a purely defensive footing and a policy of de-escalation, believing the Trolls would exhaust themselves and fall apart into factionalism as they had before. But Llane had no patience for this policy, seeing it as cowardly. It must be pointed out in Llane’s defense that he was right in that his father’s policy would allow more villages to be raided — there was no way for Stormwind’s army to watch every target of the Trolls.
But the consequences of his actions were severe. The three friends confronted Jok’non, a Gurubashi warlord and servant of Hakkar the Soulflayer, and after a pitched battle slew him and his followers. Instead of ending the Gurubashi threat, this act intensified it, as Jok’non’s son Zan’non rose to power in his father’s stead. Worse, he now had a concrete proof to unite even those Gurubashi Trolls who had not felt Jok’non a good leader or that the war with the Humans was worth pursuing.
Stormwind under Siege
The Trolls had spent many years growing in numbers after Stormwind had pushed them out of their northernmost holdings. Zan’non came to the gates of Stormwind with practically every fighting age Gurubashi Troll imaginable, a war host that dwarfed the defenders of the city, and he fully meant to raze it to the ground. Using the powers Hakkar had taught his father, he created massive Troll berserkers and unleashed them on the walls, killing many of Stormwind’s defenders in the process.
Barathen, still hale and powerful despite his advanced years, saw only one way out. Much as he had as a young man new to his throne, he assembled a band of hand-picked warriors and rode out of Stormwind on horseback with one goal in mind – the death of Zan’non. And it nearly worked. But in the end, Barathen was simply crushed under the weight of Zan’non’s Trolls and he and his men died while fighting their way to the Troll Warlord’s position.
Llane had no time to grieve. His father had left him in charge of the city and, with Barathen’s death, he was the one Stormwind looked to in hope of deliverance. Having seen Medivh’s power in the battle with Jok’non, he begged his friend to unleash the magic again against Zan’non and his Trolls, and Medivh agreed. There was in him a darkness that desired to see just how powerful he truly was, to test himself in a working unlike any other. Both afraid and eager, Medivh strode out onto the battlements and tapped into the power of the Guardian that was his birthright.
What followed was no longer a battle. Nothing the Gurubashi could do had the slightest effect — Medivh struck them with lightning, fire, frost, a withering pummeling storm of magic that devastated their ranks, destroyed their seers and priests, and left their blasted corpses littering the field. So few Trolls survived Medivh’s onslaught that even after the Dark Portal had opened they did not have the numbers to engage in any punitive measures against Stormwind — on that day Medivh not only avenged Barathen Wrynn, he left fewer than one in ten Trolls alive.
Thus Llane Wrynn found himself King of Stormwind, keenly aware that if he had heeded his father, the man wouldn’t have died on a battlefield torn apart by Trolls. Llane would never again be the adventurer who argued for a quick solution.
Next week: The Dark Portal opens.
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